Wednesday, 17 May 2017

ARMS Direct [Gaming]

Nintendo are known for their Directs at this point. It gives an info blowout on either a range of games, or a specific one - such as this one with ARMS. The new IP is a month from release, so what better time to show the game off than now?
Before I get into what was shown, allow me to just give my thoughts from when I played it during the Nintendo Switch event in January, pulling from the post I made about it. I found it good, and said it was sitting between a casual and technical fighter. I found the controls easy to get into, and liked the stages and content on offer. However, arena fighters aren't exactly my forte, since the last I owned [Pokken Tournament] only ever got played twice in the launch month and then forever forgotten.

With ARMS I am hoping this will be a different story. I still maintain that after seeing it in action in this Direct that it sits balanced in the middle of technical and casual. Though now I am not seeing that as a bad thing. The main point of the game is choosing a fighter and equipping them with ARMS. Each character has three signature ARMS, though more can be won through a mini-game called the ARM Getter. ARMS have different attributes and weights that affect how you play, so an ARM can be a heavy hitter and stun your opponent on contact for instance. The Direct showed off all ten characters and their signature ARMS, as well as showing off all the modes available.
There's regular 1-on-1 matches or 2-on-2 matches. There's an interesting take on basketball in that you grab your opponent and throw them into the hoop to score. There's variations on shooting targets and volleyball as well, as well as training modes to allow you to try out ARM combinations and learn the basics. If you really want to test yourself, there's also a 1-on-100 mode that pits you against numerous opponents until you wipe out 100 of them.
A Grand Prix mode puts you in a round of ten matches with different rule-sets, where winning all ten will make you a champion. Other tournament types include an online Ranked mode, a Party Match mode for up to twenty people, and local wireless for up to eight players.
The game, just like Splatoon, will get free content updates after the game releases. These include new stages, ARMS, and characters. Also like Splatoon, a demo for the game will be available at certain weekends so people can get to grips with it. The Global Testpunch is sure to be played by a lot of people, just like the Splatoon Global Testfires have in the past. Just like with Splatoon, those that play it should be able to gain a better understanding of how the game works.
And talking of Splatoon, a single-player trailer for Splatoon 2 was revealed at the end, showing that a lot of new concepts look to be introduced to it.

Now, am I excited for the game? I'm still sitting firmly in the middle about it. As said, arena fighters aren't my forte, but this looks to be fun, and as with Splatoon I'm sure I'll be getting many months out of it if I was to buy into it. In the end though, I'll be jumping into this Global Testpunch to try the game out with all the new content added that the January Switch event didn't have. It does look like a fun time will be had. As for the single-player in Splatoon 2, it is looking to be similar but different, which is exactly how I can explain most Mario games in their simplest form. Mario sells on its solo adventures alone, so a second outing for Splatoon into that area along with all-new multiplayer maps and modes is bound to do well.
It sure has been an exciting week for me, with the Sonic Forces announcement as well as this. I have no doubt that nearly everything else will have to wait for E3, but if anything else that interests me does come up, I'll be sure to have another post about it. That's all for now, so bye for now.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Sonic Forces - May The Creativeness Be With Us [Gaming]

Well, the latest trailer for Sonic Forces just hit, and... well. That character creator rumour is true. Essentially, it allows the use of seven species to use as a base to create a character. Those species are wolf, rabbit, cat, dog, bear, bird, and hedgehog. No foxes, echidnas, or chameleons in sight. From the small teases within the trailer, it looks as though this is going to be an interesting system. Yeah, count me upset at no chameleon base, but what we do have looks to be a good start.
However, this post isn't just a news update, as there's some thinking to do here that I'll be talking about. And no, it isn't a thousand word essay on species I'll be using.

Having a character creator makes sense within the theme of the game. It's all about a resistance. Now, we already know Sonic's friends are fighting, along with the main hog himself [twice]. Being real though, Sonic and his friends are already going to be fighting, and as long as Espio, Tails, and the like are used in cutscenes in a manner that shows them fighting, this should be enough. Even in-game dialogue through a communicator that gives updates adds to the experience. A resistance should be more though. It's about the people as a whole rising up. Think Star Wars, and the rebellion from that. Most of them are ordinary people willing to fight to rid the galaxy of the evil it is currently under. With Forces and the character creator, that is exactly what this is pulling off. If we can store creations and use one in a level, then use another in a second level or a repeat of the current level, that in a way builds the idea of ordinary people rising up. Sure, not all of them will be visible in cutscenes - I doubt that would ever happen except in some sort of large-scale battle with many different characters - but at least it gives the impression of a larger fight.
These characters have the power of wisps, in the form of wispons. In other words, wisp-powered weapons. While we've only seen Burst giving a flamethrower and a screw attack, I can imagine some of the other wisps giving similar abilities that don't interrupt the flow of the game. Laser I can picture allowing use of a laser gun and the power it gave before, but this time without pausing the flow of the game. Along with the wisp powers, these custom characters have a grapple gun, which appear to be similar to the Espio missions in Generations where he would assist with a rope swing. It also appears to be fixed a bit.

The gameplay of Sonic, Classic, and Hero - as the created character is defined - all appear to play well, even if Classic is looking a bit rigid. And from the extra gameplay snippet we got of Hero, it looks as though vocal songs within levels are back. Everything about the game is saying they are getting more serious with it, as though they want this to be a big game. The story is yet to be fully revealed, but I'm hoping we get a more balanced tone with a larger scale than the more trimmed-down stories of recent games.
With E3 upon us in a month, I am hoping for a lot more out of this game - including a fuller look at all three gameplay styles and a bit more about this character creator. There's also the story to get a look at, and I hope we get to see the extended cast.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

May '17 Monthly Update [Network]

Star Wars Day is almost upon as again, so May the Fourth Be With You, and may you take some Revenge of the Fifth. And straight off a new part of Doctor Who: The Star Wars Chronicles will be posted on that day. This story is reaching its conclusion now, and it is probably the most trying time for the characters. If you've listened to the audio, you'll know of one big event that happens, but it now makes more sense within the story, and has been extended into something I feel is powerful for both DarkRula and The Doctor. So, Dark Descents, May 4th. On WattPad.
And speaking of stories, last month I self-published to the Kindle Store a short novel. The Alternate Adventures of Halesowen is the first in what is to become a number of books self-published by me. Next up is something much longer, though I'm not saying exactly what. However, there is something related to Alternate Adventures that is going on WattPad that was mentioned in the post I made when the novel was first released. The Alternate Extras of Halesowen will feature some bonus content related to the stories within the main stories. I'm not going to touch upon Daniel and Max, but there are other things I will be touching on, such as that secondary group that only get a few mentions. To start it off though, the full versions of all three short films will be featured, as though each were meant to be within the main book. That will start on the 7th - a month after the book was first published.

Going back to Star Wars Day, I'm not going to be posting much content about Star Wars, but I really want to try to at least upload a game-related video of something. There might also be a post of something else as well.
A Look Inside the Morphing Grid posted yesterday, as I had to cut a fair amount out of it. I had got a bit carried away at explaining too much of the episodes, and for In Space that became a problem as nearly every episode was mentioned in some way. To give an idea of how bad it was, the entire first paragraph was originally just the opening two-parter. For this month, Lightspeed Rescue and Time Force are the focus, and having seen a few episodes of Time Force already, I looking forward to getting into these two.
It's getting closer to E3, with a month away. I've been toying with the idea of another What I'm Waiting For, but with E3 so close, there is every chance that I'll have a lot more choice. However, there are numerous gaming posts I can make. I will put some into action, and save some for July - especially those relating to the Nintendo Switch and its games. Why not June, you ask? There's going to be a lot of E3 content throughout that month, though I'm not saying anything yet.

As ever, there are things that haven't been mentioned here that I'll be doing, so stay tuned for everything. That's all for now, so bye for now.

Monday, 1 May 2017

A Look Inside the Morphing Grid - Power Rangers In Space / Lost Galaxy [TV and Film]

With Turbo starting the new tone for the series, In Space takes to that and crafts a very well executed story. The same can be said of Lost Galaxy. While In Space takes previous elements from the past and fuses them with new, Lost Galaxy takes a completely new setting, and in fact a new concept for the world the Rangers inhabit. Let's start this off with Power Rangers In Space.

From out of Nowhere is a strong opening, starting with a meeting of evil forces from past seasons, and introducing the new villains. A spy is among them - a Red Ranger. Astronema is chosen by Dark Specter to hunt the spy down. TJ, Cassie, Carlos, and Ashley are still travelling in the shuttle from Earth, and are taken into a larger ship. As the four look around, wondering who this ship belongs to, the Red Ranger is returning, under fire from Astronema. The feeling is a serious tone, and already this episode is setting up the conflict, as when the Red Ranger runs into the four others on his ship, his first thought is to fight them. It takes a bit of convincing they aren't the enemy, and Andros reveals himself as the Red Ranger. The Megaship crashes down on a planet, and during repairs Andros makes it quite clear he wants no help. The interactions are believable, and it takes a lot of convincing for Andros to go accept their help. Alpha is the one who gets through to him, and the other four have been caught by Astronema, who Andros had left on the planet with their shuttle. They're about to be destroyed, but the Astro Megaship flies in, and as Astronema's forces recover, Andros lands it and hands the others their new morphers. Fighting on the ground complete, the Megaship is revealed to have a Megazord mode. After the space fight, it is clear the Megaship is still in need of repairs, so a course is set for Earth. For me, this was the strongest opening yet, and the best transition from one season to the next of the same storyline. It sets the tone at serious while still managing to not take it too far. It still offers lighter moments, and as said, the two-part opener sets up the conflict, as well as introducing the new elements in a natural way.
 The next episode sets up what Bulk and Skull are doing this season, and that is hunting for aliens with an odd scientist called Professor Phenomenus. Bulk and Skull had spotted Astronema's ship - the Dark Fortress - while star-gazing, and so wanted a professional in the field. On that ship, Elgar has been assigned to help Astronema by Dark Specter. Of course, the episode after has a team up with the Ninja Turtles, which was a fun episode. The Turtles trick the Rangers into getting them on-board the Megaship, and Astronema's forces jump ship to do battle with the Rangers, with the Turtles helping under her spell. Another episode sets up the main quest of Andros, and that is finidng his sister, Karone, after she had been captured when they were both young. The quest for Zordon is still active, and the Phantom Ranger has found him. Guarded by Divatox's forces. Astronema's forces come in to help as the other Rangers reinforce Phantom. Just like in Turbo, the Phantom Ranger has access to a new Megazord, which he grants to the Rangers. The Delta Megazord joins the battle, though they are no nearer to rescuing Zordon.
The next few episodes are great at giving some new situations, such as an insect monster who can sting a subject and turn them into a monster as well, or a grandma driving a police car into a monster to help the Rangers. The episodes also set up Darkonda, the one who captured Andros' sister, as well as him having a history with Ecliptor. The two get into fights with each other and try to one-up the other. It's a decent bit of in-fighting that shows the history of these two, which goes further when Ecliptor tries to poison Darkonda with a power-up potion.
 Andros is undercover again, and gets into a game of cards in a casino where Darkonda is hanging. The planet is based on wild west architecture, so the place is more a saloon. One of the other players has some key cards that belonged to Zordon, and he bets them. Andros wins them, but trades them with Darkonda for information. Before Darkonda reveals too much he realises who the man in the cloak is. Andros and Darkonda do battle, and Andros makes his escape with the key cards. Those key cards grant access to the Mega Voyager. With Darkonda now back on Earth in supersize form and destroying the city - having taken the power-up potion and gone beserk - the Rangers have trouble fighting him off, even with the Astro Delta Megazord. Splitting the two and leaving Alpha in charge of the Astro Megazord, the Rangers head into space to claim the Mega Voyager. All looks lost as the Astro Megazord loses all power, but the Rangers bring the Mega Voyager to Earth and destroy Darkonda. The episodes themselves are tense, though fun where they have to be. A good story is told, giving a bit more history into the world. The only thing that spoils the otherwise good arc is the ending. The Astro Megaship is still in need of repairs, it looks to be out of action. Astronema knows this and even says they should attack while the Rangers are weak. Nothing ever happens with that, though the next episode itself is the first of the team-up episodes.

Piranhatrons are hauling the Lightning Cruiser and Storm Blaster across a desert, and the two work together to free each other. Storm Blaster gets away and heads to Earth. Divatox alerts Astronema, which sets in motion the recapture. Storm Blaster has tracked down Justin, Turbo Blue, in the night. Astronema tried to capture it, but the Rangers intervened, though they were captured. Justin comes to the rescue, meets his friends again, and the group head out to rescue Lightning Cruiser. It's a good bit of continuation of Justin's story, and one last time to see the second Turbo group together. Storm Blaster gives Justin the Turbo Blue powers, though previously the powers were destroyed. I can only guess the powers were restored to their original form, as what happens with other powers that get destroyed. This also marks the first time the Once a Ranger line is spoken, which becomes an actual episode title in Operation Overdrive - which also featured previous Rangers returning with restored powers.
Zhane's introduction is a smooth paced episode, with the Rangers finding the stasis tube he is in, and Andros giving the needed exposition. The two were best friends, always fighting together. Zhane was seriously injured protecting Andros, and so was placed in the stasis tube to preserve his life. When danger hits the Astro Megaship and the healing chamber the stasis tube lies in loses power [and no, I am not getting into all the other times the entire ship has lost power]. It looks as though the last bit of life in Zhane has gone, but no. He has survived and joins the Rangers in battle. It's touching when Andros feels the life gone from his friend, and his reaction against those he fights feels natural enough. Future episodes show Zhane's powers need a bit of boosting before they are fully recovered, which is also handled well.
I like to think it was Zhane who started Astronema down the road to remembering who she was, as he was the first to be properly nice to her since her capture. She accidentally attacks a monster, who returns fire upon her. Zhane takes her away from the fight to care for her. The two start thinking of each other, and Astronema sends an anonymous note to Zhane. The monster has returned, delaying Zhane meeting her. When the two do meet up, Astronema reacts badly, saying she thought he really cared and disappearing. But still she can't help but thinking about him, as he does her. The next few episodes deal with Astronema slowly coming around to the side of good. When the Rangers explore a planet, they run into former inhabitants of KO-35. Those inhabitants are forming a resistance against Dark Specter, who has found out. At first a disguised Darkonda is successful in convincing those inhabitants this batch of Rangers are troublesome, but when Andros and Zhane arrive, thetruth comes out. Zhane decides to stay with those of KO-35, but promises to return.
Adam returns to give a bit of guidance to Carlos when he needs it, as after mistakenly attacking Cassie he is ready to give up being a Ranger. Adam teaches him that sometimes you just have to take a chance to win. Again, powers that were supposedly destroyed are used again, but since the morpher hasn't been repaired, those powers are unstable, as shown in the episode.

And now Astronema really starts to remember who she really is. Both Andros and Karone had a locket with both their pictures inside. That is the reveal of Astronema being Karone. Darkonda had tried to get rid of Andros, but Ecliptor stepped in to save him. So Astronema finally gets into the action and fights. The locket is cut from her, and when questioned, Andros finally realises. Astronema at first blocks the fact, but keeps on thinking, comes around, and decides to help the Rangers locate Zordon. I've said it quite often, but this series really has some powerful scenes in it, and the distrust the others have when Andros brings Karone on-board the ship is one of them. The entire episode of The Rangers' Leap of Faith keeps the audience on edge, as it hides where Karone's loyalty lies until the very end. The fact is though, her information on where Zordon was located was true, but he had already been moved again. Dark Specter didn't trust her, and it's possible Zordon was never even at that location.
As Karone gets comfy being with her brother and the Rangers, Dark Specter gets his revenge. First converting Ecliptor back to being evil, then setting an asteroid on Earth. Karone decides the best way to get rid of it is reprogram it from the Dark Fortress. She is captured and brainwashed, and when Andros and Zhane go to rescue her and see that, Andros is feeling pretty hurt.
But not as much as the entire team does when the Psycho Rangers come to town. Astronema has a double purpose now. She is using the Psycho Rangers to both drain Dark Specter of his powers and destroy the Rangers. However, the Psycho's are fighting among each other, and don't trust Astronema. When Pink and Blue get destroyed, and Dark Specter starts to feel his powers draining, Astronema puts a new plan into action.
Final efforts are made, with the rest of the Psycho Rangers destroyed. Dark Specter rallies all forces, and it looks like evil will win. With his final life, Darkonda takes out Dark Specter, putting Astronema in charge of the entire forces of evil. The finale is strong, with the right tone giving the best end of the world feel. With time up, Astronema is ready to destroy the Earth, but the people rise up. The Rangers reveal themselves to their people, and everyone fights. Andros is already on the Dark Fortress, and has a great decision to make. The only way to win is to take Zordon out. When Astronema joins him, and the two fight, Andros accidentally takes out his sister. Ecliptor sees this, and both have strong feelings which are felt in that moment. After he had hesitated the first time, Andros finally does his duty and shatters the tube holding Zordon. All evil is wiped out, with those turned to evil returning to their true form. The energy also restores Karone to her normal self.
Celebrations are had, and the Rangers are helping with the reconstruction efforts of KO-35. While Andros at first says he is staying behind - and that loss is felt most by Ashley, who had come to develop feelings for him - he joins them with Karone and Zhane, and happily the crew set course for Earth.

Lost Galaxy for me felt confused on a tone at first. It felt like it wanted to be a more light-hearted adventure while at the same time be just as serious as In Space. We open on the planet Mirinoi, where the story of the Quasar Sabers is being told. Maya is among the group listening in, though the story gets interrupted by Furio. He wants the sabers, and starts attacking the village. Kendrix, Kai, and Mike are on military training before the colony of Terra Venture heads out on its voyage. Leo - brother of Mike - is also a part of the training, though he isn't meant to be. He wasn't allowed to be on Terra Venture, so used a military uniform to sneak around and gets drafted into the group. On the exercise, Maya runs into the four through the portal, hurt. Some Stingwingers also followed, and the four fight them off. Maya explains her situation, and Mike and Kendrix decide to help. Kai is meant to take Leo back, but as Leo had run off through the portal, Kai just leaves. He feels bad about doing so, and seeing a flyer for the Astro Megaship museum, decides to take it through the portal, with the help of mechanic Damon. Alpha and DECA are still around, and effectively play the same role as In Space. Bulk, Skull, and Professor Phenomenus also cameo, with Skull having been left behind since the other two forgot to wake him before they boarded Terra Venture.
As I said before, the tone seems confused, and during a touching scene between Mike and Leo, that is evident. Furio has opened up a chasm in which Mike fell into. As Leo tries to rescue him, Mike hands the quasar saber to Leo, and lets go. It is a nice scene, but to me at least, felt as though it was cycling through serious and light tones rapidly. The quasar sabers are what give the new Rangers their powers, and while Mirinoi is frozen in stone, they now have the power to protect Terra Venture. The third episode shows how the Rangers get their zords - the Galactabeasts. The beasts are captured and chained, and has impact in how it's handled. Of course... Elvis Monster, as I call him. Any impact the episode had is pretty much lost whenever this monster says anything. The later episodes also feel confused on tone, but it gets quickly corrected and the overall feel of the season is a more serious tone - especially when the Magna Defender is introduced.
A quick run through the evil side for the season, the main bad is Scorpius. He is the leader, and orders others around. He has a daughter - Trakeena - who isn't much of a fighter but wants her father's approval, as he is too protective of her. Generals include Furio, Treacheron, and Deviot. Magna Defender wants revenge on Scorpius for the death of his son. In his quest for vengeance, he battled against the Rangers, and when the Lights of Orion enter the picture, Magna Defender wants them as part of his plan to destroy Scorpius. Furio loses it after numerous failed attempts to get the Lights, and attacks Leo, hoping to self-destruct and take the source of his problems out with him. Leo survives and Furio is no more. The Lights have chosen the Rangers, and give them a new powered-up form. They can only be activated when all Rangers use them together, something which Treacheron uses to his advantage when he injures Leo. During the episode, Trakeena gets caught up in a fight, after making out Treacheron was a traitor. The Rangers interrupt that fight, but Trakeena runs into Magna Defender, who wants to take her life in his act of vengeance against Scorpius. He hesitates, as though something is holding him back [and whenever this happens we hear a heart beat], and Trakeena scarpers, vowing to get stronger.

Scorpius decides to drain Terra Venture of its power, and in doing so makes one of the domes unstable. The Rangers must stabilise it before it blows. The story of Magna Defender comes to an end, as he lets his hatred go and sacrifices himself to stop the destruction of Terra Venture. It seems Leo was right in a way though, as Mike was inside Magna Defender, who had also been thrown into the chasm on Mirinoi. He had saved Mike from hitting the floor, and used his life force to strengthen himself to escape. The Rangers' rescue of Magna Defender made him see helping the cause of the Rangers was the best thing to do. With Mike released and now back within Terra Venture's command, Magna Defender as a person passes his powers to Mike, who then becomes the Magna Defender.
Now, there's an episode just before the Rangers get new zords that is very interesting indeed. Trakeena wants to keep her beauty and rebels against her father, who wants her to complete the transformation. But that isn't the interesting episode. The Rescue Mission is. And it's interesting because while the Rangers feature in suits, they are pretty much secondary to the episode. Terra Venture answers a distress signal, with Mike and Leo fronting a team of soldiers. Within the ship that sent the distress signal, a monster waits. However, it plays out more like a Doctor Who episode than Power Rangers, with the group looking around the deserted ship, and the team disappearing by this unknown monster. Mike and Leo are the only ones left, and rescue the others from the webs they have been stored in. The other Rangers appear suited, but only to help the soldiers get back to their own ship. Mike and Leo fight off the monster with military blasters, and when Mike gets caught as he makes the jump between ships, a touching moment as Mike is telling Leo to let go and get away, but Leo won't. The episode ends with Mike and Leo looking at the book they had found on the other ship.
That book's first secret is the revelation of three more Galactabeasts. And Deviot has new zords he's playing with. Those zords are powered-up by the Rangers' own energy. And once they are powered-up, they wreck havoc on Terra Venture. The Rangers' own zords won't fight against Deviot's zords, and it is Kendrix that makes the connection. Deviot's zords are the lost Galactabeasts. To me though, there was not much happening within the two-parter. Yes, Maya's connection to the zords is explored a bit, when she asks them why they don't fight, but then at that point it should have been known Deviot had taken control of the lost Galactabeasts, even if they didn't look the same.
Deviot is certainly a trickster, as he plans to take out Scorpius and assume control himself. Trakeena is on the planet Onyx, where she comes across Villamax and his aide Kegler. While Trakeena trains to become stronger with their help, Deviot works a story that the Rangers have captured Trakeena, leading Scorpius down to Terra Venture. Deviot tricks the Rangers into heading to where Scorpius is, and Leo delivers the final blow on Scorpius which activates Deviot's explosives. When Trakeena returns to her father's side, he dies in her arms, having passed leadership to her. Deviot isn't happy about that, so when Trakeena vows revenge, he plays double duty by pretending to help while at the same time trying to destroy Trakeena. This is the point, I feel, in which Lost Galaxy is starting to get deeper into its story, giving some real impact within the world its characters live.

And in the last half of the season, that really shows. The Rangers go through some more character tests, as relationships are put in question and made stronger. These tests help to strengthen the team and each individual, and work up to one of their greatest challenges yet. The Psycho Rangers.
Deviot uncovers them and controls them, pitting them against the Rangers - four of which are easily captured. Leo takes a stand against Psycho Red, and when it looks like he's about to get captured, a cloaked figure rushes in and stuns Psycho Red. The cloaked figure is Andros, who returns with Leo to the Astro Megaship and is reunited with Alpha. Unlocking the vault where the astro morphers are, he takes his own, and Leo and Andros - along with Mike - head out to rescue the other Rangers. With Leo and Andros on distraction, Mike takes out the holding cell, and the other Rangers are freed. And four more Rangers come into the mix. Ten Rangers and Magna Defender face off against Trakeena's forces and the Psycho Rangers. With the Psycho's destroyed, the Space Rangers and Galaxy Rangers mingle with each, with a tour of Terra Venture underway. Psycho Pink survived, and goes against Deviot's control to take out both Pink Rangers. On a nearby planet, the Savage Sword is found by Psycho Pink. Cassie and Kendrix do their best, but Cassie is separated from her morpher, and with the Savage Sword struck into it, Psycho Pink gets a massive power surge, transforming into a huge monster. With the Astro Megazord and Galaxy Megazord fighting the monster off, Kendrix makes a decision. With dark energy surging throughout the galaxy, Kendrix gets inside the vortex and destroys the Savage Sword.  Cassie's power is returned to her, but Kendrix is no more. In a very touching final scene, all the Rangers mourn on the loss, wondering what they will do now.
The Pink Quasar Saber is picked up by Karone, where it was fallen to an auction house on Onyx, by disguising herself as Astronema. Trakeena ruined that ruse, and takes the saber. With strength from Kendrix, Karone manages to overcome Trakeena and take her place as the new Pink Ranger to the team. Though she still has some dealing to do with her past. I feel it definitely was right to make Karone the replacement for Kendrix, as we get to see her dealing with her past - something that really couldn't be explored with In Space.
Terra Venture enters the Lost Galaxy, and... It started on a strong episode, with Captain Mutiny tricking everyone into believing he was good, getting them to unknowingly transfer a monster that would damage Terra Venture. The Rangers found out what was really happening, and just a second too late arrive to see the monster head into the superstructure. Once that monster is defeated, we get an episode that looks back at the season, an episode that takes place in a dream, and an episode that has the Rangers facing off against past monsters. Those three have a few good character interactions, though seem more focused on showing how the team has grown rather than advancing the story. The only real plot point we get is that Terra Venture's fuel has been tainted. They only have one or two days before Terra Venture shuts down for good.
With the need to find a new home now urgent, the plan is to get out of the Lost Galaxy as quickly as possible. And things get real. The engines of Terra Venture are failing, and as Leo and Kai figure out the secret spell of the Galaxy Book to get out of the Lost Galaxy, Mike has gone undercover to rescue the people taken by Captain Mutiny. With the Rangers and the Megaship waiting to take them away, the portal back to reality is closing. Mike does the only thing neccessary, and sacrifices the Magna Defender powers to keep it open. Back in their own galaxy, those of Terra Venture have come across a new home. However, one last test stands in their way.
Trakeena hasn't given up, and with Deviot returning to her, he does the only thing to survive. Dragging Trakeena into the cocoon of power with him, the two fuse together, and Trakeena uses drastic measures to ensure Terra Venture's destruction. Villimax is at odds with this, and tries to make Trakeena see sense. Unable to do so, he refuses to fight and is destroyed. Terra Venture, crashed on the moon of the planet, has now been evacuated, and everyone is on the planet. In a bid to stop Trakeena, the Rangers sacrifice the Megaship, destroying both it and the Scorpion Stinger. In one last bid to make Leo pay for killing her father, Trakeena powers up the broken Terra Venture and intends to take it on a collision course.
It's quite a happy moment, to watch the colonists, having come so far in the hope of a new home, celebrate this victory of the Rangers. In a twist of fate, the planet they have landed on is Mirinoi, and with their work now done, the Rangers place their Quasar Sabers back in the rock where they were first drawn. That is the final key to restoring the people and planet from the stone they were placed in. It also enables Kendrix to return. Just like In Space, the tone of the finale was on point, giving the sense of defeat and despair during the final fight.

Two seasons both with a space theme, and two seasons that show good storytelling pretty much all throughout. In Space, I feel, is the stronger of the two, as Lost Galaxy shows the strain of its Sentai footage. While In Space was based on a Sentai that used space as a theme, Gingaman - the Sentai Lost Galaxy is based off - is a nature themed series. That, along with some questionable use of Terra Venture as a living place, makes it come off as weaker. Let me just explain that. There is the main dome of Terra Venture, which is the city. Many other domes splinter off from the main one, and these are used as other areas taken from the Sentai footage, such as beaches, oceans, forests. Some episodes seem to swap between domes within the same fights with no real explanation of how that could happen. It's a major case of not trying to explain Rangers logic and make the best of it, so it's not like I'll be making a judgement on it based on that. As such, In Space takes the top spot in this ever growing list of Rangers series. Lost Galaxy takes the second spot, though it is a close call with Mighty Morphin'. The fact the latter ran far too long and felt as if it was reusing concepts with its own characters does place it a little lower.
The full list so far:-

In Space
Lost Galaxy
Mighty Morphin'

Next up is exploring Lightspeed Rescue and Time Force. I have some experience of Time Force already, having been interested in a few episode arcs and watching them [the same for Once A Ranger of Operation Overdrive], so whether the rest of the season impresses as much is yet to be seen.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Star Wars Celebration Orlando Post-Talk Part 2 [Thoughts]

 Saturday was a real blast. The two main things I was looking forward to have been amazing. Starting with Rebels, it has been confirmed season four will be the last. This family of actors we've had portraying the Ghost crew were up on stage. Tiya Sircar, Steve Blum, Taylor Grey, Vanessa Marshall, and Freddie Prinze Jr. sat with Dave Filoni to look back on the third season and what is coming in the forth. There was some great interaction between the cast, and this is possibly the final time they will all be together. It's a special moment then, and one that certainly was felt among them upon Dave's announcement of it being the last season.
We had a brief look at a new character, and Warwick Davis finally has a part in Star Wars animation. Playing the assassin boyguard of Thrawn - Rukh - it seems as though nothing is stopping the reintroduction of past elements into this canon. We'll also be seeing more of Mon Mothma, of Saw Gerrera, and the return of Bo-Katan in what is sure to be one of the greatest Mandalorian arcs across the animated series. And Ezra really seems to be channelling a love of armour, or at least helmets, as we see him in an orange painted Scout-trooper helmet, and even seems to get his own Mando jetpack and helmet.
And talking of the trailer, it really sets up the end of the series, with Hera talking about her family. "A boy who was lost, and a girl who was broken ... a survivor, a war veteran, and a fallen knight" really characterises the entire story of these characters, and how far they have come. The end of what she says "But we never imagined it would end like this" is really foreboding. That entire speech is chilling, possibly even more-so than Luke's ending words in The Last Jedi trailer. And that speech is composed of clips from old episodes, then straight into the new stuff. No playing around, and built-up reveals, just clip after clip showing off a lot of new elements. We see Yavin IV. We see Mandalore. Bo-Katan as mentioned, and a curious line from Kanan. "We are the balance, Ezra. We were meant to be Jedi so we could be here, now, when Lothal needs us most." It seems Lothal is going to be featuring again, and whether the whole crew will be along for the ride or just Kanan and Ezra, it should effectively be another loss for the rebels. After all, the meeting of Rogue One isn't so indecisive because of an attack from the Empire. It has to be multiple losses of the rebels. Quite possibly, Lothal will be one of them. Filoni has always talked about getting a wolf into Star Wars, and now he has done it. On what looks to be Lothal.
Since this is the final season, and it has been confirmed there are only fifteen episodes, I want this final season to go out with a bang. No singular episodes. Season Five of The Clone Wars had nothing but arcs, and while I don't think we need four-parters across the board, having nothing but arcs for the final season of Rebels will make it a strong ending. From what we see in the trailer, there are at least three major areas. Lothal will be one. Mandalore is another. Hera and her band of X-Wings and my personal favourite part of the trailer form another. That being a hyperspace jump through a length-running hangar of an Imperial installation which devastates everything inside it.
Well done for three seasons of awesome, Rebels, and make season four your best.

Now, Anthony Daniels was meant to have his panel after Rebels, but there was a lot happening with interviews and such on the Star Wars Show stage, so that didn't get shown. Instead we got a showing of what happened at Smooth Talkin' with Billy Dee Williams. Some good talk happened with a few insights. Of course, nothing against Mr Williams, but I was pretty much just waiting for the start of the Battlefront II premiere.
And what a panel that was. The trailer was shown a few minutes in after introductions, and what a trailer that was. Showing off what the story campaign had for us, it also teased the multiplayer. I'd say it was probably a better trailer than the one shown for Battlefront 1 in Anaheim.
The story goes that Inferno Squadron is on Endor, and witness to the second Death Star's destruction. Along with the rest of the Empire, Inferno retreat, vowing to avenge the Emperor's death. The story runs from Endor straight up to the fight of Starkiller Base from The Force Awakens. And this story is canon. There is a lot that was talked about this, with the teams involved wanting to tell a story about who are those people in the Empire that young people aspire to be. The pilots, the soldiers. This is all to give the helmeted troopers character through this squad. The leader of the squad is Iden Versio, a female within the elite of the Empire's forces, and she has her father to thank for that. Alongside the campaign and releasing in July is a book by Christie Golden. It's been rebranded to tie-in with Battlefront II, bearing the game's name, but that doesn't change the content. Just makes it stronger, as more can be told about this squad's history, and people can really get a feel for who they are, how they met, and the dynamics they fill within the squad.
On the multiplayer side of things, it just get a whole lot better. Classes return, and abilities are the order of the day. More weapons, more maps, all three eras, and space battles return. Hopefully to form. Classes, heroes, and even ships can be upgraded with abilities, and all of them have different roles to play within the battlefield. The best thing is all three eras. The prequels return. Shown in concept was Kamino, with clones battling with droids. In the trailer we saw Mos Eisley, which could be a hint as to a certain mode returning from the original Battlefront 2. It looked as though Darth Maul and Yoda were on Naboo, which makes me wonder if said mode could be on multiple planets.
Now, what was shown and said was all well and good, and a very big start in improving over the first, but it needs more. I've been saying that this could even beat Pandemic's Battlefront II for the vast amount of things within, but I'm pretty sure one major thing will show whether this game can have that title. Everything we see in multiplayer needs to be playable solo and local multiplayer, with the campaign also being playable solo, local, and online. It features a squad of soldiers, it cries out to be played as a team. If that happens, it can have that title, but even if it has the largest amount of content within the game, there are still worries as to gameplay. It certainly looks as though EA have been following advice, and making this game more in-depth with the gameplay, though E3 will have the answer as to whether all that can come together to make the best game possible.

Anthony Daniels and Warwick Davis are always a troublesome duo to have on the same stage, and with 40 Years of Threepio, it was no different. The panel was played for the stream after the cosplay contest, and Daniels gives Warwick his own introduction to say after he feels the two Warwick has done don't suit him. After that, Daniels encourages the crowd to do as the Ewoks did and pray for him as he "is some sort of god." The one-upmanship continues between the two as the panel continues, and the hilarity reaches new heights. As Daniels is about to read the comic of how C-3PO got his red arm, and says a hero with a red arm, pictures start on a reel of all the characters Warwick has played with a photoshopped red-coloured arm. Of course, it wasn't all laughs, as we did get a beautiful behind-the-scenes of a part that was cut from Attack of the Clones between Padme and Threepio at the Lars homestead. It showed the inside thoughts of Threepio, in a way. As ever, it was a panel to watch.
And while I didn't watch it live, I did take a look at the radio drama that played at the end of the day. Smuggler's Revenge was a brilliant story, with some really great interactions between Han and Leia, as well as Han and other characters. Vanessa Marshall guest starred, as well as Sam Witwer, Steve Blum, and Catherine Taber. Even Warwick Davis got a part. The entire thing was well put together, and after it had all been performed, a bit of behind-the-scenes was talked about. The drama itself had a scene changed on the day it was to be performed.

 On the Sunday, you could tell the four days were starting to take a strain on some, with Andi on the Star Wars Show stage having a hoarse voice, and the same for Mark Hamill, who still managed to run with his hour-long panel.
These Are The Droids You're Looking For had a lovely atmosphere to it, talking about why we love the droids of Star Wars. First up was Matthew Wood, talking about working on the battle droids, and how a misplaced point on the mo-cap suit gave them their characteristic walk. He went into voicing the droids in The Clone Wars, and mentioned why Anthony Daniels - the biggest droid by far - wasn't around. Cue an entertaining phone call between Warwick and Daniels. Once Matt leaves Warwick gets a call on his phone and Anthony appears - behind Warwick - who asks why he wasn't invited. These two are by far the funniest two people to have together on a stage, and after the origins of Threepio were talked about, Anthony leaves. Warwick introduces Alan Tydyk, and halfway through, another call happens, with Anthony walking in from the back entrance complaining about a fake droid being on stage. The two are friendly towards each other in reality, and have a good discussion about the attitudes of the two droids. BB-8 and a load of other astromechs came on stage for the end of the panel.
As said, Mark Hamill had a hoarse voice, but that didn't stop him putting on a good story. He's such a good teller of stories, and had some good ones to tell. His dog came on near the end of his panel, and was pretty much upstaging Hamill himself. I'm not going into details as even with a hoarse this is an interesting panel to listen to.
The final panel closed off Celebration, with the stages saying what their favourite parts of the event was, and even got the audience involved. On the Star Wars Show stage [which technically is called the stage] Pablo Hidalgo got hold of the T-Shirt gun, and was asked whether this cannon was canon. He said it was, giving a full name, and then fired some shirts into the audience. With each stage also giving their farewells and thank yous, the Celebration stage and Warwick Davis had the final say.

Celebrations are usually something special, but this one was quite possibly the most special of all. Perhaps that was because it was the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, and the first panel certainly gave the feeling that this was extra special. Reuniting the cast of the original trilogy and those tributes for Carrie Fisher was heartwarming. Harrison's first Celebration, and how he reacted to seeing the love, was great to see. Hayden Christensen and Ian McDiarmid reunited. And I have no idea what it is about the audience, but they always relish when the actors recite lines from their characters. Forcing it to happen seems to cause a different reaction, though. Anthony Daniels is always welcoming in fitting in 3PO quotes where they fit, though when Ian McDiarmid was questioned by a fan "If I was to say The Senate Will Decide Your Fate, what would you say back to me?" he laughed and knew the fans were waiting for it, but didn't give it. Instead he said in a Palpatine voice "Next Question".
However, the guests are some of the best parts, but nothing beats seeing the fans together reacting to news and stories. The Star Wars Show stage is always a good place to see that in action, as the camera pans across the crowd when no action takes place, and whenever fans see themselves on screen they can't help but wave out and cheer. Some go further, such as this year we had dancing Stormtroopers at one point. And when guests are on stage, the cheers, whistles, and applause are always felt. The guests have said across the panel that no fanbase is quite like the Star Wars one, and events such as these show the energy and passion of the fans.
Cosplay also plays a big part of that, and the amount of costumes around was staggering to see. Hera, Jyn, Rey, Darth Maul, Mandalorians, Stormtroopers of all kinds, and even the lesser known characters. While you don't get to see much of Celebration away from the stages, the action behind-the-scenes is always fun to see when shown. A re-enactment of that final Vader scene of Rogue One, or lightsaber battles around the place, meetings between members of the public, there's a lot of stuff that happens.
As a final word, the news we have seen from Celebration is some of the best we could get. A Captain Phasma novel and comic series, introduction of new characters, planets and vehicles in The Last Jedi, and my favourite piece of information - Battlefront II as a whole, and the canon campaign it will present. More news is bound to follow in the coming months for everything shown, and when the last season of Rebels starts, it will be to a thrilling conclusion I expect. When I get to play Battlefront II, I am expecting it to be the best yet. And importantly - most importantly - when Celebration returns in 2019, I am hoping to go.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Star Wars Celebration Orlando Post-Talk Part 1 [Thoughts]

The first day of streams for Celebration was really an explosive opening. The 40 Years of Star Wars panel had surprises galore, and nowhere was that apparent than George Lucas being introduced on stage by Kathleen Kennedy. Lucas stayed on stage to interact with the other guests that appeared, and they came in force. Dave Filoni and discussion of how George was a mentor to him throughout The Clone Wars. Hayden Christensen appears at his first Celebration since 2002, and he is joined by Ian McDiarmid, as the two discuss their roles with particular emphasis on Revenge of the Sith and the opera scene. The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis The Wise. This is brought up again during McDiarmid's panel, with quite a bit of time spent on it. Liam Neeson and Samuel L. Jackson had messages for the fans, and the videos had both words of wishing and wit, as both say what an honour it is working on Star Wars. Neeson teases with fans saying he's on the set of a Jar Jar Binks movie, and Jackson recites a particular theory of Windu still being alive and how he wants it to happen. Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Billy Dee Williams are brought on stage to discuss how their characters came to be. Mark Hamill gets introduced and yet another bombshell as Harrison Ford arrives. Character origins are brought up again, and by this time I feel as though the fun interplay between all these people have made this panel a great opening for Celebration, and a celebration of Star Wars' 40th anniversary. It's also a time of remembrance though, as Carrie Fisher passed on. Lucas and Kennedy say touching tributes, and Billie Lourd - Fisher's daughter - brings the final words home. A tribute video plays celebrating all that Carrie Fisher brought to the franchise and the world, and that lasting memory was bringing tears to the eyes of fans. Yes, I felt the tug of heartstrings as well.
You thought this thing was over though? Oh, no. A 40 year celebration should only be played out one way. Bring out John Williams, and an entire orchestra to play out Princess Leia's theme, followed by the opening and closing themes to the original film. And what better way to end out the panel than with the Imperial March.

Animated Origins had some interesting bits of information, as we got talk on brining Maul into The Clone Wars, and his end in Rebels. Ahsoka and Rex were brought up, and teasing of season 4 of Rebels ensued. Those on the stream didn't get to see what those actually at the panel saw on the screen, which was quite a shame as they showed off a clip of an arc from The Clone Wars that never got finished. It involved Cad Bane and Boba Fett in something resembling a western-styled duel from what Filoni said about it.
The insights continued with the first guest panel on the stream. Ian McDiarmid talked in more detail about that opera scene in Revenge of the Sith. The talk itself was informative, and we got to hear about how he influenced the character of Palpatine with Return of the Jedi and how returning to a younger version of said character in the prequels helped him understand what Palpatine was like. McDiarmid also did his famous Palpatine laugh, and an interesting question from the audience asked about how other characters he has played influenced Palpatine and vice versa.
And I said in Pre-Talk, the guest I always look forward to seeing is Ray Park. Again talking influences of the character, some insights were given to Maul, Park's martial arts, and his cameo as a Naboo Guard with the group protecting Padme in the final fight of The Phantom Menace. The earring mention was an interesting fact I also didn't know about the character of Maul, so this panel was informative as well as fun. And of course Ray Park and Warwick Davis were going to recreate the final duel again. Which was hilarious when Davis realised he needed to pretend he'd fallen down a shaft and had no way to get back up - being lifted up by the audience.
The Star Wars Show had one last interview up its sleeve, preparing for some of the Rogue One panels the next day. Who should also be along but Sam Witwer - voice of Darth Maul. He joked about no longer having a job due to Maul's death, having to work with the prop builders, and also teasing that Maul's legs were still kicking about and would be a focus of season 4 of Rebels.

Friday brought us some good panels. Some funny moments and witty tales. And some more serious stuff as well. And the first panel - The Last Jedi - was something. Kathleen Kennedy and Rian Johnson take the stage to offer the first few words, then one by one cast members are brought on, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, new girl Kelly Marie Tran, and Mark Hamill. There were interesting moments with the talk, and Kelly is playing a new character with Rose - someone within the Resistance working within maintenance. A bit of set-up for the film that was said at the panel was that the First Order is taking advantage of their destruction of the Republic to create chaos within the galaxy. Nowhere is that more apparent than when we see the trailer, and a war is going on - both at the Resistance base and up in space.
And that trailer! It certainly did a good job of teasing us. Leaving us wanting more. Rey's training. The aforementioned battles. A sight of Leia. A sight of Kylo Ren. Captain Phasma with a squad of troopers surrounded by fire and the debris of battle. And that final line. "I only know one truth. It's time for the Jedi to end."
From my point of view the Jedi are evil we can piece together what that could mean from certain facts. An interesting mention during the panel was how meeting your heroes can sometimes leave a bad impression of them. We know Luke left because Ben turned to evil. Luke has probably been hunting the first Jedi Temple looking for answers. Is this the way forward, sort of thing. Is there another way? So while he agrees to train Rey, he isn't doing so as a Jedi, and he certainly isn't teaching her anything of the Jedi. Rey would try to get through to him, and bit by bit we get the history of all that happened that would make him withdraw, and lose trust in the Jedi way.
As for the full trailer, it left me with chills. Especially that last line. Those chills would always return upon another viewing of it.

The other three panels of the day were memorable, for different reasons. Our first with Warwick Davis had him hosting a panel and being the guest. Members of the audience were brought up on stage to ask questions, and some were funny. One of the first asked what flavour ice cream he liked, with the reasoning being that the person felt he'd be asked a lot of Star Wars questions so wanted to ask something a little more personal. The interactions between those audience members and Warwick were certainly entertaining, with the occasional 'Better Question' being given by Warwick on a card when he felt the question asked wasn't much. He showed off some rarely seen clips, such as a house tour as Griphook from when he was filming Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and from the set of Return of the Jedi came Return of the Ewok, a cute video showing eleven year-old Warwick searching for his destiny and coming across Star Wars.
The Heroines of Star Wars panel gave us some interesting insights on how strong female leads are made and a mention of the first time Hera and Sabine were alone. That was interesting, as Filoni mentioned how the two were having a talk of relationships but it never felt right, and when that scene was cut, it made the characters and the episode stronger. Filoni is always a laugh on these panels, and here was no exception. When Daisy Ridley, Ashley Eckstein, and Tiya Sircar were presented with Forces of Destiny figures of their characters, Filoni joked that Amy Ratcliffe - who was hosting - said everyone was getting one. Where was his? It was certainly a fun few minutes of teasing.
Of course, the most memorable of the three would be Mark Hamill's tribute to Carrie Fisher. It had funny moments, and serious moments. It had stories from on set, with George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy giving video messages. In all of this, you could tell the grief was there, those feelings still raw. But as Mark said, Carrie wouldn't want us to grieve. She was a fun lady to be around, full of wit and charm, and would rather everyone remembering her for all the good times, and being happy, as she would always be with us. The panel is well worth a watch, as it gives an insight to the wonderful woman that Carrie Fisher was. Warwick Davis even gave his view, and brought a reel of highlights from Carrie's time at Celebration. As I say, well worth a watch.

Now, I can already see this is getting to be a large post. With only two days worth of panels. I know tomorrow is my most looked forward to day, so I expect quite a lot for that day, which will probably double the size of this post with just two panels of that day. As such, I'm calling a stop here, and a second part will be added for the next two days. That part will have my overall impressions of the full Celebration as well. So, enjoy the next two days worth of panels, and the next post will be in three day's time.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Star Wars Celebration Orlando Pre-Talk [Thoughts]

Star Wars Celebration is starting off the party right. The 40th anniversary party for the franchise. That shows in the fact the first panel is called '40 Years of Star Wars', and The Star Wars Show pretty much hyped it up as something big. Hayden Christensen will be returning to Celebration after fifteen years, and a lot of other big names from the franchise will be at the panel. It kicks off the Celebration on Thursday 13th at 11:00 ET [16:00 for those in the UK]. The panel runs for an hour and a half, so this is sure to be something special.

Most other morning panels run for an hour and a half, which must show how much content they have to talk about - even if they aren't showing stuff for most of it. The Last Jedi is highly anticipated for this year, and a trailer will give hints as to what the film will be like. Expect talking with the cast and crew for other tidbits, and maybe even a surprise reveal or two. The panel runs on the 14th, from 11:00-12:30 ET.
TV fans are pretty much catered for, with the Rebels Season 4 sneak peek giving a look at the coming season. The third season ended on a high note, and this next season is certainly going to be introducing a lot of interesting stuff. There could be some good interaction between characters like Saw and Mon Mothma, for instance, if the series decides to play on it. The panel takes place 11:00-12:30 ET on the 15th.
There is the possibility for hints at Season 4 through another panel, however. Dave Filoni: Animated Origins and Unexpected Fates will have Filoni joined by Pablo Hidalgo, discussing those characters that had their start in animated projects, revealing some untold origins of heroes and rogues. They'll also have some rare clips and artwork to show. Now, remembering that The Clone Wars was cancelled before its story could be fully told, we could be getting some interesting reveals at this panel. Last year Filoni revealed a bit about the Siege of Mandalore - actually making Ashley Eckstein cry with the reveal of Rex's 501st troopers having repainted armour to match Ahsoka's look - so could we be seeing more about that story arc? It is quite possibly one of the most important arcs The Clone Wars never aired, tying directly in with Revenge of the Sith, and has been referenced quite a bit in other media since. We will find out on the 13th, at 13:30-14:30 ET.
While I don't follow the series, having a look Behind the Scenes with LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures is sure to give fans a better insight into what the second season will bring. A trailer was recently released for that season, so I expect some of the things within it will be talked about in more detail. The panel will be on the 16th, starting at 11:00 ET and running for an hour.

Quite possibly one of the things I am most interested in is The Galaxywide Premiere of Star Wars Battlefront II. I found the first one to be a good game, and if you were following my content back in 2015 you'll know I played through the Alpha, Beta, and EA Access ten hour early access and found it to be an enjoyable experience. I still find it to be so now, with Walker Assault still being my number one played mode - both through multiplayer and the Skirmish offline mode that was added. If there's one thing I still don't like, it's the lack of single player content. Skirmish mode corrected that somewhat, but only Walker Assault and Fighter Squadron are available to play with only the core content and Jakku maps. The original Battlefront had every map available both online and off, and yes I understand that shooters have changed to mostly be online experiences, but most people have been asking for the equivalent of Instant Action from the older Battlefront's, as well as a Galactic Conquest mode. EA have stated they'll be more focused on the solo play stuff, and this panel should go some way to assure people it's being taken care of. The 15th is the date to watch, at 14:30-15:30 ET.
The one time I have been to Florida was when I was 13, and still being fairly new to Star Wars as a whole. So being on the Star Tours ride was a fun experience, and something I've wanted to do again. If I ever do go to Florida again, I'd want to wait until the Star Wars park is open. Star Wars and Disney Parks: A Galaxy in the Making will look at the creation of Star Tours, and looking ahead to the experiences that will be had when the new Star Wars lands open within Disneyland and Walt Disney World. It should be a good panel, reliving history and making it, and while I have doubts the panel will be streamed, it takes place on the 15th at 16:30-17:30 ET.

Guest panels are a given at an event like this, and there are quite a few of them. Billy Dee Williams, voice of Lando Calrissian, will be one of the first up on the 13th at 13:30 ET for forty-five minutes, and an hour later Ian McDiarmid - our favourite Chancellor/Emperor - will be having a talk. Again for forty-five minutes.
Perhaps the one I am looking forward to most - as I did last year - is Ray Park, who played Darth Maul. Last year was fun, with a re-enactment of his fateful end with members of the audience, and I hope it's not too much to ask for something similar this year as well. Prepare to be Mauled on the 13th at 17:00-18:00 ET.
Warwick Davis has a panel to himself, though being a host of Celebration we'll be seeing plenty of him. This panel is sure to be delightful, as Warwick is always a charming presence, and with fans asking him questions, there's bound to be some tales and some jokes. He'll be hosting Small Talk on the 14th at 13:30-14:30 ET.
Mark Hamill has two panels this year, though one is a tribute to the late Carrie Fisher. At last year's Celebration she was a lively presence, and her passing has been remembered and mourned since December, but at a Celebration about Star Wars, it gives a chance to pay tribute as one. Mark Hamill is also one of the best people to host it, having been one of the main cast members of the Original Trilogy along with Carrie. Watch and remember with fans on the 14th at 17:30-18:30 ET.
Hamill's other panel on the 16th is sure to be more lively, as Hamill Himself is sure to bring his Joker voice with him yet again. It's always fun to see cast members reliving tales of being on set, and just as with The Force Awakens, there will be fans asking about The Last Jedi. The time to tune in is 13:00-14:00 ET.
Of course, we can't forget the most friendly droid to ever grace Celebration - Anthony Daniels. 40 Years of Threepio will bring Anthony Daniels and Warwick Davis together yet again for some wacky antics, sometimes at the expense of the audience, as well as some tales of being a droid. It is 40 years of being known for the iconic droid, after all. The panel is on the 15th at 13:30-14:30 ET.

Scattered throughout the event will be other panels, such as various Rogue One panels looking in depth at various behind-the-scenes stuff. Books, comics, and merchandise will get their time to shine, and screenings of all the films will take place throughout the nights of the event. The Heroines of Star Wars will be celebrated, and exclusive Star Wars Show interviews will be shown on the stream. Celebration events usually also host a lot of other things, including writer panels and blogger showcases. And as ever, rounding off will be the Closing Ceremony on the 16th at 16:00-17:00 ET. A celebration of all things that happened at the Celebration, and possibly even a few surprises as well.

I will be tuned into the streams for most, if not all, of the event. I am expecting plenty of things to be shown, hear plenty of stories, get a few good laughs, and most of all - just have fun. Those at the event and experiencing all this will have even greater memories to cherish, and it is my hope that one day soon I will be able to go to one of these. With Celebration already confirmed to be taking a year off in 2018, that gives two years preparation if I am to experience this myself. I had fun at Summer of Sonic, so four days of being surrounded by Star Wars fans and taking part in Star Wars events, should be equally as fun. If you want to take a look at the schedule, the website is here.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

The Alternate Adventures of Halesowen Has Released [Network]

Yes, my first book has been published to the Kindle Store. The short story compilation comes in at 93 pages, and has a price tag of £2.50 [though that will probably be reduced soon]. If you have Kindle Unlimited, it can be borrowed for free, but borrow or buy you will be helping me.
As I've stated before, the idea to do this came from TV and Film Residential Camp - where I was using real names of real friends and other members of the group. As I was building that up, I wanted a full cast of original characters, while still borrowing elements from my experiences. All the stories are original though.

As this first book is out, I am exploring where these characters can go next. First will be a slight retread of events here, as well as more focus on Daniel, as TV and Film Residential Camp gets expanded on. The main plot points will still be the same, but I will be cutting some parts out to make way for new elements within the story. Without giving too much away, both visits to the camp will be expanded on, and the middle section will have a much clearer focus.
Away from that, more focus will be put on plot developments, and shorten the focus from the whole group within one novel to just a few. You won't get those stories until after I start some other series though, and I have two others in the works.

However, there are still things which can be posted from this book. Starting next month a new section will go on WattPad that will have some extras from this story on it. There was a lot of focus on the first story, which is the largest of the lot. The two main short films within it had planning go into them, so full scripts were referred to throughout. These will be added first, as though they were deleted scenes from the book during the film screenings. Then a few other extras will be added.

The Amazon search results will find the book using just 'Alternate Adventures', or for those in the UK use this link - Kindle Store - to get direct access. Enjoy the book, enjoy my future content, and I will have new posts on this blog very soon. There is a certain event happening next week, after all.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

April '17 Monthly Update [Network]

April is an interesting month for one very special reason. Star Wars Celebration has come around once again, but this holds a bit more importance as it is celebrating forty years of the franchise. I've only been a fan for a quarter of that time, but it's been an awesome experience. The films, the games, the books and comics - especially the Republic Commando series - have all been keeping me interested. And especially the animated TV series, which is really when I started to grow into being the fan I am today. For all fans though, this Celebration will be something special, and as ever I'll have a post looking at some of the things happening before it starts, as well as my thoughts on those things and others after. EA have already stated they'll be showing Battlefront II at the event, and The Last Jedi and Rebels Season 4 are showing as well. As always, if you are going to the event itself, there are a lot of things to see and do. The last two years have been amazingly fun, even through the livestream [which is when I started to majorly focus on Celebrations].

The Look Inside the Morphing Grid post for In Space and Lost Galaxy has been pushed into this month, just due to the fact that I posted the movie review [and I'm kind of slacking in watching Lost Galaxy, hoping the later episodes can pick up].
Since it is Star Wars Celebration this month, I've been thinking of things I can do to join in the celebration myself. While I haven't decided yet, I will keep you all posted on social media about any developments.
The Alternate Adventures of Halesowen will be self-published to the Kindle store this month. There's the last few checks to be completed, but it should be ready. Once it is up, I will have a post about it here. I am hoping that those who do read it will be able to give some good pointers to me. Things I did well and things I can improve upon are the major areas any person should be looking for to help them create a better product in the future, and I certainly welcome that advice.
In the latest episode of Doctor Who: The Star Wars Chronicles, DarkRula and The Doctor had split to follow their own goals. The Water Base sees DarkRula head to Da Soocha, trying to find out where the main base of the Jedi was moved to. He recounts a month of looking from the location he currently sits.

Anything else I have planned over the month will be posted to social media, but that's all for now, so bye for now.

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 are 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 such 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 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 chance 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.