Tuesday, August 8, 2017

MLP:FIM Review - The Perfect Pear (S7, E13, P146, OE156)

Ever since wanting to more of Applejack's character and her family, besides her siblings and grandmother, all of us have been strongly anticipating to find out more about the Apple family's parents. Faust stated before that the status of them are that they're dead, but now that we're in Season 7, with such a very, very touching storyline involving a backstory of the two and how they eventually came to love each other to the full as a love story, The Perfect Pear would be something of Romeo and Juliet and (what most consider to be) THE saddest episode of Rugrats (which I haven't exactly seen yet); Mother's Day combined, with a little My Little Pony slapped all over them. And with "Perfect" in the title, I feel it's THE perfect episode of the whole season.

Apple Bloom encounters a kindly old pear merchant named Grand Pear in the market. When she tells Applejack and Big McIntosh about it, they tell her about a long-standing feud between the Apple and Pear families that Granny Smith refuses to talk about. Visiting Goldie Delicious for more information, the siblings discover that their mother, Buttercup, was Grand Pear's daughter, originally named Pear Butter. Through stories told by friends of their parents, the siblings learn about the star-crossed romance between Pear Butter and their father, Bright Mac, which is complicated by Grand Pear's plans to move his family away from Ponyville. Bright Mac and Pear Butter hold a secret wedding ceremony that is discovered by their disapproving parents as soon as they are married. Pear Butter asserts her place with the Apple family and cuts ties with Grand Pear when he refuses to accept their love. In the present, the Apple siblings arrange a meeting between Granny Smith and the now remorseful Grand Pear, allowing their estranged grandparents to reconcile.

Episodes in Friendship Is Magic haven't got more than emotional enough since Amending Fences in Season 5, but at first glance, in an unbelievably - if not too surprising - turn of events, The Perfect Pear is something completely different. Love stories don't tend to interest me either, and when you look at my taste in film, any flick in the romance genre (outside of maybe a few animated movies like Pixar's WALL-E) other than last year's La La Land just don't earn me over enough. Joanna Lewis & Kristine Songco's most recent script involving the Apple siblings' parents is about as gripping of a heartbreaking story as a lot of animated Disney movies can be. As usual, we've been given INCREDIBLE portrayals from every memorable major character in the episode; particularly Felicia Day's performance as Applejack's, Big Mac's, and Apple Bloom's mother Pear Butter and, as much as I hate to admit it only based on his harsh relationship he often has with both his fans and co-workers, William Shatner as Grand Pear for obvious good reasons.

Since some backstory between both parents is what many of us have waited for, the story that paces along the 22 minutes of the episode's run time has been done expertly that it never feels poorly timed with any particular moments of the various events of the backstory, and in that sense it never effects the plot's perfection to any extent. With even more heartfelt moments than other episodes have ever had in the past several seasons throughout, there's lots for me to mention here. We also get another amazing, if slightly short song (with a long bizarre title nonetheless) by Pear Butter that only adds more and more emotion to the episode that really breaks the heart enough to where you'd need major time to recover from it; "You're in My Head Like a Catchy Song". (Seriously, it makes The Mane Attraction's The Magic Inside by Applejack's friend Coloratura sound like pure happiness. Yikes!) In fact, you know those scenes where the Apples' parents are often pulled away by Germain and Shatner's elderly characters, not to mention all the love they've shown for each other before their secret wedding? Yeah, that makes other moments like Moon Dancer's and Rainbow Dash's breakdowns (Amending Fences and Tanks for the Memories) look like NOTHING!

It should be noted that I now rank it as my 4th favorite episode of the whole series, and to be clear on why three others still stand above it; Pinkie Pride made a brony back in July 2014 - meaning I wouldn't have joined the fandom without it via Weird Al Yankovic's performance as my favorite pony of the series; Cheese Sandwich, Stranger Than Fan Fiction solely connects the fandom and the show together strongly considering it's clearly based off our brony conventions (not to mention Patton Oswalt's stellar performance as THE hilarious Quibble Pants), and Twilight's Kingdom? Pfft. For obvious reasons I don't think I need to recap here. A few other episodes I could consider with Pear is that it puts even Crusaders of the Lost Mark to shame having to finally show Applejack's parents, making it something more anticipating at some points than the CMCs getting their cutie marks, and that it makes any other sad installments like Fences look like something happy (as I said), but that's about all I can really name about its accomplishments over other episodes.

Positive reception aside, you have to wonder though, because of Faust's statement on them being deceased; how exactly did they kick the bucket? A sacrifice to save their children? A terminal illness? And I don't blame Lewis & Songco for not giving us a proper statement, but couldn't Faust have explained at least some of it for the fandom? So as a nitpick, that's the only grudge I think we all would have with the episode as that's really the only thing that leaves a bit to be desired, but if we get a future episode that'll explain it - assuming Faust will give us an update sometime soon as to their unexpected, yet unexplained deaths - who knows? If the status of the Apple parents change from deceased to missing, kinda like some Finding Dory plotline figure (where Dory's on a quest to search for her parents somewhere beyond the ocean), I won't really be surprised, but I do get that feeling that could be equally as touched as I truly felt with The Perfect Pear.

Without a doubt, The Perfect Pear stands out as MLP's best episode of Season 7, and obviously its new winner for the category of sad episodes, and not without reason. Keeping the reception strongly positive with flawless performances by Felicia Day as Pear Butter, and (unexpectedly) William Shatner as Grand Pear, even if Bright Mac's mysterious voice actor Bill Newton does make his character memorably sympathetic and lovable as both Pear Butter and Grand Pear in general without even making the voice actor himself stand out as being recognizable as Day & Shatner, he still gives a solid performance as the Apple sibling's father to date. With it's script being just as perfected as the episode's title would fortunately suggest via all the emotion that comes from its Romeo and Juliet-like backstory of the parents, another great song (which I might just have to consider to be my new overall favorite of the series) sung by Day, powerful pacing, and of course, the excellent moral that's basically telling you to not hold on to grudges, The Perfect Pear is as perfect of an episode as you can ever get in any newer seasons after Season 4, and it's everything you need to make a chapter that just adds more and more potential of near flawlessness to an already superb season.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

MLP:FIM Review - Discordant Harmony (S7, E12, P145, OE155)

It should be pathetically obvious that Discord's my all time favorite MLP character. It should also come as no surprise that everyone who wrote for him minus Neal Dusedau did excellent jobs to make him portray his usual comedic self, without being obnoxious in the wrong way, or making other ponies feel terrible for missing out on something (hey there, What About Discord?). Now that the Fox brothers took a shot at him, I feel they've done themselves even more wonders after their previous outstanding effort in the season, Forever Filly. And while they have gone a little downhill after their first script in Season 6 The Gift of the Maud Pie, (with Applejack's "Day" Off and P.P.O.V. (Pony Point of View)) there's more potential in store for them now their newest episodes have never ceased to impress me.

After joining Fluttershy for another tea party, Discord realizes he has never invited her for tea before, and extends the invitation. While shopping for supplies, Discord encounters Pinkie Pie, who suggests that he should make sure to have a party that Fluttershy will like to enjoy herself. Discord takes upon himself to change himself and his home in his realm to be much more normal in appeal to Fluttershy. When Fluttershy arrives, she sees that Discord is fading away, unable to make chaos. She rectifies the situation by creating chaos for him, while helps to restore him to normal. She reminds him that they get along so well because they are so different, and she was hoping to have a tea party under Discord's chaotic setting rather than one like her own. The two enjoy a chaotic tea party together.

Thanks to its strong humor and realistically stellar storyline, there's plenty to praise about Discordant Harmony by Mike & Wil Fox. There's lots of good moments to make you laugh with absolute joy; from the new editions of what Discord does with his chaotic magic what with moments like his right lion fingers eating cucumber sandwiches during his tea party with Fluttershy, to other scenes where he often talks to himself (something of which I can strongly relate to), it's hard not to get hooked on its gripping plot. Of course, the story keeps adding to Discord's character and Fluttershy's as well, not to mention it helps him move on a lot farther from his only failure of an installment back in Season 5. At first, I heard some MLP Wikia user originally thought of it to be Discord's Lesson Zero, but the way I personally see it, it's more like his own spinoff to Fluttershy's most recent episode beforehand; Fluttershy Leans In. But that's not to say it's a cheap and stupid gimmick, which would've been a bad thing if it was.

As if none of that's enough to convince you to give it a positive reputation, Discordant Harmony's friendship lesson of learning to be different from your other friends instead of doing everything their way and not doing your's at least when you have to be yourself is at least enough to change you as another person to help you learn from your mistakes in any similar situations that you can relate to in this episode's case...or, at least to teach you before it ever happens in your life. Even if there wasn't much humor (which would've effected its reputation to some minor extent if it didn't have some sprinkled all over it), the overall pacing of the realistic storyline leading up to Discord fixing up everything to help impress his bestest friend certainly makes for a complex and innovative one at that. Sometimes on the flipside however, there should be more to learn of Fluttershy's and Discord's relationships than just tea parties, but either way, that factor has no effect on the idea of this Season 7 chapter.

Since it does everything that makes previous outings of the draconquus good (minus Discord's only dark spot in his character), Discordant Harmony is one episode that helps itself to add more charm to this already stellar season even after its first and only flop so far known as Not Asking for Trouble. With flawless portrayals from the main characters (and Pinkie Pie's nice cameo when she gives Discord a little tea party advice) via Libman's and de Lancie's performances that always remain excellent even after their big bruises of character development, a gripping storyline, hilarious and realistic humor that's just as admirable as those of most of Discord's previous installments before this, and well-constructed concept of revisiting Discord's home after Make New Friends but Keep Discord just two years eariler, and besides its fantastic moral of friendship, Discordant Harmony gets pretty much everything right about its aspects of a good episode, and is very close to being my favorite normal lengther of the draconquus. Period.

Friday, July 14, 2017

MLP:EG Specials Review - Dance Magic, Movie Magic, & Mirror Magic (Episodes 1-3)

It's not saying much really that the Equestria Girls spinoff hasn't improved itself lately and has rather gone downhill after the flawless 2014 sequel that is Rainbow Rocks. With the specials now in store on television as an attempt to try something new at the franchise of MLP, I shall be doing a retrospect review on them all in one post here. And before I get started, none of them are that good, so for these three reviews in one, don't expect me to be that positive about these so-called specials by my own standpoint.

If you were to cross The Show Stoppers over with Rarity Takes Manehattan and put the ponies into the human world, then you would preferably get Dance Magic. As a plot that revolves around the Human Five, Sunset, and Sci-Twi trying to compete to get the best music video to earn some money after a car wash fundraiser job deadline, it isn't entirely bad as the overall song (and music video to an extent) with three of the Shadowbolts and our seven main characters, but it is flawed in some other senses.

Rarity isn't at her greatest when she comes up with the idea of making her own music video and just spilling out details and secrets to the Shadowbolts at Sci-Twi's old school, which really makes you wonder what she was thinking when coming up against them. The Shadowbolts also aren't helped much by the fact that they haven't seemed to have learned from the events of Friendship Games, and rather haven't changed which doesn't help add a fair amount of potential to them even in the slightest. And the last is that basically tries to copycat both episodes I said Dance Magic ripped off to make it seem like nothing new to the franchise other than showing what The Show Stoppers is like primarily in the human world as I said.

Overall, Dance Magic is the third installment in both series I give a dislike to after Stoppers and Somepony to Watch Over Me. It's tolerable at best, but is nothing new in either its moral or its story, and by the end of day, I find my self considering one of my favorite "bad" installments of the franchise that I can take.

Sci-Twi has been one of my lowest ranked characters of the franchise for her total whininess, but for these first two specials, I could admittedly tolerate her at most even though her status in the "cool" or "stupid" character factor haven't exactly changed.

The one other factor that I'm afraid is taking me off topic as to anything at least half decent about this flop is one of the most recent characters of the spinoff; Juniper Montage! As a character who's straight up bratty and unlikable, although I can take her compared to Timtin Spreiber, she's a character who feels both bankrupt and dead on arrival since DOA can best describe the anything else even without Everfail. Getting to the plot however, it's best described as both boring and gimmicky. We're supposed to some Indiana Jones-referencing sets via Daring Do's scenes, but it's really just an excuse to show what the genuine character herself is like in the human world and nothing else really. With even pointless cameos like those recycled Power Ponies costumes and Juniper just ruining all the fun on set, it's painfully predictable both in its reception and the overall plot in general.

I mean seriously, could you NOT have predicted that Juniper WAS the hooded figure all along?

Now this special is where I ask "What were Rachel Vine and Dave Polsky thinking?!" This one literally makes no sense and confuses me from Point A to B, so where do I even start?

When I said Juniper Montage was terrible in Movie Magic, well, if you compared her to her Mirror Magic self, then that's nothing. She's even worse as a selfish brat who wants revenge on the Human Seven, and Starlight (despite Glimmy not being affected as an improved character from the poorly constructed sixth season in the main Friendship Is Magic series), and her redemption by the very end makes Starlight's look like Discord's and Sunset's. There's also no real explanation or logic as to how that magical mirror is possible other than just- well, MAGIC, and that's no surprising shame considering this is some terrible gimmick that's like something out of Beauty and the Beast. These factors and Juniper's character being ten times worse all add up to a recipe of total disaster that makes it seem like false advertisement, with an even stupider story and forced moral that just shoves it down your throw to accept others and forgive them instantly instead of giving them the time they clearly need to develop and learn.

There's virtually no reason for even the most die hard fan of the spinoff to give this a watch, and if not for Everfail and To Time a Finale Badly breaking its fall, Mirror Magic would easily rank as the worst installment of both franchises of MLP combined.


Final Thoughts

Am I the only one who thinks THIS scene of Sunset returning to Equestria
briefly in Mirror Magic is better than the specials themselves in general?

The three specials of the spinoff so far all come to a conclusion that its best to either put Equestria Girls out of its misery, or just give it a remake if Meghan McCarthy can't spice it back up (even if she tried her hardest). Everything as Zack and I both have discussed in this series has lost potential after the second installment and other than Sunset herself, I have no interest in EG anymore, and if anymore specials do come, I'm just wanting to get them over with just to rant about them during reviews. If I AM suddenly surprised one day by a GOOD special, who knows?

NOTE: I won't be posting anything next week since I'll be bonding with my cousins elsewhere. Keep that in mind and I guess I'll see in the last week of the month sometime.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Mario Game Review - Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (GBA, 2003)

There's really no denying that the Mario & Luigi series is one of the best spinoffs of everyone's favorite Italian plumber. It all began with the first game in the series on the GBA that is Superstar Saga. With a remake coming out this year in October on the 3DS with Bowser's Minions added on to the story, I feel I should take a review at this awesome RPG by Nintendo and AlphaDream after after Square Enix with Legend of the Seven Stars and Intelligent Systems with the original Paper Mario (before its improved sequel in the preceding year; The Thousand-Year Door). (So let's get started, shall we?)

The game opens with the witch Cackletta and her assistant Fawful arriving to steal Princess Peach's voice and replace it with explosives. After being summoned to the palace by Toad, Mario and Luigi confront and subdue Bowser, who coincidentally was attempting to kidnap Peach. Bowser decides against doing so, and teams up with Mario and Luigi to take her voice back from Cackletta, who has fled to the Beanbean Kingdom, with the intention of kidnapping Peach afterward when her voice would not destroy his castle.

...And of course, it's now up to the plumbers to help retrieve the real princess and save the Beanbean Kingdom all together from the evil clutches of Cackletta.

Superstar Saga's gameplay varies from previous Mario RPGs in many twists, but also with some newer features to world of role-playing games for the plumber(s). Instead of partners to accompany you, you play as only the two brothers and travel across many different landscapes in order to progress on to each newer field in order to save the princess and complete the game. You have the main quest having to travel great distances all while battling enemies and bosses to get from one point to another. You'll eventually require the plumber's abilities of high jumping and spinning across platforms in various areas throughout, but not too long after you come across training in battle mode and combat.

In the battle system, you fight with both brothers against enemies and bosses battles, which you can use both special moves, and your hammers and jump abilities. There are the special moves you acquire eventually as you advance in battles and earn more power for as you level up. In fact, you are upgraded with Heart Points, Bros. Points, Defense, Speed, and Stache eventually throughout each time you level up. When you start the battle off, you're required to either dodge or counterstrike the enemy/boss depending on the attacks, or take your turn jump, hammering, or attacking with the more powerful special Bros. moves. But of course, once you reach 0 HP on both brothers, it's game over.

You can collect items to help you on your quest and battles against enemies you take on, such as Mushrooms (for HP) and Syrup (for BP), or even badges and other clothing it increase certain stats with one brother or the other. (Like ATK, DEF, and BP status, etc.) You'll also have to search around for switches and other things to help progress on in the game, but there's lots more to be had.

That's all the important stuff I can discuss, and in gameplay standards, there's nothing bad to be said about it, but if there is, it's some of its difficulty that often tends to time itself too soon, or mostly at random, but that's really all I can say about any of the game's flaws. So now the graphics department.

Visuals and layouts in graphical design for Superstar Saga is very impressive for a Game Boy Advance title and I'm happy to say that the whole game tends to be extremely creative and breathtaking in its initial concept. The overall look of the areas/levels like the snow, beach, and castle landscapes all have an appeal of charm to them, and as for animation and sprites, they've all been well done so that based on the game's overall humor, these animations often tend to make the game hilarious for comedic effect. So for one gaming's most humorous games ever, Superstar Saga's graphics department all come close to being some of the greatest for its console, even if other games often tend to stand above it.

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga's sound design is easily one of the best aspects of the game as a whole in every category of its design. The music, first off, is all very catchy and some of the series' greatest with nothing bad in store. Ranging from some of my favorite themes like Teehee Valley and Gwarhar Lagoon in the mainly adventure field, to very epic and blood-pumping tracks for the boss battles. There's just nothing bad to say about the game's soundtrack as it's very pleasurable for the ears that sometimes you can never get enough of it. (At least if you're me in that sense)

Sound effects are spot on as always with some that would eventually be recycled in the future sequels onwards, so now voice acting...

There's really nothing I can say about it as it's all weird, and admittedly for the best that the characters themselves don't speak out unlike Zelda games. And besides, we always have that classic Mario and Luigi quotes by Charles Martinet that never die down as they all have soft spot in hearts like mine.

So the music? Awesome. Sound effects? All spot on as usual. And voice acting? Well, I have nothing new to say... so now let's move on.

  • D-Pad - Move selection cursor (Menu), Move Mario & Luigi (Adventure Field), Move Action Cursor (Battlefield)
  • A - Confirms Select (Menu), Perform selected "Back Bro" action (Adventure Field), Perform/Select Mario's action commands (Battlefield)
  • B - Cancel selection/Return to previous menu (Menu), Perform selected "Front Bro" action (Adventure Field), Perform/Select Luigi's action commands (Battlefield)
  • L - Switch menu field left (Menu), cycles "Back Bro" action icon (Adventure Field)
  • R - Switch menu field right (Menu), cycles "Front Bro" action icon (Adventure Field)
  • Start (Adventure Field only) - Swap "Back Bro" w/"Front Bro"
  • Select (Adventure Field only) - Opens suitcase

With the re-release of the original game being ported to the 3DS in October this year as I said, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga on its own has everything great you need to make and play a good Mario game. With hilarious humor, near flawless gameplay, appealing layout and visuals, great sound, and wonderful (if hard-to-get-used-to) controls, the game itself takes RPG Mario games to a whole new level and for any of you who HAVEN'T played the original outing yet; give it a shot before you get your hands on the enhanced 3DS remake.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

After the Fact - Super Mario 64 DS (DS, 2004)

Super Mario 64 is undoubtedly my all time favorite video game, and for many good reasons. The replayability when completing the entirely, the good challenge within every level, and most of all, flawless gameplay and replay value. With the DS remake nearly three years later however, there have been few ups and downs that make it a little too flawed, but nevertheless, it's fantastic port of the original 1996 N64 classic, even if any newer features aren't entirely necessary. But as with my previous comparison between both imports of Mario Kart 8, let's now compare the remake to the original.  

I've always loved the other characters the game allows you to play as on their own; Yoshi, Luigi, and Wario. And while they aren't perfect as characters in both controls and power ups, they're so much fun to play as. There's no change in Mario other than his recycled Balloon power up from Super Mario World as his only power up he can use on his own, so I've got nothing to say about him, so what about the other three playable characters?

With Yoshi, he recycles most of his potential moves from other entries in the game where he was playable; his egg laying after swallowing certain enemies (albeit others like Bom-ombs where he can only bomb things after spitting them back out), his ability to breath fire for a short time after nabbing a power up flower, and most of all, his flutter jump that allows him to hover in the air for a short time. While he may not be able to grab things with his own arms rather than only his tongue, he's still a welcome edition to the game despite seeming a little strange that you start the game off playing as him rather than Mario.

Mario's younger twin brother Luigi also has a jump similar to Yoshi's, only instead of fluttering above the ground, all it really does is make his falls look a little spazzy and that really doesn't add anything to him. His faster speed than his brother on the other hand does at least make up for that, and that you can walk on water for a brief few seconds when you come into contact with it instead of necessarily jumping into or on it. His jump is obviously higher than his brother's, but other than all that, there's really nothing more I can say about him other than he's also fun to play throughout various levels.

And last but not least, as the strongest, if slowest, character in game, we have Mario's frienemy evil twin known as Wario. Now he's the character who can smash and break the strongest blocks that the rest of the characters can't break. As Yoshi gets fire breathing, and Mario gets balloon floating, as Luigi also does with going invisible to enemies (and able to walk through certain walls), Wario gets the Metal Cap power up when coming into contact with a flower power up. It's still a little strange that Mario doesn't get to use those previous power ups that he got to back in the original game, but at least these newer playable characters got a shot at what they might be like. But getting back to Wario, while he isn't the most useful, or my all time favorite character of the franchise, he still acts as a good character for the player to play as in the game.

So to conclude this section, while Mario may still be able to use his Wing Cap as he got to in the original N64 outing (not to mention the balloon floating as I said), it's a little sad that he doesn't get to use the rest of the power ups, but then again, that wouldn't make the other characters interesting to play as if we weren't require to use them to get specific power stars throughout the game. It is pretty cool that you get to use them in disguise though if you collect their caps though when you eventually unlock them (when your playing as one different character or the other), albeit Yoshi since he can use all three different caps unlike the rest of the characters. It may have been fun just to use Mario throughout the original game, but since we get to play as three others here, there's a good reason for one to buy this game (either on their own NintendoDS or 3DS, or on virtual console for the Wii U).

Speaking of collecting specific power stars throughout the game, there is more than enough to add up to 150 total. While some missions haven't specifically changed in terms of the required tasks to get the stars, there are some cases where you need play as a certain character (like Luigi or Wario) instead of the others in order to collect them in some of the recycled missions from the N64 game. I mean there are new ones like more secret areas, the silver stars throughout all fifteen main levels, and even those levels with the bosses the player must defeat in order to unlock the mustachios in the game, but while some feel a little gimmicky and not to fascinating, it still adds to 64 DS's good reception.

Now this is the biggest gimmick that I don't find very good or useful other than when you're playing the minigames at best. When you control the characters by touching the screen instead of simply using the D-Pad and usual four buttons, then it doesn't feel or seem useful at all. It really makes me ask just why Nintendo would come up with this and as result, I find myself playing it the usual way with the buttons instead of the touch screen equally as much as I'd rather use the C-Stick to control Super Mario Sunshine's sometimes irritating camera in certain levels than the L-Trigger. So basically all you can do is move around when touching your favorite characters on the touch screen, and you'd really rather use it when playing all the minigames rather than the actual adventure game itself. In fact, speaking of the game's minigames...

There are lots of minigames to play and unlock in the game, that they're all so much fun to play. There's just far too much to discuss about them all here, so I'm really just going to explain how it's all said and done at just how you can collect them all together for each character. It all begins at the very start when Yoshi is required to find the key to unlock Peach's locked castle at the beginning for reasons beyond us, but Yoshi is required to catch a bunny in the castle yard to get the key to get in the castle. And after only THAT bunny, then that's when there's more spread out throughout the castle. To give a clear hint on how you can tell which ones are for which characters to catch to collect more keys to the minigames, Yoshi's bunnies are yellow, Mario's are (strangely) pink (and not really red like his normal color), Luigi's are green like himself, and Wario's are orange.

Ranging from the outside and the inside of the castle in numerous rooms on the three different levels, you'll have to really spread out throughout the whole place to find all the character's bunnies with only a few for each character. It doesn't feel to tedious, and is actually a little fun, but let's face it; what's more fun? The minigames? Or the main adventure itself? (If you say the main adventure, I think you have a truly smart brain, but if you don't, you're kinda weird)

To give a final opinion here, Super Mario 64 DS isn't quite up there with the original Nintendo 64 game, but I will say it's worth playing though to experience what it'd be like to platform in a three-dimensional world as Yoshi, Luigi, and Wario also. Mario still hasn't changed in his status throughout the game, so it's highly likely that he'd ultimately come out on top as the most useful, but with more great power stars to collect (thirty to give you a specific recap), the same good power ups, and some fun- if unnecessary, side quest minigames, it's one you have to give a shot if you haven't already.

Friday, June 30, 2017

After the Fact - Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Nintendo Switch)

It's now been two months since Mario Kart 8 Deluxe got its initial release on the Nintendo Switch. For another a review I'll be making on it now, despite not reviewing the original copy on the Wii U first off, I shall only really be discussing the newly introduced features it added to the game. Gameplay, graphics, and sound design on the basic game itself I shall discuss in my review for it's original Wii U self, but now, on with my thoughts on it...

There have been plenty of new features throughout each new Mario Kart game, and over the course of them all, they've all been welcome editions even if some weren't necessary for anymore sequels (I'm looking at Double Dash!!'s Co-Op feature). From stunts you can perform for major boosts to gliders and anti-gravity racing, they're all great. The new features here though are more weight classes than in the original throughout the three different primary classes; light, medium, and heavy. It's not necessarily anything new, and doesn't add anything to the game really, but I don't mind it. We also have the smart-steering antenna used to help you not to fall off courses to avoid losing coins, but at a price, it also means you can't do risky stunts, so that's really not much help either other than for any TODDLERS who are playing the game. You also have the Ultra Mini-Turbo boost you get if you keep steering long enough after the orange ones, but only if you turn of the unnecessary Smart Steering. Other features like the fire hopping mechanic (where you jump left and right simultaneously) has been removed, but with 200cc driving in Time Trail mode for a faster drive, then that's where I don't mind this mechanic being scrapped (and besides, I hardly ever find it useful in the first place).

For the most part, there's really not much I can say about these particular features since they really don't feel that new, but this IS a direct report of the original Wii U title after all. But for now, let's discuss the other features the game fixes up.

Now this is the mode the Switch remake has completely improved upon the original. As with every other Mario Kart game, Battle Mode has been handled very simply because instead of battling it out on tracks, with balloons, or collect coins, or holding a shine sprite for the longest time possible, you're in arenas INSTEAD of the game's ordinary race tracks. I don't know exactly what Nintendo was thinking when using race courses in the battle mode at first rather than arenas like stadiums and stuff, but that was what clearly effected the potential perfection for the game's reception. But now that the remake has been made, I can forget the original version's flaws.

There is of course the usual Balloon Battle where you pop as many balloons from your opponents as you can, Coin Runners, where you grab and collect as many coins as you can within a time limit against your opponents, but we're also brought back Bom-omb Blast and Shine Thief (both of which were originally) from Double Dash!!. Although Bom-omb Blast is super fun when you bomb your rivals endlessly, I really would've prefer Shine Runners from DS to be brought back instead of Shine Thief, but it is understandable that Thief was used here instead, considering it would've been just like Coin Runners except if you replace the coins with Shine Sprites of course, but anyway.

So while Shine Thief isn't exactly the most interesting of the mode, the rest (especially Balloon Battle especially win me over in the mode with great passion as to why I prefer the remake over the original.

There have been so many fantastic racers that have been a blast to choose from throughout each Mario Kart game after Super Circuit (since the libraries got bigger and bigger - primarily on the home console games though), but none of them have been quite as attractive of a roster as the 8th game's redux. New ones like the Tanooki Mario and Cat Peach were already introduced in the original game via one of its two DLC packs, not to mention Link and the Animal Crossing characters, but with the Inklings, that's a fantastic new edition of racing characters to come. It's cool that charcters from previous games like Dry Bowser and Bowser Jr. were finally brought back, but the great thing about the roster is that they're all already unlocked bar Gold Mario who is unlocked by completing every single Grand Prix cup on every difficulty level.

My main flaw with this particular character roster though are all the Koopalings (that really seem to cram too much of the roster up) and a lack of newer Mario characters, not to mention a few from Donkey Kong's games, but that's something I'm hoping will be done greater with in every sequel after this; especially the potential 9th game on the Switch sometime later. So no roster in the franchise is perfect by my standards, but what's more important is all the fun you have while playing as them... assuming you're okay with playing as one character or another in the library.

Whether you prefer to buy the remake on the Switch or not if you haven't already for the past two months, you at least shouldn't deny that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has certainly done the original justice with everything I just mentioned here. So while some great throwbacks like items from the previous games coming back is good, along with bringing back Battle Mode's classic perfected roots back, there's a lot of hope to have for the 9th game on the console (possibly), but that's not to say this remake of the originally Wii U outing is bad whatsoever. I didn't have much to discuss with the new controls to the game as that's for me to discuss on the console itself in general, but with everything good I've considered about it, Deluxe is one remake you simply must own at all costs.

Monday, June 19, 2017

MLP:FIM Review - Not Asking for Trouble (S7, E11, P144, OE154)

Party Pooped is arguably one of MLP's worst efforts based on its offense stereotypes of bizarre characters that are the yaks (apparently they're a part of Equestria's royalty, and that makes no sense by my standards), particularly the leader of those stereotypical yaks; Prince Rutherford. By now, it's been two years since they've made an appearance on the series, and with Not Asking for Trouble, I feel their factor and status of characters has not changed at all whatsoever. So my question for Hasbro is; what were they seriously thinking?! (Now I may have said plenty of great things about every previous episode, but don't expect to show any respect towards Party Pooped's sequel here)

Pinkie Pie is invited to the rustic village of Yakyakistan, where she partakes in the yak holiday of Yikslurbertfest to prove her understanding of yak culture. During their customary stomping ritual, Pinkie and the yaks accidentally cause an avalanche that buries the entire village in snow, leaving them without food or shelter. Unable to dig the snow away on their own, Pinkie offers to gather her friends to assist the yaks, but the proud Prince Rutherford stubbornly rejects any outside help and opts to wait for the snow to melt instead. Pinkie disregards the prince and rallies her friends to secretly remove the snow while they sleep. Awakening the next morning to find the snow gone, Rutherford and the yaks commend Pinkie for helping them without their asking, and make her an honorary yak.

Once again lacking anything the from the good episodes of its own particular season, Trouble goes down as one comes off as one of Friendship Is Magic's terrible efforts for more than just the reason of those horribly unlikable yaks. For one, the plot makes for one of THE most boring I've ever had the opportunity of sitting through as I never feel entertained whatsoever. I mean yes, characters like them need backstories to develop more, but even still, their's was of no interest to me, and Pinkie making up a similar situation of story as to how she and her friends can help the yaks without them rejecting it doesn't seem at all bearable. And I have nothing to say about Pinkie and her part here (not to mention any of the rest of the Mane Six) as she (and her friends) makes the overall plot lead up to basically nothing just like she did in the yaks' debut episode which once again adds nothing.

Another one of my major grudges with the episode is especially the yaks' dialogue and feels equally as cheesy and terrible as their's in the episode's predecessor. It doesn't help that the humor feels rather forced and random, not to mention it makes no sense whatsoever since this is the sluggish plot we're focusing on. Need I mention that there's no real moral and most definitely when I'm trying to figure what it clearly is only confuses me? I mean if someone can tell me what the actual moral is, then maybe I'll try to see just how it feels that way in NAfT, but if nobody knows, then I don't care at all. Whatever the case, it'll be hard for me to understand anything Trouble tries bring across via its storyline.

Here's one of the first things I have to say about my final thoughts as a message to Hasbro: "Please DON'T bring back any detestable characters who have been dead on arrival." I mean why on earth did newbie writer May Chan think bringing the annoying and stereotypical yaks back to develop them in the same manner would ever be a good idea when Nick Confalone already tried and literally failed at it only two years earlier via Season 5's Party Pooped? Because now we have a sequel that's equally awful based on that factor. I know some people with rant about me for panning Not Asking for Trouble strongly, but the way I see it, characters like the yaks have no potential hope in the future.

Being Season 7's one and only bad and unbearable episode so far, Not Asking for Trouble ranks among my Top Ten Worst Episodes of the Series in general (at least if I'm not including any of the EG spinoff films). I know not even Season 4 comes off as perfect with only three episodes I don't favor (with only one making my least favorite episodes category), but NAfT in the end results in another installment that lacks heart, watchability, or complexity, and if I were Hasbro and wanted to keep giving this fourth generation more and more potential, and if Chan wants to go from a terrible start to a more tolerable newcomer for the show's crew, I would in no way bring the yaks back for a sequel or follow up episode.

May Chan may have made Not Asking for Trouble very brightly colorful and spot on in its sound design - the yaks' voiceover roles and especially the dreadful dialogue not withstanding - but the graphics and sound departments are just about the one and only thing she ever gets right about the episode.