At First Glance – Sword Art Online

Note: There are spoilers for the first episode of the anime in question in this article.
You have been warned.

Welcome back folks. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m back to doing these again. To keep it brief my attention was diverted elsewhere, and now it isn’t. Sorry for anyone who actually reads these things that my hiatus was longer than intended. As a quick reminder for those who are new or have forgotten, the idea of these “At First Glance” articles is that I watch the first episode of an anime I’ve never seen and give my thoughts on it.
Simple, right? With that out of the way, let’s get down to business.

Sword Art Online

Ah yes, familiar territory. Well. In that this is one of those anime I’ve heard of, but honestly had no idea what it was about prior to watching it. Basic premise is that the hot new Virtual Reality MMORPG in town, the titular Sword Art Online, has finally been released, and players are eager to jump on and play. However, it turns out the log out feature isn’t present.

At first it’s assumed this is just a glitch or a bug. However, an avatar of the game’s creator informs the players that this was, in fact, always intended to be an aspect of the game. Basically, the game dev is insane and wanted to be a god over this world.

Not only is the creator of the game, Akihiko Kayaba, totally insane and wants to be a god of a virtual world, he also made it that if anyone’s virtual headsets are forcibly removed, or the people playing the game have their life bars drop to zero, they die in real-life. Their only method of escape being to finish the game.


“IF YOU DIE IN THE GAME, YOU DIE FOR REAL!”

Oh, as an added twist, player avatars are erased through some random mirror item he gives them all, and everyone suddenly looks like they do in real life instead. The result of which is a joke that I honestly got a laugh out of, despite the fact I know it would’ve made others groan.


“Son of a-you’re a guy?!”

“You’re not seventeen!”

Trust me when I tell you that could’ve been handled a lot worse. Hell, there’s a few movies that are evidence of that. Anyway, with this revelation our hero, Kirito, goes out of his way to charge on ahead to level up as quickly as he can so he can get out of the game. And that’s about all it gives us really, as far as plot goes. The only other character we get a chance to see properly for now is Klein. With the bulk of the episode before the big revelation being Kirito teaching Klein the ropes of the game.

It’s honestly a nice way to let us get to know a bit about both characters’ personalities. It honestly got the point that when Kirito goes off on his own, I was actually disappointed that Klein didn’t go with him. Though I like fact they do part on friendly terms. Hell, Kirito even seems a little down that Klein has friends to worry about and isn’t going with him. Hopefully that gets touched on in later episodes. I mean, they weren’t exactly subtle about it, so if it gets ignored I’ll be disappointed.

Oh. Also. The anime doesn’t have an opening. No joke. I thought there was just a cold opening before an intro, but it never happened. In fact, I’m fairly sure what ended up being the outro may even be the intro for the following episodes.

So, did I enjoy SAO’s first episode enough to keep watching? Thankfully yes. The premise definitely has me hooked enough to keep watching. Though one thing I do recall hearing about SAO is that the first season is good, but the second is iffy. Whether I’ll agree with that is beyond me at this point, but who knows.

For those who care, Sword Art Online consists of 49 episodes over two seasons (25 in season one and 24 in season two) and is available in both subbed and dubbed formats. There’s also a TV movie, “Sword Art Online: Extra Edition”, and a film, “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale”. Aside from that there are also five video games based on the franchise. Normally I wouldn’t bother to mention that, but the meta nature of video games based on a property that revolves around the characters being in a video game world is hilarious to me.

Well, that about covers it. If anyone has any suggestions for anime I should watch for this in the future, give me a shout and I’ll put it on my list. If it’s already on my list, I’ll bump it up in priority. However, if I’ve already watched it then I’m obviously going to have to decline.
I’ll see you next time folks.

Too Sweet To Be Sour: My Thoughts On Sugar City Con 2015

Over the past two days, Thomas went to the 2nd Sugar City Con event in his hometown. In this video he gives his thoughts on the event as a whole.

Highway To Haven: My Thoughts On Haven 2015

Thomas gives his thoughts on an event he recently attended. The second annual Haven Video Games & Pop Culture Expo……or just Haven for short.

Note: This is technically the 2nd version of this video, as Thomas wasn’t satisfied with the first.

Fyrehart Rants: Video Game Ramblings

On top of all that I mention in this, I’ve also had troubles with Twitch streams being muted after the fact over the past few months (most recently yesterday/this morning with Arkham Knight), when I never put copyrighted audio over my gameplay footage. It makes no damn sense but I have appealed it, and am hoping the issue is resolved in this latest instance. Anyone else had that issue when streaming on Twitch?

Harassment, Sexism, and Shitty Behavior: My Final Say

 

I’ve been trying to keep my nose out of this subject for a while, but since everyone and their grandma has been talking about it and I have heard very few people echo my view on this whole thing, I thought I might as well throw my two cents in as well as get a few things off my chest. I realize that talking about this particular topic, especially on the Internet, and especially on this corner of the Internet is like farting in a crowded elevator, but trying to find a rational, unbiased perspective on this incident has been about as fruitful as looking for diamonds in a septic tank. This is me closing the book on this debacle. After this, I never want to partake in this topic again. But before we go any further, I want to make my stance on a few things clear. Continue reading

Fyreharticles: Ten Video Game Franchises I’ve Never Played

Last time I did a list like this, it was about movies/film franchises I’ve never watched. This time I’ll confess to video game franchises I’ve never played. I’ll mainly go for ones that have more than two games, since that seems like an actual franchise, but there may be some that pop up that only really have two games. So, get ready to yell at me for not having played something you hold dear to your heart.

Metal Gear

So, I’ve played a demo of Metal Gear Solid 3, but that’s all I can really remember playing out of the franchise, so yeah. All I really know is that there’s Solid Snake and some other Snake and trouser snakes and yeah I really have no idea what these games are about off the top of my head.

The Elder Scrolls

I knew Oblivion existed before Skyrim, though Skyrim I only found out about through internet videos, not trailers, well after the game came out. I also had no idea at first that these two games were part of a franchise. Apart from these and the rest of the Elder Scrolls games being fantasy based, I have no idea what they’re about.

Metroid

That game franchise where everyone was angered and confused when the Samus turned out to be a woman? Yeah never played any of those games. A “Metroid” is like a jellyfish alien right? Damn Nintendo, you’re weird.

Castlevania

All I know about these are that Dracula is a character in them. That’s literally it. And I watched a JonTron video about one of the games like a day or two ago! Seriously, what the hell are these games about?

Mega Man

I’ve watched someone stream Mega Man, but I’ve never played it myself. Hell the only thing I can claim to have any connection to relating to Mega Man is that I’ve watched the anime Mega Man: NT Warrior. This whole Mega Man thing is basically Sonic if he were a cyborg right? Going by the main villains Sonic & Mega Man have that seems like a logical conclusion to come to. Oh, for those wondering, I have played at least one Sonic game. Sonic Heroes I think it was called.

Street Fighter

I’ve played (and/or own) the major Tekken games, I’ve played at least one Mortal Kombat game, I own Soul Calibur 3. Hell, I’ve played Bloody Roar 3 for crying out loud…but for whatever reason, I have never in my life played a Street Fighter game. I know a few of the characters from it (Ryu, Ken, Zangief, M Bison, Balrog, Rufus, Chun-Li and E. Honda off the top of my head), but that’s about as far as it goes. I have considered getting Street Fighter X Tekken but I’m not entirely sure if I will ever get it at this point.

Silent Hill

Watched people play them, never played them myself. Mainly because I was too young to have been able to play the earlier ones when they came out, but even then I’ve still never played any of the games, even the newer ones. I know what happens though, so there’s that.

Half-Life

I have no idea what these games are about, but I guess they must be good if people keep bitching to Valve to make another one. That said I’m not a huge fan of FPS games, so I’ll probably never play these games. Don’t worry though, I own Portal 1 & 2 as of this year, so I own SOMETHING Valve has done.

Resident Evil

I have friends who own the games, but I’ve never really played one that I can remember. If I did it wasn’t a full level, so I don’t count it. I also have no idea what these games are really about outside of what I’ve heard in reviews of the movies where people bring up just how badly those movies have been botched. That reminds me, never seen the movies either.

The Legend Of Zelda

Yes, you just read that. One of the most beloved franchises in existence, and probably one of the oldest that’s still going, but I’ve never played a Zelda game. I’ve only ever really played a demo of Wind Waker, and I don’t count demos. That said, I do know that Zelda is the Princess and Link is the playable character, so I’m not completely ignorant about these games. That said, when I was 12 I thought Link was Zelda. But hey, can you blame me? The franchise is called “The Legend Of Zelda”, not “The Never Ending Quest To Save Zelda”.

This all said I do plan on eventually giving the games a try, unlike most on this list. I’ll probably start with the “3D” Zelda games though, and then most likely Wind Waker.

So there you have it. I could easily have made this a list of 20, but I think 10 will do for now. Are there any video game franchises you guys have never played for one reason or another (even if it’s just you can’t be bothered/aren’t interested enough to pick them up)? Are there any of those you’ve always wanted to play or plan to play, but just haven’t yet (due to financial reasons/etc.)? Let me know in the comments.

Top 10 YouTube Channels For Gamers

I love video games. I also love watching videos on YouTube. So it only seems natural that a lot of my favorite YouTube channels would be focused on video games. From the bros to the nerds, from the hunters to the theorists, YouTube has a thriving community of gamers who do everything from reviews to tutorials to remixes and everything in between. If it’s game related, it’s on YouTube. There are literally thousands of gaming channels on there, so narrowing it down to the ten best and putting those channels in order of quality was no easy task, but I managed to do it and this is what I came up with. These are the Top 10 YouTube Channels For Gamers (in my opinion) Continue reading

Why I Think The Joker Should NOT Be In Arkham Origins

Oh yes, you did read that correctly. I honestly don’t think The Joker should be in Batman: Arkham Origins. Don’t get me wrong, I love The Joker, but I’m not blindly going to get something because The Joker is in it. Also I’m not saying they should take him out last minute or anything, or generally saying they should undo all of their hard work; though I will concede that this is basically “he never should’ve been in it in the first place”. I also will make a follow up article after I have played the game stating whether I hold true to this opinion, or if the game has made me change my mind. Remember, this is written having not played the game yet, so my opinion could easily change once it’s released.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand exactly why The Joker seems to be in everything and is everywhere; he’s an iconic villain and the character has earned that spot. However Joker has been the main focus of both previous Arkham games. Sure, he was the main villain in Arkham Asylum, so that gets a pass, however he also hogs the spotlight in Arkham City; a game where the main villain is SUPPOSED to be Hugo Strange (or Ra’s Al Ghul, or both). Don’t believe me? His story ends AFTER the main plot does. I will admit it worked due to how they handled the conclusion of that story, but the fact remains that a sub-plot concluded after the main story.

Now, we come to Arkham Origins, where the main villain is supposed to be Black Mask, which automatically drew me to the game out of curiosity as to how that would play out, with Deathstroke’s inclusion being what sealed the deal for me. But what will most people like me (comic adaptation fans) most likely care about? The Joker is in there! Come on guys! Even Batman Begins didn’t have Joker! Why should this? I get it, I get it…”Joker sells”, fine, but come on guys, if you’re going to include him, make him a flat out side villain with guys like Anarky, or flat out diminish him to a cameo appearance like Mad Hatter got in Arkham City.

Hell, think about it. If they’re trying to “fall back in mainstream known villains”, and that’s their logic for using Joker in every game, guess what? THEY DID A POOR JOB OF THAT IN ASYLUM!

  • Riddler – voice only
  • Two-Face – only verbally mentioned right at the end
  • Mr. Freeze – no verbal mention
  • Catwoman – no verbal mention (Yes I know she isn’t always a bad guy but still)
  • The Penguin – no verbal mention

They didn’t seem too preoccupied with trying to throw in a bucket load of well-known (mainstream wise) Batman villains. Hell, even the biographies in Arkham Asylum are filled with a bunch of villains I had no idea existed at the time (Great White Shark, Tweedledum & Tweedledee, Killer Moth, etc.). Honestly I wish that trend had continued with the Arkham City biographies, but oh well, a man can dream.

Actually, that’s a whole other thing I’d like to bring up. Fine, Joker’s in it. But guess what? I actually find myself being drawn towards EVERY OTHER VILLAIN more than Joker, purely because I don’t know as much about the other villains. Does that mean I’ll necessarily like all of the other villains? No. But to me the unknown is a lot more fascinating in this sort of case. Mad Hatter was a case for this in Arkham City, and he turned out to be one of my favourite villains despite only making a cameo appearance, so I’m excited to learn he’s having a (probably only somewhat) larger role in Arkham Origins. As far as Joker goes though, I honestly do not care about Joker’s storyline at all as of writing this. He wants to blow up a bunch of buildings on Christmas Eve? Seems more like a Calendar Man scheme to me. Seriously, switch out Joker for Calendar Man in that scenario and see if it changes anything. Makes more sense with Calendar Man doesn’t it?

Going along with that, Joker’s sub-plot seems entirely tacked on and pointless to me. Here we’ve got a game where the main plot is that, for some reason, Black Mask has hired eight assassins to try and kill Batman; so Batman has to survive their attacks and find Black Mask, also trying to figure out why this is even happening in the first place. Sounds like a basic, yet strong, story to base a game around to me. If Joker is a major player then it just throws everything out of balance, considering we have NINE main villains already. There are enough characters to focus on without needing Joker as a major player, or even a minor player. Once again, Batman Begins didn’t need The Joker, so why does Arkham Origins? As of now it’s a completely unnecessary addition to an already appealing game in my eyes; whether it’s handled well or not

That aside, I realise I could actually end up being wrong about how large a role Joker even plays in this game. For all I know, he could actually just be stuck in the same boat as Anarky and be a side-mission villain (ala Riddler, Zsasz & Bane in Arkham City), rather than a major sub-plot villain. If that’s the case? Then fine, I won’t mind as much, and I’ll admit that in a follow up article. But as of right now, I firmly believe this game does NOT need The Joker. And I honestly doubt that his story being well done will change that. Whether it does or not, I do intend to do a follow up article.

Does anyone actually agree with me? Do you disagree? Either way leave your opinions below (Negative wise only if you actually have something constructive to say) and I’ll see you all again next time.

Why Anita Sarkeesian Should Make Her Own Video Game (And Why She Won’t)

If you ever want to get the Internet’s blood boiling, there’s no better surefire way than going on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or any gaming message board and uttering these two words: Anita Sarkeesian. Over the past year, Ms. Sarkeesian, founder and producer of the YouTube channel Feminist Frequency, home of the web series “Tropes vs. Women” and Continue reading

History of Video Games, Part 2

Isometric Perspective’s Grant B. takes his look into video gaming history! He also killed that audio demon in an epic off-screen duel…

History of Gaming, Part 1

Isometric Perspective’s Grant B. takes a look into gaming’s history! It wasn’t always high-def pixels and junk!

BioShock: Rapture. A book review

It just occurred to me that I haven’t really seen any book reviews on this site, so I’m going to fix that right now. Before we talk about books, though, let’s talk about video games. More specifically, let’s talk about BioShock. Continue reading

When That Ruled The World Again – Growing Up with Video Games

WTRTW Again revists topics of podcasts past.  This time out, Alanah Sees, NNTV Chris, and Samantha maybe weigh in on their experiences with video games.