Friday, 24 March 2017

Power Rangers 2017 Movie [Review]

The TV series of Power Rangers is always good fun, and the suits and story were usually pretty colourful and fun. A few seasons took a more serious side with the story, and even in the more light-hearted ones there were some serious moments. But no-one really expected those spandex suits and cheap effects to change to reflect that more serious tone. Here then, with the first in the new Rangers films, a more serious tone is presented with the effects and suits to match.

It takes time to get to the good stuff, and if you really want to start questioning stuff that happens, this isn’t going to fit your tastes. With Rangers it is always best to suspend logical reasoning regarding its events, even if some things are sort of logical. As such, the film itself begins 65,000 years ago, with the original Rangers. Zordon is the only Ranger left on a war-torn environment, and he calls in a strike to end the conflict. In the present day, we slowly get introduced to the new team, with most focus placed on Jason to begin. Billy and Jason strike up a friendship, and that night the two head off to the mines. Kimberly, Zack, and Trini are there as well, and the power coins are revealed.
This film essentially tells how this team of misfits bond together, and I feel it does a good job of that. It’s a more mature origin story, with some obvious issues it deals with for the main cast, who do a good job of portraying those emotions. In context of the film, I do feel we don’t get much of either Zack or Trini until the middle act, where the bonding between the group really starts. I can understand where that comes into it, since these are the more outcast characters, but it still would have been good to get a bit more depth to them early on. Alpha and Zordon are used as was expected, and even gave Zordon a bit of a selfish need until he realised his time is done. As for Rita… She was a bit more outside of what I expected. How she came about and grew in power, with the way it was shot, gave a more creepy side to the character. At full strength, she really played that up.

As for the story itself, it was more about those character interactions, I felt. It gives a real feel as to how the characters see each other, and their reactions to believable to the situations they are in. At first they are hesitant to accept the powers and the responsibility, just as in the Mighty Morphin' TV series, but here it is more played up. The bond between the group is what allows them to earn their powers, and until they have that bond, they cannot morph. And while they do start training, they don't exactly bond. When it comes to the action, Rita is reconstructing Goldar and intends to pull the Zeo Crystal supporting all life on Earth from where it is hidden. I liked watching the Rangers grow into that team, and in a way it reminded me of Dino Thunder. A group of teens get in trouble, are grouped together in some way, find the power, and have to bond as a team to succeed. Since this film is playing on the original settings, I wouldn't suggest anything as outlandish as it should have been three Rangers to start.
I felt it was a well constructed film. There's serious and more light-hearted moments, with references to numerous films, and even a blast of the original theme's chorus as the Rangers and their zords charge into battle. I will say though, and this will be coming up in my Look Inside the Morphing Grid series when I get to the era, I felt Disney had a better understanding of how to make Rangers work. Most of the film feels like it suits the more serious tone, and the lighter toned scenes are a breather from that, but in no way do they feel... fully interwoven with each other. Perhaps it's just preference, and there'll be more detail when I cover that era, but for here I'll just say that the lighter scenes don't exactly work in places, and occasionally feel timed wrong.
The effects are well done, with the zords and enemies feeling mostly a part of the same world. Just don't go expecting the sort of explosions you'd get in the TV series, as the fights are more grounded. Which is also an interesting point to bring up.

The final climax of the film is the fight that is usually expected in any Power Rangers episode. Battles against foot soldiers and monsters, then a zord fight. The fight against those foot soldiers is executed well enough for the film, with the first wave outside the mine. It's a more standard movie affair than the TV series though, which usually holds back the larger groups of foot soldiers until the finale, as the first fight overwhelms them, if not for using the zords. And while I do say it's best not to think about the logic of Rangers, this is the one point I couldn't help but question it. Working as a team was the whole point of the film, and while that gets represented in the zord fight, it doesn't get much look in with the ground fight. Said ground fight barely lasts any time at all before the zords are pulled out to annihilate the enemy. Said fight has a few instances is used. Said ground fight, in real terms, is five super-powered teenagers in armour against a bunch of rock monsters that fall easily. Yet all appears lost almost too quickly. I think that maybe the film wanted to use the zords more, as those things really are good looking. The fight with the zords is a lot better, and since the zord fight immediately follows the ground fight, enjoyment isn't really affected too much. The zord fight feels much like in the TV series, with each Ranger utilising their particular zord as a way to fight off the forces of evil and stop Goldar from getting the Zeo Crystal. It's effective, and good to watch, and when all seems lost, the Megazord is formed. Either through the bond the Rangers are sharing at that time or due to a fuse owing to the extreme heat the zords have placed on them. I'd say the first, since teamwork is the theme of the film and Power Rangers as a whole.

As to what final verdict I'd give the film... I liked it, and it certainly gave a more mature spin on the lore of the Rangers series. Which is something I'd like to see expanded on with the future films. As for this film, it does a good job of introducing the concept of Rangers, so even if you haven't been a fan of the series you'd still be able to enjoy it. But while it is good, and it serves its purpose, I can't help but feel Disney did it better with the series, so a film under their control could be better than this one is. If we look at the films as a series, then this was just the first episode. And since it was the first episode, we should expect greater things for the series in the future.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Nintendo Switch: This Just Got Everywhere [Gaming]

It's been over a week since the Switch was first released, and already it's doing better than the Wii U. A lot of build-up for the console went a long way to securing good sales, for both games and the console itself. And what a console this thing is.

The set up was quick and easy, showing off what the console was capable of easy enough. The UI is simple enough to navigate, with games being sorted by most recent played. A set of icons below this carousel feature the news, eshop, album, and settings for both console and controllers. Two themes are available, and so I opted for the darker one on preference. What I really like about it is the simplicity of it, but feel it could have a bit more functionality to it. The Wii, 3DS, and Wii U had ways to track play time, the latter two having specific apps for it [the 3DS one being the best], but there is no such thing with the Switch. Even the PS4 and Xbox One have some way to see total play time, and while it's not really a big deal, it is something that will be missed. The eshop is also simple in design, and simple to use. Simple functionality seems to be the order of the day for the Switch, and that also goes into how it's used.

While I did get time playing it in January, there was no real way for me to test the switching function properly. Glad to say it works great. Freehand Joy-Cons are the best, I've found. That's how I started using the Switch, and is probably going to be the way I play near enough all the time with it docked. The straps fill the Joy-Cons out a bit more, allowing them to be held better. The positioning of the buttons and sticks are pretty good for either freehand or in the grip. Swapping to handheld mode is simple enough, and attaching the Joy-Cons to the Switch itself. The only trouble I've had is removing the straps, but after a few times of doing so it has got easier to do so. Holding the Switch in handheld mode is lighter than I was expecting. The only trouble I have had is a single Joy-Con. At the January event the only experience I had of that was with Sonic Mania. I've played two games that use a Joy-Con on the side, and even with the strap I've found it a bit hard both keeping a hold of it and pressing buttons in more intense moments of play.

As for the games I've played, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has been the big one. While I do keep up with the series, I'm not exactly a big fan. I've seriously been pulled into the world with this one though. There's so much to do within the world. I've explored like crazy and still probably haven't found everything. The game is open in how you attempt things, with story beats being the best way to do so. There are also numerous shrines around that give spirit orbs for passing a test. Four of these will grant a heart or stamina upgrade. And there are over 100 of them. There's things to cook, clothes to buy, places to explore, and enemies to beat up. There's weapons to use and find, Korok seeds to collect for inventory upgrades, and also fairy fountains which give good things to you as well. There is so much to do that while I'm technically half way through the story, I'm nowhere near finished with the game.

FAST RMX is the second game I purchased, and while I said I would do it first day, I had spent so much time on Breath of the Wild on that day I didn't have time to do so. Instead, it was the first thing I did on the second day, and it's a great game. I haven't been online yet, but the single-player races I've done have been living up to the name of fast. It takes a bit of skill to race, with switching between two colours to gain and use boosts the sole game-changer on offer. Each course looks vastly different from another, and each feels unique with its course layout. Getting third or better will unlock a new cup and a new vehicle, with three difficulty levels to get through. There's even Hero mode for that greater bit of challenge, where the boost bar also acts as an energy gauge - same as in F-Zero - which destroy your racer if it runs out. I've only played through a few of the cups, but it has been a great racer all the same.

Now the third game I've been playing has been Snipperclips, a simple yet fun puzzler. At first it was just the demo, but I've delayed this post so I can include the full game, which arrived as a code with the Neon Joy-Con bundle. The demo had the tutorial and three of the stages, with the tutorial doing a good job of showing the controls off and the stages doing a great job of showing what to expect in the full game. Getting to that full game, the puzzles get that bit more interesting, and while I've only completed the first world, the puzzles on offer have shown that it can be fun. Get a friend along for the challenge, and it becomes that bit more fun with the right person. Yes, you can work together to solve the puzzles, but there's fun to be had just playing around. I've yet to fully test out the other modes in the game, but from what I've read, those also offer enjoyment with friends.

That's my impressions with the console in its first week. Yes, there are a few niggles, and a lack of entertainment features - such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video - might bother some. For me though, it has been a delight to have as much power of a home console on a handheld, and have the ability to swap almost seamlessly between handheld and TV. While the launch has been a success in my eyes, there's still the next few months to take into consideration. The likes of Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and ARMS will make sure there are plenty of first party games coming, though E3 is where the support of others will really be shown.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

March '17 Monthly Update [Network]

Last month I teased something new that would be released to the Kindle Store either this month or next. In this update, I can now unveil that. Over three years ago, I had an original story running called TV and Film Residential Camp. It was a story about this unknown country down in the southern hemisphere that liked to keep to itself. A student holiday wasn't all that it seemed, and one student was able to break out of the memory alterations. He took a trip to the United Kingdom, and specifically a town called Halesowen.
Now in that story, I was using real names of real people - more specifically the friends and lecturers at the college and myself. I didn't want to keep that though, as I figured it wouldn't do well to feature people if they didn't want to be featured in a proper published work. Yes, I had put the last chapter on hold so I could prepare it for self-publishing to the Kindle Store. That, clearly, never happened. But I had worked out new identities for new characters. Every single name was changed, as well as altering some other parts to them. Slowly I was building up an entire roster of new characters. And so this group comprised of ten people. That was when I swapped track. I could tell some interesting stories with these characters, and so the new story began planning.
That was six months back, and it is almost ready. For this starting book, I wanted to focus more on the characters themselves, so the book is essentially eight short stories taking the viewpoint of one character - two for the beginning and ending stories, which will both be longer to accommodate that. The title of said book is The Alternate Adventures of Halesowen. Keep a look out as I will be saying more on it, including release, soon.

Elsewhere, I mentioned writing up another Nintendo Switch post should there be any news. That news came in the form of an independent studio showcase of games coming to the Switch. Yesterday. I had also said that if news didn't come I would still write something up, but I decided against that just to allow time for other things. However, with the release of the Switch this week, I will be giving my thoughts on it and the games I get.
The next in the Look Inside the Morphing Grid series will look at Power Rangers In Space, and Lost Galaxy. From what I've seen of In Space so far, it is looking likely to be great throughout, though there's every change Lost Galaxy could be better.
The next episode of Doctor Who: The Star Wars Chronicles has DarkRula and The Doctor retracing the steps of the Daleks when they first arrived. Along the way the two will run into some eager bounty hunters willing to capture them. Catch up with that when Retracing and Running is posted later this month.
Another mention from last month was that I was unable to record games on my laptop due to it being funny like that. Whatever caused it, I found a slight workaround for GTA videos. In January I posted videos from the Rockstar Editor. One from the PC version and one from the Xbox One version. Since I've been spending a bit more time on the Xbox One version, I've also been making some races on that version as well. Using the Rockstar Editor, I recorded footage of that track, editing it as I did those videos in January. It is up on Youtube, though has somehow exported out at a slightly lower quality than the previous video.

That is all for now, so bye for now.

Friday, 17 February 2017

A Look Inside the Morphing Grid - Power Rangers Zeo / Turbo [TV and Film]

After that ridiculously long post of Mighty Morphin', I'm glad all of these will now be less than a hundred episodes to cover. With the next two series, it was clear Saban was trying to push for bigger changes more quickly to allow the popularity of the franchise to thrive. Zeo changed everything right off the bat. Well, all but the Rangers themselves, and Angel Grove as a living community. Turbo also did the same thing. So let's take a look at Zeo, then Turbo, and see how they shape up.

Zeo starts directly after the ending to Alien Rangers. Rocky, Adam, Katherine, Tommy, Billy, and Tanya are left in the wreckage of the Command Centre, wondering what to do next. They find the Zeo Crystal and fall down to the complex under the Command Centre. Meanwhile, Rita and Zedd are being forced away by the forces of the Machine Empire. Rito and Goldar have lost their memories and wonder the streets of Angel Grove trying to find out who they are. They bump into Bulk and Skull, who take advantage of the two and put them to work as their servants.
The opening definitely does a good job of showing the change that happens. New villains to battle. New powers for the Rangers. A new way for our comedic duo to have some fun. With six former Rangers and only five powers to give, Billy takes a sidestep to become technical adviser to the team. With Tanya filling Aisha's place as Yellow Ranger, the team go and beat up some Cogs - the Machine Empire's foot soldiers who were sent down to test the planet's defences. And it's here that one of my biggest flaws with Zeo comes up. The main villains aren't very interesting. We have King Mondo, conqueror of many planets, and his wife Queen Machina, and their son Prince Sprocket. This being the Machine Empire, of course they're robots. But that isn't what makes them not interesting. It's the fact they don't really seem to do much. Yes, they're commanders of their army, but they have no-one to really react to other than themselves. At least with Rita in season one of Mighty Morphin' she had Squatt, Baboo, and Goldar around, and those four were more active in the field.
And nothing else about the start of Zeo really has much interest surrounding it. A few episodes in we get Tommy and Katherine working on an assignment where they pretend they're married with a kid, and that provided some fun, but most episodes weren't really entertaining enough, though Katherine was the stand out for me in these episodes, especially those that focus on her. The only other entertaining episode is when Billy looks to be going for an extended trip to Aquitar. Here we have Cestro of the Alien Rangers return, looking for Billy. He bumps into Bulk and Skull, who agree to take him to the only Billy they know. Once Billy and Cestro get talking, it is clear that Billy wants to help, but obviously means leaving. And he doesn't want to have to say goodbye to the Rangers, so leaves without doing so. The Rangers find out about his plans but arrive too late. Contact is made for Billy to make it up to them.
Some growth of Bulk and Skull also happens, with Skull scared of what Bulk would say if he knew Skull was practising classical music. With some helpful words from Adam, Skull gives it his best to put aside those fears when he appears on stage, and Bulk accepts him for the brilliant piece of music he performed. There's also some more growth for the two later on.

With Billy returned to the Rangers after a bit of trouble, things now start to pick up. There's No Business Like Snow Business starts this off with a letter to Tommy. Kimberly writes to say how great it has been after moving away, but she has unfortunately has met someone new and is calling the two of them quits. Tommy is heartbroken after this, so Billy and Katherine decide to take him on a weekend trip away snowboarding. The Machine Empire tries to ruin the fun, and the three save a famous snowboarder from those plans. A spark of interest forms between Tommy and the snowboarder, which Katherine tries to take further once they return to Angel Grove. It's hard to have a relationship if you're a Ranger, and that is proven here during a candle-lit dinner between Tommy and Heather, the snowboarder. This leaves Tommy feeling roughly the same, but a dance with Katherine seems to cheer him up. It takes quite a while for Tommy to really recognise those feelings Katherine has for him, but maybe that's for the best considering what he's about to go through.
Tommy starts having dreams about his quest which started in Alien Rangers, where he was given an arrowhead and told to find his destiny. What he finds is that he has a brother. Each was tasked with protecting their half of the arrowhead, and King Mondo is interested in its powers. In trying to protect his brother, Tommy reveals his Ranger identity, which his brother is accepting of. Tommy and David split the arrowhead once again to protect it, and David leaves for some time. The Machine Empire is starting to feel more active now, and start to get more enjoyable.
The growth of Bulk and Skull happens in Bulk Fiction, and while they are being goofs at first, this point more than any shows they have heart. The police chief's daughter starts working at the station, and Bulk falls in love with her, and wants to ask her out. His antics are noticed by the chief, who commands Stone to have words with him or he'd be off the force. When it does happen again and the chief fires Stone, Bulk and Skull decide to go with him, on the grounds it was their fault he got fired. It's good to see them do things like this, especially when you think how they were during Mighty Morphin's first season. Stone sets up a Detective Agency, with Bulk and Skull as his team.
When the Gold Ranger is introduced, there's a feeling that the team are now better than ever, as it always does. Though the identity of Gold isn't known. David is back with Tommy during a surfing contest that gets interrupted by Mondo's plan to pollute the Earth's water, and soon the Gold Ranger is revealed. Pyramidus gets shot down and lands on Aquitar, with Cestro sending the unconscious form of the person inside to Earth by teleport. Trey of Triforia is the Gold Ranger, but due to his form being split in three from after-effects of the attack, he is now unable to use the Gold power. This is where the original Red comes in to help. Jason returns to take up the mantle of Gold. It is during this arc that Rito and Goldar start wondering where they came from, which is convenient as Rita and Zedd have reappeared, and want them to return. Their memories returned, the two meet up with Rita, Zedd, and the rest in a mobile home on the moon. It is here that the Rangers also get new zords - the Super Zeozords.
Mondo takes matters into his own hands in the next episode, and gets destroyed himself. This sets up a plan for Rita and Zedd to start taking over, but the robot they plan to use goes rogue when Rito and Goldar lose the remote. In a reversal of roles, the two get Bulk and Skull to find the remote, which the Rangers and rogue robot are already fighting for control over elsewhere.

The last quarter of the series has the robot Louie Kaboom being the main villain for a while, where he unearths Auric the Conqueror and tries to convince him the Rangers are evil. After seeing the light thanks to help from the Rangers, Auric says he will be ready to help if needed. Louie's short-lived time running the Machine Empire is up as the eldest son to Mondo appears to take control. Prince Gasket and Princess Archerina send Louie to Angel Grove, under the spell of love, to prove himself to Archerina. He eventually goes Kaboom once the Rangers put him down for good. Rita and Zedd are glad the Rangers did them a favour, and continue working on ways to take the Machine Empire out.
Tommy is kidnapped by Gasket, who modifies his memory so he has no idea who he is. This sets up King For A Day, where Gasket convinces Tommy he is King of the Machine Empire. Tommy's energy has been passed onto a new monster, and in an arena is put to the test to prove himself. This arc really sets up that Rita and Zedd are willing to do anything to rid themselves of the Machine Empire, including helping the Rangers. This is also a personal quest for Jason, who had already let Tommy down before way back in Mighty Morphin'. Tommy and Jason get into a fight, the rest of the Rangers arrive and have to fight as well, before Katherine gets the idea to demorph in the hope that seeing their faces will awaken the memories of Tommy. Bulk and Skull get yet another time to shine, helping one of the prisoners destroy the controls for the barrier that stops anyone from leaving the arena.
Nearing the end of the series, Another Song and Dance makes Tommy and Tanya start operatically singing every line they speak. It sure is entertaining to hear, especially as it rolls over into their morphing calls. The episode also shows that King Mondo is fully repaired and ready to get back into battle. Which happens in Rangers of Two Worlds. Rita and Zedd have accidentally created a monster that appears invincible. Mondo is back on the attack. And Billy is starting to age real fast due to his regrowth while the Earth was still back in time during Alien Rangers. As such, they call on the Rangers of Aquitar to help them in this situation. There's entertainment to be had with this two parter, as the evil teams square off against each other, take over the Zeo Megazords to fight each other, and of course two full teams of Rangers fighting against evil. While I'm still not sure why the effects of Billy's time tampering took this long to take effect, it is certainly a better send off for him than the others of his original team, which gets reflected in the end credits, as a montage of his time on the show plays out. That leaves just one thing left. The destruction of the Machine Empire. Which Rita and Zedd do to great effect. The Gold powers are also leaving Jason, so Trey of Triforia is called back in the hope they can be formed back into one at the same time the Gold powers are transferred back. Bulk and Skull are contacted by an agent for some detectives to help him in France, which the two eagerly accept. They tell Stone of this, and while he is sad about their departure, tells himself that they will be back. A final battle plays out with the Rangers taking on Mondo and Cogs supersize. Yeah, the Rangers were allowed to grow to the size of their Megazords for the final battle, thanks to Trey of Triforia - who is now back in possession of the Gold power. With the battle over, Mondo and family berate Zedd on the moon for not joining in the fight. With Zedd saying they were outclassed, he hands them a parcel. A bomb. Driving away in their motorhome laughing, Rita and Zedd watch as said bomb explodes and leaves the leaders of the Machine Empire scrap.

Oh, Turbo. You're not really selling yourself as much of a continuation, are you? We get a time skip, and in that amount of time, everything seems to have changed. Though I think the biggest part of that is Bulk and Skull. From Zeo, they are now... back to police officers? With Stone given another chance? Then Bulk and Skull get turned into monkeys and Stone is now the manager of the Juice Bar. It's as though they couldn't think of how to keep the three together during the time skip, so put the last chance at police in just to say that's what they had been doing. Either way, we Shift Into Turbo and continue.
The three part opening arc has some explaining to do. Rocky retired from being a Ranger and new kid Justin takes his place. The Rangers also already have their Turbo powers. A montage explains how these things happened, but it still doesn't answer everything. Such as where Rita and Zedd disappeared to. That montage footage also comes from the film, which acts as a prequel of sorts to the series. New villain Divatox is seeking revenge on the Rangers after her first defeat at their hands, so travels to Earth in order to set up base underwater. As well as a new villain, new help is at hand for the Rangers. With Zordon and Alpha-5 leaving for Eltar - Zordon's home planet - Dimitria and Alpha-6 are on hand to aid the Rangers. Justin's introduction has him feel a little impulsive. While alone in the Power Chamber with Alpha-5, the cries of monkey Bulk and monkey Skull are picked up, so Justin says he'll investigate. When he runs into Elgar, he rushes into battle without calling in, even when overwhelmed by Piranhatrons - the foot soldiers of Divatox. It is only when the others, concerned about his non-arrival at the graduation ceremony, head off and call in. While I wouldn't say it was a strong start, it does well to communicate that big changes are coming. And acts as a transition to Dimitria and Alpha-6 running the Power Chamber.
Again though, Turbo suffers the same as Zeo did, in that it is a slow start. We get a messenger appear on Earth to deliver a message to Dimitria, and once Divatox gets her hands on said messenger and fails to hear what he has to say, turns him into a monster and sets him to destroy the Rangers. The messenger is revived at the Power Chamber, and tells Dimitria that she has a sister, who had been unknown to them all this time. Is this obvious enough yet? Add that to the fact Divatox's plan is almost exactly the same each time with little variety in execution, things do get a bit wearisome. There's some interesting character interactions to keep you going though, such as Tanya using her radio show as a way to contact the other Rangers to head to her location. Justin gets a lot of the spotlight, and who can blame the show for doing it, considering he's the new kid. That doesn't mean the others don't get time to shine. Without the characters themselves doing new things though, the first few episodes of Turbo aren't at all interesting. The thirteenth episode brings a new message for Dimitria, this one from the future, informing about a joining of evil forces. Again this message gets intercepted by Divatox, but this time she gets to hear the full Millennium Message, while the Rangers only get a part of it. The messenger, the Blue Senturion, stays on to help the Rangers while the figure out a way to return him from where he came.

Carlos and Ashley are introduced in the next episode, with both soon-to-be Rangers partaking in a football game. Carlos a player, and Ashley a cheerleader. Carlos doesn't seem to get that working as a team is important though, but both Adam and Ashley help him see that. Honey, I Shrunk the Rangers is a two parter that takes things a bit more seriously. With all but Justin shrunk to bug-size and trapped on Divatox's ship, another detonator is with Bulk and Skull. The chimps have stolen Jerome's car and taken a trip around town. This is the point where I felt Turbo started to get good. Of course, the more serious tone started to come into it from this point on, balancing very well with the more light-hearted stuff. The Rangers escape Divatox's ship with the torpedoes that super-size monsters, which returns them to normal size. With Bulk and Skull at the beach with the detonator, Justin takes it while the chimps watch from near the torpedo impact point. Which makes the two return to normal, though are also turned invisible. Passing the Torch is the second two parter, and introduces TJ and Cassie as they arrive in Angel Grove. The two come across trouble as Tommy is getting attacked. This is the only episode for a long time in which the stakes of the game felt real high. Tanya, Adam, and Justin are being attacked by two monsters, who have managed to stop them morphing. Tommy is down, and Katherine is doing all she can to protect him. TJ and Cassie run into the two and help. Though with more Piranhatrons than the three can handle, Tommy is taken while they are distracted. The other Rangers manage to outsmart the monsters they are fighting and reach Katherine. In the end, with a monster super-size and destroying Angel Grove, and with Tommy still missing, the four Rangers do everything they can to protect the city. TJ and Cassie have gone on their own mission to find Tommy. Though they don't know about him being a Ranger, it is ultimately that decision which gets them both chosen to become Rangers. With Carlos and Ashley also chosen, and Justin staying on as Blue, Tommy, Katherine, Adam, and Tanya are let go as Rangers. It is a bit sad to see them all go, but the change was meant to tie into the Millennium Message and allow for the current actors - who had been a part of the team since Mighty Morphin' - to head out and pursue other things.
I'm guessing yet another time skip happens here, considering the new team seems to be friendly to each other - something which wouldn't be a thing after just a few days. TJ and Cassie knew each other. Carlos and Ashley knew each other. Justin never had much if any interaction with any of them, yet they all feel like a tight group of friends in the next episode. From this point on, the morphing sequence is shortened, and each ranger no longer says their power during the morph - something which continues throughout the various seasons. Also from this point, Bulk and Skull continue their comical antics by trying to find a permanent job.
The next few episodes slowly introduce the Phantom Ranger. One episode takes a time twist, reversing time to undo the failures of Elgar, who still manages to fail in the end when Clockster freezes himself on the Freeze Key. The Phantom Ranger is the one who undoes that mess. And the Phantom Ranger is the one who gives the other Rangers their new Rescuezords.

From The Darkest Day, Hilary Shepard Turner returns to the role of Divatox, having been on maternity leave since filming the Turbo Movie. Carol Hoyt did a good job with the character, though made Divatox less of a diva than her name suggests. As for the arc itself, we get General Havoc on the scene - Divatox's brother. He's brought some new things with him, so the Subcraft takes a trip to space and docks with the Space Base. The Turbo Megazord is sent out to do battle and is captured. Phantom Ranger takes them below Angel Grove to give the Rangers the Rescuezords, and do battle once again with Havoc in his Metallosaurus. Divatox and Havoc plan to capture the Phantom Ranger, and succeed by capturing Cassie and tricking the Rangers with a disguise. After a Clash of the Megazords, the Turbo Megazord is back in the hands of the Rangers, and with his job done the Phantom Ranger leaves. Throughout all this, Bulk and Skull have been running a Monster Tour with Stone. The idea being they travel to areas where monsters have done battle with the Rangers. They try to drum up business by faking monster and Ranger reveals. It's a bit of fun throughout the more serious arc.
As we get near the end, it becomes clear the balance is just about right for the season to pull off a decent ending. Most between-arc episodes are usually more brighter, fresh air from the longer, more serious plots contained within the arcs. Some of these last few sure had that same amount seriousness involved. Divatox is still being a diva, and comical hi-jinks still exist, but watching these episode, it could be believed that events will be changing.
Justin's dad returns to Angel Grove, setting up for the finale. Cassie and Ashley try their hand at winning the affections of a new boy in town, and Divatox has been working on her own set of zords. The Rangers manage to overcome these zords, but the final battle is yet to be. Parts and Parcel is the last episode before the Chase Into Space arc, and it features Bulk and Skull in fear of not just losing a job, but getting arrested. Working to deliver packages, their boss isn't pleased that missing items are being reported, and Bulk and Skull have got the blame. Working with the Rangers, they uncover Piranhatrons stealing the packages for parts. With Bulk and Skull running to avoid arrest, the Rangers do battle with all three Evil Zords, and just as Bulk and Skull are about to be arrested, return morphed to prove their innocence. The two thank the Rangers, and when they reappear unmorphed after teleporting out of the Juice Bar, Bulk and Skull thank TJ for his help.
And now the finale. Chase Into Space starts with Justin's dad going to a meeting about a new job. Later in the Juice Bar, his dad says he has got the job, but hasn't accepted. He wants to know what Justin thinks, as it will mean moving away from Angel Grove. Justin doesn't want to move though. On the moon, Divatox meets Goldgoyle, who says he will destroy the Rangers. And that he does. The Rangers sacrifice the Rescue Megazord, and get the Turbo Megazord destroyed. TJ uses Lightning Cruiser and the Turbo RAM set to explode to destroy the monster by planting the bomb inside its mouth. Elgar has found the Power Chamber, and shows it to Divatox. The whole army gathers to attack. With Dimitria and the Blue Senturian on Eltar after Zordon's message of an attack on the planet, the Rangers are left alone with Alpha to defend themselves. Bombs planted inside destroys the Power Chamber, and outside Divatox receives a message saying the Dark Specter calls her to the Cimmerian planet. Powers gone, the Rangers still decide Divatox needs destroying. They follow her to space. Justin manages to get into the space centre and calls for the commander to listen to his message from the Rangers. Cleared for use of a shuttle, the Rangers load up. Except for Justin, who stays.
I found myself liking the ending more than I'd anticipated. It shows how, despite being the shortest serving Rangers, they will still do whatever it takes to defend the Earth. It also shows Justin being a bit more mature about the situation at hand. He loves his dad, he loves being a Ranger, and he loves Angel Grove and all the people he has met. Even if the others weren't going to face the perils of space, I think he still would have come to the same decision. TJ, Cassie, Ashley, Carlos, and Alpha-6 head into the unknown reaches of space.

Zeo is an enjoyable season, with a few missteps along the way. It presented some interesting stories for the team, and returned Jason to the team. However, I feel Turbo was slightly better. Divatox and crew were much better villains than the Machine Empire, even though I have said both seasons started slow. With Zeo, the potential exploration of characters had pretty much dried up. Turbo gave them a bit of room away from the school, and when the new cast arrived we were able to explore that group.
While I don't normally do ratings, I still rate groups of things within lists. As such, the season will be slotted in to a list of my favourite to least favourite.

Mighty Morphin'

 Next month will feature the end of the Zordon era in Power Rangers In Space, as well as the start of the Post-Zordon era in Lost Galaxy.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Sonic Generations: Solidifying Interest in the Series Forever [Gaming]

It was not long after April 18 2011, when the first Sonic Generations trailer was released, that something inside clicked. I had been with Sonic for ten years now, but only as a general fan. I hardly took notice of any games, hadn't played most of the games released since Sonic Heroes, and definitely wasn't a part of any fan related groups online. So what was it that made me take notice of Sonic Generations, which ultimately crafted me into the fan of the series I am today?

The original trailer was pretty much a showcase for the fact two versions of Sonic would be in the game. It did little more than show the series was still going strong - 20 years is a pretty long time, after all. When the first look at gameplay was shown off, the boost style of play was new for me. I was certainly interested in this new style of play, and seeing how 2D and 3D viewpoints had merged for the modern stages was also new for me. I can't remember how I felt about it back then, but if it's similar to how I feel now, then my opinions probably haven't changed from seeing the gameplay to gaining experience for myself. Seeing all the other things throughout the trailers was also mostly new to me. You've got to remember, at this point my experience with the series was solely Adventure 2: Battle, Heroes, 3D Blast, R, and the first two Advance games. I certainly knew some parts of the classic games, but seeing the likes of Speed Highway and Crisis City - even Perfect Chaos - was completely new for me. It was as though all this history of Sonic the Hedgehog that I'd missed, as well as some of the best parts of familiar ground, was all coming together into one game. When I got my hands on the demo, I couldn't stop playing it. I absolutely loved the gameplay style for modern, and found classic to be fun as well.

As for the full game, I found the level selection to be good. I've seen around that the amount of city levels was too much, but I didn't really mind that. Despite being city levels, each was pretty different from the others. City Escape and Rooftop Run had many differences in both style and gameplay. Crisis City had the destruction play to its advantage, and Speed Highway being set at night, as well as having moving cars on parts of the level, made it feel that much like a real highway. Green Hill, the staple of the series, has never looked so good. It plays great as well. Chemical Plant had the crazy pipes as paths, and the pinkish water to get drowned in. Sky Sanctuary I had never seen before, so was new to me, and I loved it. The ancient yet mystical aesthetic of it, as well as being in the sky, really made me appreciate it. It also helps that it was also good to play on. Seaside Hill is a favourite of mine from Heroes. Of course I was pleased to see it back, as I was with City Escape. Boosting throughout the design of it, and how Ocean Palace had been merged into it, was an interesting experience, but I loved it. The same cannot be said of Planet Wisp however. For some reason, I never liked it when I played first time. Green Hill was a blast, as was the other classic stages. Speed Highway was a fun experience, as was playing through remixed versions of stages from the only main series games I had played. Crisis City never bothered me as I found the design different from everything else in my experience of Sonic games. Rooftop Run I fell instantly in love with. But Planet Wisp has never been a favourite, nor have I ever really liked it. The first part of the modern stage I was fine with. As with the classic stage. In fact, Planet Wisp in Generations is the only stage I much prefer playing in Act 1 rather than Act 2. And the funny thing is, despite not liking it, I've never been able to find much of a reason to not like it. It's just... something I don't. I can't even say it's because of the game it represents, having never played Colours at that time. And I certainly can't say it's because of the Wisps, despite my aggressive feelings for them [oh, I can still remember my reaction on SSMB when it was so much as hinted at their return for Lost World], simply because that was my first time using them, and I certainly enjoyed whizzing around with Pink Spike. It's something I've never understood and probably never will.

Just like the stages, most bosses were new to me as well. Beating the Death Egg Robot was enjoyable, what with attacking it's underside, then part two by having it stun itself by attacking bombs. Metal Sonic, oh how I loved playing as you in Adventure 2: Battle's multiplayer. Now I'm fighting you as a boss. Well, rival. It was a fun chase, though as with a few of the bosses, it did feel a bit broken or unresponsive. Woah, Perfect Chaos, don't destroy the city with your water! I'm a hedgehog who hates water, and now I'm fighting you in one of the better bosses in the game. Yes, the layout of the boss fight felt great for me. It felt more like an actual level with the boss being integrated into it. And oh how fun it was. It's a shame that Shadow's fight wasn't as interesting or fun. To paraphrase Escape From the City - boosting around in a giant ring, both of us running just to absorb the power, finally got one, now for the other, now time to quickstep rocks for the final take out. While the circuit did have some elevated paths, a few rails, and trick ramps and rings, it always felt safer just sticking to the main path and hoping you never ran out of boost. The Egg Dragoon was a bit more interesting with the varied methods to land hits, but fell into roughly the same pattern. At least this boss actually attacks though, unlike Shadow. As for Silver's boss fight... I liked it. Honestly. What I didn't like was the fact, for me at least, it felt broken half the time. The homing attack blip sometimes wouldn't highlight despite being within very close proximity to the target, and a flaw on my end was I never really understood all the attack patterns for the fight - especially the ending hit. But that still didn't stop me liking it. The final boss... now that's something I hate. Eventually I finally understood this boss fight, but it never made me like it. Despite the fact I've never reached that many final boss battles in Sonic games, I can seriously still say the Time Eater is my most hated. For one, it feels completely broken. I've ended up on the side, unable to move back to the centre without switching to 2D. There is also hardly any way to see obstacles or rings coming up because the background is just a mess of black and purple.

The challenges were interesting mix ups, with some very enjoyable ones and some frustrating ones within a lot of simple yet effective ones. Each challenge unlocks something, whether art or a piece of music, with some also giving out perks which can be added on. While I hardly ever use the perks, or look at the art, the music is a welcome addition. Five Red Star Rings in each act will also grant art and music per one collected, and again the music is what I felt was great. The concept art is interesting, but the game allows the music to be swapped for all levels, and having What I'm Made Of playing while blasting through Speed Highway Act 2 is awesome. The music is from every game as well, and even though some games get more representation than others, the offering is still great.
I still play through the stages of modern Sonic quite a lot, and even drop into some classic stages or bosses every so often, and it still strikes me how replayable these stages are. In a half hour play I usually repeat stages [particularly from the Dreamcast era] and still find them fun. That's just how the game is designed. Now, could there be more content? Oh my, yes. Character interactions are woefully inadequate unless that character is a Sonic, Tails, or Eggman. I would have taken more full stages rather than the challenges, possibly including two levels per game and a boss from that game. The other characters could have done stuff, or made comments of the world they were in from within that world, such as when Sonic and Tails were in Chemical Plant having a conversation within a cutscene. There is so much that could have been done to make the anniversary game that much more spectacular. What we did get is a good celebration of stages that are from the most memorable parts of the games, with recognition of the main cast, as well as plenty of additional content recognising the wider world of Sonic the Hedgehog.

The 25th anniversary of the franchise is soon to be at an end, but the two games coming soon feel like a celebration doing things right. Mania remixing classic stages while including new stages that gives nods to previous material while still being their own thing. While we don't exactly know what Project Sonic 2017 is bringing to the table, I'm hoping it does things right in building a strong and replayable game.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

February '17 Monthly Update [Network]

Just a slight change to the title of these monthly updates to give clear indication of what they are. Clarity is key, after all.
I said I wanted to start uploading some Sonic Generations videos in the run-up to Sonic Mania's release, but my laptop is no longer wanting to record and play games at the same time. And when I do try and record, it is wildly inconsistent with how it plays out. So while no videos will come out about Sonic Generations from me, I will be covering it as a post here. It won't be called a review, but it will be a look at the game and what I think. This was the game that gave my interest in the series a major boost, so covering it would show exactly what I like about it.
As for other games, I'm expecting more Switch news to be coming soon. Major news. So that will be covered here. Even if not, I'm going to be saying something about the console, since with it being just under a month to release, excitement is all around.

With my look into the Power Rangers franchise, I admitted in the post itself that it was long. With my next post in this series, this shouldn't be a problem. I would hope. Either way, a look at Zeo and Turbo should be uploaded on the 15th, which is where I hope to move the series to.
In terms of stories, Hide and Seek of Doctor Who: The Star Wars Chronicles will be out this month. Just to recap, this is the third audio episode of the series, and while the same plot elements will be followed, it will be more focused on behind the scenes stuff that you wouldn't get from an audio episode.
Just teasing this here, but I expect to have something new next month. I've always been saying I wanted to publish something to the Kindle Store, and with this I am finally able to do so. Not saying more, so stay tuned next month.

That's all for now, so bye for now.

Friday, 20 January 2017

A Look Inside the Morphing Grid - Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers [TV and Film]

As I said in this month's Update, I was never an active watcher, and the point at which I started - Dino Thunder - was effectively The Force Awakens to A New Hope. Familiar with its concepts but presenting them in a new approach. From an evil Ranger who turns good, the comic relief trying to expose the Ranger's identities in numerous ways, and most importantly of all - Tommy Oliver returning as a core member of a team. So from someone who's first experience into Power Rangers was from Dino Thunder, what kind of opinion would that one get watching the original?

I can say it certainly is a positive one. The core five introduced to us are an interesting bunch, and carry the episodes well. Jason - the martial artist, Billy - the computer geek, Trini - all-round good girl, Zack - dancer and romantic, and Kimberly - athletic gymnast. From the first episode - Day of the Dumpster - it is clear that each possess different qualities and that each helps the others in their own way. Throughout the first few episodes, I found myself enjoying what each had to offer to the episodes. Even Bulk and Skull had entertaining scenes, and bounced off the main five well. Rita Repulsa and Goldar make for good commanders of the villains. Then we get to our sixth main - Tommy Oliver. His introduction rolls off good, with him acting kind and thoughtful, then rude once he gets turned evil. Five episodes to tell this entire story was about right, though I feel it might have done better with just four. The arc occasionally felt stretched, though I do give credit for pacing it mostly right and giving the sense of defeat  and despair that lingers through most of the arc.
I also have to say this, though I can understand why they did so. Once Tommy is a part of the team, it feels that the writers needed him to be out of the action so created numerous ways of doing so - some of which not working as well as others. It comes down to using the Super Sentai footage for all morphed fight scenes, which is restricting in most cases. I seriously wouldn't want that to change though, as it works for the required purpose.
Over the course of numerous episodes, the stakes get raised, and once we reach The Green Candle it is clear we are nearing the end. Or we would, if the proposed ending had indeed happened. The seriousness mixed with light-heartedness is back as Tommy begins to lose his powers. In a highlight of season one, we see Tommy battle Goldar without his powers, then Jason in the second part. It certainly showed their dedication to the team and stopping evil. In a moment that had certainly been built up to, Tommy and Kimberly share a kiss in the final moments of the episode. With Tommy no longer a Ranger, he disappears. It's a small thing, but while the world building is certainly there, the disappearance of characters when no longer needed is jarring. It's also not dealt with very well, as season two demonstrates [though understandable why it happened].
As the proposed end comes to a close, I'm left wondering how the series deals with continuing. And Doomsday does feel like an ending. High stakes, what with the population being sent to the Dark Dimension and Rita's palace landing on Earth. The battles taking place feel like an ending, and then we get what feels like an ending when Rita retreats and the population is returned. The whole Power Ranger day also feels like an ending. It doesn't end the season though, and instead we get more episodes. It's a plus, but considering how many episodes Mighty Morphin' eventually becomes, the episode count of each season could have been reordered later down the line.

Once Doomsday is over, numerous episodes play out as they did before the supposed finale. There's a light-hearted feel to all of them that works well with the episodes. Only when we get to Return of an Old Friend do the stakes get raised again. And Tommy is the one who returns. With temporary Green Ranger powers, and the Zyu2 footage, Tommy is able to be a part of the main team, rather than backup. This part of season one also started the lyrical background songs being played during fights. It did work for the most part, as the songs were good to listen to, but they also would sometimes have me zoning out of the action.
The end of season one and beginning of season two merge almost seamlessly, with An Oyster Stew providing yet another failure of Rita's before Lord Zedd arrives to take charge. The arrival of Zedd brings a bit more menace to the villain side despite, as we see throughout the season, the ease of which the new Putty Patrollers are dispatched. As the episode Mutiny shows, they are not exactly the best foot soldiers to have. With the Rangers taking care of them in sight of Bulk and Skull, the two comic relief characters now have a new goal. Exposing who the Rangers really are. As the three-part arc continues, more powerful zords are created to tackle the stronger monsters Zedd creates, and so the Thunderzords are in on the action. With the Thunderzords being part of a new season of Super Sentai, there is no sixth zord, so Tommy misses out. Also being a new season of Sentai, yet Rangers still using Zyu2 footage, meant a mixing of footage for all zord fights. As such, throughout the first half of the season, I felt the zord fights were the weakest parts of all episodes. What also didn't help was the extended zord calling and fusion to the Megazord footage being used in all episodes, even after the mixing of footage stopped.
Zedd learns how hard it is for the Rangers to be defeated, and season two works its way to being a mix of better and worse. Zedd's plans are the same as what we saw with Rita, and are still as strong in character and fight scenes. Then the zord fight proceeds to just be tiresome. Green No More livens things up by finally erasing the Green Ranger power. Despair is back as it looks like all Rangers lose their powers for good, and Angel Grove is getting taken over by evil. Tommy proves to be the best yet again as he doesn't fall for Goldar's taunting that he is weak, and battles yet again without his powers. With his powers now gone, Tommy makes one last stand and enters the otherworld, destroying the crystal holding the Ranger powers. Now at full strength, the Rangers conquer evil and win yet again.
For the next few episodes, we get focus on characters feeling bad about Tommy's departure, with the next episode trying to repeat what caused Tommy's downfall with the other Rangers. We don't have long for Tommy's return, as there are only three episodes between Green No More and White Light. With Part 1 of White Light, Zordon and Alpha shut the command centre down to start on a secret project - without alerting the Rangers they'll be on their own for a while. When they do get called back in Part 2, they have already suffered a defeat. In a reveal that probably surprised no-one when the episode first aired, Tommy is the new White Ranger. Kimberly sure got a shock from it though, passing out as the helmet was being lifted. With Tommy now the leader of the team, the Rangers win the day again.

It's at this point that things get a bit low paced. With the episode Opposites Attract, it is the last time the actors who play Jason, Trini, and Zack are on set. Contract disputes led the actors to leave due to being underpaid, and Trini's actress had already suffered an injury on set which the pay barely covered for. As such, over-dubs, archive footage, and stand-ins are the order of the day for the next eight episodes for these characters. Which is odd considering they have actors lined up ready to take their place who feature in all unmorphed scenes and are already in their respective colours for when they become Rangers.
As it stands, after a Halloween themed episode, The Ninja Encounter introduces us to Rocky, Adam, and Aisha in an entertaining scene involving a baby stroller. The three newcomers are then shown in a tournament, beating the reigning champions. Introductions between old and new faces happen after, and Lord Zedd captures the newcomers and their teacher. With the Rangers rescuing the newcomers, Billy gets into a spot of trouble after fighting the snake that was about to attack the newcomers. As such, the newcomers learn the identities of the three Rangers, and they are introduced to the command centre and the Rangers' mission. Now, this is a three part arc, and it could have blended so perfectly with The Power Transfer arc in a four parter with nothing in between. Instead there are two episodes between the two arcs, with The Power Transfer being a two parter in which - in my opinion - didn't do a whole lot and seemed mostly to just borrow from The Ninja Encounter. In both arcs, the city is in peril. Both arcs have the newcomers captured. From my perspective, it would have made things quicker paced had those two arcs been merged together in a four - or even three - part arc and also dealt with the actor changes a lot faster. Not to go on with this too much more, but it seemed the three actors who left had been talking about leaving for a while, so why didn't the crew have the transfer while they were still there? They wanted to change the zords and villains to make things seem fresh, so why not add new faces as well? It would also have allowed the old rangers to meet and accept their replacements, as Kimberly does for Katherine in season three.
Either way, Jason, Zack, and Trini head off to the conference they were selected for, leaving the new trio with their powers. The battles continue, and Bulk and Skull get time to shine in When Is a Ranger Not a Ranger, as the Rangers get memory wiped by a monster. Now with the knowledge of who the Rangers are, the two make a sacrifice and complete what half of the Rangers were attempting to do to reverse the memory wipe. They lose the knowledge of who the Rangers are, but are the reason the Rangers were able to defeat the monster and save the day.
We get quite a few arcs after a few standalone episodes, the first of which being Rangers Back in Time. I'm not getting into all of them, but this one was certainly a fun episode. Reversed in age ten years, the Rangers are now children but have no knowledge of being Rangers. As kids, they get into a fight with some Putty Patrollers, and it's entertaining to see how they still manage to work as a team. Even a young Bulk and Skull get involved in the action. The Wedding is perhaps a weaker three part arc. Rita returns while Lord Zedd is recharging himself. She plans to use Alpha to lure the Rangers into a trap while setting up a marriage with Lord Zedd, implanting a love potion into his recharge chamber. The whole concept felt flat, with the Rangers being in Australia for a conference [yeah, the reason the other Rangers couldn't stay on, even if that one was for an extended time] being called back by a controlled Alpha and sent to a sealed building. The Rangers being trapped inside the building was about the only real good thing from this arc. The arc ends with the Rangers escaping, Rita and Zedd married, and Alpha returned to normal. Not to get too sceptical, but just two parts for the arc would have done just as good, since the only real reason for it to exist anyway was the pairing of Zedd and Rita. It was Zedd who banished Rita in the first place, so for her to return and place a spell on him to forget that would have been good enough. The wedding would have taken place as normal. Having the Rangers out of town, Alpha being controlled, could have been left out for a tighter, better paced arc.
Return of the Green Ranger is another battle with the Green Ranger, though this time it is only a copy and not the real Tommy. The other Rangers have been sent back to the 18th century, and stop a plot of evil without powers. Tommy is able to overcome the wizard controlling the clone, as well as go back in time to the other Rangers and save them. Again - two parter would have been fine. As well as that though, it feels like a been here, done that scenario. It's fine to repeat plot points with new characters, though it feels like the third time Tommy has been battling himself in one way or another in this series. An entertaining episode that pits Tommy and Kimberly against each other due to a Rita spell follows this, before two more arcs. A storybook arc places three of the Rangers inside a book, which the other Rangers need to find out how to overcome and free the others. It's certainly a good arc, and runs well with its pacing. Wild West Rangers is also an interesting arc in which Kimberly is sent back in time to Wild West Angel Grove, hiring the help of her teammates ancestors to form the Wild West Rangers to defeat Goldar. This was certainly an interesting set up, allowing most of the actors to take on Wild West personas of their characters, and it worked. Sure, between this and Return of the Green Ranger there are some errors in how time travel affects the world [notable the morphing situation] but considering the rules set out in this arc carry on throughout the franchise, I'll accept how Wild West Rangers presents that situation. After singular episode Blue Ranger gone bad, we get to A Friend In Need - the beginning of season three - which sets up the short-lived Masked Rider series. The arc palces all Rangers but Kimberly on Alpha's home planet of Edenoi, meeting with the Masked Rider and finding out what happened on the planet. On Earth, Kimberly is sick and so is resting. Until she is called into action. Two points of action on two planets makes for an interesting arc and an entertaining third part with a flu-ridden Kimberly fighting a monster and passing her germs to it. This arc marks the last of a few things. For one, Bulk and Skull are no longer on a quest to expose the Rangers' identities. The Putty Patrollers will no longer be used, being replaced for the Tenga Warriors. And while not exactly this episode, the Thunderzords will be wiped out in the next arc.

Speaking of that next arc, Ninja Quest gives the Rangers a completely new set of powers, a new ally in Ninjor, but also sets a new villain onto them in the form of Rito Repulso - Rita's brother. With the first part completely wrecking the Ranger powers and zords, part two sets them on the quest. Bulk and Skull are also on a quest - to join the police force to attract female attention. Part three gives the Rangers their new powers, while also restoring their old suits, and put Bulk and Skull in the hands of their new boss - Lieutenant Jerome Stone. Part four gives the first real test of the new Ranger powers, and Bulk and Skull make the grade to be trained as officers. I'm not going to be that harsh here. The four parts did well in communicating what they had to, with each having its own intent. As such, the arc felt reasonably well paced.
With several episodes between that four part arc and the next arc [only two parts], a bit of foreshadowing takes place with Kimberly having a bad dream about moving to Paris. Arriving at Stop the Hate Master, it's another spell placed on the Rangers to make them fall out. Aisha is the only one unaffected by this, and has to work out how to break the spell. It's an interesting stop-gap arc before more serious stuff starts happening, though of course with the Rangers all set to be leaving, this arc is serious in its own right.
A Ranger Catastrophe takes the good turned evil plot and applies it to the Pink Ranger. New girl Katherine is in town and befriends Kimberly. The plan is simple. Kat is in the hands of Rita, and the power coin of Kimberly must be taken. Already though, the spell of Rita is breaking. It's quite a bit of character development for both Kim and Kat throughout the arc, and it's here that Kimberly's real arc starts. Katherine is still under the spell for Changing of the Zords, a three part arc that didn't really do all that much for me. Rita and co. plan to acquire the ancient zords, and with Kat stealing Kim's power coin yet again, the power struggle for those zords begins. At the end of the arc, the Rangers are in control of them with Kim's power coin returned. After another entertaining episode where Kimberly is trapped inside a vehicle with Bulk and Skull, we get to the point of Kimberly leaving.
A Different Shade of Pink has Kimberly in training for a gymnastics competition, and now would be a bad time for her to be distracted. This is her chance to become a professional gymnast, but she can't do double duty. Missing out on a training session due to fighting with the team, Kimberly is up all night practising her gym moves, getting tired all the time. Katherine's friendship with Kim makes her break the spell of Rita, and rushes in to see Kim faint. In the hospital, Kat comes clean with the other Rangers, and Kim makes her decision. In the Power Chamber, the passing of power is a simple power coin exchange, and Katherine is the new Pink Ranger.
Season three is almost at an end, with Master Vile - Rita and Rito's dad - arriving at the moon palace to conquer the Rangers once and for all. The Zeo Crystal is introduced, and the Metallic Armour - which, as far as power ups go, I found fairly pointless. In fact, this is another arc I found doing nothing for me. Kat and Tommy head to the moon palace, which the Zeo Crystal is buried under, and Tommy goes for the Crystal while Kat distracts Zedd and Rita by saying she wants to join them again. They entrap her and start turning her back to evil, but Tommy saves her after collecting the Crystal from where it was hidden. The Rangers look like they are finished, with the zords teleported away and the Rangers themselves drained from the fight. All serious stuff. Why, then, is the end of the world party of Master Vile so cheesy? Don't get me wrong, light-heartedness to counter the serious is expected, but it's the way it was presented. Master Vile strikes me as someone more serious than even Lord Zedd when he was first introduced, but this part of the arc is a total contrast to that. In the end, the Rangers recover their zords, head back to Earth and put a stop to Master Vile's takeover. And he didn't like that one bit. Then, after Dischordia gets an episode to try and destroy the Rangers...
Alien Rangers... I really tried to like you. I really did. The mini-series is set up with Rangers in Reverse, the last episode of season three. Fact is though, the first half of Alien Rangers just felt like a second run of Rangers Back In Time, with the second half effectively being the start of Zeo.
The start introduces the Alien Rangers of Aquitar. Since the world has again gone back in time, Zordon contacts Aquitar to acquire some assistance in defending Earth. Throughout the two parter, the kid Rangers once again defend themselves, though this time their memories of being Rangers are intact. A bomb is placed at the command centre, which gets difused by Alpha. And Master Vile reaches breaking point after just three defeats, retreating back home. So much for even introducing him then. The next episode has Billy create a device to return the Rangers to normal age. It serves as a way to destroy the power coins once and for all, as once Billy is restored the device is captured and destroyed by the villains. Only when the kid Rangers go on their quests to retrieve pieces of the Zeo Crystal do things get interesting. Each of the Rangers have a finding themselves moment, which will make for an arc for Tommy in Zeo. The final arc of Mighty Morphin' as a whole is Hogday Afternoon. With Lord Zedd bringing the Alien Rangers' nemesis - Hydro Hog - to Earth, a battle that could leave Earth defenceless takes place. Aisha is the one left to retrieve her piece of Crystal, and once she does, she makes a request that an orphan named Tanya brings it back in her place. With the Zeo Crystal reformed, Earth is returned to normal, the Rangers are back to their normal ages, and after sending the Alien Rangers back home, yet another bomb is set off in the command centre as Rito and Goldar steal the Zeo Crystal. The Rangers are teleported outside, and the series ends.
Okay, I admit. I liked the premise of the Alien Rangers themselves. It gave us a look at aliens surviving outside of their natural environment, and allowed some good scenes of learning new things from new people. It just felt too slow as an arc. It also felt like the battles during the quests were inserted as they couldn't carry an episode on their own. Adam and Rocky could have been condensed to one episode just the same as Tommy and Kat.

This look at the series has gone on massively long, but with a running total of 155 episodes, it is to be expected. Thankfully no other series of Power Rangers goes on for that amount of time - even two together - so from now on these should be reduced in size. As for how I view this series as a whole, it's certainly enjoyable at first. That enjoyment stays throughout the series, but despite swapping characters, suits, villains, zords, and changing up the weaponry used, there are many points later in the series that suffer from a been here, done that feel. As for referring back to what I said at the beginning, watching this series has certainly made me appreciate Dino Thunder all the more, and I can respect this series for starting the legacy of the Rangers.
Next up in this series is looking at both Zeo and Turbo. That's all for now, so bye for now.