Guest post! Guest post! Aaltomies has some PC troubles so you know that’s a perfect moment for me to start yelling about Star Trek. I’m taking a small break from Enterprise this time around, but I still hope you’ll enjoy it in some capacity.
Maybe this topic has been discussed to death, I don’t know. Maybe I just felt like getting this off my chest. There are many things that can be said about Star Trek Voyager and I think it started off very promising. Sadly, they squandered their potential.
Voyager start off with the Maquis crew and we very quickly get introduced to them in their old ship, before being transported away. There we have the plot for the first part of the episode: Where did they go? And that’s where Voyager comes in, they are tasked to find them and bring them back. Added to that is the fact that a Starfleet security officer is still on board (and undercover), so it would be pretty cool if he could be retrieved as well.
The region the ship is lost in is known as the Badlands, an area of space that has been frequently mentioned in Deep Space Nine. An unstable area of space, lots of space tornadoes, not safe to fly in, you get the gist. So how does Starfleet get in there? By using an ex-Maquis pilot – enter Tom Paris played by Robert Duncan McNeill.
Just describing him as a cocky pilot is doing him a disservice. As the son of a distinguished Starfleet admiral he has always felt the pressure of living up to his fathers’ reputation, which wasn’t easy. Growing up the distance between the two grew larger and larger, turning Tom into a bit of a rebel. After finishing Starfleet academy he got involved into a cover-up incident in which three fellow officers died. Despite telling the truth later, he got dishonorably discharged from Starfleet and became a bit of a drifter – just out there looking for trouble. And trouble he found in the form of the Maquis which he joined as a mercenary, but only two weeks after joining on his first mission he got caught and thrown in a penal colony for treason. One cannot really blame the guy for being pretty cynical and sarcastic at this point.
His reputation is also quite well known at this point, with many an officer not wanting anything to do with him. Still, he gets recruited since he’s the best shot Starfleet has to find the missing ship. And that’s when you throw Harry Kim into the mix. A young, naive young man just fresh out of the academy. Even after being told what happened with Paris, he still gave him a chance and actually asked why he did what he did, starting a long-running friendship on the series
Now, Tom could have been one of the most interesting Voyager characters. You have the two allegiances and with mutiny being a real possibility he could join either party (if they would be willing to accept him). …but nothing of the sort happened, short of a small a what-if holodeck episode, so he just assimilated into the Starfleet crew without a hitch. Like everyone did. A major plot point (the cooperation of the two crews) got resolved way, way too early and should’ve been a (multi) season long struggle.
But let’s rewind a bit, how did the character of Tom Paris came to be on the show? For that we have to jump back to The Next Generation with the episode The First Duty (also known as the best Wesley episode). In this episode we see another character played by McNeill called Nicholas Locarno, which can easily be described as a proto-Paris in his student years. He’s in an elite-student group along with the beloved character Wesley Crusher called Nova Squadron.
Being on the verge of graduation, Locarno wanted to go out with a bang by performing a dangerous five man shuttle maneuver. Sadly, one of them made a mistake and paid for that with his life. Locarno convinced the rest of the squadron to lie about the whole ordeal and started the cover-up, but it was found out by captain Jean-Luc Picard, who told Wesley Crusher to either come forward, or he would. With this being Star Trek, of course he did. Over the course of the episode Locarno becomes increasingly more hostile and panicked to truly become the villain of the episode, but in the end he takes full responsibility and becomes the only one that’s expelled from the academy while the other members would be held back one year.
So now we can compare these two characters. Their backgrounds are very alike, it’s the same actor, what happened here? One reason, given by the producer at the time (Jeri Taylor), stated:
We had liked the idea of a character like Tom Paris ever since we had done “First Duty” and had Lecarno [sic.]. We didn’t make Lecarno the con officer, because he was somewhat darker and more damaged. We felt Lecarno couldn’t be redeemed and we wanted to be on a journey of redemption.
Locarno seemed like a nice guy, but deep down he was a bad guy. Tom Paris is an opposite premise in a way. Deep down he’s a good guy. He’s just made some mistakes.
I disagree with these statements, the redemption. The biggest difference between the two characters is that Locarno had his history shown on the older episodes – you saw his reactions and you knew his motives. With Paris however, the actual details of the incident have always been kept vague. There could have been many other circumstances to Paris’ incident, but it’s never told. Was this just to minimize the risk of a ‘slightly darker’ character like Locarno? In addition to that, why is Locarno irredeemable? They both created an incident, covered it up, and came forward in the end. The only difference being in Locarno’s case is that it was his teammate that did it. But let’s also take a step back here, Locarno was younger than Paris as well. You make stupid mistakes when you’re young. Does that mean he can never be redeemed? Doesn’t that give an even bigger road to redemption?
The writers on the other hand have a very different view on it and they too see no reason why Locarno couldn’t have come back. Both their histories were serious, why could one be redeemed? One possible reason was given (in a slightly joking manner), that the Voyager crew just didn’t want to pay royalties to them and that he also wouldn’t have minded cashing in said hypothetical cheques.
Finally I’d like to finish with a what-if. And don’t worry, I won’t go as far in-depth as those 36-part long Dragon Ball Z videos that cover What if Raditz turned good? or the like. What if Locarno got on that ship instead of Paris? I don’t think it’s outlandish to think that Locarno would’ve ended up with the Maquis as well and he has about the same piloting skills as Paris. With the character being played the same, the friendship with Harry would’ve still started. We would just have a character whose history was a little more defined, instead of a vague story.
Guest Post Time! Your editor A9 is back to rant more about Star Trek Enterprise. If you haven’t read earlier parts, it’s not a requirement, but you could read part one, two and three on this blog. This time with a small change in format – no more long and winded episode summaries as they are not relevant. There’s gonna be more focus on what it did for the series as a whole. Now buckle up.
As the armory officer on Enterprise, he was a military man through and through and the guy you called when you wanted to blow some shit up. At the same time, he was a very reserved man in his private life and quite shy at times. When you have a character like that, it’s clear that you’re really have to go and think about how to get a character like this out of his shell. While the writers did come up with one or two episodes, that was also kind of the end of it. Reed was never really expanded upon, proven by the fact that he only really has one friend on his ship, namely Charles Tucker. Ironically this friendship began with a rivalry which is a nice start for a friendship.
The first character highlight episode of his deals with a very simple question: what is Reed’s favourite food? In the process of getting an answer to that question, it’s only underlined how distant Malcolm is from the rest of the ship, but also his family. The way the answer is revealed is by an extensive background check, and finally a medial background check. In other words a big breach of privacy, just to underline the fact that he’s a very private man. While the answer is revealed (pineapple), does this actually progress his character at all? He doesn’t get featured in his own B-plot, as he’s busy with arming Enterprise in the A-plot. It does get him just a little bit closer to the rest of the crew, but that’s it outside of confirming what the audience already knew: that he’s a private, military guy.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s where you go from there and we don’t get much more until later in the first season, in one of my favourite episodes called Shuttlepod One. It’s a bottle episode, which means that it’s an episode without any real budget for new sets or guest characters. Make do with what you have, and try not to make it too boring. The episode revolves around Reed and Tucker being stranded in a shuttlepod, thinking Enterprise has been destroyed. In the face of death (since they will never make it back to Earth in that shuttlepod), Reed starts writing letters to his friends and family, even all of his exes back home (much to the annoyance of Tucker). What this episode brought to the table for me, was that much of Reed was just hidden, and not that it was lacking. He does care about friends and family, and even admitted he started to feel at home on Enterprise (which was what he more or less tried to avoid by staying professional as much as he could). At the end of the episode, they shares a nice bottle of bourbon and are laughing in the face of death before finally getting rescued by Enterprise. It also changes the dynamic between Reed and Tucker from rivals to friends – for better or worse. Reed would continue to star on the show and would have small moments of more fleshed out backstory such as his new rivalry with the captain of the MACOs (Military Assault Command Operations, part of the United Earth Military) and finally his involvement with the beginnings of the secretive Section 31.
This was the first time since Deep Space Nine that S31 was mentioned, and unlike the newer series that can’t stop namedropping it every other episode, it was very much a hidden part of the United Earth that was already getting involved in interplanetary affairs.
One thing I was hesitant to write about, but will add in the end, is regarding his sexuality. While on-screen, Reed has always been written as a heterosexual character (with how he likes T’pol’s bum, his many female exes or how he gets affected by Orion slave girls), the actor Dominic Keating has mentioned once jokingly, once more serious (page 5) that he has always played him as gay. In the script bio for Reed, it was stated that Reed was ‘shy around women’, and this is certainly one way to interpret that. Let me be very clear, I have no issues whatsoever about what someones or a characters sexuality is, just do it normally. Subtly. If someone’s gay, will that person always scream it off the rooftops? Does the series need fifteen episodes revolving about gayness? No. If we take those earlier examples away (or just consider him bi), does that change anything about him? No. In my opinion, if Reed was actually gay on the show, it would’ve been the absolute best portrayal of a gay man in Star Trek who was just doing his job. This isn’t just a critique about current Star Trek alone, it’s also Hollywood as a whole who frequently go so over the top with the the portrayal of gay characters that it gets annoying. They are shouting off rooftops that a character is gay. Nevertheless, if it ain’t on screen, it ain’t canon.
As promised, this time we’re going into the three ‘loose’ episodes of the season that aren’t part of a larger arc. The first one is Deadalus, which revolves around Emory Erickson, the inventor of the transporter, that wants to borrow Enterprise for an experiment: sub-quantum teleportation. An improvement to the regular transporter, which would’ve been able to beam an object or person from planet-to-planet with an unlimited range. But the real reason Emory wanted to this experiment is to save his son who was lost during the initial tests of this technology many years ago.
This episode isn’t terrible by any means, but it’s not a great one either. It can be quite slow or even dull at times, and the episode comes across as a semi-horror / mystery story. It does give more story about how the molecular transporter was invented, but it doesn’t really add anything in the grand scheme of things, except for inspiring the transwarp beaming technology in Star Trek ‘09.
In the end, it’s necessary for the show to limit the transporter. After all, why travel somewhere in a ship if you could get there immediately by beaming there? Whilst there has been a lot of different kinds of transporters in Trek, the rules always seem to change as the plot demands. Take the Dominion for example, who can transport people over three light years away.
Frankly, the show should have done away with the teleporter as a whole, or severely limit what it can do. Wouldn’t it be more interesting if it only was featured for non-organic stuff? That way the use of shuttles could be explained more and it would reinforce the ‘low-tech’ angle they were going with.
Time for a bit of a love letter to The Original Series, here come the Organians! Famous for their future Treaty of Organia between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, here they are in a different light. After they found a deadly silicon-based virus on a planet, they kept their eyes on it to see how other lifeforms would react to it. When finally humanity visits with the NX-01, they take over the bodies of Reed and Mayweather and start observing the crew while still maintaining the personalities of the crewmembers. As Hoshi and Tucker get infected and quarantined, they inhabit different people to ask more and more questions. Tragically, Hoshi and Tucker die to the virus, but the Organians inhabit them again regardless, arousing a ton of suspicion because they were, well, dead. They eventually reveal that they were monitoring different species here to see if they would begin an official first contact. In this case, one of them broke a 10000 year old protocol by telling them this, since their refusal to kill or eject their infected crewmembers really shows compassion. They heal all the infected crewmen, erase their memory of this incident, and leave.
Another ENT prequel to a classic TOS episode. The viewpoint of this episode is mainly the Organians, the observers, as they question what the crew does at certain stages of the illness. As they have been here for over ten thousand years, they have seen it all happen to other species. What would the humans do differently?
The answer that the episode gives, compassion, is not the strongest in my book – but the road leading up to it is. The Alpha quadrant species in Star Trek are historically often a little one-dimensional: Klingons kill people, Vulcans think about shit, Andorians get angry at you, etcetera. That weakens the humans’ solution (as it were) since it’s just.. telling the other to keep it up. With how Andorians are portrayed in Enterprise with their loyalty to one another, one could say the Andorians could’ve solved this in a similar manner. Humans are still the jack of all trades, and from our perspective nothing really straight up defines them. Combine that with Archer giving a speech, and you’re left with not much. Frankly, this episode almost screams for Jean-Luc Picard to give a speech.
The Organians frequently change host bodies and keep conversations going regardless, and it’s a fun way of displaying their powers and really holds your interest, unlike the previous episode. Even without the knowledge of who the Oganians are (which was my case when I first saw this episode many years ago), it still works. The world of Star Trek is filled with many, many strange creatures after all. Talking about strange creatures..
Time for more Orions! A well spoken male Orion offers the Federation a joint mining agreement. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, he’s just giving Archer some Orion slave girls, that’s fine, right? Oh, whoops, they start causing trouble! They are using pheromones to ‘brainwash’ all the males on the ship to do their bidding! They are about to be sold to the Orion Syndicate when Trip, Phlox and T’pol save the day by stunning the slave girls and disabling the Orion ship.
Bound is the most TOS-like episode in of all of Enterprise. I’m pretty sure I’ve used the term ‘love letter’ a couple of times already, but this episode is the quintessential love letter to Star Trek in so much that you could see this episode working as a TOS one. Sure, the Orion slave girls are one thing, but the sets and costumes also really bring back those feelings. Last but not least, the ending scene features a group ensemble that is a clear nod to ending of many TOS episodes where the whole cast is on the bridge, reflecting on what happened in that episode.
I have mixed feelings about the episode itself however. While it features my favourite portrayal of a Orion male, Harrad-Sar, I felt a bit wanting about how the Orion females are so attractive. While before this episode, it was just that they were incredibly attractive and almost exotic, this episode changes that to a biological reason why (most) men cannot resist them. It also makes you wonder if you would be fine if you held your nose shut when being near one.
The twist in the end is a really interesting take on the Orion slave girl trope. After all, if the Orion females are always secreting these pheromones, wouldn’t the men be affected too? And exactly, that is the case. One cannot help but wonder what the plan as a whole is with the slave trade then: sell all the women, brainwash them, take their assets?
In the end, this episode revolves around the slave girls seducing the male crewmates. There’s not much that happens otherwise, and the female crewmen are just sitting idly by and are observing. It takes too long for the other characters to do something about the situation, in order for their ploy to work. Again, this is television, it’s fiction, it’s fine. But if I could magically add something to this episode, it would be more meat to the middle. But all in all, it already almost feels like a nostalgic episode.
And there you have it, part four is done. I hope the lack of synopsis’ made it more fun to read this time, but at the very least it was more fun to write for me. Next time we’ll visit the best arc of the season, the Babel arc.
You guessed it, guest post time. We talking more Star Trek, until I run out of things to say, so see ya at part 12. As the title says, this is part 3, so feel free to read up on part one and two. Or just click my username, I don’t know man. Every time I’m forced asked to write one of these it turns into a big mess of words that hold some meaning for me, I just hope it’s mildly entertaining or informative enough for people to read. One of these days I’ll actually tell you what I think it should’ve been.
T’pol and Vulcan depiction
Sex sells, that’s no secret. So why don’t we just cast a model for an acting role where she barely has to do any emoting? Maybe I’m too harsh with that sentence. Look, I like a sexy Vulcan in spandex as much as the next guy (though I prefer T’Pau myself), but she’s really a repeat of Tuvok which was a repeat of Spock. Vulcan science officers are a staple, but it took a long time for her character to bring anything new to the table apart from early ENT Vulcan snobbishness and not liking the smell of humans.
The weird portrayal of the Vulcans before season 4 hurt her, and every other Vulcan character in the series. Sure, you can use that as a steppingstone to create character growth, but that was not what was intended, they were created as assholes. In this regard, Soval got the better deal, but we’ll talk about him another time.
Let’s start with mind melds first, another core staple of Star Trek, especially The Original Series. It’s one of those things people who aren’t that much into Star Trek have heard of, along with the Vulcan salute and the Vulcan nerve pinch. It’s classic, and iconic.
So let’s fuck that up (which they’ll do again in Star Trek Discovery) and add an element of rape and HIV into the mix. She was mind melded with against her will, and because of that she got the condition Pa’nar Syndrome (a neural disease that resulted in the degradation of the synaptic pathways). Am I saying it’s wrong to raise awareness for these things in media? No, not at all. But attaching it to a beloved concept just feels tacked on, without any respect for the source material. The Pa’nar Syndrome was even introduced a whole season after the mind meld happened, giving me the impression that the writers were looking for something to attach an HIV storyline onto (as part of a Viacom’s HIV awareness campaign).
But enough of that. What about her character? Vulcans are notoriously to get likable if you play them straight. An actor has to emote, after all (another lesson they forgot in Star Trek Discovery, with the main character) to come across as believable. One can obviously play with this concept a lot – as there can be moments when a Vulcan does emote. Spock is the most obvious example, even if he was half Vulcan and that was what made him so interesting in the first place: the battle between his human side and his Vulcan side. Then you have Sarek, his dad, which actor ages along with the shows he’s in. In The Next Generation, he’s an old man with an illness that hampers his emotional control. He cannot accept that, one could almost say his pride prevents him from doing that. Then we move to Tuvok. He’s Vulcan. And.. yeah. He’s one of the most boring characters on Voyager (not that that’s a feat). There’s just not much going for him.
So with that lesson learned, how was T’Pol different? OK, sexy, check. She comes from the technologically superior Vulcans (in this era), and comes along as an observer of sorts while also filling the Science Officer role. She’s very skeptical. She doesn’t really like humans. She wants to do her job and meditate. Her being Vulcan helped her on numerous occasions because of her different physiology, but nothing really happened to her until episode 17 of the first season: Fusion. This is the episode where a mind meld is forced upon her by a group of Vulcans who, instead of suppressing emotions embrace them. I’ve liked this concept as a whole: it expands the Vulcan culture with this ‘weird’ band of misfits.
As much as I dislike the idea of the whole Pa’nar Syndrome in season 2, it does give T’Pol some development. It isn’t easy to live with serious illnesses and a stigma that surrounds it (as is/was with HIV). But this episode was just too on the nose with it, it could’ve used some subtlety, and it felt out of place for Vulcans to shun an illness. Why would you ban researching an illness? Of course, this is traced back to the changes brought to the Vulcans as a whole, and the governing body of the High Command. First only in charge of space exploration, but transforming into a government over time.
During all this stuff, the writers are really trying to push the T’Pol and Trip shipping. By making her massage Trip to help him sleep, or something. But it’s just to show a scantily clad T’Pol touch a scantily clad Trip. It’s just to make people think about sex. IT’S SEX! BUT NOT SEX!
In the Expanse (Season 3), it was found that a substance called trellium-D could shield the Enterprise against dangers unique to the Expanse. Unfortunately, this was also a neurotoxin for Vulcans. It’s never made clear how it’s a toxin, as you’d normally scan something like this before using it. Or why there’s a toxin in a rock. Would’ve made more sense as radiation. Anyway, the constant exposure to trellium-D lowers her emotional barriers, causing her to have outbursts of (negative) emotions. The more it happens, the more she wants to explore these emotions, as it’s functioning as a release for her. To do this, she injects herself with processed liquid trellium-D. Drug awareness anyone? On it’s own, I like the ideas and the setting, but again feels too on the nose. She eventually has to go through withdrawal and recovers, but she’ll always have a lower emotional barrier. She can finally use some emotions for the writers to make use of. Only took 3 seasons.
And now, we finally arrive at season four. She goes back to Vulcan with Trip, only to be guilt-tripped into an (arranged) marriage with Koss. Due to her actions while on board the Enterprise, her mother got fired from the Vulcan Science Academy, but with Koss’ family’s help and influence she can get it back. Should they get married, of course. Meanwhile she’s still kind of involved with Trip, so this is all a bit awkward.
“You’re sorry? You brought me sixteen light years just to watch you get married to someone you barely know.“
For me, T’Pol never became much more than eyecandy. She provided technobabble and had some good moments with Trip (especially season four), but we got too little too late.
Enterprise has no shortage in reoccurring guest stars. As far as I’m concerned, the three most important ones are Maxwell Forrest (Starfleet vice admiral, Archers’ superior officer), Shran (Andorian captain and ally of Archer) and finally Ambassador Soval (Vulcan ambassador to the United Earth). This arc sadly ends the life of one, and lifts the others up to new heights. This arc is where the Vulcans finally get ‘fixed’. This is the arc where the new showrunner, Manny Coto, takes over the reigns and does fucking amazing work with what he’s handed. Kudos to you, Manny.
The first thing this episode does is to take another look at Vulcan – United Earth relations. We’re on Vulcan for once, with Maxwell Forrest visiting the United Earth embassy along with Ambassador Soval. First, it’s addressed why the Vulcans act the way they do against humans.
“We don’t know what to do about Humans. Of all the species we’ve made contact with, yours is the only one we can’t define. You have the arrogance of Andorians, the stubborn pride of Tellarites. One moment you’re as driven by your emotions as Klingons, and the next you confound us by suddenly embracing logic!”
“I’m sure those qualities are found in every species.”
“Not in such confusing abundance.”
“Ambassador … are Vulcans afraid of Humans?”
“Why?” “Because there is one species you remind us of.” “Vulcans.”
Moreover, it’s also set up how much the Vulcan High Command operates on a need-to-know basis and how long Forrest and Soval have been working together, clarifying the working relationship, but also their friendship. After this scene, of what I believe is the best scene in the whole arc, the embassy gets bombed and Soval is pushed out of the way by Forrest at the cost of his own life.
The Enterprise is called to Vulcan to investigate along with the Vulcans since the embassy is technically United Earth soil. The head of state, Administrator V’Las and his entourage boards and explain they have two suspects: the Andorians, or the Syrranites– a fringe group opposed to the current government but not violent. The Andorians are dismissed right away (for good reason, as they are on good relations), so the search for the Syrranites begins with Archer and T’Pol looking for them in The Forge: a hellish desert landscape.
Before this, Soval also has a scene with Archer, where Soval talks about Forrest’s hopes for more cooperation between Earth and Vulcan but also to warn him to not trust everything that the High Command tells them. In the desert they meet Arev, which takes them along on a pilgrimage of the path of Surak. On their journey, they encounter a fierce desert storm filled with lightning, a sandfire. They have to take shelter, but Arev gets mortally wounded by a lighting strike, but before he dies, he performs a mind meld with Archer. Although Archer and T’Pol lost their guide, Archer keeps on going, somehow knowing where to go. They make it to the sanctuary of the Syrrantites and promptly get captured.
Meanwhile, on the ship, the crew analyze some Vulcan DNA they found on one of the bombs that didn’t detonate. While the DNA does belong to a Syrranite, T’Pau, it’s revealed it has been tempered with. They also have one survivor from the explosion, the guard at the entrance. He’s in a coma so they can’t question him, but a mind meld might be able to reach him. Soval reveals that he is a Syrranite, and performs his first meld and sees that the one that planted the bomb is someone from T’Las’ entourage – Stel, the Vulcan chief investigator.
Meanwhile, it’s revealed that Archer carries the Katra of Surak, his spirit or essence. It cannot be removed and so is stuck in Archer, who starts having visions and conversations with him. He insists that Archer has to find the Kir’Shara, his original teachings so that the Vulcan people can find a new path of enlightenment. So, of course Archer goes and finds it, ready to bring it to the capital. But oh no! They are discovered by Administrator V’Las and he just decides to carpet bomb the whole area to be fucking done with these mind melding deviants. Other ministers think this is kind of crazy, but hey, he’s the boss.
T’Pol’s mother (T’Les) is also revealed to be a Syrranite, and she tries to reconnect with T’Pol. She’s rejected, as she just sees this group as a cult. After the area gets bombed, she dies while T’Pol holds her in her arms. In the long term, this means the grounds for her marriage with Koss are void.
Archer, T’Pol and T’Las now need to bring the Kir’Shara to the capital to bring in this new path of enlightenment, but they are constantly under attack by Vulcan commandos. Will they ever reach their destination?!
Quite frankly, I can’t bring myself to keep writing episode synopsis. It was a bad idea in the first place. I hope you kinda get the picture. Sorry.
They do make it to the Vulcan HQ, revealing the true teachings of Surak which had been lost for ages, and revealing that V’Las was not acting very rationally. Especially as he was also orchestrating an attack against the Andorians while the whole Kir’Shara thing was going on. A battle between their fleets was actually ongoing – with Enterprise in the middle. Trip was trying to prevent a war, by ‘betraying’ the alliance with Vulcan to warn the Andorians. The episode ends with V’Las reporting on his failure to someone.. and that was.. a Romulan!
It’s no secret that the portrayal of the Vulcans was vastly different in Enterprise in comparison to the later series and this arc tried to explain why. Although they can never make a scene where a Romulan and a Human see each other (due to canon) – showing the Romulans interfering in Vulcan affairs is fair game, and a good idea too. It gives the hardcore fan a little more background as to what the Romulans were doing before their debut episode Balance of Terror that doesn’t hurt canon by bringing back a classic villain faction (unlike what happened to the pretty bad Ferengi episode). This also was the setup for my favourite arc of the series, the Babel Crisis.
The previous arc with the Augments was more of a love letter to, well, The Original Series. This arc was to fix one of the many faults this series had and bring it more in line with TOS, and I applaud that. Sadly, as good as it is, if the Vulcans hadn’t be fucked in early Enterprise, this episode would’ve been pointless. It’s a great solution to a stupid portrayal.
It also shows us the Romulans for the first time in Enterprise since Minefield, in which only the ships were shown along with some audio-only communication. This time, however, the Romulans have a purpose in the story. We only get a glimpse of the single Romulan and not a silly firefight with Archer or something. Moreover, we also get an idea about what four factions are doing in this arc:
The Romulans want to interfere in Vulcan affairs to unify their species once again (under their rule)
The Vulcans were being controlled by a Romulan puppet that wanted to wipe out dissidents and wanted another war with the Andorians to weaken both powers
The Andorians were preparing for another war with Vulcan, because they were expecting another attack
The Humans are trying to prevent war, in all forms. Be it a civil war or space war, they’re trying to prevent everyone from blowing up.
This was your Alpha Quadrant News Bulletin, thank you for reading. Next time, we’re looking at the only three loose episodes in this season, and I’ll pick a random character to feature. Maybe Reed. I’ve always liked him.
That time of the month is here again, time for a guest post. I’m just here to rant about Star Trek Enterprise yet again, and it looks like I will be for a while if I keep going at this pace. Here’s a link to part 1, should you need a refresher or want to check it out. Enjoy the ride.
Character Spotlight: Charles ‘Trip’ Tucker III
Tucker is a damn good chief engineer, plain and simple. You got something broken, he’ll fix it with a can-do attitude. Never having visited an alien world, he is somewhat naive when it comes down to shared values between species. He hails from Florida and is top 5 most American characters in all of Star Trek, foiled only by former U.S. President Lincoln and the like.
When Enterprise finally started its mission to explore space after a rocky start with the Klingons, Tucker had to change his expectations for space quite a bit when they encountered a friendly, more advanced species called the Xyrillians. Being almost freaked out by the extremely alien ship (as opposed to something like Vulcans), he then decided to stick his hands into a bowl with marbles along with a Xyrillian, after which he got pregnant. Although this last element kinda ruins the episode for me (especially since they play it for laughs, it’s just throwing me off), the portrayal on the ship itself helps with his character a lot, since he really is hands deep in alien tech now – and it creeps him out.
As the seasons go on, he keeps proving his worth and expertise and even gets command experience during a conflict with the Vulcans and Andorians. Point being: you can count on Tucker.
His character undergoes a massive shift in the third season, as the Xindi weapon hit the U.S., but Florida in particular. Not too long after he hears that he lost his sister Elizabethin that attack. While she wasn’t seen or mentioned in any episodes before this, it changes Tucker to the hard-working smiling engineer to a bitter man with a lot of grief and anger who just wanted revenge. While not every first contact may be peaceful, outright hate towards another species from the humans hadn’t been portrayed like this before (you could make a point for the Borg, but they are hated by everyone or the Cardassians, but relations had been smoothed somewhat since that war concluded).
On their way to the Xindi, Tucker is so emotionally wound up that he cannot sleep anymore – so he’s forced into ‘Vulcan neuro-pressure’ with T’Pol by Doctor Phlox. These scenes usually felt quite hollow to me, a blatant attempt to put more sex appeal in Star Trek, but I suppose it is a way to get those two closer together with some glimpses of romance.
So when we finally enter season four, we still have this extremely handy engineer, but way more seasoned. He decides to travel to Vulcan together with T’Pol, only for him to get cucked and suddenly attends her wedding with Koss. What a bummer! Then more stuff happens and he blows up in the finale. What a bummer!
This season is the season of three-parters. We kick things off with (more) remnants of the Eugenics Wars as a small group of rag-tag adolescents take over a Klingon Bird of Prey. Now, where did those Augments come from? Let’s ask the guy that stole a couple about 20 years back, Arik Soong. Oh, and also the Klingons are threatening with war if the Augments aren’t found. Soong promises to bring the Enterprise crew to the Augments but instead leads them in a wild goose chase in which multiple members of the crew get captured by Orion slavers.
After failing to escape and with the rescue of the sold-off crew members, he sits in the brig again, moping. Thankfully his Augment children tracked down Enterprise and bust him out and they are preparing to save the rest of the Augment embryos, or as he calls them, his children.
He arrives at Cold Station 12, where all of the Augment embryos are kept, and threatens to kill the scientists there if they don’t hand them over. We are introduced to Phlox’ long time friend Jeremy Lucas from the Interspecies Medical Exchange. Enterprise arrives, but cannot do much since the Augments are sitting on a bazillion deadly pathogens and are keen on using them. After killing one doctor, Phlox is exposed to a pathogen and Lucas gives in and gives them access to the embryos to save his friend. Soong and the Augments escape again, but not just with the embryos, but with a melange of deadly pathogens as well.
Soong wants to hide and stay away from Enterprise, but one of the Augments, Malik, is more interested in finding the mysterious ship of Augments, the Botany Bay, but he gets overruled.
On their way to their hiding spot, the Briar Patch (the same one as in Star Trek: Insurrection) Soong starts editing the embryos again, to remove aggression and violent behaviour in the Augments. Malik is furious and comes up with another plan: loading up all the pathogens they collected, load them all up in a torpedo and fire at Klingon colonies! As the Klingons already know humans (Augments) stole one of their ships, they would declare war for sure. Soong is taken aback because that’s pretty much mass murder. Shortly after he’s locked in his quarters as he’s more trouble than he’s worth for Malik.
Soong escapes with the help of another Augment and rides an escape pod to safety – Enterprise, which is still following the Augment ship. As he’s being thrown in the brig yet again, he tells Archer about the plans of mass murder. In a truly dramatic finish, the Enterprise manages to arrive at the colony just in time to shoot the torpedo, and saving the Klingon colony. Malik refuses to surrender, and his ship explodes not much later, killing all the remaining Augments.
..or so you’d think, because when Soong is escorted to the brig (again), he drops from the ceiling of the corridor, and tries to kill him, having beamed aboard at the last second. In the end, Archer is forced to kill him.
The episode ends with Soong having lost confidence in genetics and the Augments, and decides to start work on an android of some type, which might be able to be created in a few generations..
This arc gives the audience a lot more information regarding Augments and some of the Eugenics Wars, such as being manipulated in the embryo stage, and not when a baby is born. We still see the ruthlessness of Augments, even in a younger state and the superiority complex regarding ‘lesser’ beings. Soong argues in the beginning that the source of Augment problems wasn’t the lack of high-grade technology, but the inability of humanity to put them to good use. Throughout the episode, he is steadfast in that he wants nobody to be killed, and that he just wants to live with his ‘children’ in peace. After the Augments defied his wishes, he became disillusioned and tried to fix the remaining embryos and thus admitting their flaws. After the close mass murder and the destruction of all the embryos he stopped work on it altogether.
Strangely enough, my personal favourite part about this episode was Jeremy Lucas, whom we’ve only heard about in letters from Phlox or in conversation. Phlox is often underwritten and underutilized, so the fact we actually see this friend from which he has learned so much about Earth (and vice versa) is a nice development for Phlox. It’s a shame it’s just this once, and he gets brutally tortured, but I’ll take it.
The Augments in this story are very young, and all fathered by Soong on a remote planet. Having taught them everything it’s no wonder he’s seen as their father, but he got arrested at some point and couldn’t return anymore. So the first time we see the Augments taking over the Klingon ship, they’re all wearing torn, stretched rags, remnants from their childhood clothing. With Enterprise’s focus on sex appeal, they couldn’t just leave that be and had to introduce a faux-romance plot within the Augment group as well, which did serve as to give them more character, but it felt a little shallow and just an excuse to show a lady in nothing but panties and a tank top.
Using Brent Spiner as Arik Song, and the android reference at the end was a nice nod, but in the end, this arc feels like a mildly enjoyable but unnecessary adventure. This arc was already in production before the Soong angle, as it previously featured Colonel Green, the infamous dictator after WW3. But because Spiner had expressed interest to appear again on Star Trek, this arc was rewritten to feature this Soong ancestor. It’s not surprising then that Spiner got a lot of screentime, and in my opinion, too much screentime. Sure, we get some nice moments, a small moral debate with Archer about his dad’s illness that could’ve (or might’ve) been cured with eugenics, but most of the main cast isn’t very personally involved in this event, as opposed to the upcoming arcs that have higher involvement for the cast.
In the next post, we take a look at the Syrranites arc, along with a look at T’Pol. Maybe more, I don’t know. It’s just more and more clear that I’ve bitten off way more than I can chew.
Hey there! Editor and guest post writer A9 here, known from the Digimon posts ( 1234 ) and a long ramble about Mass Effect. I promised to write Aaltomies something while he was moving, but I couldn’t quite deliver on time. Plus it got split up into parts because I’m not a very clever dude. Now, I sure hope you like Star Trek, otherwise these posts might be a little out there. Regardless, enjoy.
Star Trek: Enterprise is a bit of a corny spin-off show, with too much emphasis on sex and action. Now, that’s not a great introduction to a science fiction series, but hear me out. Or a few times, if you like what you’re reading. This is the first post in a three or four-part series about the last season of Enterprise, which did many things right, but too late. It’s a look back on the last season that could. This post will mainly focus on the departure from the third season and a (re)introduction to the series. Future posts will go more into the production (troubles), characters and ‘what-ifs’ would the series continue.
Enterprise was the first prequel series for Star Trek, with its setting being 100 years before The Original Series with Kirk, Spock and Bones. It was meant to be a series full of ‘firsts’; how is humanity doing in the years before the mighty United Federation of Planets?
This isn’t an insane idea. Humanity is doing amazing for itself, especially during TNG, but how did they get there? How was war ended? Poverty? Hunger? How did the Federation form? All very interesting questions.
But one of the most prominent aspects of the show was the more low-tech look and feel of Earth ships. As it’s supposed to be more primitive than The Original Series that creates quite a challenge. The response to this was to design a starship that almost looks like a submarine: tight corridors, very spartan looks, and tons and tons of buttons. But more important than anything else: an inexperienced and unfamiliar crew. Humanity has basically only met the Vulcans at this point and they’re being absolute cunts, constantly holding back any progress or slowing it down. But after a crisis opportunity presented itself, humanity went out there and didn’t return to ask for the go-ahead.
Lessons from Season 3
Season 3 ended like an 80s action movie: after Archer jumped away from the exploding Xindi superweapon, he wakes up in the Second World War in the Nazi-controlled USA! He saved the world, but not he’s being held hostage by an SS-trooper. What a twist!
Now, I’ll be honest, I’m an absolute sucker for alternative history stories and through that lens, I think this episode is enjoyable, but unfitting for modern Star Trek. It’s a cheap way to instill drama and to raise the stakes as quickly as possible. When in doubt, bring in the Nazi’s!
So Archer gets captured by Nazi soldiers and sees a mysterious grey-skinned, red-eyed alien before he luckily gets rescued by the American resistance forces. He gets nursed back to health whilst being mistaken for a sailor from the Enterprise of that time period, the aircraft carrier Enterprise. After claiming he’s on a top-secret mission he gets involved with the resistance to figure out why the Nazi’s are occupying a part of the USA and why there are aliens involved.
Meanwhile, the Enterprise gets yoinked into WW2 era earth as well and get visited by a mutated, dying Daniels, the Temporal Agent from the future warning them and slipping into a coma. In the meantime, Archer manages to find one of the aliens to find out they’re trapped here and are working on a portal to make it back home, no matter what happens to the Earth. Besides from that he also steals an alien communicator, so he can finally get reunited with his crew. Daniels also finally speaks about why everyone is here, the Temporal Cold War isn’t cold anymore. How that works, nobody knows but it’s up to the Enterprise crew to stop them.
Now if you love, hate or tolerate this episode, it ends the Temporal Cold War arc that has plagued Enterprise since it’s first episode. You might even ask: Hey, guest spot writer, what even is the Temporal Cold War? And to that, I barely have an answer. It’s a conflict, in the future, where all the parties possess some form of time travel. If your faction has some time travel tech, be it projecting yourself in the past to relay information or just having time machines, you’re in! Nobody likes the changes the other factions are making in the past, so everyone is fucking everyone else over
For me personally, the whole concept never worked but one specific element did: the Suliban. The idea of a species that relies on genetic enhancements (or a portion of the species, in this case, the Cabal) is an interesting one that can be shrouded in mystery. Sadly the Suliban were very underutilised and only appeared in 9 episodes, which is a very sad count for the initial primary villains.
At the end of the episode, Archer meets Daniel for the last time while they’re standing in the time stream and ‘history is correcting itself’ because the Enterprise destroyed the evil Nazi aliens. At this point, I’m just glad it’s over with no matter how rushed this was ended. Sure, we may never know who Future Guy is, but I can live with it. Finally, Enterprise is back home. That would make for a great episode name..
The episode Home is both a reflection of the new showrunners taking a look at the series up till now, along with the crew of the Enterprise as they face repercussions from their journeys in unexplored space. Captain Archer is almost disillusioned with the idea of peaceful space exploration, Tucker visits Vulcan with T’Pol and the crew is shown the rise of xenophobia on Earth. Sure, they’re heroes – but if they hadn’t gone out there, none of this would’ve happened, or so the argument goes.
For Archer, this episode is mainly about his naivete when first starting out. He has to explain all of his actions while being in the Delphic Expanse and is being grilled on each and every explanation. After a (forced) recess is announced, he’s gone out hiking with the captain of the second NX-class vessel Columbia, captain Hernandez, and they have a talk about Archers’ hero status and the many things that happened on Earth while he was away. He appears less enthusiastic about space exploration and wanting to be way more prepared than when they first started out. Combine this with some slight PTSD-like dreams and it seems like Archer is really done with it all – he doesn’t feel like an explorer anymore.
On Earth, lieutenant Reed and helmsman Mayweather are enjoying their hero status by sitting in a bar with the doctor, Phlox, whilst being showered in attention. This is all well and good until one chap starts implying that all aliens should be distrusted because of the attack of one alien civilisation. Xenophobia is on the rise. Finally, T’Pol gets married on Vulcan and makes Trip watch. How cruel, but this will be discussed more in a future post.
It was crucial to re-center the show after a season-long arc in a different part of space, completely cut off from the rest of humanity. It had to re-establish its own universe and the problems that inhabit it. It’s also the setup for the rest of the season since things will be closer to home this season to really see what humanity is doing to build the Coalition of Planets, the precursor to the United Federation of Planets. In other words, what the show should’ve been about from the get-go: the journey of humankind, not the one captain going out there and becoming an action movie star. Instead, we got humanity stumbling through every broken door to let everyone know they’ve arrived at last.
Now, this was quite a lengthy setup, now I can finally start telling you about the things season 4 did right. In the next post, that is. Sorry! I really should’ve thought about the length of this damn thing.
A rare guest spot strikes again, since Aaltomies is busy moving to his new place! Congratulations! On the flipside. that means I have to find some subject to ramble about a little, so bear with me.
Let’s start with the new Digimon series, a reboot of Adventure. Honestly, when the series was announced I expected Toei to just remake the series whilst cleaning it up a fair bit, but those expectations were shattered fairly quickly with the Bokura no Wargame (Our War Game) opening. Instead of the summercamp, the events of the movie are brought all the way to the beginning without even introducing the whole main cast. We’re stuck with just Taichi and Koushiro who’re trying to figure out why the world is getting nuked.
During the first episode I was worried with the first villain, as it really resembled the Applimon series designwise. Thankfully that wasn’t the case, but it does show that the new series isn’t afraid to put new designs in, for better or good.
Game-wise, I’ve been playing Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid after Aaltomies generously bought it for me because of my skepticism towards it. While I did watch some Power Rangers during my childhood (and I did own one or two toys) I was never fully enthralled by the world. Since then I have watched a couple loose of Super Sentai episodes with the ultimate goal of watching that one anniversary crossover where a bazillion rangers team up. Alas, that moment is still far away from me but it does help me a little with placing when which rangers appear and the changes the American version made. This isn’t a criticism, Power Rangers is very much it’s own thing with its own stories and characters.
Now, back to the game. Fighting games usually have some barrier of entry for new players, the most famous one being able to throw a hadouken (fireball) with the quarter-circle input. Things will usually get more complex from there. With PW:BftG that barrier is lowered dramatically, where the input difficulty is only slightly higher than any Super Smash Bros game. You have the light, medium and heavy attacks, sure. But then you have the ‘special’ button which has three variations by holding left, right or no direction.
This makes the game incredibly easy to pick up, even when you have no fighting game experience at all and it’s what makes it a lot of fun right off the bat. Gameplay wise (or as Aaltomies would say, play of the game) it has been described as a Marvel VS Capcom lite and one cannot fault that comparison when both players employ their assists filling the screen with mayhem.
In short, the game can very much be enjoyed without any real knowledge of the series. Sure, the story mode might not make a lot of sense, but just roll with it.
Mass Effect was a beloved franchise for many. We’re jumping straight into past tense here, as it’s one of many franchises that just got worse every iteration and jumped off a fucking cliff when it was time to end the (planned) trilogy.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Today you’re treated with an guest post from the editor / proofreader, A9. Hello again, it has been a while.
This whole article will assume you’ve played Mass Effect 1, 2 and 3 and various plot details will be spoiled if you still want to play it one of these days. I won’t go into any of the side material such as the comics, or the newest game in the franchise, Andromeda.
I will have to apologise to the reader ahead of time for the ramble that is this post, as this whole post was inspired as it were by the soundtracks of Mass Effect 1, 2 and 3. It’s not meant as an informative post, but more as a critique and my frustrations with the series. Or more informally, a ramble that was created out of endearment for the first game.
Mass Effect: An Introduction
Mass Effect is a third person shooter role playing game set in a semi-hard science fiction setting. What is hard science fiction? Without getting too much into it, a science fiction story that abides to the rules and logic of the world and can explain why certain things work the way they do, for example faster than light travel. Why do I categorise it as semi? It all hinges on the ‘discovery’ of a fake element, element zero.
Throughout the Mass Effect trilogy you follow John or Jane Shepard, commander of the Earth’s Systems Alliance Navy on his quest to stop the Reapers, a highly-advanced machine race of synthetic-organic starships. Why does he want to stop them? Because they want to erase all organic life in the galaxy, and that’s a pretty big deal.
The thing that actually made the series so beloved for many was the world in which this story takes place, with a vast amount of different and unique looking aliens, each with their own cultures, interesting locations to visit and with some nice space politics sprinkled on top. For example, the colossal space station called the Citadel, which houses tons of different aliens and hosts the Citadel Council, which is the ultimate authority of Citadel Space (the space inhabited by all members who recognise the authority of the Council). The galaxy itself worked even if the threat of the Reapers wasn’t there and it’s clear a lot of time and effort went into making this galaxy feel ‘real’.
This combined with the fact that save files could be transferred to the next game, made players quite invested into their character and choices. A decision made in the first game could have repercussions in the next two, or if a quest hadn’t been completed in the first game the quests also won’t pop up in the later games.
The most important thing that separates Mass Effect from movies or books is the interactivity with the protagonist. With a selection of three backgrounds (sole survivor, war hero and ruthless) you start your journey. While still limited by a binary good vs evil alignment system (paragon and renegade) which lock some conversation options, from then on you choose most of your dialogue options. Within the confines of the story of the games, you choose who to ally yourself with and who to piss off. You get to know your crew, which consists mainly of humans (you are in a human space navy after all), with a couple of aliens you pick up on your travels, each with their own goals and motivations. They don’t just join because the plot demands it, they all have their own goals and tagging along with Shepard will get them closer to their goals. To top it off, most of these motivations tend to intertwine with other crew members offering different perspective on the problems of others and span over three different games.
Take the character Garrus, an ex-space cop who investigated the top special agent of the Citadel Council but kept being blocked on every corner, despite any evidence he had. After having made no real progress (since everything was classified), the case was ordered closed. Not satisfied with this, he teams up with Shepard to bring this agent to justice. But on this journey, he will have to learn what justice really is when not simply backed up by laws and regulations and he will often lean to the darker side of ‘justice’, to get the job done even if it means killing the suspect. Shepard can influence him, by encouraging this, ignoring it, or reminding him that just killing guilty parties isn’t true justice. This provides the basis of their cooperation and friendship.
The role of humankind
The universe Mass Effect is very comparable to the likes of Star Trek (but not constrained by costume budget). As a video game, the lore and setting had to be established right away, instead of getting the opportunity to create a basis and gradually building upon it episode after episode.
The biggest parallel between Mass Effect and Star Trek is the intergalactic community. You have the Citadel with the Council on one hand, and the United Federation of Planets with the Federation Council on the other. Yet the key difference here is the role humans play, and how we get to those end points. In Star Trek, humankind starts World War III, after which First Contact with the first alien race happens, the Vulcans. With their advice they band together within a hundred years into one United Earth. The humans then play an integral role in the foundation of the Coalition of Planets, which will grow into the Federation.
Yet in Mass Effect, humankind is the new kid on the block. While the early history of the Systems Alliance (the name of the united earth government) isn’t exactly clear, the foundation is: the discovery of a ruined alien research station, which revealed humankind wasn’t alone in the universe. This discovery sent Earth almost into a panic, as there was no telling if the aliens were still out there, or whether were hostile or not. This provided the cornerstone for the nations of Earth to band together, in a “us vs them” kind of way, which took only less than a year since the discovery. The Systems Alliance was formed, and the Mass Relays were discovered allowing interstellar travel, but even then there were no aliens to be found. Only after years of rapid expansion featuring many new colonies did they encounter their first aliens, the Turians. According to the interstellar laws created by the Council (which was all unknown to the Systems Alliance) randomly exploring Mass Relays was forbidden and a battle ensued, with only one human ship surviving and limping towards the closest human colony. It got followed, and subsequently the whole colony got invaded.
Only after a short war (that was lost) did the Systems Alliance get introduced to the galactic community and only then did they realise that other races have been gallivanting around the galaxy for hundreds of years already. Humans were just so insignificant up till that point, that the other races just didn’t bother. During the course of Mass Effect trilogy the humans climb in the ranks (quite quickly) and join or lead the Citadel Council, almost turning it into a Humanity Fuck Yeah story.
Story, lore, codex
The story, which by some accounts should not be the focus of a video game was one of Mass Effect’s defining features. In principle, I am of the opinion that gameplay is the most important aspect of a video game (or computer game as this blog’s owner would say) and that story is complimentary. Yet some video games have a nice synergy between gameplay and story.
The entire Mass Effect universe has an immense amount of lore, filled with many different aliens and technology concepts. The first game makes ample use of that, yet so much stays just in the codex, the in-game encyclopedia. It’s nice supplementary reading for sure, but why wasn’t it tied into the main story? Did they just run out of time?
Rather than making use of the rest of the codex, ME2 supplemented it with extra material and new places. One cannot fault them for that, it’s normal to add new stuff, but so many things are left unexplored and rarely visited again. How do the species govern their own people, their own homeworld? What is really happening in the galaxy outside the reaper threat?
The promise of a trilogy with a great story was there, as the set-up was very well done, with many story threads being left open and the real mystery of what the Reapers are. Yet main trilogy ends with such a wet fart, that the thing that most people enjoyed the most, utterly failed them. Hey, remember the threat from the first game? Yeah now they’re just everywhere but we’re doing OK. Oh, and by the way, we found an ancient superweapon design on Mars, so let’s build that. And before we forget, here have this utterly forced psychological trauma of seeing a kid die during the invasion of earth. We’re going to show it to you throughout the game, that kid that you saw for about three seconds.
Even the iconic dialogue wheel could be disabled at this point with the cinematic option to just watch cutscenes without any interaction. Let’s not even start the infamous “skip combat” button debacle again.
In Mass Effect 3everything is action or drama, and the space adventure is only there as a legacy of the previous games. It’s replaced with doing missions for all alien races to unite everyone into building the giant superweapon to defeat the big evil badguys. But these missions feel insignificant and are just time wasters. Oh, thanks for unclogging our toilet Mr Shepard, I guess we’ll help you combat this galactic threat.
Gameplay, along for the ride
Gameplay has always been along for the ride in Mass Effect, yet even that gets worse over time. ME1 kicked things off as a fairly standard third person shooter with many abilities: biotics, tech skills, you name it. Each skill has its own cooldown, and ammo is unlimited. Run around the map, shoot enemies, hide behind cover, ignore your brain-dead teammates, drive a odd low-gravity moon rover, and repeat.
Gunplay is one of the most important aspects in a third person shooter, and my personal weapon of choice is the pistol in ME1. Accurate, fair fire rate and not bad reach.
Instead of polishing the combat options you had in ME1, BioWare decided to limit the player instead of making combat abilities flow better into each other. In ME1, each ability had its own cooldown, but in ME2 it’s an universal cooldown. BioWare thought it would be great to go from a cooldown ammo system to an actual ammo system with an hard cap on the maximum amount of ammo you can carry for a specific weapon. With just a small magazine of ~30 for the pistols, you’re fucked if you run out so have fun with the other weapons! Instead of giving the player an incentive for using the other weapons, they limited the better weapon to force you to use other weapons which were often inferior unless in specific situations. Except for the submachine gun, I hate everything about that popgun. The weapons are oddly distributed among the classes so good luck if you want the assault rifle, since you have to give up every interesting ability to get it.
Equipment was a big deal in ME1, thanks to it’s RPG roots, yet was found in such abundance that it boiled down to Weapon Model 1 to Weapon Model 10. Sure, there are different variants… but good luck with the inventory management system.
“One of the most controversial changes to the combat was probably how ammo works,” Hudson goes on. “It was something that wasn’t part of the main game design but instead was implemented as a test by a gameplay programmer. The Lead Designer was against the idea, but tested the ‘ammo’ version of the game for several weeks in total secrecy before concluding that it made a huge improvement to the tension and pacing of combat.
Mass Effect 2 is the perfect middle ground between a game that needed a few more months in development, and a very polished turd that is Mass Effect 3.
New players in an ongoing story
Mass Effect 1 was a great starting point for a trilogy, but they never properly followed that up with anything substantial. ME2 has little to no relevance to the main plot, it only explores a single part of the whole story, and also establishes a minor ending point for ME3 to profit off. The series was constructed as a trilogy, but was this the correct idea in hindsight?
But I think mostly we wanted to create an experience that was less about being a game and more about being an experience. That might be the theme behind everything. I’m not saying make the systems thinner or anything specific like that, but let the game get out of the way of the player having an experience. I think that’s the goal of any artist in any medium, to get out of the way of what the game is trying to be. To make it less mechanical and let people interact with it in a more natural way
With the first game being a clear hit, how to approach the sequels? The first game wasn’t perfect by any means but things can be fixed with the sequel. But you still want new players to get into the series. How do you get new players invested in the second game while still understanding the story? In ME2 they used a interactive comic book, that would create a ‘save file’ for the game to import, along with Shepard having to answer a few questions to make sure he’s ‘alright’. The classic approach is giving the player a character that’s unfamiliar with the story at large, such as Jacob Taylor in ME2, and James Vega in ME3. They both serve the same goal, but are handled very differently.
Jacob is a former Systems Alliance marine that defected to the human-survivalist paramilitary group called Cerberus. His reason for joining was seeing an ineffectual bureaucracy in action against systematic attacks against human colonies by an mysterious attacker. Yet, he’s hasn’t disillusioned himself about Cerberus, which is commonly known as a humans-at-the-top group and frequently remarks how he doesn’t always agree with their philosophy and methods. He’s brought into the plot to comment on Shepard’s actions in the previous game, whether or not the player actually played it, and partially serves to introduce Shepard to this new organisation
James got fired from the cast of Geordie Shore and got chucked onto the Normandy since he was near Shepard when Earth got invaded. He’s a marine. And a meathead. Always describing and comparing things right in front of him. He gives stupid nicknames. It’s no secret he’s specifically made to cater to new players that would probably rather play Gears of War. Really, that’s all he serves for.
Original Sound Track
The decline of this series can be seen, or more appropriately heard in the soundtrack. A funky, somewhat slow electronic sound filled with synthesisers gradually transforms to a overly forced dramatic slow piano piece that changes to generic action music. The thing that is missing is the spectacular. The focus isn’t on the spectacle of the galaxy anymore, the focus has shifted to solving the problems in the galaxy. The spectacle is almost taken for granted and takes a back seat, or gets stashed in the trunk.
An example of the main theme being used in other pieces can be heard in The Lazarus Project, in which the deceased Shepard is being rebuilt. It has the uplifting notes of the original theme, but goes downward from there. This is in line with the themes of the game, working for a dark organisation and also turning your back against the people you’ve worked for in the first game.
Where the soundtrack begins to decline in the second game for me, is the more frequent use of the piano. Just as the same main theme gets reused around the rest of the soundtrack, so does this piano theme. It’s not an overly emotional theme though, it does sound a little sad, but for me this captures mystery and having questions.
And then we have the main theme of Mass Effect 3, a theme that just uses the fucking piano while tooting a harsh horn throughout the theme. It’s forced, there is no subtlety. Hell, is this even science fiction anymore? ARE YOU FEELING SAD YET? I’m struggling to make clear how much I absolutely detest this theme.
For me, it comes down to the following: While the first game does has its dramatic themes, they’re better built up to.
The worst decision that franchises like this do is writing prequels. By doing that, the staff is essentially tied to defined future of the story. If they break the future, the overall story and canon makes less and less sense with each little breakage. One drop doesn’t break a damn, but enough drops turn into a tidal whale. For long time fans of any franchise, they know how prequels often turn out. Not all that great, sometimes even sullying the story they’re based on.
Yet I cannot help but wonder, if you have a legitimate starting point for such a prequel, can you fault them? The biggest event in the Mass Effect universe is the discovery of the effects of element zero, the mass drives, the Prothean beacon and then the Turian war.
But what about the future in-game? The way ME3 ended the trilogy was a real letdown, can you follow it up with anything good? The rebuilding of the citadel was already done in ME2 and 3. Do you just want to skip ahead a hundred years and introduce a new bigbad evil guy? Or will all the mass relays be rebuilt? As faster than light travel is gone from the galaxy, the story would have to be a very contained one that’s restricted to one solar system.
Finally, the future of the franchise. With the disaster that was Andromeda, it will be a while before we will get a new game. Won’t this be the perfect moment to translate the games to TV or a movie? This way, the ‘cumbersome’ gameplay won’t get it the way of the story. I’m only being semi-sarcastic here. With a bit of luck, they’ll pull a Witcher success story (yes, I know that’s also based on a book) and they can even diverge from the ME2 and ME3 script and take a look back at their original plans for the trilogy.
I might just come back to this post to clean it up some more and include elements I dropped in the end. A lot of development stuff, gameplay changes and stupid corporate decisions.
Sorry, no Aalt today, A9 to the rescue. You guessed it, time for another Digimon design post.
What a cute little bugger. Like all early Digimon, Gabumon had its sprite designed first. The actual drawing and finalised design only comes later. As usual, the first sprite comes from the Pendulum toys with its small displays. As we don’t have the official design yet, this is the most basic image that exists, and it looks like a weird bunny that’s standing up, ready for a fight.
And there we go, the actual design. Naturally, the first thing that springs out here is the pelt, a new addition compared to the sprite. Other features have been exaggerated: a longer snout, large teeth, bigger horn, thicker legs and bigger ears. The sprite already featured stripes of some sort, but now they are transferred unto the fur and boy howdy have they multiplied. Giant claws extend from the fur, with two extra (empty) arms hanging in the back. Another new addition is the tail, which seems quite reptilian (which Gabumon is, underneath this fur). Finally, there is the egg shaped mark on its belly. Personally, I see some small resemblances to Agumon here as well, the yellow colour of the main body, the small feet and the somewhat protruding snout with higher placed eyes.
Games time: Digimon Ver. S. Although our friend got squashed a bit, most details remain, although the fur colour got quite a bit darker. Most of the stripes on the fur stay in approximately the same place though, which surprised me of a sprite of this size. Furthermore, the toe claws are a bit sharper instead of the dull ones from above. The only other major change is the belly, only because there was no enough room to properly put that whole design in such a limited space.
If there is a chance to talk about the V-Tamer manga, I’ll take it. It’s one of my favourite pieces of Digimon media, but that’s something for another time. This is not quite the Gabumon you know, yet he appeared a few months later than the sprite above.
Disregarding the ladle and pan as props, it’s a more simple design with a cute charm. While Gabumon still wears his fur, it has a more smoother look. This manga isn’t really clear on his extra arms though, as they can sometimes be seen (as in the picture above, below his left arm) but on other drawings they are completely missing. The overall shape of a lot more simplified, with the snout being much more flat and wide (yet retaining his teeth). The very small tuft of hair that was present in the original design has grown quite a bit, even surrounding his horn. The belly markings are still there, but have seen a bit of a redesign giving the top marking extra curves while giving the lower ones pointy edges. To top it off, its feet have also shrunk considerably so the for actually drags over the ground a little.
Very noticeable is the fact that its claws turn into digits, allowing it to grab things. Previous incarnations actually have hands hidden inside the fur, making the claws part of the ‘wearable’ fur.
As can be seen here, in a screenshot from Digimon World. A very faithful model, with only the smallest details left out or simplified such as the bumps on its tail, no small tuft of hair around the horn and the lack of extra arms, the rest is fully visible. The aforementioned hands within the fur, the belly design, the horn and the long ears. Its teeth are even protruding giving it a bit of a savage look.
Time for Adventure. This design is a whole lot more rounder and cuddlier, with the savage details being toned down for a cuter look. Let’s start from the top, the horn. It is almost completely identical, save for a few missing lines on the top and bottom and the colour. The original horn had a lighter shade of yellow than the main body, but those are minor things. The fur has gotten a bit lighter and the purple stripes have turned dark blue. Most of the markings are in their original place, but some are missing like on his ears and his extra arms. Now for the most major change, the face. Just like in the manga it is shorter and wider, giving it a cuter look. This is also made possible by making the teeth smaller and making them stick out less. Because of these changes, this reptile head looks more like a weird dog.
The eyes have changed ever so slightly, with a little less eyewhite being visible. This also contributes to the cute factor, has it is less of a predatory look. The mouth is changed in a very subtle way, by giving Gabumon a chin of sorts clearly defining the head by adding an extra line above the markings on its belly. This gives off the idea of it having a very fat neck.
Yet again we have to look at its belly markings, because they have changed again. Just like the rest of the design, they got smoother and lighter, but more importantly it got symmetrical. You can argue that the original design has no clear perspective for the belly markings, but it’s also possible it’s just a very weird shape in general. The arms lack a few veins as is common with the early designs, but they’re also slightly longer and more importantly closer to the actual claw part of the fur. Ending at its feet, we have smaller toes (claws) that are more removed from each other while also being sharper.
Honestly, we cannot tell all that much from this image. I just really wanted to include it, since he looks baller as fuck.
X-Antibody time. As always, these designs are complete overhauls being based more on nature and ‘realism’ as far as that’s possible. In the case of Gabumon, that means that it’s no longer a reptile, but a beast, drawing more inspiration of a giant ferret. Its horn size (heh) increased and the fur changed to a darker shade of blue / purple. It covers almost the same area, except for the snout and one of its arms with a different pattern. This also reveals the way smaller teeth and a snout that’s not on the fur. Claws have formed at the end of his hands, and the claw on the fur has drastically increased in size. According to the lore, it picks up pieces of fur left behind by Garurumon and shapes it into his fur pelt. He keeps one arm bare to set it on fire to punch others with (we can only hope it’s magical fire). It’s unclear if this form has two extra sets of arms as well, as images are scarce of Gabumon-X. The tail has changed from a reptilian tail to a furry one and the other big change his the belly markings. The belly itself is a dark purple instead of teal, and the markings itself have a drastic different form with very sharp corners. As far as I know, the markings have no meaning but it’s still interesting how they even changed that aspect.
We also got a slight redesign in Re:Digitise. This one is fully based on the original design and doesn’t have too many differences except for some minor ones. The horn is sharper at the end, and the markings are more subtle and thin. The fur is almost the same, except that it looks raggedy and worn. The darker stripes are also a little lighter while being in the same places as before. An extra detail is revealed at the mouth however: since the mouth is open, we can actually see the teeth of Gabumon itself and not the fur. The reptilian side comes more way strongly here and is a nice touch. The muscular legs are more defined, and end it sharper claws. All in all, this is personally one if my favourite designs, even is it starts to look a bit like Agumon with a cloth over its head. In all essence, this is not as much as a redesign, but more of an update.
Two more 3D models, from Digimon Masters Online and Digimon Allstar Battle Arena. Both are based on the anime version of Gabumon, but they both show one important change: there are straps beneath the fur to hold unto. It actually makes sense, how else would Gabumon use the claws without them flying off his hands? Nevertheless, it’s seen after. The only other major difference is from the first 3D model, where the belly marking has gotten significantly smaller.
Gabumon from Cyber Sleuth and Cyber Sleuth Hacker Memory. These games share the same artstyle, hence them being grouped together. As you can see, no straps to hold unto, but there is another change: big hands. The size of the hands has increased, causing them to not be fully enveloped by the fur and ‘pop out’ a little. The fur got some extra detail as well, causing it to look a little bit more rugged. To top it all off, and this is a pretty strange choice, the eye colour starts to turn a little brown.
Even though they are basically from the same game, there is one other change between them, although I suspect it’s mostly artstyle related: the first one has a very clear defined tongue while the other goes with a more ‘the inside of the mouth is just red’ approach. Maybe a little mundane to focus on, but at least I mentioned it.
Yet again we wrap up with Digimon Tri, and yet again the fur looks a little bit more shabby. Moreover, the colours have turned a little bit less saturated. The tuft of hair as increased at the base of the horn (it hit puberty) and the eyelashes are way more defined. Funnily the eyes itself have turned a little bit more red again, but not as red as the original.
With that we come at the end of some of Gabumons designs, but we have our first bonus feature here: peltless Gabumon!
Only a few images of peltless Gabumon exist, and they vary in colour. This is the true reptilian form: no teeth shown, droopy ears, no beast-snout. You can see the scales on its tail moving along its spine, but the most interesting detail are the markings on its arm. It almost feels out of place, as it looks to me like a military rank tattooed on its arm. But hey, I won’t judge.
Welcome back to guest-post hour, I’m your host, the digi-destined A9. Since we left off at Agumon, it makes sense to go to his most commonly known evolution: Greymon. So let’s not waste any time.
“Wait a minute”, I might hear you say. “That’s not Greymon! That’s Rhydon, or Nidoking!” And it’s true, all of those have a very similar shape. But consider this: it’s a rough dinosaur sketch, that’s all that was needed at the time since Greymon wasn’t exactly a poster boy for the Digimon Pendulum series. That spotlight went to Tyrannomon, the true and honest evolution of Agumon. Still, the most prominent features are there: fat belly, three horns and a tail. The only thing that’s missing is the skull that the other versions are wearing over their heads, so let’s take a look at those, shall we?
Hello again, guest post writer A9 here again, bringing you more Digimon goodness. This is a followup on my previous post, Digimon Design Evolution, but it’s not required reading or anything. It’s a free country, man!
In an ever-changing franchise, a design is never final. No matter how iconic a character may be, it will change over the years for better or worse. Pikachu got slim, Batman tried on different suits and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles got fucked up.
But this post is, as the title suggests, about Agumon. I already touched a bit upon his changing designs in my previous guest post on here, but now it´s time to take a more in-depth view of this yellow dinosaur over the years. In this post I’ll mainly look at video games, the anime series and the various movies with an other source now and then wedged in. Please note I won’t review the games and such, just the designs.
During the production of the Digital Monster toy, sprites were drawn first, followed up with drawn artwork. Only the most basic shapes are recognisable, and they’re so-so as well. The sprite has a big head, but with what looks like a beak. It has quite small arms as well, and no tail can be seen. With the first prototype drawing his head and feet are already fairly similar to his final design, but he’s not as menacing. A friendly upright standing crocodile that lost its tail.
His official design enlarged the arms by adding forearms with large claws for hands (just like his feet in the prototype), giving the feet a little more bulk and giving the head the detail it deserves for it to become a dinosaur-like creature. The nose is raised a little above the rest of his jaw and the head itself is more thick. The eyes clearly have sockets, and has more room at the brow for that dinosaur look. Additionally he got very small ear holes which is always kind of amusing to me even though is makes perfect sense. Such a logical addition, but easily forgotten as most other Digimon don’t have clear defined ears. To finish the design off, add a very small tail (or more like a stub) and send the lad to the gym for some weight training. Huzzah, we got our official Bandai art version of Agumon.
This official art will keep in use over the years (especially merchandise such as the trading card game), but different artists create different Agumon. Imagine, that when his final design was being developed another artist had a crack at it? That’s what probably happened when the publisher of Weekly Shōnen Jump (Shueisha) made a small manga to teach kids how to take care of their Digital Monsters.
Forget dinosaur, welcome dragon. Way bigger, cuter eyes along with a more round face. Thanks to the shape of his head Agumon can still be recognized, but his body is totally different. His chest is white and his arms are miniature sized and on top of that he’s left with a three-fingered claw as hand. This Agumon also went to the gym however, but really seemed to like leg day, almost having rabbit-like features if it weren’t for the actual tail. All in all, I’d say this was a way more conventional design for dragon-like creatures instead of the western comic based one we got.
It was time for a new medium, however. So when the Digital Monster Ver. S got released on the Sega Saturn in 1998, they reused the pixel art from the tamagotchi release, but made a new drawing of Agumon to put on the cover.
This Agumon completely forgot to go to the Gym and looks way more like the prototype. No muscle, no veins, a cute smile and a round body. Perhaps even the only cute thing on the cover at all, as the rest of his fellow Digimon look a lot more like their final designs.
Welcome to the Playstation 1 era, welcome to Digimon World. This game brought the pet raising and the battles to the third dimension so here we have our first 3D model. The standard pose is relatively the same as the Bandai artwork, but there are some differences. First of, the most glaring one in my opinion, is his colour: a weird shade of yellow has taken over. The reason for this is unknown, it could either be hardware limitations or a design choice (as there have been other yellow Agumon. However, I’m inclined to think it’s hardware limitations since the Playstation uses 24-bit true color to render its colours, and that palette lacks a good shade of orange. Going with yellow is not a bad compromise in that case.
The other glaring difference is the slope of his nose towards the head. Before it was just a minor thing, but here it’s overdone in such a way that the whole skull looks different. He lost his thumb as well, and we won’t be seeing that again. Part of me feels they did away with it for simplicities sake, but one cannot be sure in these things. The earholes and teeth are also not visible anymore, also most likely due to hardware limitations. He is still a little jacked though and his arms are still buff.
Just a few months after his debut on the Playstation, Agumon appeared on TV in the movie Digimon Adventure and a day later in the series also called Digimon Adventure. Even though they were aired a day after each other they actually differ a bit because of the story and tone. As the movie was set mostly during the night and had to fill the role of introducing kids to the franchise on TV it was a bit more darker and mysterious. This was a dinosaur, no talking, just destructive fireballs. Very noticeable is his size though, as he’s almost twice the size of his series counterpart. If we compare this to his Bandai design, we can see he lost most of his muscle again and in exchange lost a little neck fat and received a toothy smile (in the series, at least).
The anime was a big hit, and that means merchandise. A ‘real’ Digivice was released in which you had multiple Digimon to choose from to fight other Digimon. This toy had more screen space than the original Digital Monsters and along with the success of the anime came an updated pixel art design of Agumon. And really, what is there to say? They absolutely nailed the head, but in my opinion the arms are a bit weak. I don’t want to hammer in the gym references, but he wasn’t feeling it.
Enter the WonderSwan, Bandai’s own portable gaming device. Sadly never released in the west, because it’s filled with Digimon games. Digital Monsters Ver. WonderSwan was the pet raising experience ported to the WonderSwan with enhanced graphics. Clearly based off the Bandai art it’s nearly a replica with some very minor differences. Firstly, and I really need to address this: the eye. He’s either high as fuck, or he has seen some bad shit. Secondly his face seems to be a little less long. This could certainly be explained by the perspective, but it still feels a little different regardless. The last change are his veins yet again. His health is improving.
When I first laid eyes upon this monstrosity from Digimon World: Digital Card Battle, I felt severe disgust. Mostly because of the veins. Changing your medium really changes the look of things, since that’s all that has really happened, it’s almost precisely the Bandai design, except for the fact that he’s standing up a little more straight. Oh god, the veins.
Oh my God, what’s wrong with your face? In Digimon Adventure: Anode Tamer Agumon appears again, but I have to say that the art style in this game is a bit inconsistent. For some reason, his face is about twice the size that it should be in his introductory scene. This game is set in the same world as Digimon Adventure, so it’s no wonder the art style is the same. Besides that huge head.
Even after branching off into other media, the Tamagotchi line was not given up on. Why would they, since they were still successful? Meet Pendulum ZERO Virus Busters.
An honest to goodness redesign of the Agumon sprite. Bigger and longer head plus longer arms. A very straightforward update and a lot more recognisable.
Another WonderSwan game, Digimon Medley. I felt like this one was notable for featuring one very anime-like design (albeit very, very orange) and one squashed design. Most likely one is used for cutscenes and whatnot, while the other is used for gameplay. It’s still an odd choice however, since the head is actually taller than the full sized one on the left, but a little less wide. His arms and legs are both shorter, and his tail is also a little longer since it´s pointing upwards instead of to the side. In the end, most of these are probably due to gameplay mechanics and system limitations, but it´s still interesting to see.
Hello again, Playsation. Here we have a game with both 2D and 3D Agumon along with a cover appearance. The only reason I mention the cover is because for some reason Agumon’s eye is brown instead of green. Absolutely unbelievable. The 3D model is looking pretty good for the PS1 (if very yellow again and without veins), but the real highlight it the 2D sprite. So small and adorable (and in the right colours as well). Just comparing that to Digimon Medley, what a difference. And to think Digimon World 3 only got released one year later. I know it’s on different hardware and probably made by a different team. But still.
And now we arrive at the fabled X-Antibody Agumon. All X-Antibody Digimon are essentially redesigns with some sort of focus in mind. For our orange friend, it was the dinosaur route, not completely unlike the odd 1997 manga design. He has gotten elements of the Greymon line already: Bigger claws on hand and feet, still no thumbs, a tail and the blue stripes across his body. It also has more than 4 teeth, which should make eating easier.
The similarity with the manga are pretty interesting, as it too has three ‘fingers’, a longer tail and a different coloured chest. I can’t help but wonder if they took a look at that design when working on Agumon X.
Digimon World 4 (or Digimon World X in Japan), released on the PlayStation 2 is certainly an odd one. I have no idea if the weapons make sense in the game in some manner, but I used to see this game on the shelves and it left me very confused.
The left image is from the Japanese game cover having a shorter head than usual and quite big eyes. In contrast with that is the western Agumon (also on the cover) with a longer head. What is it with this weird contrast? Also, big surprise, the ingame model is yellow again. At this point you cannot blame hardware limitations anymore so I’m having trouble determining why they’d stick with yellow at this point. Well, that and why in hell they made this a weird action game with weapons?
Happy new year, this is 2006. The year this haunting image was created. I’ll be honest, I hate everything about the redesign. He face got wider and more flat, moving the nose downwards and redesigning them like a power socket. His body is way more round and gone are the muscles, as he got some noodle arms and legs instead. The feet look like balls of clay with some sharp Tic-tacs (the breath mints) shoved in. The whole hand design is gone, and got replaced by a three-pronged claw with some red leather bands strapped around them. Finally, yet again, he’s yellow. According to the lore, this Agumon is still growing and thus weaker than the normal Agumon.
The final detail that I noticed are his teeth. In his previous designs, even with his mouth open you could only see a couple. When his mouth is closed, the traditional design usually shows four teeth sticking out of his mouth. This time, we got a mouthful, just like the Agumon X design.
Now that’s a vast improvement since last time. From Digimon World DS, here is Agumon yet again. In these games, Agumon can digivolve into either Greymon or Geogreymon and there is no distinction between the ‘normal’ Agumon and the redesign. Maybe that’s why this sprite is kind of a blend as well. He got some muscle shapes back, longer feed and the nose isn’t a power socket anymore. One thing that does become apparent with this sprite is his longer tail which has been all over the place by now.
Now it´s time for some 3D models from over the years. The Agumon most to the left is from the Japan only PSP title Digimon Adventure (yes, a very original name) which follows the story of, you guessed it, Digimon Adventure. It raises the question why he has the power socket nose and the multiple teeth however. Another mix of the designs? Does Bandai even know anymore?
The following two models are from the PC MMO Digimon Masters Online, which does feature two Agumon designs. The 2006 design looks a lot more like its original design with its noodle arms and smaller feet, but surprisingly it does not have the larger amount of teeth like it should have. To finish it off it’s even a little bit more orange than the original one.
The last render (excuse the seam) is from a multitude of games by now, from the PlayStation 4 titles such as Cyber Sleuth till the mobile game Digimon Links. By far most resembling the original anime design and throwing everything about 2006 out of the window, except for the somewhat weak upper arm.
We´re done with the game models! ..so let´s look at the game covers. Ha ha, I tricked you.
Digimon World Next Order features a fairly normal Agumon, except for his teeth. I swear I didn’t expect to spend so much time about Agumon’s teeth, but he got one extra tooth on each side, and they got bigger. Why, we will never know.
“Please kill me.”
Digimon World Re:Digitize Decode features an Agumon that almost looks like a plushy toy in contrast to Veemon. All of his features are vastly deformed± a smaller, shorter head with a smile, bigger and mostly wider hand and feet but with way shorter claws. I´m not sure which one is cuter, this one or the overworld sprite of Digimon World 3. I´ll let you be the judge of that. All I know his in game mugshot is not a contender. Did he get jacked up too much? Did he inject his forearms? Is this the sloth version? Is this an Agumon with a disability?
Let’s wrap this thing up with some nostalgia pandering in a very nice way. As a continuation on Digimon Adventure (and Digimon Adventure 02) comes Digimon Tri with a much older original cast and new art style, and that includes the Digimon. Agumon is a bit slimmer, and has a more pointy tail to compliment this. His neck did get a tad longer to keep the size of the head consistent and not turn him into a midget, but that begs the question why he doesn’t just start leg day. Hit the gym, bro! Overall, this design reminds me a lot more of the Adventure movie, albeit much, much smaller.