Super Smash Bros Brawl vs. Playstation Allstars Battle Royale

Ok! For this blog post I’m bringing in some big ones (or at least one): Super Smash Bros. Brawl on Wii and Playstation Allstars Battle Royale on PS3. Before we start, I want to make it clear: PSASBR is not a Smash Bros clone, it’s a genre. Smash bros was not the first game of its kind, just the most well known. That said, it’s undeniable that it certainly seems to have borrowed a bit of style from SSB. SSB and PSASBR are crossover fighting games, Smash Bros bringing together a whole bunch of Nintendo’s big names for, well, a brawl, and PSASBR countering with a selection of PS3 games and a larger quantity of third party characters. There are a lot of similarities, as with any games from the same genre. But which one is actually better is a little up for debate, so let’s talk that through.

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Gameplay

At its most basic the gameplay is fairly similar between the two games – punch the other guy until they die. Allstars has a bit more move variety, with all characters having a few more moves than their Smash Bros equivalents, but it’s a minimal amount and doesn’t make too notable an impact. The main difference in combat is how you defeat your opponents. In Smash Bros, the aim is to build up damage on your opponent and then hit them so hard that they fly off the stage – exiting the stage is how you get a kill. In Allstars, if you fall off the edge of a stage you simply get stunned and reappear in the middle. Instead, you fill up a meter by inflicting damage on your opponent, which allows you to unleash a super move, which kills your opponents. Each character has a level 1, 2 and 3 super move, with the option of using a weaker one early or saving up for a stronger move. Smash Bros, in comparison, has one super move per character, that activates when you smash a Smash Ball and power up your character. Basic combat being so similar, this is the biggest difference in gameplay between the two games.

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Unlockables

In Smash Bros, about 70% of the characters and stages are locked until you unlock them, by either completing the story mode and special objectives or just by playing a lot. Allstars doesn’t take this approach – it gives you all the characters and stages right at the start. Instead, the unlockables come in the form of leveling up each character to unlock new intros, outros, taunts, costumes, victory music, and badge icons and so forth. Now, in my opinion, this one is a strong victory for Allstars. There’s nothing more annoying with a fighting game then bringing it over to a friends place only to find out that most of the content is locked. You could unlock it by playing the single player but then you’re not on their level anymore and that’s no fun to play at all. Having all the characters available from the start means that everyone’s on the same level and nobody is waiting to unlock some character that requires 200 hours of gameplay or something similarly ridiculous.

Character Selection

Nintendo obviously has an advantage in this one, having, well, Nintendo characters. Honestly, I don’t think there’s much Sony could’ve done to try and compete with names like Mario, Link and Pikachu. So Allstars went for a different approach to try and gain appeal: they opened themselves wide open to third party characters like Big Daddy, something that Nintendo has been hesitant to heavily invest in, as aside from their occasional forays with Sonic, Snake and the upcoming Megaman, they try to keep the series as a celebration of all things Nintendo. Allstars didn’t bother with that, and subsequently they also have a bit more of a mature feeling character selection; Big Daddy, Kratos and Radec are all decidedly more mature than Mario, Kirby and the Ice Climbers. That is neither a positive nor a negative, by the way, just an observation – it doesn’t affect gameplay at all and that’s what really counts. Ultimately, despite Allstars doing what they could, you really can’t compete on a character basis with a franchise that’s had fifteen years to pull in characters from the biggest gaming company in the world. Smash Bros also has more characters, but only by five or six. Allstars was adding more with DLC and was looking like it might overtake, but it was scrapped due to low support, which I personally find to be very disappointing. Sad face.

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DLC

This is one of those real simple ‘Has DLC vs Doesn’t Have DLC’ ones. Allstars has four characters, two stages, and a plethora of costumes, minions and themes available, some free, most not. Unfortunately, however, Sony has scrapped all future Allstars DLC plans due to lack of support, which is very unfortunate. Smash Bros, on the other hand, has nothing. So, yeah, that’s a simple one, Allstars takes it. Pictured below: Allstars DLC characters. Below that: Smash Bros DLC characters.

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OUTCOME

So, which one is better, ultimately? Well, firstly, if you only have one console, get that. But really? They’re both pretty similar, to the point that it doesn’t really make much difference. Chances are you decided before you even started reading this which one you thought was better, even if you’ve absolutely refused to play the other, so an article like this is not about to change your mind.

Also: I’ve seen hatedom on the internet complaining that the final boss in Allstars, Polygon Man, is a cheap ripoff of the final boss in Smash Bros, Master hand. They’re both mysterious all powerful floating body parts, I get it. But the interesting thing is that Polygon Man actually originated as an early Playstation mascot in 1995 – four years before Master Hand first appeared in the first Super Smash Bros in 1999.

Saints Row the Third

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So, I’m back again, after like a month of not being back! I was busy (READ HERE – LAZY. I WARNED YOU THIS MIGHT HAPPEN.)

The good news is I’ve gone and got me a whooole stack of new games and shows to review – and currently, my favourite one, as you can probably guess, is Saints Row the Third. Saints Row is the three is basically Grand Theft Auto but up in crazy levels by like a billion – and with pretty much all of the annoying bits of GTA cut out. It also has the most in depth character creation of any game I’ve ever played, ever – and that includes the Sims, just so you know – and the best part is that it doesn’t take itself seriously at all. Saints Row is insanely fun to play, and if you’re willing to not take yourself too seriously and just mess with it, you will have a lot of fun. For an example, when selecting your voice, you can select three male options, three female options, and a zombie option, where all the dialogue in the game is turned into GRAARAGH CGALRH BLAAARH. But the thing is, they actually voiced all the lines in the game- just like graar garar. So you can identify that he’s in conversation – and he occasionally sings, which is hilarious. Also, if you particularly feel like it, you can do the Macarena at luchadores while waving a large sex toy. If that’s the kind of thing you’re into.

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The missions tend to be absolutely insanely ridiculous: the first mission involves jumping out a jet, parachuting in front of the jet, smashing in through the windshield and flinging yourself all the way through the jet, and falling to the ground amidst vehicles and crates while in an intense gun battle. One of the optional final battles involves (spoiler alert) fighting a Luchadore on MARS. MARS. It’s INSANE. And from a playstyle point of view there’s a lot of neat things you can do. The vehicle storage system, for example, is INFINITELY superior to that of GTA – You know how in GTA you’d get a car or something, and maybe spend some money and do it up, then store it in your one or two car garage and never use it because it would inevitable get destroyed? Well, in Saints Row you can store your cars (or helicopters, or tanks, or vespas) in your infinite (I  haven’t filled it yet, at least) garage, and even if you destroy them, you can just get it back at the garage again. It’s great. The vehicle customisation, by the way, is really in depth too. Not to the level of character – Good god, that is insane – but still pretty good. I really don’t have much bad to say about this game. Although, if you are playing it, you may want to ensure there are no children or mothers around – It’s not really… family friendly.

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It’s a lot of fun, though. And with the fourth game coming out soon – in which you are the same gang boss guy, but are somehow President of the USA – it’s definately worth a look. It’s not for everyone. But a lot of people are going to have a heck of a good time with this game.

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Red Rescue Team vs. Gates to Infinity

Pokémon: Mystery Dungeon Red Rescue Team/Pokémon: Mystery Dungeon Gates to Infinity

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Well, it’s Wednesday, and that means I’m late with the update – I mean, it’s time for a comparison piece! Recently I bought the newest of the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Games, Gates to Infinity. Seeing as the previous Mystery Dungeon game I played was the first Pokémon one, Red Rescue Team, back when it was new (2006, if you’re wondering) it seemed like a good opportunity to compare them and see how things have changed. So, I present to you the second of my comparison pieces: Red Rescue Team vs. Gates to Infinity!

So first, let’s get the most obvious change out of the way: graphics. Now, Gates to Infinity doesn’t win any points for having better graphics, because its seven years and several game systems later. It does win points, however, for being the first 3DS game I’ve played where the 3D is actually good. The 3D doesn’t look rough, like it was just thrown in for the sake of it, like it does on most 3DS games; it actually works. This is impressive in itself. As for Red Rescue Team, well, it was the Gameboy Advance. It really looks more or less like your average GBA game.

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Next is the actual gameplay itself. Surprisingly, the gameplay itself hasn’t changed that much in seven years; although with just a basic rougelike structure it makes sense to just follow the system. The most notable difference is the exclusion of the ‘hunger’ system found in the earlier games, where your Pokémon would get hungry as you adventured around, forcing you to eat food or eventually lose health. This does not exist anymore, except in three marked bonus dungeons you can do to challenge yourself. Other than a few minor additions such as gifts and team attacks, though, the system remains very similar. Another thing that has changed, though, is the IQ system. The IQ system allowed you to feed your Pokémon ‘gummies’ to improve their, well, IQ. Somehow this taught them a variety of useful skills that would culminate in your Pokémon being able to safely walk over lava, water and the sky, and punch holes through walls to make their own pathways at will, as well as a whole host of other useful but less impressive abilities. This has been replaced with the Team Skills system. Team Skills are similar to IQ, in that they grant useful abilities such as busting traps and not harming allies in confusion, but they are much harder to come by, and rather than being an individual stat, are learnt by the entire team. This system is really personal preference, though. Would you rather have a more functional team, or one or two mighty juggernauts that can tear holes in the very fabric of reality with pure skill? I’ll leave that up to you.

The storyline has always been the strongest point of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games. I’ll try to avoid spoilers for Gates to Infinity, seeing as it came out but a few months ago, but I’m not even going to try hiding them for Red Rescue Team. Seven years, people. Let’s be serious here. Anyway, in both games the main character is a human that has, for some reason, become a Pokémon. Now, the reasons why and how vary, but the main idea is the same: You are a human. Somehow this will help you fix everything. Go fix everything. And you proceed to do so with your trusty sidekick, and build up a team of allies along the way. A ‘Rescue Team’, if you will. The difference is in how each story is presented. And, I am a little surprised at this, but I am going to give this one to Red Rescue Team. The story in Red Rescue Team is a lot longer, and a lot deeper. The main storyline in Gates to Infinity has some impressive moments and plot twists, and it is a very good story. But Red Rescue Team has the one of best storylines out of pretty much all the handheld games I’ve played. And that is a lot of games. There is a lot of depth and a lot of intertwined stories, and even after the main crisis is complete, there is still a huge amount of content and storyline to go through. While I expect there will be some in Gates to Infinity, I’ve been playing through after the main story for a while now, and I’ve barely encountered anything after the conclusion to the main mission. I have to admit that I was quite disappointed by this; this was one of my favourite things about the first one: So many stories. And they had a huge amount of side stories too; every legendary up to the third gen was included, and almost all of them had their own set of stories to follow, many of which were joined in a variety of interesting and well-established ways. The new game has a total of 13 legendaries, 15 if you count white, black and normal Kyurem, and not all of them can be fought; and all but two of them are from Unova, and only seven are even recruitable. This was a disappointment for me. What’s more, in Red Rescue Team, every single Pokémon from the first three regions was recruitable, and a few from the then upcoming Sinnoh games made cameos (Bonsly, Munchlax, and Lucario got a mention or two). In Gates to Infinity, there are ten or less Pokémon from each of the first four regions, an even the main playable Pokémon and partner are limited to the three starters from Unova, Axew and Pikachu. What’s more, you don’t take the old quiz system to get an appropriate player ‘mon, you just select one. That last point is up for debate whether it’s a positive or a negative. But the lacking inclusion is almost certainly a negative. While they clearly, and reasonably, wanted to focus on the new Unova Pokémon, excluding all the others detracts a lot.

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Multiplayer has changed a lot. In Red Rescue Team, you could swap items and set up a dungeon team. While the dungeon team was a great idea, being able to send a team of your Pokémon into a friends game to be a challenge, it was limited. In Gates to Infinity, although they don’t include the dungeon challenge feature, they do include full on adventure-with-your-friends multiplayer, which is a plus. Gates to Infinity takes multiplayer on that note. But I do miss the challenge dungeons.

On a quick side note, another change is as follows: if you played Red Rescue Team you might remember Kecleon Shops. You might also remember you could steal from them in dungeons. You might ALSO also remember that if you did, armies of superfast Kecleon would spawn and run you down. Well, that still happens. Only now? Kecleon is indestructible, and they deliberately spawn them close to the stairs to make it nigh impossible to escape. So, uh, yeah.

Ultimately, both games have their positives, and their negatives. Gates to Infinity is a lot more impressive, and it looks very, very pretty. It also has a lot more up-to-date fancy features. Red Rescue team makes up where it lacks with a great and extensive storyline however. So basically? Whichever game system you have? Buy that one.

Oh, and if you’re wondering… I played Totodile and Axew. With Chikorita and Oshawott partners.

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Yes I know that there is such a thing as Blue Rescue Team. I didn’t have a DS then. So yeah. That.

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Kiba

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Kiba is, at first glance, a relatively standard Anime series – Strange hair, lots of crazy monsters and power, main character just happens to be special somehow, and so forth. But it is actually a lot more than that. It is surprisingly deep, with a lot of character development (for some characters that is. Others stay more or less static the whole time.) and some fancy plot pieces that not everyone would have expected. But it isn’t so good as to make it a household name. Otherwise more people would have heard of it. Kiba is worth watching. But it’s not worth watching repeatedly.

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Kiba is about a fellow named Zed (he’s the one in red) and his ragtag bunch of misfits adventuring their way through another world, one where some people can become a type of warrior called a ‘shardcaster’, which involves using shards to summon flames, power lightsaber type weapons and summon ‘spirits’, giant monsters that fight like Pokemon on steroids. The main character, being the main character, has one of the ‘Key Spirits’, which, when all seven are gathered, are prophesied to destroy the world. Zed and his crew get up to various adventures as a result, more often than not regarding people who want to use or outright steal his Key Spirit, ‘Amir Gal’. They journey around a variety of lands, including his homeland of Calm, Stereotypical Fantasy Land #78 Templar, Crazily Authoritarian Society Neotopia where every crime, even one like healing somebody without permission, is punishable by death; Tusk, an almost abandoned wasteland populated by huge Beastmen and soldiers with horns on their shoulders; Zymot, evil dictatorship; and Ulvarx, who are technologically advanced like mad.

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One thing that has to be said for Kiba, however: Kiba has a very good soundtrack. Although there are one or two songs that are going to get grating, the music is good at creating the desired emotion, and not cliche at all for an anime, which is a nice touch, considering that a lot about Kiba is cliche. Also, everybody seems to have Rinnegan. Dunno why.

Kiba is a little darker than your typical anime, and certain characters change increasingly in ways that you’ll be both pleased and horrified to watch. Certain other characters will seem to be being set up to be major characters, and then will be completely removed all of a sudden, whereas others that you were certain were dead will show up out of nowhere. It’s an enjoyable show to watch, and there are a lot of unique spirits (Plus a lot of the same spirits showing up in mooks repeatedly. I liked to think it was the same spirit that each soldier would pick up from his defeated companion and pass along. When they summoned a whole stock of them at once this theory kind of crumbled, though.)

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You are going to see the bug guy on the right a lot.

Kiba is far from perfect, but it is very good at dragging you in. It is a very, very immersive show, to the point that you won’t notice any of the flaws in the show until after you’ve finished watching it. But, at that point, you’re going to notice them all at once. It’s worth watching. But it’s not worth raving about.

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Where can I watch it?: There’s this little thing called Youtube. Maybe you’ve heard of it. I can’t be bothered posting a link, but there is one. You’re just going to have  to find it yourself this time. It’ll be an adventure!

The Expendables 2

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The Expendables 2. The Expendables 2 is very much an action film. That much should be so, very very obvious. It’s basically a huge shot of testosterone straight through the face.

The Expendables 2 gets its fame from having pretty much every big name action film star they could find and jamming them into one film, just to see what would happen.

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And it shows. The action scenes in the film are insane, and very enjoyable, if that’s your thing. Lots of explosions, and more and more dakka. Each actor also makes a whole host of references to their previous films as a bit of a joke, with Schwarzenegger referencing the Terminator films more than once, and Rambo getting a mention at one point as well. They also seem to have pulled a random Chuck Norris joke for when they introduce him.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s a fun, fun movie. But here’s the catch. This movie does action scenes very, very well. But as soon as it slows down, it all goes right to hell. When the film slows down and tries to form some semblance of a plot, it becomes quite apparent that there really isn’t much of a plot. That’s fine. That’s not what we’re watching this film for. The problem is that there’s a good chunk in the middle of the movie where there isn’t much in the way of action scenes, and boy does it begin to drag a bit then. So take it or leave it. The action scenes are good. They are very good. But the other parts tend to let it down a bit.

Ultimately, it’s pretty much what you’d expect from this kind of film. Over the top, entertaining action scenes, but it drags a bit when it’s forced to take on some form of plot. Your call.

How long is it: 98 minutes

Where can I find it: There’s a couple low quality copies of it on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbh7wvkSO6Q)

First Impressions: Injustice: Gods Among Us

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So the other day I decided to try out the new DC fighting game, Injustice. Now, not being a particularly large fan of DC comics in general, I’ve been viewing it more in terms of being a fighting game than a DC game. I have no idea how close the abilities shown are to source material. Don’t hate me.

But as a fighting game, Injustice certainly shows promise. Although it is far from simple, and is not a quick game to pick up to someone unfamiliar with it – it does not support button mashing at all – it is very in depth. Each location has a variety of materials that can be interacted with, be it firing the batmobiles missiles at your opponent, throwing a fire hydrant at them, or smashing the glass walls in the palace of Atlantis to temporarily flood the area. Each character is also thoroughly developed, gameplay wise, meaning that they are all quite different to play as. However, this has the unfortunate effect of making it quite confusing to try and pick up a new character, something that is noticable in the campaign: after three or four levels with, say, the Green Lantern, you’ll suddenly switch to Aquaman and have to play completely differently. Just when you figure out Aquaman, POW, You’re the Joker. So it has a few annoying parts. But the difference in character does mean that battles between characters are notably varied, as they don’t simply repeat one anothers attacks. It seems like it would be a better idea to simply select one or two characters and focus on them, however, rather than trying to generalize yourself to be able to play a large range of characters.

Also, the campaign is a little cutscene heavy. Now, normally this isn’t a problem in a story heavy game; but in Injustice there is probably just as much time in cutscenes as there is in fighting, and a good portion of that time is actually a cutscene of fighting; something that there is really no practical reason that the player couldn’t be doing: this is a fighting game, after all, and it just seems a little bizarre.

Basically, Injustice has a few spots that can annoy a new user, but once you figure out what you’re doing, it is quite entertaining and well made. Yet to see what this makes my final decisions, however.

I’m Back

Well, I’m back, after a trip to the other side of the country and a little while in hospital due to an unfortunate automobile accident.

Everything is more or less working how it should be again now, so I’ll be back again on a weekly basis, as before. I’ve got a few new games and shows I’ve been into over the period, so I’ve got lots of new material to use in the reviews. I may try to release some to cover the missing few weeks, but at least expect a weekly one again from now on.

Now, let’s see if we can keep this running again this time.

 

Bleach: Soul Resureccion vs. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3

Today I’m introducing a new style of weekly piece; a comparison. This will be between two similar games to see the pros and cons of each. For the first review of this style, the games I chose are Bleach: Soul Resureccion and Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, both the most recent game in their respective franchise.

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The campaign mode of each game has a different approach to a similar playstyle: the Bleach campaign is probably less than a quarter as long as the Naruto one, but is much more fleshed out and varied, especially in player character. In the Naruto campaign you are Naruto in about ¾ of the missions, where in the Bleach one you are only basic Ichigo for two or three. The individual missions of the Bleach campaign are also more interesting than those of Naruto; the Naruto campaign contains your basic fighting game battle a string of enemies system, while more effort is putting into making the Bleach levels, and they tend to be more satisfying. Also, the Naruto game contains an open world system where you can run around doing mission etc. While this sounds good, and after the campaign, it is; during the campaign, where you don’t really have side missions yet, the open world system is simply annoying, as it only adds a large quantity of pointless running back and forth that does not benefit the experience of the game at all. The Boss Battles in Bleach are all quite similar, though; with only three really being notably different from any other generic fight – vs. Yammy, who is enormous, vs. Rudobon, who is static but has armies and armies of summonable soldiers, and vs. Aizen, the final battle, which is to be expected. The Naruto battles switch it up a lot more, and give you options to make it more difficult for a higher reward, such as fighting six bosses at once or in pairs, or fighting without support. However, while Naruto’s boss battles are more varied, and possibly more satisfying; the Bleach campaign as a whole is more entertaining to play.

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This is where Naruto’s open world system gets points. Allowing you to build a team of Naruto +3 other characters, which you can unlock throughout missions, and roam around a huge part of the ninja world interacting with the games large cast is a good point. The Bleach system has instead a selection of missions, which mostly follow the basic level designs of ‘Get through level -> boss fight’, with the occasional restriction on movepool or health; as well as occasional bonus missions such as ‘Fight 100 soul reapers’. (That one in particular is notable because they neglect to mention that the 100th soul reaper is Zaraki Kenpachi.) These missions soon get murderously difficult, however; and the final mission is to fight every single boss and character in the game, so good luck with that one. The Naruto missions are never hugely difficult, especially compared to the final level of the campaign. There are many, many different types of collectables scattered around though, from chakra shards to collect rare characters, to timeline pages which allow access to bonus level fights from throughout the entire Naruto timeline, to white Zetsu clones to battle. Bleach has no collectables in the traditional sense, only having a statuette system which are awarded upon completing a mission rather than finding them scattered about. Ultimately it’s a bit of a personal choice with this one, but I’d lean towards Naruto as having the more enjoyable after-campaign material.

PLAYABLE CHARACTERS

Basically? Quantity vs. Quality here. Bleach has only 20 or so characters, but they are all quite different, and much more in depth than the Naruto characters; having more abilities and more distinct individual playstyles. Naruto has 80+ characters, almost all of which have multiple costumes, most of which have a selection of ultimate moves. They are far less in depth, though; and a lot of characters are similar, or just the same person with a varied fighting style from a different point in the series. There is, for example, at least four Naruto’s, about as many Sasuke’s, two or three Itachi’s, three or four Tobi’s, even two Rock Lee’s. Also, even though a lot of the characters look and sound very different, most of the ultimates are functionally very similar, the only differences being how easy it is to hit your enemy (Killer Bee and Nagato claim this spot easily) and how showy the animation is (Uchiha Madara, no questions asked). The play styles also fit into a few categories for most of the characters – long range specialists, hit and run characters, and the tailed beasts fit into a category all of their own – with only a few being standout as completely distinctive (Hanzo and Guy both come to mind, although there are more). The Bleach characters don’t fall into groups as easily, and they’re all noticeably different; but the fact that there are around four times as many Naruto characters, and that they’re still enjoyably playable, means that Naruto takes this category with very little difficulty.

MULTIPLAYER

This one is literally not a contest at all, by virtue on Bleach not having multiplayer of any kind. The closest thing you can do to multiplayer is compare scores online. The multiplayer system in Naruto is probably the main selling point of the game, and probably the one most people would get the most time out of. The huge player cast, combined with a large selection of maps (although they are almost all functionally identical) means that even of Bleach HAD a multiplayer system, it would have a hard time standing up. The system is limited to one on one fights however; meaning that if more people wish to play you’ll need to play a tournament, which is included. There are also team fights, in which you select one or two support characters; and I have to mention the large amount of effort gone into this: a huge amount of team selections yield individual names, EG ‘Artists’ for Sasori/Deidara, ‘Eternal Rivals’ for Kakashi/Guy, and ‘Aiming for Sasuke’ for Sakura/Ino/Karin. There’s also ‘All Boys’ for Sasuke/Sai. All up there is over a hundrer of these nicknames, and even more possible combinations to create them.

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Neither gets many points for this one, but Naruto wins out again simply because it has DLC, even if it is only costumes. There was a free Goku costume for Naruto with pre-orders, which changes the Rasengan animation into a Kamehameha animation, amongst other things. There is also a large selection of paid costumes, which vary in price from about $0.99 to about $2.50, and none of them add more than a new look and some new animations. These include school uniforms, Akatsuki and Kage hats, swimsuits, ANBU uniforms and traditional Japanese outfits, such as Samurai armour or kimonos. Also, for some reason, Sasuke possesses a Napoleon costume, which is a little more bizarre. And we aren’t even to go into the Hello Kitty costume.

Remember – These are all real things that you can get, for some reason.

CONCLUSION

Basically? It really boils down to single player vs. multiplayer. If you want a single player game, and that’s all; Bleach: Soul Resureccion is probably more enjoyable. But if you want to play with your friends, go for Ultimate Ninja Storm 3. If you aren’t familiar with either series, Bleach or Naruto, then really? Don’t bother with either of them.

Bleach: Soul Resurrection

Platforms: PS3

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3

Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360

Gantz

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Gantz. Gantz, Gantz, Gantz. Gantz is… different. It is most definitely not for young people. Gantz has absolutely no qualms with featuring nudity and gore, and makes no attempt whatsoever to censor its ever increasing graphic nature. But, if you can cope with all that, it’s certainly not bad.

Gantz is different for a few reasons. Firstly, there is absolutely nobody who is safe. And I mean NOBODY. Gantz has absolutely no problems with killing off literally anyone without any warning whatsoever. Second, the theory behind it is certainly original: people who die are equipped with futuristic weaponry and suits and sent to fight aliens. If they succeed they are awarded with ‘points’, which can be used to escape the game. And finally, the aliens are outright bizarre.

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The storyline in Gantz is mostly arc-based, with an overall storyline developing and slowly emerging from the background the whole time. Each arc is basically one alien hunting mission, and you can expect a large death toll each time. Actually, it wouldn’t surprise me if Gantz has one of, if not the, highest death toll from all of the anime and manga I’m familiar with. Mass murderers are not uncommon, and they aren’t always aliens, either.

Gantz also has both a manga and an anime adaptation, as well as one or two live action movies. The anime follows the manga for a while, but there are filler arcs and it only reaches up to a certain point, missing out on all of the late plot, which is basically one wham episode after another. And speaking of wham episodes, Gantz possible contains some of the best; but I won’t elaborate on them here, because spoilers. The anime adaptation does not censor Gantz much, which is fortunate – if you remove all of the questionable material from Gantz, there really wouldn’t be much left.

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The characters in Gantz are varied, and almost all of them undertake a good amount of character development throughout the series, assuming that they survive long enough to do so. Once a more permanent cast is established, most of them get a good amount of coverage, some in more depth than others; but it plays out fairly well. Not a lot of the characters are particularly likeable, though; even the main character starts out as a bit of an ass who couldn’t really care about much more than saving himself and getting with women (which he has varied success with). That said, there are some characters who are almost immediately likeable; and some who become likable with a bit of character development.

Gantz update schedule is not exactly frequent, or structured, however; so once you catch up with it you’ll most probably be waiting for a while for each chapter release. Gantz seems to be nearing its finale, though; so it may be over by the time you get there anyway.

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To conclude, Gantz is not a bad series; but it is definitely an acquired taste. If you can keep up with the graphic nature of, say, Elfen Lied, then you should be fine with Gantz; it doesn’t really get any more graphic than that, it just does it a lot more, if that were possible. This includes a lot of rather graphic nudity, and more than a few sex scenes. Almost every chapter also starts with a fanservice image of one of the girls currently in the game, wearing either a very skimpy getup or no getup at all. So if any of these things are not particularly attractive for you steer clear of Gantz. It will probably mentally scar you. If you don’t mind such things, and if you’re looking for a sci-fi story, Gantz is worth checking out. But remember – it is DEFINITELY not for everyone.

 

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Episode length: About 20 minutes.

Episodes: 26

Chapters: 380+

Where can I find it?:  The anime can be found in parts on Youtube. Mangareader has the manga.

Anime: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-lOGjK8G_o (part 1)

Manga: http://www.mangareader.net/97/gantz.html

Rock Lee’s Springtime of Youth

Lee Title

In a stark contrast from last weeks piece, this week we have Rock Lee’s Springtime of Youth, a Naruto spinoff that is one of the more ridiculous things ever created. Despite, or perhaps because, of this, however; it manages to be absolutely hilarious.

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Rock Lee’s Springtime of Youth is basically what you would get if you took the occasional absurd moments from the main Naruto series, compressed it into its purest form, and just ran with whatever came out. It is frequently so outright ridiculous that you lose all track of what is going on. Somehow this becomes a very entertaining show. It is worth noting, however, that a lot of the humour of the show will be lost on people who don’t have some understanding of Naruto. While still amusing, a lot of the fun of the show is seeing the characters, which are basically all exaggerated versions of their main storyline selves, and frequently get dragged into completely ridiculous situations.

Now, although the series seems, and indeed frequently is, rather childish (some of the episodes revolve around flower parties, a Halloween festival Deidara somehow gets caught up in, and setting up a date for Tsunade), there are also some moments that rather swiftly subvert the young theme, which are basically whenever Sai shows up.

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sai tells it like it is

His nicknaming hasn’t got any better, either, and from a certain point onwards it is not uncommon for certain characters (usually Kabuto) to refer to Orochimaru as Orochi-my-dick. Orochimaru, by the way, has been demoted to Scooby Doo villain status, with schemes seeming to mostly be along the lines of:

Use jutsu to mess up public bathroom -> ??? -> Conquer Leaf.

Disguise self as Gaara -> ??? -> Conquer Leaf.

Beat Lee in acting contest. -> ??? -> Conquer Leaf.

And so on.

It’s also not uncommon for other anime or aspects of pop culture to be referenced in the show, with Lee forming a talk show to discuss bands at one point, and Neji somehow going Super Saiyan.

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Ultimately Rock Lee’s Springtime of Youth is probably the most flat out absurd thing I know of right now. But it’s so over the top it can be very amusing, and a huge assortment of characters are included (I’m curious if Tenten, and possible Shino, actually have more screentime in this than in regular Naruto). If you’re a Naruto fan, and you’re looking for something not too serious, Rock Lee is not a bad choice. If you despise fun, then you probably won’t enjoy this one.

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Episode length: Each episode is split into two 10 minute parts for a 20 minute total

Episodes: 51

Chapters: 22 + 1 special

Where can I find it?:  The sub of the anime is hosted on Crunchyroll free to view. Various Manga sites hold the manga. The link is Mangareader.

Anime: http://www.crunchyroll.com/naruto-spin-off-rock-lee-his-ninja-pals

Manga: http://www.mangareader.net/rock-lees-springtime-of-youth