Friday, January 30, 2015

MadCap's Game Reviews - "Yu-Gi-Oh! Eternal Duelist Soul"


Oh, god, am I doomed to review every Yu-Gi-Oh! video game that has ever come out? I suppose I'll have to so long as my inbox keeps getting sent with links to ROMs. I'm not one to complain about free material to work off of, so here's Yu-Gi-Oh! Eternal Duelist Soul.

Right away, the game brings you to a main menu.



From here, you can select one of the seven choices. "Campaign" is pretty self-explanatory, if a little bit of a complete lie, but I'll get into that.  "Link Battle" is also pretty self-explanatory - you get your friend who also has a Game Boy Advance, you link, you battle.  "Deck Edit" is another no brainer, allowing the player to construct a deck (and you are given one starting out) that must be comprised of no less than 40 cards - split between monsters, magic, and trap cards as evenly as possibly to assure that the deck is at least playable.  "Record" is where you can look to see who you've won and lost against, and how many times you've won and lost against them.

Then there's "Calendar", which also allows me to look into the "plot" as it were. EDS really doesn't have a plot per se. But the calendar system is largely there to mark the days where the player will get a bonus booster pack from Grandpa Muto, as well as the bi-weekly tournaments and the big tournament in November that the game builds up (also, distanced from the show - each duel will take up one day of time). So there is no "plot", it's just a dueling simulator, like the much-maligned last game in the franchise that I played. And don't get me wrong, Millennium Battles was no Sacred Cards in terms of how bad it was, but it was...no, actually, it was worse than this, but I'll get into the why of it later.

"Card Trading" does exactly what you think, and "Password" is where you can bunch in those seven digit numbers at the bottom of a Yu-Gi-Oh! card to get the card in real life.  Of course, it has limitations. Some of the codes outright don't work until you've at least seen the card played in game. And, of course, the game is limited by the time period it comes from - the early 2000s. So if you're wanting to put your Stardust Dragon into the game to totally wreck little Yugi, Joey, and their friends, you're out of luck.  Lucky for you, you don't have to sort through your cards to find out which ones work and which don't - There's a wiki page for that.

So, how does the game play? Just like the trading card game of the time under the official tourney rules. Selecting "Campaign" will bring up a screen as seen above. The first tier of duelists is Yugi and the Friendship Brigade.  Once you have defeated each of them twice, the second tier opens that contains all the duelists that Joey defeated at Battle City...and Mai Valentine.  This process will continue, going through Marik and his Rare Hunters as well as Seto Kaiba, Yami Yugi and Bakura, and  eventually reaching the likes of Pegasus, Grandpa, and "Shimon"...who I thought was an Egyptian priest in the distant past and not blue, but hey, Forbidden Memories reference.

So basically, the game ends up being the same as any other Yu-Gi-Oh! simulator. There is actually some personality from the various duelists in small cutscenes before and after each duel, and that is far more than we were given in Millennium Battles, so I'm inclined to be slightly more charitable to this game than that one.  An attempt was made, though I'm wondering how exactly both versions of Yugi and Bakura are all hanging around the same Game Shop...or why the Rare Hunters are allowed to the tournaments after nearly killing - oh, wait, I'm sorry, "sending to the Shadow Realm" - Yugi's entire posse several times...

But then trying to figure out logic in an anime plot is a bit like trying to weld a car frame back together with bird seeds and gum, you just end up with sticky hands and a terrible humiliated feeling deep down in the pit of your soul.

...I may have been thinking about something else there.

Point is, not a bad game, but it's a simulator. It's actually a step up from games of the same kind that I've played before, but it's not too much better.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Eternal Duelist Soul is now available from Konami and Konami Computer Entertainment Japan for the Game Boy Advance.

For the latest from the MadCapMunchkin, be sure to follow him on Twitter @MadCapMunchkin.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

MadCap's Pokemon Emerald Nuzlocke Challenge - 11 - "Father! The Sandslash Has Awakened!"

They say God made Route 111 to train the faithful.
And thus, to the desert!  In the depths of the sands...and by that, I mean within a few steps...Andrew encountered a Sandshrew now added to the team as "Muad'Dib" (read a book).  And so, Andrew wandered into the desert to prepare himself for his battle with his "father" at last.  And so, he wandered. And, thus, epic grinding ensued!

...at least until Andrew found a tower that seemed to be flickering in and out of existence.

"Uh...Paul? Something's emerging from nothing, so suck it."
Thinking that he'd either found the plot, or that he was tripping on some serious peyote from the desert, Andrew did the only logical thing that one would do in such a situation and journeyed into the tower that appeared out of nowhere, learning of it as the "Mirage Tower".  Though he did encounter some wild Pokemon (including a Trapinch who was knocked out by Leviathan), Andrew could not discern the mystery of the second floor and - again, assuming it was all some drug induced hallucination - left the Mirage Tower behind.  Upon healing and returning to the desert, he found that the Tower had disappeared entirely...
"And how can this be?"
But as the grinding continued, Muad'dib finally gained enough power to evolve into a Sandslash.
"For he is the Kwisatz Haedrach!"

After brief celebration, grinding continued.  In the deepest depths of the desert, Andrew discovered the TM that teaches Sandstorm.  On the return trip back, the egg given to Andrew in Part 10 finally hatched, revealing...


Because, why not?  A female addition to the team, Wynaut took on the nickname of "Alia".  With that, Andrew headed back south to Slateport to meet with Mr. Briney, and they sailed back to Petalburg where Andrew would, at last, come up against his kidnappers in a final showdown...

***

"Hot damn!" Slott whistled as they walked over another slab of volcanic wreckage.

"It's pretty much that way all the time up here, the bodies aren't standard fair." The Mountie they'd run into, now all of them surveying the devastation across the peak.

"And the kid was here?"  Norris asked.

"A couple of the Team Magma grunts we caught on their way down mentioned him.  Said he took out their leader without breaking a sweat."

"Pretty impressive for up here..." Slott quipped as he knelt down to examine a bit of a Team Aqua bandanna that had been left behind and been burned at the edges by the volcano ash.  "Shouldn't we be wearing suits or something this high up?"

"And you didn't catch the kid?" Norris asked while his partner's question went unanswered.

A shake of the head came as response. "Sorry, Detective. Didn't even see him during our round up."

"This kid is good...or he's got the dumbest luck of anyone I've ever met." Norris said. "And you say you brought the device down from further up the peak?"

"Yes, sir, looks like Maxie was trying to set the volcano off."

"Any idea if he could have done it?"

"'Fraid not, sir. Not much of an egghead myself..."

"Right, right. Thanks anyway...will do some rooting around and get out of your hair."

"Thank you, sir...still got quite a bit of cataloging to do."  With that, the trooper returned to the cable car.

"So we know he didn't double back from the peak." Norris muttered, speaking more to himself than to Slott.

"Jagged Pass?"

"Most likely. We need to check Lavaridge, that's the next most likely stopping point."

"The kid's got a day ahead of us...maybe two.  We have no idea where he might have gone." Slott pointed out. "I say we head back to Slateport, see if the database on new trainers got a hit on something?"

"Why trainers?"

"The kid's got his Pokemon, right? And a Combusken? Had to start somewhere. If he's League registered, they'll have him."

"Slott, that's brilliant!" Norris clapped him on the shoulder, heading back toward the cable car.

"I have my moments." And he followed after.

**

Pokemon Emerald is brought to us by Nintendo and GameFreak.

For the latest from the MadCapMunchkin, be sure to follow him on Twitter @MadCapMunchkin

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

MadCap's Trailer Reactions - "The Fantastic Four"

Well...here we go again.

The Fantastic Four are a commonly known superhero team.  Created in 1961, they were made as the answer to DC's "Justice League of America". Yes, the FF predate even the Avengers in the Marvel universe.  Caught in a cosmic energy storm, four individuals were granted powers.  Reed Richards, utterly brilliant scientist seeking to study the universe itself, was given extreme elasticity and became Mr. Fantastic.  Sue Storm (later Sue Richards) was granted the power of invisibility and the ability to generate force fields over herself and others as the Invisible Girl (and later Invisible Woman).  Her cocky, hot-headed brother Johnny was given the power to generate and control flame, as well as wrap himself in a cocoon of pure flame simply by saying "flame on!", taking the moniker of the Human Torch.  And their pilot, Ben Grimm, arguably got the worst of the storm - his body mutating into an orange, rock-like flesh but becoming virtually indestructible as the Thing.

Unlike the traditional superhero conundrum of having to hide their secret identities, the Fantastic Four have been public about who they are and what they can do almost from the jump, and they're some of the most beloved superheroes in the Marvel universe. Sure, it means that their foes not only know who they are and how to find them, but the Four have always been a dysfunctional family that, when the chips are down and the need is dire, they can take on any foe or face any challenge if they're working together.  Whether it's against the dreaded Galactus, the fearsome Annihilus, or even the sinister machinations of the dreaded Doctor Doom, the FF are always up to the challenge.  So naturally - with a team that has such prestige and awesomeness - someone would want to make a movie out of it.

They did.  It sucked. But it was supposed to suck, since it was only made so the rights could be kept.

Not to be dissuaded (after all, they were the people who would later greenlight "X-Men Origins: Wolverine"), Fox got the rights from Marvel to produce a live-action adaptation of Marvel's First Family. This seemed like a sure-fire thing, given the team's long-standing history and popularity to comic fans. In fact, it could even be a chance to bring in a whole new audience into comic book films. Sony was doing amazing things with Spider-Man at the time, and Fox itself had had great success with the X-Men franchise - coming in with two films that were box office hits at the time. So, this seemed like it would go well.

It sucked, but it also made a lot of money.  So, naturally, because Fox wants to run all its assets into the ground that aren't Firefly (seriously? Joss Whedon gives you a jewel-encrusted egg and you've got no idea what to do with it? REALLY?!), they commissioned a sequel, this time based around the storyline from the comics known as the "Galactus Trilogy".  Galactus, for those who don't know, is (to put it as simply as possible) a gigantic alien being who eats planets.  In that storyline, he came for Earth - his herald being the mysterious Silver Surfer. So, high stakes, good villain, could very easily be made into a blockbuster, right?

It sucked. And I mean, sucked. Audiences who had loved the first film didn't much care for this one, and it only fared slightly better with critics than the first film did. Even so, this was enough that Fox decided to reevaluate its options...and make more X-Men sequels...which is an issue for another time and I'm getting severely off-topic.

Flash-forward to now, the present. Fox, continuing their longstanding trend of wringing money out of things that don't belong to them in the first place, have released a teaser for the rebooted series of films that they intend to do with the FF. Unlike certain other films that have released teasers of late, this actually has some things of substance to it and...well...it looks good.

No, I'm serious.

I've got some healthy skepticism, as we all should in particular with teaser trailers. Still, they seem to be going for a much more serious, The Dark Knight-esque style. I would normally be against this, seeing as Batman is not - despite his hype - the end all and be all of superheroes and should not be remotely treated as such, but for a series that's at this point gone through three terrible films that did not really seem to take the premise as seriously as it should have, this is really a welcome change.

The trailer has a voice over of an unseen individual, speaking of the human desire to discover, and we see what I assume to be Reed Richards (Miles Teller) both as a man and as a child performing experiments, who we know to be Sue Storm (Kate Mara) working computers, Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) repairing a car, and Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) playing baseball. The rest of the teaser details an experiment that is being run by Dr. Storm (Reg E. Cathey) that seems to be taking the place of the cosmic space trip, which is fine. After all, it's an adaptation.

Oh, and you're probably wondering why no comment on Michael B. Jordan? Don't care. If Samuel L. Jackson can play Nick Fury, I think we can give him a shot at Human Torch.  I mean, he can't be any worse than the last guy who played him...
...oops, sorry, Cap.
The voiceover, who I believe is Doom (Toby Kebbell), speaks of the consequences of human discovery and tells Richards to prepare for "what's coming". When Richards questions the individual (who is not seen clearly), he gets the cryptic reply of "the answers", leading into a short of the team from behind while facing what looks like the Ark from Halo.

I have to admit, I'm a bit intrigued now, which I thought I wouldn't be. I've pretty much become entirely disillusioned with the X-Men franchise (I didn't even go to see Days of Future Past) and I was more than hesitant about one particular change about Doom - namely that he's become an internet troll in this version instead of a megalomaniac ruler of a small Eastern European country - but again I remind myself of the Mantra of Adaptation - "it's only a movie/game/book/TV show, the original thing isn't ruined". Of course, that doesn't mean I won't critique it when it comes out. So, Fox, you've got me for this one, let's see the FF get a good movie for once.

Or, hey, you could just give the rights back to Marvel and we'd know they'd do it right.

...if Shane Black isn't involved, anyway.

The Fantastic Four is slated for release on August 7, 2015 from 20th Century Fox, Marvel Entertainment, and Marv Films.

For the latest from the MadCapMunchkin, be sure to follow him on Twitter @MadCapMunchkin.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

MadCap's Pokemon Emerald Nuzlocke Challenge - 10 - "How High Can You Get?"

"Hello, good sir! Do you have a moment to talk about Shroomish Highs?"
And thus, with his pirate brethren, Andrew stormed his way up Mt. Chimney to fight the imperious forces of Team Magma. At the peak, near a device, he encountered "Maxie", who apparently knows of him from meddling in the affairs of Team Aqua.  And now, believes he wishes to meddle in the affairs of Team Magma...who are kind of idiots with an idiotic plan.  When Andrew thought to call him out on this, Maxie challenged him to a battle, which Andrew's team managed to pull through with only a few scratches.  Maxie ranted something about an "Orb" and then ran off, Andrew assuming that the guy was already tripping.

And then, Archie came around to congratulate him on his victory and question what side he was on.  Cutting the child off before he could answer, Archie resolved to keep up their pursuit of Team Magma and to stop them in their insane plots - declaring that they would meet again.  Since Archie and Maxie had both left the Meteorite, Andrew snaked it and stuffed it away in his pack for extra scratch later.  From there, it seemed the path to Lavaridge was open to him at last - through the Jagged Pass, at least.  And another Team Magma groupie was running scared from the events at the peak, so Andrew handily took care of him and several other trainers as well on the way down.

Also, a Spoink was caught, now going under "O'Brian" (read a comic book).  O'Brian was sent away to join the rest of the B-Team and the walk down Jagged Pass went on and at last, the path was walked and Andrew finally set foot in Lavaridge Town.  Passing through the Pokemon Center, and then the hot springs, Andrew was offered an egg and then had to go to the Pokemon Center to deposit a member of the team for the time being.  Starburst took the hit, breaking with the Bs for the time being.

Apparently Andrew's services are not needed here...
Wandering around Lavaridge, Andrew got Not-Groot taught Mimic and tried to waste time in steps (even taking to the bike) to see if he could hatch the egg.  When wandering about bored him to no end, Andrew decided to hit the local Gym...finding a haze that would have made Cheech and Chong proud.  Quickly he figured out, beyond the smell of weed, that the Gym was comprised of several teleportation holes - some of which were decoys leading to the hidden trainers.

Fighting a contact high, Andrew and his team did their best to fight valiantly, eventually reaching the Gym Leader, Flannery, who was apparently so high that she had to go through her own introduction...three times.  However, she proved to be a more than apt battler - her Camelrupt decimating Muninn completely.  In the end, Andrew prevailed, Leviathan having a battle of attrition against her Torkoal and coming out the victor, earning Andrew the Heat Badge...and Flannery being one of the many hundreds that have added their number to Andrew's PokeNav.

So, after passing on the gift of Shroomish to go with that which was already being smoked, Andrew decided to head out.

And, of course, May was there to greet him outside after Andrew had been fairly certain he had lost her.  She once more attempted to woo him with the gift of "Go-Goggles" that would allow him to see through that sandstorm on Route 111, and hinted that it might be time for Andrew to battle his "father" at the Petalburg Gym.
Bye-bye, indeed, old friend...
Before it was time to face his kidnappers again, however, Andrew was forced to say goodbye to a friend who had been with him since Part 3.  Release from this life, Andrew had yet another loss to avenge...and soon he would avenge himself against those that had brought him to Hoenn in the first place.

Pokemon Emerald is brought to us by Nintendo and GameFreak.

For the latest from the MadCapMunchkin, be sure to follow him on Twitter @MadCapMunchkin.

Friday, January 23, 2015

MadCap's Game Reviews - "Shadow of Mordor"

One cannot deny - largely due to the Peter Jackson-headed films of the early 2000s known as the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the oddly similar trio of movies known as the Hobbit trilogy more recently - that Middle-Earth has become an institution all it's own.  The original novels as written by J.R.R. Tolkien have evolved much beyond their humble beginnings as the start of every facet of fantasy fiction that exists today. Every novel, every video game, every film in the fantasy genre owes at least some of it's existence to Tolkien even if the connection isn't direct.

Dungeons & Dragons...Dragon Age...actually, this inspired a lot of RPGs.  Like...any in a medieval fantasy setting.

But with great fame comes great licensing.  Whether it's in the form of the aforementioned movies or, as we are so fond of here, video games.  As is the case with Shadow of Mordor, a title that very interestingly isn't going under the Lord of the Rings banner and is just going with a simple Middle-Earth as the pre-title. For some other titles I might find this a little ballsy but, again, this is the Tolkien epic that we're talking about and, again, the entire thing is an institution.  It's become so deeply embedded into popular culture that we know it by name without even needing to know the name of the franchise.

Sometimes, that can go really well and produce a game that becomes one that stands on it's own merits as a classic.  Other times, you get a game so bad the lead developer blocks you on Twitter for pointing it out (yes, Randy, I know I do it incessantly. Apologize and I'll be happy to stop). So where does Shadow of Mordor fall on the scale?  Let's look deeper within.

We are introduced to Talion, a grizzled ranger of Gondor with a broken sword (never heard that one before) and a sad backstory in which both his wife and son were killed by orcs and his own throat slit in a ritual sacrifice to summon...something. However, this gets Talion a Yu-Gi-Oh!-esque alternate persona in an elven wraith who has fragmented memories and gives Talion shiny new powers like being able to tear information out of the heads of enemies. So together, the pair of them take the emergency exit and must traverse the landscape of Mordor in order to get to the Black Hand of Sauron and defeat him so that the curse that keeps Talion from ever dying can be broken.

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Now, I'm not going to spend this review going on about the differences from the books and the films - that would be silly and take up way too much time.  After all, it's an adaptation and one has to take that into account in criticisms of things that don't work with the lore, but do work from a gameplay mechanics standpoint.  Thus why Mordor is looking a bit more leafy green than the "barren wasteland, riddled with fire and ash" that was so aptly described beforehand.  Speaking from experience, one can't very well hide with any skill in a barren wasteland. Against and between rocks? Maybe, but eventually you'd be found out unless your enemies are either blind or just astounding stupid.

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So, I do understand that. And, by extension, I understand why there are leafy patches around so as to justify the leafy bushes.

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Oh, you're wondering what the "Loading..." text is about? One of my gripes with this game. The loading screens. This game loads when you first start, it loads upon entering a mission area, it loads when you pause, it loads when you select a menu option, it loads when you leave the pause menu, it loads before a cutscene, it loads after a cutscene, and this game does have to be downloaded directly to the Xbox 360 Hard Drive, by the way. I wouldn't mind this so much except...well, it had to be downloaded directly onto the Hard Drive. Why all these pauses? If there so much being rendered on the screen that you can't load everything?

That might help to explain why - in spite of this being a triple AAA game - there are texture problems in certain areas, even in areas where the player has been standing for a while. You rotate the camera and a section of wall or the ground is blurry before it suddenly "pops" into the same appearance as that around it.  Compare Dragon Age: Inquisition from a few weeks ago, which also had to be installed from a first disk, but had no problems of the sort when playing from a second.  And that game had much larger areas to boot. Several larger areas.  It really confuses me to no end, and really drags down the game quite a bit.

I'm not kidding, this irritated me to no end when I first started playing to the point where I was ready to chuck it out a window.

However, where the game does redeem itself is in the combat.  And how does it do this? By shamelessly ripping off the Batman: Arkham series.  If that doesn't sound like a compliment, trust me, it is.  Considering rangers are set up in Tolkien's universe to be these combat-hardened badasses, it only makes sense that Talion can weave about through combat, moving seamlessly from sword slice to rolling over the back of an orc to slam your wraith-powered fist into the chest of another orc to stagger it just so you can pull a sweet finisher combo move (also, side note, the finishers are all pleasantly visceral. They clearly put quite a lot of work into them). It feels very organic like the moves of Batman atop the rooftops of Gotham City. So, yes, it does get a point in that regard. It is very good.

Also, the stealth that it borrows from that series is also good, but while also adding some new skills to the mix as well. With the Wraith inside of him, Talion can assault the minds of orcs that attack him to cause damage that otherwise renders him immobile and open to attack (but the time can be shortened with upgrades). There's the standard stealth attack which guarantees an insta-kill on everything but the bosses (and, sometimes, even on bosses depending on their health).  There's also, once it's unlocked, the Brutalize technique in which Talion mercilessly skewers an orc again and again in a manner that makes all orcs in a surrounding area run away with pants crapping fear.

However, on the subject of stealth, I do have to come to another gripe I have.  It's entirely possible to sneak out in the open, right up to an orc, and bury Talion's broken sword repeatedly in their face, before immediately moving to another and another if they happen to be close enough and somehow he remains unseen.  Apparently he has learned Monty Python's art of not being seen.  Or the enemy AI is rather useless when not engaged in combat.  Can they not see the not-at-all disguised man rummaging around the rocky terrain? While it is fun, and indeed hilarious to traipse about Mordor's rockiness stabbing orcs in the face and laughing over their mangled corpses, there's really no challenge in it and the orcs really only provide it when in packs, a la the boss battles that crop up (and those can be a real pain).

Boss battles that you're directed to via the "Nemesis System", a system that was apparently cut down considerably for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 versions because the development team wanted to be "focusing on the next-gen platforms".  "Dicks!", I reply, but the system as it works is essentially the same I've been told, simply dumbed down a bit.  Not that I really find this excusable, of course.  If you're going to half-ass for one system, you should half-ass all the way, or put the full-ass behind all of it.

The system as it works plays off the Always Chaotic Evil nature of orcs, namely that they're all more than happy to stab in the back the next person up in line so they can take his spot.  On their own, the orc captains, chieftains, and war chiefs will fight one another to jockey for position.  Talion's objective in getting to the Black Hand of Sauron involves taking out the war chiefs.  To do this, he joins up with an orc by the name of Ratbag who's more than willing to cut a deal so that he can become the sole war chief.  Just like Frodo's decision to help Gollum in the latter two volumes of the Lord of the Rings, I'm certain that Talion's kindness and charity will pay off in the end.

Oh, also - despite being modeled on the appearance from the films - Gollum shows up and isn't voiced by Andy Serkis.  Their choice for his voice actor isn't bad, and they had me fooled for a bit. Though if he starts going on about the Savior and how he's going to destroy Dante and rule humanity with it, I'm out.

Needless to say, however, the Nemesis system is rather neat and I do enjoy it.  It's especially funny if one of the bosses kills you, they'll remember doing so after Talion regenerates at one of the white towers that dots the landscape and goes after them again.  The common soldier orcs can also be promoted to captain or higher if they kill the player as well, increasing their power and standing within Sauron's army.  With some of them, I almost think it's worth it to allow yourself to be killed just so you can have certain opponents to fight, particularly during the time when the identity of the war chiefs is in question and Talion has to fight his way to them to get to the Black Hand and you actually do have to fight their immediate subordinates to gain intel about where their bosses are.

Which brings me to the upgrade system.  Talion gains experience from every kill and every quest. Once he gets enough, he gets an attribute point that can be put into either a ranger skill or a wraith skill. Ranger skills tend to focus on sword combat, defense, or health while wraith abilities will increase the amount of ranged arrows that can be shot, increases the amount of damage from Talion and the wraith's mind probe hand gesture, and some stealth properties.  These are arranged in tiers, with some not being able to be unlocked until the player progresses a certain distance in the main campaign.

Talion's weapons - sword, broken sword, and bow - can be upgraded with runes (dropped by bosses), slots on each weapon being unlocked for a certain amount of points.  They can range from doing more damage to staggering enemies on impact to restoring the player's health after a certain number in a chain of hits is met and much, much more.  It's interesting to find the right balance and - to give credit - it is nice that you can switch out your runes for any given situation that you might find yourself in, bringing in a facet of strategics that most hack n' slashes tend to either dumb down or avoid entirely.

So yes, this game is basically Batman: Mordor Asylum in structure, and that's not a bad thing. More games in the hack n' slash genre should follow the examples of that series, and Shadow manages to keep the flow moving from unarmed into sword combat.  A definite bravo!  Beyond issues with the development team didn't put the time or energy into making the Xbox 360/Playstation 3 versions up to par with the current-gen versions, this game is pretty good. I've definitely seen far worse adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien's work in video game format.

Or has everyone forgot The Lord of the Rings: Final Fantasy Edition? ...I mean, The Third Age?

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is now available from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Monolith Productions, and Behaviour Interactive for Microsoft Windows, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

For the latest from the MadCapMunchkin, be sure to follow him on Twitter @MadCapMunchkin

Thursday, January 22, 2015

MadCap's Pokemon Emerald Nuzlocke Challenge - 9 - "Magma Mountain Hop"

I guess property rates are a real pain in the ash here...
We return to Andrew not far off from Fallarbor Town.  He arrived their, healed, and to prepare himself for the task ahead, well...he needed the appropriate montage music.  So, this epic grinding brought to you by Rocky IV, the greatest movie about an Italian-American who can barely speak beating a Russian half to death you will ever see.  Just play this every time "grinding" comes up. Trust me, it really improves the experience.

Try it now: Epic grinding ensued!

See? Totally helps.

After some deliberation in the grinding, it was decided that Kelvin could be placed in the Box, joining Buu and Dreugh as Andrew's back up team (due to, much like the situation before with Leviathan and Dreugh, already having a type on the team to fill in for that element.

In the Pokemon Center, also ran into Lanette, the creator of the PC for the Hoenn region. Nice of her.

Then it was on to Route 114. A few trainers were down, and a Swablu was caught that we now call "Q-Tip". Q-Tip, much like Kelvin, was deposited in the PC so as to build up a potential second team should the first fall in combat.  Further along, Andrew came to a mountainside and continued his trek along the path, eventually finding a mountainside and making his way to Meteor Falls, a path to Rustboro City.

Entering, he came across two more of the dorks in faux red Pikachu outfits - Team Magma - who apparently had taken possession of a meteorite.  They turned upon Andrew, but was immediately saved by people dressed as pirates - Team Aqua.  Andrew encounters Archie once more, the leader of Team Aqua, who claims the two teams are rivals.  Aqua wants to expand the sea and create Waterworld, wheres Team Magma wants to expand the land.

Apparently recognizing their fellow pirate, Andrew was spared another victory as the group gave chase to the Team Magma goons and headed toward Mt. Chimney, no doubt a destination for Andrew to go to at some point soon enough. Beyond them, however, he found a "Professor Cozmo", who feared what Team Magma would do with the meteorite.

Ignoring the dangling plot hook, Andrew went to explore the Falls and caught a Solrock now known as "Starburst". Leaving the cave brought him to Route 115, and a few jumps later brought him to...Rustboro City. Heading back to the Devon Corporation got Andrew the gift of Exp. Share from the President, a handy tool for grinding later, to be certain. Then it was back through Rusturf Tunnel, back to Verdanturf and then to Mauville and then finally up the way back to Mt. Chimney...where those Team Magma grunts guarding the way to the Cable Car had suddenly gone missing.

Andrew D. Luffy, giving "high" a whole new meaning...

Andrew took a trip up the mountain to the peak, and upon reaching it found a Team Magma and a Team Aqua grunt fighting it out. Though he watched, the two didn't even seem to notice Andrew and went about running up against one another with their Pokemon.  Though he'd fought against his fellow pirates before, it seemed that Andrew would be assisting them as Team Magma is apparently planning on throwing the meteorite into the volcano, which they believe is going to flood the land with lava and...create more of it. Archie calling on his aid, it looks like next time, Andrew will indeed be putting back on his swashbuckling gear to save the world...and his buyers...

Pokemon Emerald is brought to us by Nintendo and GameFreak.

For the latest from the MadCapMunchkin, be sure to follow him on Twitter @MadCapMunchkin.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

MadCap's Mad Rantings - "It's The End of the Marvel Universe As We Know It"

Oooooh, boy.

And if you can't read the sarcasm in that, welcome. You must be new here.

So, I was traipsing about the internet and came across this.

...well, it was bound to happen eventually.  I mean, in spite of the fact that Joe Quesada said back in 2005 that if the main 616 and Ultimate universes ever crossed over, Marvel would officially be out of ideas (though he later reversed his position like we wish he would about One More Day),this was going to happen at some point and in some shape or form.  Nobody can really deny it. Why? Because comic book writers love their retcons.

Ah, yes, retcons!  Things that - when used well - can wipe away any inconsistencies or flubs in a story or - when used poorly as is often - can screw up things for years.  In this case...I don't know.  Throwing together not only the main Marvel universe and the Ultimate, but several others from What Ifs and spin-offs? Very tricky.  And then, of course, there's the title.

Secret Wars.

...really? You took the most beloved and well-remembered crossover in Marvel history (y'know, the one crossover that actually does what a crossover is supposed to do in comic books?) and decided to make that your title? Congrats on handing yourself a massive pair of shoes to fill.  Really, Secret Wars seems to be the last great Marvel crossover that anyone cares to remember (though, as I've heard, Mutant Massacre in the 90s wasn't terrible).  While Civil War tried to make Captain America the bad guy in a moral debate (which is insane), Original Sin had a very interesting whodunit story about the death of Uatu the Watcher that turned into being more concerned about advertising the tie-in comics than about telling a decent or even intelligible story, and even Spider-Verse has had some questionable moments (though I have enjoyed it, by the way), Secret Wars had only one thing going for it.

It. Kicked. Ass.

Thrown onto an alien world by an immensely powerful entity, it was a simple fight of good versus evil.  Heroes on one side, villains on the other, badassery ensues.  Now, that's not to say that stories that give us heroes versus heroes can't be good.  However, the problem is...none of Marvel's crossovers that involve heroes versus heroes have been. This is because either, A) Marvel attempts to flaunt a ridiculous premise that they don't actually bother to explain fully and attempt to turn the person who is the paragon of all things good, decent, and moral into the villain (Civil War), or B) Marvel has done so many of these types of crossovers by this point that even if the attempt were made to do this, it would fall completely flat.  The "hero vs. hero" concept has become so played out that it's become passe.

Needless to say, I'm hoping the new Secret Wars really isn't going to be that.  Though now, I can actually say a few good things about it.  Namely how everything is now together in terms of characters and ideas.  This is actually good, since it would allow new ideas to be created and new opportunities to be explored.  However, where this is going to trip up - if it does anywhere - is in the execution.  Like with many, many Marvel events before it.

That I can't really speculate on.  I admit, despite my previous sarcasm they do have me in - hook, line, and sinker.  I, like many I'm sure, are very curious to see how this will be done.  Am I going to be surprised if it's terrible? Nope.  Will I enjoy it if it is?  ...well, yeah. I'll be surprised, but yeah.

To be truthful, all I've been reading of late has been Amazing Spider-Man (a tip of the hat to Mr. Slott for a thoroughly enjoyable return of the character thus far), Scarlet Spiders, and Nova and while I know at least the first title will be involved in it, not entirely sure about the others - though I sincerely hope that the adventures of Sam Alexander will continue.  Really, been very much enjoying that.

Of course, I speak of this event as though it were just another crossover when Marvel has gone out of its way to say that this is how the Marvel universe will be from now until the end of time.  Axel Alonso himself said so.  My response?

"Sure, until you retcon it."

Marvel's "Secret Wars" will begin publishing in May of 2015.

For the latest from the MadCapMunchkin, be sure to follow him on Twitter @MadCapMunchkin.