Characters of Color – Marshal from Pokemon: B & W

 

Finally we wrap up Characters of Color with Marshal from the latest installment of the Pokemon series. Now as it turns out Pokemon Black and White respectively had three characters of color in it (Lenora, Iris, and Marshal); but Marshal is my favorite because he’s part of the elite four – the most powerful trainers in the region (next to the champ of course). Now granted he’s not the most interesting character nor does he have a lot of screen time but he’s the stoic embodiment of the strong Pokemon trainer. Hear me out: first of all the Pokemon he uses are strong but lack in defense, but in battle it will take everything players have just to survive, even with using Ghost/Psychic types. Next Marshal is strong and knows the valve of strength; however he also knows that strength alone won’t be enough to be a great trainer and tries to tell that to you and your companions/rivals. Finally he learns from his defeats and comes back stronger than before. They could have made Marshal any type of character but they choose to make him strong, wise and icon to trainers everywhere. Personality I would have liked for him to be the Pokemon champ in B & W instead of that fop Alder, but hey one step at a time.

 

 

 

 

 

Characters of Color – Crow from Def Jam: Fight for NY

Well the time has come, the end the February which mean the end of the Characters of Color segment for the year – I know I’m sad too, but at least you all have something to look forward to next year. Well as an end of the year gift I’m doing two profiles today – starting with Crow. No not that fudd awful movie but the main bad guy in the game ‘Def Jam: Fight for NY’. Now the game itself is excellent, the player saves the main boss from the first game (which is an awesome game as well) from arrest. As a reward, D-Mob allows the player to join his crew and fight for him in underground fight clubs. However after the events of the first game D-Mob lost a lot of turf control to the vicious, ambitious leader of Club Murder: Crow who is voiced by none other than Snoop Dogg. In the beginning the self-made mobsters worked together to run New York, but while D-Mob was no angel he follow the rule of respect. Crow however thought fear was a better motivator – over time their different ‘business strategies’ spilt them apart and became bitter rivals ever since. So like an opportunistic piranha, when D-Mob was caught slipping in the first game, Crow came in and devoured all of his territories and recruited the best fighters to protect them. Now Crow may be just gang banger but he’s smart, he’s cruel, and will use any means to destroy his opposition. Traps, assassinations, and seemingless endless capital are the tools he uses but his best weapon is fear. For his enemies: fear of himself and his forces; for his allies: fear of losing the good life or their lives as consequence of failure. Crow even uses fear against the player. As he defeats Crows’ fighters Crow decides to kidnap the players’ girlfriend and force him to join Crow on the threat of killing her if he doesn’t. Despite all of these Crow isn’t afraid of taking care of business himself. His fighting style focuses on both speed and defense so he can strike quickly and take damage – essentially wearing down opponents to the point of breaking with his signature move: 187.  Of course if he’s actually losing the fight he got his glock and a hidden cane blade to fall back on; so yea Crow – Evil, Bad, Wanna Kill You.

 

 

 

 

 

Characters of Color – Storm

 

Ah the legendary X-Men, a group devoted to the peaceful understanding between Mutants (or Homo Superiors – really…) and normal humans; while at the same time protect the world from evil Mutants who misuse their powers. The group has changed in many ways since its origins but the face of the X-Men still remain strong – and Storm is one member you could never forget. Her real name is Ororo Idaqi T’Challa and she was orphaned after her parents died in a plane crash. Storm who had to become a thief to survive until met (or rather trying to pickpocket) a 20 something Charles Xavier. He stopped her with his abilities but didn’t relive himself (or her at that matter) as a mutant until years later where circumstances forced Xavier to recruit mutants to save the Original X-Men (Cyclops, Angel, Havok, Iceman, Marvel Girl/Jean Grey and Polaris).The rest was history; Ororo got the name Storm (because of her abilities – which I’ll explain in a minute) and within the group she gained a new family, a life, and through them a future as the Queen of Wakanda married to Black Panther (another cool character of color). As one of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel universe, Storm has the ability to control the weather (tornados, snow storms, earthquakes, etc.) but choose to use her massive abilities to defend people. Over time Storm has led the X-Men herself against Juggernaut, Magneto, and freaken Dracula! Was considered (and almost made into) a Goddess in many parts of the world and thanks her marriage with Black Panther (a non-mutant mind you) she was considered the most important mutant alive because if there was an example of mutants co-existing with humans their marriage is it. So that’s Storm, all powerful, goddess, queen of an extremely advanced country, the virtual face of the X-Men, and the single hope for unity for all of mankind.

 

 

 

 

Characters of Color – Mr. T

 

 

 

Geez… How did I miss this last year, how did I almost miss this – this year? Ladies and gentlemen, I truly apologize for my lack of vigilance and total ineptness for not featuring this guy the first thing out. He is quite possibly the most famous (and awesome) character of color ever, the one, the only: Mr. T. His real name is Laurence Tureaud and despite his hard luck beginnings he rose to prominence then to a full fledged icon. No one man has done as much as he has over his 60 years of life, don’t think so, here is a short list of his accomplishments (note: this info comes from both Wikipedia and IMDB):

 

 

Seriously this guy is no joke cool; he was the personal body guard to Muhammad Ali, has a photographic memory,  in his life he was in court 200 times for lawsuits and won all of them, voted the fourth most influential American in history, and was diagnosed with cancer in 1995 and beat it like a rented mule six years later. If I couldn’t convince you all that Mr. T is a living legend and the embodiment of the American dream all rolled into one then check out the Original Mr. T fact generator for more information. I swear I couldn’t tell you who would win in a fight between Chuck Norris and Mr. T, but the conflict could tear the fabric of space and time apart – and if that happens you know the Armada would cover it live.

 

(Oh yes, thank you Linkara for your video last week (and this week as well). It reminded me how BA B.A. Baracus is)

 

 

 

 

This just in (Or not) – Three release dates + ‘Double’ character = one happy Omnigamer.

 

Well as February eases out of the year (seriously, where does the time go?) more of my watch list games are finally getting release dates on them such as Borderland 2 (9/18/2012), Journey (3/13/2012), and even Hawken (12/12/12) which is also signing up players for beta – so sign up, unless hot robot action isn’t your thing. Speaking of hot action, Skull girls has just revealed a newest (and possibly last) character in their all-female fighter. He/She/It is called Double, a shape shifter being controlled by the current Skullgirl (whoever that may be). He/She/It has no backstory on His/Her/Its own, but something tells me that Double’s part to play in all this will have quite an impact. The games are coming people, it’s just a matter of time.

 

 

 

 

Game Review: Tales of the Abyss 3DS – Now in 3D!

 

So the handheld wars have begun again, as it always has been since I was a little boy – Nintendo against the world. No matter how well their home consoles did over the years Nintendo owned the mobile gaming landscape – and always will quite frankly. Ever since the Gameboy there has been many challengers trying to take them down, touting their advantages over the king from being in color to playing full games on their handheld and beyond. But the Gameboy and all other future descendants out lasted them and won – and it is no different today. From the threat of game apps and the newest challenger the PlayStation Vita, many believe the Nintendo 3DS days (and the Nintendo handheld reign) are over. But after playing Tales of the Abyss however, the 3DS isn’t going no where. Ok, a little backstory: Tales of the Abyss 3DS is actually a re-release port of a game (with the same name – without the 3DS of course) from the PS2 back in 2005. It was a good game and it reviewed well but that was seven years ago, let’s see how it holds up with new technology.

 

 

Game Info

 

 

The game starts with the main character Luke fon Fabre, a son of an important Duke. Seven years ago he was kidnapped by a rival country, but was recovered soon after. Since then he was confined to his father’s palatial estate. Now the whole episode has taken a toll on our hero; first he has lost ’all’ his memories as a child and second he is now starting to hear voices. All of this would be a tragic situation if not for his friend Guy and his teacher/sword master Van, so he does have some semblance of normalcy – but it doesn’t last long. His home is raided by a young woman with a strange power; she puts people to sleep with a song called a ‘fonic hymn’. While most were out cold Luke, Guy, and Master Van were awake enough to see the invader called Tear (oh you anime games, so odd ball we luv u) and guess what? She wants to assassinate the sword master himself, but before an epic battle could ensue Luke tried to attack her. Once their weapons clashed it activated something called a ‘Seventh Fonon’ and teleported them all across the world finally landing in a wooded valley which neither was familiar with. They decided to a truce until they find their way out of the valley and thus the true adventure will begin. Far from the enclosed safety of the duke’s home Luke (and the player) will realize the world’s not a peaceful place; were unknown forces are not only trying to start a planetary conflict but tap into dangerous powers that could destroy everythi

Tales of the Abyss 3DS will take you back in time before games like BioShock, Mass Effect, and Elder Scrolls series. Where RPGs were more singular and focused on telling a story, rather than letting the player change it through every, little, action. Where, for good or ill, your characters were your characters and could not customize or tweak them unless the story demanded it. Where you travel on an ‘overworld’ map and fight monster to get money, experience, and sometimes rare items (ok this hasn’t changed much over the years). Where players delve into menus to adjust everything from equipment, fighting tactics and special abilities (call ‘Artes’) to Cooking (which was more of a staple of JRPG than you would think). However this is not total throwback to the days of yore, one of the things the original game was praised for was the ‘Flex Range Linear Motion Battle System’ which was real-time instead of turn based. It made it into this game as well – which is a better Segway than nothing for:

 

 

 

 

The Goods

 

 

Flex Range Linear Motion Battle System: Now I’ll admit people, my favorite old school RPG combat system is still Chrono Trigger’s version. Simple enough for a young chowder brained Boss Bronze (or was that Sub-Boss Bronze back then?) to learn, but still smart enough to make me use characters that fit the situation rather than just sticking with my favorites (Chrono, Frog, and Magus by the by). Be that as it may the FRLMB system does come close. It is more complex but to its credit players have more options to work with. In a fight you control one character at a time while the CPU handles the rest, along with the attack button to can move left, right, up, down, a button for blocks and a button for Artes. Depending on which direction you move and what action you take (the ones you have unlocked anyway) players with always have at least 12 different responses to enemies from relentless assaults to parrying blows. Also, like Chrono Trigger, players can combine your group’s single Artes into improved, very lethal, combo Artes. And of course what old school RPG would be complete without each character having limit break style super attacks that kills everything, or at least hurts a enemy really, really, badly.  All & all people this system is a great way to keep the game lively.

 

3D Graphics: This is as awesome as you think it is, I don’t really need to go into it – but I will, just a little bit. When I bought the 3DS all those months ago I was impressed not only with all it can do, but what it could do in the future. However I never forgot that it is a game machine built to play games (that was the PSP big mistake, and I’m not quite sure Vita learned that lesson either). Sure I’ve played games on it, you know Nintendo games would look good on the thing – my concerns were would 3rd party developers take advantage of the 3D technology. I’m glad to say not only did they, but they used an older title like Abyss to do so. With the 3D on; locations, people, vehicles, creatures and cutscene have depth and dimensions I never thought would be possible on a handheld before. To say the graphics impressed me would be an understatement, even with the 3D slider turned all the way down the world still looks lively, colorful and full of energy. A great change of pace of today games of brown, black, and grey gaming. What else surprised me?

 

Voice overs: It’s not like the characters always talk with voiceover actors instead of word balloons; but they do it more often than you think which is another credit to this game is. Honestly with this game’s anime looks and actions, text boxes and word balloons wouldn’t have conveyed the character’s personality, their drama, or their comedic sense nearly as well. And as we all know making the player care about the characters in the game is the most important thing of all.

 

 

 

 

The Bad

 

 

Cooking and Titles: Ok, ok, this one is a bit of a double standard, but Cooking and Titles services no purpose here. Yes, yes, I know I said in my Reckoning review that Cooking would be better than any one of the other secondary skills in that game; and yes I know titles are generally cool to have in MMOs to show off to people that you ran the Taral V flashpoint with no problem… But in a single player RPG they service no purpose; titles do nothing (unless you consider changing them yourself something) and Cooking only works if you have recipes, ingredients, and you have to wait 2-7mins before you can cooking something again. I don’t care if they’re legacy features of the Tales series: make them better or delete them.

 

 

 

Ranking

 

At the end of the day Tales of the Abyss 3DS is not only great game and perfect port adaption to a game seven years old, but its proof positive that other game companies can use the 3D tech just as well as Nintendo themselves. I would have given it a higher score, but if you played one RPG in the 90’s you’d played Tales of the Abyss 3DS, plus the whole cooking and titles thing again. Still fans will like this game (Tales and RPG fans of course), and if you got a 3DS with nothing to do – give this game a once over. Who knows, you might become a fan yourself, it’s never too late to start something big.

 

 

 

WTF/FTW – Mass Effect pre-order commercial

 

It all started in 2007 with a man (or woman) named Shepard. He saw the end of the galaxy by the hands (or rather mechanical tentacles) of a race living spaceships called Reapers. Shepard did everything in his/her power to prevent the Reapers from destroying all life in the galaxy – good to ill. Even commercialism is no stranger to Shepard, but now he takes is business acumen and breaks the 4th wall into our reality with a new commercial. All I got to say is: WTF/FTW & I’m Boss Bronze and this my favorite commercial on the citadel.

 

 

 

 

MegaMan: A fan based movie

We here at the Armada  encourage ingenious thought, inventive storytelling, and video games (natch); which is why  “MegaMan” Fan Film is the best of all worlds. One of the down sides of the 8-bit era is that story for games were a little light, well this film made by Blue Core Studios fills in the gaps and makes the Capcom classic into a modern melodrama (with robot killing action of course). In some places you can tell its not Hollywood, but its also surprisingly deep, asking questions on what’s is real, alive, and what motivates why people (and some machines) do what they do. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

By the by, if you liked that (and I know you did) they’re also making a Sonic “fan film” as well… With Jaleel White reprising is role as Sonic the Hedgehog. So yeah, FTW.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Characters of Color – James Rhodes a.k.a. War Machine

 

Comic books, admittedly this is the form of entertain I am the least knowledgeable; I’ve watched many shows (and movies) based on superheroes but never read any literature the characters came from. Despite this handicap the Characters of Color month continues on and I would be remissed if I didn’t talk about James ‘The War Machine’ Rhodes. Now back in the day when superhero cartoons were plentiful and good in the 90’s ‘Iron Man’ was always my favorite. What’s not to like? He had kick arse armor, a multi-billion dollar company and all the resources it brought (or bought), and even his own superhero strike team (Force Works) for a time. However in the comic book continuity Anthony “Tony” Stark, the creator and general user of the Iron Man Armor, had more problems than the old show portrayed. His mortally wounded heart needs a sophisticated pacemaker he created (that doubles as his Armor’s power source) to live, living a very fast life caused him to develop alcoholism, and of course that same devil may care attitude even caused him to quit being Iron Man over periods of time. So who picked up the slack? His best (and possibility his only as times) friend; James Rhodes who will later become the War Machine.

 

 

An accomplished United States Marine and skilled pilot Lieutenant James Rhodes and Tony were fast friends ever since the beginning. Rhodes’ helicopter was downed in the jungle, and he was trying to get his bird back in the air when Iron Man appeared, ironically escaping from the same forces that shot Rhodes down. They decided to work together in order to survive, so after recharging Iron Man armor with the helicopter’s battery, they trekked through the jungle until they discovered an OpFor rocket base. One destroyed base later they steal an enemy vehicle, get to an American base and the rest was history. Since then not only has he become Tony’s closest confidant, moral conscience and the superhero War Machine in his own right; but he actually was Iron Man for a number of years. Facing down threats such as Thunderball, Radioactive Man, the Mandarin, and once the entire Skrull armada (no relation) Rhodes is truly a War Machine and a hero for good. I’m not sure if he’s going to be in the latest event comic, Avengers vs. X-Men (due out in April – better not be April’s fool joke I can tell you that), but with his resume I wouldn’t want anyone else on my side in that rumble.

 

 

 

Characters of Color – Sheva Alomar

“Don’t worry. I may not be as big as you, but I can still hold my own.” — Sheva to Chris after gearing up for the mission

“Hey, I never argue with a lady with a shotgun.” – Me

 

 

Hey all, remember the Gamecube? Nintendo’s purple (I got the black one), cube shaped console that was a good system but was stuck in the shadow of the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Do you also remember the Resident Evil series back in the 90’s and early 2000’s? Scary to be sure but the controls, dated graphics, and uninteresting story was scarier still. Well in the twilight (no bad movie jokes please) of the GC’s life span they released ‘Resident Evil 4’ and changed everything. RE4’s innovative combat controls, action based pacing (instead of pain in the butt puzzle solving), and modern graphics breathed new life into the IP (and kept the GC going long enough for the Wii to take the virtual ball and ran with it for years).  However if you asked anyone the one thing wrong with the game is the character Ashley Graham. Basically a walking Albatross; she couldn’t fight, couldn’t shoot, in the way all the time, whined like baby, and we had to protect her every step on the way. So when ‘Resident Evil 5’ was announced and there was going to be a partner for players to help in the adventure; all Res Evil fans everywhere demanded the partner be the total opposite of Ashley Graham –  thus Sheva Alomar was born.

 

 

Raised by a West African anti-government guerrilla group and recruited by the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance Sheva is no stranger to action. Skilled in many forms of firearms, explosives, CQC, and first aid she was able to keep Chris Redfield alive, put down a wide variety zombies and mutants, and finally put down that megalomaniac wannabe Albert Wesker – all in the same game. I’m not sure if she’ll make it into the next game but a) she should and b) Capcom announced that Ashley Graham will never be in another Resident Evil game ever again so yay for that.