Cartoons · Uncategorized

Voltron Season 5 Review

So it looks like we’re stuck with this 6 to 7 episode format for a “season” when it comes to Voltron, thanks a lot Netflix.  I totally get why they’re doing it though, they get more content and can spread it out over a few “seasons” and it’s more lucrative for them.  I will say that season 5 fixed the format a little, and gave us a concrete beginning and end to the season, even with its short run time.  But with only 6 episodes to a season, was it enough to make season 5 worth the watch?
Spoilers:  Yep!  Now onto the review~


All in all, we were given a pretty solid season.  The character development front was a nice boost from prior seasons, where I feel we had a pretty big focus on plot centric stuff, and a back burner to character growth.  Did season 5 strike the perfect balance between good plot pacing, and good character development? I don’t think Voltron quite hit the mark there.  I find that it has a problem with giving us a plot point, having a few episodes not even remotely related to a certain plot point, and then bam out of the blue hey that plot point came back even though it wasn’t mentioned at all because we were focusing on other stuff.  Like a good example is the whole Shiro plot point from season 3.  We had all of these other plots going, and then hey at the end of the season, remember that Shiro plot?  Here’s how it’s going to go down!  That, along with the Pidge’s Dad plot I feel like just came out of the blue when we were focusing on other, more interesting plot points and characters.  I think it has a lot to do with wanting to have a conclusive “season 5” but come on Netflix, why not just give us 13 episodes so the pacing is a little bit better?


But plot pacing aside, I really enjoyed the characters in this season.  The strongest writing in this season was the relationships between Lotor, and the Paladins.  Spoilers ahead, you have been warned!
SO I really enjoy what they’re doing with Lotor in season 5.  He’s the most interesting character by far, just because of how unpredictable he is.  He sides with Team Voltron for self-preservation purposes, but does wind up gaining their trust.  But the real question is, is he manipulating them?  Is he sincere in some aspects of his words, and others not?  Or is he 100 percent on board with helping Team Voltron win the war.  It’s a really interesting dynamic that keeps the viewers on their toes, and even though I’d like Lotor to have genuinely changed sides, I also have a feeling of unease that the other shoe is going to drop as soon as Lotor gets what he wants.  I do believe his feelings towards Allura  are genuine, at least, but I’m just waiting for him to kidnap her, or try and lure her over to his side or something.  Lance in that regard grows immensely, along with his feelings for Allura (to me, at least, I love that ship but LotorXAllura I love too so I really really hope he’s legit).  Lance’s development in this season reached a point that I wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes the pilot of the Black Lion, just really enjoy how he’s matured over these five seasons.


Now the writing isn’t flawless, by any means.  The one thing I’m going to call out with the writing is how predictable it is.  We always know the paladins are going to win, we always know that even if a situation gets dire, they’ll come out on top.  Other than Lotor being more of a neutral chaotic, anyone else who we have heard about and assume is good, we meet and is good.  There was one character in particular that I would have liked to see them do something different with, and had be a secret Zarcon loyalist when they thought he was on their side but alas a missed opportunity and of course he turned out good, because that’s how he was initially presented to us.  I still enjoy the show, but it’s just such a predictable good vs. evil battle, granted with awesome fight scenes in it, but still some diverse character motivations would be nice.


So We find out something interesting with Keith in this season as well that I can’t wait to see what happens next.  Was a little bummed he only got one episode, and as of now he isn’t a Voltron paladin, but at least we got to see him a little in the season, even if it was one full episode with him.  But once again his character is developing nicely, so can’t complain.
Voltron season 5 seems like it’s a transitional season towards more heavier material to come in later seasons, it was a lot slower paced and focused more on the characters than anything else.  Since I enjoy character pieces over plot, I liked this season immensely, and can’t wait to see what happens next.


Have you seen season 5 of Voltron:  Legendary Defender?  I binged it all in one sitting!  If so, what did you think of the season as a whole?

Uncategorized · Video Games

Happy Valentines Day!

I’m not in the habit of sharing my covers on this blog, because I like it to be more about talking about nerdy things.  But, since this is a nerdy cover, for a non-nerdy holiday, I figured I’d share it for anyone looking for some nerdy love songs to listen to!
I love Final Fantasy, I love this song, and have wanted to do a fandub of it for a while.  So happy I finally bit the bullet and did both this cover, and a fandub!  Definitely going to be doing more in the future, was tons of fun!


Hope you all have a great Valentines Day!  Don’t eat yourselves into too much of a sugar coma!

Uncategorized · Video Games

Making My First Game, Update 1

I’m done with the coding part of this little excursion and I’ve learned a lot about making a game during this phase.  Visual Novels aren’t crazy intensive games, but they’re games nevertheless and you go through the same things you would while making a VN’s code as you would a normal game:  Having to troubleshoot code a million times, getting music, art assets, voice acting if you’d like, and all in all, it’s been fun.  It’s definitely something I want, and plan to do again, but this first small game I’m doing has had so many ups and downs, and it’s only been a week and a half of working on it!  But I’m finally at the point where everything that needs to work in my script works, and I can move on to making music, and sending the asset list to my friend who’s doing the art.  Yay!


There are so many useful things I’ve learned from this experience.  Like, a lot of things I thought were broken code was me being a derp, and I’m lucky enough to have friends who know the python programming language who can help me out with things.  So I showed my code to my friend, and he helped me so much with figuring out how to organize things more efficiently!  The Ren’py forums are a good resource for asking and getting questions answered, but at the end of the day they’re mostly going off of what Ren’py says to do instead of using knowing python language to make the code a lot more streamlined.  I learned a lot I’m going to take into making other story based games in the future and I wouldn’t have without asking for his help, so yet again another reason why my friends are awesome!



I’d like to make a list of the road bumps I hit along the way of doing this first coding outing, to both document what I’ve been going thorugh, and to hopefully help anyone who decides to jump into making a visual novel if they happen to stumble on this post!  So I guess this is my development blog post of sorts, for now, because I’ll keep you all posted on how it goes when I have ot add in music, sounds, art, and hopefully finish the game!  It’s a small project, so I’m hoping it won’t take too long…but at the same time, I’m dreadfully nervous that I’ll go to add all of those things and break my code somehow, fingers crossed that doesn’t happen XD


Things I learned while coding my first VN:


  • Jump statements are probably the most important thing you can use.  There were so many times where I thought my script was broken, only to find I hadn’t set a jump statement to jump to a label that tallies points.  So the logic of the script kept on jumping to the ending that was right after the block of text when I really wanted it to jump to a points tally section to trigger evaluating points, so it could calculate what ending the player would get.  Now I just use jump statements for everything, it makes life so much easier!
  • Organizing your script was so important! There were a lot of times that I was rewriting things, and trying to figure out where I wanted to put what.  If I had organized, and planned my points system, and how I wanted to write my script better, it would have gone smoother.  For me, I know that’s definitely a learning form trying it ordeal, because I wouldn’t have figured out how I wanted to organize it if I hadn’t written it the way I did and went through this hurdle, so really valuable lesson.
  • Make sure all of your points are the value you want them to be! I ekpt on trying to make the bad ending in my game trigger, because I had every menu labeled with the points in a sequential order.  I hadn’t done that on one of the menus – the choice I was making that I thought was the lowest point value was really the middle path for the ok ending, and if I had actually checked that instead of skimming over it thinking the menu was fine, it would have made my life easier.  And on that note…
  • Always check your work! So many things I did were just me not checking every aspect of my code.  After a certain point, I double, and dripple checked everything because that was better than having to comb through the script a bajillion times…which, I had to do anyways because that’s just a fact of coding lol.
  • Another really valuable thing I learned was you don’t always have to use >= statements to evaluate points. On the Ren’py Forum, they always say have your points evaluated with a >= but my friend told me you can totally just evaluate if something it < or > and in my opinion, it just makes the coding make more sense, and skips over a lot of steps for the coding work.  Else statements are really nice in that regard, too!  Instead of having to figure out 3 point values, you can just say “If these two things are false, do this” and it’s nice haha.  Learned that way later, when one of my elif statements was triggering the ok ending every time because I had set it to evaluate the threshold for the bad ending.  So had to change that to just evaluate if it was < something and then use an else statement…and I hope that made sense XD


I’m so pumped to be done with the coding section of the game!  Now onto music and sound effects.  I told myself I’d be done with the coding by the end of this week, and I met that goal, so woo!  Of course, I didn’t think all of this troubleshooting would be involved…but live and learn!


I’ll keep you guys posted on my next set of progress

Editorials/Opinion Pieces · Uncategorized · Video Games

Making my First Game!

So I downloaded Renpy the middle of last year, learned some basic code, and never did anything with it.  For those of you who don’t know, renpy is a visual novel making engine, and my interest in visual novels got me into an interest in wanting to make visual novels.  But like I said, I just learned some basic code and did nothing else with it, until now.

One of my resolutions I made to myself was to get back into coding, and make a game.  As I said in an earlier post, there are so many visual novels out there that just aren’t accessible to the blind, and are great stories, and I’d love to fill that gap by making VNs that both sighted and blind players can enjoy.  For now, I’m making something really basic, and am a little nervous about actually getting art done, but I’m enjoying the coding process so far!  Of course, the most annoying thing is testing code and seeing it doesn’t work, but after doing a little bit of reading it was easy to pick backup what I had learned earlier to start making my VN.  I’m debating just making it a text adventure, or audio adventure, but right now I’m just working on the coding and am going to hash out sound effects, visuals, and all of that stuff later.  I’m honestly happy I have so many skills, my jill of all tradesness pays off!  Because I’m going to make a few simple tracks of music, and possibly add my own voice acting in there.  Kind of high hopes, and a decent amount of work, but I really want to be done with the coding by the end of next week, and then go from there as far as the other parts of production are concerned.


So, how do I like making a visual novel?  It’s really fun!  I love using it as a creative medium, I feel like it’s the best of both worlds:  has good story telling potential, and you can choose to make it all audio, all text, or a combonation of both.  I’m thinking of exploring making an audio adventure in the engine later down the road, because that also would combine my love of sound design and audio mixing.  But for now, I’m enjoying making my cute little slice of life game 🙂


I’ll keep you guys posted, and share the VN I’m working on now when it’s done!  I really want to keep myself on a time schedule, because I’d like to churn out this project fast and get not only coding something under my belt, but know what it takes to make a VN under my belt, as well.  It’s been an interesting learning experience, I’m realizing it takes a lot more to make a game then just having an idea you want to make.  Of course my favorite part is the writing, and coming up with ideas on how to make said game, so I’m having tons of fun!

Uncategorized · Video Games

A Hero’s Call Impressions After 2 Weeks of Playing

I’ve been playing A Hero’s Call on and off for the past two weeks, and I realized something.


I don’t like open world games.


I went into this RPG expecting it to be something else:  The impression I got from the advertisement of it was a linear, story based RPG, much like a Final Fantasy, Tales of, or any other JRPG series that is heavily based on plot. While there is a plot, it isn’t a heavy one.  It’s one that gets the purpose of the game across:  Explore a ton, find quests, have fun just experiencing the open world format of the game.  It bothered me that the game wasn’t a more story based game, even though there are story points sprinkled in here and there, full blown lore, and interesting enough characters.  Is the writing in the game perfect?  I don’t think so.  I think the story and characters could have been fleshed out a lot more.  Right now they’re rather generic fantasy characters, and although they’re likeable enough, it leaves something to be desired
There are points where you can talk to characters and get more information about them.  I think maybe once, in a specific area?  I’ve tried talking to them at different points of the game and haven’t gotten anything new to speak to them about, other than one character, after I finished one of the major plot centric quests, so perhaps that’s how you get new dialogue.  I got this super cute scene with all of the characters after having every party member which was nice, but once again, the characters aren’t as fleshed out as they could be, and don’t talk to each other much so it fell a little flat.


After realizing it was an open world game, I sort of just started to deal with it, embrace it, and explore.  Instead of trying to get the plot centric quests done, I’ve decided to do a lot of smaller quests while doing things to further along the main line quest.  So I’ve done that, and I’m enjoying the game a lot more.  It still has a lot of the flaws in it I mentioned in my first impressions post, but playing this game as an open world game instead of as a linear storytelling RPG is a lot more enjoyable.
That being said, going off of this as an open world RPG, I feel like there needs to be a lot more to explore.  I understand, it was  a new developer, doing an awesome new audio RPG, but why not do a story based game with more linear gameplay, so you don’t have to make huge areas and the like?  There are a lot of maps, but comparing it to mainstream, open world RPGs, it just leaves something to be desired.  There’s a lot of dead space in the maps, as well, and a lot of empty space in town areas that could have been filled with sound effects of people being active there.  Some good examples of this are the tavern, general store, and temple:  all three of them only have the head priest, the store owner, and the tavern and inn owner in them (plus a mercenary for hire in one of the rooms) but why not add some people walking in and out?  Or even just some crowd ambience, so it sounds like you’re walking into a busy tavern at certain times of the day.  Why not have people whispering to themselves about the priests preachings, or the general store owner conversing with a townsperson, or client when entering sometimes.  Just little bits of polish I think could have taken this game over the top, with a little more development time.


As I said earlier, sometimes it feels like you’re just wandering somewhere and the character is going no where because of how big the maps are.  With audio only, the footsteps sound like they’re walking in place at times, especially in echoey cavern areas.  If there were some sort of indicator as to whether or not you were moving that wasn’t just footsteps, for derpy people like me who can’t always tell if they’re moving, that would be great.


Like I said, open world games just aren’t my thing.  I’m enjoying the game, but given the choice between a game like this, and a game like say, Tales of Symphonia or Final Fantasy VI, I’ll pick up the linear story based game every time.  I like world building, character development, and stories being told that have a clear beginning and end, and I just don’t get that in open world RPGs.  Still fun, but not my cup of tea.


I feel it’s important to hold audio game developers to the same standards as other mainstream, or indi developers.  We’ll say indi developers, because they’ll be on the same playing field with the resources available to them.  Audio games will never get the recognition they deserve if they’re just given a pat on the back for existing, and that’s why I’m critiqueing this, just like I would any other RPG I’ve played.  My major critique about the game in general is that it could have had a bit more polish before release, but I get wanting to get the game out for people to play and fixing it with patches later.  A Hero’s Call was only 20 USD, and for the price I think it’s definitely worth buying it, even if it’s just to support the advancement of audio games made to this quality of standard:  it’s amazing what the developers have done with the game, and I’m excited to see what they do next.  Fingers crossed they do an RPG that’s more my style!


If you’re playing A Hero’s Call, would love to hear your thoughts on the game!  Do you open world RPG fans find it very enjoyable?

Editorials/Opinion Pieces · Uncategorized · Video Games

A Musical Moment: The Extreme from Final Fantasy VIII

With the hype for Final Fantasy Dissidia NT growing the past few months, and this being Final Fantasy’s 30th anniversary, I’ve been in a major Final Fantasy nostalgia mood this year.  My favorite game is VI, but there are a few games I just never quite got into, or always thought were lacking and forgot about them over the years.  After watching some Dissidia and Dissida 2 footage, it’s changed my opinion of some characters, and therefore, made me look more into the games they originated from.


One of these characters was Squall.  Never liked him as a character, because he was “emo” and just so uncaring to me, with a one-dimensional character.  Seeing him voiced, and actually quite entertaining even though he is a loner and prefers to be alone, honestly reminded me of myself in ways I didn’t identify with younger.  To me, Squall is a character who doesn’t mind being alone, but at the same time always wants a connection with people that he longs for, and because of his reclusive nature can never 100 percent reach.  It’s really fascinating to watch, and his voice actor isn’t bad either!


I love all Final Fantasy music, and love a lot of tracks from FFVIII.  Man with the Machine Gun, Fisherman’s Horizon, the world map theme.  All really iconic tracks, along with the battle and boss themes.  I remembered the final boss theme being really good, but totally forgot how awesome it was until I heard it in game footage of Squall vs. Ultemesia gameplay, and dang!



I can’t get over how amazing this piece of music is.  Nabuo Uematsu never disappoints, and with this track, there is no acception.  I can’t get over how much different this is from other final battle entries in the series:  the two games before this, Final Fantasy VI and VII definitely are more character showcase pieces than something like this.  Dancing Mad (Final Fantasy VI_ is setup more like an overture/opera, and the music is so synonymous with that fight, and Kefka, that it’s hard to think of anything more than climbing up the distorted  statues, and destroying the man who believed himself to be a god.  One Winged Angel is iconic for being the first battle music with a choir, but once again, it’s 100 percent connected to Sephiroth (they say his name repeatedly in the chorus, after all) and there’s no possible way I could ever hear One-Winged Angel without thinking of Sephiroth, and FF7.
The Extreme however, is a completely different experience.  It starts out  haunting, eerie, desolate. It feels like there’s no hope left, and that there are such higher stakes at hand if you lose this battle.  After that section ends, the battle music starts, and gets your heart pumping.  It truly feels like you’re fighting for your life, that if you fail here you’re failing the world, and overall the entire listening experience is both a combination of “We have to do this/can we do this?” determined courage, fear, tension, all culminate in this track to make it a truly emotional experience, and I’m sad I totally forgot about this track until recently! I absolutely love the use of minor chords in the main melody to sound like the section should be resolving, but at the same time leaves that air of tension and dread abound.  This is some of Uematsu’s best meldoy work hands down, and the way this track just crawls further and further up until it crescendos back to the beginning of the battle section is so perfect to me.


Final Fantasy VIII is one of those games that is overlooked hardcore.  It was between VI, VII, and IX, and all of those are such beloved games that VIII just falls through the cracks because it tried something new with it’s characters, gameplay, and storytelling.  I used to be that way, but revisitng the game has really made me appreciate Final Fantasy VIII for what it is:  A tale about inner discovery, with a scifi plot that may not seem like it makes sense on the surface, but is a really interesting and dynamic take on a time travel themed story.  Plus, the villan  is truly terrifying, and I think the first time we get a full on demonically supernatural creature to face.
That’s why The Extreme is such a fitting final battle piece.  It feels like we’re facing insurmountable odds, because we are:  We’re facing a witch who wants to completely reshape time for her own whims and domination, and facing her needed to have a track that really sounded like we were fighting for our lives.  The Extreme does that excellently, and is by far one of my new favorite final battle songs from the Final Fantasy series.

I hope you enjoyed this musical moment, that also turned into a mini discussion about Final Fantasy VIII!  I’d love to know: What’s you’re favorite game in the series, and favorite final battle song?

Cartoons · Uncategorized

Voltron The Legendary Defender Season 4 Review [Minor Spoilers]

I’ll be honest, I don’t have much to say about season 4 of Voltron.  Not because it wasn’t amazing, but because it literally is season 3B instead of an actual season 4.  This is more the fault of Netflix new wonky system of making a full season, and instead of releasing it fully releasing it in chunks.  I feel like because of that new format, Voltron season 3, and 4 had less impact than other Voltron seasons.  But first and foremost, let me get into what I liked.


This season starts exactly where season 3 left off before the backstory episode for Zarcon.  Keith is still piloting the black lion, but pulling away from the team because he doesn’t feel like he’s worthy of the responsibility.  Once again, good story arc for Keith and Shiro – who obviously wasn’t ok with not piloting the black lion, but was adapting to his new role as support in the castle gracefully.  Likewise, Allura was dealing with her insecurities, with not feeling like she’s up to the task of piloting the blue lion.  Overall, everyone was adapting, adjusting, and in the end overcoming their different character arcs.  We got some really funny filler episodes – one that was pretty meta humor-y, and in a way commenting on how some people generalize certain characters on the shows they love (done far tactfully than the My Little Pony FiM episode that did the same thing in my opinion) and once again, it would have been better to have it splitting up the more serious episodes if this season had been distributed all at once, than 7 episodes in June and 7 now.  Because of that, Allura, and Keith’s story arcs got dashed a bit – we barely see Keith in this season, if you watch it stand alone without season 3, and Allura’s story arc coming to the conclusion it did in the final episode seems a little odd if you don’t see why she was feeling this way in season 3.  That being said, I love Lance and Allura’s developing relationship – I’m very, very close to shipping them both!  The way Lance supports Allura, and helps her get out of her head and believe in herself is so great.  They compliment each other well, as Lance seems to also want to be able to support Allura in a non-joking way and actually genuinely understands and encourages her.  Lance’s story is one that sneaks up on you in the series, but seeing him develop from class clown into a reliable, more sensitive and understanding person (while still being class clown cuz come on that won’t change) is a part of the series I love and cant’ get enough of.


Pidge’s story arc from the very beginning is resolved in an episode as well, and emotionally by far it’s the strongest episode for me.  Bravo to Pidge’s voice actress, when she broke down in that episode I was really feeling for her!  I won’t spoil if she finds Matt or not, but I will say this story resolves satisfyingly and doesn’t feel like it was rushed because the entire motivations for Pidge were laid out in the first season.

Lotor’s arc this season was great too!  How the season ended was fantastic.  But, once again…
This isn’t a slight to the show.  As I said in my first paragraph, I love Voltron – it’s my favorite series to watch right now.  But Netflix…I get you want to make money, but this new system of 7 episodes now, then 7 later just doesn’t work for a plot based, character driven show like Voltron.  If you want a shorter season, with a beginning and end to a plotline, then ok:  it probably wouldn’t be as good, but it would work.  Calling this season 4 when it’s clearly the 2nd half of season 3 you held back to get more viewership later in the year to me is really tacky, and a detriment to the flow of your shows.  Like I said before, it just makes all the stories less impactful, and it’s frustrating to people who want to watch the entire season when it’s released, but they know if it’s a 7 episode season, it’s only going to be half of one.  So what are fans left to do?  Either wait for both seasons to drop, binge those for a more cohesive story and deal with it, or watch half of the season when it’s released, then the second half when it’s released.  I guess you could also watch both seasons when they’re released then binge all 13 episodes after that, but why should I have to do that when the entire season should just drop when it’s going to drop?  Calling this season 4 is really just because it was released after season 3, but literally this is the second half of season 3 and I don’t appreciate Netflix holding the second half of this season ransom.  It feels like a major cash grab (it probably is) and feels like I might as well be watching it on television if they’re going to pull stuff like this.
At the end of the day, I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes in production.  If this is the only way to keep Voltron going then I guess I’ll deal with it.  But, I have a feeling it’s just something Netflix is doing because they can and it’s frustrating.



But yeah, none of that is on the staff for Voltron:  This season is fantastic!  If you want to see the second half of what I think is the best season yet, watch it now!  I’ll probably go binge seasons 3 and 4 just to see how the plot flows, how about you?