2017 has been an amazing year for games. Every month sees at least two new titles that make me want to drop everything and start playing. Games like Nier: Automata and Persona 5 have been standouts, with Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood poised to run over dozens of other game of the year candidates vying for my limited gaming hours. However, when my living room (and all of its related game consoles) got taken out of commission by construction related to an uninvited tree making its home on my roof, I broke out the handhelds and revisited a title I hadn’t finished from a series I adore.
Category Archives: impressions
After Haikyu!! revitalized my interest in sports anime, I started seeking out other series. I scoured top ten lists, read manga, and looked at reviews to find my next hit of sweet, sweet, animated sportsting. The Eyeshield 21 manga was a hit for me, even years after reading it the first time. Yowamushi Pedal has been a surprise hit with both my wife and myself. But one series seemed to dominate every list I saw. I noticed an overwhelming fanbase as it topped most lists and garnered rave reviews.
That series was Kuroko’s Basketball… and I’m not a fan. I’ve only watched fourteen episodes, which is hardly enough for a full review. It has, however, provided me with some context as to what I love in a sports anime. Rather than ripping apart a series I am still trying to give a fair shake, this gives me an opportunity to run down the things I love in a sports anime—and why Kuroko’s Basketball made me aware of their absence.
As readers of this blog might know by now, I’m a fan of both anime and RPGs. While I’m not a hardcore player, I’ve spent many hours on MMORPGs in particular. Games like World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XIV account for quite a few missing days of my life, and it’s all time I willingly gave.
When I saw a free-to-play action MMORPG with an anime aesthetic pop up on the PSN, I figured I’d download it and get a few hours of laughs out of it. “What’s the worst that could happen? I waste an hour on some character creation and an off-brand Dynasty Warriors battle system?”
That was not the worst that could happen. The worst that could happen is Onigiri—the worst game I have ever played.
I am not a sports fan. This should surprise nobody. It’s not a lack of enthusiasm for the mechanics of most sports, but more a confluence of apathy around celebrity athletes, an absence of appreciation for any team’s history, and a decade-long lack of a cable subscription. Sports anime, however, has a bizarre hold over my affections. It offers a human story under the play-to-play excitement of a game. Unlike many action shows, it allows the protagonists to fail without the weighty consequence of death or serious injury behind it. As a well-travelled practitioner of failure, few things connect me to a character so much as seeing them trip. Many of the best series allow for a broad focus on a number of characters, bringing some of the best elements of a long-running shonen show into a more focused package.
While I’m usually willing to try a sports anime, I’d avoided Haikyu!! due it its focus on a sport I care little for—volleyball. Upon finally giving it a shot, I find myself looking at all the series I’ve skipped for shallow reasons over the years and kicking myself. Not only is Haikyu!! possibly the best sports series I’ve ever seen, it easily earns a spot among my favorite anime series of all time.
Minor spoilers for the first episode follow.
Last Tuesday, we finally saw the release of the Steins;Gate visual novel on consoles in the west. Originally releasing in 2009, Steins;Gate tells the story of a self-styled mad scientist who stumbles across an actual technological advancement when he creates a time machine. The game was successful enough to see an anime adaptation in 2011, and the series has enjoyed mostly warm critical and fan reception both in Japan and overseas. With the visual novel fresh in everyone’s mind, it’s a good time to revisit the anime series and see what made it so special–and to check out some of the flaws that get lost in the praise.
I felt my hype creeping up upon hearing that Netflix had gotten rights to create miniseries out of several of Marvel’s superheroes. Netflix has put out some quality original programming in recent years, most taking advantage of the binge-friendly format and creating long-form stories that play out almost like longer movies. I expected much the same out of Daredevil, the first of five planned Marvel offerings hitting Netflix over the next few years. Daredevil has had one cinematic outing in recent history, but to call it “derided” would be an understatement. This series is something of a blank state, as most viewers unfamiliar with the comic know little about the premise beyond “he’s a blind superhero what sees with his ears”. After finishing viewing the series with my wife earlier this week, it seemed a good time to throw down some impressions. I’ll keep light on the spoilers for this post, driving my way deep into spoiler territory next time around.
Final Fantasy XV has had a tumultuous history, but it’s held a whole lot of interest since it was first announced way back in 2006 under the name Final Fantasy Versus XIII. Intended to be part of a nebulous pseudo-series entitled Fabula Nova Crystallis, the game would draw on mythology from Final Fantasy XIII for its base setting. Since then it has undergone dev team changes, a platform change, and even a name change to become Final Fantasy XV proper. The game stands out in the series as well. While Final Fantasy has been pretty willing to play with new settings and systems, XV marks an even further departure from the series’ fantasy roots by taking place in a fairly modern world. The game follows four male protagonists in a kind of road trip story, with a tight focus on a small group.
With the launch of Final Fantasy Type-0, we got a fairly robust look at XV with the included multi-hour demo, Episode Duscae. While the game could still change quite a bit before launch, it’s an intriguing peek into what’s being cooked up.
I’ve played my share of D&D in the past, but never ventured much outside of the comfortable space of the d20. In my heady younger days I took a few sojourns into Shadowrun and Call of Cthulhu, but I rarely stayed for long. My DM experience has been fairly limited as well, never getting too deep into a campaign, but having plenty of experience making plans that always go awry.
Recently, I dipped back into both non-d20 systems and GMing with the Fate System, specifically the Dresden Files RPG.