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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Bear in Whistler Village ringing door bell.

Here is something you don't see everyday: a bear ringing in the doorbell.  I have been to Whistler several times, but have yet to see a bear in the village (though they say that sometimes there are bear sightings in the village).  Here is a video about a crafty bear trying to get into a building.

(actually I meant to post this on my other blog)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Top 10 Most Memorable Star Wars games (work in progress)

Well, the new Star Wars movie, Force Awakens is supposed to come out in a less a month away from now (sometime in December) and for this post I will share some of the top 10 most memorable Star Wars themed video games I have played.  Note: I haven't played the Xbox One Star Wars Battlefront game yet (planning to buy it sometime when I get the chance though).

*warning: this blog post contains spoilers as it does assume you have played through the games.  If you rather play through the games instead, you can always buy them as well the platforms they play on on Amazon.  As for Star Wars arcade games (like Star Wars Trillogy arcade), I am sure you can find them at various arcades in America or by used machines either on Amazon or ebay)*

Game 1 - X Wing PC

This game was ahead of its time (especially for one that mainly used floppy disks instead of CD Roms).  This game is best played if you have a joystick as well as a good soundboard for the computer.  In this combat flight simulator game, you assume control of an X-wing, though sometimes you will be flying a Y wing or an A Wing too and do Tour of Duty missions for the Rebellion's campaign against the empire.  More casual players can do training missions and just for fun missions too.  Game does have cheats that you can enable from the menu (such as invincibility as well as unlimited ammo), but you have to play the game without cheats to advance in the tour of duty of missions.  Players who make it to the end of the game are treated to an assault on the first death star (including piloting down the infamous trench much like Luke did in A New Hope).  By the way, I remember you needed a code in the game to play it (was printed in the manual).  Lose the manual, and the game basically becomes unplayable unless if you remember some of the codes.  Similar games: Tie Fighter and Xwing vs Tiefighter.

Game 2- Star Wars Rebel Assault (Sega CD)
This was fun game for the Sega CD, though there is also a version for the PC.  You do various missions and levels.  I remember this game for the Sega CD, though there is also a version for the PC.  You play as a young rebel pilot and solider doing missions for the Rebellion against the empire.  It has been a long time since I have played this game yet, but it was definitely a fun Star Wars gaming experience.  The final mission has you reliving the battle of Yavin, where the rebels go up against the infamous Death Star Trench.
Game 3 - Dark Forces Jedi Knight as well as Mysteries of the Sith

Ah, this was a fun game.  Never played through the first Dark Forces game, but I have played through its' sequel Jedi Knight.  You assume the role of Kyle Katarn, the mercenary who stole the Death Star plans in the first game in his latest adventure to stop the evil dark Jedi, Jerec, who wants gain ultimate power and become the new emperor of the empire.  In this game, Kyle gains jedi powers and can either become a light jedi or dark jedi depending on how players play through the game and choice players make (killing bystanders can cause you to turn dark for example).  Never played through the game's extension pack (Mysteries of the Sith) but it goes on record of being the first onscreen appearance for Mara Jade and several other Starwars Legends (formerly expanded universe) characters and creatures (for example, it is one of the few Star Wars games to feature Noghris, which are grey skinned aliens that served as assasins for Darth Vader, though eventually became alligned to the Rebels thanks to efforts by Princess Leia in the Thrawn Trillogy).  Food for thought: with Force Awakens coming out later this month, will Mara Jade make a debut appearance in the new movie?  In the Legends universe, she was a lady who was originally working for the Empire and was a close associate for Palpatine, and even develops a hatred for Luke in the aftermath of Retun of the Jedi, but eventually changes her ways and even marries Luke.  Speculatively speaking I want to think she will in the new movie, but since Disney is taking the franchise in a different direction and declaring the books no longer to be cannon, it is not clear if she will be in the new movies or not.  Considering that she hasn't appeared in any of the original trillogy movies, prequels, clone wars, or Star Wars Rebels cartoons, it is possible she doesn't exist as far as the cinematic Star Wars Universe is concerned (you would think she would have been introduced by now if she does exist in the mainline storyline.  Only time will tell whether if any elements of the Legends universe crosses over into the cinematic universe, so it will be interesting to see how the new movies play out in relations to the Expanded Universe.

Game 4 - Star Wars Trillogy Arcade
This is not to be confused with Star Wars arcade for the Sega 3DX.  This was a game in the arcades where you can play through the Star Wars saga on various missions and events throughout the series.  Most people will probably not make it till the end unless if they have plenty of extra loose change to spend on continues as they play through the games. 

Game 5- Lego Star Wars (Playstation 2 and Xbox)
These were some fun games featuring Lego's version of the Star Wars universe.  There 3 different versions of the game (prequel era, original trillogy era, and complete saga).  Where you can play through various events and levels from the different star wars movies.  Plenty of twists too, such as being able to revisit levels as different characters (for example, playing as Darth Maul on Naboo, Darth Sidious, droids, soldiers, etc).  There are even several boss battles throughout both games.  By the way, although I never did it, hard core gamers in the Original Trillogy version of Lego Star Wars could even access Lego City in the game too by finding all of the hidden items in the game.

Game 6 - Star Wars Shadows of the Empire (Nintendo 64)
This was one of the few Star Wars games to be based on the Expanded Universe novels (not sure if any other Expanded Star Wars novels were converted to video games).  You assume the role of mercenary, Dash Rendar as he does missions for the Rebel alliance as well as serving as Luke's body guard who not only becomes a fugitive from the Empire (Darth Sidious wants him dead while the Anakin Skywalker in Darth Vader wants to convert Luke into the Dark side, despite the fact that there can only be 2 siths at a time) in the aftermath of Empire Strikes back, but also becomes a target for assasination attempts by the Blue Suns criminal organization who want him dead.  The game is fitting for the Nintendo 64 being in a huge 3D style environment.  Noteworthy levels includes: Battle of Hoth, Escaping the Rebel base on Hoth (there is even a cheat that lets you control one of the several wampas lurking in the base), boss fight with Boba Fett, reliving the mission where you have to help the Bothans (not seen in the game) steal the plans for the second Death Star, battling a giant diagona, as well as playing through the game's climatic final missions and levels.  Food for thought: considering that Disney is planning to make several stand alone Star Wars movies, I think a movie adaption of Shadows of the Empire would be cool, especially considering that it helps bridge the gap between Empire Strikes back and Return of the Jedi (much like the clone wars saga does between Attack of the Clones and Mysteries of the Sith).  Whether a movie adaption of Shadows of the Empire is possible, I have no idea (though probably unlikely unless someone wants make that movie), but it would make an interesting installment to watch.  

Game 7 - Star Wars Battlefront 1 and 2 (Xbox)
Long before there was the new Star Wars Battlefront Reboot for the Xbox One and PS4, there were older versions of the games for the original Xbox.  Much like the reboot, you revisit battles and events from both the Prequels and the Original trillogy (such as the battle of Endor, Geonosis, clone wars battles, battle of Kashyyyk, Hoth, and even the battle of Coruscant from Revenge of the Sith).  Battlefront 2 focuses more on the events of the clone wars and Revenge of the sith (including the infamous order 66) and even lets you do space battles too, where you can either fly as fighter pilot, help defend your cruiser (manning the guns) or even working to sabotage the enemy ship.  

Game 8 - Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic and Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2

I am going to list these 2 games together because they are very similar to each other.  The same people (Bioware) who made the Mass Effect Series also teamed up with Lucasarts to make Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic.  These games are set about 4000 years before Revenge of the Sith, yet ironically still very futuristic worlds (in real life Earth was a completly different world 4000 years ago, with modern style technology and transportaion either being non existant or primative at best and you would have been living in the ancient world).  In Knights of the Old Republic 1, you assume the role of the former Darth Revan (this doesn't get revealed till later in the game), who was stripped of his force powers after being captured by the Jedis at the time and even had his memory erased too.  This game is unique as not only is the game not confined to the movies, but it has a huge open world environment and plenty of cutscenes and dialogue too (it is almost like a movie in itself).  In these games there is a huge choose your own adventure style element.  Some things you can do in the original game includes:
- saving your allies and friends
- being a "dick" to people (choosing mean dialogue options)
- Falling in love with a female jedi named Bastilla
- Lying to the jedi counsil (interestingly, they do buy your lies)
- Turning to the dark side and betraying allies
- Being a light jedi and saving the galaxy
- Becoming a bounty hunter and collecting on bounties
- engaging in gladiator style duels (including one where you can fight to the death).
There are plenty of interesting NPC characters too, including an ancestor of Yoda (he looks like yoda and even has his own jedi counsil, but is not the same character), a protocol droid known as HK 47 who is also an assasination droid and is great for characters who want to create dark jedis and loves to talk smack about other characters and even has the tag line of: "meat bags" and many others.

Knights of the Old Republic 2 was the official sequel to the first game and you play as this "exile" character who was cut off from the force by the jedi (apparently the jedi counsel can do that as far as the game is concerned) and introduces a cunning sith lord known as Kreia (who also functions as mentor for the Exile) who apparently wants to get rid of the force all together and take over the galaxy).  In that version of the game, your force alignment is determined based on your actions and you beome either a light or dark jedi around the mid point of the game (the game changes based on your alignment) and you can even take sides in ongoing struggles various worlds are going through.  For example, I remember a world lead by a queen (similar to Naboo) with an evil dictator that wants to launch a coup de tat and take over the planet and you can either side with the queen or the miltary coup.  Also, much like in Revenge of the Sith, there are several sith present and in power and are hunting down the Exile as well as other light jedi, making things interesting for the player as the game progresses.  Besides the Knights of the Republic game for the PC, Knights of the Old Republic 2 is currently the last of its kind for the consoles, though it would be nice to see a remake or sequel for Xbox one someday, much like what they are doing for Star Wars Battlefront.   These 2 games are definitely classics in my opinion and you were definitely missing out if you didn't play through them  What other Star Wars game takes place 4000 years prior to Revenge of the Sith and lets you make your own choices during the play through, and even plays like its own movie?
Game 9 - Star Wars the Force Unleashed
This game is set sometime between Episodes 3 and 4 and is one of the several stories in the Star Wars saga that aims to help bridge the gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope (considering that the movies are set almost 20 years a part) along with Star Wars Rebels and the upcoming Star Wars Rogue one movie (the one that is about the operation where rebel spies steal the Death Star Plans prior to A New Hope).  In this game, the Empire has established its grip across the galaxy and Darth Vader continues on his quest to kill off the jedi knights who survived the infamous Order 66 and headed Obi Wan's warning to stay away from Coruscant.  In the game, Vader recruits protaganist, Galen Malek (aka Starkiller) to help hunt down the Jedi Knights while secretly wanting to use Starkiller to help kill the Emperor (probably in part due to Padme dying at the end of Revenge of the Sith which Anakin did not take kindly to when he learned about her fate) and you do go on various missions where you go after some of the jedi (such as Rahm Kota and even Shaak Ti).  Eventually Vader betrays Stark killer and Star Killer is forced to join forces with the rebels (lead by Mon Mothma, Baal Organa, Princess Leia, Garm Bel iblis, and others) in their struggle against the empire  This game is definitely a dark installment in the series, but was pretty fun.  You wield a lightsaber and gain force powers (I like how he can use force lightning on enemies, gain special shields to deflect blasters, and even ligth saber throw).  He can also manipulates objects and hurl them at enemies too (such as hurling explosives at storm troopers or chucking thermal detonators back at jawas who try to kill Starkiller).  Lots of cut scenes worth watching too.  This game seems to mark the first onscreen appearance for Garm Bel Iblis (one of the well known rebel leaders in the Expanded Star Wars universe) and possibly one of the last appearances for Bail Organa (who presumably died when Alderaan was destroyed by the Death Star in episode 4).  At the end of the game, Starkiller can choose to be a "light jedi" and save the rebels who were about to be executed by Palpatine or turn "dark", defeat Vader and side with Palpatine (though he also tries to betray Palpatine too which ends up backfiring on Malek).  There are several DLCs you can download too, which pretty much assumes that Malke turns to the dark side at the end of the main storyline and has several non cannon missions, such as hunting down Obi Wann Kenobi on Tatooine and assasinating Luke on Hoth along with others.

Game 10 - Force Unleashed 2, particularly the Battle of Endor DLC

Though not quite as good as the first Force Unleashed game, Force Unleashed 2 is the official sequel to the first Force Unleashed game, and you basically assume the role of a cloned version of Galen Malek (the original Malek is presumably dead in the aftermath of the first game after sacrificing himself to save the rebel leaders).  In the game, Malek escapes Kamino (while being pursued by Vader and his cronies) and ultimately sets out on a mission to save is former love from the first game (apparently clones maintain memories and feelings that the host body had) and even sides with the rebels in taking on the empire.  The game does seem like it could have had been longer, though it does seem to have some epic boss battles too (my favorites were the ones where you fight a giant rancor as well as the epic duel with Darth Vader).  I also got to play through the Battle of Endor DLC pack where you assume the role of dark side Malek in his missions to take out the rebels while also battling ewoks, rebel soliders, and even storm troopers in his mission to take out the rebel leaders, Han Solo and Princess Leia.  The Battle of Endor mission was actually quite amusing, especially if you have the Jedi mind trick ability (which basically causes enemies to turn on each other) which proves quite handy throughout the level  Obviously, Force Unleashed 2's version of Return of the Jedi is not cannon, but was pretty fun and amusing to play through.  You even fight a "Jedi Master" version of Princess Leia at the end of the mission too.  In the movie version, obviously Leia had only discovered her powers (much like how Luke was in Episode 4) and was more of a learner.  Interestingly Luke never makes an appearance in the DLC version of Return of the Jedi and it is Darth Vader that gets struck by Palpatine's force lightning attack (Emperor Palpatine seemed to know about Vader's schemes to overthrow him and did obviously not take kindly to that).  There were several other DLCs, but I didn't play through them

Honorable mentions
- Star Wars Battlefront Xbox One (can't say I have played through the game yet though)
- Dark forces (played through part of the game, but not all of it)
- Jedi Knight Jedi Academy (played through part of the pc version of the game)
- Star Wars Rebellion

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Top 12 Video game and movie veteran characters (work in progress)

As you probably know, today is Veterans Day and I thought that I would do a Veterans Day themed Post.  In this post, I will pay some tribute to some well known "veterans" in the video game and movie universe.

1. Super Mario and Luigi - going on countless adventures to save the princess from an evil dragon named Bowser, bent on world domination

2. C 3PO and R2D2 as well as the Rebels in the Star Wars Trillogy -

3. Mega Man

4. Mega Man X and Zero

5. Commander Shepard - Mass Effect Series

6. Call of Duty soliders

7.  Master Chief - Halo Series

8. The Power Rangers

9.  The Avengers and Justice League

10. Sonic the Hedgehog

11. The Belmont Clan - Castlevania series

12. Bill and Lance in the Contra Series

Honorable Mentions:
- Donkey Kong
- John Marston - Red Dead Redemption
- Star Fox

Friday, August 28, 2015

Top 10 Unlikely Allies and Heroes in Video Games and shows

In many video games, you control a protagonist bent on foiling the schemes of one of the many different video game villians in the industry.  Of course, one can't always save the world alone.  In this post.  Of course,some allies come from unexpected places.  In this game, I will talk about some of them.

1. Yoshi from Super Mario Bros

Yoshi was first debuted in Super Mario World (Super Nintendo era Mario Bros) and is a dinosaur that is pretty much capable of swallowing just about anything in his path, even enemies.  Of course, he becomes a useful ally of Mario and Luigi in their neverending quest to defeat Bower and rescue Princess Peach (who often finds herself kidnapped by Bowser).  Yoshi's appetite can definitely be a blessing or a curse for the plumbers as he could easily view them as food and *accidently* swallow them if they do not keep him well fed.  Of course, is very useful to have as he can easily defeat enemies, fly, eat and shoot fireballs, eat pirana plants and has even been a very good babysitter for Baby Mario in Yoshi's Island (Super Mario World 2).  As you can see in the video above, Yoshi can be a nuisannce sometimes.    

2. Alucard from Castlevania Symphony of the Night

Did you know that Alucard's name spelled backwards spells "Dracula"?  In the Castlevania series Alucard has proven to be a powerful ally of the Belmonts (and similar protagonists) in their quest to stop the latest schemes of Dracula and his goulish army.  Of course, Alucard is a vampire, son of Count Dracula and was supposed to be evil like his father is in the series.  Unfortunately, Alucard has often alligned himselves with the humans and helped foil Dracula's plans on more than one occasion.  Perhaps the most notable role for Alucard was in Castlevania Symphony of the Night, where he becomes the primary protagonist in the game after Richter Belmont gets kidnapped by the evil priest, Shaft and is given his own castle (brainwashed by Shaft and Dracula).  Death (Dracula's closest associate) even tries to dissuade and even stop Alucard from his quest, but gets defeated in the end too.  Hey, if it weren't for Alucard's intervention, Symphony of the Night could have ended alot differently, with Dracula taking over the world and using Richter as his puppet.  This is not the only  time Alucard has a role in a game.  He was also an ally of Trevor in Castlevania 3 as well as a support character in Aria on Sorrow and Dawn on Sorrow (disguising himeslf as Arikado) when Dracula's spirit tries to possess Soma.  In Dawn of Sorrow, in Julius mode, Alucard becomes a playable character in the quest to stop Soma after becoming "Dracula" (Julius mode follows an alternate storyline that assumes Soma turns into dracula based on the second bad ending of the game and Alucard is one of the 3 playable characters in that mode).  He is also a playable character in Harmony of Despair (Xbox 360) as well aimed at defeating his father once again.  Can't you imagine having to fight against your own father?  Even Luke Skywalker from the original star wars trillogy was faced with the same dilema after learning the truth about Darth Vader (him being Anakin Skywalker after turning to the dark side in Episode 3)  and Darth Vader was definitely a monster in the Star Wars universe considering his track record (i.e., betraying and killing former Jedi allies including Obi Wan Kenobi, destroying Alderaan with the Death Star, killing Biggs, using Lando Calrissian to betray Han and Leia on Bespin, etc).  Alucard's quest begs the question: is it ever okay to go against your father?  If so, when?

3. Protoman from Mega Man 7-10

Protoman has  been a close ally of Mega Man starting with Mega Man 7.  He is even a playable character in Mega Man 10 (helping Mega Man in his quest to defeat Dr Wily and foil the Robofluenza outbreak).  Of course, Protoman was not always an ally.  In Mega Man 3, for example, he was one of the boss characters you had to fight (aka "Break Man") and proved to be a hinderance for Mega Man.  Apparently earlier versions of Protoman had him being more antihero and alligned with Dr Wily.  Protoman's loyalty to Dr Wily seemed to have fractured in the events of Mega Man 4 (after Mega Man defeats Dr Cossack, who was an unwitting puppet of Dr Wily after his daughter was kidnapped by Wily) and more so after being framed by Wily in Mega Man 5. Even after joining Mega Man's cause, he does seem to have an antihero personality, as was the case in Mega Man 7 when challenging Mega Man to a duel (Protoman is an optional boss in that game) possibly out of jealousy/  Hey, envy can do that sometimes, causing people to become jealous of one and another and somtimes corrupt otherwise good people and we do see that happening time and time again in various video game storylines (for example, in Castlevania Circle of the Moon, Hugh becomes envious of protaginist Nathan Graves and unwittingly becomes a pawn of Dracula and even becomes one of several boss encounter Nathan faces during the course of the game).  Protoman is also a playable character in Mega Man Power Battles 1 and 2, once again helping Mega Man stop Dr Wily once again.

4. Zero from the Mega Man X series
In the opening sequence of Mega Man X4 Zero has a vivid dream about Dr Wily (who orders Zero to destroy Mega Man X)
 In Mega Man X5, you can see X and Zero duking it out in a boss style fight:

Have you ever watche the old Disney Movie, "The Fox and the Hound"?  I used to watch the movie when I was a kid.  Anyways, the movie is about a tamed red fox named Todd who friends a hound dog named, Copper.  Initially they had a close knit relationship.  However, Copper's owner is a poacher that likes to hunt red foxes and has another dog that hates Todd and both want to drive a wedge through Todd and Copper's friendship.  Of course, if you have seen the movie, eventually the poacher succeeds in causing Todd and Copper to turn against each other, though eventually they become friends once again at the end of the movie.  Anyways, if any video game friendship or alliance were to closely resemble that of that of "The Fox and the Hound", it would probably be Mega Man X and Zero.  From the beginning of the series, Zero has been a close ally and mentor of X.  In Mega Man X1, Zero even saves X when he was about to be destroyed by Sigma's henchman Vile both in the prologue sequence of the game, and later in the first level of Wily's fortress and even helped X to get stronger in the process.  From time and time again Zero proves to be a powerful ally of X too.  In X3, he helps X defeat Dr Doppler and Sigma.  In X4, Zero and X work together to stop Repliforce (on seperate storylines).  In X5, he works with X to stop the Eurasia Colony from crashing to the earth. This list can go on, but what X probably does not know is that Zero was actually created by Dr Wily (presumably before he died sometime between the events of Mega Man 10 and X1, though the gap between the 2 series has yet to be bridged and might never be bridged anytime soon) and was supposed to be an enemy of X (much like Bass was in the original series, though more powerful than Bass).  Wily even tries to goad Zero to kill X in his dreams (much like what happens at the beginning of Mega Man X4).  Sigma tries to turn Zero against X too on at least 2 occassions (first in Mega Man X2 and later Mega Man X5).  Interestingly, at the end of Mega Man X3, in the ending credit sequence, the game hinted that X will have to destroy Zero someday, and vice versa in Mega Man X4).   In Mega Man X5, the Dr Wily subplot seems to reach a climax as Sigma tries to turn Zero into a Maverick by causing a virus infected space colony to crash to  the earth (which can happen should the colony crash to Earth or if both the Shuttle and Laser missions fail with X facing off with a more powerful version of Zero in the 3rd Sigma stage).  Mega Man X5 even makes some obvious references to Dr Wily (such as when Sigma faces off against X as the final boss of the game, talking about someone other than him hating Mega Man, obviously referrencing Wily).

Interestingly, the Dr Wily subplot seems to disappear after the events of Mega Man X5 and the series has yet to reach a definitive conclusion (apparently, according to the wikipedia article of Mega Man X5, the game was supposed to be the final game of the series, but that was before Mega Man X6-X8 were released (unless if those ones are not canon).  The series seems to be on hiatus mode after the events of X8 and it is not clear if or when (if ever) the series will reach a definitive conclusion, but there could still be an epic duel to the death between X and Zero someday that surpasses that of X5 (maybe Wily will make his first official appearance besides appearing as a shadow in Zero's dreams in the series too when that happens along with the Elf Wars that bridge the gap between X8 and Mega Man Zero 1, but those remain to be seen).  Till then, Zero remains a major ally of X and is a primary protaginist in the series.  He also appears in the Mega Man Zero series (presumably after freezing himself at the end of Mega Man X6) and helps foil the schemes of the evil Dr Weil in that series too.  
5. Knuckles from the Sonic the Hedgehog series

In Sonic's never ending quest to defeat Dr Eggman's (aka Robotnik) latest schemes, he has acquired many allies in his quests, such as Tails, Amy Rose, big the cat, silver the hedgehog, and others.  He often teams up with Tails and Knuckles as well.  Of course, Sonic and Knuckle's friendship was not always there.  In Sonic 3 and Knuckles, he was tricked by Dr Eggman into thinking that Sonic was a villian bent on sending Angel Island into the sea) and becomes a thorn in Sonic's side to stopping Eggman, creating various traps and obstacles in Sonic's path.  Perhaps one of  the more insidious of Knuckles' traps (among many others) was that in the Sandopolis Zone where Sonic is ventures through a massive pyramid and inadvertantly releases ghosts stumbling across a trap presumably by knuckles, making for an extra dangerous adventure for sonic as the ghost quickly become hostile and start attacking sonic (especially when it is dark) with the only way to ward them off is to make sure it never gets real dark (unless if he manages to become super sonic and then the ghosts are no match for him).  Eventually, Knuckles challenges Sonic to a boss fight in the Hidden Fortress Zone and is quickly defeated by sonic before finding out that Eggman was the real villian in the game.  Interestingly, Sonic 3 and Knuckles is not the only time that Knuckles gets brainwashed by Dr Eggman.  He also gets tricked by Dr Eggman in Sonic Adventure 1 and becomes hostile towards Sonic when they first meet in the game not knowing that Dr Eggman is trying to create a powerful monster in his plot to take over Station Square, as well as the Sonic Adventure Series.  There seems to be some rivalry between the two sometimes as well.  

6. Tommy the Green Ranger and later Kat from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Picture of the green ranger (Tommy)

I have to admit that I was a power rangers fan when I was younger (especially back in the 90s).  Who else had a celebrity crush on the pink ranger Kimberly (aka Amy Jo Johnson) by the way?  Anyways, in case if you never seen power rangers, it is an ongoing series about these teenagers who become heroes after being recruited by Zordon (an interdimensional being who becomes the supreme leader of the rangers, at least in the old school version of the series) who team up to battle the latest monsters and cronies created the evil Rita Repulsa (who literally wants to destroy the planet) and later Lord Zedd (along with other villians in the series, such as King Mondo, Master Vile, Divatox, and others).  Anyways, a well known leader / figure of the classic power rangers (besides Jason, the red ranger) was Tommy the green ranger (later known as the White Ranger, Red Ranger, etc).  Tommy was perhaps the most powerful ranger known in the classic series (wouldn't know if that is still the case) and even became an adept leader of the team after Jason stepped down in season 2 and even had a romance going with Kimberly (the pink ranger) before she left the show in season 3 and later broke up with him in Power Rangers Zero (via a "Dear John" letter).  Anyways, Tommy was not always an ally of the rangers.  Initially, he was recruited by Rita Repulsa to help destroy the rangers (see the first season) and nearly succeeds in doing so but was eventually subdued by Jason after a lengthy duel with him and eventually he redeems himself by joining the other rangers.  Interestingly, Rita gets back at Tommy by having his power drained by Golddar and later on lord Zedd manages to sap the rest of his power, but eventually he becomes the more powerful white ranger and becomes a powerful leader of the team (at least through the Power Rangers turbo season becoming a major foil to the plots of the villans).

(video or pic will be added a later date)

Interestingly, in season 3, Kat (aka Catherine Sutherland) does the same thing, starting off as an ally of Rita and Zedd and even develops shape shifting powers to spy on the rangers as an ordinary kitty cat (she even becomes one of Rita and Zedd's monsters too in one of the episodes before gettign defeated by the rangers).  She even manages to wreak havok against the rangers and help zap Kimberly's powers.  Like Tommy, eventually learns the errors of her ways and redeems herself by taking Kimberly's place after she steps down as the new pink ranger. Interestingly, allies in the series can start of as enemies as we have seen on more than one occassion.

7. The Borg (Star Trek Voyager series

 I used to watch Star Trek Voyager when it was on back in the 90's (the official sequel series to Next Generation besides deep space 9) and did you know that the Borg temporarily become allies of Star Trek crew?  At one point in the series, the crew went up against a hostile alien race known as species 8472 and proved to be defenselsess against them.  Eventually they were forced to turn to the Borg for help, and while they did help neutralize the Species 8472 threat, their help did come at a price as they tried to assimilate the Voyager crew afterwards.  On the positive note, eventually the Voyager crew was able to redeem at least one person that was turned into a borg: Seven of Nine (who became a permanent member of the star trek crew for the remainder of the series).   

8. Shadow and Silver in the 3D era Sonic the Hedgehog games
(video or pic will be added a later date)
Ah, Shadow and Silver the hedgehog.  Prior to Sonic Adventure 2, one used to think that Sonic was the only hedgehog in Sonic's world, however that soon changes from Sonic Adventure 2 onwards.  Shadow is first introduced as one of the primary antagonists in Sonic Adventure 2 and works with Dr Eggman in his scheme to take over the world and even manages to frame Sonic in the early part of Sonic Adventure 2 for his crimes.  Eventually, Shadow and Eggman get defeated and Shadow's alliance with Eggman seems to get fractured after the events of Sonic Adventure 2 and he becomes more of an antihero.  Depsite being rivals with Sonic on more than one occassion, he has known to align with him sometimes, as was the case in Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 when he helps Sonic in his quest to defeat Dr Eggman, Mephiles (basically an evil twin of Shadow) and later teams up with Sonic and Silver to  take down the monster Solaris at the end of the game.  He has also helped Sonic in Sonic Generations going against the Time Eater machine that Dr Eggman creates too.  Still, he can be a wild card and sometimes he can ally of sonic or an enemy too.  Silver the Hedgehog is another hedgehog that was introduced in Sonic 2006, and like Knuckles before him, he was tricked (by the evil Mephiles) into believing that Sonic was evil and tries to defeat sonic.  However, he later becomes an ally of Sonic after Shadow reveals that Silver was being brainwashed by Mephiles and he eventually helps Sonic and Shadow take down Solaris in the final boss of the game.  He has made a few other appearences in the series, such as Sonic Generations.  Interestingly, Amy seems to have feelings for Silver in addition to Sonic, there could be a love triangle between the 2 in future sequels.

9 . General Morden and his army - Metal Slugs X, 2, 3, and 6
In the Metal Slug series, the games are loosely similar to contra, where you control one of several commandos in a shoot em up arcade style game going up against the villianous General Morden (basically a Saddam Hussein look alike in my opinion) as well his army of thugs.  Usually Marco and his allies are fighting against Morden's army, but when things don't go as planned for Morden and his army, sometimes they are forced to form an uneasy alliance.  This happens the first time in Metal Slug 2/X (pretty much the same game) at the final boss when the aliens turn on Morden and his men and launch an Independence Day style invasion and a co-op final boss fight takes place where Maro, Tarma, and their allies team up with Morden's army to destroy the alien craft (btw, much like Independence Day, a fighter pilot sacrifices himself by flying into the ufo's main core and taking out the ship with him).  And this is not the only time that Morden and his army form an uneasy alliance with the herose.  The same thing happens again during the last mission of Metal Slug 3 where "Morden" turns out to be an alien disguised as him and the real Morden gets abducted by the aliens once again and the heros are forced to team up with Morden's army once again to defeat the hostile alien forces in a more epic final showdown than that in Metal Slug 2.  Interestingly, even Allen (usually hostile towards the players) makes and appearence fighting along the heroes (doesn't happen every time though) as they up against the aliens during the final level.  They also team up once again in Metal Slug 6 when mutant insects launch an invasion against the human race as well.  Of course, the alliance usually falls apart in the aftermath of the games ad the two sides are usually fighting each other once again in the sequels (with the exception being Metal Slug 5 since the heroes are up against a new foe in that game with Morden and his men mostly absent from that game).  Metal Slug 7/XX marks the first time since Metal Slug 1 when Morden is the sole antagonist and final boss character at the end of the game, recruiting soldiers from the distant future in his plot to take over the world and challenges Marco and his allies to an epic multi-tier show down at the end.

10. Trevor Phillips Grand Theft Auto 5

If you haven't played through Grand Theft Auto 5, you have definitely missed out on perhaps one of the best Grand Theft Auto games yet and the first game in the series that I am aware of where you can control up to 3 characters throughout the game (plus the online mode character).  Initially you control Franklin (at least after the prologue), but as the game progresses, you can also play as Michael (a former gangster who becomes a family man living in Rockford hills) and later Trevor Philips, who is basically the red neck type in the game.  Trevor is definitely the most scandalous and antihero character you will meet in the game.  Initially, he is living out in a trailer in the desert near Sandy Shores (GTA's version of real life Desert Shores in California) and literally soon goes to war with a biker gang after an incident where he pretty much steals Johnny's boyfriend (a biker gang member) and later kills Johnny) and develops other enemies as well (such as the Aztecas, a chinese gang known as the Yakuzas and many others).  Trevor is very short tempered and is known to kill sometimes (as is the case when he is first introduced after the Jewelry Store heist mission as well as an incident while stying at Wade's cousin's house) when angered to a point.  After learning that Michael is still alive after the events of the game's prologue (which inevitably happened when the FIB agents learned about Michael's Jewelry store heist mission) he soon seeks out Michael and later meets up with Franklin as well.  Initially he is friends with Michael, but he grows hostile over time (especially while exiled from Los Santos after double crossing a mexican kingpin called, Madrizo) and Michael and Amanda soon seperate after Trevor resurfaces.  Trevor also inevitably meets Franklin too.
Throughout the game, Trevor is definitely a loose cannon.  At one time he can be a powerful ally, but when his temper gets the best of him, he can become a fierce enemy (as players see time and time again) and his storyline is arguably the darkest of the 3 (moreso then Michael and Franlin in myopinion) and will likely be offensive to some players.  He is definitely the type you probably woudn't want to have as a room mate in a dorm or apartment type setting (like Floyd finds out around the midpoint of the game) and is great at making enemies too.  Throughout the course of the game, he makes enemies with biker gangs (such as the Lost and Damned from GTA 4), the Merryweather security firm (especially after his infamous Merryweather heist mission), Chinese gangs, the Aztecas (rival weapon smugglers), and many others.  Despite his scandalous and borderline antagonist nature, he does have some redeeming sides to him making him an unlikely ally.  For example, in a mission where he is forced to help interrogate a mexican immigrant the FIB agents want Trevor to kill him, but Trevor cuts the guy loose and helps him to escape back to his own country.  In a drug deal gone wrong mission (Hood Safari) that Franklin does, Trevor comes to the rescue and help Franklin and Lamar escape an otherwise dire situation (especially with Ballas and later cops constantly gunning for them).  He even helps rescue Michael and Dave Norton towards the end of the game when Steve Haines tries to betray Michael and Dave by having them arrested with Merry Weather, FIB agents and AIA agents joining in on the fray despite officially being enemies by that point in the game. He also proves valuable on some of the later heist missions of the game as well (especially the Paleto Bay score and later the Big Score mission).  By the way, Trevor, like Michael can be killed of permanently by Franklin at the end of the game if the player chooses (can be useful for players who hated Trevor during the course of the game), though that action is permanent so you might want to save before the final mission and be sure to complete all of Trevor's missions and side missions before killing him off if you are going for 100% completion. Trevor is definite quite a character in GTA 5 and is definitely the classic redneck type.

Well, that wraps up my top 10 list.  I hope you liked it.  If you have more to add to the list, feel free to share them in the comments section below.

Honorable mentions:

1. Klingons in Star Trek Next Generation - although the Klingons were common enemies for the Federation when Captain Kirk was captain, by the time Captain Picard came to the scene, the hostilities between the klingons and the Federation seems to have largely come to an end by then.  The USS enterprise even recruits a Klingon to help run ship (aka Lt Warf).
2. Cerberus and the Illusive Man in Mass Effect 2 - When the evil alien race known as the Collectors start abducting humans and processing them for the reapers (the primary antagonists of the series) from various colonies across the galaxy, Cerberus forms an uneasy alliance with the alliance (particularly with Commander Shepard and his crew) much to the the distrust of the council on the Citadel as well as Shepard's closest ally and potiential love interest, Ashley (male captains) or Kaiden (female captains),  temporarily straining Shepard's relationship with them.  To cerberus' credit, they did help save the human race from certain extinction at the hands of the Collectors (considering that they were killing off their prisoners at their base near the center of the galaxy) and literally raised Commander Shepard from the dead after his apparent death after being ambushed by a reaper ship during the game's prologue (Shepard would have been dead as a door nail if it wasn't for cerberus resurrecting him). They even helped him reunite with some of his former crewmembers (such as Garrus, Lliara, Tali and Mordin) and even provided him a potiential love interest too that rivals Ashley (Miranda).  Still, Cerberus was not entirely insane as they almost got Shepard kidnapped by jailers on the Purgatory jail ship that Jack was on (she seems to have been driven insane by Cerberus), sent them on a suicide mission to take out the Collector base (the Illusive man probably didn't care if Shepard came back alive or not) which could prove tragic for the crew depending on the choices the players make throughout the game and especially on the final mission, and even creating some mistrust for Shepard (they were probably one of the reasons what Shepard was detained at the beginning of ME3 besides the incident involving the Batarian race and their system's relay).  Of course, after the events of Mass Effect 2, the alliance with Cerberus comes to an end and the Illusive man and his cronies become hostile towards Shepard and the alliance by the time Mass Effect 3 comes around (though some cerberus agents like Miranda and Jacob side with Shepard in ME3).  They even take over the Omega space station too.

3. Magneto in Xmen Clone wars - in Sega Genesis' X-Men Clone wars, Magneto (usually an antagonist in the series) becomes an ally of the X-men when they face a threat from a hostile alien race that has the ability to clone the mutants and wreak havok across the galaxy.

4. Clone Troopers, Anakin Skywalker, and Palpatine - Star Wars Prequel trillogy as well as Clone Wars - long before the events of Episode 4-7, the peace of the galaxy was threatened by the Trade Federation, Commerce Guild, Corporate Alliances and other hostile alien races, with Count Dooku leading the charge between Episodes 2-3.  Of course, what the Jedi and republic heroes don't know was that Palpatine was really Darth Sidious and was pulling the strings on both sides of the conflict and in episode 3 Palpatine's alliance with the Jedi came to an end after Anakin turned to the dark side, the infamous order 66 was given, and the clones soon turn on the jedi permanently.

5. Malificent and Pete in Kingdom Hearts 2 (World that Never Was world) - although Malificent and Pete are considered antagonists in Kingdom Hearts 2, often clashing with Sora, Donald and Goofy throughout the course of their quests in the game, the real villians pulling the strings was Organization 13, lead by Xemnas.  In the final world of the game when Sora, Donald, Goofy, Mickey, Rikku (initially disguised as Xehonort), King Mickey, Ansem the Wise, and Kairi officially go to war with the entire Organization 13 (with boss fights against the remaining Organization 13 members they have not defeated), Malificent and Pete join in the fray against organization 13.  Of course, Malificent has ulterior motives for the alliance as she wants to take over Castle Oblivion (which she presumably does in the aftermath).  What she does with the castle and remaining heartless remains to be seen in the sequels (Dream Drop distance and later KH 3).      

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Serbio's Castlevania Fighter Arcade Review

Hey, who here is a Castlevania series fan here?  I came across a fan made game called Castlevania Fighter Arcade Created by Serbio.  Here is a gameplay video (featuring Shanoa) below showing how the game works:

Note that Shanoa is just one of many characters you can play as in Castlevania Fighter Arcade

Before I write this review, have any of you played Mega Man Power Battles 1 or 2?   Mega Man Power Battles actually came with the Mega Man Anniversary Collection for the Xbox (probably PS2 as well).  In that game you can play either as Mega Man, Bass, or Protoman and each "level" consists of a boss fight from a previous Mega Man game usually chosen at random from previous games.  After you beat all of the robot masters, there is one Wily Castle boss, and the end boss is none other than Dr Wily himself (much like how it is in Mega Man 1-10).  Anyways, in Castlevania Fighter Arcade, you can choose from a whole host of characters to play as, such as Simon Belmont, Richter, Julius Belmont, Soma Cruz, Alucard, Shanoa, Death the Grim Reaper, and many others.  Interestingly, you can also play as non castlevania characters such as Ronald McDonald (since when was he in a Castlevania game?) and several others.  After choosing a character, you can choose a difficulty level (with beginner being the easiest mode and "nightmare" being the hardest) and then the ggame begins.  Like Mega Man Power battles, each "level" consists of a boss fight from various Castlevania games (such as Circle of the Moon, Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin, Dracula X Chronicles, Order of Ecclesia, and others).  The boss fights chosen for each level is generally randomized (meaning you might fight different bosses in each play through) though there are definitely some recurring bosses you are likely to encounter in most if not all playthroughs.  Of course like many Castlevani games (despite not being an official castlevania game) Count Dracula (the primary antagonist in the series) is back and serves as the game's final boss and his close associate, Death the Grim reaper marks the second to final boss in the game.  Other noteworthy boss fights I have encountered includes:
- Giant bat
- Dario and Aguni (usually happens back to back of each other)
- Carmillia (from Circle of the Moon)
- Richter (plays out much like the SOTN version of Richter)
- Albus
- Stella (from Portrait of Ruin)
- Brauner (one of the primary antagonists in Portrait of ruin, besides Dracula and Death).
- Barlowe from Order of Ecclesia
- Zephyr from Dawn of Sorrow
and many others.

Pros about Castlevania Fighter Arcade
- This game is definitely going to be a hit for long time Castlevania fans in my opinion.  All of the boss fights in this game are pretty well known in the Castlevania franchise (especially for people who have played through the game).
- Multiple difficulty levels.  If you think the game is too hard, I might recommend starting with beginner mode.  Think the game is too easy, you might consider cranking up the diffiulty.  By the way, some of the characters will have a better chance of beating the game than others.
- Characters come with both basic and advanced attacks and moves.  By the way, at the Serbio website, it does list all of the characters as well as all of the moves they can perform.
- Follows the classic scheme of castlevania games.  Boss music is very similar to the ones in previous games and changes for each boss fight.  Also, this is definitely one of the few newer Castlevania games that features Dracula as the final boss.  Not every new castlevania game features dracula as the final boss.
- Leveling up system.  As you beat each boss you can use points to purchase potions, power ups, defense boosts, extra continues, etc from Renon (from Castlevania 64)  by holding the start button (I have mine mapped to the enter key) after beating a level till the screen advances to the next level.  Also, there is a unique trick where if you jump and catch orbs while attacking right after they appear, you can get bonus hit points, defense boosts, level ups, and possibly continues too (I haven't confirmed it yet).
- Bosses do have patterns they follow (much like their counterparts in the games they were in) so the game does get easier over time if you find yourself struggling.  For example, Dracuala's first and 3rd form are very similar to those in Order of Ecclesia.  Gergoth, Aguni, and Zephyr function much like themselves from Dawn of Sorrow.  Some bosses are faster though (such as Brauner) and unpredictable too (such as Richter).
-  With all of the difficulty modes and characters you can play through as, replay value is pretty high in my opinion.  By the way, Dracula has 3 forms on Beginner Mode, and 4 forms in Normal to Nightmare Modes.  Also some of the boss patterns changes by the change of difficulty.
- Multiple gameplay modes.  Besides arcade mode, there is also a survival mode, vs mode (can be useful if your computer supports 2 players), co-op survival mode, and training mode where you can test out your character's moves before playing through the game.

Cons of Castlevania Fighter Arcade
- I might recommend checking the installation requirements before downloading. Also some versions do work better than others.  By the way, I have encountered crashes of the game a few times too.  It has gotten better for me over the months and seems to be rare, but it can happen.
- No save feature.  Once you start a new game, it is recommended you have at least 1-2 hours to spare since there is no save feature.  Also, you only get a limited amount of continues (sometimes you might not start with continues at all, especially early in the game) to work with and once they run out, game is over and you will have to start over.  This can make the game extra challenging, especially as you get farther in the game and bosses get progressively harder to beat, and there are some recurring boss fights that will likely take multiple attempts to beat (some of the most challenging bosses I have encounted includes: Aguni, Stella, Brauner, Barlowe, Death, and Dracula).
- Controls can be a bit confusing at first.  By the way, there is an app that lets you configure the controls.  Also, some of the moves each character has are going to be easier to learn than others.  Consequenlty, I might recommend starting with characters with less moves such as Simon Belmont or even Ronald McDonald (he can actually hold his own in the game and is suprisingly formidable to play as too).
(more will be added over time)

Over all, I thought that Castlevania fighter arcade was a pretty fun game to play through.  It certainly is challenging and might not necessarily be for everyone, but I definitely recommend it to the many long time castlevania fans out there (at least if you have a good computer to play it on).  Sure fighting boss after boss can get repetitive and might be a turn off for some people and devoting time to play  through the entire game will likely be challenging for some people, but it is definitely one of the best fan made castlevania games I have played through.  You probably won't beat the game as every character, and you will likely find yourself having better luck with some characters than others.

If you are curious, you can check out the game at http://serio.piiym.net/cvbla/.  The game is currently free to download.

General gameplay tips (based on my experiences with the game):
- I might recommend starting the game on beginner mode (at least for your first several times through).  It can seem easy, but it lets you get familar with the game, how each boss fight plays out and it is a little more forgiving than the higher modes.  I would advise against "nightmare" mode until you are fully confident as the enemies get tougher to defeat the higher the difficulty.
- Whenever you defeat a boss, red orb will appear that you can collect to beat the stage.  Interestingly, the game has an interesting reward where if you jump and hit the attack button right after the orb appears and get the orb at the same time, the game offers bonus health, strength, hp upgrades, defense upgrades and other bonuses (possibly extra continues as well, though unconfirmed).  If you see the video near the beginning of this post, you can see what I mean (it actually works best with whip users like Simon), but if you do it correctly, you should see a good, excellent or great message when done right.  It can take several tries, but it is very useful when you get it down.
- Each boss has his or her own unique pattern of moves and attacks.  Familiarizing yourself with the enemies' attack patterns can be very useful for your success.  By the way, many of them follow the same patterns as they do in their original games.  Dracula's pattern (at least the first and 3rd form) is very similar to that in Order of Ecclesia.  In his second form, he is very much like his demon form from Circle of the Moon.  Aguni (one boss fight that will likely be a challenge for some) has several patterns.  He can swoop in one or more directions, try to swat your player, shoot fire at the player, and even try to divebomb the player (much like how he does in Dawn of Sorrow).  Dario behaves much like he does in Dawn of Sorrow (same with Zephyr).  Brauner's attacks are very similar to that in Portrait of Ruin, though he seems to be somewhat faster and some of his attacks can be harder to dodge (especially the poison attack), and he can also try to suck the player's blood too (which doesn't happen in the original game).  I will post more detailed tips on the boss fights (at least ones I have seen) in a future post.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Most memorable Mega Man games I have played, classic Mega Man and Mega Man X era games (work in progress)

You know what I did today after getting home from work?  I plugged in my Playstation 2 and played Mega Man X5 all the way from the beginning to end (sadly Zero went maverick in that playthrough even though originally I was playing as him before having to switch over to X).  Anyways, I can definitely say I have been a longtime player / fan of the blue bomber (Mega Man) franchise.  I have no idea when new games will be made in the series, but in this game I thought I would share some of he most memorable ones I have played through:

Classic Era Mega Man

Game 1: Mega Man 2 - Nintendo NES

 Mega Man 2 was perhaps the first mega man game I ever played (I don't remember playing Mega Man 1 till later).  Mega Man 2 is arguably one of the hardest and most challenging Mega Man games I have played (I thought Mega Man 9 was pretty challenging too).  I remember when I first played Mega Man 2, I was just a little kid (maybe 7 years old?) living in Illionois and used to have friend (his name was Stephen) and he had that game and I used to go to his house sometimes ad play that game with him (of course, now days I have the Anniversary Collection version of the game).  Mega Man 2 was quite fun, yet perhaps one of the most challenging games in the classic Mega Man franchise.  Noteworthy moments and notes about the game:

- First mega man game to feature 8 robot masters (if I remember correctly, Mega Man 1 only featured 6)
- First mega man game to feature Dr Wily's castle.  While Mega Man 1 did have Dr Wily levels, it did not have a full castle to play through like Mega Mans 2-10 does.
- To date, currently this is the only mega man game where the boss music remains the same throughout the whole game.  The robot masters, Dr Wily stage bosses, Dr Wily's first form, and Dr Wily's Alien form (his final form) all have the same boss music.  Even Mega Man 1 had 2 different boss musics (the robot masters boss fights and later Dr Wily stage boss fights) .
- Noteworthy boss fights includes: Metal Man (interestingly he is very weak to metal, which can kill him in 2 hits when you fight him in the teleporter room), Wood Man (he had the wood shield), Quick Man (his primary weakness is Flash, but it only takes out half of his energy bar),  Mecha Dragon, the turret boss battle (the one that you have to use crash bombs to defeat), as well as Dr Wily in his alien form.
- Another unique thing to Mega Man 2: the infamous Wall turret boss (4th stage in the Dr Wily castle).  This is the only boss in the series I am aware of where one popular strategy involves using the crash bombs on the explodable walls, die, refill crash bombs, and face the boss again (the second time around has those walls gone) with all of the turrets exposed.  Apparently, there is another way to do it without dying at least once, but that sees trickier in my opinion.
-  Mega Man 2 has perhaps one of the most the most Dr Wily castle levels in the series (6 levels long).

Game 2: Mega Man 3

Mega Man 3 was definitely a gem in the classic Mega Man series in my opionion.  This game was the 3rd installment in the series.  I remember I first saw the game when an old friend of mine brought a copy over to my house and played through the game with me, though eventually I would get my own copy of the game (especially the Anniversary Collection of Mega Man for Xbox). This game was pretty addicting too, as sometimes would spend hours playing the game from the beginning to the end.

Notes about Mega Man 3:
- This game has perhaps that longest robot master section of the game.  In addition to the usual 8 robot master levels, you have to play through 4 of them a second time through and fight robot masters from mega man 2 (reincarnated as "gamma robots"), with 2 major boss fights in each level.  After those, there is a boss fight with "break man" (protoman?) and then after that is the Dr Wily levels.
- To date, Mega Man 3 marks the only game in the series that I am aware of where all 8 robot masters from a previous mega man (from mega man) game make an appearence in the sequel version.  Sure Mega Man 7 has a resurrected version of Guts Man, and in Mega Man 10 "The Archives" boss fights in the first Dr Wily stage have abilities from various robot masters in the previous games (i.e, Wood Man, Slash Man, Tornado Man, etc), but those ones are not quite the same as how it was in Mega Man 3, where all 8 robot master from a previous game make a reappearence
- First game to feature Protoman, this time more as a "close associate".  I think at the time the creators of Mega Man weren't sure if Protoman was going to be an ally or enemy, though Protoman does eventually become an ally of Mega Man (probably after being framed by Dr Wily in Mega Man 5 as well as turning on Wily in Mega Man 4).  
- To date, Mega Man 3 is probably the most creative game when it comes to the final boss fights with Dr Wily in both forms.  In his first from, he attacks Mega Man in a huge spider walker machine (not sure what else to call it), and in his final form he pilots a huge gamma robot (the one with the horns)

 From Mega Man 4, onwards, while the creators are pretty creative with Dr Wily's first form, his final form is more or less the same where you are in a room and he teleports around the room (much like what Count Dracula does in the Castlevania series, where he teleports around and attacks when reappearing).
- Mega Man 3, in my opinion, has probably the easiest Dr Wily stages compared to most of the other games in the series  I thought the Dr Wily levels in Mega Mans 2 and 4 were much more challenging.  Also, some of the bosses (such as the turtles and mega man clone) can easily be beaten by the regular mega buster.  Even the blog monster has a pattern that is relatively easy to remember (he is more challenging in Mega Man 1 and Mega Man X5).
- Interesting cheat: if you think the game is too hard, there was a cheat where if you had 2 controllers, one person can hold down "right" on the d pad on controller 2 and if you fall down a hole, you would lose all of your health bar, but would not die an would pretty much become invincible.  The only way he could die then would be to fall on spikes or get smashed.
- One of 2 mega man games to feature Rush Marine.  He can be very useful for some of the underwater sections of the game, such as gemini man stage as well as the first Dr Wily castle level.  Rush Marine seems to have disappeared from Mega Man 5 onwards. Also, there is a cheat using the password menu that makes it so that you can start with all 9 E tanks as well as one that makes it so you can start the game with at least one robot aster already defeated
- Mega Man 3 is also the first game in the series to feature Rush the dog (aka Rush Coil, Rush Jet, and Rush Marine)

Game 3: Mega Man 4

Mega Man 4 was definitely another classic in the series.  This game does seem to several firsts in the series.  Here are some notes about Mega Man 4:
1. First game in the series to feature the powered up version of the mega buster.  Starting with Mega Man 4, players could hold down the attack button to charge up the mega buster shot and shoot a charged shot at enemies (can be somewhat effective against bosses and stronger enemies).
2.  First game in the series to feature balloon and wire power ups that Mega Man can get  The balloons function much like their counterparts in Mega Man 2 (they have the helicopter blade underneath and mega man can use them to move upwards and is an alternative to rush jet and and rush coil)
3. First game in the series where Dr Wily is not the only primary antagonist that Mega Man is up against (aka Dr Cossack).  Dr Cossack is a russian doctor that unwittingly became a pawn of Dr Wily after Wily kidnapps Dr Cossack's daughter and forces him to fight Mega Man.  Interestingly, for first time through players of the game (especially back when it was first released back in the 1990's long before the internet as we know it became main stream), they wouldn't know about Dr Wily until after defeating Dr Cossack (the game makes no mention of Dr Wily before that point)  It is only after you defeat Dr Cossack when Dr Wily is revealed as the puppet master behind Dr Cossack and then the Dr Wily Stages of the game begin.
4. This is also the first game in the series to feature 2 castles players have to play through (first Dr Cossack's castle and later Dr Wily's castle).  By the way, there is no save point or codes in between the 2 castles, so players had to play through both on in one setting (otherwise if they turn off the console they would have had to start over in the game's final levels).
5. First game in the series to feature Dr Wily's usual final form, where you are in a room and Wily teleports around and attacks after reappearing.  This version of Dr Wily's final form is pretty much the same in the remaining classic Mega Man games (though in Mega Man 10, Mega Man is up against 2 Wily saucers) .
6. This game is the first game in the series where the boss music remains the same in the robot masters, Dr Cossack, and Dr Wily Castle bosses of the game.  The boss music does not change until you fight Dr Wily's final form (that is also pretty much the same kind of deal in Mega Mans 5 and 6 too).
7. This game also marks the first Mega Man game to feature a giant Metalloid as major boss fight (sure there were some large metalloids in Mega Man 3 during the second time through in Needle Man's stage, but it was not a major boss fight, like it's counter part is in Mega Man 4).

Game 4: Mega Man 7

Game 5: Mega Man 10

Mega Man X era
Game 1: Mega Man X1
Game 2: Mega Man X4
Game 3: Mega Man X5
Game 4: Mega Man X8

Friday, May 15, 2015

Information about Boost Insider: an online income opportunity that lets you monetize your blog posts

Hey fellow readers.  Are there any webmasters or bloggers here today?  Do you like to blog?  How would you like to monetize some of your traffic?  In this post, I will talk about Boost Insider, which is basically an online affiliate network where you can shared sponsored posts and links and get paid each time visitors respond.

Boost insider can be a very exciting and lucrative affiliate opportunity for bloggers, article writers or web masters looking to earn some extra cash with their blogs.  I have been an affiliate at Boost Insider for about a month now and have made at least $2.20 as of today's post (it is not alot of money, but it is a start.  In this post, I will share with you what I know about the opportunity.

What is Boost Insider?

Boost insider is an affiliate network that basically pits advertisers and publishers together where advertisers will share affiliate links and sponsored posts and publishers can share some of that content on their blogs, and usually publishers get paid each time visitors click on the links they are given to post.  There are many different campaigns that people can choose from.  Boost Insider often targets blogs on video games, but they have content that can relate to other niches and fields as well (such as ipads, android phones, health issues, making money online, etc).
Here is a list of campaigns I can choose from to publish on my blog.  You don't have to do every campaign, but I recommed doign at least one or 2 campaigns per week minimum since the more exposure you have to the links, the more profitable it should be.  Note that that the campaigns with the red circle means that those ones are paused or cancelled, while the green ones are fair game.

Already interested?  Click here to visit Boost Insider 

What you need for boost insider?
1. Website or Ad Enabled blog

While boost insider is free to join, you do need to have an ad enabled blog or website to use to host the sponsored links and posts advertisers post.  If you are looking to use a free blog, Google Blogger can make a very convenient choice since they do allow affiliate links (as long as posts are not real spammy) and is pretty easy to use and post new posts.  If you are looking to build a website, I might recommend either Site Build it or Global Domains International as both companies make it possible to build affiliate websites for relatively low costs.  Site Build it costs $30 per month to use and they do provide lots of resources to use, including their signature site builder, niche brainstorming tools (similar to word tracker where you can research good key words and niches to build your website around), built in email marketing system (can save webmasters from using 3rd party services such as Aweber or Traffic Wave from using those services for email marketing, for example creating email newsletters). Global Domains International is another option as it only costs a mere $10 per month to use their services and it comes with a domain name, site builder (though more advanced webmasters can opt to use their own html software), email boxes, as well as wordpress.org blogs you can set up as well.  Can be useful for building affiliate websites or blogs on a low budget.  Host gator and Empower Network are also popular networks for building affiliate websites and blogs.  Anyways, once you have a website or blog set up, you are ready to join Boost Insider and use their system.  Warning about free blog hosts: if you plan to use free blog hosts for boost insider, I recommend checking the terms of service before posting affiliate links from boost insider since some hosts (for example, wordpress.com, squidoo, myspace and hub pages do not allow affiliate links) and can susepend or terminate your account if you are caught using affiliate links (this is where paid web or blog hosts can be useful).

2.Traffic (preferably lots of it).
As a fellow affiliate marketer and in the field for several years now, I hate to break it to you, but without traffic (preferably lots of it), you will not get paid (and it can literally take months or even years before you start getting paid without adequate traffic levels and response rates).  Much like Google Adsense, Kontera ads, or Adhitz ads, most of the sponsored links (though some pay on a per lead / sale basis as well) you are given to post pay on a cost per click rate, which means visitors have to click on the links for you to get paid (an no you can't click on your own links).  In my experience, most visitors probably will not click those links so you will need to get logs of people viewing your sponsored posts for you to earn money from the clicks.  100 hits per day minimum is a good start, though at least 1000 hits or more per day is ideal.  There are many ways you can advertise your website or blog, including: word of mouth, including your blog ling in your email signature file when sending out emails, taking part in forums that allow links in your signature file (note that not all forums allow links in the signature file so I recommend checking the rules of forums you want to join before joining them),  doing paid advertising (Bing Ads and Adhitz can be good places to start for PPC advertising).  I would recommend Google Adwords, though they have gotten more stringent when it comes to advertising affiliate website or blogs and they are notorious for banning people who get their ads rejected alot. (happened to me a few years ago when I tried advertising my other blog http://rjanimalvideos.blogspot.com for "site policy" violations, probably because it has affiliate links on it or something).  Social media (such as Facebook and Twitter) can also be useful for sharing posts you make too if used properly.  More savvy bloggers and webmasters can also use Search engine optmization techniques as well to help boost their ranks in search engines as well (though it can be easier said than done to less experienced bloggers ro webmasters).  How you promote your website or blog is up to you, but the more traffic you are getting each day, the better.  By the way, I am not an expert when it comes to boosting traffic levels or boosting conversion rates on ads (if I was, I would be alot richer than I am now and could blog on a full time basis instead on taking part time jobs, but obviously I am not at that point at this time).

3. Choose campaigns and share sponsored posts and links. I recommend sharing sponsored posts that interests you and is relevant to your blog and share those.  Be sure to log into Boost Insider periodically and check your balance as well as for new campaigns to host on your site or blog.

Things I like about boost insider:
- Good variety of links to share and you do have some control over what ads you host and which ones you don't.  Some ad networks (such as Adsense and Adhitz) choose ads for you and they are not always relevant (for example, ads on income opportunities on say a blog that is about pets and animals) in my opinion.
- Better cost per click rates than Adsense and Adhitz.  Most ads pay $.10 or more per click, which is somewhat more compared to other display advertisign networks.  Some also pay on a cost per lead basis as well.
- You get paid each time you earn the required hits in a campaign.  Can go rather quickly or slowly depending on traffic levels.  This is where hosting more than one campaign can can be useful.

Down sides to boost insider:
- Like most affiliate opportunities, making huge bucks with Boost Insider can definitely be easier said than done for typical affiliates.  In the ideal world, almost every affiliate would be making $1000 or more each month in ad revenue, but we do not live in an ideal world, and some people can make alot of money with this, while others might make very little if any money.  I wish I can tell you a fool poof way to ensure you are making at least $1000 per momth minimum but I am not an expert when it comes to income opportunities or affiliate programs, so some people will probably have it easie than others.  My guess is that traffic is king when it comes to cost per click systems.  Without traffic or at least click throughs you will probably not make a dime with Boost Insider.  I recommend setting up a strategy to get more traffic to your sites for best results.  If you have money, I might recommend setting up ad campaigns on Bing ads or Adhitz as that can give you extra hits to your sites each month.  Paid to click sites, safelists and traffic exchanges (my favorite ptc site to advertise on is Clixsense) can be useful for getting lots of traffic too, but most people at those kinds of sites tend to view ads for the money or traffic, so the response rate can be low that way.
- Quotas on each campaign can be tricky to meet for the averange novice.  In the ideal world one can hit the required ammount of clicks for pay out every day, but it is definitely not as easy as it looks, so it can be a while for average affilaites to hit the minimum payment threshold for the campaigns.

Well that is all for now.

For more information about Boost Insider or if you are interested in joining, feel free to click here to visit their site (sign up is free by the way).   

My earnings so far as of 5/15/2015: 2.40