Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mech Week : Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner

Zone of the Enders is made of so much concentrated awesome, it's barely describable. For Metal Warriors I chose the game play more or so than the mechs themselves, sure they are cool but not menacingly cool like Evas or like the ones I'm going to be talking about here. There are other games of the Zone of the Enders series, which is logically the first game and a hand held which I haven't played. The first game is good but it simply isn't a refined as the second, for obvious reasons being the second and all. There is an anime based on the game, kinda of a prequel, but sadly I haven't been able to track it down. Anyways, it's simply incredible gaming experience, all from the mind of Kojima of course (pre-head inflated phyco). A must play on the PS2

The game oddly starts with you piloting this hunk of junk called a LEV that wobbles along in a blizzard storm, so you are hunting down a perfect place to mine ice or something. Really lame I wanted to stop playing after the first 15 seconds, wobbling around barely able to jump was a pain. But, suddenly you get a signal on your radar, find something strange (Of course!). It's an Orbital Frame, which essential kick ass compared the LEVs (LEVs later become red shirts in a way), they're way more powerful with flying capabilities and much more. After the little training with your new Orbital Frame, your are taken aboard what was attacking you a giant BAHRAM ship (Big evil military corporation). So you meet old friends from you old military days, and well unexpectedly get shot multiple times in the torso. Whats amazing about being shot in the torso? That it's all in anime, yes amazing anime cutscenes! So after being shot in the torso, multiple times, you are revived and placed inside the Orbital Frame know as Jehuty. But you can't get out because it powers your life supports, so something about this girls father (I stopped caring at this point I wanted to drive the damn thing), so she's forcing you to do her dirty work. Since you can't get out the Frame, why not? Anyways I made brief mention of the story, but really it is fantastic. Made from when Kojima still had some mojo left in him, and instead of making no sense at all, it made kinda of sense.

On to the gameplay! Now imagine this; Dragonball Z but with Mechs...and you have Zone of the Enders! At a glance theres a simple beat-em up, but at the core there's something way more thrilling and enjoyable. You are equipped with a bunch of default weapons, firstly the energy shield which can block most light-medium attacks. You can also shoot small energy bullets to pick off smaller enemies, or you can lock onto a numerous number and unleash a massive homing attack, really impressive to watch. You can also charge a massive energy orb with your hand and launch it for a devastating attack, even cooler to watch! The really impressive part is the blade attached to its arm, you can slice and dice enemies with lighting speed! Once again impressive to watch. OH! Almost forgot one feature of this mech! The hands! So you can basically pick up a bunch of stuff, even enemies and use them as a weapon, shield or projectile. The projectile is especially fun to watch, you tap on the assigned button to start spinning so it essentially protects you from small attacks and hits everything in radius and finally you can trow it with great vigor at anything you want. You do also have sub weapons, only a few are useful but one is really beyond awesome, its this giant canon that can destroy anything really. The whole game is just fun to watch really.

Something that really stands out for me is the boss battles. I do love Capcoms approach of bigger the better but in Zone of the Enders with the type of game that it is that wouln't of work as well. Most boss battles are against other Orbital Frames, so it is really an equal match and the best man win. They pulled it off amazingly, one battle stands out, you're fighting in complete darkness and the only light is from the sparks of your swords clashing together. Truly an amazing battle you really feel like you are battle in the dark for your life. Some fights need pure skill and reflex while other require more of a tactical approach. All and all, the game shined in the boss battles. As for the multiplayer, one on one, you'd think it would work but there simply something wrong with it and I can't put my finger on it exactly.

Now for the actual design of the mechs, they bring a new meaning to the word "cockpit", seriously the cockpit is directly located in the crotch area. They're so sleek, with the added energy lines and how to ripple trough is pure eye candy. By far this is my favorite design for a mech ever. Not only that but the animations are incredible and for the first time they make you feel like you are in full control of a mech and not a bumbling machine, the sense of speed is way better demonstrated then even some racers out there. There isn't only you're mech Jehuty that's cool looking, there are a bunch of others that are as equally cool in their own respect. The mix of speed, boss battles and the cool sleekness of the mechs is what made the list.

Side note : Might not post tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mech Week : Neon Genesis Evangelion

I just had to place Neon Genesis somewhere, it is one of the perfect series. A now classic, a must watch, even non anime fans that I know have seen Evangelion. I was a little hesitant of putting it on my list, simply because seemed too obvious of a choice an all, and the fact that at a first look it's seems like an deep psychological anime featuring mechs on the side. But no it's much more than that, without the mechs it just wouldn't of been so awesome, it set the standard for not only for mech anime but for every mature anime. I think it even spawned a verb of some sorts among forums and such, Evangelion like. It also feature one of the best opening themes to date, not even Trigun's air guitar can beat that! (But the new Brotherhood theme is pretty rockin')

In the beginning, after I watched the first few episodes, I was utterly disappointed. For me it seemed so generic, although generic is a word I trow around a lot, I'm always glad to be said the contrary. I did learn the true nature of the anime after watching more but at first it did nothing to distinguish itself apart from other mech animes like Escaflowne or Gundam. It had every single cliché; young boy with low self estime discovers his true power? Check. Father problems? Check. Sexy counterpart? Check. Jealous partner? Check. Balancing school and saving the world? Check. Post apocalyptic environment? Check. Large religious undertones? Check.

BUT! There is one difference with Evangelion and it's infinite cliché and some of it's other anime mech counterparts. For the first time ever a series did the cliches, in lack for a fitting word; Good, amazing even. There are simple and subtle instances that make it seem like you know what a character is thinking because of the predefined ascetics or whatnot, but then they completly surprise you. They don't even surprise you because of good will or a turn for the good they surprise you for being real people, really fucked up real people. For example Shinji's situation with his father, at first I found it cheesy that he had father issues and the series made it seem like his father knew exactly how to encourage Shinji for the better, but no, Shinji's father knew exactly how to manipulate Shinji and not encourage him at all. Personally I would as far as saying that Shinji doesn't have any father problems because of the lack of even having a father.
They even dealed with high school drama perfectly. I can't stand high school drama or any kind of school place related feelings, it simply makes me cringe, even when I was in high school I didn't follow gossip, if it could make me cringe back then no way I'm going to enjoy it in my pass times. Again they surprised me incredibly, they made an awkward situation, I wouldn't say fun to watch because I found myself feeling shame for those characters and facepalming myself a few times, yet that's why it works so amazingly. For me it doesn't have to be overly touching to get a reaction, it simply needs to be good.

Just a quick breakout of the setting so for some of the people who didn't watch it yet (shame) won't feel completely lost. After the Second Impact, which killed off half of the human population and made massive global climate change the world is in turmoil. The second impact was caused by an entity named the Angels, an unknown being with incredible power. So Shinji is mysteriously summoned by his father to pilot Eva a giant Mech, with the power to destroy the Angels. The catch is that the Evas can only be piloted by 14 year old teenagers born at the same moment of the Second Impact. And that was a very brief description of the setting.

Continuing on why I like this series so much. There is another thing that took me by surprise, like I already mentioned before, the characters. Usually an anime fandom can be completely fueled by a single character, Hellsing for example, it is an anime about Alucard kicking ass for 13 episodes and people love it! Naruto is another anime fueled by character fandom. Yet in Neon Genesis, I never heard anyone say that Rei or Shinji was so awesome or how they loved them for just for being themselves. Because no character in the series is really that appealing, they're all horribly flawed in their own way and its what makes them so real and that's what makes some scenes hold a bigger impact. Yet in all their flaws they seem to be likable in a way, making you relate a little more compared to the super brave heroes in other media. They really did achieve something amazing with the character development. One scene sticks out in my mind and probably will go into my “greatest anime moments ever”. It's when Shinji helplessly wails at the Eva controls, right when the Eva was taken control by his father, the Eva viciously slam and destroys its target without any control from Shinji still inside and when it's finally revealed who resides inside, couple with Shinji's reaction...awesome....

The story is also one of those things, that you can't quite explain. Even you do go see on the internet for hardcore fan speculations, that's what they exactly are, speculations. How to explain it? Seen Donnie Darko? Well its like that, everyone thinks they get the film but nobody actually does. They even made an extra film to explain (or erase) the first ending, even then it raises more questions than answers. Still fantastically fun to think about the show and its entire effect. Porcupine effect hit me hard because it applies so well. Even the explanation of the AT field is purely made of cool, the AT field is simply another way of explaining the artificial barriers we create to protect ourselves, and without those would the world be better? They beautifully demonstrated the power of the AT field in the first battle in film with Asuka monologing along. Purely made of awesome. Anyways, I could go on forever about every single instance of the series.

“Wait isn't this mech week” This is the phrase I got in my head while writing this post, so lets talk about the actual mech on the show. I really do like the design of the Evas, they're sleek and cool. They also don't look like a conventional mech, they're too humanoid, which gives them even more appeal. Sure they are super powered mechs but they are also very limited. Because of their huge need of power they constantly need to be hooked up to a power cord so they can operate and if severed they only have five minutes until total shutdown. They really went far into making this mech be humanoid as much as possible, instead of having transforming components comment out of every orifice they made it have almost no weapons build at all. They simply have a small (well for their size) sonic knife, which is quite effective against angels because they need to counter each other protective shields in close combats, but also the Evas can wield giant assault rifles and other neat weapons. They never made it seem like mechs, they never really concentrated on showing how huge it was compared to everything else, the motion seems so fluid yet still hugely stiff like a mech, especially a scene where Eva Model 02 jumps from boat to boat.

The Angels themselves could be identified as mechs, but they change form after each defeat in order to evolve and destroy the Eva. Really an interesting enemy because we don't know that much about them. They adapt after each fighting learning more and more. THE LAST ANGEL was a total kick in the brain and heart, you totally saw it coming but when you really think about it; total mind fuck on their part.

So that's Neon Genesis, it'll probably end up on my blog another time for a further look. My post was accidentally deleted from my computer by one of family members because I write it on Openoffice before I put it on my blog, serves me right for simple calling it “txt”. So I had to re-write it pretty quick anyways my rest of the week is mostly ready so tune in.

EDIT: Also having trouble with images, I think it's just the html code freaking out apparently.
EDIT2: Now if I click on the button to place images nothing happens...?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Mech Week : Metal Warriors

So here I am for my first week theme, which is if you have been following my single mention is Mech Week. For this I will be looking at all my favorite Mechs from different media outputs. There is a single factor I noticed from when I started scraping any mech memories from my mind, it is that most of the mech related media is japanese most of the time, and quintessentially my list is mostly all anime and video games. Sure there were a few other exceptions but they aren't that awesome or cool enough to fit into my personified list, but as an added bonus I'll be counting at the end of the week what didn't make the cut and a little conundrum of what should of made the cut. First item of the list something completely obscure, because everyone knows the more obscure it is the cooler it is and in retrospect the cooler you are! (Statement isn't a fact)

Metal Warriors, an obscure game on the SNES, at least it was obscure for me at the time, even now nobody knows that much about it, even me. The production is a little iffy for me also, seems that there is a bunch of other mech games similar to this one named Valken, but from the word I hear around Metal Warriors is a complete rip off of those games but made better. Ironically is was produced by LucasArts, stunning I know they can make good games besides their two cash cows, no no I'm being to harsh they made a few good game besides those two Lucas fueled franchises. It was also, never released outside America, so it is considered a spritual successor to the Valken games somehow.

Despite being purely american it sports a lot of the anime styling with the small opening cutscenes, which are still very nice to look at even for today's standards. Sadly, the story is still purely american, you are the somewhat valiant american fighters against the organization named the Dark Axis. The game doesn't say much more than that really, a few tidbits here and there but nothing really important. Still like I said the cutscenes are really cool even they are only about 15 seconds of it. See it below. One aspect that didn't hit me at first but that I found really cool is that there isn't any on screen interface, no health gauge, weapons meter, time and useless information like that. When you get hit your Mech slowly loses its color and after awhile it will start to deteriorate, all in glorious 16-bit. That aspect of no screen hub is why I found that the praise of Dead Space for using no interface so hilarious because Metal Warriors did it 14 years earlier way before Dead Space!
Another beyond awesome aspect was that yes you had one main mech, but you aren't tied to that mech at all. It doesn't feature this special power that only it can defeat the evil forces, it's simply a war machines and it can be easily destroyed. That might sound like a pain, because in most video games you're almost invincible, but if you're mech does get destroyed or if it is reduced to a walking piece of metal you can simply walk out of it with your jeckpack wearing tiny pilot. The problem is that when in pilot mode you are completely vulnerable and you twitch along flinging your tiny bullets at other huge mechanized monsters. Fear not if you spot an inactive mech around you can simply climb in and continue kicking ass! Great feature, need a different model for a different situation? Grab another mech! Need to fix your mech but don't have any health packs around? Grab another fully healed mech! It adds this layer of panic because you are so vulnerable while in pilot mode, also adds a tactical element because you can't simply go in charging with guns a blazing for every situation, because you will surely be destroyed and most of the time with no empty mech in sight. You really need to take advantage to each of the mechs specialized abilities and defensive and offensive.
I think that's what made the game awesome enough to make my list, being able to switch mechs. And there are a bunch of different models to choose, one is basically a walking canon with no flight abilities, another is a quick spherical with high defense and speed, another is a spider model with the ability to cling to wall and trap others and a few more with each their own special weapons and flying capabilities. Too bad they dropped the ball with the multiplayer. Yes it is fun fighting a friend one on one with each his own favorite model, but the level design made the experience feel way too claustrophobic, with the huge array of weapons, the small maze of hallways ruined the fun factor for the multiplayer. Not that its completely horrible, you just won't be coming back for more after you've played enough.

It simply made my list for being awesome and before its time all without any recognition! Of course 6 different mechs all playable in one game? So cool.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Workplace Annotations

Don't really know why but I feel like venting from my work on my blog, not exactly a negative vent but a vent nonetheless. I already worked at the same place last summer, it's a government building doing governmental stuff. The first time was in a different context than it is now, before I was a student working among other students. The older workers kinda quarantined us in a confined office area, they were scared of catching our bright outlook on life and our futures. Anyways, I got back in for a second year and this time I would be working directly with some of adults and a few students also.

Let me first tell you that I always had trouble with first impressions, not that I always have bad first impression, more of the fact that I don't make first impressions. People don't seem to remember me the first time we meet, I share that common trait with them so the universe all balances out in the end. Now this wasn't exactly a problem, the fact is, that living in a small town you never do need any first impression, the second party simply needs to know your parents names and therefor they can prejudge you as they please. Quite an effective social mechanism.

So here I am first day standing around on familiar ground and at the same time standing in a unfamiliar environment. Getting a few disdained looks here and there, I got the feeling of regret that maybe I shouldn't of worn my power metal shirt with a figure shooting beams out of its eyes, but that feeling quickly dissipated because I don't give a damn. Furthermore they paired me up with a complete counterpart, the guy was ripped, he was like the alpha male, played in my university's hockey team, the whole jock package. Still he's a nice guy and all, showed me what I would be doing for the rest of the summer and thought me to “Stop thinking, you're thinking too much, just do it”, which in context really was useful, thinking isn't really useful if you're working for the government. When I finished my training I switched with another co-worker, he was much older and a father so he was already familiar with adolescent incompetence, so a simple chuckle from him made my mistakes go away.

There is also a place they send me when my main work is done; the crib. The crib consists of the sliding mechanical rows that move with a press of button. They jar to the side with this bitter metallic sound as if they're exhausted from all the years of sliding. Inside the rows are millions of files, each to his own name and highly confidential. The light eerily flicker from time to time which gives the crib an even less than awkward invitation. I even spilled blood inside the crib from the numerous paper cuts and stabbings from the sharp metallic paper holders. Quite devious place to spent your working hours, I did work a few night shift completely inside the crib. It channels some kinda of morale sucking energy to whom they probably use to power the numerous coffee machines looming around. Not only does it suck your morale it also nullifies any intelligent thoughts and transforms them into mindless color coded numbering system, strangely enough it made me feel even more stoic.

I do drive a van, a big van. Something strange is each time I cross another van of similar size or any vehicular of a similar size, I get a nod from the other driver. Even more odd I willingly nod back, it feels pretty badass, but this isn't a friendly nod, it is a nod of utmost respect like they're saying “Keep at soldier, soon we _________”. I think your imaginations can fill out the rest, I keep thinking there's going to be an uprising soon, I mean they do have all the big vehicles, what would the world do without big vehicles?

Also, cake. Yes cake, for awhile cake has been subjected into my mind that any promise of cake involving a corporation is a lie. No deal here, there is often cake and it is definitely not a lie. There's cake from every frikin occasion, Sally is retiring so we have cake, George is going on vacation so we have cake, Sally is pregnant so we have cake, Henrietta made a cake last night so we have cake. So much cake, makes it seem like they're are hiding something. Nobody is allowed to have this much cake at work, there should be a law about it. Mostly I think having cake is an excuse to have a break without using up your fifteen minutes.

All and all, I like my job there are a few odd people but aside from that enjoyable. On a side note watch out next we for Mech Week where I will be counting down some of my favorite mech related media! Not in list form I can't count down best to worst...It'll just be a down?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Last Week Ramblings

Last week was a weird week for me, I expected a slow easy going week with so I could stay home and just stay up till morning and wake up in the afternoon. Strangely the conditions and the timing of things ruin that moment, not that I regret it but I'm slightly more tired than expected. The strange timing of school finishing and the last week before everyone starts working at their respected summer job, boosted the hang-out factor tenfold. I did plan on posting more but I keeped being dragged out of my house from my own free will!

So we organized a few werewolf games since we would be surely lacking during the summer. If you don't know, Werewolf is a game were there is a village and there are a few Werewolves hidden within the villagers. So your job is to figure out who is a Werewolf and prosecute them and eventually kill them. The trick is there are more villagers than werewolves so you really need to know who to trust and find a tell. I find it's like a roleplaying poker, expect you kill people. Speaking of which I tried to bring some roleplaying into the game by taking on another persona, but I was promptly killed for acting weird and the multiple comments of "This isn't your improv!". Also speaking of role playing, started playing in a Dungeons and Dragons Campaign, after six hours of playing we gained one level...I haven't much to say really, we fought spiders and such...yeah...

Re-finished watching Gungrave for the third time, I do love that anime. It is currently my all time favorite anime, so It'll most likely pop-up on this blog at least once. Other anime I've been viewing in the reboot of Dragonball Z, seamlessly named Dragonball Kai. Wasn't really impressed by Dragonball Kai hasn't changed anything at all, it's still airing so it still has a chance in my eyes. Another anime that gained a reboot or retelling is Fullmetla Alchemist, and I do love the Fullmetal. More based around the manga and less filler than the first anime rendition. As far it seems really superior than the first series, a definite continue watching for me, if only the subbers would be quicker! You can check out , to see what anime I've watched and such. To be more exact it's what I watched since last summer, there a still a few things I haven't added into my list because I plan on re-watching them. Another series that has been taking my time is Spaced (Not an anime) which is frikin hilarious, I'm not that far into it yet.

I also officially own my own comic books, since free comic book day was saterday I picked up a bunch of them. I was really disappointed actually every comic was a huge publicity for their comics, most of them had like three different comic prologues in one comic which didn't add much quantity. The ones that I did like was the first ever issue of Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles, which was really awesome to read and Atomic Robot which I found oddly enjoyable and funny. The rest really confused me because I didn't know what was going on, especially Avengers. I did also pick up a Prose book of Hellboy, just another book to add to my summer reading I suppose.

My tactic of promising myself to post twice a day in order to post at least once a day failed, I heard it was good tactic against procrastination but my procrastination seems to have became self aware of the situation.