Archive for October, 2013

Game Review: Pokemon X

Over the last couple of weeks, every time I thought I was ready to write and complete this review someone online would discover some other new thing within Pokemon X. But now I can finally say I’m ready to post the review having experienced enough of the whole game to make a good fist of everything. This will be a long one. Enjoy.

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Platform:
3DS
Developer:
Game Freak
Rating: PG
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Not "X Version", for some reason. Just "X".

Not “X Version”, for some reason. Just “X”.

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Simply X-cellent.
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Pokemon X and its near-identical counterpart Pokemon Y represent several ambitious steps forward for one of Nintendo’s flagship videogame series. The first three-dimensional Pokemon adventure is a stunning audio-visual achievement that makes the 3DS sing and draws smartly from the nostalgia wells of an entire generation. But perhaps most excitingly, the game is the first in the series to admit that Pokemon has transformed beyond its creators’ wildest dreams into an endlessly deep competitive juggernaut over the last decade. The game works very clearly with this in mind, resulting in a wonderful social experience that is also more balanced than the series ever has been. It’s a must-have for most any 3DS owner.

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Mega Ultra Blast Cast Ep.11

mubc2The Mega Ultra Blast Cast FINALLY devotes an episode to discussing Pokemon, specifically the recent worldwide release of Pokemon X and Pokemon Y. We discuss what we like and don’t like about the new games, sealing any story spoilers in their own section. Delaney and I spend most of the episode trying to talk down a fired-up Shane (here’s the link to the blog post he talks about on the cast), but there can be little denying that we all really, really like what this new 3DS generation is doing for the series. We also find time to talk about the excellent movie Gravity and answer a rather deep question about the nature of choice in videogames, submitted by a listener for the first time ever!

If you feel so inclined, go for a run, take a scenic drive or just curl up on the couch and play some Pokeomn while you listen to the biased opinions of a Pokemon hater, a Pokemon lover and someone who just can’t see past Pokemon right now.

You can play the whole thing right off this page if that tickles your fancy:


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Or you can go to the Soundcloud site/app and listen from there:
https://soundcloud.com/mega-ultra-blast-cast/mubc-11

(Follow the link and then click the download tab)

As always if you enjoy what you hear please share the cast with your friends and like our Facebook page. Cheers!

Movie Review: Gravity

I came a bit late to the party on this one, but finally saw it in 3D (not in IMAX, unfortunately) a couple of days ago.

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Starring:
Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris
Director: Alfonso Cuaron (Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men)
Rating: M
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Fans of the Harry Potter film adaptations will likely be familiar with (and grateful for) the talents of Alfonso Cuaron. The visionary Mexican director was responsible for bringing the third chapter of that saga, Prisoner of Azkaban, to the big screen back in 2004. Many film critics are of the opinion that Azkaban is the best in the series (personally, I think only Deathly Hallows Part II trumps it) and it isn’t hard to see why when you watch the film. Since that notable achievement, however, Cuaron has been rather quiet on the feature front, with only his highly praised 2006 effort Children of Men coming out since then. Until now, of course. Now we have Gravity, a visual experience with typically ambitious Cuaron touches (I love that we can say that now). It’s very, very good.

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My Top 10 In-Game Pokemon Moments

We are now mere hours away from the long-awaited (there’s an understatement) first ever 3D entries in the main Pokemon video game series, Pokemon X and Pokemon Y. To celebrate and, quite honestly, to kill some time while enduring the wait, I decided to have a look back at some of my favourite memories the series has given me in-game. I use the term “in-game” to mean anything taking place during the game’s story (that is, anything before and possibly immediately after the Elite Four), as opposed to, say, any awesome competitive battles I have had the pleasure of participating in using EV trained, IV bred fighting machines.

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10. Patrat, the Purpose-Built Annoyer – Pokemon White

Nearly every Pokemon release has been an inherently multiplayer experience for me, because in my book that’s the way it was designed to be played. There is a tradition among my close friends and family who play Pokemon that whenever a new game comes out, we try to get together and play the first few hours alongside one another, battling after the first gym and sometimes after the second as well. As a result I try to catch and train Pokemon that my fellow players aren’t likely to pay attention to, just to make the battles more interesting. Never has this been more true than at the start of the fifth generation of Pokemon, when I caught a super-common Patrat and trained it to the mid-teens solely because its movepool seemed deliberately stacked with the most annoying moves possible. Detect, Sand-Attack, Bite, Hypnosis… I mean, really, how could I not? In our first battle Patrat was my highest-level Pokemon and I used its full irritating potential against my brother, only to dump it in a box forever afterwards. If not for that tradition, I wouldn’t have looked twice at the caffeinated chipmunk for my in-game team.
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EB Expo Breakdown – MUBC Episode 10

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Missed the chance to go to the EB Expo on the weekend? Maybe you did go but are keen to hear someone else’s impressions? Fear not – the
Mega Ultra Blast Cast breaks down the whole show with opinions and arguments and such, just for your benefit. Shane is our sounding board as Delaney and I discuss our favourite games of the show, the things that surprised us, the best cosplays we saw and the most in-depth Titanfall demo breakdown you’ve ever heard. At 2:20 it’s the longest podcast we’ve done since our first one, but you can read the description on Soundcloud and click the timestamps to go to the section you are interested in. If you feel so inclined, go for a run, take a scenic drive or just curl up on the couch and listen to the opinions of two excited Sydneysiders and one jealous guy.

You can play the whole thing right off this page if you wish:


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Or you can go to the Soundcloud site/app and listen from there:
https://soundcloud.com/mega-ultra-blast-cast/mubc-10-eb-expo

(Follow the link and then click the download tab)

As always if you enjoy what you hear please share the cast with your friends and like our Facebook page. Cheers!

7 Things I Learned During Zelda Month

(that aren’t Zelda-related)

So it’s probably pretty safe to say that much of my recent life has been dominated by writing about the Legend of Zelda series. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t anything else going on worth blogging about during that hectic rush. Here’s a quick summary of the kind of things I might have written about during the last five weeks if I hadn’t wanted to keep Vagrant Rant dedicated to Zelda countdowns:

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Rayman Legends is my favourite 2D platformer of all time.

I reached the end credits of Rayman Legends with my brother a few weeks ago now (which by no means indicates that the game is actually finished) and while reflecting on my experience with the game I struggled to come up with a side-scrolling platformer I’ve enjoyed more. Ever. That includes the Mario games. There’s just so much charm and variety throughout the game, it looks and sounds amazing and its co-op, at least when played with the Wii U gamepad, is incredible. This will be up there in my personal game of the year calculations for sure, because it’s just on another level of amazing.

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VR Zelda Month: Closer

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These last 30 days of list writing have been hard work, but I have enjoyed every moment. Hearing feedback from each individual list has been wonderful (as well as a tad overwhelming) and I’d like to thank everyone who took time out of their days to give each list a read. I can now cross off another writing project from my bucket list, but this may not be the last time I visit the Legend of Zelda series for some countdown goodness.

If you missed any one of the fifteen lists I have posted on Vagrant Rant in the last month or so, here are the links to each and every one!

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Top 5 Companions

Top 10 Consumable Items

Top 10 Non-Consumable Items

Top 5 Scenic Locations

Top 10 Enemies

Top 10 Minibosses

Top 10 Bosses

Top 10 Minigames

Top 10 Sidequests

Top 10 Pseudo-Dungeons

Top 15 Dungeons

Top 10 Dungeon Music

Top 15 Non-Dungeon Music

Top 10 Memorable Moments

Top 10 Zelda Games

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That lovely Zelda Month logo you see at the top of every list was designed by my very talented sister and one-time Four Swords Adventures ally Jenna. You can view her collection of artworks, photography and clothing designs on her blog jennamarieanne.com, if that tickles your fancy.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go play some Wind Waker HD.

VR Zelda Month: The Stats

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To those curious as to how all the Legend of Zelda games stacked up against one another on this blog when it came to raw number of list mentions this last month or so, this is the post you have been looking for! How incredibly exciting!

This list does not include honorable mentions, just the main list material. A mention fully counts even if it shares an entry on a particular list with one or more other games. Entries that do not specifically refer to any particular game do not give a mention to any game for the purposes of this list. The last list, my top ten favourite Zelda games, didn’t count towards this tally.

It’s all there real quick-like after the jump.

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VR Zelda Month: Top 10 Zelda Games

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Here we are at the end of a tiring but very exciting (almost) 30 days of Zelda retrospectives. It has long been a dream of mine to be able to write so many Zelda countdowns and put them all in one place, but this list is the big one. Until last month I would not have considered myself qualified to compile a proper top ten list of my personal favourite Zelda games of all time. But now, at long last, as I have completed ten out of the sixteen currently released titles in the series (with at least every possible heart container in each, I might add), I can finally put my long-dormant thoughts to my keyboard and reach those sweet, sweet double digits. Without further ado, here we go: My top ten favourite videogames in the Legend of Zelda series.

Oh yeah, one quick condition: I am judging each game on this list by what I consider to be the best version of that game (that I have played), even if it isn’t the originally released version.

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VR ZELDA MONTH DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s scary. Respectful disagreement is welcome. Spoilers may follow.
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10. Four Swords (GBA, DSi)

What a dream package.

Ah yes, the most forgotten one (or should I say the second most forgotten one? See the next entry on this list). Four Swords may bring up the rear of this list, and by the end of this year if I were to rewrite the list it may not even make it on, but that doesn’t mean I did not enjoy playing it. The game may have had the least amount of mentions these past 30 days out of any Zelda game I have finished, but that’s because it either used Zelda traditions that had already been better established elsewhere or introduced new things that were improved upon in later releases. I didn’t play through the bonus levels featured in the 2011 DSi port of the game, but I did play the original in conjunction with my first ever experience of A Link to the Past on the Game Boy Advance, when the two games were linked together in a very cool way.

There is no avoiding that Four Swords is a multiplayer game at heart, and though the aforementioned DSi release did patch in a single player mode, a lot of the game’s best moments are taken right out of the picture without friends to crawl through the unpredictable dungeons with. Having said that, I only ever played the GBA original with one other person, which doesn’t compare all that well to my four player experience with the next game on the list. Yet some of the really cool puzzles in Four Swords have not been seen since, the semi-random layout of each dungeon every time you re-enter it makes for some nice replay value and the competitive-cooperative slant Nintendo is so good at pulling off is on full show in this title. Thanks to that downloadable DSi port, it is by far the most accessible way to enjoy the surprising joys of multiplayer Zelda nowadays, which cannot be a bad thing.

Oh yeah, and if I were to do a “Top Ten Zelda Title Screens” list, Four Swords would easily run away with the number one spot. I must have watched that first cutscene twenty times back in the day.
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VR Zelda Month: Top 10 Memorable Moments

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This is probably the most personal of all the lists I have attempted this past month. Nearly every person who has ever played a Zelda game will have some moment that sticks out in his or her mind from said game. Usually, there are more than one. Here is a list of my top ten personal (key word there) favourites. Well, sort of.

I suppose I should mention that this isn’t technically my absolute all-time list of the ten most memorable moments in Zelda games; rather this list deals with moments that do not overlap with any list I’ve already posted. For example, had I not already featured Midna’s Lament in my overall music list, the corresponding gameplay moment would absolutely appear here. A more accurate title would be “Top 10 Memorable Non-Dungeon, Non-Boss, Non-Sidequest, Non-Music-Related Moments”, but that ain’t quite as snappy. I headed back to Deviantart for the pictures to this one, because just like my sidequests list it’s hard to convey a moment with an official icon.

Finally, this list is probably the most spoiler-laden of them all as it deals heavily with story related content, so be warned.

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VR ZELDA MONTH DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s scary. Respectful disagreement is welcome. MASSIVE spoilers may follow.
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10. The First Three Days – Majora’s Mask

Credit to Ayemae

I cannot hope to describe what makes the first three day cycle of Majora’s Mask, its only scripted gameplay sequence until you enter the moon at game’s end, so memorable without entering into emotional nostalgia. I first played through it at a friend’s house (remember those days when you could take turns playing a single player game at another person’s house and everyone was just cool with it?) and the impact of the whole ordeal just blew me away. From the amazing graphical showcase of the first forest areas to the nightmarish Deku Scrub curse to showing the snarky Bombers who’s boss to the entire Astral Observatory to the epic confrontation with the Skull Kid, it was all magic to me. The sequence was more than enough to convince me to ask for the game for my 12th birthday and the rest, as they say, is history.
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