Wednesday Media Review: Zeiram

Review by TheChoujinVIrus

Note: This is a movie review, so there will be spoilers to the movie. Just a fair warning should you proceed and read it.

Hey, it’s your boy, Choujin!

It’s nearly Halloween, though it’s only a week away, and the best thing about it that your boy likes to do is watch monster movies. Some monster movies I enjoy like Aliens or The Evil Dead. However, one such film I really enjoyed was an old anime made in 1991 by Keita Amemiya called Zeiram. A Live-Action film that has monsters, some comedy, and terror wrapped into one lovable bundle. So get yourselves comfortable, and we’ll dive into this Japanese masterpiece of mine.

The movie begins on an alien world where a sizable armored alien with a female geisha face mass-murdering an unnamed armed force before escaping into space. A message emerges explaining that Zeiram has escaped, being spoken in an alien language and that he must be captured. The movie then cuts to the early 1990s Japan, and we’re introduced to the first three leads of the film: the young Teppei, the easygoing Kamiya, and a mysterious woman. Kamiya and Teppei began chatting about their job, and a potential woman (much to Teppei’s basis and annoyance over Kamiya’s probing). Our mysterious woman is later revealed to be an alien bounty hunting duo named Iria and her AI companion Bob. The two of them were building a transponder and preparing a particular area called “the Zone” to capture Zeiram, who’s on his way to Earth. Iria questions Bob on whether they can capture Zeiram without needing the Zone.  Bob reminds her that due to Earth’s primitives must require them to use the Zone or else they could lose their license. With that, Iria finishes the Zone prep (even naming it after our movie title’s monster), and the pieces start being placed.

 As Iria prepares the Zone, which creates an exact copy and replica of the town of Mikasa, Teppei, and Kamiya on their usual work shift for the electrical company. Their boss calls them to inspect an “illegal hook up,” the two do not understand is that the line was set up by Iria to draw power. Meanwhile, Iria is just about to head into the Zone to intercept Zeiram only to nearly be spotted by the duo. Both Teppei and Kamiya look around Iria’s headquarters, wondering about the potential hazards her makeshift equipment would cause. However, things go haywire when Zeiram’s arrival to Earth. The impact spooks the two, which causes Kamiya to trip a switch that teleports Teppei into the Zone. Iria, now realizing what just happened, re-calibrates the device and is going into the Zone to get Zeiram. However, Kamiya jumps in to find his friend. Iria then puts him into a stasis device to keep him from interfering with her hunt.

Now that's a monster

Meanwhile, Teppei wanders the ghost town Zone replica as he only finds a non-functional phone, leaving him confused at what’s going on. Iria’s first job involves destroying Zeiram’s pod, ensuring he has no way of escaping. Teppei suddenly encounters Zeiram, nearly obvious of the danger he’s in. Luckily, Teppei evades Zeiram’s shot, to which Zeiram responds by dropping a diamond-shaped pod that spawns a bug-like monster that now is seeking the human out. Eventually, Zeiram runs into Iria, and this is where the fun starts out. Iria starts leading Zeiram into an industrial area where Iria has set up a capture point. In a display of using a specialized flare to turn the Zone’s night into day, Iria nearly captures Zeiram with her device. Though Zeiram’s noh-like face is revealed to be a tentacle as it knocks the device out of her hand and frees himself. While the two are locked in a gunfight with each other (which is revealed that Zeiram has an energy shield like Iria, thus making gunfights pointless), Teppei discovers Kamiya in that stasis device and wonders what has happened to his friend. He also hears the loud explosions from the factory from Iria and Zeiram’s battle.

Iria activates her battle armor, and we have our bounty hunter deflecting Zeiram’s shot as the two now engage in hand to hand combat. Iria lures Zeiram into the trap unit (which pops up like spikes), and the fight seems to turn toward her favor again. However, Zeriam uses another monster capsule, and a blob-like creature emerges to attack Iria. While she does slay the monster with no problem, Zeiram manages his escape from the spike trap (also while stomping on his own minion to get at Iria.) Iria finds the device and manages to seal Zeiram in the stasis device, ending the fight and now with her bounty complete.

 Teppei finds Iria after the fight, to which she explains to him about putting him that device. With Kamiya freed, she explains to the two about what’s been going on, agitated that she could be reprimanded for talking with them. Iria moves to a location where there is more space for everyone out. However, as they were about to teleport, one of Zeiram’s monsters emerges and jumps into the teleporter. Kamiya and Teppei are knocked free while Iria and the beast find themselves back in the real world. Their combat and fighting damaging every component and the transponder, which Iria gets busy fixing.

Meanwhile, back in the Zone, Zeriam’s capsule hatches while the duo began inspecting Iria’s supplies she left behind. Teppei and Kamiya start questioning the Zone’s mechanics while they continue to figure out about the weapons in the supplies. The two humorously find a large cockroach MRE. AS they began to further have fun, the two are caught off guard by Zeiram’s monster, and the two managed to kill the creatures. However, due to Teppei’s lack of gun training, the shots damage the stasis device and thus freeing Zeiram from his prison.

The two of them now find themselves stuck in the Zone, with the alien killing machine now free and about. Back in the real world, Iria heads back into the Zone only for the fuse blown out due to a misaligned transembler. To make things worse, the Zone assembly goes down. Bob laments that the two humans may be already dead, and their bounty hunting days are over because of this. Iria reassures that those two will survive so long as they remain safe.

I think that one's half baked

Back in the Zone, the two humorously hit the “wall” of the Zone as they continue to look about while Iria makes contact with the two via the radio. She gets an idea about teaching them to fight, to which Bob argues with her about it being a bad idea. Teppei and Kamiya find an abandoned car and got it working only to find Zeiram in the area. They managed to run over the monster, only for the monster to survive. They then back the car into him, crushing him in between the vehicle and a wall. Again, the creature survives and uses the noh-faced tentacle to attack Kamiya and Teppei. During the fight, Zeiram tears a good chunk of flesh out of Kamiya’s arm while Teppei stalls Zeiram for a brief moment. The two make their escape just as it pushes the car away.Back in the real world, Iria learns Zeiram’s source of power is the noh-like face on his head. This allows Zeiram to assimilate organic materials to heal wounds and create monsters. This indicates that the alien was a bio-organic weapon. This power is shown when Zeiram fails to create a monster based on Kamiya’s skin sample, to which the furious Zeiram stomps on it like a rotten watermelon.

Teppei and Kamiya begin to wonder if people will miss them as one of them began to eat the cockroach MRE. The good news is that Iria managed to find where the two are through a monitor in the real world. She sends them a spare radio for them to talk to and reassure that they’re alright. Though a major problem is that the transembler being damaged, the Zone will be destabilized and thus vanish with everything and everyone in it. Iria informs them that one way to get out involves killing Zeiram, something Kamiya argues is a bad idea. Iria apologizes and just tells them that they can get started as everyone introduces themselves. Though just as they would plan something, Kamiya and Teppei are spotted by Zeiram. The bounty hunter decides to go back into the Zone to stop Zeiram and rescue the two before the Zone disappears.

The duo continues evading Zeiram, with Kamiya throwing the whole cache of grenades at the monster. Teppei panics and flees once he sees that the monster survived the explosion as well, informing Iria about the situation. Both she and Bob argue about what to do, with Iria suggesting to transport a weapon to Teppei, something Bob warns is illegal. She then tells Teppei to look for a big silvery case in the Zone. With the information given, Teppei hops on a scooter and heads toward the destination, while Iria prepares to repair the transponder to get into the Zone as well. Zeiram spots Teppei and begins firing at the guy, destroying the scooter. Just as Teppei is attacked, Kamiya arrives in a construction vehicle and goes one on one with the beast. The fight ends with him chicken out at the last second upon seeing that it’s not phasing him.

nye-heheh..whoops, wrong franchise

Teppei is surprised to see Kamiya is alive, but now have to deal with Zeiram. Iria arrives in the nick of time and attacks Zeiram with a bazooka, destroying the creature. Though like any good horror monster, it doesn’t keep him down. The monster’s own skeleton breaks free from its body and begins to pursue the trio. Iria tells Teppei to find that weapon while stalls out the creature. Bob tells them that the weapon is on the roof of the building due to his miscalculation. This forces our heroes to reach the said weapon, all while the Spooky Scary Skeleton is right behind them, ready to kill. Iria attempts to stall the beast out while Kamiya and Teppei continue the race without her. She damages Zeiram by pinning a live grenade to his ribcage, though at the cost of her battle armor.

The duo managed to get to the roof where the weapon case is, just as Zeiram arrives to kill them. Iria rescues them again (talk about a reverse Damsel in Distress) from the beast. Iria is tossed the weapon as she fires it, destroying Zeiram’s skeletal body and leaving only its fan-like head. Again, just like before, the head comes to life, but this time Iria locks it in the stasis capsule. With only eight minutes until the Zone disappears and both men alive, Iria declares this a successful mission.

 She teleports the two back into the real world and then sends Zeiram’s head back for collection. Just as they were going to bring Iria back from the Zone, Zeiram’s head wakes up and manages to free itself from the containment unit. The head flies over, damaging more of the components, thus stranding Iria in the Zone. To make matters worse, Zeiram then transforms into a grotesque monster of flesh, tentacles (and feminine features), slowly crawling to probably to kill the two. Meanwhile, back in the Zone, Iria is impatiently waiting for Bob to teleport her back into the real world before she’s lost. Bob requests one of them to try and help him, all while they pin the monster with furniture. With time running out on both ends due to Zeiram and the now vanishing Zone, Kamiya begins to quickly repair the machine while Tepphei gets whipped by the monster. Though in the struggle, one of Zeiram’s tentacles splits the cable, thus resorting to Kamiya to become a comedic living conductor.

A happy moment

As Teppei is about to become a schoolgirl role, Iria is teleported back, and we get a slow-mo of the bounty hunter slowly shooting Zeiram again and again and again and again, to the point that someone would tell her she’s got him. Though, she does deliver the killing shot to the noh-faced tentacle. With that, Zeiram is truly dead (at last) with a shot of the sun rising to a new day as the Zone finally vanishes. Kamiya laments about wanting a nice long bath after what they’ve dealt with, as everyone thanks each other for a job well done. Iria cuts a piece of her hair for the two as a way of expressing her gratitude while Bob tells them in his way that they did well for humans. Bob then takes a picture of the trio, ending the movie with a funny and upbeat tone.

Zeiram has some great moments with some of the action and combats reminiscent of other shows like Kamen Rider and Super Sentai (which isn’t a surprise as the director himself is a stunt coordinator for several Tokusatsu films and other movies as well.) The dub of the film has some pretty good voices that some anime fans might remember. One such is the voice of Iria played by Edie Mirmam of Digimon fame with Kamiya and Tepphei voiced by talents by Robert Axelrod and Steve Bulen (Power Rangers, Transformers). However, some of it has its campiness for an early 90s film that some people might feel doesn’t age well, and the dub does feel a bit dry with Iria’s VA dub feeling like she’s trying to a calm badass, though she does exhibit some basis emotion. Though one funny thing of the series is that there is some cheeky comedy in-between some parts such as the cockroach MRE or Kamiya’s near comedic heroism in some parts that made me laugh. What I also like is how it’s got a female protagonist with comedic male roles that take a humorous jab of the Damsel in Distress trope by having the two guys start out helpless but later showing potential in defeating an alien killing machine.

In short, Zeiram, for an old early 90s film, is packed with action and comedy along with an impressive villain that doesn’t go over the top like some monsters.
I hope you enjoy this review of Zeiram and stay tuned for next Wednesday for another review of of its potential sequel…

References

Monday Mumbles: Lootboxes/Micro-transactions

Written By TheChoujinVirus
Disclaimer: What I might talk about is based on my own opinions and might hit some areas that are sensitive to some people. So remember not to take it personally; this is my opinion.

Good Monday to you all, it’s ya boy Choujin here for what I call Monday Mumbles. Something that your boy finds and mumbles about various things found. Sometimes it’s political, and other times it’s non-political. So sit back, grab yourself your favorite drink or snack, and let’s get this going on.

Your boy here is an avid gamer as with everyone else, so I’ve played a few games. Some on consoles, PCs, and dove into a few mobile games, and one thing I’ve noticed (as well with everyone else) is the increased basis of micro transactions and the dreaded dirty word “Loot boxes.” For those who might not know what these are or oblivious to the hot button issues, Loot boxes were items you got in the game that once unlocked; one could acquire anything. Sometimes something aesthetic like a costume skin or something like new skills/characters. At first, it was common in some free to play games one could see like Star Trek Online, Perfect World, and even Champions Online. Then, later on, you got games out there that you paid full prices such as the latest Battlefield or the more controversial Star Wars Battlefront II, and *BOOM!* Now everyone’s enraged over how predatory it has become since some would be forced to use real-world money to get them or risk-taking weeks or months to get some hero characters.

I’ve seen the argument about loot boxes and how they put it. Yes, a lot of them are predatory and designed for you to sink all your cash to get something exclusive. When I played Star Trek Online, it took me a ton of money to get those lock box keys and a lot of boxes to get one of the Kelvin Science Dreadnought. God knows how much money some spent to get the Kelvin Constitution. It shows that if you put an incentive, people will dump their whole life savings to get some of these ships.

Heck, in an unrelated moment, I knew a guy who dumped over two hundred dollars in Overwatch loot boxes to get some skins! Seriously, that’s just crazy. Oh, and don’t think I’m going out of my way to bash games like Overwatch or Star Trek Online (though your boy does like ST:O from time to time), it’s just something that I can find hair pulling — putting rare items into loot boxes and banking on people to spend money on boxes, keys to unlock, or both just to get a chance at said items/skins/or other things. No wonder people today think it’s gambling (though honestly, it’s as gambling as buying booster cards/boxes of cards and hoping to pull that one thing.)  Though one benefit between cards and digital items is that I can buy the card without having to buy another box and try again and that the card is personally mine, not the game developers. Now, I’m sure one might say, ‘What about micro-transactions? At least they can show you what you’re buying.’ Why yes, it’s true, they do show you what you can buy, but they’re not above criticism.

Now, micro-transactions. Oh yeah, I’m sure you are familiar with those if you’ve played mobile games. They usually may require you to buy “premium currency” to purchase specific resources, items, skins, timer reductions, etc. Anything that is in a mobile game, you could buy it with said special currency or money directly. However, some do become scummy, depending on the case. One time, I played a mobile game called Final Fantasy XV: A New Kingdom, which was based on the new FFXV game that came out but made into a kingdom building game. I ended up buying a pack for 20 dollars and thought I could get some items cheap. Next thing you know, the next pack with the same value cost 50 dollars, and that’s when I suspected that they’re raising the price of the packs so that I’m spending more and more…Your boy realized that this is pure trash and crap! I mean, why jack the price of packs to get more money! It felt like a scam that if I kept buying these, I’d probably be paying over one hundred dollars just for a basic pack. This crud encourages “whales” (people who sink money) to get an edge though there are other games that do some shady stuff.

Another game I played was known as Star Wars Commander, a mobile game that’s like Clash of Clans but with Star Wars units and such. The game has a history in gaming communities as a pay to win like game, as it encouraged you to pay some amount of money to gain an edge for things like unit upgrades and elite units that can give you an edge against other units or protection against other players. One could play free to play the whole game, but you could take a long time to get some core units needed for that game’s meta. So in some ways, you’re forced to buying premium currency (or hoarding every rare premium currency that sometimes drops.) and use that on rare occurrences.

Now, I’m not bashing loot boxes, and micro-transactions, when done right and free to play games, need some way to pay the bills. The largest picture comes from games that already have you paying full price and having micro-transactions just for that. When I pay sixty dollars for a game, I’d expect the game to be complete with no stuff hidden behind micro-transactions though I can tolerate some things like cosmetic costumes or DLC expansions. However, when you got games that hide power behind lock boxes or encourages people to buy premium currency and items, then it becomes a literal pain in the butt! In a way, I can tolerate some of it on Free To Play Games (to an extent) but not in games I pay full price. I mean, Imagine if someone bought a game like Fallout: New Vegas and it had all that micro-transactions found in Fallout 76. That would be one hell of a problem that is pointless and just predatory for a good game.

Now I’m sure you’re asking, “Hey! How can we stop this stuff then? Should we boycott?”
Now, In my sense, I would encourage several factors: Moderation and not supporting predatory practices. Now Moderation is one thing as for some games, whales (and those who have spending issues) may need to learn to either spend in little quantities or not spend on it at all if they do pay their whole life savings on one item or premium consumers. This is also important for those who have young children, as those little guys can accidentally spend your entire life savings on those items and costumes. Now the next is one thing that some, including a friend of mine who chatted with me, suggests outright boycotting them. Now, I do respect my friend’s idea, and he did bring a good point, though I would go with merely ignoring the predatory practices (pay to win mechanics, literal gambling) and moderating some of the other items (cosmetics).

I know that some people might feel that modern gaming is becoming so rampant with microtransactions and loot boxes. Some might root for government intervention to stop some of these industries form doing this. However, as your boy mentioned, lootboxes are as powerful as we make them. That if you don’t buy said lootboxes or purchase those pay to win items, you’ll ensure that they’ll get the message. Will it work? I’m not sure, but its better than relying on government intervention to solve this mess.

With that, what’s your take on micro-transactions, loot boxes, and how would you find a solution in that big hot train wreck of a gaming concept? Comment below.

Friday Fan-Work

Happy Friday everyone. It’s your boy Choujin. Today’s Friday, so that means I’m gonna be sharing you one of my original writing I’ve done. Luckily I have some work i’ve done during my time in community college. So grab a seat, get your favorite beverage or snack, and let the bird tell you a short story.

Black Knight’s First Flight
written by TheChoujinVirus

    Aboard the Terran Federation starship, “Alamo,” The short, but athletic pilot Enzo just left with his squadmates from their mission briefing on their enemy, the reptilian humanoid aliens known as Magellans. As he was wrapping his head around the presentation, he turned toward one of his squadmates, a tall, slim Japanese man named Yamato.

“Will this plan those Federation eggheads announced work?” Enzo asked 

Yamato replied, “It should work. I mean, it’s essentially biological warfare.”

“Biological warfare?!” Enzo rebutted, “Biological warfare is using a virus or some toxin, but using a sexually transmittable disease? C’mon! Just drop some nukes from orbit.”

As the two got on the elevator, Yamato continued his explanation to Enzo as the elevator they were on started to move.
 “If you paid attention to the XO’s briefings, you would know that the Magellan breed like rabbits and mature fast. They also have a sixth sense that prevents them from breeding with those infected with a disease.” Yamato explained, “Second, it IS a virus. However, it’s not an STD as you assume; we’re using Virus #338, a chimera virus designed to affect metabolic rates of the Magellan.”

“Why a chimera virus?” Enzo asked.

“Easier to cure, controllable, and can fool them easily. Therefore, it’s a bargaining chip to get them to surrender,” Yamato replied, “however, they did say they never properly field-tested it. For all, we know it might be a dud, but we have no choice.”

The Elevator doors opened, signaling the two pilots to depart. Enzo merely shook his head at Yamato as he got in the last word, “I’d still go with our nuclear option than a chimera virus.”


 The two left the elevator and into the Alamo’s hanger bay area. Mechanics were moving about with supplies and preparing routine refueling and reloading while pilots headed toward their ships. Enzo and Yamato got aboard their respected fighters. As the two went through their pre-flight check, the commlinks filled with the chatter of the various pilots. Each in some state of mental preparation or finishing up their diagnostics.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want…”

“I’m itching to kick some Magellan ass.”

“Preparing the refueling procedures.”

“Payload being prepped and loaded, standby.”

“All Phantom bombers are loaded and fueled.”

“Patriot Fighters fueled and set.”

“Plague Bringer Squadron has the green light.”

“Black Knight Squadron has the green light.”
 
Once everything was read, the fighters and bombers began to depart the Alamo’s hanger bay as they made their way toward the Magellan home world. The commlinks buzz again with life as the captain’s voice commanded, “All wings report.”
 “Plague Bringers standing by,” Replied Plague Bringer Leader.
“Black Knights standing by,” replied Black Knight Leader.

Black Knight Leader began to give the fighter squadron a quick rundown as the ships got closer to the enemy home world;

“Alright, our main objective is to deliver the payloads right into two major water reservoirs that feed water into their major populace. Plague Bringers, your Phantom Bombers have been equipped with retrofitted Scud-B Missiles. They’re designed to launch from the bottom but not explode. Your job is to drop the payload into the reservoirs. Once delivered, they’ll detonate and contaminate the water supply. Black Knights will give you cover should the Magellans catch wind of the plan. Remember, we’re not here to rout the enemy, our objective is to spread the payload and get out.”

“Roger that, B-K,” Enzo stated as the fighters began their descent toward the planet.

The pilots felt their ships vibrate, with the heat of the fighters entering the atmosphere giving the pilot’s cockpit a flickering fiery color. The fighter squadrons broke through the atmosphere, over a desert badlands with a deep river in the valleys. 

“follow the river, it’ll lead us to the first major reservoir,” Knight leader stated

“first major reservoir?” Enzo asked

“Our intel reported the first major reservoir is in a canyon, Enzo” Yamato shook his head. “Seriously, pay attention to the briefings next time.”

“stop your clucking, hens,” barked Knight Leader.

“Alright, all squads, prime the payload and drop on my mark.” Plague Bringer Leader announced.

Phantom Bombers moved into formation, with each bomber pilot waiting for the signal to drop their missile payload. Yamato’s radar seemed to flicker for a few moments as the Plague bringers got closer to the vast water reservoir. The Dam’s design was a mix of a bio-organic design, looking like a nightmarish mix, a rack of ribs mixed with the texture of a bug’s exoskeleton. Whatever the purpose of why the Magellans designed it, it was enough for Yamato, Enzo, and several pilots to feel unnerved at its sheer appearance.
“I always hated their architecture,” one random pilot said on the commlink.

“Cut the chatter, Plague 5, make sure our loadout” Plague bringer Leader snapped on the commlink until another pilot yelled loudly.

“Leader! I’m Picking up some movement east.”
“Damnit!” Plague leader cursed, “Black Knights! Cover the bombers! It seems they caught us! Plague Bringers, when you are over the reservoir, drop the missiles!”
“Roger that!” Knight Leader replied, “Knights, cover the Phantom bombers! We’re gonna have company soon!”
“Copy that, Knight Leader,” Enzo replied as he and a few pilots moved into formation with the bombers. Plague bringer Squad, once over the reservoir, dropped their first payload right into the water. The Scud missiles hitting the water’s surface with massive splashes before sinking into the depths then followed erupting geysers of white as they detonate under the surface. Each detonation was spreading the virus in the water.

Once the last of the first payload splashed into the water, one pilot yelled on the commlink.”Here they come!”

On cue, several fighters arrived from the east side of the reservoir lake. Their designs resembled a flattened fighter jet but created in that same biomechanical appearance like the reservoir, making them resemble a mix of an animal’s skull and a bony hand. The enemy fighters began their strike as Black Knight Squad engaged them. Both sides were now participating in a massive dogfight spanning over the reservoir. Each ship dancing around each other, weapon fire exchanged, and panicked chatter amongst Black Knight squadron was the only noise in that area

“Plague Leader, take your squad and head to the next target,” Replied Knight Leader, “We’ll hold them off.”

“roger that, Knight Leader,” Plague Leader replied as they broke formation.
The two fighter squadrons started firing on each other, evading missiles and weapons fire from the other while targeting. The Magellan fighters managed to destroy a few Patriots while the Federation fighters of Black Knight Squad held their line and took down a few Magellan fighters. Enzo helped a pilot that was being tailed by a Magellan fighter. With a quick maneuver, he shot the enemy fighter out of the sky. The pilot felt relieved when he saw his assailant blown up

“Thanks, Enzo,” replied the pilot.


Plague Bringers were halfway to their second target when Yamato’s radar began to pick up six Magellan fighters heading toward them.

“Leader, I’m picking up six Magellians heading toward us!”, Yamato explained with concern.

Plague Bringer’s leader evaded a surprise attack as he watches two Phantom Bombers being shot down. “Evasive maneuvers!” Plague Leader commanded, “We need to deliver the final payload.”

“Roger that, Plague Leader,” Yamato stated as he watched more Phantom Bombers being picked off. “All available fighters, follow me!”
 Enzo heard the conversation as Black Knights managed to force the Magellan fighters into retreat. Without any hesitation, he broke away from the squad and headed toward his friend’s location.

“Enzo, where the hell is you going?!” Black Knight Leader asked as he watches Enzo heading toward the bombers

“Plague Bringers are reporting they’re under attack, sir!”, Enzo replied, “Seems we played their strategy.”

Knight Leader cursed again as it seemed the plan was starting to fall apart. He then barked orders to his troops, “Alright, it seems those Magellan bastards aren’t as stupid as they are ugly. Enzo, take Knights Five through Nine and aid Plague Bringers, we’ll try and create a distraction.”
 “Copy that, B-K,” Enzo replied. “Alright, let’s bail out the Plague Bringers.”
 Yamato fled with only half of the remaining Phantom Bombers as he watched the six Magellan fighters pick off the rest of Plague Bringer squadron. Though the Phantom Bombers were big and carried heavy payloads, they were not built to deal with opponents like Patriot Fighters or Magellan Ships. The group decided to take their evasion right near some wetlands. Yamato found himself tailed again as the bomber squadron remained loose in their formation. Yamato heard a few screams on the commlink as three Phantoms were shot down. “Damnit! Where’s our cover?!” He yelled on the commlink. Just as he saw one Magellan fighter about to make an attack run on him, he sees a Patriot Fighter blow that attacker from the sky.

“Sorry, I’m late, Yamato,” Enzo apologized, “Those bastards held us up.”

“Lucky for you, I’m a forgiving man,” Yamato replied, “So where’s the rest of Black Knight Squadron?”


Yamato would get a transmission from the Alamo’s captain.

“Status Report,” the voice rang.

“Half of Plague Bringers has been shot down,” Yamato said, “We only have enough for one final shot.”

the captain asked, “And Black Knight Squadron?”


“We’re moving our target toward one of their military fortifications,” Replied Knight Leader on the commlink.
“I thought Military Targets were off the table?”, the voice flustered upon hearing Knight Leader’s statement
 “With all due respect, The Magellan caught on our sneak attack. If we don’t pull them out, they’ll pick us off. However, there is some good news”, Black Knight Leader replied
“What’s that, Sir?” Enzo asked.

“The only attackers we’ve experienced are just the local defense.  If this were the main attack fore we would be swimming with Magellan fighters by now”, Knight Leader explained, “My guess is we caught them with their pants down.”

“But for how long? Plague Bringers, how far are you to your destination?” Enzo asked

Yamato looked at the horizon from his cockpit as he noticed a city in the distance. “We’re reaching the second major target.”

“Good,” the voice replied, “Prepare your last payload and get out once delivered.”

“Roger that,” Yamato replied.

Knight Leader would then speak on the commlink next, “Enzo, you cover those bombers and make sure that we can deliver that final payload.”

“Aye, Sir,” Enzo replied.

“Remember, Failure is not an option. Black Knight Leader out,” the transmission went silent as the remaining group flew toward the enemy city, ready to complete their final mission. Whatever was going to happen, they were willing to serve it.

Note: something for some people to download and read in case some people can’t see or read this

Wednsday Media Review: Alisia Dragoon

Review done by TheChoujinVirus

Disclaimer: The reviews I do are based on my opinions and experience with the game. Do not take it

Hey, it’s your boy, Choujin, here!

Everyone remembered some games of their childhood that they’ve played. A lot of people also remembered how some of these games did have female protagonists. Nintendo had Samus Aran as their female protagonist, so what did Sega have in the role of female protagonist games? One game stands out in Sega’s library that does have its own female protagonist called Alisia Dragoon. Created by Games Art (the creator of the Lunar series) and Gainax (creators of anime such as Neon Genesis Evangelion) in 1992, the game is for some and timeless experience for childhood, and something overlooked.

Plotline

Like all games in my time, the lore of it is explained in the instruction manual. Don’t worry, it’s a pretty simple story. You play as Alisia Dragoon, the daughter of a heroic spellcaster who banished an evil god called Baldour to space in a cocoon. In retaliation, Alisia’s father was murdered by Baldour’s followers, the young Alisia’s life spared. Now the dormant god has returned from space, and the remaining forces of Baldour now led by Ornah want to revive their dark master. It’s up to Alisia and her magic to defeat Baldour’s forces and avenge her father’s death.

Gameplay

The game’s mechanics are simple enough, Alisia can attack with lightning magic that can home onto her enemies without needing any form of aiming. If they come into her line of sight, just press the fire button, and the attack will home onto wherever the enemy is. Though holding it for too long can cause her to run out of juice and just humorously shoot tiny sparks in futility. Though if Alisia doesn’t fire her magic, she can unleash a “Rolling attack” where her lightning magic will span across the screen wiping out small enemies and dealing with tremendous damage to more sturdy foes.

Alisia’s journey against the forces of evil isn’t one done alone; Alisia has help from four familiars that travel with her: Dragon Fyre, Ball O’ Fyre, Thunder Raven, and Boomerang Lizard. Each has their own gimmicks and powers to aid to Alisia.  Enemies come in the droves and can do damage to Alisia Dragoon and her companions. Run out of HP, and it’s game over for the sorceress (and if your companion is killed, they stay dead for the whole game.) The game provides some items found in winged orbs that will help Alisia and her companions. Potions and Meat heal wounds for the sorceress and her companions. Some power-ups like the HP UP raises Alisia’s health by a new bar (going up to six full bars). The Level Up provides an HP boost and power upgrade (going up to level 3) for the four companions and the rare Revive that can bring back dead companions killed in battle. Other power-ups can turn the tide battle such as fairies that can provide her with temporary invincibility, an unlimited rolling attack for a short duration, even forming platforms to other areas of the map. Lastly, Alisia’s magic can be boosted by an item known as the “lightning power-up” that not only makes her attacks stronger but also changes the lightning’s color. These power-ups and items are vital for your survival through all eight stages in the game.

Shocking Fun: The Good

The game’s pretty simple and doesn’t require you to do anything complex like managing ammo (save for the lightning bar), puzzles, or combos. The auto-aim of Alisia’s magic allows her to kill enemies on screen, and some of her companions’ attacks either home onto enemies or delivers an area of effect. The game’s stages are pretty unique and don’t feel like your normal biomes in some games. You have exciting levels that take you through areas like a swamp, aboard an airship, traveling through a volcanic cave, and even though the bowels of an alien spaceship. Another thing is the enemies in the stage do fit the stage biomes such as robots in the spaceship level or even prehistoric beasts in the mountain stage. Other times, you might find some enemies that are found in multiple stages, but they too are different with some new bag of tricks such as enemy mages that will either pop out of the water in the second stage or a mage that goes full Gemini Man and creates a duplicate to throw fireballs at you. More about the enemies, they can come in droves, like full on rushing droves. It’s a good thing Alisia’s lightning magic doesn’t need aiming. Another great thing about the game is the bosses! A lot of games have innovative bosses, but some that can be forgotten in some games. Alisia Dragoon’s bosses come in different forms that either fit the biome or serves as a transition to the next stage. Some bosses I personally like are Stage 3’s boss, which has you fighting biomechanical creatures that serve as the airship’s defense system, and Stage 6’s boss; a mage who can summon guns against you. Finally, the music of the stage is something I’m fond of. In some games, music is essential for setting the ambiance of a game, and the one thing I like about how the Genesis does with this game’s soundtrack. Each stage (and sub-stage) provide their own soundtrack that gives some unique themes. For example, stage 2’s music has a watery feeling that fits the stage while Stage 4’s music has a bit of a prehistoric/wildlands vibe with the trumpets and even Stage 6’s themes fit entering an abandoned alien ship, the sudden danger of the enemies inside and escaping it. Finally, the game’s cutscenes (though minimalist) do try and give some explanation and even transition to the next stage. Something that’s so simple that doesn’t require some extravagant cinematic experience.

Static Flops: The Bad

Though the game has its benefits and fun, there are some cons to this game. For starters, the game has no save function that lets you pick up where you left off. Should you turn off the game, you have to start all over from stage one (one can complete the game in around an hour, so it’s not something to sneeze at). Though the  areas are beautiful biomes that transport you to this mystical world, some levels can be a hazard hell. So if you’re one of those no damage runners who dislike getting hit, this might not be for you as some stages like the second part of Stage 5 can be a nightmare for some people.
Though Alisia has some interesting companions, only one of them I found to be viable (that being Boomerang Lizard and some occasions Thunder Raven. Ball O’Fyre behaves like the one person in a sports game you know isn’t the best but is just there for morality (though he’s good in some neich areas and bosses you don’t want the others to be hurt). Dragon Fyre, though awesome as he is, can only shoot in one direction. He can be useful if you can hit the enemies in front of you.

Otherwise, Thunder Raven or Boomerang Lizard seems to be your better option.
One nagging situation is that some areas can feel very padded through either multiple stages such as Stage 5 and 6 or have very damage sponge soaking bosses (I’m looking at you Summoner from Stage 7). These things can be frustrating if you’re on a tight schedule or a speedrunner, and without a save feature, it can be annoying. One frustrating thing about Alisia Dragoon is that you only have one life, and that’s it. Die, and it’s a game over for you unless you can find those very rare continues that are off the beaten path. Combined with the game’s difficulty (even on Normal) and you have to “git gud” real quickly without getting killed by hazards or being enemy rushed.

Shocking Secrets

Even this game has a unique secret that even I never knew. According to GameFAQ users AlaskaFox and BolerosCloud, if you hold the A button when the Sega Logo vanishes and up until the Games Arts logo shows up, followed by Holding B until the Gainex logo vanishes then lastly holding C until the “Music Composed by” logo disappears. Then requiring a second controller, you can do some things like skip levels, invincibility, and other perks too, though I never got a chance to see it, a Youtuber by the name of digituba managed to show off how it works. It does make things a bit easier by skipping levels, however, requiring you to connect a second controller (or tailoring your emulator to a second controller) can be a pain.

         In retrospect, Sega’s the game has some sparks of success and some shortcomings that are like a bad case of static cling, however, I’ve found the game to be an enjoying part of my childhood that reminds me of what made the game and its protagonist exciting to look at. Sure it may not seem like much, but it was one reason why I liked this game.

References
  1. https://segaretro.org/images/9/93/Alisiadragoon_md_us_manual.pdf (Alisia Dragoon US Manual)
  2. https://segaretro.org/images/3/31/Alisiadragoon_md_jp_manual.pdf (Alisia Dragoon JP Manual)
  3. https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/genesis/586021-alisia-dragoon/cheats
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGsoPqXa90o

It Starts!

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They say that getting your feet wet into freelance writing and blogging is the first step into improving your writing. Well, whoever made that quote must be right.

Hello, i’m TheChoujinVirus. You may remember the name from some locations like Discord or other usual hangouts you may have seen my name at. So i’m sure you’re all asking the big question: “Whatcha going to be writing here?”

I’ll be usually writing things like what annoys me the most, reviews on old, obscured games nobody has heard or seen, and even show off my writing work (Don’t worry, it’s not Twilight level of cringe.)

So sit back, relax, get your favorite meal and drink and let your boy’s writing entertain you.