Music of the Month: Rydeen EMX-1 Style

There is no real theme for this month, so I’m effectively warming an old piece for now.

There’s been few changes simmering in the background for a while now, one of which the sharped eyed readers noticed earlier this week. I’ve decided to drop doing monthly reviews, and do reviews whenever it is applicable. This does not mean reviews are gone, but it does mean there won’t be any personal pressures to keep up with schedules. I’ve also listed all reviews I’ve put up thus far into their own Page, which you can access at the top of the page alongside Robot stuff and others. I must say I was surprised the amount of game reviews I’ve done on this blog, despite wanting to concentrate more on related devices and such.

While I said I’d give the Guilty Gear design stuff priority for the time being, that clearly has not been the case. In fact, there has been no priority regarding the blog whatsoever and I’ve returned to my older way of touching upon news and events. While this used to be the main thing I did on the blog, on the long run I wanted to create content that’s more from me to you, rather than outside the box. Hence why we had that Monthly Three experiment and TSF stuff. However, I must admit that I truly have to take a step forwards and two back with this. If I must do news/events commenting, I’ll try to keep it once per week or less.

This brings out the question of time management, which requires me to change the dates I post materials on. While I hate to move stuff away from Friday, as most people seem to enjoy that date the most when it comes to reading, the Friday posts will move to either Saturday or Sunday, depending on the size of the post. This’ll be the Weekend post, while the early week post will be moved to Wednesday. You still get two posts per week, hopefully nothing recycled from now on.

As for âge stuff, the Kickstarter goodies are being send in August, so expect a review of those in the future. It’ll be an interesting bunch, as I’ll be covering the Codex, the stuffie plushie and the rest. I won’t touch much on the Kickstarter itself, though few comments from an outsider’s perspective who wanted to say a thing or two about it will get quoted. After all, I too was one of the backers, and I need to step outside my own view of things for a moment to take it all in properly.

And mecha related stuff? Honestly, I’ve got no clue. All the big things I wanted to do on the long run have been appeased, more or less. The original post for three approaches needs a complete revision, which I should get around doing, maybe as soon as next week. It’s pretty terrible post, to be completely honest, completely out of tone and people took it completely seriously rather than tongue in cheek jokingly. Then again, everybody takes everything on the Internet like they’re on gunpoint when it comes to seriousness, the ability to read text’s tone has been watered down. Now, jokes and such are made clear with the use of emoticons and such. Granted, the tone of this blog has changed few times over before setting into this dry, wry thing I try to pass off as weak humour, and as such the older posts can come across as rather schizophrenic at times.

Now that I try to recall things a bit, I had planned more design posts to come out after I bought some books for the material I needed, but I never got around getting those books. What’d I picked up instead? Games, booze and drugs, probably.

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The Current Format War

The last physical format war was HD-DVD versus Blu-Ray. HD-DVD met a rather quick defeat compared to the previous format wars, where you had more than one format existing side-by-side for different reasons. VHS vs. Betamax VS. Laserdisc was and interesting and long era, where only VHS and LD really had any place due to their nature of media. Way back in 2012 I had a post about what sort of role OVA had on the format war overall, and looking back at this post I should revise it a lot. Interestingly, history tends to rhyme and we’re seeing some of the same stuff taking place with the current format war, which isn’t between physical media, but between streaming services.

Unlike with physical media, digital streaming services are relatively easy to make. The standard for it is already there, embedded video that’s streamed to a device. Looking at the amount of streaming service there are, pretty much any larger company has one, from A&E to YouTube Red. Of course, Netflix is the most successful and well known of the bunch, and is expected to corner to market on the long run due to its overwhelming global popularity.

However, we are talking about a delivery method that does not require the purchase of a separate player and dedication to a form of media. The paradigm shift from television and prerecorded material to decentralised television and all-access services has transformed television as a concept altogether to something most traditional channels probably can’t handle without large shift in their business plans and structure. While physical media will not be phased out as fast as commentators and industry insiders have thought (we’ve been told the last fifteen years that in few years nobody will purchase physical media anymore), it has gone down progressively alongside abandoning the living room centric television. This has affected video games as well, as we’ve discussed, and is one of the major factors why the Switch is a successful console on its own right.  Everybody has a screen in their pocket, everyone has a television in their pocket.

Format wars have been won by having the most stuff on your format as well as capabilities that are not offered by your competition. Laserdisc was a great format for film enthusiast who wanted quality, but the sheer size of the discs and the costs over Beta and VHS later down the line were higher. BETA may have been better than VHS in quality, but it was more expensive and had Sony’s proprietary tech that cost more to license than VHS. VHS ultimately became cheapest option as mass manufacturing took root and home recording became accessible for the general audience like never before. The old tale of porn winning the format war for VHS is not exactly wrong, as it allowed so many small-sized studios and independents to release their products. YouTube and other similar sites that allow and partner with user-driven content creation would be the modern equivalent. However, this is a paradigm shift in itself, and user-created content, be it home mobvies, indies or recording stuff off the TV, ultimately has less to do with winning the format war this time around. It’s all about what professional content you have.

Shows like Star Trek Discovery, Devilman Crybaby, and Cobra Kai are all shows that were made to drive views and sales of a streaming service. CBS did not go and aim to make a great Star Trek show for CBS All-Access, they aimed to make a show that would drive subscriptions, and considering they’ve greenlight the second season and have boldly announced best results ever, it seems to have worked. World wide, Netflix was the one with STD under their belt, but unlike most other streaming services, they’ve been bringing original animation to the forefront more.

While a site like Crunchyroll streams and simulcasts cartoons from the far orient, Netflix has put more money into original creations, most of which have been largely popular. The aforementioned Devilman Crybaby raised quite a bit of buzz and gained some subs for Netflix, and the same thing can be said of their Castlevania adaptation. Netflix and Crunchyroll have a niche cornered. The only thing that can really affect the amount of money made is how much ads get blocked on free streaming sites and how well the consumer is treated. It’s not exactly rare to hear Crunchyroll shitting on their costumers or dropping the streaming quality for all users, including the paying subscribers, without earning. A site like them should know to keep the front and back of the counter completely separate, but with the advent of social media era, it’s seems to have become really hard not to try and piss people off of Twitter or Facebook.

While new and original content is the main tool in this war, nostalgia is also a grand factor. Something and something old usually work hand in hand. All examples here are really just nostalgia driven somehow. Star Trek is an entertainment institution on its won right, Devilman is one of the most important comic books created on the world wide scale, Castlevania pulls the NES kid out from you and Cobra Kai is YouTube Red’s weapon in this. Cobra Kai‘s a show that people would enjoy and Sony has been criticised for putting it to a platform with smaller consumer base rather than on something like Netflix, where the show could get its proper amount of views.

That is, of course, entirely the point.

Having just one provider for any service will easily lead into situation where the consumer has no other options to choose from and has to be satisfied to whatever products and services in whatever quality the provider gives in. The current format war won’t have one winning side, because there is no need for the consumer to dedicate himself to just one medium. What these providers now have to fight with is content, and the more content you have people want to watch and can’t be seen on other services, the more leverage you have. Disney of course will be an absolute juggernaut whenever they start their own services due to sheer size of their library, but we shouldn’t ignore the likes of Amazon Prime and their constant licensing of niche shows that aren’t available elsewhere in the West. While at face value it would seem beneficial for the consumer to have everything in one place, competition is always a driving force.

Of course, then there are digital luddites like me who just sit and wait for shows to come out on physical media.

Hasbro’s Rangers

Recently Hasbro, the same you company who is in charge of G.I. Joe and Transformers, announced that they have acquired Saban’s Power Rangers and other entertainment related assets. This was almost to be expected, considering Saban cut ties with Bandai a while back, Saban then announced extended broadcast partnership with Nickelodeon with a new season called Beast Morphers, then Hasbro being announced the master toy licensee for Saban’s IPs. The progression of things have been extremely steady, and nobody should be surprised. Hasbro probably will handle the IP better than Disney did, which Saban bought back some time ago.

Why did Hasbro purchase the Power Rangers? I wouldn’t really have a proper answer, I don’t exactly follow what’s going on in the toy industry. However, knowing Hasbro’s history, it’s easy to see them wanting something special from Power Rangers, that they have a niche to fulfill and this IP fits them. They have the more standard boy’s military toys covered with G.I. Joe, Transformers for shape shifting robot toys, Star Wars license for Star Wars… which might actually be the thing they want to cover. Star Wars toys supposedly were shelf warmers with the The Last Jedi, and the SW toys were partially responsible in killing Toys R Us, at least according to Bobby.

If we take this stance, Power Rangers would fit this slot rather nicely. It would allow relatively healthy amount of characters toys to be manufactured alongside different vehicles and role play toys. Hasbro wouldn’t need to pay hefty license payments to anyone, as they’d own the rights. Well, to a certain point. As a reader of this blog, you’re probably aware that Power Rangers is made from the footage of Japanese Super Sentai franchise. The out-of-suit scenes are filmed for the show, while most of the action footage is lifted from the Japanese original. However, with time both Hasbro and Disney increased the amount of original footage they filmed as well as have Toei shoot some footage for the American use only. As such, Hasbro would probably have to pay something for the likeness of the characters to Toei and Bandai at least. That is, unless after Beast Morphers Hasbro decides to go their own way, stop using Super Sentai footage and create completely original content.

Considering how television and streaming services are starting to be full of decent looking special effects live action shows, especially from Marvel and DC, it wouldn’t completely unimaginable for Hasbro to partner with Nick or some other company to produce Hasbro-original Power Rangers to cut license costs altogether. This purchase probably killed all chances for the recent Power Rangers movie to get a sequel, but Hasbro could always have a new one and belong in their shared universe with M.A.S.K., Transformers, G.I. Joe and Inhumanoids. Well possible shared movie universe as well, we’ll have to sit back and see what comes of it, if any.

If Hasbro wants to bring Power Rangers back to its glory days, they have lots of work ahead of them. When the series hit the scene in 1993, it was a massive success, a cultural phenomena and a multimedia behemoth. You could see its influence every which way and sort of brought martial arts back to popularity like it was the 70’s again. You saw its influence on the Old Continent as well, where it took root in certain places. South America already had Super Sentai on their television, so the impact was less impressive, if there was even any. I don’t know about Australia, but I’ve heard that it was moderately popular at least.

But times change, and Power Rangers settled into its role after first few seasons and kept going. We never got to see past the third season, but looking at what the Alien Rangers were, I don’t mind missing any of that. In few ways, Power Rangers is a mainstay in American television and few generations have already grown into adulthood with it.

It would be impossible for Hasbro to capture the thunder in a bottle again, mostly because how saturated the current entertainment media are of super powered heroes and their stories. Power Rangers does have a niche fulfilled there, being aimed at a younger audience overall and the emphasize at martial arts, something that’s been slowly being toned down like no other thanks to Japanese soccer moms wanting Super Sentai and Kamen Rider to be less violent. Hell, Kamen Rider Ghost toned its violence down to the point of the main character fighting enemies by eerily floating around them, but this was deemed to scary for the kids by their mothers and it got changed back to good ol’ punchan and kickan. There would need to be a proper paradigm shift in the franchise in order to lift it from the place it has sunken into.

Whatever the end aim is, money and toys are involved. Hasbro is, after all, a toy company and whatever they do aims to sell toys. If we get good stories out of the deal, like Beast Wars, that’s good. Considering Bandai’s toys with the Super Sentai have been less than stellar for number of years now, with Doubutsu Sentai Zyuogher having immobile cubes as the robot. They’ve become completely gimmick driven. Some of the suit designs have seen drop in overall quality as well in terms of used materials compared to other contemporary shows. It doesn’t help that giant robots is old men’s stuff in Japan, not something that would sell all that well.

Power Rangers has always had a need to produce Western toys anyway, as it is relatively uncommon for Japanese toylines to contain bad guys. This is the opposite to American model, where both sides of the story gets toys. The best examples of this would be Masters of the Universe, G.I. Joe, Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toylines. MOTU at a point had almost 1:1 ratio between the heros and villains. All this is because of Star Wars, in that kids weren’t just buying toys for the sake of toys, but because the toys were representing the characters. Hasbro has a history of being able do multi-media franchises, as long as they don’t forget that kids and fans are in for the characters, and Power Rangers certainly has characters consumers can connect with.

Well, if nothing else comes from this, I bet your ass that we’ll see Power Rangers/ Transformers crossover toys with the Dinobots at some point.

Music of the Month; Daddy Mulk


What an unfortunate name for a Zuntata song. From 1990 live show. The MaiMai+ has an excellent groove remix of this same song

This’ll probably be a short post, I’ve got only one or two planned posts for the month. Those who follow the blog for the Guilty Gear character design comparisons, I’ll be aiming to do one per month from now on, including the ones I did as a bunch prior to release of Xrd. With the models in the game being available to us, I can do a much more throughout view on what’s been changed. Someone like Sol probably will run short while someone like Potemkin will end up a catch-this-detail-here kind of post. Not the best kind of design comparison. Jam and Dizzy really had the benefit that they were upgrades from the previous designs. Someone like Millia at first appears to have completely and drastic redesign, but in reality the silhouette has stayed largely the same. You’d be surprised how much time I can sink into stupidly simple posts like that, but I guess that means I put either put too much effort in them for no reason or there’s just so much things to go through.

The second planned post is hardware related. While the most popular mod for the original Game Boy Advance is the backlit screen installation, there are surprisingly sparse amount of guides with photos. Sure, there’s a semi-official PDF that shows how its done with pretty graphics, but nothing beats good ol’ photo. Consider it a review to boot, considering the mod has become popular again with the reproduction screens becoming more and more available. I already have one modded GBA, which was more or less a test run, but I forgot to take pictures. The main problem I encountered with the mod was the new shell/housing I ordered with it. Being a third party product, the producers probably didn’t take shrinkage into account, or at least not fully. When plastic sets in after casting, it shrinks from its original volume a little bit, usually just few percents, which can cause problems if your product’s mould is taken from an actual shell. However, there are some sellers on the ‘net who seem to have access to some versions of the original moulds, though why Nintendo didn’t order them back or be junked is beyond me. Then again, what do they care, they’re not making any money on a product almost two decades old anymore.

As for robot posts, I got pretty burned early in the year with the Virtual-On posts. I did intend to follow up soon with TSF related stuff, but things just didn’t go as intended. Looking at the folders, I’ve got a MiG-29 and Tornado lined up, but whether or not I can find any proper illustrations on either is bit up in the air. MiG-29 has B/W lineart, so that’ll probably have to do, alongside possible photos from toys and such. However, the MiG-29 is pretty close to MiG-29OVT, with the only real difference being thrusters on the shoulders. Hence, why Tornado is the more probable option, depending on what sources I can find for it. I could always go with the in-game CGs, but I still want to avoid that.

As for âge stuff, there still isn’t particular I’d like to touch upon. While the updates from the Kickstarter are sparse, things are rolling slowly, but surely. Perhaps I’d need to write more about stuff from Exogularity 01 for the kicks of it.

I’ve mentioned before that I may need to drop blog to one post per week. That is closely becoming a reality, though not by my own volition. It’s all about simple physical fatigue and mind being elsewhere on work. That said, I’ll probably coerce certain someone to do a design historical on certain wolf monster.

And oh, happy May Day.

 

Do we need more genres?

No, but let’s keep this going. Whoever claims to know genres in a clear cut manner when it comes to electronic games lies. This is because as technology evolved, game developers began to mix and match genres with each other to ever growing extent. It’s understandable that the genre count has grown and changed to stupid extents within the last two decades, considering the first two decades of video games were comparatively simpler times. Even then, games like Pac-Man still defy any classical genre definitions and you can still find people using Pac-man as a genre defining naming, because there really isn’t anything good that fits it well. It’s not exactly a puzzle game like Tetris or  exactly an action game like Mario Bros. However, the clever people journalists were in the 1980’s gave birth to maze genre, describing a game where the main play field and game play concentrates around a maze. Pac-Man and its derivatives certainly fit this description aptly, considering it was something new that could not be pulled from pre-existing media.

However, Pac-Man was lucky. Breakout was not as lucky. It has no official genre attached to it. Modern game industry tries to attach arcade as a genre, but that does little to it. Genre, as a term, should be descriptive of the contents. ‘Arcade’ does a poor job at this. There are certainly attempts at making it a convincing genre nowadays, supposedly referring to the shortness and easy to access type of game play, but that is selling actual arcade games short that should fall into this category. Street Fighter or even Tekken are rarely described as arcade anymore, despite them both of them still being very arcade at their roots.

Perhaps the most myriad of genres we got around nowadays is Metroidvania, which means jack shit nothing in terms of description. The user would need the context of the original Metroid games and certain era of Castelvania games to get the reference to. Considering both franchises are pretty much dead in the water, Metroid being thrown into the descriptive garbage bin for the occasional re-use by people who don’t get why Metroid sells in the West but not in Japan, and Castlevania being turned into low-end mobage and pachinko fodder, making the connection a bit dubious for anyone who is not in the know of the two franchises. For someone who has played games at least since the NES days and is familiar with both franchises probably gets the connection, but may also wonder why such a strenious connection is made, considering Castelvania is more about the linear action in its origin. The problem with Metroidvania is of course that is describes the action-adventure genre, but labelled it with a new name for some godforsaken reason, mudding the waters.

Naming genres is required at times, however. While Doom was not the first first-person shooter, it certainly can be argued to be most influential. In its wake we got Doom-clones, which either ran on Id’s engine or a modified version of it. The Dark Forces series started on Jedi Engine, which is said to be a reversed engineered and modified version of Id’s Doom engine. In general, people know what seeing in first person is and what is shooting more than what Doom is like, despite its popularity.

With the late 90’s, developing a new genre for your game was a PR move. Shenmue is, according to its developers, the first game in the F.R.E.E. genre,  Full Reactive Eyes Entertainment, and Mega Man Legends was Free Running RPG. This has continued in some peculiar ways, where the fans pitch new genres either in admiration or mockingly. Walking Simulator has become a thing to use for these adventure games that lack playable elements, though something like Life is Strange is continuation of those girls’ game from the 1990’s thematically and in fashion. That said, girls’ and boys’ games aren’t genres themselves. They’re more about the cultural scenario of the game and its contents, and about the directed audience. As a genre they could be anything.

Still, pitching a new genre or a genre name nowadays is nothing new. Some stick, some don’t. Metroidvania, the new and hot name to describe action-adventure games, has stuck to the extent that it’s slowly, but surely, becoming and industry standard for better or worse. Similarly, Lewis Gordon is trying to pitch a new genre named ‘ambient.’ A game with high ambience supposedly belongs in this genre, first being Breath of the Wild. The problem with this genre is that it describes nothing the game is like, as game genres describe the play, not the visuals or the like, i.e. the action the player engages in. Ambience has been in games since Ultima at latest and are a natural extension of the game’s world rather than the world of the game.

It’s almost as if a pitch like ambient is thrown out when games, or certain games, are tried to be “elevated” from their status as “just” games. The discussion whether or not games are art is tiresome after three decades, and we’re slowly entering a time where that is irrelevant due to the complete mainstream acceptance of the medium, but where we still need to showcase that they’re more than just “games.” As if there was anything wrong in that in the first place, but people have to justify their interests and choices to others still in almost sickly manner.

No, Gordon and his cohorts are missing why BotW was successful. It’s a good action-RPG and is closer to the original Zelda than most other games in the franchise. Unlike with films, music or books, mood, visuals, sounds or the like do not make a genre. As said, it’s the action of the player is required does. Ambience can be part of the game’s play, though that would completely exclude a game like BotW completely.

We don’t need new genres at this point in time. The Red Ocean already uses far too many genre names that it’s becoming a swampland. Just like how games’ core can be distilled back to pure gameplay where needed, genres need to follow the same path and be distilled what they mean atr their core. Simplicity can be complex, but it does not need be incoherent. That leads to things like “ambient.”

Music of the Month; Rydeen


Rydeen was also used as the battle them in  Ginga no Sannin on the Famicom

This month will be completely freefalled. Due to my physical health having a momentary glitch in the system and nothing all that neat being coming across, there are no plans for a review. Well, not entirely true, but I’m not sure how would one go with reviewing whisky glasses. We’ll cross that bridge if/when we get there.

I missed my last month’s goal to make a Guilty Gear design comparison post. Mostly because I had forgotten all about it and partially because lack of time. I resorted to combine some of the previous series of posts twice over already. If its any consolation, the GG gets priority, even if it means missing a post or two here and there. I’ll try to coerce A9 to do few more guest posts about Digimon, even when he enjoys being a consumer over being a provider.

There’s a new Cutie Honey show hitting the airwaves this month with a subtitle of Universe. There was some interesting in seeing a contrast and comparison of her outfit throughout the years. Considering the franchise debuted in 1973, there is quite the load of small variations here and there. I would have to limit myself to the largest entries, consisting the original comic versions, the few OVAs we’ve got and the live-action entries we’ve gotten during this new millennia.

I may have a bias with Cutie Honey though, considering I like the concepts and author more than most of the stories we’ve seen come from it. An android girls with the power to fabricate a new identity on command on a road to avenge his father’s death is a strong point to start with, but often the end results have been less than impressive. The original cartoon’s solid though, and so is some of the subsequent comics and series.

That’s the kind of duality you come across with this blog, I guess. It’s something that stems from the usual author/individual mindset, at least most of the time. On one hand, the author doesn’t matter on any level. The work must stand on its own merits. However, author’s intent should be something to be taken into consideration, what’s being said, how and why.  It would be so easy simply to analyse everything as one would wish and have a merry day with it, which makes it moot when we can make anything out of any other thing. No matter literary training and education will be enough to carry you, when the author’s word goes against your interpretation.

This sounds like that the authors matters, despite the original claim. It would be more accurate to say that the intention and word of the author matters over his physical presence, and anything that might come with it. However, the nature of man doesn’t allow this sort of clean separation. We’re social creatures, after all. We tend to feel like we know the people through their works. For example, if we watch someone on Youtube talking about a subject for an extended period of time, and may get an interaction or two. We begin to feel like we’re talked to directly, or that something has been prepared directly for us through the author’s work, and we grow this faux-sort of familiarity with them. The more time passes as we spend time with the work, the more the author in our heads begin to matter.

The Internet has changed things significantly, as we can get into touch with pretty much anyone with even the slightest presence if we want to. It just might take some work, but it’s always an option. If we have a positive disposition towards the author through his works, reality might slap us in the face, or we might be end up used a promotional vessel. It’d be a probably net positive for everyone of us, if we’d just keep a natural distance to authors outside the usual events and such.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but hey, Monthly Musics are not exactly highly demanded, nobody really reads these. Well, that maybe that extends elsewhere as well, but let’s not begin to depress this hobby any further.

Greymon Design Development

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.

Greymon Prototype

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?

Continue reading “Greymon Design Development”