A Look Back at Backlash #1 (1994)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back superhero fans, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we continue revisiting the Wildstorm universe as it was under the Image Comics banner back in the 1990s. Recently, I reviewed back-to-back issues of Jim Lee’s WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams that involved Chris Claremont and his creation Huntsman (click here, here, here and here) which ultimately expanded the lore of the team within the Wildstorm universe of the time while developing Zealot tremendously.

Still within the Wildstorm universe of the 1990s, it’s time to shift to another key figure – Backlash (civilian identity: Marc Slayton) co-created by Jim Lee and Brett Booth (follow him at Twitter and visit his blog). To put things in perspective, Backlash and WildC.A.T.S’ popular Grifter (Cole Cash) have something in common other than being highly capable fighters – they were teammates within Team 7 long before StormWatch (note: Backlash first appeared in StormWatch #3 in 1993) and WildC.A.T.S were formed. In fact, Team 7 also had Michael Cray (Deathblow), Jackson Dane (Wetworks) and John Lynch (who appeared in early WildC.A.T.S issues and went on to be the mentor in Gen13) who went on to become important Wildstorm figures in the present day.

In 1994, a 4-issue mini-series titled The Kindred was published featuring Backlash and Grifter with a story written by Jim Lee, Brandon Choi, Brett Booth (who illustrated) and Sean Ruffner. Months after that mini-series ended, a regular series focused on Backlash was launched.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Backlash #1, published by Image Comics in 1994 with a story written by Ruffner, Jeff Mariotte and Booth. Booth was the artist.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Backlash quietly infiltrating the Edward H. Levi Federal Penitentiary, a facility designed to control the growing population of criminal super-powered beings (SPBs). Eventually two armored guards pass by and as soon as one of them notices signs of the break-in, Backlash takes them down using his psionic whip and hard action.

After subduing two more pairs of guards, Backlash enters a large place that has prisoners contained in what he refers to as “aquariums”. Two of the prisoners recognize him. He finally reaches the cell of a red-headed lady named Amanda Reed – also known as Taboo – who has been imprisoned for murder. Backlash makes an offer – if she helps him, he will get her out of the prison…

Quality

Backlash struggling on the way of getting out with Taboo.

Let me start with the story. This comic book has an unusual approach on its plot in which the flashbacks are more prominent than the present-day tale of Backlash freeing Taboo and getting out of the prison. The good news here is that the flashbacks are pretty engaging to read and they solidly fulfilled the writers’ goals of immersing the readers with useful story details and building up the tension while also emphasizing Backlash’s personality and what motivates him deep from within. To put it short, the flashbacks are the most important features of the storytelling and they also have the most interesting scenes (including an encounter with Pike who previously appeared in the early issues of WildC.A.T.S). The present-day view of the plot lack engagement compared to the flashbacks but the creative team succeeded in emphasizing Taboo, what she is capable off and why she is feared.

The characterization of Marc Slayton is pretty good in my view. By the time I reached the end of this comic book, I found him to be a really intriguing protagonist. Backlash is definitely not inspiring but the irony is that his personality and purpose within the Wildstorm universe of the time were compelling enough to follow.

When it comes to the art, Brett Booth’s work here is still good to look at as I follow the story. Be mindful that this was his work when he was very young and as seen in this comic book, he definitely proved his talent, his art style was clearly distinct and he was capable of coming up with really good action scenes that really made Backlash a notable Wildstorm action hero. It should be noted that Booth illustrated this comic book with dynamism in mind.

Conclusion

A key scene from the past of Marc Slayton/Backlash nicely drawn by Brett Booth.

Backlash #1 (1994) is fun and compelling to read. The flashbacks are strangely the most engaging parts of the plot and they succeeded in getting me oriented with the protagonist, what has been going on and what the stakes are right at the start of this particular series. Combined with the still-good-to-view art by a very young Brett Booth, this comic book has a lot of fun stuff to enjoy especially for those who are obsessed or simply wanting to discover more about the Wildstorm universe of the 1990s.

Backlash #1 (1994) is recommended.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram athttps://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

A Look Back at WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #12 (1994)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back superhero fans, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we continue revisiting Jim Lee’s flagship title under the Image Comics label – WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams!

Previously, I reviewed WildC.A.T.S #11 which served as a build-up issue with the titular team and their place within the WildStorm universe in mind. Considering how much the narrative in issue #10 was driven through Zealot’s struggles and her meeting the Huntsman (his debut), issue #11 was alienating as the two mentioned characters had significantly lesser exposure. Of course, it is noted that issue #11 saw the rather heavy entry of Tapestry, an eroticized and highly manipulative villainess who not only encountered the fearless Zealot ages prior but also scared her deep inside. Out of fear and desperation, Zealot summoned her long-time ally Savant who in turn reached out to Soldier (who also knew Zealot) and Mr. Majestic (only mentioned by name). Issue #11 also saw the rise of the Troika (Attica, Slag and H.A.R.M.) in terms of exposure and even character development.

At this stage, it was clear that franchise creator Jim Lee literally gave author Chris Claremont the driver’s seat to develop the WildC.A.T.S franchise significantly and lead it to a new, bold direction. It was clearly the most unconventional WildC.A.T.S story published at the time!

With those details laid down, here is a look back WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #12, published by Image Comics in 1994 with a story written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Jim Lee.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the Huntsman driving the high-tech motorcycle with Miranda and an ailing Zealot seated in the side-car. They are being chased and attacked by the Troika from above (Attica and Slag riding on H.A.R.M. in its aircraft form) firing several rockets at them. While the rockets caused huge explosions on the city street, Attica states he will consider the attack on their targets successful only he sees their dead bodies.

Meanwhile inside a facility, Tapestry continues to deeply manipulate the mind of Warblade among the captured WildC.A.T.S members. Already Jacob Marlowe and even the cybernetic Spartan have been manipulated to do her bidding. As Tapestry continues working on Warblade in the presence of Soma and the others, the Raksha-possessed Voodoo hungers for new meat.

Moments later, as Voodoo goes out agonizing over the craving, a vehicle – with Jacob Marlowe’s loyal assistants Jules and Stansfield – arrive. Deep inside Voodoo, a conflict between her and the Raksha occupying her body begins… 

Quality

Mr. Majestic is the WildStorm universe’s parallel to DC Comics’ Superman!

Like issue #11, this comic book continues to build-up the WildC.A.T.S lore but with notable differences. For one thing, the story moved forward more while also having the intensity build up constantly leading to the set-up of the upcoming conflict between Tapestry’s troops (along with the manipulated WildC.A.T.S) and Zealot with Hunstman (and the incoming reinforcements). To put it short, the exposition in this story was less and the plot noticeably progressed more.

When it comes to the significance of the characters, this time the narrative’s spotlight shifted back more on Zealot and Huntsman which was the right move pulled off by the creators as Tapestry was already established as the new force of evil for the good guys to deal with. As for the new characters introduced in the previous issue, Tapestry has a smaller share of the spotlight while Savant and Soldier are present again but only after much of the action had passed. It is also in this issue that Mr. Majestic appears at last marking the start of his involvement in the conflict.

As for Zealot and the Huntsman, their alliance in this story has progressed more as well. Under Chris Claremont, the fearless Zealot was portrayed to be struggling very hard as she became more vulnerable than ever! This is Zealot that has to be seen! As for Huntsman, he truly is an effective fighter. So much so, he sure can fit into the WildC.A.T.S and keep up with their action. Still, Huntsman is indeed an honorable man as he still dedicates himself in protecting Miranda (who is a lot more than she appears) while making his moves to help Zealot at her most vulnerable time.

When it comes to the visuals, this is one Jim Lee-drawn comic book that I found unusually alienating to look at. His penciled art are still here but in certain pages, they looked odd as they were inked by other people. The ink work done on page 17 really stood out with a very high contrast look.

Conclusion

By this point of the storyline, Zealot and Huntsman are clearly the major characters.

While it is essentially a build-up issue, the entertainment value in WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #12 (1994) went up as the story progressed more, the spotlight shifted more on Zealot and Huntsman (clearly the two major characters for this storyline) and the exposition and explanations were lessened. The ironic thing is that readers will see less of the titular team (as most of them were captured and being manipulated by Tapestry) here. The presence of Savant, Soldier and Mr. Majestic here is pretty light which is understandable as the focus on Zealot and Huntsman was deeper this time. Ultimately, this comic book sets the readers up to for the inevitable big battle in the next issue.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #12 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $20 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $60.

Overall, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #12 (1994) is highly recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

Have you played the acclaimed Tunic on Xbox lately?

For those who missed out on the latest on Xbox gaming, last week saw the surprise launch of the independently made action-adventure game Tunic on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, Windows PC and on MacOS. For those who are subscribing on Xbox Game Pass (XGP), Tunic is available for you to simply download and play.

To get yourself oriented with Tunic (developed by Andrew Shouldice and published by Finji), watch this official launch trailer below…

In relation to the surprise launch buzz it generated, Tunic gathered several rave reviews from several gaming media outlets. Below are some of notable quotes from the published reviews.

Game Informer: Tunic is a stunning achievement that manages to embody the best of nostalgia while being completely refreshing. It’s absolutely a must-play gem.

Windows Central: Tunic is an absolutely delightful game to slink away to for a few hours to explore, discover, and conquer. Solving puzzles and uncovering the myriad of hidden secrets can make for a calming adventure, but there’s always the potential for an exhilarating moment of victory after a particularly difficult boss.

Destructoid: What’s amazing about Tunic is that I can’t count any misstep. I fell into the world a few times, big deal. The penalty for death is paltry and they’re bugs that can be squashed. Once, a sound queue got stuck playing continuously, and I found myself pondering its significance in futility. I only noticed it wasn’t supposed to be happening when it continued through to the main menu. Sometimes things get in the way of the camera. There was nothing major enough to drag down the experience.

GameSpot: Most Souls-likes tend to adopt a grimdark fantasy aesthetic, but Tunic harkens back to the 8- and 16-bit eras by presenting a vibrant and colorful world that also offers a fiendishly difficult challenge. It’s not simply evocative of games from the late ’80s and early ’90s because it creates facsimiles of their graphics or gameplay, but because it manages to capture a tangible feeling of exploration and difficulty, where an instruction manual is your tool to deciphering everything. It’s the kind of game you would’ve purchased because the box art looked cool, eagerly flipping through the pages of its manual on the car ride home, not quite understanding it all but getting excited at the possibilities all the same. In Tunic’s case, this grand adventure lives up to the expectations.

For the newcomers reading this who are still trying to figure out what exactly Tunic is and what they need to know before trying the game, posted below is an excerpt from the launch day announcement published on Xbox.com written by Finji Senior Community Manager Harris Foster. Some parts in boldface…

A few years back, Tunic was revealed to the world on stage during the Xbox E3 2018 Briefing. This was a huge moment for both of us as a publishing team and for Andrew Shouldice who at the time was handling the duties of game designer, programmer, level designer, character artist, animator, and tester on Tunic.

In the nearly four years that followed, Tunic grew in an astonishing fashion. The development team and the game itself have multiplied in size and thousands of new fans have shared their excitement with us. Starting today we invite you to discover Tunic and all the secrets it has to offer on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and with Xbox Game Pass.

At first glance, Tunic may seem like a cute action-adventure game. You play as a small fox in a big world, fighting monsters and exploring an ancient land. But don’t let its charming exterior fool you, Tunic’s combat will test your reflexes and its mysteries will challenge your perception.

On your adventure you’ll explore a dense and mysterious overworld, from shadowy forests inhabited by dangerous creatures to intricate temples filled with hostile sorcerers. The sword is your primary weapon, but your greatest tool is knowing the right time to dodge, block, and swing. Your enemies will not hold back, so be sure to search your environment for bombs, stat boosts, and refillable health potions. Make a wrong move and your death will send you back to the last checkpoint without giving back any items you used. Be careful out there!

Tunic’s white-knuckle combat system pulls from modern action RPGs while its setting and tone comes from games of the classic cartridge era. But the challenge and inspiration doesn’t end there. Remember the good ol’ days when every game included a full-color instruction manual? A flimsy booklet packed with helpful combat tips, enemy descriptions, and secret hints? Tunic takes the lost art of the instruction manual and injects it directly into the game.

Scattered throughout the in-game world of Tunic are instruction manual pages for you to collect. Each one you find adds to your booklet, creating a compendium of this foreign realm. Study the pages carefully to get a lay of the land and have the upper hand on your combatants. Filled with gorgeous hand-drawn illustrations, the manual appears to be written in some unknown language. Come to think of it, everything in this world is written in these glyphs. What does it mean? Will we be able to translate it? What else might Tunic be hiding?

Mysteries and secrets sit at the heart of the Tunic experience. Every seasoned gamer knows that when a game has a waterfall, they should check behind it for hidden loot. Tunic presents a world overflowing with opportunities to sniff out secrets. When playing Tunic, we encourage you to collaborate with your friends.

In my own experience, I find Tunic to be highly playable, challenging and pretty enticing to play. It has that wholesome approach to its art style and visuals which resulted a unique fantasy look. The gameplay is where Tunic really stands out. The controls are pretty responsive and unique, and the game itself encourages both exploration and discovery to be done. This game also comes with a unique way on learning the functions on gameplay and controls complete with that nostalgic touch of visualizing instructions very similar to what video game manuals of long ago pulled off.

Combat is done in real-time and the controls are pretty responsive . You can control where to move your character, where to face, how you time your strikes, and more.
Pay close attention to the details of the in-game locations so that you can familiarize yourself on where to go, determining which places are accessible and what kind of opposition awaits you.
Do you remember the times when you used video game manuals for instructions? There is a nostalgic and digital way of learning how to play this game and you only need to press a bumper button on the control pad.
That is very dazzling to look at!

As of now, I’m still making my way through the game. I don’t know yet how long it will take to complete this acclaimed game but I can assure you readers that I am enjoying it a lot. Playing, discovering and learning with Tunic is fun! If you are an Xbox console owner with an active subscription to Xbox Game Pass, I encourage you to download and play Tunic!

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

A Look Back at WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #7 (1994)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we continue revisiting Jim Lee’s flagship title under the Image Comics label – WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams!

While the 3rd and 4th issues of the WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams mini-series had Lee’s superhero team crossing over with Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood, a bigger crossover was agreed upon with Image Comics co-founder Marc Silvestri – Killer Instict! This marked a creative collaboration between Lee and Silvestri resulting a multiple issue crossover between WildC.A.T.S and Cyber Force. For clarification, I already mentioned in my retro review of WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #6 (1993) that its story was the first chapter of the 4-part Killer Instinct crossover. For your reference, Killer Instinct’s 2nd and 4 chapters were published as Cyber Force issues #2 and #3 of its regular series under Marc Silverstri. This WildC.A.T.S retro review is about the 3rd chapter of Killer Instinct.

With those details laid down, here is a look back WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #7, published by Image Comics in 1994 with a story written by Brandon Choi and Jim Lee. Lee did the art.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins somewhere in the skies above Gamorra, off the coast of the Philippines! Stryker, the Cyber Force member with three cybernetic right arms, communicates with his teammates and tells them that if half of what Misery said is true about the new Cyberdata S.H.O.C.S., they’re in for a nasty fight and they have to hit the ground.

Stryker, Impact, Heatwave, Velocity and Ripclaw jump off their high-tech jet (which has Cyblade and Misery inside) and land safely. Using his enhanced ability of smell, Ripclaw begins detecting tracks of what they are look for.

Meanwhile at the back of the Isle of the Dead, a high-tech craft arrives with three passengers who are prepared to do a drug deal. Slowly, someone bleeding and with blades on his hands climbs into the craft surprising the passengers. He takes control of the craft, throws the passengers off and leaves.

As Cyber Force starts its ground search with Misery advising them while carefully using her telepathy on them. As Stryker enters a ravaged high-tech place, his sensors detect nothing and yet his instincts tell him something is present nearby. Standing near him is Spartan of WildC.A.T.S…

Quality

In this encounter between Grifter and Heatwave, do you notice something lacking visually?

I’ll start with the very obvious purpose of this comic book. After the build-up done in the first two chapters of the Killer Instinct storyline, this story serves as the start of what turned out to be the big pay-off as WildC.A.T.S and Cyber Force members finally got together with an action-packed battle to kick things off. From a storytelling view point, this one is mainly a WildC.A.T.S versus Cyber Force tale with really nice match-ups between their members such as Spartan-Stryker, Cyblade-Zealot and Maul-Impact to name a few. These match-ups and fights are excellently drawn by Jim Lee and I really enjoyed his own artistic visuals of Marc Silvestri’s Cyber Force.

More on the plot, it is pretty simple in concept and structure. The members of the two teams get to fight each other which gets the attention of Skywatch which itself has vested interest with the operations of Stormwatch (note: this is within the WildStorm lore) and the secret facility on that blew up (as seen in WildC.A.T.S #5). Misery remains the key factor in the story and in this tale, she gets to guide and manipulate Cyber Force to find something valuable while Warblade remains mostly absent. Apart from the battles, the absent Voodoo, Void and Jacob Marlowe have their respective spotlights mainly for the character developments as well as reminding readers about the continuing Kherubim-Daemonite conflict.

The quality of the writing is serviceable and the way I look at this comic book, it is mainly driven by spectacle and match-ups. The amount of crossover action is of top-notch quality (note: Jim Lee apparently missed out on key details while drawing Heatwave in a scene with Grifter) and clearly Jim Lee planned the visuals carefully. While there is little character development here, the ironic thing is that Misery (note: visually she is a wicked version of Jean Grey of the X-Men) is the one who gets a good chunk of the said development. Not only does she become a force in the minds of Cyber Force members, she also has her intimate moments with Ripclaw which is a reminder to readers that they have a shared past together (note: this will resonate more with those who read Cyber Force #2 of the regular series).

Conclusion

This is how Cyber Force looks like as drawn by Jim Lee.

To make things clear, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #7 (1994) will strongly appeal to the respective fans of WildC.A.T.S and Cyber Force, to the readers who love high-quality superhero action, and to those who simply enjoy superhero crossover stories. While it is not a surprise that this comic book has great visuals, the writing this time clearly lacks depth and I really felt that the dialogue and text descriptions were done mainly to fit the obvious spectacle-led concept. If you are the kind of reader who wants storytelling and characterization prioritized in an action-packed crossover comic book, this one might not satisfy you. Ultimately, this one is a fun read even though the quality of the writing does not even come close to the quality of the visuals.  

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #7 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $30 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $90. The near-mint copy of the silver cover edition costs $300.

Overall, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #7 (1994) is recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

A Look Back at WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #6 (1993)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we continue revisiting Jim Lee’s flagship title under Image Comics – WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams!

For the newcomers reading this, I recently completed reviewing the 4-issue mini-series (read my retro reviews here, here, here and here), the first issue of which was one of the launch titles published under Image Comics’ banner through Malibu Comics. Back in 2020, I reviewed issue #5 which itself was highly unusual as it marked the beginning of what was back then the regular series of WildC.A.T.S (note: starting a brand new comic book series is often done with a new issue #1). WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #5 was conveniently part of the build-up for the Killer Instinct storyline that had featured Jim Lee’s creations crossing over with Marc Silvestri’s Cyber Force.

With those details laid down, here is a look back WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #6, published by Image Comics in 1993 with a story written by Brandon Choi and Jim Lee. Lee did the art.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the WildC.A.T.S flying in their high-tech aircraft and observing the large explosion which marked the destruction of a top-secret research facility. Their teammate Warblade was left behind which concerns Grifter and Voodoo. Spartan says it is too risky for them to move close to the site of destruction for Warblade as their electronic counter measure and identification systems have been lost due to the explosion. Spartan also told them team that they need to fly away before the Gamorran security forces arrive.

They are too late, however, as three high-tech aircrafts of Gamorra have arrived to take them down. One of them launched several missiles at the WildC.A.T.S aircraft causing Spartan to tell Grifter to redirect all power to their shields.

As hard as he tried, Spartan could only fly their shielded jet to dodge the first four missiles and absorbing the impact of two missiles before getting hit by the other missiles launched by the other two enemy aircrafts.

While their jet got destroyed into pieces, the WildC.A.T.S managed to survive the explosion only to see themselves falling helplessly in the air. As Spartan catches Voodoo, Grifter warns him abou the incoming Gamorran aircraft…

Quality

The team but without Jacob Marlowe, Warblade, Voodoo and Void at this point of the story.

To begin with, this comic book is very much like its predecessors – a very action-packed tale laced with the occasional character moments for fun while having little room left for character development. If there is any notable change in the way this comic book’s story was told, it is the detective work done collectively by key members of WildC.A.T.S followed by exposition dumps here and there. The detective work and exposition were done primarily to add to the build-up of the crossover with Cyber Force with the revelation of a love triangle from the past involving Misery (who gave Grifter a lot of trouble in issue #5), Warblade and Ripclaw (from the other team).

As with Jim Lee’s past works, the action here is highly charged and there is a lot of spectacle to enjoy most of the way. By the time this comic book got published, the respective capabilities of the WildC.A.T.S team members have already been established and the creators pushed the creative limits further on showing what else could the main characters do as envisioned by Jim Lee. There is even this 4-page sequence showing Grifter and Zealot infiltrating one of the Gamorran aircrafts and having lots of banter along the way which was fun to read. Considering the lack of space for character development, the creators made up for it somewhat with the dialogue.

As this is the first chapter of the Killer Instinct crossover storyline, the build-up for it is not really that engaging to me personally. While Ripclaw was already established as a major Cyber Force character and Warblade was a visible yet not so dominating as a member of WildC.A.T.S, the establishment of the personal connection between them through Misery (the woman right in the middle) is just not so strong. Not even a huge exposition dump about the past could have strengthened the background. It would have been more helpful had Jim Lee and Marc Silvestri agreed to publish a prequel comic book (or pages inserted into a few comic books of WildC.A.T.S and Cyber Force) about Warblade-Misery-Ripclaw in the past as a prelude to Killer Instinct. More on Misery herself, I could not help but think of her as a distorted and more wicked version of the X-Men’s Jean Grey complete with long red hair.

Conclusion

Grifter and Zealot infiltrate a Gamorran aircraft.

WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #6 (1993) is another fun comic book to read filled with a lot of stuff that Jim Lee fans love to see again and again. As the opening chapter of Killer Instinct, the creators did the best they could to establish Misery as an important antagonist who happens to have been personally involved with Warblade and Ripclaw some years back. Sadly, the Warblade-Misery-Ripclaw triangle establishment is not so engaging and looked more like an afterthought. Still, this comic book’s story is not brainless and expanded the lore of the WildStorm universe a bit more. There is more good stuff than bad ones which make this worth reading.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #6 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $20 while the near-mint copies of gold cover edition and newsstand edition cost $300 and $60 respectively.

Overall, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #6 (1993) is recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

My five hours with the free trial version of Cyberpunk 2077 on my Xbox Series X

Before I begin, I want to make clear to all of you reading this that I never got to play Cyberpunk 2077 on any platform when it was first launched in late-2020. Like anyone else, I waited years for that game and I was excited too but Cyberpunk 2077 was released just a few weeks after Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 launched. At that very time in December 2020, I was focused on raising funds for Xbox Series X than buying new games for my console at the time – the Xbox One (which stopped functioning in mid-2021 after 6 years of use). I can also say that the exposure of Cyberpunk 2077’s very flawed state on consoles plus the criticism that followed convinced me to stay away from CD Projekt Red’s promised epic video game.

Very recently, CD Projekt Red not only polished Cyberpunk 2077 with Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 in mind, they also released a free 5-hour trial version (with patch 1.5) which I decided to download and play to really experience the game for the first time ever. This post I’m writing is clearly not a game review but my own observation about what Cyberpunk 2077 offered and what I experienced in the five hours I played.

I was in the second half of my 5-hour playtime with the free trial version of Cyberpunk 2077 when I reached this place.

After downloading it, I got to play the free trial version on my Xbox Series X with the performance mode chosen as I wanted to play the game with the best frame-rate possible. I customized V in female form and chose Streetkid as her lifepath as I was eager to discover Night City.

While I knew five hours was rather limiting to make tremendous story progress or discover much of the city, I still went on with the main storyline of V, discovered the key characters, and went through the tutorials to learn the basics of combat (both guns and melee weapons), stealth, hacking and, late in my limited playtime, the braindance (note: you get to experience life through another person’s own views and experiences in first-person view and externally).

The shooting in this game still lacks precision and accuracy when compared to what The Outer Worlds and Fallout 4 have.

On combat, I find the shooting rather lacking in precision in terms of aiming and controller response when compared to what I’ve played in first-person role-playing games (RPGs) The Outer Worlds and Fallout 4. In fairness, the impact of shots fired against enemies in Cyberpunk 2077 is rather strong, especially when you use powerful weapons like the shotgun. The melee combat meanwhile can be challenging to pull off precisely. Even with the immersive first-person view, I had a bit of trouble estimating if my character’s fists or weapon would be able to reach the opposition figure. I also had similar results with regards to blocking the opposition’s melee attacks on my character. Ultimately, I managed to overcome the opposition to complete the tutorial. Stealth gameplay is challenging as well not only because it was difficult to estimate the farthest reach of the view of the opposing character or security cameras/drones, but also because I found moving around lacking precision.

Now that’s an eye-catching in-game reference to the Philippines and the Filipino people.
There is nothing like facing a highly detailed character nearest to you at the bar.

The hacking system of the game is well-designed and easily outclasses that of Ubisoft’s hacking-oriented open-world games Watch Dogs and Watch Dogs 2. Hacking in Cyberpunk 2077 is not only more user-friendly but also comes with options that make sense within the game’s concept and the many different digital set-ups in each different location I have been to. Since I was limited by the 5 hours allowed in the trial version, I got to use the hacking system as far as I could and I saw how more options become available once I got to level up V’s character level, attributes and tech capabilities. I was enjoying the in-game hacking by the time my trial ended.

Braindance is like a video record of events experienced by other people in which players will get to review, move forward or backward, and be able to spot/scan new details in order to progress. While it is very immersive to see and experience happenings through the eyes and memory of another character, the video editing aspect of braindance is where the detective work really happens which I enjoyed. This part of the gameplay really pushed me to be observant with the moments and details to progress.

When it comes to exploration in Cyberpunk 2077, I can clearly say that moving down the many sidewalks, streets and varied spots of Night City is really intense and immersive to play. For one thing, the first-person view itself is immersive visually and the immersion got enhanced a lot more with the very clever sound editing (all those cars moving around, the people and their steps, the sound of products coming out from vending machines, the sound of the street barbeque being cooked, the voices of people talking and more) as well as the high number of civilians around me doing their own things. As I never got to play this game in its debut version of late-2020, I could not tell if the in-city exploration was this dense and lively. What I can say is that exploring Night City on foot, going through the alleys, entering establishment that are open and observing the people around is a very engaging gaming experience for me.    

Depending on timing and location, the number of pedestrians you walk with in Night City can range from a few to several people, including kids.
You will witness non-playable characters (NPCs) move around, talk and even purchase goods at vending machines.
Like in real life, you walk across the street only when the green light is on for pedestrians. You can have V do jaywalking but that is risky as there are a lot of cars that move along the roads in real time.

Going back to combat, the use of an inhaler to keep V’s hit points (note: life) up easily reminds me of The Outer Worlds. In addition, the food and drinks you purchased at vending machines are also helpful to keep not only your life up but also your stamina. As V is cybernetic, hacking is easily a major part of the gameplay and as you upgrade the character’s cyberwear, V will eventually gain more high-tech capabilities like scanning people and machines for information and more.

Conclusion – For the sake of the people who have not yet played Cyberpunk 2077, I decided not to reveal much about the story of V in my limited playtime. I can say, however, that players are allowed freedom to choose places to visit and activities to do. There is also the freedom for players to take time away from doing main story mission in favor of side-activities or moving around freely to do what you think you could do. My playtime ended as I was in the middle of a main story mission that involved the supporting character Jackie, a high-tech small robot (pet-like in design) and infiltrating rooms and devices while V stays inside the room of a very high-end hotel.

There is a lot of shooting in this game.

As of this writing, Cyberpunk 2077 is selling at 50% off on the Xbox online store. Now you must be wondering…should you buy the game now that it has been polished and updated with the current generation of game consoles?

In my honest opinion, I prefer to wait first for CD Projekt Red to improve the game even more. I can say that I had an overall positive experience playing the Streetkid path of V during my 5-hour trial play and I had an astounding experience exploring Night City on foot and discovering many new places which show how talented CD Projekt Red’s designers and artists really are. As mentioned earlier, the shooting aspect is still lacking which is unfortunate because it is clear that shooting is the core method of combat. If you don’t like shooting, melee combat is available but that one also needs more refinement to be truly responsive and engaging.

As much as I enjoyed my five hours with Cyberpunk 2077’s free trial, I am not yet convinced to buy the game’s full version for my Xbox Series X now. Not even the 50% discount is enough to convince me to buy it. The game is fun and has its unique ways of entertaining me, but there is still more work needed be done to really make it the great game it was promised to be. To say the least, CD Projekt Red is moving on the right direction on improving the game.

Of course, you my readers who have the means to buy and play Cyberpunk 2077 can decide for yourselves. It’s a risk to take if you really want to spend your hard-earned money on the game now. I’d rather wait for further improvements to be made first before buying it.

What you see here is only a small part of Night City. There’s so much to discover in this game! Are you willing to spend your hard-earned money on Cyberpunk 2077 now?

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

Pay close attention to Xbox Game Studios Publishing and the exclusive games being made by their partners

Nothing changes the fact that Team Xbox and its 23 game studios are hard at work producing exclusive games that will provide years’ worth of fun-filled content to Xbox console gamers, PC gamers and the many millions who subscribed to Xbox Game Pass (XGP).

Were you able to read my recent article about Stoic (The Banner Saga) and its current work on an exclusive game with Team Xbox? For those who missed out on it, Team Xbox is actively working with varied game studios (examples: Avalanche Studios on Contraband, and IO Interactive on Project Dragon) on producing even more Xbox-exclusive games and the said studios are still free being independent entities.

Very recently, Miles Dompier of Windows Central Gaming wrote an in-depth article about the moves and projects of Xbox Game Studios Publishing in cooperation with the independent game makers. To start with, watch this WCG video of WCG and Miles Dompier…

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from Dompier’s article. Some parts in boldface…

In addition to a staggering first-party future including titles like Hellblade 2, Fable, Everwild, Starfield, and many more, we also know of roughly 10 Xbox Game Studios Publishing titles potentially in the works. Xbox understands that strategic partnerships on games published through Xbox may make more sense than outright acquisitions when it comes to building meaningful relationships with developers. And who knows? Maybe some of these teams will love their experience working with Xbox, which could lead to more permanent relationships.

For now, we’ll be recapping all the Xbox Game Studios Publishing projects we currently know about as well as revealing one brand new codename. Here are several reasons why we should all be very excited about the future of Xbox Game Studios Publishing.

Xbox Game Studios Publishing codenames

As Dusk Falls is still in production.

Let’s start with the small list of Xbox Game Studios Publishing titles that have officially been announced so far. First up, we have the interactive drama As Dusk Falls. This stylized game from Interior/Night promises an engaging narrative with player choice driving the story. As it stands, there’s no release date or window for this project.

Next, we have the upcoming co-op heist title Contraband from open-world experts Avalanche Studios. Set in the 1970s, this seemingly ambitious open-world game allows players to execute the perfect heist with unique vehicles and gadgets. While there’s no official release date yet, we’ll likely get more details on the project sometime in 2022.

Now we’ll touch on some Xbox projects we’ve previously covered or teased in the past. The infamous Project Dragon from IO Interactive has been in the rumor mill for quite some time now. This action RPG aims to deliver a vast and ongoing multiplayer fantasy experience. A release or even reveal may be a ways off here, but it’s still exciting to think about the possibilities.

Project Belfry is another exciting potential Xbox exclusive. According to Jeff Grubb and his luscious mane, this side-scrolling brawler from The Banner Saga developers Stoic Studios is comparable to the PlayStation exclusive Dragon’s Crown in terms of gameplay, but will feature the painted art style this team is known for.

An Xbox Game Studios Publishing title that has me particularly interested is Project Shaolin. Reportedly in development by BrassLion Entertainment, this action RPG will reportedly feature an anime aesthetic and focus on the legendary hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan. With four-player co-op and a seasonal loot system, this project sounds right up my alley.

Fans of 4X strategy titles like Civilization should be interested in the upcoming Project Indus from developer Oxide Games. With turn-based strategic elements, city building, empire advancement, espionage, diplomacy, and warfare, this should scratch a specific itch for fans of the genre.

As you can see in Dompier’s article above, the Xbox-exclusive projects made by independent game makers are in production and will fill the gaps on the Xbox portfolio to not only provide content for console, PC and Xbox Game Pass gamers but also to meet the varied tastes or interests of gamers. Action-oriented role-playing? Project Shaolin! Interactive drama? Watch out for As Dusk Falls!

The years-old belief that “Xbox has no games” is idiotic and totally untrue by today’s standards. I know there are lots of Xbox-haters and console fanboys out there who just keep bashing Xbox by lying and ranting, disregarding the many upcoming Xbox-exclusive games and even dismissing the growing business partnerships Team Xbox made with independent game companies and even the Microsoft-SEGA strategic alliance. Whatever the Xbox-hating mob does, nothing changes the trend that gaming on the Xbox ecosystem will only grow bigger, offer gamers lots of choices and become a lot more fun than ever before. Speaking of growing excitement, watch out for the Xbox 20th Anniversary Event online today (November 15), the universal acclaim of Forza Horizon 5, the December 8 release of Halo Infinite, and the December 16 release of the Xbox-exclusive The Gunk!

For the complete details about Xbox Game Studios Publishing and the future Xbox-exclusives, I encourage you all to read Miles Dompier’s article at https://www.windowscentral.com/xbox-game-studios-publishing-secret-weapon-new-exclusives

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  HavenorFantasy@twitter.com and also on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition Coming to Xbox Consoles Digitally on November 11, 2021, GTA San Andreas launching on Xbox Game Pass (XGP) on the Same Day

Calling all Xbox fans, Grand Theft Auto (GTA) fans and gamers who are constantly on the lookout for fun!

It has been announced that the Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition is coming to Xbox consoles (Xbox One, Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X) in digital format on November 11, 2021. Adding further excitement is the fact that one of the classic GTA games, GTA San Andreas, will be made available on Xbox Game Pass (XGP) on that same day which subscribers can enjoy! Watch the official video announcement below…

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the Xbox.com announcement. Some parts in boldface…

Three iconic cities, three epic stories, one definitive collection. Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition includes the genre-defining Grand Theft Auto IIIGrand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas together — each one enhanced for a new generation and available together for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S.

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition will be available digitally on November 11 through the Microsoft Store on Xbox with a physical release for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S on December 7.

Experience the games that started it all — introducing unprecedented freedom and immersion through three living, breathing worlds filled with hilarious action, rich, cinematic storytelling, classic characters, and unforgettable music.

Bringing the classic worlds of Liberty City, Vice City, and San Andreas to modern Xbox platforms, Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition debuts new GTAV-inspired modern controls, plus across-the-board visual enhancements such as resolution upgrades and improved visual fidelity across the world, and much more to faithfully tune and improve upon all three games, while also maintaining their distinct original aesthetic.

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Editionintroduces wide-ranging modern control upgrades, including improvements to targeting and lock-on aiming, updated Weapon and Radio Station Wheels, updated mini-maps with enhanced navigation allowing players to set waypoints to destinations, updated achievements, and more.

Additional enhancements across all three titles include a completely rebuilt lighting system; improved shadows, weather, and reflections; upgraded character and vehicle models; along with new higher resolution textures across buildings, weapons, roads, interiors, and more. Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition also features a range of environmental upgrades including all new foliage, smoother surfaces, and increased draw distances to provide a new level of depth and clarity throughout the world.

Originally developed by Rockstar Games, Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition has been adapted to modern platforms by Grove Street Games using Unreal Engine to make these classics more vibrant and more immersive than ever, celebrating the legacy of the series that redefined interactive entertainment and helped propel video games to the center of culture. Stay tuned to the Rockstar Newswire for more and check out the brand new site for Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition.

Players will also be able to experience Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – The Definitive Edition with Xbox Game Pass starting November 11.

Impressive load of details above. I’m really surprised by the announcement of GTA: The Trilogy – Definitive Edition, especially with regards to the November 11, 2021 digital release date. That’s just two days after the release of highly anticipated Xbox-exclusive Forza Horizon 5. It will be interesting to see how Xbox Series console owners will react when it comes to prioritizing their purchases for the month of November.

The presentation of the classic GTA games in Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition is really interesting. It’s a mix of maintaining the early 2000s artistic look while modernizing them with certain visual effects, anti-aliasing and other graphics tricks that would make them look nice in high-definition. With regards to the modern consoles, I would not be surprised to see GTA: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition look and perform best on Xbox Series X.

What I hope Rockstar Games would show, other than flashy graphical upgrades of their classic GTA games, is actual gameplay and how each of them will play. They should justify the claims in the following excerpt from the official announcement: wide-ranging modern control upgrades, including improvements to targeting and lock-on aiming, updated Weapon and Radio Station Wheels, updated mini-maps with enhanced navigation allowing players to set waypoints to destinations, updated achievements, and more.

When it comes to the competitive video game market, the 4th quarter is already loaded with anticipated hits for Xbox fans with exclusives like Forza Horizon 5, Halo Infinite, and The Gunk plus Flight Simulator coming with a Game of the Year edition. There is also the the compilation The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Anniversary Edition coming out this November and the space shooter Chorus this December. The November 2021 digital release of Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition surely adds more excitement to the selection of games Xbox gamers can look forward to. That being said, gamers should prepare themselves for potential big spending. Oh, don’t forget about the upcoming storage expansion options for Xbox Series X this November and December.

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos as well as videos of upcoming games and the GTA series for your viewing pleasure.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Flashback (Super NES)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from playing Flashback: The Quest for Identity and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

We live in an age in which software exclusivity defines not only the relevance of game consoles but also nature of the entire video game industry right down to the many varied communities of very avid fans (and fanboys).

While the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES or Super NES) and Sega Genesis each had their own exclusive games back in the 1990s, there was one particular game that was made for and released on not just one, not two but rather on more than fifteen different platforms – both consoles and computers – starting with Amiga way back in 1992. That game is none other than Flashback: The Quest for Identity which I first played on our Super NES back in 1994.

The cover of the game box.

For the newcomers reading this, Flashback was a 2D side-scrolling adventure game in the form of a cinematic platformer (note: similar to Prince of Persia and Out of This World) with a strong flavor of science fiction. It was cinematic in the sense that all the in-game animation were rotoscoped resulting unique smoothness combined with hand-drawn backgrounds and the computer-generated cutscenes were used in key parts of the game as the story progressed. Flashback on SNES in America even came with a Marvel Comics-published Flashback comic book and on the rear of the SNES game box were the words “The first CD-ROM game in a cartridge!”

A Flashback remake was released in 2013, followed by a port of the original game released on Sega Dreamcast in 2017, and a remastered version got released for varied platforms in 2018.

I got to play that game at a time when I have not even started playing Final Fantasy II (AKA Final Fantasy IV), Final Fantasy III (AKA Final Fantasy VI) and other great role-playing games (RPGs) of the Super NES. I also remember that Flashback was a nice change of pace for me after playing Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Flashback: The Quest for Identity, released on Super NES in 1993 by U.S. Gold and developed by Delphine Software International.

The start and options screen.

Early story

The story begins with Conrad running away from two armed persons chasing him. He flies away riding a solo vehicle but those chasing him (riding a huge vehicle) managed to get close and blast his vehicle causing to crash into the forest.

Sometime later, he wakes up and accidentally pushes a mechanical cube to fall down. He climbs down to reach it and activates it. The cube displays a holographic video of himself telling him that he recorded it without remembering it. As Conrad watches, he learns that he must contact a friend named Ian who can explain important things to him.

After viewing the message, Conrad sets off to find his way out of the jungle and somehow get to Ian in New Washington…

Game design and quality

You have to pay close attention to what’s going on, what items do you have and what the in-game prompts tell you.

This game is not your typical fast-paced, action-oriented 2D side-scrolling adventure in which you move from left to right to progress. As it is a cinematic platform game by design complete with very specific controls, players will have to be patient, adaptive and strategic in order to learn how exactly you can control your character, what moves will be executed (and when to execute). For one thing, the very fluid 24 frames-per-second animation on your character limits you in terms of control as timing is required.

To do things properly, you have to execute specific controls. To ascend on a lift, you press Up and the Y button. To do a small jump, have your character stand still and then press Up and Y button. To go down on level (on foot, no lift), stand by the edge of a level then press Down and Y button. To run and hang on to a higher floor automatically, have your character stand still, press Right and Y button, press Y button (once your character moves) and watch him pull it off. With controls like these, the usual 2D platforming approach is out of the question. In my experience, these controls are indeed challenging but never impossible to learn and eventually I got proficient with the controls as I played more.

The in-game animation for the characters are very good and there is also a sensation of weight with your character. Falling straight down from a very high place is a big no-no.

Apart from character controls, you don’t just move Conrad from one screen to the next…you also should do key objectives along the way apart from engaging in action scenes (read: shooting). That being said, you must watch out for icons that appear on screen when your character steps on a particular spot that requires interaction. For example, if you stop by a terminal, an icon will appear serving as a prompt to start the interaction. Another example is when your character steps on the same spot as an item located at which you can pick up once prompted.

More on the action on the screen, you will encounter armed enemies as well as high-tech machines (including floating drones). To overcome them, doing straightforward shooting is not recommended as you have to be strategic before firing a shot. You have to learn how each enemy or machine moves, how much physical space is available right there and how you can maximize your limited time and space to overcome them. In fact, you will also be compelled to take advantage of whatever seconds you have while the enemies’ animation (between moves) take place. There will also be times when you need to have your character armed with the gun before jumping to a lower level where an armed enemy is located and on the lookout. Coming down armed gives you an advantage to shoot first at the enemy who

Considering the 24 frames-per-second animation, you will have to time your moves carefully, especially during moments when you face an armed enemy.

Apart from shooting, you can also use grenades which requires opening your inventory to select a grenade and then do your timing and calculation of the distance in order to pull of a successful throw and explosion. You can also throw stones to distract enemies or to apply weight on key platforms in order to open mechanical doors.

With regards to the quality of gameplay, Flashback is enjoyable but only if you get over its rather high learning curve with regards to the controls which themselves serve as the game’s advantage and even as a disadvantage. In addition to being patient and strategic, you will really have to pace yourself, think more and get used to the rather slow pace of the game in relation to its cinematic platformer design. I should state that as you keep progressing, there will be places, or new obstacles or new enemies that will compel you to change your tactics in order to overcome them. Anyone who is used to playing 2D side-scrolling games the fast and easy way might find the high learning curve and pacing of Flashback a turnoff but if they are willing to learn, adjust and pace themselves, only then can this game’s gameplay be really enjoyed.

Cut scenes like this move at a sluggish pace which shows the limitations of the SNES and cartridge technology.

As for the visuals, the obvious highlight here is the 24 FPS animation which is the result of rotoscoping and careful visualizing (note: observe those alien humanoids who morph into moving blobs). The rotoscoped animation, however, would not have been that effective had the quality of the art used for the backgrounds been made of lower quality. I can say that the background artworks here look pretty good even by today’s standards. The standout among them were the background artworks of Morph’s home planet which really looked very alien and creepy at the same time. What hurts this particular version of Flashback is the lackluster (read: choppy) frame rate whenever the computer-generated cinematic cutscenes (obviously they were meant for more powerful PCs) play which, in my experience, took me out of the story. There were also bouts of slowdown during the gameplay, especially when you encounter enough enemies that were animated sophistically.

With regards to narrative, Conrad is literally your avatar to learn, discover and interact with the many elements of the universe he is part of. There is obvious influence that the game makers took from the movie Total Recall as they crafted Conrad to be someone who lost his memory, moves on to regain it and do a lot of things as he realizes his true purpose and what is really at stake. Unlike Total Recall’s protagonist, Conrad himself is not too interesting mainly due to the way the in-game story was structured. Just play as Conrad and do what needs to be done to complete the game.

When it comes to understanding the narrative, you will have to do lots of reading. You will spot and read the short description of the prompts that appear. You’ll also have to read the on-screen text whenever your character talks with someone during the levels of the game. And there are the captions shown during the slow animated cutscenes.

Conclusion

The background artworks during the late stage of the game are great and truly creative with science fiction in mind.

I can clearly say that Flashback: The Quest for Identity on Super NESis fun and engaging mainly to those who are willing to adjust themselves to it. If you don’t have patience, if you are not willing to think while playing, if you cannot pace yourself and if you are not willing to learn all the specific controls of the game, then you should not be playing Flashback. It is a cinematic platformer and that should tell you that you will need to adjust to enjoy it.

Overall, Flashback: The Quest for Identity on SNES is recommended.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Wonder Woman #18 (1988)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors, fellow geeks and fans of Wonder Woman! Last time, I found George Perez’s standalone writing of the story about Wonder Woman discovering Greece and its connections to her people’s heritage a really good story. For much of the post-crisis Wonder Woman monthly series’ early stage, the stories were done by Perez and the late Len Wein. In issue #17, Perez not only succeeded in developing Diana/Wonder Woman further, he also captured nicely the wonder of discovery of new places and astonishing aspects of life while traveling overseas.

Of course, issue #17 was not purely a tourism story through the eyes of the Queen of Superheroes. There was an obvious build-up of a new villain who is aware of Wonder Woman’s presence in Greece.

What will happen next? Who could the new force of evil be? We can find out in this look back at Wonder Woman #18, published by DC Comics in 1988 with a story written and drawn by George Perez with ink work done by Dick Giordano.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins deep in the darkness of limbo. Light sparks suddenly as Zeus, Hades and Poseidon arrive in the search of their father called Cronus. Zeus retrieves the Olympian pact. After further talking, they join forces in lighting a flame to burn the pact to make way for something new.

Meanwhile in a hospital in the Greek isle of Cephalonia, Diana wakes up surrounded by Julia Kapatelis, Vanessa, a doctor and other Greeks. Diana states that some kind of aura seemed to clutch her in a chilling grip which Julia dismisses and believes that her Amazon friend was simply tired from all the months-long pushing herself since returning from Themyscira.

Julia introduces Diana to Theophilus Ventouras and his nephew Demetrios. The older Ventouras is the owner of the wealthiest estate on the islands. He tells Diana that the governor asked him to meet her at the dock and reveals to her that a local boy was killed by a wolf which some car calling it as a “magia”.

As they continue talking, a nurse listens to them carefully just outside the door of the room they are in. She learns about Ventouras’ offer of assistance to Diana and quietly leaves. Some time later just outside the hospital, the nurse (named Angela) reveals to a man named Mikos that Diana and her group will be going to Ventourata the next day…

Quality

Without hesitation, Wonder Woman moves to save lives.

I can start by saying that this is another well-written tale by George Perez. Apart from the continuing focus on Wonder Woman’s discovery of Greece, the elements of fantasy, intrigue, suspense and even horror have been used more in this comic book compared to the previous issue.

When it comes to characterization, Diana’s close relationship with the Kapatelises is deepened further as the story explored the already established Greek background of Julia. I also found engaging Wonder Woman’s unflinching moves to search for Vanessa and get her out of trouble any way she could.

For those of you who are aware about the lack of superhero spectacle in issue #17, I can share to you that there definitely is more action in this comic book and it is all nicely presented by George Perez.

Continuing what began in the previous issue, Perez ramped up further the build-up of the new force evil awaiting Wonder Woman. I won’t reveal who it is but rest assured, this comic book’s ending is pretty strong and easily justifies the build-up.

Conclusion

Diana and Julia treat each other like family.

Wonder Woman #18 (1988) successfully continued the redefining of the Queen of Superheroes in the post-Crisis era and George Perez really delivered great stuff as well as a very solid story here. From start to finish, there is a lot to enjoy and examine in the story.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Wonder Woman #18 (1988), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $41 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $84.

Overall, Wonder Woman #18 (1988) is highly recommended!

+++++

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For Wonder Woman fans, be aware that the movie Wonder Woman 1984 will be released in a 4K Blu-ray disc combo on March 30, 2021. Read my article for the details and, if you have decided to order, do it now at Amazon.