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Hugh Likes Video Games: Arc The Lad

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Arc The Lad
Published by Working Designs
Played on PS Vita

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The Skinny: An early PS1-era Tactical RPG, this quick and easy game is a far cry from later entries, but a good introduction to the sub-genre for new players.

Arc The Lad is something of a Playstation oddity. An early release for the Playstation in Japan, it never saw release in the United States until 2002 as a part of the Arc The Lad Collection. This is a shame, because it is at least trying something innovative, but games like Final Fantasy Tactics had already surpassed it when it was released in the west.
The game follows eponymous hero Arc and his allies as they searches for a, well an ark containing the power to either cause or prevent the end of the world. It’s all fairly stock fantasy RPG stuff, but it hits all the bases well. Being from the early days of the PS1, it uses 16-bit sprites with a few shiny polygonal effects thrown in here and there. Aside from a few short FMV transitions, Arc The Lad feels like it could have been a Super Nintendo release.
The combat is all turn-based strategy with a three-quarters overhead perspective. Character speed determines order, and each character levels up individually. This works out mostly well, but by the end of the game, my faster characters were many levels ahead of the slower ones. The overall campaign is short, but there are little side-quests to do in each town that pad out the length, including a huge multi-floor dungeon that has to be completed in one go. These aspects don’t feel particularly groundbreaking, but they’re handled well enough.
What I find most interesting about the game might be its biggest flaw. This is a short game, taking only about ten hours to complete everything. It also ends on a cliffhanger. The ancient evil returns, and Arc is powered up to face it, but we’re left with our heroes splitting up and preparing rather than getting that final dungeon. Now that the series is finished, that break feels more like the first part of a fantasy trilogy than a complete game, but I imagine the disappointment of getting merely a chapter rather than a full game. It feels like an interesting design choice today, though, and the cheaper price for the game on the Playstation store takes away the sting a bit.
Arc The Lad is an interesting little corner of video game history. It is available digitally for PS3 and PS Vita from the Playstation store. If you’re a hardcore collector and have $150 to spare, you could also hunt down the original PS1 collection.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed it, please share it! You can also support me on Patreon if you don’t mind paying an extra fee!

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Podcast: CCR41-Revenge of the Zombies

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Tonight your hosts, Hugh of HughJODonnell.com, Rich the Time Traveler, Opopanax, and Jurd, must use a hidden ritual to survive this truly revolting film.

Click HERE to listen!

And if you must, click HERE to watch this dreadful movie.

This podcast was originally posted on 12/5/2017 at Skinner.FM.

Chrononaut Cinema Reviews is presented by http://skinner.fm and http://hughjodonnell.com, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate and review us on your favorite podcatcher!

Hugh Likes Fiction: Killing Is My Business

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Killing Is My Business

Written by Adam Christopher

Published by Tor

The Skinny: Christopher’s follow-up to Made To Kill is another rollicking robot noir set in 1960’s L.A.

Ray Electromatic is the last functioning robot in1960’s Los Angeles, and he’s the world’s only robot private detective. At least, that’s what his business cards say. His real job is assassination. With his trusty computer/business partner Ada, he finds his target and gets the job done. But when Rays targets start turning up dead or missing before he can complete the job, he starts to wonder who he can really trust.

Christopher returns to his post-robotics Los Angeles for a second novel that is as much of a noire delight as the first. Like all good detective novels, it doesn’t rely on having read Made To Kill, while pushing Ray’s story forward in some fun and interesting ways. The author has a knack for voice, and he balances the 60’s sci-fi and noire elements superbly. Ray’s momento-like limitation, the fact that his memory tape only lasts 24 hours, is used to good effect in this story, and requires Ray to engage in a fair amount of trust, something that always goes awry in a noire world.

Killing Is My Business is a cracking read, and you can pick it up from your local bookstore, or download a copy from Amazon.

Thanks for reading this article! If you enjoyed it, please share it! You can also support me on Patreon if you don’t mind paying a ludicrous extra fee!

Hugh Likes Comics: Fence

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Fence #1
Written by C. S. Pacat
Drawn by Joanna The Mad
Colored by Joana Lafuente
Published by Boom Studios

Fance

The Skinny: The by the numbers sports comic calls to mind “Yuri On Ice,” but is coy in the first issue.

Fence is the story of scrappy young fencer Nicholas Cox. He’s from the wrong side of the tracks and hasn’t had the best training, but he’s got raw talent. He also has the luck to face fencing prodigy Seiji Katayama in his first tournament bout.
“Fence” is a teen sports comic about, obviously, fencing, that dutifully hits the story beats it needs to in the first issue without much fanfare. We get a lot of the main character’s back story, a very nice competition sequence, and a last page setup for the series, and it all works. The comic has a very pure shonen sports manga vibe to it. It reminded me most strongly of “Yuri on Ice,” but the text doesn’t feel completely committed to the idea yet. Although based on the queer fantasy trilogy that are C. S. Pacat’s breakout work, one shouldn’t be surprised.
Fans of this subgenre will find plenty to like, though, and Joanna The Mad’s art is clean and expressive, lingering on emotional scenes notes. Her figures are fluid and dynamic, and Joana Lafuente’s colors bring them out well.
Fence #1 is now available from Comixology or your local comics shop. Time will tell if this sports manga inspired book will stand out from the crowd, but this is a solid, if not surprising, introduction.

Podcast: Nostalgia Pilots Bonus 02

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Bonus Episode 2: Gundam Versus

Hugh and Jason take a break from regular Nostalgia Pilots duties to discuss the latest PS4 Gundam offering: Gundam Versus! Get their reviews, impressions, and what they felt was missing in the game. Hint: it’s a horse piloting a horse mobile suit.

Podcast: CCR40: The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

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The Chrononauts descend to the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera house and go horseback riding with Erik in this silent horror classic.

Click HERE to listen to the podcast!

and HERE to watch the movie on Youtube!

Chrononaut Cinema Reviews is presented by http://skinner.fm and http://hughjodonnell.com, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

For more goodies, follow me on Patreon!

Hugh Likes Video Games: Metroid: Samus Returns

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Metroid: Samus Returns
Developed by MercurySteam and Nintendo EPD
Published by Nintendo
Played on New 3DS

The Skinny: Nintendo resurrects another classic with a gorgeous coat of 3D paint, tricky new puzzles, and intuitive new abilities.

Metroid: Samus Returns is the gold standard of remaking a classic video game. A retelling of the original game boy adventure Metroid II, it follows bounty hunter Samus Aran through the underground passages of planet SR388 as she attempts to eradicate the metroids, living bioweapons designed by a nearly lost alien civilization.
While the original game pushed the monochrome game boy to its technological limits, Metroid II doesn’t hold up well when separated from the gauzy veneer of nostalgia. The resolution brings the camera in very close, making the caves of SR388 claustrophobic and difficult to navigate, and the designs have an almost-cute goggle-eyed quality to them. This remake uses the advantages of the 3DS hardware to deliver huge chambers in high resolution polygons. The action is fast and responsive, and everything looks and sounds amazing. 2D Metroid fans have had to wait over 13 years since Zero Mission for another entry in the series, but Samus Returns certainly delivers.
Developed by MercurySteam, whose previous credits include the 3DS Castlevania entry Mirror of Fate, the game pays tribute to the original and updates it in fun and innovative ways. The most notable is the addition of a melee attack, which can usually only be used as a counter to charging enemies. The move stuns enemies and allows Samus to lock on for a quick kill. It’s a nice ability early in the game, when Samus’s arm cannon isn’t quite up to full power yet. She also picks up extra Aeon abilities over the course of the game, which are fun to use but require extra power. A scanning abilities takes the place of Super Metroid’s map room, and the ability to slow time replaces dash boots. Expanded Chozo technology like Warp points and Statues that control the level of the ‘radioactive acid’ from the original are welcome updates as well.
More so than any other Nintendo property, Metroid is a series that uses the design and atmosphere of the environment to tell a story, and MercurySteam does a great job continuing that tradition. Their version of SR388 is huge, and their ruins all feel unique and purposeful. The player gets a better feel for the abandoned ruins and machinery as they are slowly reclaimed by the wild. Daisuke Matsuoka’s music does an excellent job of updating and calling back to Metroid II’s 8-bit soundtrack as well.
Metroid Return of Samus takes the starting point of the original and blows it up to a huge modern adventure while still recalling the feel for the of the original. You can find it for the 3DS as a cartridge or digital download, and I highly recommend it.

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