Pokémon Sun/Moon 3DS Review

If I had to estimate, Pokémon is probably the video game series I’ve spent the most hours with in my entire life. From the moment I picked Bulbasaur all the way back on my 11th birthday in 1999 I knew I’d found the perfect game for me. The Pokémon series was the first RPGs I’d ever played and it’s a great introduction to the genre. The cartoon that had also started that year was also my first real exposure to anime, save for some badly dubbed 80s cartoons I may have seen. All of this combined into a perfect pokéstorm of new and exciting things and I’ve been on board ever since.

 

Moon and its counterpart Sun are the latest instalment in the main Pokémon series and while it does mark a bit of a departure to the Pokémon formula there’s still some familiar aspects to keep older fans interested.

 

I only played Pokémon Moon but Sun is effectively the same game just with a few version exclusive Pokémon and minor changes.

 

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You start off the game in pretty much the same way you always do. A nameless aspiring Pokémon trainer that moves to a new island/country with their mother. In this case you’re a new arrival in the Alola region which is basically Hawaii. Here you befriend the local professor who gives you your first Pokémon and sets up your whole journey. Your main goal is to collect and train a team of pocket monsters that are strong enough to defeat all rivals and help you eventually become the Pokémon League Champion. You do this by finding wild Pokémon in the plentiful tall grass and water of the Alolan region. Once you find a monster you like the look of you can catch it in a Pokéball then it becomes part of your team. You can then send it back out into battle to level up and eventually evolve into a stronger monster.

 

Right away I noticed some improvements from the older games in the presentation of the story moments. The camera angles and character animations are much more lively and charming than any of the previous games. The world overall feels a lot more alive. When you walk down a path you’ll hear the cries of Pokémon in the area, the various towns people will mill around instead of being motionless statues and sometimes Pokémon will randomly swoop down from the sky or jump out of a bush to battle you. All of this just really goes to show how far they’ve come since those early Gameboy days, it’s even a vast improvement from 2013’s X and Y games. All of these improvements to the world do have a cost though. I experienced a lot of slow down in any battle with more than 2 pokemon, in busy areas of the cities or when big special attacks were used. You can tell this game is really pushing the 3DS to its limits. Supposedly some of these issues can be mitigated by having one of the New Nintendo 3DS’s but I’m still rocking the 4 year old 3DS XL so I can’t personally confirm that.

 

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Speaking of special attacks that’s one of Sun/Moon’s new additions. Throughout your journey you’ll be faced with island challenges which take the place of the classic Pokémon gyms we’ve seen in other games. These challenges are quite different because instead of battling a gym leader at the end you’re attacked by an extra strong wild Totem Pokémon. At the start of the battle the Totem pokemon gets a beneficial stat boost and he can also call in some ally Pokémon making it a 2 on 1 fight. These battles became a refreshing challenge as the game went on because in previous games I’ve always felt pretty overpowered throughout. Once you defeat this boss you’re given a Z-Crystal which can power up a specific type of move letting you unleash a super attack once per battle. These Z-Attacks are pretty spectacular to watch (they’re almost as epic as a Final Fantasy summon) and can often let you easily take out a threat before they do any damage to your team.

 

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As with any good Pokémon game there is always a team of evil doers who try to thwart your progress at every turn and Sun/Moon introduces Team Skull. Normally these bad guy teams are pretty forgettable but Team Skull are beyond charming, they’re just so dumb and pathetic you can’t help but root for them.

 

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They’re basically the Pokémon world equivalent of Juggalos only a lot less gross. All of their lines of dialogue are spoken in rhyme and their appearance is always signalled by a goofy rap beat music track. The way they convey so much personality without any voice acting is a joy to experience and it’s head and shoulders above anything else in the series. There is a much bigger focus on story and characters in this game. It all flows together quite well too, you always know what you’re doing and very rarely stuck wondering where you need to go next. There are some fun twists and turns along the way but overall it felt like there was a bit too much of an anime influence and there were a lot of moments where things got a bit to ridiculous to take seriously.

 

Pokémon Sun/Moon are huge games and when you lay it all out it can seem a bit daunting especially now that we’re up to a total of 802 Pokémon as of this release. The amazing thing is that Pokémon games can be played at almost any level of complexity. You could really dig into the minutia and weigh up all the strengths and weaknesses of your Pokémon in every battle or you could probably just over level your starter Pokémon so that it outclasses everything you battle and ignore strategy altogether. It offers something to people of all skill levels which is probably why it’s been one of Nintendo’s most successful and enduring franchises. Whether you’re a returning Pokémon Super Nerd or a new fan brought in after the phenomenon of Pokémon GO I’m sure you’ll be able to find something to enjoy.

 

★★★★★

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Doctor Strange (2016) Review

I’m loving Marvel’s recent willingness to risk high budget movies on some of their obscure characters. Back in 2014 I’m sure nobody thought a Guardians of the Galaxy film would have worked because even among comic fans they weren’t very well known but it did work, gloriously.

Dr. Strange is another gamble for Marvel, if you’ve read any big event comics you’ll have probably came across the Sorcerer Supreme. He’s the guy everyone calls when they have a magical problem or when technology has failed them. He’s a good utility player to have in this wider Marvel Cinematic Universe.

This review will contain plot spoilers, including the after credits scene

We start out getting introduced to Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), he’s a rock star surgeon who seems to be more concerned with recognition for his skill rather than saving people. We see his lavish apartment, car, clothes and also the dismissive way he treats his fellow doctors. It’s a pretty similar format to the first Iron Man movie, We hate him but also kind of like him because he’s charming and good at his job. In keeping with that format Strange’s hubris is soon met with a horrible car accident in which he suffers severe nerve damage to his hands. Naturally this means he’ll never be able to work as a surgeon again and sends him into a dark spiral of blame and self loathing. I felt like during this part they maybe went a little too dark though. He routinely abuses his friendship with fellow doctor Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) and she kind of just takes it. Even going so far as to forgive him later in the movie without much push back. It’s annoying that Marvel continues to downplay the women in their stories. It just further alienates female fans and it made it hard for me to root for the character as a hero later on.

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Idle Hands are Mephisto’s Play Things

After all of his top surgeon friends abandon him because his condition is too risky to try and fix Strange starts to look for more unorthodox methods of healing. This leads him to Kuala Lumpur looking for a place called kamar-Taj. There he meets The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and as many movie characters like him before doesn’t believe in magic or anything beyond the physical realm. The Ancient One decided to open Strange’s mind and sends his soul hurtling off the earth and out of our plane of existence. I can’t talk about this movie without mentioning that the special effects are incredible. They capture the psychedelic visuals of the 60’s comics perfectly. There are some incredibly complex actions scenes later on that are a cross between an M.C. Escher painting and that folding city scene from Inception.

From this point in the film the plot moves pretty quickly. We don’t actually see too much of Strange learning magic so it comes as quite a shock when he’s thrust into some fights and seems to hold his own. They don’t really make it clear how much time passes while he’s training. They try and explain his leap in skill away with Strange’s photographic memory, which I guess makes sense since most of the magic seems to involve memorising hand movements and incantations but it’s not very satisfying for the viewer.

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Before his training is totally complete our bad guy and former student of The Ancient One Kaecillius (Mads Mikkelsen) shows up ready to destroy earth’s magical barriers and let in the dark dimension. Mads does a pretty good job with what he’s given but he’s written as a totally forgettable villain. We don’t really get to see him do anything and there is barely any depth to his character. Add in that his character’s name is hard to pronounce and nobody will ever remember this guy.

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Doctor Strange has all the potential to be a great movie but the rushed pacing really lets it down. They do set up some really cool stuff for the future including name dropping some crazy characters (like Dormammu and the Living Tribunal) and setting up that Strange will be joining Thor in his next outing with the mid credits scene. I think Doctor Strange would have worked better as a TV show, we would have had more time to get to know the magical side of the Marvel universe and we could have actually got to know the characters and learned how his powers worked. It’s also a pretty formulaic film they don’t really throw any unexpected plot points your way and you can easily predict how most scenes will play out. So not a perfect first outing for the good doctor but I’m excited for what he’ll bring to marvel movies in the future.

★★★☆☆

What the Hell is the Nintendo Switch?

You may or may not have seen that Nintendo dropped a trailer for their new console set for March 2017, the Nintendo Switch!

There have been credible rumours circulating for what feels like forever about what this console is but this is the first time Nintendo has officially confirmed it. Thankfully the trailer wasn’t just a teaser, it does answer a lot of questions but also raises some new ones. 

What We Know

True to all of the rumors, the Nintendo Switch is basically a halfway point between a handheld and a home console. It’s like the DS and the Wii rolled into one. You can seemingly play full versions of all the games on your tv or on the go with very little interruption. This means no more rushing to finish a mission before you leave the house. You can just take it with you as long as you’ve got a bag because this doesn’t look like it’ll fit in many pockets. 

There hasn’t been any official dimensions revealed by Nintendo at the time of writing but Ars Technica has been doing some snooping and have figured out some rough dimensions. It looks as though the screen with the two controller parts (or Joy-Cons) attached is about 10 inches x 4.2 inches. It’s similar in width to an iPad or Kindle Fire HD 10 on its side but a little bit thinner vertically. I’m not sure if I’d feel comfortable taking this out to play on the bus, maybe if I had two seats to myself. I was definitely expecting the handheld part to be closer to a 3DS XL but Nintendo have their reasons for these dimensions.

All of the processing power of the console is contained in the tablet portion. People have been assuming that the dock that connects to the TV may handle some of the processing power when the Switch is docked allowing for increased performance. However, the day after it was announced Nintendo spoke IGN and told them that “The main unit of the Nintendo Switch is the unit that has the LCD screen”. This is a little worrying to me but Nintendo hasn’t tried to be the most powerful console on the market since the N64, their signature visual style can go a long way on underpowered hardware. 

Nvidia announced that they will be partnering with Nintendo on the console and the Switch will contain a new custom version of their Tegra chip that they use in their Nvidia Shield tablets. While this hardware may not be as powerful as a PS4 it’s certainly leaps and bounds above any Nintendo handheld. 

Cartridges are back! We see a quick shot in the trailer of someone inserting a little SD card looking game into the tablet. A move away from discs is quite exciting. Solid state storage is much more reliable and loads quicker than most disc based methods. Larger sized SD cards are becoming more affordable so you can easily match the storage capacity of the Blu-ray Discs PS4 and Xbox use. 

What We Don’t Know

Does the 3DS have any place in this Nintendo Switch future? I hope Nintendo just goes all in with the Switch. I want all of their awesome portable games like Pokémon, Animal Crossing, Monster Hunter, Dragon Quest and many more all available in glorious HD and ready to play anywhere. Sadly I could also totally see them running the 3DS along side the Switch because they’ve never been afraid of a little brand confusion. 

Nintendo have recently confirmed that the Switch won’t be able to play any physical versions of Wii U or 3DS games so they haven’t ruled out some kind of backwards compatibility in a digital sense. Speaking of digital, I really hope they don’t expect us to buy all of their Virtual Console games again. I think I’ve hit my limit for how many times I’ll re-buy Super Mario 64, Xbox One is an shining example of backwards compatibility done right and I hope Nintendo have taken notice.  

It will be interesting to see what kind of price this comes in at. At the time of writing Nintendo’s competitors Microsoft and Sony are selling their consoles at £250.00 – £300.00 depending on hard drive size and model. I’d expect the Switch to be in a similar price range, Nvidia Shield tablets are around £200.00 by themselves so with the controllers and the Nintendo Seal of Approval that seems reasonable. 

Hopefully some of these questions will be answered in the not too distant future. Gone are the dark days of the Wii U and motion control, it’s finally an exciting time to be a Nintendo fan again. The Nintendo Switch seems like the right step for them in this current console climate. Instead of trying to compete with Microsoft and Sony on power they are offering something that neither of them can provide at the moment. One thing I know for sure is that I’ll be there day one. 

John Wick (2014) Review

For some reason whenever I hear the name Keanu Reeves I don’t immediately think “action hero”. After pondering this I’ve realised that’s my own problem, perhaps I watched the Bill & Ted movies too much as a child because all I think of whenever he’s mentioned is this…

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Woah

However, after watching John Wick I am totally a believer in Keanu as an action star and if they do ever make a third Bill & Ted movie I’ll probably be a bit on edge expecting Mr. Logan to snap and go on a killing spree at any moment.

This review will contain some early plot spoilers for John Wick

One Man and His Dog

In the opening of the movie you’re treated to a montage of Mr Wick enjoying his life with what you assume is his wife. Unfortunately it’s not long before this goes sour, she ends up in hospital with an unknown illness and before we know it we’re at her rainy funeral. Upon getting home John receives an unexpected delivery at his house. The cutest puppy in all of existence!!!

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Daawwwwwwwwww

Turns out she was expecting her untimely death and set up this surprise pupper to be delivered after her funeral. It’s cool for plot purposes but this is not a thing normal people do.

Woof Woof Bang Bang

After some cute bonding scenes between him and the pup he realises he needs to get some doggy chow. While he’s out his cool car gets the attention of some unsavoury Russian mob types (led by Reek from Game of Thrones) who want to buy it but he not so politely declines. This leads to them following him and invading his home late at night so they can beat him up and steal his car keys. During this ruckus the bad guys commit one of the greatest atrocities in film history and kill the dog! Now with this being a revenge story they had to kill someone to get the film going. Usually it’s the main characters partner, mentor or good friend. They really ratcheted it up a notch with this puppy though, after seeing this any person with an ounce of humanity will want to go after these bad guys with the fury of a thousand suns.

Reek then goes back to his mob boss father to brag about his successful night of horror but once daddy realises who they’ve stolen from he gives him a very satisfying (for the audience) gut punch. Turns out John Wick is one of the greatest hitman in the entire world, a one man army that gained the nickname Baba Yaga (The Boogeyman). Reek’s disappointed father isn’t very confident in his son’s chances but does agree to at least try to protect him. While these scenes are going on we’re treated to a furious John Wick smashing up his garage floor to reveal his secret stash of high-powered weaponry and gold coins that he presumably thought he’d never need again.

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Killing is his business…

After this point the movie never really slows down. John goes on a monumental killing spree at all of the Russian mob’s places of business trying to flush out Reek and his idiot friends. The action has a really good flow to it. Wick moves smoothly from one henchman to the next either filling them with bullets or doling out a fatal beating. He doesn’t pause to say one liners or anything stupid like that, he just keeps on killing.

Unfortunately I did feel like this action style got a bit stale after the first few scenes. I guess I prefer when there’s a bit more variety in my action movies. I would have liked it if they’d taken some inspiration from movies like The Raid where there’s seemingly endless variety in the ways the bad guys are dealt with.

One thing that really impressed my about the action scenes is that they always synced up with the movie’s musical score. It really helped give the action a rhythm and it just feels good to watch. They also filmed the action in a way that you can always tell what’s happening. There are so many modern action films where the camera is zoomed in too far and you can’t tell what’s going on (I’m looking at you Dark Knight trilogy). Whether this is to hide sloppy fight choreography or intentional I’m not sure but there’s none of that in John Wick, it’s a pleasure to watch.

 

Show, Don’t Tell

One surprising thing for me was that they actually set up a pretty interesting universe in between the brutal action. There are times when you’re given glimpses of John’s hitman world. he stays at a hotel that serves as his base of operations in the city but it’s also a place where no hitman-y business is to be conducted. There’s even a fancy jazz bar on the premises where everyone knows John’s name. Everything is paid for with these big pirate style gold doubloon coins and you get a sense that all the characters have a crazy history together but they leave most of that an intriguing mystery.

I was really impressed with this movie overall, it’s definitely not the best pure action film I’ve ever seen (That’s still The Raid) but John Wick is very well-rounded. All of its pieces come together well and there are no wasted scenes or dull parts. I’m really excited to see where they go in the future and their newly announced sequel John Wick: Chapter 2 is high on my list of 2017 movies already.

★★★★☆

The Top 5 Halloween Video Games

Ah, October is finally here. Tis the season of spookery where we can indulge in all manner of occult entertainment. Video Games have a unique quality of being able to immerse you in another world and this can be really effective in a scary setting. These games I’ve picked aren’t necessarily the scariest but I do think they embody the Halloween vibe and they’ll definitely get you in the October mood.

 

5. Luigi’s Mansion 2: Dark Moon (2013)

Platform(s): Nintendo 3DS

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Mario’s not the only one who can tackle ghosts, ever since his first solo game in 2001 Luigi has been linked to the spirit world. While Mario would take on ghosts with a thundering “Yahoooo!” Luigi is more likely to run from spooks and possible cry hysterically.

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This is part of what makes the game so interesting. At times you feel like you’re forcing Luigi through this haunted house filled with ghouls of all shapes and sizes. He shivers and jumps whenever anything goes bump around him, the character animation is so expressive. Your task is to suck up all the ghosts using Luigi’s ghost vacuum the Poltergust 5000. Sometimes you’ll have to solve puzzles to reveal the ghosts or just check every draw until one pops out (much to his chagrin). Luigi’s Mansion is the video game equivalent of a fairground haunted house… Dare you enter?

 

4. Costume Quest (2010)

Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3, PC, iOS

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Costume Quest is an underrated gem, it’s also one of the only games I can think of that’s entirely set on Halloween night. You and your friends are out trick or treating when all of a sudden these goblin guys come out and steal everyone’s candy! Even more unfortunate for your character your little brother/sister (depending on your gender choice) is kidnapped because they were dressed as a giant candy corn. So you’re forced on a quest to rescue your missing sibling before your parents find out. On your way you’ll have to fight your way through various goblin enemies but the great thing is that when you enter into battle all the kids transform into an exaggerated form of whatever costume you have on.

You start off in a cardboard box robot outfit but when you’re in battle you’re an anime style mech that shoots missiles, wear the Statue of Liberty costume and you can heal everyone with a blast from her torch and my personal favourite is the french fries costume which turns you into a Tim Burton-esque spider with fries for legs that can stun enemies with a shower of grease and salt.

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This game is just a fun time all round. It’s not especially hard so anyone could enjoy it and there are lots of goofy moments hidden around the areas so it really rewards exploration. It’s not a long game either and can probably be picked up cheap these days. It’s the definition of short and sweet… you know? like candy?…I’ll see myself out.

 

3. Mortal Kombat X (2015)

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC

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The Mortal Kombat series has always taken heavy influence from horror and action movies. In this latest instalment they ratcheted up the movie references and started adding some classic horror characters into their roster. By the time all of MKX’s DLC had been released you can play as Jason, Leatherface, Predator and the Alien Xenomorph.

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People have been debating for decades about “who would win in a fight…” regarding all of these characters and in MKX is the first time we got to test some of those theories. What makes it even better is that they’ve all been lovingly crafted to include lots of movie references in their abilities and moves. You also can’t forget about the Mortal Kombat cast of characters which includes many weird, wonderful and monstrous people. Put all this together and you’ve one hell of a hyper violent monster mash on your hands and on a dark Halloween night, what more could you ask for?

 

2. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (1997)

Platform(s): Xbox 360/One, PS3, PS1, PSP

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Castlevania: Symphony of the Night practically oozes atmosphere from the moment you start the game. The opening sees you reenact the ending of the first NES game, facing off against Dracula himself within minutes of starting up. It’s a scripted fight that you can’t lose but it really feels good to blow up Dracula with a rocking guitar soundtrack as your backing.

After this flashback you’re given control of Alucard (the son of Dracula) after he senses a disturbance at the castle. There you’ll have to fight your way through all manner of creatures including wolves, zombies, skeletons, living suits of armor, bats, venomous plants, floating acid skulls, medusa heads, hunchbacks, creepy Lovecraftian horrors and even Death himself shows up. Drac’s castle has everything you need to throw the best Halloween party in the world.

This game is like a good horror movie. It has amazing visuals but some admittedly cheesy dialogue throughout (the intro conversation with Dracula being a highlight) but Castlevania’s hallways full of macabre hell spawn are definitely worth a visit for any intrepid vampire killers.

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1. Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009)

Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3, PC

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I don’t often see Batman come up when people discuss their Halloween viewing but he totally should be. The Bat’s rogues gallery is the stuff of Halloween nightmares. A killer clown, a human scarecrow, a crocodile man hybrid, a mad hatter, a roided pro wrestler and this game is all set in the insane asylum that they all call home.

Batman: Arkham Asylum is an excellent game whether you’re a Batman fan or not. It can also be devilishly creepy when it wants to. You spend the entire game exploring the asylum after all the inmates have escaped. In between fighting thugs you spend most of your time investigating the tragic histories of famous batman villains. You never know what unsettling situation is round the corner but the game really knocks it up a notch when you meet The Scarecrow.

After taking a dose of his fear toxin Bats starts to hallucinate in some pretty creative and sometimes 4th wall breaking ways. Rooms start to repeat, Batman’s forced to relive the death of his parents and at one point the game resets and the intro sequence starts again making you think the game may be broken.

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You’ll never forget your first trip to Arkham Asylum, it’s masterfully crafted fun house of terror and what I think is the best game to get you in a creepy Halloween mood.

Blood Red Throne – Union of Flesh and Machine Review

When I first heard this band’s 2007 album Come Death they quickly shot to the top of my favourite bands list. They were everything I’d been looking for since I got into death metal. They had plenty of fast technical riffs but also knew when to slow it down which is something death metal bands often forget. A textbook example of the genre, this is a band you could show someone if they ask “What is death metal?”. Over their next 3 releases they’ve been consistently good but unfortunately “Union of Flesh and Machine” was a disappointment to me, in a pretty unusual way.

 

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This newest release marks a change in singer for the band and it is immediately noticeable. The new singer’s voice is a bit lower giving the songs some more bass. I feel like the band might have adjusted their guitar sound to match his voice because everything sounds a bit lower. I don’t know if I’m sold on this new sound, it does make them sound heavier overall but they lose some distinction in the riffs and at times it can sound like a dirge.

 

The first couple of tracks “Revocation of Humankind” and “Proselyte Virus” are great openers. They hit hard, fast and never slow down. As you can tell by the album cover and song titles BRT are unabashedly death metal. All the songs are about murderin’ or gross things happening to people and that’s fine. Sometimes I just want a band that doesn’t take themselves too seriously especially in the metal genre which I believe to be inherently ridiculous to begin with.

 

Track 3 is where things start to get problematic for me though. First red flag is the song title “Patriotic Hatred”, sounds like a polite way to describe racism. The next thing I noticed was the voice over at the start of the track and my heart sank. They’ve used some voice over from the video game Hatred which is a horrible game both quality wise and in concept. Hatred gained some bad publicity October 16th 2014 when it’s first trailer hit. It’s essentially a game where you control a white guy with long black hair and a trench coat who decides it’s time commit a mass shooting. You’re literally given points for killing innocents and police officers and in the end blow up a nuclear plant to take out most of New York.

 

Basically it’s the game that all politicians think Grand Theft Auto is. They touted it as a response to political correctness in games so naturally it was championed by far right gaming hate groups like gamergate. Then it came out and people realised that in addition to it being a tone deaf white power fantasy it was also a crappy game and it got destroyed by any review site that bothered to cover it (most refused). The icing on this poop cake is that the developers (Destructive Creations) made the news again for alleged links to hate group Polska Liga Obrony (Polish Defence League) which they of course denied.

 

I messaged BRT just to make sure they weren’t racists and while they were fairly condescending in tone they did explain their side:

 

 

 

Why Blood Red Throne decided to hitch their wagon to a garbage fire like Hatred is beyond me. Frustratingly the song is actually pretty good! Just give me a version with the voice over track muted and I honestly would have liked this album a lot more.

 

 

After this momentous low point the album gets better. “Homicidal Ecstasy” kicks in with a really powerful main riff. It a prime example of how to slow down your death metal but still keep it heavy and intense. The title track “Union of Flesh and Machine” is another standout track but after that the album does have a bit of a lull. There are a few songs that sound similar to previous tracks in structure but I’ve played in metal bands and I know how easy it is to form song writing habits so I can’t judge too much.

 

The last two tracks are pretty much bonus tracks. “Leather Rebel” is a Judas Priest cover in a death metal style of course. Priest songs work well when a heavier band covers them probably because they influenced their style anyway. They approximate Rob Halford’s high vocals using the backup vocalist’s higher pitched screeches. I’m not that much of a fan of these type of vocals, he sounds a bit like Tokka from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze.

 

tokka

 

The last track “Mary Whispers of Death” is a redone track from their first album “Monument of Death”. Before I realised this I was going to say this was my favourite track on the album but I guess that just means I much prefer their old writing style.

 

I was really looking forward to this album coming out but it’s just been a massive disappointment in a multitude of ways. It’s a very rare occasion that my two favourite things video games and death metal come together but unfortunately it was in the worst way possible. If no more of my favourite bands could associate themselves with racist game developers that would be great, thanks. I can only hope that this is just growing pains because of their recent lineup change and hopefully they’ll be back on top form for the next album.

 

★★☆☆☆

The Top 5 Darkest Pokémon Fan Theories

Being one of the biggest video game series of all time, Pokémon has built up an understandably huge and rabid fanbase. In the few years between main game releases fans can sometime get a little bored and come up with theories to explain things that you never even knew needed explaining. Granted, a lot of these veer off heavily into fan fiction territory but some of them raise legitimate questions. So grab a bowl of creepy pasta and settle down for the darkest fan theories in the Pokémon world.

 

Disclaimer – There will be many PokéPuns throughout this post, I will provide explanatory links for the uninitiated.

 

5. Gary’s Raticate didn’t make it off the S.S. Anne

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Everyone who’s played Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow will remember this rival battle. The S.S. Anne is a pretty tough area, there’s no way to heal on the ship and just as you think you’re done battling all the passengers Gary Oak shows up to halt your progress. In this battle he uses a Raticate that you’ve fought before a couple of times before but unfortunately this is the last time it’s ever seen in the game.

raticate

Some fans have theorised that Raticate was badly injured in the battle and through the confusion of being stuck on a cruise ship Gary wasn’t able to get him to the Pokémon centre in time. This is given credence by the fact that the next time we face Gary he’s in Lavender Tower which is essentially a multi storey Pokémon mausoleum and Raticate is missing from his party.

 

It’s a fun story to explain where it went but it’s more likely that Gary just boxed his Raticate like many of us did because it’s not a very good Pokémon. Or maybe his Pokémon we changed so he wouldn’t be too difficult to fight when you get there. He certainly doesn’t act sad when you meet him again, he even makes a pun that your Pokémon don’t look dead and goes on to say that he’s at the tower looking for a Cubone. Unless of course he’s using humour to cover his guilt? We may never know.

 

4. Gengar is Clefable’s dark reflection

 

Being a ghost type Pokémon makes Gengar’s very existence a dark idea. Nobody wants to think of poor cute Pokémon dying. People have noted some spooky similarities between Gengar and Clefable which have lead them to the conclusion Gengar may be a shadow version of Clefable come to life.

 

The similarities start with the body shape, their silhouettes are very close and the PokéDex entries log them at very similar heights and weights too. Their main types are also a mirror of each other, Normal type moves can’t hit a ghost type Pokémon and vise versa. According to early development art these two were also some of the first Pokémon ever designed so maybe they were supposed to be linked in some way.

gengar-clefable

The problem with this theory is that it doesn’t explain either of their respective previous evolutions. Cleffa and Clefairy don’t seem to have anything in common with Ghastly and Haunter. Plus none of the in game material makes any reference to them being related in any way. One thing is that Gengar’s name is probably a reference to a doppelgänger which is a spirit that mimics people so maybe there is some truth to this spooky theory.

 

3. Ditto is a failed clone of Mew

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Being the first super secret Pokémon in the game’s history and supposedly the progenitor of all Pokémon life, Mew has always set imaginative minds racing. Back in the 90s kids would swear blind that you could find him by using Strength on that truck next to the S.S.Anne and you would try it because Mew was so mysterious and there was no internet back then to check. This failed cloning theory however does not seem as Farfetch’d when you look at some of the in game evidence.

 

It is well documented through some journal excerpts you find in the Pokémon Mansion on Cinnabar Island that Mewtwo was cloned from the newly christened Mew after scientists discovered the endless possibilities of its DNA. Throughout these “years of horrific gene splicing and DNA engineering experiments” it’s entirely conceivable that one of these failed attempts could have resulted in a Ditto. That’s not all we have to go on though, Mew and Ditto both have almost identical heights and weights, they are both gender-less and they also share the same colour for their normal and shiny variants. Ditto’s whole gimmick is that their only move is transform which copies the opponent’s appearance and moves. Who’s the only other Pokémon who can learn this? You guessed it, Mew. The last piece of evidence is that from Pokémon Yellow onward you can find Ditto in the Pokémon Mansion which is believed to be the remnants of the Lab where Mewtwo was created.

mewgavebirth

Unfortunately people finally asked the Pokémon creator if this was true at a Q&A and he had no idea what they were talking about… But isn’t that what he’d want us to think? Never give up on the conspiracy! Wake up Mareeple!

 

2. Cubone is an abandoned Kangaskhan cub

cuboneandkangaskhan

Cubone’s story is already one of the darkest and saddest things in the game. Categorised as the lonely Pokémon it is said to wear the the skull of its deceased mother, at night it cries mournfully which causes its skull helmet to rattle hollowly.

 

There are many references in the PokéDex to Cubone’s mother but it has never been formally named as another Pokémon species. This has lead people to theorise that Cubone could be an abandoned Kangaskhan cub. Kangaskhan is a kangaroo-like pokemon that is always pictured with a cub in their pouch. They are said to fiercely protect their young at any cost, perhaps even the ultimate cost in some cases. Perhaps the abandoned cub was forced to use the skull and another bone for protection thus starting off a new evolutionary line which would eventually lead Cubone to evolve into Marowak. Other people think that Marowak was originally supposed to evolve into Kangaskhan but this idea was scrapped late on in the game’s development. Again, the Pokémon creators have never confirmed any of these claims so we’re just left with our imaginations running wild.

 

1. Ash is in a coma throughout the anime series

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Now this is one definitely crosses a line into the fan fiction. It seems to have originated on creepypasta.com which is a site where people share ghost stories. This theory concerns the Pokémon animated series and doesn’t really have anything to do with the games. In the first episode of the show the main character Ash and his Pikachu are attacked by a big flock of Spearow. In this bout Pikachu uses the power of a thunderstorm to to launch a massive attack on the angry birds which results in everyone getting knocked back by a big explosion. Some people think that in this moment Ash is put into a coma by the electric shock and the rest of the anime plays out in his head.

spearows

The theory is that Ash’s subconscious is trying to protect him from possible brain damage which also lets him live out his Pokémon trainer fantasies in piece. After this incident in the first episode the tone of the following episodes do change a bit. The series bad guys Team Rocket are a lot less menacing after this and become more of a comedy mild annoyance as the series goes on. In the now over 900 episodes of the show Ash has never physically aged a day but other characters have. The police officers and medical staff all have the same appearance and name, this is flimsily explained away by them being identical twins in the show.  His traveling partners could also represent aspects of himself. Brock being a surrogate parental figure and Misty, his ideal love interest. It might also explain why Ash always saves the world and meets all the legendary Pokémon yet nobody knows who he is and he never gets any recognition for it.

ashandpikachu

Overall this bit of fanfiction is a bit heavy handed and pretty easy to poke holes in but it would make the Pokémon anime one hell of a dark story if true. If you want to read the full coma story you can get that here.

 

So that is what I think are the darkest Pokémon fan theories on the internet, there are plenty more if any PokéFans out there have the stomach for it but for everyone else here’s the Pokémon theme song to cheer you up!