From Review to Thought Corner

I have a confession. I don’t like reviews. I definitely don’t like writing reviews. I never wanted to write reviews. I never wanted to classify what I write as reviews. Then I started writing blog posts. Reviews seemed like the professional thing to do, if you can call the ones I’ve written so far reviews. No more. I’m going to give my original idea a spin. To some my posts may still read as reviews but I will no longer concern myself with that label.

Why not reviews?

What type of reviews have you read? Probably either helpful or unhelpful ones, right? Of course you have the critics, professionally published online in magazines that don’t really reflect the mind of the average audience. All over the internet you can find bloggers, youtubers and even on some sites that ask for reviews people giving detailed thoughtful insights. Those are the helpful ones, the ones that are interesting to read. Then you get the unhelpful reviews. Mostly negative opinions that don’t give you any insight into their experience or the experience you might have. They just attack the work, creator or both. Negative one word reviews are the most annoying in my opinion.

The thing is all these reviewers have already formed their opinion and what they write only reflects that view they’ve chosen. Positive reviews encourage readers to use or watch something and negative reviews deter the reader. I mean that’s the purpose of reviews. To help someone make an informed decision before buying something. There’s this idea that reviewers, professional ones at least, know what they’re talking about. I’m subconsciously adding that expectation and pressure to myself when I work. I also want to go beyond just helping people make an informed decision. I want to spark discussion. Bring people with similar interests together. Think beyond just my opinion. Imagine ways something could be improved. Looking at story and character elements, how they work. Why the creator chose to direction they took.

I’m no longer going to write reviews. From now on I’m calling them thought corners. A space where I write my thoughts on something, analyse and fantasize what could’ve been done differently. The name change might not seem that different from reviews but it’ll make a world of difference for my mental health. ‘Thought corner’ eases my overthinking and worry of saying or getting something wrong. I am taking something and making it my own.

While I’m writing this I have also settled on how I’m going to rate things, for now. I didn’t want to rate ouf of 10 or use stars. Too basic for me. I thought about it for a while and came up with an idea. Birthstones. I know that means the scale is out of 12 but I can do what I want. Like I’ve said in a past post, I won’t know if my ideas work unless I try them. Here is the order of birthstones for those who don’t know:

1- Garnet

2- Amethyst

3- Aquamarine

4- Diamond

5- Emerald

6- Pearl

7- Ruby

8- Peridot

9- Sapphire

10- Opal

11- Topaz

12- Turquoise

Worst to best is from top to bottom. Sorry if that upsets anyone. I think this will be a fun and unique way to rate things. It’s also a way for me to combine the magic of fictional worlds with the little magic we have in ours. It might be a bit odd that something terrible has a Diamond or Amethyst rating but weirder things have happened.

Thank you for all those reading my ramblings. My first book thought corner will be up soon. I’ll see you all in the next post.

-Your Hostess-

Time to Meet the Spring Troupe

Hello and welcome to all you beautiful people, today we’re continuing our quest to save a theatre and it’s company from destruction. Of course I can only be talking about A3! So without further ado let’s get into it.

The Spring troupe is the first of the four troupes to be formed. Spring brings new beginnings and this is most definitely a new beginning for the Mankai Company. I can see what you did there developers.

Already I can spot the formula for each story section. Tachibana finds five guys to form a troupe. They start rehearsals. Some of the boys are good or have good instincts. The others have a lot of work to do. The play is written. Rehearsals start with read throughs that are a bit rocky. Tachibana has a scene with each of the boys, encouraging them or discovering something about them. Rehearsals improve. Tickets aren’t selling well. The troupe comes together and manages to sell every ticket, closing night being the most important day. Finally they perform the show. I promise there’s more substance than what I’ve laid out here but that’s the basic outline.

The Spring troupe’s first show is Romeo and Julius, a reimagining of Romeo and Juliet about friendship and not romance. Although honestly I still get a romantic vibe from the dialogue and acting. Whether it’s a romance or not there’s enough there to fuel the shippers’ imaginations. Through the Spring troupe’s story the group suffers from a lack of teamwork. They’re all stuck in their own heads. A mindset that can be detrimental to a play, believe me. That all changes when the troupe decides to spend a night on the theatre’s stage. From then on in rehearsals all the actors noticeably improve. As I’ve already stated, at the end of the troupe’s story they perform to a full house on closing night, receiving a standing ovation.

So now I should probably talk about the boys. I mean they are the main characters in the story. And the reason why we’re here.

Sakuya Sakuma

Sakuya is the first member of the new Mankai Company and the Spring Troupe. He’s like a puppy, full of energy and always optimistic. Ever since he was young he’s been in love with acting and the theatre. Now he wants to give it a go himself. He’s got a lot of training to do but he puts his all into every rehearsal. His upbeat personality and position as lead in their first show is what leads to Sakuya being chosen as leader of the Spring Troupe. He’s a ball of sunshine that you can’t help but like. He’s a little naive but eager to learn. Sakuya tries his best to stop any fighting and keep the group together. He’s the best choice as leader. I like Sakuya but he’s not really my type when it comes to these types of stories, i.e. otomes and dating sims.

Masumi Usui

Masumi joined the Mankai Company after seeing Tachibana doing a street act with Sakuya and Matsukawa. It’s love at first sight and Tachibana becomes his whole world. So he’s an obsessive stalker, kind of. He’s harmless really. He doesn’t force himself on her but also doesn’t understand that Tachibana isn’t interested in him. Or rather she can’t be because there aren’t specific routes. There’s also the fact he’s 16 and Tachibana is in her twenties, gonna have to wait a few years there. I believe Masumi falls under the cool aloof type. He’s a good actor, despite having no experience, that could do with thinking about other things besides Tachibana. Oh wait, he’s a teenager so that’s unlikely. Although I think his upbringing factors into why he becomes so attached to Tachibana. Again I like him but he’s still not my type when I play these games and nothing has really grabbed me yet with his story/personality.

Tsuzuru Minagi

Tsuzuru is the third member to join the Spring Troupe. He was on the hunt for a troupe with a dorm, Mankai Company perfectly fits his needs. He wants to be a playwright and uses his talents to write plays for all the troupes to perform. He prefers to write characters specifically for each actor. He’s a hard worker. To help look after his 7 little brothers Tsuzuru worked many different part time jobs, picking up many different skills. When it comes to acting however he has no prior experience. He is a sweet guy who continues to fill the big brother role despite trying to strike out on his own. Tsuzuru is someone I could see myself dating if he was real. A nice guy who also loves writing and likes spending time in libraries reading. He even looks up to a slightly older actor, a 3rd year at his university, who is such a genuine guy, wanting to be more like him. Thinking about self improvement. But Tsuzuru is not my favourite.

Itaru Chigasaki

Itaru is another young man looking for a place to stay so he joins the Mankai Company. On the surface he’s a heartthrob that has his life together. Mature, kind and sociable. But his real personality is a far cry from the mask he wears. Itaru is a serious gaming addict. Everything he does is so that he can quickly return to his games. In my opinion he’s the one that goes through the most character development. At first he’s lazy, thinks acting is easy and spends all of his freetime in his room alone playing games. He goes from this solitary, single minded person to becoming part of a team, making friends and gaining a passion for acting. Itaru is my favourite of the Spring Troupe boys. I know gaming addiction is serious and should be treated as such. Games are fun but when they start taking over your life it’s time to get some help. But of course I’m attracted to a fellow gamer. I’d be right there playing games alongside him. We’re both competitive people which can be either a good or bad thing, good thing this is fiction. His character design is very attractive, I find it even more attractive when he ties his floofy fringe up when he needs to concentrate. I very much stand Itaru.

Citron

Citron is the last member to join the Spring Troupe. He’s a foreign exchange student shrouded in mystery. He’s still learning japanese, funny thing to say since I’m reading the story in english, so he gets his words mixed up sometimes. He’s always in a cheerful mood and is there to cheer up the group when they need it. Citron is disheartened at his lack of lines in the first show but quickly switches his attitude to wanting to do his best. I find Citron a great source of comic relief, you know a scenes gonna be good when Citron’s involved. I don’t like him in a romantic way but he’s one of my favourite characters. The Spring Troupe wouldn’t be the same without him.

In conclusion, the Spring Troupe story might be an insight into the skeleton of what the other season’s stories hold but that doesn’t mean they’re all painted the same. The characters determine what challenges the troupe will face and how they’ll deal with them. The Spring Troupe are all likeable guys who provide an entertaining first quarter for the overall story. Thank you all for reading and I’ll see you in the next post.

-Your Hostess-

Image Source: All photos are screenshots taken on my phone directly on the app.

Time to Save the Mankai Company

Hello and welcome to all you beautiful people. For those who have read my post looking at the spring anime for this year it will come as no surprise that I’ve started playing A3! I’m still playing through it so what I’m going to do is talk about the different sections of the story as I go, starting with the prologue. So without further ado let’s get into it.

A3! Act! Addict! Actor! Is a mobile character/card collecting otome game. Developed and published by LIBER Entertainment, creators of primarily mobile games. The game was first released in Japan January 27th 2017 for both Iphone and Android. The English translated version was released October 23rd 2019. The main story is fully voiced, apart from the heroine, like most otome games. As you already know the game has already received an anime adaptation but there is also a manga available to read. Other material I’ve found are CDs. What I’ve played so far hasn’t had a focus on musicals but  I’m happy to see they’ve released songs. I quite like the OP and I want to listen to more.

Now before I get into the story I want to talk about the “gameplay” if you can call it that. It makes sense to look at these elements first since this is a character/card collecting game. Though unlike other character/card collecting games I’ve played this one’s primary focus is the story. Story parts are unlocked by levelling up. To level up you do practise sessions with the boys. During the session you can either tap to cycle through the lessons or enable the auto feature. For something like this I think the auto feature is useful. By doing practises small scenes with the character you are doing the session with are unlocked. These are cute little scenes between the character and heroine related to rehearsals. It’s details like this that have kept me coming back to play the game.

A3! App

The cards you collect unlock backstage scenes as you level them up. I feel these backstage stories are where the real otome elements come in. They’re short, what I would call, romantic scenes between the boy and heroine. Not to mention scenes of the boys interacting with each other can also be unlocked. Being able to unlock these stories gives players a reason to continue playing beyond that main story. It also encourages you to collect more cards and to level them up. Another way to gain experience for levelling up is by putting on shows. Both shows and practise sessions require energy to do. Shows use a different energy type to practises so when you can’t do anymore of one you can move onto the other. Using premiare tickets you can even watch the shows in the theatre. They’re a cute a five minute show that you can watch. You can see the characters act out the play in chibi form. It is adorable.

A3! App

Other features include the boys doing street theatre to earn cash for increasing the actors card stats. Along with cash you also need to collect items to be able to do that. Finally you can add friends and give each other flowers to earn friendship points. Friendship points are used for tryouts, which is how you collect cards. I think the way this system is setup has kept me interested in the game. Story and characters are why I play these types of things and if it’s relatively easy to unlock new story parts I can put up with the other aspects of the game. 

I think most people would describe the art style as generic or nothing special. That might be true. To me it looks like what you’d typically see from anime and I like that style. It’s familiar and I’ve always thought it was pretty. I like the backgrounds and character designs. The CGs have a different look. They feel brighter and animated, breathing life into the characters. If you’re a fan of the typical anime style then you’ll like the art for A3 as much as I do.

I’ve already mentioned that the main story is fully voiced and I think it’s done well. I’ve found that I tend to like the japanese casting. The voices generally suit the characters and the emotion comes through. Whether it sounds like that to me because I don’t speak Japanese I don’t know. The important thing for me is whether my immersion is being broken or not. For all the characters I’ve encountered so far the voice direction has been good. I feel that’s the same with all the characters. I’m interested to hear the casting for the heroine in the anime.

Now it’s storytime. You, the player, can choose the first name for Miss Tachibana. Or you can use her default name Izumi. At the very beginning of the prologue we get a glimpse of the future. Here we see the Spring troupe about to go on stage. It’s closing night and it’s a full house. Cut to the present. On Veluda Way Tachibana is looking for a particular theatre. While wandering around she spots someone in trouble and rushes to help. A young man also passing by does the same. But all is well. This is a street act, a regular occurrence on Veluda Way. The actors performing are from the God troupe, one of the best troupes in the district. The young man who stopped to help asks them about joining. Ultimately he decides against joining because they don’t provide accomodation. This is a great introduction to the way Veluda Way works and what is normal in this world of theatres. The rules of this world are being established for the player. Witnessing the God troupe actors also introduces competition and generally shows off the standard of acting within the district.

A3! App

Tachibana moves on and finds the theatre she’s been looking for. The Mankai Theatre. But it’s about to be torn down by a yakuza looking guy. Tachibana’s words, not mine. Before anything can happen Tachibana intervenes. She manages to get them to stop long enough so she can watch what might be the Mankai Company’s last performance. It doesn’t go well. The play is short, the writing is terrible and the only human actor has a serious case of stage fright. The other actor being a cockatoo named Kamekichi. Whilst the yakuza is still set on tearing the theatre down, Tachibana sees potential. She even learns that her father used to be the Mankai Company’s director before he disappeared. Yakuza guy decides to give her a chance and tasks her with finding new actors before sunset. Tachibana, the manager and lone actor quickly put on a street act and recruit two new actors. One of them is the young man seen earlier. The group return to the theatre in time. Seeing this yakuza guy decides to give the Mankai Company one more chance to pay off their debt. With two conditions: they must put on four shows within the year with four different troupes and Tachibana has to be the director. Tachibana accepts the challenge. Now she only has one month to put on the first show and have a full house on closing night.

That’s pretty much where the prologue ends. I like the story. There’s a clear conflict and right off the bat the main characters are at a disadvantage. I wanted to be an actor at one point so of course I want to see these young aspiring actors succeed. Even if we might have already seen a glimpse at what’s to come I want to see the journey. Meet all the characters and watch them grow. I know I should have an issue with these being all male troupes but this is an otome. I’m not here for equality, I’m here for the boys. Hot boys with engaging stories.

I like Tachibana as the heroine. She has two clear wounds. Her father is missing,  plot point that may or may not be explored later, and she gave up on her dream of being an actor. Something that she was probably only pushed into because of her past directors telling her she can’t act. But now she’s going to use her knowledge to help save the Mankai Company. She really steps into the role of a leader, helping each actor to improve. She even has the ability to recognise the areas that she needs to improve. She has her doubts sometimes but she doesn’t let it get her down. Ultimately Tachibana has a big heart, is a great leader and has some funny lines/thoughts. Making her a great character to play as.

A3! App

One other character I want to talk about is Matsukawa Isuke, the useless manager. I’m not calling him useless to be mean but it’s a fact. While it’s just been him running the Mankai Company everything has fallen to pieces. They’re in so much debt to the yakuza that the theatre is at risk of being demolished. All that’s left of what was once four acting troupes is a lone newbie actor. They only put on terrible mini plays written by Matsukawa. He also can’t cook. Meals being provided is supposed to be a perk for living in the dorm but that’s not the case with Matukawa cooking them. Even his website setup is terrible. But despite all that, his shabby appearance and cowardice, he has heart. Somehow he always appears cheerful. He believes and loves the Mankai Company and it’s theatre. That’s why he finally tried to seek out Tachibana’s father. So he might be a bit useless but you can’t hate him. He brings comedy to the story. On some occasions he even serves as an ear for Tachibana. 

In conclusion, this is just the beginning. I love A3! so far. It’s not the typical otome I like to play. It doesn’t have specific routes for each boy but it doesn’t have to. I love the story, where it’s set and the characters, including the protagonist. If you’re interested why not download it? Read through the prologue and see what you think. Anyone want to add me as a friend? Alternatively you can give the anime a look, something I will be doing in the future. Look out for that.

Thank you for reading and I’ll see you all in the next post.

-Your Hostess- 

All images were screenshoted from the A3! app

Time to Find the Keys

Hello and welcome to all you beautiful people, today we’re going to be looking at the Netflix series Locke & Key. It was first released February 7th 2020 and created by Meredith Averil, Aron Eli Coleite and Carlton Cuse. The show is based on a series of graphic novels of the same name written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez. 

The Locke siblings move into their ancestral home, Keyhouse, after the tragic death of their father. They quickly find magical keys that hold the secrets of what happened to their dad and all the things he didn’t tell them. 

I didn’t read the original graphic novel series so this will entirely focus on the show. So without further ado let’s get into it.

I was drawn to this series because of the magical keys. To me it was an original way for magic to be used and I still see it that way. I like the magical keys. The problem is I don’t think they were utilised to their full potential by the main characters. The villain shows the audience how the keys can be used. Yes one key is used by one of the siblings that ultimately changes her personality but generally the keys are in the background. I do really like the designs for the keys.

I like the emotional journey and overall character development the main characters go through. All of the Locke family has an obviously big wound that affects them all in different ways. Through the episodes they eventually face their wounds and become stronger as a family because of it. The mystery of Keyhouse and what happened to their dad there leads them on this journey. Finding truth brings understanding.

The villain is also a plus for the series. Dodge is not one of those antagonists you’re going to love to hate but she is a decent villain. She has a clear goal and knows how to utilise the tools at her disposal to get what she wants. Her presence is felt throughout the series which is the sign of a decent villain for me.

Locke and Key is very much a supernatural teen drama series similar to the Vampire diaries but with no vampires or werewolves. However it does have some typical teen drama elements and story subplots. For some people that can be even scarier than monsters that might show up. This isn’t something I like or dislike. Really I tolerate it. I can deal with the love triangle and bullies getting their comeuppance as long as the ratio with the main plot is balanced. For Locke and Key I’d say it’s around that level.

Now for the dislikes, most pertaining to the several plot holes and terrible decisions the main characters make. Look I know the main characters are in their teens and a bit younger but some of their decisions are questionable. Especially in the final few episodes. I don’t want to go into detail and spoil anything but I am letting you know they’re there. You will question why they did this or that. It all comes down to how much that’ll bother you.

Something that is odd is Bode disappears until the plot needs him to be there. You notice it because Bode is the one who first finds the keys and knows they need to protect them from Dodge, yet in some episodes he’s absent for a good chunk of time. Some might consider this a good thing as Bode can be a little annoying sometimes. Maybe Bode knows to steer away from that teen drama. The logical explanation is that the actor is young and it’s probably best he’s only there when he needs to be.

It’s pretty evident that a season 2 is on the way, the ending does set it up. From what I can tell it hasn’t been picked up for another season yet. Whether another season is on the way or not, writing for a second season is already being worked on. Obviously a major change they can make is filling in the plot holes and making sure that there aren’t anymore in the future. I would like to see more keys be discovered and for the main characters to use them more. Maybe experiment with them so they can better use them in the future. A plot I would like to see is looking at the origin of the keys. Doing research I know it’s an important part in the graphic novels so I’d like to see it in the series.

In conclusion, Locke & Key isn’t the standout series of the year but some will find it entertaining. Like I did. It’s a short series filled with magic. Just make sure to look over the main characters’ lack of common sense and plot holes that are scattered about. If you don’t mind teen drama and want your magic presented in a different way why not give Locke and Key a try. Who knows you might find it entertaining despite its flaws too. Thank you for reading and I look forward to seeing you all in my next post.

-Your Hostess-

Image Source:

https://www.menshealth.com/entertainment/a30799412/locke-and-key-season-2-release-date-cast-spoilers/

Time To Be A Legend

Hello and welcome all you beautiful people. Today I want to talk about Apex Legends, an online battle royale developed by Respawn Entertainment that I regularly play with my brother. The legends you can choose from are diverse in many ways, each with their own unique abilities. Once in a game you play in squads of three, there being twenty squads in total, with the aim of becoming the Apex champion. All you have to do is be the last squad standing. Easier said than done. Believe me.  

There’s a lot I could talk about with Apex Legends, particularly the characters, but today I want to focus on the new season. Season 4: Assimilation started about a month ago with some significant changes. 

Source: www.gameslaught.com

Sniper weapons have been made into their own weapon type similar to shotguns. It’s an easy change to get used to but it does mean that you have to carry around two different types of ammo rather than stocking up on one. Maybe this was done in an attempt to make sniper ammo harder to find. Who knows. I do think one of the reasons  the developers did this was because they added the Sentinel. That’s right! We have a new gun. The Sentinel: a bolt action sniper rifle. It is a powerful weapon. You can even increase the power further by using shield batteries to charge it. With all that being said it’s not really a gun for me. I’m not the best with sniper rifles in the first place so I don’t really choose to use them unless there’s nothing else around. Just because it’s not my favourite doesn’t mean it isn’t a good choice to use. If you play the game why not try it yourself.

In the customization department they’ve added charms that you can put on your guns. It doesn’t change anything except there’s now a charm dangling on your gun but I love this. I hope they add more. My favourite is the origami dragon for obvious reasons.

The developers added the option on the main menu to go to the firing range. I would say it’s not entirely necessary since I hardly use it. It’s a great place to practise aiming at stationary targets, something you rarely find players being in the main game. You can try using all the guns. Understanding how they work and finding which ones you prefer using before jumping into the arena. If you’re waiting for a friend to join it can also be a good place to pass some time.

One of the biggest changes to happen this season is to the map. Gone are most of the ice covered buildings, green landscapes and bright midday sun. World’s Edge is now blanketed in the red hue of lava and a rising or setting sun, I can’t quite tell. Lying at the heart of the map is the Planet Harvester which has created multiple lave fissures throughout the landscape, splitting Capital city in two. Thankfully you don’t die if you fall into one of the fissures. However you do take 25 damage and are slowly lifted back onto the map. Another feature added to the map is Mirage’s party bus, actually called Mirage’s voyage. It’s exactly how it sounds: an airship with a party on it. And hundreds of Mirage holograms. Well what feels like hundreds of them. Mirage also has some ‘tasteful’ paintings. If there was any doubt in your mind about how narcissistic Mirage is then that airship puts his personality into perspective. I do think the party bus is in celebration of the games anniversary. But when you have no idea they added this thing and stumble upon it whilst playing it’s kind of like a shock to the system. I found it so funny and completely out there. On the games website there’s an explanation on the changes to the map and it’s really interesting reading about the goals the developers were aiming for. It’s clear their intent was to make a map that players had become accustomed to feel new. Give them new points of interest to explore and move away from repeating strategies every game. There are still times when I miss playing the original map, King’s Canyon. It would be nice if the option was always available to play on that map still.

Source: www.rockpapershotgun.com

Finally it’s time to discuss the new character: Revenant. I know mostly everyone has been waiting for another robot to be added but I don’t think this was the friend Pathfinder was expecting. Revenant was once human. He was the top hitman within the Mercenary Syndicate. He would go about his day witnessing his human face whenever he looked in the mirror. Until one day his programming failed and he saw what he had become. What the Mercenary Syndicate and Hammond Robotics had turned him into. Once he realised the truth he went on a quest for revenge. I believe that moment is what we see in his character introduction trailer, if you’ve seen it. I do know that people are theorising that the next legend to be added is the little girl in the trailer. Those events are set  twenty years in the past so it’s possible. That girl, now a young woman, seeking vengeance for her parents death enters the games in pursuit of the very being that killed them makes complete sense. I look forward to seeing her if she is our next legend, especially with all the wolf imagery surrounding her. 

Source: www.gamesradar.com

Anyway back to Revenant. He doesn’t have the best personality. An extremely cynical, all around bully who enjoys killing. What’s not to like? He even calls humans the derogatory name Skinbags. Despite his rubbish personality I like playing as this legend. When playing him it’s probably best to take an aggressive approach, something I’m not very good at. Or willing to do. I know I prefer to be on the defensive rather than the attack so maybe not the best character for me to play in order to win but you can’t win them all. His ability is called Silence. An orb that deals damage and disables enemies abilities for ten seconds. With his ultimate ability, Death Totem, a totem is deployed which protects members of the squad who have touched it from death. Instead of dying or being knocked down you’re returned to the totem. It is only for a certain amount of time and the totems influence can only reach a certain distance so use this ult wisely. Revenant’s passive ability allows him to move faster whilst crouching and to climb higher. Ideal for sneaking up on people and traversing the terrain. Like I’ve already stated, I like playing this character. Now I understand what he can do I can start working towards using him to his full potential. The other legends I prefer playing are Lifeline, Pathfinder and Crypto. 

That’s just about everything on Season 4. There is a lot more that I could talk about regarding Apex Legends but I’m going to end here for now. I find Apex Legends a fun game to play with friends and siblings or on your own. But I don’t really play on my own. The one major problem is that one more game can quickly turn into ten games or more. Not really something you can completely blame on the game. But that’s a psychological discussion for another time. I hope all you beautiful people have a wonderful day. I’ll see you in the next post.

-Your Hostess-

Image Source:

https://wccftech.com

https://www.gameslaught.com/2020/01/apex-legends-season-4-launch-trailer.html

https://www.rockpapershotgun.com

https://www.gamesradar.com/uk/apex-legends-season-4-trailer/

Time To Be A Pokemon

Hello and welcome to all you beautiful people. I’m sure you’ve all heard about it and probably played it by now. I mean the full release is this Friday. But today I’m going to talk about Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX Demo. The upcoming game was announced during Pokemon Direct on 9th January and the full release is set for 6th March this year. For now the demo is available on the Switch store. No spoiler warning this time since it’s a demo and nothing big storywise happens.

I’ll tell you a bit about the series for any non Pokemon fans out there. Mystery Dungeon is a spin-off game series that started way back in 2005. Whilst working on this post I discovered that the developers are Spike Chunsoft who also developed Danganronpa, another favourite game series of mine. Rescue Team DX is a reimagining of the first two games: Mystery Dungeon Red Rescue Team and Mystery Dungeon Blue Rescue Team. The story centres around you waking up to find that you’ve been turned into a pokemon. Teaming up with your partner you must help find and stop the source of the mysterious natural disasters and strange behaviour of some of the locals. Along the way you make many friends and find your place in this new world you wake up in.

As a kid I put a lot of hours into the original. I had Blue Rescue Team on the DS and absolutely loved it. Jumping into the demo for Rescue Team DX I was immediately taken back to those childhood days. A big part of that is due to the music. Sound is really a powerful memory trigger. Hearing the theme song I felt like I was transported back to sitting in the back of the car whilst we drove somewhere. I love that they’ve brought the music back from the original pretty much the same as it was. Music isn’t my forte but it does sound like it’s been given a new coat of paint. It’s sharper and clearer. I really do adore the music, especially the opening titles. It gives the feeling of adventure and epicness.

The first thing to do when you start a new game is the personality quiz that determines which Pokemon you are. Unlike in the original you can choose who you want to play as if you don’t like what the quiz gives you. This was a great feature to add because it means you don’t have to spend hours retaking the quiz till you eventually get the pokemon you want to be. My first result was Torchic which I don’t mind. There’s nothing wrong with Torchic but I wanted to be Eevee. Eevee is one of my favourite pokemon and the one I got the first time when I played the original. For my partner I chose Cyndaquil and named her Cinder. Now I was ready for my journey to begin.

Source: www.rpgsite.net

The story is pretty much a carbon company of the original but what do expect? It is a reimagining of it after all. You meet your partner, save a caterpie and form a rescue team. Then you save some magnemite and meet a young diglett before doing some more rescue missions. Interspersed between each day you experience a dream that draws you closer to the answer as to why you were turned into a pokemon. Then a dugtrio, whose mother of the diglett you met on an earlier day, asks for your help. This is where the demo ends. You can still explore the square but that’s it. There really isn’t much else to do when you get to that point. One thing they should’ve done is let you go on more rescue missions. Actually that might get boring too since there’s only two dungeons to explore. Oh well, it is only a demo. If you want more you can always go play another Mystery Dungeon game if you’ve got one. 

Source: www.slashgear.com

So the story might not be all that different, the art style on the other hand certainly is. All the pokemon are 3D models now, similar to the main Pokemon games but with a parchment feel to them. The reaction stills are back accompanying the speak boxes, looking pretty much the same as they always did. The movement of the models is fluid and for some reason more entertaining to watch than their predecessors. When in the dungeons you no longer immediately switch places with your partner, or whoever is behind you, when you want to go backwards. Instead you push them in that direction. It is quite funny watching them spin around in circles as you push them. I should point out is possible to switch with them, it’s just funny pushing them around. I must say the background art is beautiful. It looks as if it’s been hand drawn. The colours give this dreamlike quality to the background, making the characters appear sharper. The colouring makes me think of water colours. It’s just so vibrant. 

I think it’s important to point out how easy it is to delete your save file, when you want to I mean. I always remember having to look up how to do it when I want to start a new game with the main series. With this Mystery Dungeon there is a very clearly labeled option on the main menu. It may have been there in past games but this is the first I’ve noticed it. Maybe to some this isn’t a big deal but to someone who likes to replay things it is.

Source: www.capsulecomputers.com.au

Lastly I want to talk about the controls. One new feature they’ve added is auto mode. You press the button and your team ventures through the dungeon on their own, picking up items as they go. Coming across an enemy stops auto mode and you have to fight them manually. I don’t like this feature. Surely this is just the game playing itself. Why would I use that when I bought the thing for me to play it? Answer is I wouldn’t. I feel the attack controls have changed since I last played one of these games. The quick attack button no longer just has you jumping on your opponent, instead it uses one of your known moves at random. And now it’s a lot easier to choose which move you want to use. You just push L2 and choose the corresponding button for the move you want to use. I swear in the original you had to go into the menus to do that stuff. But I may be remembering that wrong. Or they changed it up in later games. I wouldn’t know since the two Mystery Dungeons I’ve played are Blue and Sky.

That’s it. There really isn’t much else to say since this is only a demo. I know I’m looking forward to the full release of an updated version of a game I loved as a child. I’m sure this will appeal to people like myself and to children that get to experience this story for the first time. I hope all you beautiful people have a wonderful day. I’ll see you in the next post.

-Your Hostess-

Image Source:

https://www.slashgear.com/pokemon-mystery-dungeon-rescue-team-dx-remake-announced-for-switch-09606394/

https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch/Pokemon-Mystery-Dungeon-Rescue-Team-DX-1695693.html

https://www.rpgsite.net/feature/9409-pokemon-mystery-dungeon-rescue-team-dx-starters-test-answers-for-the-personality-quiz-and-starter-pokemon-listed

http://www.capsulecomputers.com.au/2020/02/pokemon-mystery-dungeon-rescue-team

Book vs Film: Time To Train Your Dragon

Hello and welcome all you beautiful people to the first of many book vs film showdowns. This is where we pit a book and its film adaptation against each other and we truly see which is the best. Of course that’s all down to opinion and these are mine. Just remember this is a safe space filled with love. If you disagree with my opinions feel free to let me know and why. Now without further ado let’s get into it.

Spoiler warning for How to Train Your Dragon book and film. 

The first book and film pairing I’ve decided to kick start this series with is How to Train Your Dragon. You might come to realise this wasn’t the best first choice but they heavily feature dragons. For me I had to have my first post include dragons. Anyone who hasn’t read the book and seen the film might be asking why How to Train Your Dragon isn’t a good choice? Simply put, the film vastly differs from the source material. It’s like the Berk you see is in a parallel universe compared to the Berk you read about. I don’t see this as a bad thing, it just makes it a bit difficult to compare the two. Nevertheless I will persevere. I will only be focusing on the first book and film so if anything happens in the book series that contradicts what I say I don’t know about it.

Two competitors enter the fray. In the Corner of Words we have the book: How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, first published in 2003. It should be noted that the audio book is read by David Tennet. So if anyone wants to hear David Tennet unleash his full Scottishness in Viking form you’re welcome. The main series spans 12 books at the time of me writing this.

And in the Corner of Motion we have the film: How to Train Your Dragon directed by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders. Released in 2010 it is still loved today. Contains 3 feature films, an animated series, a few shorts, a handful of games and quite a lot of merchandise.

Source: where else but the wikipedia page

I enjoyed both the book and the film but I wouldn’t say equally. This was my first time reading the book and I was pleased to find that I wanted to keep reading. A good quality to have in a book I say. The film on the other hand I’d seen before, although not for a few years. Watching it again I had just as much fun as the first time I saw it. 

I do believe both can be enjoyed by children and adults alike however, I think adults will find themselves leaning more towards wanting to watch the film rather than reading the book. That’s not just because people prefer to watch things nowadays then sit and enjoy a good book. I think the film has a bit more depth than the book. You’ll see what I mean as I go into more detail.

Let’s focus on the pros first. Although not the same they both follow Hiccup’s Hero’s journey. I love following Hiccup on his journey of growth and efforts to go against the status quo. In the book he even goes from being called Hiccup the Useless to Hiccup the Hero. Having a Hero’s journey that kids can relate to is wonderful, especially for those that don’t feel good enough. The story shows it’s possible to change people’s perceptions of something. Whether it be turning something from being useless into being useful or changing the way things have been done for so long to pave the way for a better future. The book and film give light to these ideas.

Both Hiccups face a similar antagonist. And no I don’t think the gigantic dragons towards the end of the book and film are the antagonist. Yes they’re an enemy but not the overall enemy. Those giant dragons are probably representations of the final obstacle the Hiccups must face to set change into motion. No I think the antagonist is the viking tradition or the resistance to change. Something along those lines. Book Hiccup is a dragon enthusiast that has to combat essentially the brawne and tough way of interacting with dragons to forming a bond and communicating with them. He has to deal with the initiation tests, being in exile and hatching a plan to save two tribes. Film Hiccup has to completely change the way that Berk residents think about dragons. He almost kills Toothless but ends up befriending him instead. He’s placed into dragon training and ends up saving all of the village from a giant dragon. Something both book and film versions do. The antagonist they both have to face is the viking society and their resistance to change. Both of them have to live up to these high expectations because they are the chief’s son but neither of them are big or muscular. They don’t look the part of a viking. They’re smart not fearsome or blood thirsty. Hiccup’s differences are what save everyone in the end. His willingness to change or try things his way. This is all part of the hero’s journey that Hiccup goes on.

Something else both renditions use is humour. There are truly some hilarious moments in each but the film’s humour is more to my taste. Some of the jokes/comedy in the book are very much aimed at children, or for children. I don’t find some humour that would be called immature funny. I didn’t find myself laughing as much as I did when I watched the film. The comedy is just so good.

Specific to the book are entertaining illustrations drawn by Cressida Cowell herself, helping to add to the visualisation of her words. Interlaced throughout the book are stat cards (or scrolls) that give the reader a bit of an insight into each dragon. The film references these through Fishlegs which I think is pretty cool. Cowell also drew some flyers and a book within the book that has the same title. Finally she also included a map. You’ll find out pretty quickly how much I enjoy seeing a map in a book.

Let’s look at the pros specific to the film and I want to start with the music. The score for a film is mostly overlooked by the average person or at least isn’t talked about as much as the visuals on the screen. The music for How to Train Your Dragon is beautiful. There are so many magical pieces and I love the Scottish feel that some of the tracks have. I’m so glad the animation style is different to the drawings in the book, not that there’s anything wrong with them. The book drawings have a more bedtime kids TV feel, similar to Little Princess (if anyone remembers that show). The animation for the film is wonderful and some scenes are absolutely breathtaking. Especially the flying scenes. One of my favourite things about the film is the relationship between Hiccup and Toothless. Watching their friendship develop just brings a smile to my face. I can say for the film there isn’t a character I dislike, not even Snoutlout which is saying something since he’s a cocky flirt. All the main characters have their own distinct personalities and you can form a connection with them. The casting was done well since the voices match the characters nicely. Anyone who has watched English dubbed foreign films or TV shows knows how strange it is when the voices don’t match.

Now we can move onto the cons, something that has to be done individually, starting with the book. My first con is the characters, or rather the lack of emotional attachment to them. The only character I really like is Hiccup. Probably because it’s his story and as the reader we’re joining him on it. The others fade into the background. Toothless does have some character development but he’s not likable. Honestly he’s a spoiled brat and I was a bit disappointed by that. Another thing is that there is a serious lack of female representation. I’m not one of those people that insist there has to be a woman in everything just for the sake of it but I know as a child I wouldn’t have wanted to read this. I prefered stories with girls in it like me because then I could easily connect with them. At least in the film they brought in Astrid and Ruffnut. I love Astrid. She’s a strong viking warrior who’s smart and protective. Again I was sad not to see her in the book. Something else that’s disappointing about the book is that no one actually rides a dragon. On the cover Hiccup is even depicted riding a dragon and yet it doesn’t happen. Unless I’ve forgotten or missed that part but I’m pretty sure I didn’t. Those are the negatives that I have to say about the book.

There aren’t many cons that I can think of for the film. I do think it’s a bit odd that after one flight on the back of a dragon Astrid completely changes her opinion of them. I mean she is a warrior trained and prepared to kill dragons. She’s been told her whole life that dragons are the enemy. Why after one flight with Hiccup and Toothless does her attitude towards them completely change? Sure Toothless didn’t try to kill her unless he felt threatened but still. I know it’s probably down to timing and that was the best way to get Astrid on their side so I’m not too bothered. It’s just odd. Also why were the rest of teenagers okay with Hiccup’s idea to ride the dragons? I know they’re scared at first but again these kids have been taught their whole lives that dragons are bad. That they’re monstrous creatures. I think maybe it’d take them a bit longer than a few minutes with the dragons to suddenly be okay with riding them on their own. Again I know it’s a timing thing but it’s the one thing I question.

There are many differences between the book and film versions. Are all the changes necessary? In my opinion the changes that were made were the right choice. The core essence of the story is still there. The changes that were made to everything around the heart of the story was the best option for film world.

One major difference is the vikings relationship with dragons. Book world they work in harmony with the dragons. Well I say ‘harmony’ what they actually do is kidnap and then yell them into submission. So they don’t really have the best relationship. The Hairy Hooligan tribe use their trained dragons to help with fishing, hunting, fighting etc. In order to be officially initiated into the tribe and earn the right to be called a viking they  capture a dragon and train it for the final initiation test. In film world the vikings have a more antagonistic relationship with the dragons. They’re enemies. The tribe hates dragons so much that once you kill a dragon you earn the title of viking. To be fair to the vikings the dragons do attack their village destroying buildings and stealing their livestock. I think for the film this was a good change. It immediately adds conflict and is a better way cinematically to show Hiccup moving away from the ordinary world/ changing the status quo.

Something in the book that they didn’t carry over to the film is Hiccup speaking Dragonese. Book Hiccup was the only one who spoke it since his father forbade the use of the language. It makes sense that this didn’t carry over to the film. It would’ve been strange to hear since the language is a bunch of sounds and noises. Even if it’d been put into English it would still sound a bit weird. The way it’s written in the book causes it to become snakish in my head. The point is Dragonese wouldn’t have translated well to film. It is strange however that the dragons understand English. Did Hiccup teach Toothless English? Are the dragons just really good at picking up languages? Maybe it’s a connection thing. They don’t actually understand what’s being said to them but they understand the feeling or can infer from the intention. Kind of like how Hiccup interprets what Toothless is trying to say.

There are many character differences between the two different versions. Some I’ve already mentioned such as Astrid and Ruffnut being created for the film. I think this was done well, it doesn’t feel like they were shoehorned in or anything. Ruffnut has a great dynamic with her twin brother and the siblings are a great source of comedy. Astrid is the top student in dragon training before Hiccup starts employing tricks and techniques he learns from Toothless. She’s also part of the romantic subplot which doesn’t devalue her as a character. Her relationship with Hiccup is a clear partnership where she acts as his conscience when he needs to hear a voice of reason. Another big character difference is Toothless. The two versions are completely different and frankly I was disappointed with the book. From watching the films, Toothless quickly became one of my favourite dragons. He’s like a giant winged cat. Playful, loyal to friends and only goes on attack when felt threatened. He’s just so loveable. He possesses all the good traits of a cat that a cat owner will be familiar with. Of course every cat also has their own personality. Toothless in the book has all the negative aspects of a cat or what all people consider cats to be like. He’s selfish, only takes and never gives. I don’t find him likeable. I’m so pleased they changed him for the film. The personality change allows the friendship between Hiccup and Toothless to really blossom. They also made him a Nightfury, one of the rarest and most fearsome dragon species in the film world. So much cooler than a common green dragon that is one of the smallest dragons in existence. Another beneficial character change the film did was giving Stoick the Vast a character wound. This Stoick lost his wife to dragons which gives him the motivation to be protective over Hiccup and solidify his hatred towards dragons. Honestly book Stoick just falls into the background compared to his film counterpart.

In conclusion, I can’t really say one is better than the other because they are so different. The book is written for children and the film is written for families. My preference however lies with the film. Overall the change in story for the film was for the best, in terms of writing for film world. The third act villain is linked to the dragons attacking and looting the village. This isn’t the case in the book. Don’t get me wrong, what happens in the book is perfectly acceptable because Cressida Cowell sets it up but in the conventional way of writing for film things tend to need to be connected or have a reason. Another reason is because they made friendship a big theme with Hiccup and Toothless’ relationship. That relationship isn’t quite the same in the book. The emotional attachment that the audience can form with the characters in the film is another reason I prefer it to the books. With all this being said I still think the books are good and great for it’s demographic. I’m just not part of that audience. I do want to read more of the books and see where Hiccup’s journey takes him. 

Thank you for taking the time to have a read. This is my first time doing this and I’m still figuring out the best way to present my thoughts in a clear way. Nothing is perfect the first time. I can already see some areas for improvement. I hope all you beautiful people have a wonderful day. I’ll see you in the next post.

-Your Hostess-

Image Source: