Ranking the Doctor Who Season One Episodes from Worst to Best

Doctor Who has been a much-loved part of British Culture for over fifty years now, both in its classic and modern era. Even someone like me, who never really watched the show couldn’t escape its presence. Calm down! I never really used to watch the show, but not too long ago, I saw all the episodes listed on Netflix and said: “What the hell?”. After recently finishing the first season, I can safely say I haven’t come to regret that choice. Doctor Who isn’t infallible however, and there is a bad episode blended in with the gems from time to time. So, as I did with Teen Titans, I’m going to rank every episode of each season, from worst to best; except this time, I’m unbiased and coming into the show for the first time. Just remember, this is only my opinion and it’s completely fine to disagree with me. Feel free to leave your thoughts on my list in the comments below. Now then, let’s start up the Tardis and go back in time to 2005, back to the revival of Doctor Who.

#13 Aliens of London

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Yes, this is quite a cliche choice. The Slitheen, or if you want to get technical, the Raxacoricofallapatorian(the bane of every spelling bee contestant) were probably the worst villains in the first season. They got some justice in ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’ but we’re getting off-topic here. In my opinion, they’re just a bunch of wasted potential. When you get down to it, the Slitheen(screw you, I’m calling them that from now on), are actually quite a terrifying race. Hulking figure, razor sharp claws and the ability to disguise themselves as humans. But then, they had to throw in that unfunny farting gag that just completely ruined them. Also, the doctor gets the date wrong and Rose ends up missing for an entire year. Wait, how the hell did he get the date wrong? He’s been doing this for centuries forgodsake!

#12 Boom Town

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Again with the Slitheen. This could of been a good episode, it really could of. But compared to the excellent ‘The Doctor Dances’, it just didn’t stand much of a chance. There’s some genuinely funny parts of this episode and the Doctor has a confrontational debate with his opponent that causes him to deeply question and revi- it leads to nothing. They tried to be clever by bringing some of the Doctor’s darker actions to light but in the end, it turns out Margaret is just an evil villain and the Doctor was right all along to want to take her to be executed. As well as that, Rose is absolutely despicable in this episode. Mickey’s rightfully angry that she just left him on Earth and expects him to continue to remain her boyfriend despite her being away 95% of the time. Mickey was framed for murdering her because of her actions and he never complained once, yet god forbid he move on with his life and get a new girlfriend. One of the most infamously bad episodes of the first Season.

#11 The End of the World

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My feelings about this episode are… mixed. On the one hand, it did an admirable job of introducing new watchers and re-welcoming old fans to the creativity of the Doctor Who world. You can really tell they’re proud of all the different, zany alien designs they came up with by how much they show them off throughout the episode. On the other hand, the plot was passable at best. Someone’s trying to sabotage the station? Why, the black-cloaked figures with long, sharp claws handing out strange metal balls don’t seem suspicious at all! I found Cassandra to be a dull villain and there was a brief thing about subservience and slavery that never really went anywhere. While this episode is definitely creative, it’s lacking in pretty much every other area.

#10 Rose

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Modern Doctor Who got off to a relatively strong start. It was a great episode, but nothing really amazing. We’re introduced to the 9th incarnation of the doctor as well as his companion: Rose. The Autons were a decent villain to bring back for the first episode though what they did to the Nestene was questionable at best. CGI in live action usually isn’t that great at the best of times, but a big, unoriginal orange lump? Really? Another thing about this episode is it was never actually resolved how the governments of the world managed to explain millions of mannequins coming to life and attacking every human in sight, even killing some. I guess it did show just how powerful some of the Doctor’s enemies could be but did they really have to kill off Clive? I’m still sore about that well into Season Two.

#9 The Long Game

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Okay, the concept for this episode was a great and modern idea, but it left us with so many unanswered questions. For a start, how the hell did the Jagrafess manage to take control of the Earth? Yes, it’s using the media, but it controls it through the editor. The Jagrafess is a lump of flesh stuck to the roof so it can’t exactly do much as long as you don’t get too close. It doesn’t look like the Editor is getting anything in return so why the heck is he doing what the Jagrafess says? They never explain how the whole zombie control thing works and Adam is so badly-written a character it’s no surprise he only got one episode as a companion of the Doctor. Great concept, but bad execution.

#8 World War Three

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World War Three was the only good Slitheen episode in Season One. Rather than making the Slitheen a laughing stock, this episode-for the most part-actually makes the Slitheen a formidable foe. We get to see them mercilessly hunt their prey down. Rose, the Doctor, Jackie, Mickey and even MP Harriet Jones are all forced to confront the deadly aliens in some form or another. Particularly notable instances of this are the chase in Downing Street at the start of the episode and Mickey and Jackie’s desperate struggle in Mickey’s kitchen. Both of these scenes had me biting my nails at the tension. While a Dalek is terrifying, I think a clawed green hand ripping through a large wooden door like it’s paper comes close to the level of fear the Dalek’s instill. Mickey also had a major part in the episode for once, and was awesome. Just a bit of a nitpick but I wish they didn’t kill off Ganesh. I liked him.

#7 The Empty Child

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The Empty Child was mostly just a setup for the second part of Season One’s second two-parter but it was an entertaining setup. We’re introduced to Captain Jack, my personal favourite character in the entire show Humour is almost as prevalent in this episode as the subsequent one and the execution of the Empty Child Plague was chilling to the very bone. Not only that, but it had surprisingly more action than most Doctor Who episodes if Rose hanging from a barrage balloon wearing a Union Jack shirt is anything to go by. An enjoyable episode with good pacing and writing, but not outstanding like the episode that came after it.

#6 Bad Wolf

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Bad Wolf was a seemingly omnipresent message throughout the first season, following the Doctor and Rose wherever they went, so upon seeing it as the title of the episode, you know s***’s going to go down. Despite this, the episode keeps you in the dark for the majority of the episode, keeping you guessing about what’s actually going on. This episode’s message on the media was a lot more subtle, but still got its point across better than ‘The Long Game’ did. I loved how it made fun of modern TV shows such as Big Brother though that may be my hate for reality TV talking. Like ‘The Empty Child’, it was mostly just setup, but that didn’t stop it from being an engaging episode.

#5 The Unquiet Dead

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This was the first episode of Doctor Who that really got me invested into the series. Charles Dickens was absolutely brilliant in this episode and I was sad when the Doctor didn’t ask him to be a companion considering he’s one of his greatest fans and all. I do suppose he died one week later but he still could of been a temporary companion like Captain Jack. ‘The Unquiet Dead’ tries to give a scientific explanation to the supernatural and does a great job of doing it without being massively confusing or convoluted. More of the Ninth Doctor’s personality is brought to light and although the villains didn’t really have a face, their plot was still frightening. This episode is a joy to watch all the way through.

#4 Father’s Day

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For years, casual watchers and fans were plagued by omnipresent questions about the Doctor Who universe. Chief among these was the question: Why can’t the Doctor just go back in time to defeat his villains? Fortunately, this episode was broadcast and answered that question, while also giving some focus and much-needed development for Rose. I’ll admit, I’m not a big fan of Rose(put your pitchforks down), but I found that in this episode, she was relatable and even likeable. It’s not exactly a unique concept; going back in time to stop a loved one from dying, but Doctor Who handles it damn near perfectly in this episode.

#3 Dalek

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This was the episode classic Doctor Who fans had been waiting for. Easily the most recognisable of Doctor Who villains, the Dalek had been a favourite for years. There was just one question: How would Modern Who handle them? Thankfully, no punches were pulled in re-establishing the terror of the Doctor’s greatest foe. One Dalek. That’s all. Yet it managed to upgrade itself and fight its way through one of the most secure underground bunkers on Earth without getting so much as a single scratch. As well as this, it’s made clear that the Doctor isn’t always the noble hero many make him out to be. “You would make a good Dalek Doctor” is one of the most chilling lines of the series. Somehow, against all odds it also managed to make me feel a sense of sadness and even sympathy for a Dalek. That on its own is enough to get the episode into the top three on this list.

#2 The Parting of the Ways

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Doctor Who finales, (most of the time) are pretty damn good, and the finale of the first season is no exception. We were already made familiar to the Daleks’ impressive power and fortitude in the episode of the same name, and finding out there are millions of them still alive was alarming to say the least. The Doctor works frantically to try and defeat the Daleks while Jack and a small group of Satellite Five survivors try to buy him time. Rose is sent back to her time as the Doctor doesn’t want her to get hurt and she, Mickey and her mother try to get back to help him. It’s an intense episode, only helped by the fact that at the end of it, Jack and his small group of renegades couldn’t kill a single Dalek, even with the futuristic weaponry at their disposal. A phenomenal episode, second only to…

#1 The Doctor Dances

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I’m about 99% sure it’s impossible to dislike this episode. The Doctor Who team must of used some nanogenes to make liking this episode part of our genetics. All jokes aside though, this really is a phenomenal episode. After listening to the banana joke, I knew this was going to be my favourite episode of the first season. It’s humorous, there’s plenty of action, an intense chase scene at the beginning, a really well-written mystery surrounding the plague and Capatain Jack. Need I say more? Captain Jack elevates this to the top five on its own.When he joins the Doctor at the end, I was positively squealing in delight. This episode contains all the best parts of Doctor Who and more. Easily the best episode of season one.

While the first season had some ‘meh’ episodes, for the most part it was a great first season for modern Doctor Who. It managed to satisfy long-time fans by bringing back enemies such as the Daleks while creating new ones such as the Slitheen and the Jagrafess to prevent the series from being too stale. That was just my opinion however and it’s completely fine to disagree with me! Feel free to share your thoughts on the first season in the comments below as I’m interested to hear what you all think.

Castlevania Review-What a horrible night to have a curse

Movies or TV series based on video games have a reputation of being really, really bad. Looking at examples like the Super Mario Bros. movie, The Angry Birds Movie and the Street Fighter movie only seems to prove that video games just don’t work in this form of media. Despite this, the companies that make these movies don’t seem to be disheartened by the negative stigma surrounding video game movies as the recent Assassins Creed movie proves. Is it impossible for video games to make the jump to the big screen while still being entertaining? Another very recent series seems to think not: Castlevania, the animated series.

The Netflix series follows the adventures of Trevor Belmont, the main monster-slaying character from Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. In the games, it was quite simple. You enter Dracula’s castle, fight through his demonic army and slay the evil vampire lord. The animated series however, tries to add some characterisation to Belmont’s world. Dracula gets almost the entirety of the first episode to flesh out his character. He isn’t evil simply for the fact he’s evil, in fact, he has good reason to want to eradicate humanity. In the first episode, we see him meet a young doctor called Lisa who seeks the knowledge Dracula holds in his castle so she can use it to help the ill. We aren’t shown much of their interactions after that, but she eventually becomes his wife only to be burned at the stake by the church for the crime of being a ‘witch’. The ancient vampire is of course, enraged by this and gives them one year to prepare while he builds up an army from the depths of hell.

As you might of guessed, the animated series isn’t nearly as black and white as the NES games it is based on. Throughout the four episodes(yes, just four) that make up the first season, the villainy of the church is a prevalent theme. Trevor Belmont, one of the last of the Belmont family remaining, is also one of the few people capable of stopping Dracula, yet the church excommunicated and exiled his entire family simply for coming into contact with the supernatural they worked to stop. So Dracula’s army is slowly making their way across the country razing all in their path with barely any resistance, and the one person who can stop them isn’t exactly happy to help.

Speaking of Trevor Belmont, he’s a brilliant, well-written protagonist. We first meet him in a pub where he is swiftly drawn into a brawl over his family name. He’s rude, snarky, seemingly drunk all the time and constantly fires off a barrage of sarcastic quips. Yet he’s also surprisingly tolerant, loyal to certain people and f***ing badass. One of the only things I dislike about him is he’s a little too R-rated in my opinion. Yes, I know this series wasn’t exactly supposed to be family friendly and for the most part I’m fine with that; but it seems like almost half of everything Trevor says is ‘fuck’ or ‘shit’. Thankfully, this is much more controlled by the season’s second half. Gore is also very present in this series, and to an extreme level. There’s eyes getting whipped out, impaling and even a baby being eaten at one point. I wasn’t too bothered by it, but if you’re not a fan of gore I recommend you stay far away. Most of the first two episodes is made up of dialogue setting up the world and characters but the third episode is where things really kick off.

Visually, the show is stunning with detailed animation and great character designs. It reaches its peak with the final scene in the season, where **SPOILER** Trevor and Alucard(another playable character from the game) fight to a stalemate. Each of the characters fight in their own specific way which was a joy to watch. While Alucard was more controlled, fighting in a stance and barely changing his movements, Trevor was unpredictable, constantly changing his movement and dancing from foot to foot to try and throw Alucard off guard. At one point, Trevor even employs the cheap tactic of a kick to the groin to try and get an advantage and the resulting dialogue was hilarious. **SPOILER** After watching it, I was left with my mouth open, aching for more. One of the other playable game characters, the powerful witch Sypha Belnades, is introduced in the episode prior after a brief, yet awesome fight with a cyclops. The only playable character not to appear at all in the season was the pirate, Grant DaNasty. Hopefully he’ll show up in the next season which has already been confirmed.

Overall, I loved Castlevania. While it does make some changes, for the most part it stays loyal to the game. Dialogue is well-written and full of comedy gold, and the new spin on Dracula and the other characters feels necessary considering modern expectations. However, it has its flaws. First of all, it really could of benefited from just a couple more episodes. Because of the small amount of run time for the season, the first two episodes and parts of the third episode are an exposition fest with around 90% of the episodes made up of characters talking. The last episode-while leaving me wanting more-also left me with a sense of dissatisfaction. It ends almost abruptly, right in the middle of one of Dracula’s assaults leaving more questions than answers. Finally, this may just be my personal opinion but I didn’t think the soundtrack was that great. None of the pieces were particularly memorable or struck me as something special, hell, in quite a few of the scenes, it’s completely silent apart from the dialogue. Nevertheless, I can’t wait for the show’s second season, which is confirmed to have double the amount of episodes. Fans of Castlevania and those who are new to the series alike will find something to like here, provided you don’t mind a bit of gore.

Watch the series on Netflix here: http://www.netflix.com/

Plague Inc: Evolved Review-A Pox on All of Steam

Game Name: Plague Inc: Evolved

Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux, Xbox One, Playstation 4

Developer: Ndemic Creations

Publisher: Ndemic Creations

Price: £11.99 or $14.99

Ever wanted to destroy the world? The thought isn’t exactly alien to gamers like us. There are plenty of games just for embracing our more chaotic side. While saving the world is all well and good, it’s often just as fun, if not more fun to destroy it. Even in games where it isn’t the main focus, there’s always a way to bend the game’s rules to commit evil. Come on, we’ve all trapped a Sim in a room with no exit or stopped building a rollercoaster in Rollercoaster Tycoon so we could watch the little pixel people crash and burn. Today, I’ll be looking at one of the most popular world-destroying games: Plague Inc: Evolved. This game has picked up quite a bit of traction and remains one of the most popular games on Steam. Is it really as enjoyable as it’s given credit for? Let’s find out!

What you do in Plague Inc is pretty self-explanatory. You attempt to develop a plague that is infectious, deadly and complicated enough to infect the whole world, kill every human and prevent scientists from curing it. However, you don’t do much in the way to directly control your plague, instead indirectly controlling it through upgrades. When you start a game, you pick a location to start your plague and begin infecting the world. Over time, you collect DNA points, either automatically or by clicking DNA bubbles that randomly appear on the world map. These can be used to improve the transmission, symptoms and abilities of your plague. This may be making it more resistant to certain environments and weather, giving it the ability to spread through certain means that are more effective in some areas than some, or making it harder to cure.

You’ll probably enjoy your first few games as you learn how to play, but you’ll soon realise that the game is actually incredibly repetitive by nature. There’s only one real strategy to win and you’ll be using it every single game if you want a chance. Only upgrade transmission until pretty much the entire world is infected then refund all transmission upgrades and just buy as many symptoms as you can. Your plague remains hidden as long as it has no symptoms and all my attempts to try and balance transmission and symptoms have ended with failure. Humans just develop the cure too damn fast that the second your plague is discovered and the world isn’t fully infected, it’s game over. Even with the maximum amount of upgrades that make it harder for them to find a cure, they can still create it in a matter of minutes, and then you’ve lost.

As well as that, if your plague kills everyone in the world but the inhabitants of one country, you lose. Madagascar and Greenland particularly cause a lot of trouble. When your plague is discovered, they close their seaports like a mouse trap and it’s literally impossible to infect them and win the game no matter what you do. If this doesn’t sound that fun then you’re right, it isn’t. I honestly can’t understand what makes this game so popular. Maybe it’s because of the huge amount of content on offer. It’s what drew me in in the first place. There are over 150 achievements to earn which will keep you occupied with the game for quite a while if you’re not bothered by the mind-numbing gameplay. On top of this, there’s a level editor which allows you to make your own campaigns and share them on the Steam Workshop, a collection of side campaigns separate from the main campaign and a co-op mode which you can play with your friend. Finally, there’s even multiplayer.

I only played one multiplayer game admittedly, but I had no desire to play another one afterwards. On paper, it seems like a decent enough concept. Two players go head to head, controlling their own plague in an attempt to eradicate the whole of humanity first. To win, you have to infect the most humans. Doesn’t seem like a problem at first, but here’s the thing. The amount of humans you kill, doesn’t mean shit. In the one game I played, I had infected the most humans and started killing them off, my opponent only having infected the entirety of Greenland while I had claim to the rest of the world. No matter what I tried, what upgrades I got, I couldn’t infect Greenland and take it from him so I just killed off all the people I had infected thinking I would win. So, after a while, my plague had killed over six billion people with him only having infected a meagre one billion. And I lost. His plague survived longer than mine so he won despite me infecting and killing way more people than him. What the fuck? Multiplayer, is more of a last man standing than a race to utterly destroy humanity and in my opinion, that’s just stupid game design.

In conclusion, I don’t think Plague Inc: Evolved lives up to its gargantuan popularity at all. I tried to have fun, I really did, and for the first couple of games, I saw where people were coming from. But it didn’t take long for me to tire of the game’s only real draw. Some of the more creative and unique pathogens such as the Vampire pathogen which has you control a powerful vampire attempting to destroy the world and the Simian Flu which allows you to infect and take control of monkeys to spread your plague kept me interested for a little longer but the principle and strategy remains pretty much the same. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of strategy games, but I thought the whole reason people loved them was because they allowed you to formulate your own ways of grasping victory. Plague Inc: Evolved is as far from this as it could possibly be, and for that, I unfortunately can’t recommend it.

Pros:

  • Lot’s of content and Replayability
  • Steam Workshop
  • Over a hundred achievements
  • Multiplayer
  • Co-Op Mode
  • Several disease types that change up the gameplay slightly

Cons:

  • Get’s very repetitive, very fast
  • Only one real strategy to win
  • Multiplayer win conditions are stupid
  • The cure is developed way too damn fast
  • Music is dull and gets repetitive
  • Madagascar and Greenland

Verdict: 6/10

Buy the game here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/246620/Plague_Inc_Evolved/

All the Season One Teen Titans Episodes Ranked from Worst to Best

Teen Titans. I talked about this show for one of my first ever blog posts all the way back in December. It’s one of my favourite cartoons of all time for its masterful mix of comedy and action, as well as its well-written stories. I’ve wanted to cover this series in a lot more depth for ages now, and now it’s summer, I have the chance to. Over the course of summer, I will be ranking all the episodes of each season as I rewatch them, and maybe I’ll do a few extra posts about the series as well. So, I’m starting with Season One(because why wouldn’t I?). Season One did a great job of introducing us to the titans, mainly their leader: Robin. There were those bonkers, and comical episodes such as Mad Mod, some detailed insights into each of the character’s heads(literally for Raven), and of course, the Teen Titans first ever encounters with the chilling Slade(Deathstroke). Well, that’s my introduction done. Let’s get right into it!

#13 Deep Six

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This was probably the easiest choice on this list for me to make. Deep Six is the only episode of Teen Titans I would call downright bad. It starts off decent enough, but quickly sinks deeper and deeper into the depths. Four of the titans are absent most of the episode, Raven and Starfire love Aqualad for literally no reason and 3/4 of the episode is just Beast Boy and Aqualad arguing with each other. The first time I marathoned this series, this was the only episode I couldn’t bear to watch all the way through. Sorry Beast Boy, you’re one of my favourite titans, but your episodes usually aren’t that great.

#12 Car Trouble

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Car Trouble is another episode that’s not so great, but it has its moments that still make it a decent enough episode. This was the first episode to feature the T-Car and unfortunately, didn’t do a good job of showing it off. There are quite a few plot holes which just made me roll my eyes at this episode. Before the titans go to fight Overload, it puts lots of emphasis on Cyborg putting various locking mechanisms on his car to prevent it being stolen. Five minutes later, it’s stolen by two random street urchins. Yeah, that makes sense. Later on, when Raven and Cyborg are chasing Gizmo, Raven uses her powers to make the car they’re in float. Wait a second. If Raven can do that to their car, why doesn’t she just use her powers on the T-Car to stop it? Sometimes this episode drives me up the wall(I suppose that literally happens in this episode) but the witty jokes and action makes it watchable.

#11 The Sum of His Parts

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At Number Eleven is another Cyborg-centric episode. The Sum of His Parts focuses on the human side of Cyborg and the problems he has being mostly machine. While this episode is decent enough, this side of Cyborg was handled much better in other, later episodes *cough* Only Human *cough*. When Cyborg’s battery runs out, he ends up at the mercy of a mysterious man… robot…. alien thingy(?) called Fix-It(not Felix). Considering the episode is focused on him, Cyborg doesn’t really do much. He’s just held prisoner for a while by Fix-It until his human memories eventually convince Fix-It that making him being all robot isn’t all it’s cut out to be. Robin and the rest fight Mumbo meanwhile which makes for some fun moments and that’s pretty much it. Nothing bad, but nothing really special either.

#10 Forces of Nature

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Earlier I said that the majority of Beast Boy’s episodes aren’t all that great, and this episode unfortunately enforces that. Beast Boy pulls a prank that angers Starfire and she calls him a barblamilk. Harsh, I know. Later on, the titans encounter some demigods called Thunder and Lightning who are literally destroying the city for fun. BB scorns them and tries to get them both to stop likening their rampage to the harmless prank he pulled earlier. The moral of this episode feels blatant and forced, as if the writers finished writing the episode and the director threatened to dock their pay unless they worked a moral into it somehow. Whenever there is a moral episode of Teen Titans, it’s usually seamlessly threaded into the episode’s story and is much more subtle but that’s simply not the case with this episode. It wasn’t horrible though, there was some great jokes and the fights were well animated, especially Robin’s first ever direct confrontation with Slade! Overall, an alright episode.

#9 Divide and Conquer

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Number 9 on this list is the first every Teen Titans episode! Well, the first to be produced, not the first to be aired, that episode is actually… ah screw it, let’s just get on with it. The fight with Cinderblock does a great job of introducing us to the titans but the rest of the story in this episode isn’t all that great. Cyborg decides to quit the team despite us viewers seeing him on the team for like five minutes. Yeah, not a good choice for the first episode. His “BOOYAHHHHH’s” are sadly absent for almost the entirety of the rest of this episode while the rest of the titans fight Plasmus. It’s a decent enough first episode, but it doesn’t really compare with some of the series more well-written episodes.

#8 Sisters

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Sisters. The first episode to explore Robin and Starfire’s relationship and cause thousands of people to start shipping the two. Blackfire also makes a prominent appearance in this episode and we’re shown her utter villainy knows no bounds, even to her own sister. Like Forces of Nature, this episode has a moral lesson behind it, but it by no means feels forced. None of the characters seemingly talk out of character to shove the lesson in your face, and the dialogue feels completely natural. It’s just too bad it’s the last we see of Blackfire until Season Three.

#7 Final Exam

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The first ever episode of Teen Titans to be aired, Final Exam does a better job than Divide and Conquer at introducing the titans. Well, except for Robin, he’s in the sewers for most of the episode. It highlights just how helpless the titans are without their leader and this is also the first episode to feature the Hive Fi-uh, Three. While this episode is great, mixing comedy and action, I feel like the titans got defeated way too easily in this episode. They didn’t even put up a fight against Jinx, Gizmo and Mammoth, hell, Starfire and Raven’s fight with Mammoth was completely omitted. And that’s why it’s at the halfway point on this list.

#6 Mad Mod

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This episode honestly doesn’t get enough credit. I know Revolution is the Mad Mod episode people usually pick when talking about the best Teen Titans episode but the first episode to introduce this bonkers villain simply cannot be ignored. On my fifth consecutive year of marathoning this show, this episode still manages to make me laugh all the way through. After the seriousness of Masks, this episode was perfect for reminding us of the more comedic aspects of the series. Mad Mod is one of the most memorable and unforgettable episodes of Season One, and for good reason.

#5 Switched

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Alright, the bodyswap idea isn’t all that original, but I’ll be damned if this wasn’t one of the most flawless executions of the concept. Raven’s powers are controlled by her keeping a tight grip on her emotions, while Starfire’s powers are controlled by her letting go of her emotions making them the perfect candidates for being bodyswapped. They’re almost the polar opposites of each other, making it all the more hilarious and believable that they’d both have trouble using each other’s superpowers. The only bad part of this episode is that the other three titans are nearly non-existent for the story’s duration, but it was a worthy sacrifice to be able to allow this episode’s antics to unfold.

#4 Apprentice Part 1

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This is it. This is what the entire season had been building up to. The ultimate confrontation between Robin and Slade. While the first part falls slightly behind its second half, it’s still a brilliant episode. Slade is threatening to set off a device that will freeze Jump City in time for eternity which of course, agitates Robin greatly. His obsession causes him to flip out on Slade’s robots, his friends, and even an innocent dock worker until he’s eventually separated. Then, he casually flips Cinderblock over in his anger before facing Slade. The tension in this episode is massive and it’s a non-stop rollercoaster that you’ll never want to get off. Even an episode as good as this one pales in comparison to the next few episodes on this list. We’re entering into truly masterful territory now.

#3 Nevermore

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Raven is my favourite member of the titans, and I’m certainly not alone in that mentality. Not a single episode that focuses on her is bad, or even simply average, and Nevermore is no exception. Beast Boy and Cyborg end up stuck in Raven’s mind, much to her dismay, and discover just how messed up her mind and childhood was. Seeing all of Raven’s emotions was honestly hilarious, showing us she isn’t as one-dimensional in her feelings as we originally thought. We got some foreshadowing for Season Four as well as the first ever appearance of white Raven. One of the most unskippable episodes of the season, Nevermore is the first episode of Season One that showed the massive potential this series had.

#2 Masks

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Hell yeah! This episode marked the first ever appearance of Red X, well the suit, but that doesn’t stop the anti-hero from being incredibly badass. Robin was a total asshole in the first season, and this episode proves it. He hadn’t developed a big enough bond with his fellow titans, and part of him still seemed to see himself as a solo hero. So he toils after catching Slade, even going so far as to betray his friend’s trust. In the end, he only ends up playing straight into Slade’s hand and his friends aren’t all that happy either. It’s an excellent episode, showing us the kind of person Robin is beyond just the leader of the Teen Titans and apprentice to Batman. Masks marks a turning point for his character, and the titans as a whole. As well as this, the fights scenes in this episode are just f***ing awesome; easily some of the best in the series. There’s only one episode in the first season I consider better this one, and that is…

#1 Apprentice Part 2

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Be honest. If you’re a Teen Titans fan then you saw this coming from a mile away. It’s cliched I know, but Apprentice Part Two is widely considered to be the best episode of the first season for good reason. All the finales are pretty epic, but this one set the precedent. Start with a setup of one of the Teen Titan’s most terrifying and utterly chilling villains forcing Robin into working as his apprentice. Throw in some intense fight scenes, some impeccably good writing and just a sprinkle of pure horror and despair and you have one of the darkest episodes of Teen Titans ever written. You can feel the danger the Teen Titans are facing, the confusion, and Robin’s distress and hopelessness with the situation. This is an episode that will keep your anticipation at a fevered high and constantly surpass all your expectations. Watching this episode, it’s easy to forget that it’s actually a kids show. Apprentice Part Two is the perfect representation of Teen Titan’s darker side, and I still consider it to be the best episode of Season One since I first viewed it five years ago.

Overall, it was certainly an action-packed season. There were a few duds here and there, some good episodes, and then some downright amazing ones. A high precedent has been set for later seasons. Remember, this is just my opinion so if you love Deep Six or hate Apprentice then that’s completely fine! Feel free to express what you think of the first season and its episodes below as I’m interested to hear what you think.

Flash Friday: Cube Colossus

Challenge is a feature that is often neglected when it comes to Flash games. It isn’t hard to see why; Flash games are free and available to the vast majority of people with access to the Internet. Appeal to all these different types of people is often more desirable and prioritised over ensuring the game’s difficulty is competent. As well as that, there’s the issue that perfect difficulty is near unobtainable. Striking the right balance over what can be dozens of levels is a daunting task to say the least. That’s why I’m particularly struck when presented with a game that belongs to a genre that prides itself on its ridiculous difficulty. Cube Colossus is a game I remember playing long ago and have mixed memories of. So for today’s Flash Friday, I thought to myself: “Why not revisit it?”. Does the game provide a resilient but fair difficulty? Is it as enjoyable as I remember it to be? Let’s find out!

Cube Colossus’ story is better than most Flash games. You follow the story of two pilots: Rua and Cedric. Simply put, they’re investigating a mysterious and colossal cube(hence the title) in the hope of finding Rua’s twin sister, Millie, who went missing around the cube’s area. The personal incentive gives you a lot more reason to play through the game rather than just to destroy the cube and for completion. Most of the story is communicated through dialogue boxes at the start of, and during a level. Unfortunately, the story is hindered by two problems. Firstly, Cube Colossus is a bullet hell game and requires a lot of concentration and skill to beat. The last thing you want while doing a level is for a dialogue box to appear and distract you. Often, I would end up reading it and getting hit while doing so. Secondly, grammar and spelling errors are rampant. And I don’t just mean every now and then, there’s at least a couple every other sentence. I thought Medieval Cop’s grammar errors were bad but they’re a thousand times worse in this game. The amount of mistakes seem to suggest to me that the developer doesn’t know English or it isn’t their first language.

Compared to other bullet hell games, the controls in Cube Colossus are… unique, to say the least. Rather than aiming with your mouse and moving with WASD, the game uses a strange lock-on system. You pilot your ship by moving your mouse, which isn’t odd, at least until you consider the arena style of the game. Every level takes place in a single, square-shaped room and enemies come at you from all angles. So instead of simply firing one way or using the mouse to aim like in other bullet hell games, you can press W to lock onto the enemy nearest to you. The game also seems to suggest you can change targets with A and D but it never really worked for me and I never really needed it either. At first, the controls will be incredibly awkward to control, and although I eventually got used to them, they did have their moments when they screwed me over. Some enemies in this game move surprisingly fast and without having the ability to manually aim, the bullets I fired would often completely miss the enemies which made me feel like I had a lack of control over my ship. That isn’t good for a game of this genre.

You can also utilise two different forms of attack while playing. Firstly, your standard attack which you simply hold down the left mouse button to use. Another thing unique about the game is its energy meter. You can only fire your standard attack for so long before your weapon overheats and the game forces you to stop for a short while to let your energy meter recharge. Whether it’s a good design choice or not is debatable. As well as this, you have your special attack which can be activated with a simple press of the space key. Depending on which ship you choose(they’re unlocked over the course of the game), your special can simply increase your attack output to recharge your shields to even slowing down time for the especially skilled.

Once you get past the questionable control scheme, the game can provide you some fast-paced fun along with the tough-as-nails difficulty associated with the bullet hell genre. Sadly, this difficulty doesn’t come from rapid, hard-to-dodge patterns of bullets that test your reflexes. In fact, I didn’t have that much trouble dodging bullets in this game, I had more trouble dodging the enemies themselves. As I said earlier, the levels take place in a square arena with enemies spawning all around you. While enemies in bullet hell games dealing damage on contact isn’t uncommon, in an arena-like setting, it feels like a bad design choice. On levels where dozens of enemies spawned, I didn’t even try to weave between all of them, and when I did try, and I got hit even more. This was a problem that affected the final boss as well, who constantly dashed into me without giving me any time to react. Not to mention that on levels with several waves, enemies can spawn right on top of you, making you feel cheated by the game.

To be honest though, the game seems to expect you to get hit a lot. On the main menu , you can go into a workshop where you can change your ship(more are unlocked throughout the game), buy new weapons and upgrade the Shield, Energy and Attack of your ship. To beat the final boss, I upgraded my shield to Lvl 99 after some grinding and I was able to withstand 20+ hits before my ship was destroyed. In my opinion, this goes directly against the principles of what makes a good bullet hell game. You should be challenged to learn the patterns and dodge through them with pure skill and reaction speed rather than simply tanking most of the shots fired at you. I have never been able to take even half as many hits in any other bullet hell game, and while it may be more beginner friendly, I feel like it sacrifices some of the genre’s spirit.

In conclusion, while Cube Colossus is certainly a fun game, it’s riddled with problems that drag it down and substantially hurt the overall experience. The game is significantly harmed by the questionable-at-best design choices, difficult controls, and extremely noticeable errors in both grammar and spelling. Nevertheless, it is a decent game that can provide a few hours of entertainment. For a Flash game, it’s quite long, taking me around 4-5 hours to complete(though that’s mainly due to the difficulty). As well as that, there are a number for achievements for completionists and twenty levels in total as well as a bonus boss fight which I attempted once then silently admitted I would never stand a chance. The music is awesome(though I wish there were more tracks) and the graphics are pretty good, mainly when presented with the anime-style characters. If you’re looking for a few hours to kill and/or a decent challenge then this game is sure to provide what you’re looking for.

Pros:

  • Great Music
  • Free
  • Achievements
  • Fast, frenetic gameplay
  • Long for a Flash game(took me around four hours)
  • Decent story
  • Good graphics

Cons:

  • Awkward controls
  • Text in battle can be distracting
  • Hundreds of grammar errors
  • Enemies themselves more of a threat than the bullets they shoot
  • Upgrades are more important than skill to win
  • Repetitive backgrounds

Masterpiece   Amazing   Worth your time   Average   Meh   Waste of time   Kill it with fire

Play the game for free here: http://www.kongregate.com/games/lucidrine/cube-colossus

Clustertruck Review-The Floor is Made of Lava Taken to The Extreme

Game Name: Clustertruck

Platform: Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac, Playstation 4, Xbox One

Developer: Landfall Games

Publisher: tinyBuild Games

Price: £10.99 or $14.99

Remember that silly, yet enjoyable game you used to play as a kid, ‘The Floor is Made of Lava’? Looking back on it now, I can’t help feeling a certain sense of nostalgia, even if the idea itself is ridiculous. Moving from item of furniture to item of furniture in a frantic attempt to keep of the ground somehow filled our childish bodies with adrenaline. Ever had the urge to relive that experience? To swiftly jump from object to object in grace? To fell the blip of enjoyment as your feet live the ground? To dodge lasers and explosive missiles once again? Oh, sorry, that’s Clustertruck. Easy mistake to make. They do have quite a similar premise if you think about it…

The gameplay in Clustertruck is simple enough. Make it to the goal without touching the floor or any obstacles in your way; only trucks. You jump from truck to truck in the hopes of getting to the end and that’s pretty much the entire game. There are countless hurdles in your path however. These obstructions can be anything from collapsing scenery to swinging hammers from the medieval ages to colossal cogs that you are forced to somehow navigate your way through. In total, there are nine worlds, each with ten levels and their own theme: Desert, Forest, Winter, Laser, Medieval, Ancient, Sci-Fi, Steampunk and Hell. As well as that, there are ten Halloween levels and ten Christmas levels which can be played through any time of the year. Clustertruck’s level design is creative and constantly presents new challenges for you to overcome. Challenges that are far from easy to beat.

Clustertruck is a brutally difficult game, though admittedly, somewhat sporadically. Sometimes, it would take me half an hour to beat a hard, arduous level only for me to go on and beat the next level in my first couple of attempts. As well as that I found the final world, Hell, to be surprisingly easy save for the unexpected final boss. Clustertruck took me around five hours to complete, which is woefully short considering its asking price is £10.99. If you’re no stranger to parkour games, it will probably take you even less time to complete. If not for the merciless difficulty, it could easily be completed in around 2-3 hours max.

Throughout the game, you’ll earn style points. How do you earn them? Well, you get some just for completing a level, more for completing it on your first try, more for getting big airtime and more for doing tricks. How do you do tricks? Don’t ask me, I have no idea. I often beat levels with a bunch of style points from doing tricks and no idea what kind of tricks I did. As well as being used to show the world how much ‘style’ you have on the leaderboards, you can use them to purchase movement and utility abilities. There are many abilities from slowing time to grappling hooks to spawning a truck to just a simple double jump. However, you can only have one movement ability and one utility ability. These allow you to develop your own way of manoeuvring from truck to truck. Personally, I kept it simple and found great use in the combination of the double jump and time slowing ability.

While the main campaign is short-lived, there are achievements and the Steam Workshop to add more replayability. There are nineteen achievements and most of them are earned just by completing the various game worlds though some require a lot more dedication. Namely, the achievement that requires you to complete the entire game without using any abilities. If you’re a masochist then this is the perfect addition to extend your playthrough! Otherwise, the game is still small overall. There are some creative levels, but quite a lot are just ‘Easy Points’ levels to aid you in getting some of the harder achievements.

It can’t be denied that Clustertruck is a fun game. Hell, it’s trucking awesome at times. The game often makes you feel like an action hero pulling off insane stunts that shouldn’t be possible by any means. Unfortunately, although Clustertruck is thrilling, it’s sparse of content for its asking price. £10.99 is a large amount for around 4-7 hours gameplay; possibly a bit more if you’re going for the achievements or are interested in playing the levels in the game’s workshop. I suppose it’s worth its base price if you like climbing up leaderboards but that’s the only reason I ever think the price could be worth it. Nevertheless, it’s a worthy purchase when it’s on discount.

Pros:

  • Gameplay is fun and thrilling
  • Creative Level Design
  • Steam Workshop adds replayability
  • A few achievements for completionists
  • Great soundtrack
  • Abilities allow you to customise your playstyle

Cons:

  • Expensive for what it’s offering
  • Short
  • Graphics are nothing special
  • May be too difficult for some to enjoy

Verdict: 7/10

Buy the game here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/397950/Clustertruck/

Gotham Episode 22: All Happy Families are Alike Review

Well here we are! After twenty two episodes, we’re finally here at the finale of the first season of Gotham. The first season has been a bumpy ride to say the least. It had its fair share of both good(Penguin’s Umbrella, What the Little Bird Told Him) and bad(The Mask, The Blind Fortune Teller) episodes. We’ve had memorable villains like the Scarecrow and Penguin, and forgettable ones such as… what was that guy in The Mask called again? I can’t really remember. There are still dozens of loose ends to be tied up in a forty minute episode and if the show’s creators aren’t careful, we could be left with a bad taste in our mouth by the end. So, does the season finale manage to end the first season with a bang and end all the little arcs that have been progressing throughout the season gracefully? Or does it handle its plot elements with all the grace of a fish flopping about helplessly on land? Let’s find out!

The finale gets off to a great start with Falcone being attacked and captured by Penguin while checking on his chickens. You’d think with his experience he’d be more cautious… Anyway, Penguin is just about to take his life and steal his status until Gordon bursts in, stopping him and Butch. Apart from being strictly against killing unless absolutely necessary, Gordon has decided he wants to keep Falcone alive as he’s the lesser of the four evils, Penguin, Falcone, Maroni and Fish, who are fighting to take control of the city. I really liked this, as it shows that Gordon has been worn down by all the corruption in Gotham and is willing to let it continue instead of going on a suicide mission to try and stop it all like he did at the start of the season. However, I do think he was waaaay too chummy with Falcone this episode, and vice versa. Remember when Falcone kidnapped your ex girlfriend Gordon? Remember when Gordon broke into your house and held you at gunpoint Falcone? You’d think it would be a reluctant relationship at best but they make an unbelievable couple of pals throughout the episode.

So, after an action-packed fight with some of Maroni’s men come to kill Falcone, Penguin, Butch and Bullock are all roped in together as they head to one of Falcone’s safe houses. Unfortunately, Fish-who is apparently completely fine after getting shot in her previous appearance-is waiting for them and captures all of them. Maroni arrives and dies pretty quickly after pissing Fish off and not taking her seriously giving them all the chance to escape. And they do… for five seconds! They make a pathetic attempt to hide in a container and are instantly recaptured. Penguin managed to find a machine gun however and starts attacking Fish’s men giving them all another chance to escape. Falcone says he doesn’t want to be a gang boss any more which disappoints Jim as well as me. You’d think after his brutal actions in ‘What the Little Bird Told Him’ he’d be more raring to go than ever before but he was surprisingly tame after that. Well, I suppose his weird attraction to chickens would cause problems for him. Oh, and Selina was part of Fish’s gang for this episode. That was a thing.

Jim Gordon’s arc for this episode was incredibly chaotic and unorganised, though certainly thrilling. From a story point of view, this episode was a complete mess, though there are still plenty of good points which make this episode much better. Mainly, the showdown between Fish and Penguin at the end. The fight is intense but eventually it comes down to one of my favourite characters: Butch. He’s eventually forced to choose between shooting Fish or Penguin, his loyalty, or his psychological conditioning. Comically, he finds a compromise by shooting them both in the knee, but Penguin is used to being crippled and uses this chance to push Fish of the roof presumably killing her. I loved how Butch had such a pivotal role in this episode and Penguin was excellent as always, but Fish wasn’t the only thing Penguin threw off the roof. All the character development she’d done up to that point, all the episodes we’d watch her use her cunning to escape the Dollmaker’s island were also thrown off. It makes her huge story arc seem pretty pointless, but oh well, at least they didn’t kill off Penguin.

As well as this, the main arc is occasionally broken up by a few short scenes featuring Bruce and *sigh* Barbara and Leslie. Bruce doesn’t really do much, he continues to search for any secrets his father had in the library, much to the exasperation of Alfred. Eventually he finds a secret passage and we’re left on a cliffhanger. It’s nothing brilliant, but it was a hundred times better than what we saw of Barbara and Leslie. Barbara, who is very obviously insane, asks Leslie to be her psychologist after the whole ‘Ogre’ incident. They talk for a while about Gordon and ‘The Ogre’ pretty much having a verbal catfight with each other that was downright painful to watch. In the end, Barbara flips out and attacks Leslie in a hilariously bad fashion. She manages to fight her off just as Gordon comes in and that’s what we’re left with for the finale. I pray to god that Barbara disappears, for at least the first half of Season Two.

So, did I enjoy the finale of the first season of Gotham? Yes, and no. While the episode was certainly entertaining to watch, it left me very dissatisfied at the end. Bruce’s arc felt like it was just setting up for the second season, and personally felt very out-of-place to me in the finale. I need not say any more about Barbara and Leslie. The main arc started good, plummeted, and then ended on a high note with the fight between Fish and Penguin at the end and Butch’s frantic decision. However, even this had its bad points, completely destroying all of Fish’s development up to this point. Oh well, at least the finale didn’t forget about Nygma who was brilliant as always. Overall, the finale could of been a lot worse, but it also could of been a hell of a lot better. Hopefully Season Two will start on a much higher note.

Flash Friday: Stick War

Flash games have been around for quite a while now, but I think we often forget just how far they’ve come in a few short years. There have been many Flash game epidemics over the years, the most notable recent one being the seemingly unstoppable Idle genre. Go back just a few short years however, and Flash games weren’t as simple to develop as they seem to be nowadays. They were often developed by individuals as more of a hobby than anything, and because of that, development was often a difficult process. Another Flash epidemic that made developing great games easier for developers was the Stickman genre. To put it simply, all the characters in the game are stickmen. They are easy to draw(even for someone like me) and allowed Flash creators to make large groups of game characters quickly. And one of the most popular games to take advantage of this craze was Stick War.

Stick War plays similar to Age of War, but with multiple levels and a few other key differences. You slowly gain gold and use it to purchase units. Your goal is to fight past the enemy army and destroy the enemy statue, while also defending yours. There are a few differences however. First of all, instead of gaining gold simply from defeating enemies, you need to buy a specific unit to collect gold for you. While you gain gold over time, the amount is tiny, even with upgrades, so the solution is the miner unit. This unit mines ore on the battlefield and takes it back to your base, giving you a large amount of gold. These units can be killed relatively easy and the ore nodes can run out forcing your miners to venture further and further from enemy territory to accumulate more gold for you. Although it massively reduces your chance of a comeback, the ticking time limit forces you to make more risky decisions and spices up the gameplay so overall, I think it’s a good design choice.

Another major difference is that Stick War gives you the ability to take direct control of your units. I don’t just mean being able to order them around and tell them to target certain enemies, I mean that you can literally control them. By clicking any unit on the battlefield, you can pilot them and use all of their abilities. As well as just being good for a bit of fun and more active gameplay, units you possess have extra health and damage meaning there’s a strategic reason to play as one of your pawns. To be honest though, I only really found myself using the miners, giants and swordsmen to collect money quickly and deal some quick damage to certain targets. You can possess every one of your units however so how you dominate the enemy is completely up to you.

There are a total of six different units which you collect over the course of the game. They all have different abilities, advantages and disadvantages. Swordsmen are cheap and don’t take much time to produce but are weak compared to some of the other units. Wizards can summon lot’s of minions to help them and stun enemies but they’re extremely expensive. After every battle, you get two upgrade points to upgrade your army. You can spend this on each unit to improve their power as well as general upgrades such as increasing your statue’s defence and increasing the amount of gold you earn every second. This allows you to tailor your army to your liking and focus on the units you think you can get the most use out of. However, there is no way to reset upgrade points meaning if you pool all your points into the archer for instance, and later change your mind, there’s no way to get those upgrade points back which can leave you stuck on certain levels.

In total, there are twelve levels. On some you’ll simply be tasked with destroying the enemies monument and on others you’ll simply have to survive until a certain time. While the enemies you face may change, the levels start to merge into each other due to the repetitive backgrounds. Every level is a simple field with the sun in the background. If you were shown the backgrounds of two of the levels, you’d be hard pressed in identifying which level is which. There are three difficulties in total: Normal, Hard and Insane though sadly, Insane is only available on StickPage. Whichever difficulty you choose, the game still presents a decent challenge, even on normal.

Overall, Stick war is a solid and fun strategy war game that plays around with a new concept for strategy Flash games without feeling too alienating. Fans of the likes of Age of War will find a lot to like here. The gameplay is solid, satisfying and enjoyable though it is over a bit fast taking me around forty five minutes to complete fully. Epic music accompanies this game in fanfare though its just too bad that Kongregate haven’t added badges to the game, even seven years after its release. Stick War may be short, but it’s also oh so sweet.

Pros:

  • Epic Music
  • Fun gameplay
  • Ability to control individual units is a great idea
  • Steady and challenging difficulty, even on Normal
  • Upgrades allow you to choose how you play
  • Free

Cons:

  • No way to reset upgrade points
  • Boring backgrounds
  • Short(45 minutes)
  • Intense difficulty only on Stickpage
  • No badges/achievements

Masterpiece   Amazing   Worth your time   Average   Meh   Waste of time   Kill it with fire

Play it here for free: http://www.stickpage.com/stickwargameplay.shtml

My Top Ten Favourite Video Game Genres(100th Post Special)

It has been over half a year since I started this blog back in the start of December. To be honest, it feels like I just started it yesterday. Yet my site statistics tell me that I’ve almost made a total of one hundred posts on my blog. It’s shocking to me that I’ve managed to keep this up so long, but it’s mainly thanks to all of you reading my blog. Just a single view of one of my posts is enough to make me feel like what I’m doing is worthwhile so thank you all for that. So today, I will be counting down my Top Ten Favourite Video Game genres. I was originally planning to count down my Top Ten Favourite Video Games but, let’s be real here, what gamer can limit it to just ten? Maybe I’ll do that next time. Just give me another half a year and a hundred more posts to think on it and I’ll get back to you. For now, I hope you enjoy my Top Ten Favourite Video Game Genres!

#10 Rhythm

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I’ve never really talked about it before, but I absolutely love music. The list of musical genres I enjoy is near endless, but one of the more prominent is game soundtracks. There’s just something that makes them stand out compared to normal music. In a way, there’s a story attached to each and every track. A story of an intense final boss battle, or a relaxing stroll through a beautiful world or just a skirmish with a few normal enemies. What’s even better, is when the music actually plays a part of the gameplay. Music and gameplay being one and the same is just an awesome idea, albeit an often challenging one. Rhythm games often require heavy dedication and perfection, but when everything comes together and you get the hang of it, it all blends together harmoniously into an absolute masterpiece.

#9 MOBA(Multiplayer Online Battle Arena)

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MOBA’s are the most recent genre on this list that I’ve discovered a love for, which is fitting considering it is a relatively new genre. Overtaking MMO’s as the most popular form of multiplayer gaming less than a decade ago, MOBA’s have you working as a team with other players to fight and defeat another team that are trying to defeat you. They have you playing a large roster of hero characters each with their own role in the game and abilities. My first memories of playing a MOBA were from back in 2013 when I played the lesser-known Awesomenauts for the first time though I’ve started playing the likes of SMITE a lot more lately. I’m not usually a fan of multiplayer games, but there’s something enthralling about being presented with so many ways to play and strategize. Not one game is the same, and you never know what to expect. The communities for these games can be toxic, but I still get plenty of enjoyment from pitting my skills against another on the battlefield, even if I lose. Which I often do.

#8 Platformer

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Games today are becoming more and more complex, trying new innovative ideas and only getting bigger and bigger in terms of scope. Despite this, I can still get a lot of pleasure out of the simplest platformer games. Platformers are way past their Playstation 2 glory days but they still remain one of the most popular genres, and for good reason. Almost anyone can understand the concept of a platformer meaning almost anyone can enjoy one. They don’t need to be complicated to be fun. Somehow, the genre manages to evolve without losing its allure and central approach. Perhaps that’s why Super Mario was so popular. If someone who had never played games before asked me to show them one game that represents everything about gaming, I’d show them a platformer. Hard yet fair. Challenging yet intuitive. I couldn’t make this post without at the very least mentioning this genre.

#7 Hardcore

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If you read the Monster Hunter Unpopular Opinions post I made the other day then you’ll know difficulty is a major selling point for me. Apart from freedom to do what I want, challenge is one of the main reasons I play a game. Nothing beats the feeling of defeating a tough, seemingly unstoppable boss or beating what appeared to be an impossible game or level after putting in hours and hours of hard work.  I love being able to brag about my impressive accomplishments that I worked up a sweat trying to achieve. It’s one of the reasons that I love games with lot’s of achievements. They act as a recognition of all the effort you put into reaching a certain goal. There’s just something pleasing about being able to say: “I’m in the 0.1% of people who managed to beat this boss”. While it can be frustrating, the reward is almost always worth the risk for me.

#6  Turn-Based

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I’m not sure whether I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m really not a fan of real-time strategy games. Truth be told, I’m not that much of a strategist, often preferring to just go with my instincts and hope for the best but what makes it worse is when you’re pressured to make your tactical decisions right in the moment. I either end up making some stupid in hindsight decisions due to the pressure or end up falling way behind my opponents because I take too much time to act. Turn-based strategy games don’t have this problem. I can spend as long as I please figuring out a solution to the situation. Yet this does nothing to detract from the tension of a fight, at least to me. In fact, it probably makes it even more intense. Slipups are a lot harder to recover from often due to the fact all your units are attacking at once. You can’t realise your mistake and interfere midway, you have to grit your teeth and face the consequences. For that reason, I love turn-based strategy games; to be honest, they’re probably the only kind of strategy game I can get into.

#5 Adventure

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Ah, adventure! There’s nothing better than coming to the realisation that the massive world stretched out before you can all be explored with little to no limitations. Adventure is one of the most classic video game genres, hell, one of the most famous games of all time is named ‘Adventure’. One of the primary reasons I love video games so much is because it allows you to explore other, fantastical worlds with as much freedom as you want, and there’s no genre that fulfils this better than the adventure genre does. Immersing yourself in the lore of another world is a refreshing breakaway from normal human life. One of my favourite games in the adventure genre is The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker for its massive open world and feeling of exploration. When I first looked out onto that ocean as a kid, I couldn’t suppress my joy at coming to the revelation I could explore all of that. The effect adventure games have on me has weakened somewhat now I’ve aged, but there’s still a special place in my heart for adventure games.

#4 RPG/JRPG

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Like the #1 spot on this list, the RPG/JRPG genre encompasses an unthinkably large area of gaming. While most people think of the classic turn-based Final Fantasy RPG when they hear one of these acronyms, you’d be surprised just how many games fit into the Role-playing Game genre. Skyrim, for one is an RPG. This fits more into the classic idea, being set in an expansive fantasy world rooted in the past but Mass Effect is also an RPG. One set in the very far future where man has finally gained the ability to travel beyond the stars. Dark Souls is an RPG, yet it has some elements of dungeon crawl and hardcore. One of my main reasons for playing video games is to escape reality and experience an entirely different world and RPG’s seem to be one of the most immersive genres which is probably why I love them so much. If you think about it, any game can be considered an RPG as you’re taking on the role of another character so in a way, the entirety of gaming bases its foundations upon the idea of an RPG. And if that isn’t reason enough to enjoy the genre, then I don’t know what is.

#3 Story-Based

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Back when video games were first conceived, story wasn’t even something that was considered due to the technical limitations of the time. I mean, how do you write an epic tale of retribution about a yellow square? With improvements to technology however, story has become increasingly prominent in video games. And it’s awesome. Some of the best stories I’ve ever experienced have been in video games. There’s a world of difference between simply reading a story, watching it as a silent observer, and actually taking part in it. When you feel that you’re making a difference to the game’s world, even if it’s artificial, it makes the story that much more exciting, and the stakes feel a hell of a lot higher. Some game developers honestly underestimate how much a well-written story can enhance a gaming experience. Think of some of your favourite games and I guarantee that there is at least one that would be almost nothing without its story. What would be left if you took away the multi-layered characters and impressive story of the likes of the Persona series or some of the popular Telltale games? A mediocre JRPG and a boring decision-making simulator. That is the power of story in video games.

#2 Sandbox

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Yes, I know, it’s a bit cliche in this day and age but don’t be put off by the Minecraft image above. Minecraft used to be a simple, small, barely-known game a few years ago believe it or not. Despite the game’s community becoming somewhat bloated beyond belief, the community has good aspects too. Mainly, the wealth of additional content they provide. That’s exactly the point of a sandbox; to provide the means for people to construct their own gaming experience. In a way, it’s like a playable tool.

Moving away from Minecraft, there are plenty of other Sandbox games which have benefited from a large, dedicated community. Just look at Garry’s Mod or Don’t Starve or The Elder Scrolls series. Morrowind is now fifteen years old and it still has an extremely passionate community constantly tinkering with the game and giving birth to tons and tons of mods. Sandbox games are pretty much immortal thanks to their community. They never get old, and because of that, their replay value is incalculable. For that, the Sandbox genre is my second favourite gaming genre, second only to…

#1 Indie

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Yes, Indie is my favourite gaming genre. With its rapidly increasing popularity, it’s more of a market than a genre now. The Indie genre is my favourite genre simply because of the sheer variety of the games encapsulated under this single word. Indie means a lot of things. It can mean a frustrating, hardcore platformer where you play as a living hunk of meat. It can mean a turn-based/management create-your-own Power Rangers simulator. It can mean a life lesson on friendship from some simple geometric shapes or a deep look into the mechanics of gaming itself as a storytelling tool. Unlike all the other genres, you never know what to expect with Indie games. Each game is a fresh, new surprise, exploring mind-blowing concepts you never even knew existed. The ever-growing roster of Indie games is like space; mysterious, unknown and infinite in its potential. Whenever I’m looking for a one-of-a-kind experience, the Indie genre is the first place I look, and that’s why it’s my favourite video game genre.

 

Thank you once again for reading my blog and most likely this post too if you’re all the way down here. I have no plans to slow down so you can continue to expect a steady stream of content from me whether they be reviews, lists like these or my Unpopular Opinions series. As always, feel free to leave any criticism, feedback or praise in the comments below as well as your own mini-list if you like! I’m interested to hear what you have to say.

Unpopular Opinions: The Monster Hunter Series Became Too Easy After Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate

In recent years, Japanese games, mainly Japanese Role Playing Games(JRPG’s), have become increasingly popular in the western world. Over the last decade, they have slowly transformed from a small, niche genre of gaming to one of the more prominent genres, rapidly approaching the popularity of other Triple A games in the western world. Recent examples of this include the Persona series, the well-known Kingdom Hearts series, and of course, the subject of this post: Monster Hunter. The first Monster Hunter was released back in 2004, but the subject didn’t become an established series in the west until the release of the third game: Monster Hunter Tri. Now, it is at the peak of its popularity, with the most recent game, Monster Hunter Generations, selling over three million copies worldwide. I was first introduced to Monster Hunter by my friend, who owned a copy of Tri for the Wii and showed it to me in all its splendour. After this, I decided to buy the second game in the series, Freedom Unite; and I absolutely loved it for its brutal, knuckle-whitening difficulty. Within a week, I’d bought the third game, which I also loved. Then, I bought the fourth, the most well-received game in the series at that time… and I absolutely hated it.

Well, hate is a strong word. More like I disliked it compared to the other games in the series. After twenty hours of playtime-which may seem like a lot but isn’t actually as Monster Hunter has hundreds of hours of gameplay-I stopped playing it and simply forgot about it. Why? The answer is simple. I play the games, primarily, for the difficulty, and compared to all the other games in the series, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is an absolute cakewalk. What once took careful planning and preparation and a metric ton of effort was now reduced to a simple hack-and-slash button-mashing exercise.

If you’re a fan of the series, then you are most likely shocked by this, but this isn’t called ‘Unpopular Opinions’ for nothing. Many fans, both new and old, love Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, and all the games that came after it, but I don’t. I think the main reason, there was such a drop in difficulty was because of the new mounting mechanic. If you jumped of a ledge and hit a monster a couple of times, you could mount them, and after some button mashing, you’d knock them to the ground. This gave you around ten seconds of precious time where you could whale on the monster dealing tons of damage. In previous games, it took much more to knock a monster to the ground, yet in the fourth game, you can very easily knock down a monster just through mounting 5+ times in a single hunt.

One of the main arguments people make against my point is simply that I’ve been playing the game for so long that I’ve got so experienced that newer games seem easy. While that it is a solid counterargument, I tested out this theory for myself and found this simply isn’t the case, at least, not fully. I fought the Frenzied Tigrex in MH4U with great anticipation as the normal Tigrex in MHFU took me TEN separate attempts to finally defeat. The Frenzied Tigrex was advertised as being a super powerful, permanently-in-rage-mode Tigrex, yet when I fought it, I beat it on my first try without fainting once. After this, I went back to Freedom Unite again, and fought a normal Tigrex. I fainted three times and lost in under twenty minutes. So no, it isn’t just that I’m more experienced. It may play a part, but there are other factors as well.

Of course, I still played the game for around twenty hours so I still managed to get some enjoyment out of it; but the breaking point for me was the Seregios. The game’s flagship monster which everyone was saying was one of the best monsters yet. You first encounter the Seregios in a seemingly innocent Rathian capture mission. When the Rathian limps away, close to death, the Seregios jumps into the fray in, admittedly, quite a lot of style. A flagship monster ambushing you and intimidating you on a normal mission isn’t anything new and I even think it’s a good thing. But here’s where the problems arise.

Instead of allowing you to capture the Rathian under this great beast’s shadow, it instantly pulls you from the mission, wasting all the items you used up trying to capture this monster. Apparently it’s “too powerful” and “too dangerous” for you to hunt which is why they pulled you out. But here’s the thing: Straight after, they send you to hunt the goddamn Seregios. Are you serious?!?!? You pull me out of a hunt, wasting valuable items, because there’s a monster that’s too powerful for me then tell me to hunt it directly after. Not only that, but I hunted it afterwards without any difficulty. This was the last straw for me in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate and I haven’t played it since. Even excluding the argument I’m making, it can’t be denied, that’s just bad game design, plain and simple.

My main point is that I think the hunters have become progressively more and more powerful with each release, yet nothing has been done to buff the monsters. I haven’t played Generations, but looking at it just seems to confirm my theories. With all these fighting styles and special attacks, it’s starting to seem more like a hack-and-slash than the hardcore action role-playing game that it started off as. To me, the series has lost its spirit, the very core of the series that made it so good in the first place, leaving it as nothing more than a hollow husk. I know many people still enjoy the series, both seasoned veterans and newcomers, and that’s completely fine! I can still appreciate the changes the series has undergone, even if I’m not a fan of them myself. Let me know what you think in the comments below as I’m interested to hear your opinion!