A Look Back at Sludge #11 (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 revisit the Ultraverse of Malibu Comics and examine one of its many stories told through an issue of the Sludge comic book series.

In my previous retro review, a more character-driven story about Sludge was told as the city crime war story has ended. What made issue #10’s story standout was the unexpected physical change Sludge goes through which is something he had desired apart from wanting death. Ironically, this made him more vulnerable to physical attacks. Needing help on something, he reaches out to the New York Daily Globe’s reporter Shelley Rogers.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Sludge #11, published by Malibu Comics in 1994 with a story written by Steve Gerber and drawn by Robb Phipps.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Sludge about to engage in a physical battle with the Bash Brothers just outside the Lalama Clinic. Shelley Rogers is just standing nearby. The Bash Brothers proved to be troublesome for Sludge until Shelley explains to one of them that their mother was not harmed. The said mother comes out and after an exchange of talk between them all, they realize Sludge needs the help of Dr. Ferdinand Lalama who was involved with the Caldwell Pharmaceuticals which itself was responsible for the stuff that affected Sludge in the first place.

Shelley then notices that Sludge is reverting back to his previous gooey state. At the same time, Dr. Lalama made no communication for almost a week…

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Something wild is about to happen.

As a story that started with Sludge needing to find a specialist to help treat him, this one went wild with the fantasy concepts. Without spoiling the plot, this wild ride has strong science fiction elements such as energy streaming and traveling to another dimension through a portal. The sci-fi elements are indeed a factor that made this tale of the search of Dr. Lalama a really intriguing read.

With regards to the titular hero, this story encourages researching details of his origin (how he went from human into a chemical being) as well as reading issue #1. Sludge himself is more vulnerable than before and the unpredictable changes with him added suspense to the narrative. This story also contains themes of scientific experimentation and molecular manipulation which were nicely planted into the story’s sci-fi aspect. That being said, I can say that what was explained near the end of the comic book was both intriguing and worth reading.

Conclusion

A really interesting discussion here.

Sludge #11 (1994) is indeed a really intriguing and entertaining read. Without spoiling anything, I can say that it cleverly answered questions about how Sludge came to be, what Zuke and a regeneration formula did to his state and what forces behind the pharmaceutical company took place that affected the titular character. This is really fitting as this comic book was the 2nd-to-the-last issue ever published. That being said, I can say that I am looking forward to what will be told in issue #12.

Overall, Sludge #11 (1994) is highly recommended.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. 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

It would be nice for Square Enix to remaster Xenogears and release it on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Windows PC plus Xbox Game Pass (XGP)

Are you an Xbox gamer who likes Square Enix’s Japanese-developed role-playing games or JRPGs? Chrono Cross has been available since April. Square Enix’s new JRPGs The DioField Chronicle and Star Ocean: The Divine Force will be released on September 22, 2022 and October 27, 2022 respectively.

To be clear, I find Square Enix’s business relationship with Team Xbox lacking. The HD remastered version of Legend of Mana was very noticeably released on multiple platforms but not on Xbox. Tactics Ogre: Reborn was announced for future release for multiple platforms except Xbox. Still on Square Enix, the Final Fantasy VII remake as well as the announced sequel are exclusive to Sony’s platforms. The exclusions are clear and disturbing. Why Square Enix excluded the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and the Xbox One (which still has many millions of console users until now) as platforms to sell the above mentioned games remains a mystery although there is speculation that Sony Corporation and its PlayStation executives made a secret deal with the JRPG giant to specifically hurt Xbox without affecting Nintendo and Steam. Realistically, Microsoft pointed out that Sony pays game companies for blocking rights to keep games off Xbox Game Pass. Read all about it here, here and here.

While these developments are disturbing and also annoying, I still wish that Square Enix would remaster one of its classic JRPGs and release it on Xbox platforms similar to what they did with the remastered Chrono Cross. That classic RPG I’m referring to is none other than Xenogears.

Xenogears’ battle system allowed individual persons and giant robots (called gears) to engage in battle simultaneously. Observe how the approach on in-game scale was done here.

I played Xenogears on the original PlayStation console way back in 1998 but I never got to finish it due to my academics and other external matters. It also did not help that the CD-ROM of the PlayStation deteriorated.

Regardless, I had a lot of enjoyment during my limited time with the said JRPG, the design of which was led by Tetsuya Takahashi. The fictional concept of Xenogears took a lot of inspiration from real-life forms of religion as well as concepts from certain intellectuals to establish the story themes, the fictional cultures and historical backgrounds within the game. At the same time, the game had this in-depth universe composed of different settings for gamers to explore. In my experience, I felt immersed into the game’s universe and I still remember the moments I got astonished discovering not only the many locations and landmarks but also the many non-playable characters (NPCs presented as 2D sprites) in the form of local communities and the in-game cultures.


Xenogears had 3D polygonal environments and 2D sprites for the characters and creatures who move around.
In this classic JRPG, you play as Fei and you will explore a lot, fight a lot and interact with lots of characters as you go along.

While Xenogears had a science fiction concept, it still had lots of settings and gameplay features that made it feel like a fantasy. I love the way how the creative team’s artists implemented their art styles on the environments, the characters, the machines, the interiors of places and more. Visually, this game saw the use of 2D sprites for the characters who move along a 3D polygonal environment which can be explored creatively by a camera that can be adjusted by the players. As such, this approach done in Xenogears made the game look and feel a lot like Grandia.

While Xenogears’ battle system had key elements that were common with other JRPGs, there was a clear emphasis on hand-to-hand combat that took a lot of inspiration from martial arts as well as 2D fighting games of the decade. There were these martial arts-inspired combos which required button combinations and timing which were fun to watch happen. There were also these death blows which were really rewarding when pulled off correctly. Of course, there were still some magic attacks that were nicely presented.

What made Xenogears stand out is the use of giant robots or gears in the game. Not only did the game allow me to travel with the gears, it also allowed me to engage with enemies (both the large and the small ones standing on the floor/ground) with a fully functional battle system that emphasized size, scale and impact altogether. Similar to the other battle system, the gears battle system fun and engaging in my experience. I can never forget the moment I first saw my gear crush a huge enemy with a lot of impact to seal the victory. Travel using gears, however, was hampered somewhat by the creative team who implemented platform gaming elements (note: this includes jumping from one platform to another without falling down to your death) and the controls were not really responsive enough. This is something Square Enix should consider improving if they ever remaster Xenogears.

The battle system with the individual characters is a lot of fun and also unique as the combat emphasizes combos and martial arts.
The artistic approach used in Xenogears remains captivating.

Right now, I would love to replay Xenogears and complete it but I prefer the game should be remastered and be released for Xbox consoles. I have no intention of buying a new console from Sony and Nintendo to play Square Enix JRPGs that are missing on Xbox consoles. JRPGs on Xbox are not exactly lacking (note: Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes will be released via Xbox Game Pass in 2023 while Persona RPGs are coming to Xbox soon) but it would be great not only for Xbox gamers but also Square Enix itself to remaster Xenogears and release it on the Xbox ecosystem. That being said, I believe Xenogears itself would make a great addition into Xbox Game Pass (XGP) which already has many millions of subscribers worldwide!

Think about it carefully. Having a remastered Xenogears for sale on Xbox and also listed on Xbox Game Pass will not only be good for the Xbox ecosystem but also for Square Enix to not only sell games but also reach out to the XGP subscribers who could enjoy the said JRPG and add a lot of new players that the JRPG giant could not reach before. Not only are more Square Enix role-playing games are needed on XGP right now (note: adding Chrono Cross into it will be delightful), they can also benefit nicely as the Xbox ecosystem is gradually becoming the premier ecosystem for RPG enthusiasts in this console generation. Xbox-exclusive RPGs like Starfield, The Outer Worlds 2, Fable as well as future sequels of The Elder Scrolls and Fallout will collectively generate big game sales as well as increase the number of gamers in the Xbox ecosystem and Xbox Game Pass subscribers will grow big as well. The growth will be even bigger once Team Xbox’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard gets approved. For Square Enix to miss out on fast growing Xbox ecosystem in favor of Sony’s blocking rights will be a regrettable move.

Going back to Xenogears, I want to make it clear to Square Enix that now is the time to remaster it and release it on Xbox as well as other platforms. That being said, I also urge Team Xbox’s chief Phil Spencer, executive Aaron Greenberg and the Xbox Game Pass team to reinvigorate the business relationship with Square Enix and try to convince them to release Xenogears and other classic JRPGs into XGP and the Xbox game store. To the Xbox gamers and RPG enthusiasts reading this, I encourage you to contact Square Enix and Team Xbox to have Xenogears and other JRPGs (both classic and modern) released on the Xbox consoles and Windows PC.

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos plus a few Xenogears-related videos for your enjoyment.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. 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

Raiden IV x Mikado remix is coming to Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One in early 2023

If you are the kind of gamer who loves playing vertical scrolling 2D shooters that have that unique arcade aesthetic, then you should be delighted to know that Raiden IV x Mikado remix will be released on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One early next year, according to the official announcement at Xbox.com.

Xbox gamers will get to play Raiden IV x Mikado remix in early 2023.

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

High-octane action soars onto the scene in Raiden IV x Mikado remix, coming to Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One in early 2023! The core gameplay of this series includes the classic vertical scrolling and top-down aerial combat that the shoot ’em up genre is famous for. However, this title’s arsenal of gameplay modes, remixed music, new play styles, and more are what set it apart from the competition.

Arcade Origins – Raiden was first released in Mikado Game Center arcades throughout Japan in April 1990 by Tecmo. After a few decades of additional titles and a new developer in Moss, Raiden IV was first released in 2007. By 2008, it had made its way from arcades to the Xbox 360. And now, over six years after the release of Raiden V on the Xbox One, Raiden IV x Mikado remix aims to establish itself as the most definitive version of this title on Xbox to date.

Game ModesRaiden IV x Mikado remix comes outfitted with several exciting game modes. Arcade Mode hails from the original release of Raiden IV, and sports two difficulties, Light for beginners and Original for advanced players. It also utilizes the Flash Shot scoring mechanic, meaning the faster you take down enemies, the higher your score will be. This encourages playing near the top of the screen to hit enemies as they spawn, which of course brings with it a high level of risk. Additional Mode has the same mechanic, but adds two new stages along with new enemy bullet patterns.

This is what the game will look like on Xbox.

OverKill Mode, first introduced in Raiden IV: Overkill, adds two new missions and replaces the Flash Shot scoring system with one of its own. After destroying a larger enemy, they’ll remain on-screen for a few seconds, offering you a chance to earn a higher score bonus the more you keep attacking them. However, that means turning your attention away from new enemies who spawn during that time. In Score Attack Mode, every stage is available to replay for the highest score. And finally, Boss Rush offers you a quick shortcut to every end-of-stage boss without having to fuss with completing every level again.

Turn Up the Volume – Named for the addition of remixed background music in collaboration with Game Center Mikado, Raiden IV x Mikado remix features tracks from legendary artists such as the Go Sato Band, Heavy Metal Raiden, O.T.K., and more. This soundtrack also includes live performances, new arrangements, and allows players to choose between the original Raiden IV background music or the remixed version.

Choose your Ship – On top of selecting your game mode and music preference, you also have three different ships to choose from, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The Fighting Thunder ME-02 is the most balanced, with respectable weapon strength and speed. The Raiden MK-II is the classic ship of the series, sacrificing speed for higher damage. And finally, the Fairy is the smallest and fastest of all the ships and is meant for players who are seeking a challenge.

Play Your Way – While you might think those are enough options to choose from, Raiden IV x Mikado remix isn’t done yet. You also get to select a play style, each of which drastically changes the game. Solo Play is pretty self-explanatory, while Dual Play lets you and a buddy play together, complete with couch co-op. Double Play on the other hand allows one player to control two ships at the same time, offering a unique and challenging spin on whichever game mode you pair it with.

It’s really nice that Raiden IV x Mikado remix is coming to Xbox consoles sometime early next year. I missed out on Raiden IV when it was released on Xbox 360. I also missed out on Raiden V on Xbox One. Anyway, having more arcade games on the Xbox ecosystem is always a welcome development.

Watch out for Raiden IV x Mikado remix on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One in early 2023.

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos – including details about Sony’s pathetic reaction to Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard –  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. If you want to support my website, please consider making a donation. 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 Harbinger #8 (1992)

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 go back to the early 1990s and explore a part of the Valiant Comics shared universe through the Harbinger monthly series.

In my previous retro review, Sting, Faith, Kris and Flamingo struggled with the completely unexpected new reality that their teammate Torque had died. As they mourned, Toyo Harada and his foundation just kept on operating and preparing themselves for a future conflict with the protagonists. Harada specifically perceives Sting as the most dangerous object for his organization to deal with.  

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Harbinger #8, published in 1992 by Valiant Comics with a story written by Jim Shooter and drawn by David Lapham.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins on April 4, 1992 inside the nice home of Dr. Heyward. There, Heyward, his wife and their two kids are enjoying the company of Faith, Sting and Flamingo. Upstairs, Kris could not fit jeans as she has gained weight. Heyward’s wife Moni arrives, offers her new clothes to wear and shares with her some insight about being in a relationship.

After dinner, Sting and Dr. Heyward have a nice chat with drinks. At the kitchen, Kris and Moni begin to talk about pregnancy with Flamingo present. As soon as Kris says that she is thinking about asking Dr. Heyward about getting an abortion, Flamingo tells her not to do it as the baby inside her all that is left of their dead teammate Torque.

Just as Kris begins to play dumb and divert attention away, a weirdly dressed teenager suddenly appears inside the home. He identifies himself as Geoff McHenry the geomancer…

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Faith collects and then flies high for a grand view.

To get straight to the point, this issue of Harbinger is easily the wildest story I’ve read in this series and for a very obvious reason – it is part of the Unity crossover storyline that established the Valiant Comics universe’s overall concept. For the newcomers reading this, Unity was published in 1992 composed of eighteen chapters – beginning with Unity #0 – which saw story parts told in issues of other Valiant titles like Eternal Warrior, Archer & Armstrong, Magnus Robot Fighter, X-O Manowar, Rai and Solar Man of the Atom.

That being said, the story here is not only wilder than ever but also really went higher with its flight of fantasy which really impacted the protagonists. In her, Sting, Faith, Flamingo and even the pregnant Kris get recruited to join what turned out to be a major battle waged by a group of adult heroes (Solar, Eternal Warrior, Archer & Armstrong, X-O Manowar, Rai and others) against Erica Pierce (the Mothergod) who is obsessed with destroying the universe as she wield immense power.

More on the plot, the transition of Sting and his teammates going into battle on an unknown realm progressed very smoothly which surprised me. As there are lots of battle scenes and other forms of superhero spectacle to see, the creative team managed to maintain a compelling narrative that moved at a medium pace which makes following the exploits of the powered teenagers easy to do. Sure, you get to see the other Valiant Comics heroes share the spotlight in this comic book but Sting and his teammates are the clear protagonists.

Even though there are lots of battle scenes, Jim Shooter still succeeded in setting up a good amount of character development scenes which resulted in clear development of Sting and Kris. Not only that, Shooter convincingly captured the impulse of youth and the false sense of maturity on the part of Sting who at this point has to take special care of Kris, think about the future of becoming a father while dealing with pressure from the other Valiant superheroes who need him to really advance against Erica Pierce. This comic book’s script is very strong and richly layered!

Conclusion

Sting and his teammates stand along with the other heroes of the Valiant Comics universe.

Being the eight chapter of the Unity crossover storyline, Harbinger #8 (1992) has this almost perfect mix of the epic superhero conflict, spectacle and characterization while maintaining sufficient focus on the exploits Sting, Faith, Kris and Flamingo. At this point of the monthly series, Sting (note: whose immense power was portrayed here) and Kris are preparing themselves for the future while failing to realize they are not really mature enough to deal with both the anticipated parenthood and the Unity conflict at hand. This comic book is a must-read as it works excellently both as a standalone story as well as a chapter of Unity. That being said, I’m looking forward to the next issue already.

Overall, Harbinger #8 (1992) is highly recommended!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. 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

A Look Back at Harbinger #3 (1992)

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 go back to the early 1990s and explore a part of the Valiant Comics shared universe through the Harbinger monthly series.

In my previous retro review, Peter/Sting, Kris, Faith/Zephyr, Charlene/Flamingo and John/Torque not only found a place to stay in thanks to a really generous doctor, they went ahead infiltrating the top secret facility of the Harbinger foundation which also brought them face-to-face with the leader. At this stage, Sting and his team have established their purpose not just for survival but to achieve something they believe is right.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Harbinger #3, published in 1992 by Valiant Comics with a story written by Jim Shooter and drawn by David Lapham.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins at 9:20 AM of July 6, 1991 inside the fine summer home of Dr. Heyward. As Sting tells his teammates that they have to move to catch a flight, Faith (wearing her superhero costume) flies through to find Kris and Torque. She finds the two of them seated next together with Kris having her two hands on Torque.

Meanwhile, Flamingo fixes her face as Sting talks to her. She rejects his declaration that she is a part of their team and reveals that Torque does not care about her. Flamingo considers herself as just another hosebag. Sting then tries to lift her up by telling her that she has to take care of herself and that she is part of their team.

Sting, Faith, Flamingo, Kris and Torque then leave for the airport in a brand new vehicle they just bought (having used the money they stole from Harbinger). Their vehicle flies off to the airport with Sting on the driver’s seat…

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Sting, his teammates and newcomer Ax in the heat of action.

Without spoiling the plot, I can say that the story in this comic book got even wilder than I anticipated. The high intensity of wild turnout of events in issue #2 do not even come close to what was told right here. At the same time, this particular story clearly showed this comic book series’ own place within the literary universe of Valiant Comics and anyone who read XO-Manowar comics of this particular era will instantly recognize the recurring creatures (opposition elements) from outer space.

As expected, the character development of the main characters progressed smoothly revealing some amusing character moments that I found interesting and other times amusing. As Sting continues to act with a sense of leadership as well as a false sense of maturity, you will get to see more of Kris providing him analytical and personal support.

The dialogue in this comic book was written to be more dynamic and this is highlighted in the scene in which Sting and his teammates discuss what to do with their new team objective, and what to do with the computer hacker Ax who has shown Harbinger potential. That being said, Jim Shooter carefully crafted the dialogue to reflect how American teenagers in the late 1980s and early 1990s expressed themselves.

When it comes to superhero spectacle, there is a lot to enjoy here. Action scenes and the use of special abilities or super powers were executed at a moderate pace yet they were intense to look at. Each of the main characters had his/her own share of the spotlight even as the spectacle moved.

Conclusion

Meet Ax, the guy who specializes on cracking and hacking.

Harbinger #3 (1992) is a very engaging story to read which was balanced with a good amount of spectacle, nice character moments and the wildest turn of events so far in this particular comic book series. On face value, this comic book’s core concept (which involves a lot of science fiction elements) seemed over-the-top but Jim Shooter and David Lapham succeeded in telling a story that is believable and at the same time fun. It is also within this comic book that readers will get to see more of the Valiant Comics universe elements without the need of a crossover or a cameo appearance of an established Valiant hero. This is definitely the tale of Sting and his team that was simply taken into a much higher flight of fantasy. That being said, I am looking forward to the next issue.

Overall, Harbinger #3 (1992) is highly 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 at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

Star Ocean: The Divine Force all set for October 27, 2022 release on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One plus Windows PC (via Steam)

After many months of waiting since the initial announcement of Star Ocean: The Divine Force coming to Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One and Windows PC (via Steam), Square Enix finally announced that the new sci-fi Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) is coming to the declared platforms on October 27, 2022.

To put things into perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the official announcement on Xbox.com written by Square Enix Content Communications Manager Duncan Heaney. Some parts in boldface…

Get ready for an adventure that’s out of this world… literally! Star Ocean The Divine Force launches October 27 on Xbox!

This latest entry in the Star Ocean series features a fascinating story that fuses science fiction and fantasy, astonishingly responsive real-time combat, and an almost unparalleled level of freedom.

Add the innovative Dual Protagonist system, which lets you pick between two main characters each with their own journeys and companions, and it’s shaping up to be a stellar adventure in more ways than one – read on and I’ll tell you all about it.

What’s the story of Star Ocean The Divine Force? – The Pangalactic Federation has changed. Once it stood for peace, tranquility, and justice, but, but now it assimilates entire planets against their will.

Raymond Lawrence is the captain of the merchant vessel Ydas. One day, he departs from the nonfederated planet of Verguld on what seems like a standard transport job, but when his ship’s fired upon by the Pangalactic Federation battleship Astoria, he’s forced to crash land on the underdeveloped planet Aster IV.

Action moment from the game.

Separated from his crewmates, and under attack by vicious local wildlife, Raymond is saved by Laeticia Aucerius – the princess of the Kingdom of Aucerius: a large territory located on the underdeveloped planet of Aster IV.

The two embark on a mission to save her land from a warmongering neighbor and find his missing companion.

However, the shadow of the Pangalactic Federation looms large…

What kind of game is Star Ocean The Divine Force? – That setup paves the way for a sprawling action RPG that’s full of twists and turns, secrets to find, fast-paced, strategic combat. The dual protagonist system lets you choose between Raymond and Laeticia, and the events you experience and the allies you build will be different depending on who you play as.

Regardless of which character you pick, you’ll enjoy an amazing feeling of freedom because not only can characters traverse the vast environments of Aster IV from ground level, they can also soar up into the sky and fly around in the air!

Want to fly to the top of a cliff to see what’s there or soar between the buildings in the city like a sci-fi superhero? It’s all possible, and it’s a real thrill to be able to explore many of the nooks and crannies of this detailed world so easily.

This is Elena, the first mate of the merchant vessel Ydas.

Of course, Aster IV has plenty of dangerous areas and sooner or later you’ll run into one of the vicious beasts that prowl the wide expanses of the planet.

Combat in Star Ocean The Divine Force is incredibly fast-paced, with super high-speed movement and attacks, and some awesome skills, such as the ability to vanish for a brief moment right in front of your enemies’ eyes, or even take them out in a single hit!

The pace and fluidity of combat, combined with the glorious freedom of traversal, makes for a game that feels just wonderful to play – I can’t wait for Xbox fans to experience it yourselves!

The above article on Xbox.com mentioned that Star Ocean: The Divine Force will come out on Xbox platforms in a Digital Standard Edition ($59.99) as well as a Digital Deluxe Edition ($74.99). The more expensive edition includes a game’s official soundtrack, as well as some in-game items, including an Armor pack, and Accessory pack.

While it is a fact that Square Enix has no intention to release the Final Fantasy VII Remake and Final Fantasy XVI on Xbox, Star Ocean: The Divine Force plus The DioField Chronicle and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion are their confirmed releases that JRPG fans and other gamers of the Xbox ecosystem can look forward to. More on JRPGs coming to Xbox that Square Enix is not involved with, there are also Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes and the Persona games to anticipate.

Star Ocean: The Divine Force on Xbox platforms is something that JRPG fans can look forward to this October.

Going to Star Ocean: The Divine Force has that recognizable action-oriented gameplay of the game franchise. Still I cannot understand why the developers went for the plastic, dolly looking aesthetic on their characters. More notably, it remains to be seen if their storytelling in the new game will be any good. Regardless, Xbox gamers and Windows PC gamers who love JRPGs should watch out for Star Ocean: The Divine Force on October 27, 2022.

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos plus a few Star Ocean: The Divine Force videos for your enjoyment.

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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 Jurassic Park #3 (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 go back to the year 1993 for another look at Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park in the form of licensed comic books published by Topps Comics.

In my previous retro review, the comic book still had the creative issues of heavy exposition and being very word-heavy to read as the creators focused on adapting the movie’s story closely (from the iconic brachiosaurus scene up to the encounter with the triceratops). Compared to issue #1, the comic book’s narrative improved temporarily as it closely adapted the lunch-and-talk scene between John Hammond, Donald Gennaro, Ellie Sattler, Alan Grant and Ian Malcolm whose dialogue was easily the most engaging in both film and in literary format.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Jurassic Park #3, published in 1993 by Topps Comics with a story written by Walter Simonson and drawn by Gil Kane with ink work done by the late George Perez. This comic book was the third of a 4-issue mini-series based on the Spielberg-directed movie.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the group of Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler, Ian Malcolm, Donald Gennaro and the two kids Lex and Tim who are shocked to see a living triceratops. The large dinosaur, however, falls down on its side causing Ellie Sattler to go near and examine it. Gerry Harding, a Jurassic Park employee, suddenly appears and explains that the triceratops was tranquilized by Robert Muldoon and has been sick. After examining the dinosaur further, Ellie wants to have its droppings examined.

Back in the control room of Jurassic Park, Ray Arnold explains to John Hammond that the center of an approaching story has not changed course and states that he likes to cut the current tour and resume the next day. He emphasized to Hammond that the storm is risky to those on tour.

Just across the room, Dennis Nedry (who secretly cut a deal with a business rival of inGen’s and has been frustrated working for John Hammond) carefully communicates with the captain of the ship that will depart once all the workers have boarded. Knowing he is running out of time to steal the dinosaur embryos and send it to Biosyn, he starts his move with Jurassic Park’s main system…

Quality

While the sequences of the T.Rex going after Ian Malcolm are not the same as those in the movie, the dinosaur itself really looks creepy.

When it comes to entertainment value related to spectacle, I can say clearly that this issue really marked the beginning of fun in this 4-issue mini-series. This is because this comic book includes the appearance of the Tyrannosaurus Rex (T.Rex) which arrived just when Alan Grant, Ian Malcolm, Lex, Tim and Donald Gennaro are helpless sitting inside vehicles that stopped by the said dinosaur’s paddock with the fences no longer electrified.

Of course, the minutes-long T. Rex scene in the movie remains memorable as it had a well-blended mix of suspense, action and some horror directed by Steven Spielberg. This comic book’s creators did their best to replicate the experience in illustrated literature format. While it’s not surprising that the essence of the T.Rex paddock scenes in movie were not perfectly captured, this comic book’s adaptation still managed to be entertaining to read showing suspense, horror and some thrills plus Gil Kane managed to even make the infamous dinosaur look frightening. Very clearly, Kane went all-out in presenting the T.Rex as the main dinosaur not only in this comic book but for the whole mini-series.

While the T.Rex paddock scene is the highlight of this comic book, the scene with the triceratops proved to be another exposition-heavy presentation laced with pretentious science and technical explanations dealing with plants, animal health and the like. Meanwhile, the scenes about John Hammond, Robert Muldoon and Ray Arnold struggling with the failures of the park systems while Nedry betrays them secretly were pretty intense to read.

Conclusion

Lots of exposition and creative explanations in this scene about the sick triceratops.

So far, I find Jurassic Park #3 (1993) to be the most entertaining issue so far thanks to the way the comic book creators adapted the Tyrannosaurus Rex paddock scene from the movie. While the narrative still had lots of exposition and creative explanations that started since issue #1, the consequential events of Dennis Nedry’s acts intensified the reading experience and the T.Rex scenes really ramped up the fun factor.

Overall, Jurassic Park #3 (1993) 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 at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

A Look Back at Jurassic Park #2 (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 go back to the year 1993 for another look at Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park in the form of licensed comic books published by Topps Comics.

My previous retro review was the literary version of the film’s opening until the start of the iconic scene of the brachiosaur. The comic book was very exposition-heavy, had too few dinosaurs visualized and was ultimately a word-heavy experience with little entertainment value.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Jurassic Park #2, published in 1993 by Topps Comics with a story written by Walter Simonson and drawn by Gil Kane with ink work done by the late George Perez. This comic book was the second of a 4-issue mini-series based on the Spielberg movie.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins on an island where John Hammond’s guests (Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler, Ian Malcolm and lawyer Gennaro) cannot help but stare and marvel at the brachiosaurus walking in front of them. Soon enough, they spot five more dinosaurs of the same species moving around. As they stare, Dr. Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler can’t help but be amazed as the sight of living dinosaurs literally broke the limits of what they previously learned about dinosaurs through books.

Grant then asks Jurassic Park owner John Hammond how he was able to come up with dinosaurs. Hammond then takes his guests into the visitor’s center which has a 50-seat auditorium for the prepared pre-show he prepared for their orientation. With Hammond taking an active part in the program, a video presentation shows how Jurassic Park’s personnel extracted dinosaur DNA from fossilized mosquitoes (which drew blood from dinosaurs), used advanced technologies and amphibian DNA to complete DNA sequencing, and created dinosaurs…

Quality

The baby Velociraptor, John Hammond, Ian Malcolm, Dr. Grant, Ellie Sattler and Dr. Wu in a scene.

The most obvious thing about this comic book (which starts with the brachiosaurus reveal until the triceratops’ appearance) is that it is very wordy and has lots of expository dialogue and creative explanations which reflected the film it was based on. What makes this a slightly better reading experience over issue #1 is that it closely captured the essence of the best talk scene of Spielberg’s movie – the lunch meeting hosted by Hammond. To see Gennaro, Dr. Grant and Ellie give their feedback to Hammond with Ian Malcolm’s extensive opinion about Jurassic Park’s use of genetics, their revival of extinct species and their lack of humility before nature was easily the most compelling part of the comic book to read. In a way, a lot of exposition dump and build-up that started in issue #1 were paid off nicely in the said scene.

As mentioned earlier, this comic book’s story reaches the appearance of the triceratops and by then John Hammond’s grandchildren (Tim and Lex) joined Grant, Gennaro, Sattler and Malcolm on the basic tour in vehicles. That being said, the story moved at a moderate pace and the only comic book spectacle here are the images of dinosaurs which were decently drawn by Gil Kane. Don’t expect any action nor thrills here because those would not happen until the T. Rex’s first appearance.

Conclusion

Can you imagine how you would react if you ever see large dinosaurs walking in front of you?

I can say that Jurassic Park #2 (1993) is a slightly better reading experience than issue #1 mainly due to the way the comic book creators adapted the movie’s best talk scene. The same old issues of heavy exposition and excessive dialogue are here which reflect Simonson and Kane’s focus on adapting scenes from the movie closely. Other than that, there is still no excitement to enjoy here which can be disappointing if you are anticipating dinosaur-related thrills and action sequences. Readers who enjoy exposition and the Jurassic Park entertainment franchise’s approach on portraying science (distorted and fantasized to be more attractive than true science) will still find something to enjoy here.

Overall, Jurassic Park #2 (1993) is satisfactory.

+++++

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/

A Look Back at Jurassic Park #1 (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 go back to the year 1993 which was a wild time for entertainment not only because of the comic book collection craze of the time but also because the whole world marveled at Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi film Jurassic Park which was simply unavoidable.  

Jurassic Park was released into cinemas worldwide at a time when computer-generated imagery (CGI) was advanced enough to show and animated dinosaurs in a photo-realistic way on the big screen. Unlike films of today, CGI in Spielberg’s movie was sparingly used and they cleverly used computer graphics to show dinosaurs in their entirety especially on really wide shots that literally made human actors look really small compared to them. What added also to the photorealism of the dinosaurs was the use of animatronics (read: physical models) when capturing close-ups of the dinosaurs. For millions of people, Jurassic Park was a dream come true for those who wanted to see very convincing and lively dinosaurs on the big screen in ways that stop motion animation could not do.

As mentioned earlier, Jurassic Park was unavoidable as it was everywhere from the cinemas to the TV and print ads, to the stores that had licensed toys and merchandise of the movie, to the book stores that sold copies of the novel written by Michael Crichton, and also in the comic book stores that had copies of the comic book adaptation published by Topps Comics.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Jurassic Park #1, published in 1993 by Topps Comics with a story written by Walter Simonson and drawn by Gil Kane with ink work done by the late George Perez. This comic book was the first of a 4-issue mini-series based on the Spielberg movie.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins at Isla Nublar, an island located over a hundred miles west of the nation of Costa Rica. Uniformed men and heavy equipment operators carefully moved a heavy containment unit that has a dinosaur inside. They are trying to connect the unit into an unusual looking containment facility which has vegetation inside. Their objective was to move the dinosaur into the facility and that includes lifting up the containment unit’s door.

Suddenly, the containment unit shakes as its door opened causing one man (who was responsible for opening the door from the top) falls down. It turns out, the dinosaur inside played a trick on them and it grabbed and pulled the fallen man inside which leads to tragedy.

A short time later, lawyer Gennaro arrives at an amber mind in the Dominican Republic searching for John Hammond for an important matter about a $20 million lawsuit from the family of the injured worker and an insurance company that thinks the accident raises serious safety questions about Jurassic Park.

Over at Montana, Dr. Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler are conducting work at a dig site not knowing that an unexpected visit will happen to them…

Quality

Nothing like entering a large gate going into a theme park.

I will start with what is very obvious about this first issue of the mini-series adapting the events of Steven Spielberg’s movie. This is one very wordy comic book filled with lots of details spilled all over by lots of expository dialogue clearly sourced from the movie. To be clear, this comic book follows the movie’s opening scene until the start of the iconic scene in which Dr. Grant, Ellie and Dr. Ian Malcolm saw the large dinosaur for the first time ever (note: this scene stunned and amazed viewers back then).

As the comic creators really pushed themselves to fill in the key details straight out of the movie most of the time, this comic book lacks spectacle and it is unsurprising that it has very few images of dinosaurs.

Like most comic book adaptations of movies, there were certain cosmetic differences between scenes adapted from the movie such as the traitor Dennis Nedry meeting with Lewis Dodgson in a very urban city street setting (as opposed to the location with lots of trees and vegetation in the film). Also notably different looking was Dr. Grant’s place where he and Ellie first meet John Hammond (in the movie, Dr. Grant’s place looked more lived-in).

In what looked like the creators’ attempt to emphasize something more than what was shown in the movie, the scene in which Dr. Grant scares a kid by showing what a Velociraptor would do to him was visualized with two panels of a dream sequence.

Gil Kane’s art looks good here but don’t expect to see the characters resembling their cinematic counterparts at all. I can only guess that Topps Comics had no authority to capture the likeness of the actors for this adaptation. Dr. Grant does not look like Sam Neill. Ellie Sattler looks nothing like Laura Dern.  

Conclusion

This is easily the most entertaining and the most intriguing page from the comic book. The comic book creators succeeded in making Dr. Alan Grant scare the kid more convincingly than the movie.

Jurassic Park #1 (1993) is not a fun read due to its heavy load of expository dialogue and explanations of key details. This issue, to say the least, was done mainly to get readers oriented with terms and details in order to help them understand Jurassic Park’s concepts. Due to the exposition and explanations, the storytelling here moved at a slow space which ironically provides readers opportunities to understand Jurassic Park. The way this comic book script was written, there was clearly too little space for entertainment. If you are the brainy type of reader or if you like junk science mixed with real science explained, then this one can still entertain you. When it comes to visuals, Gil Kane’s art made this one attractive and also established this comic book’s own look.

Overall, Jurassic Park #1 (1993) is satisfactory.

+++++

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/

Starfield is coming exclusively to Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Windows PC with Xbox Game Pass (XGP) availability in 2023

Starfield, the ambitious sci-fi role-playing game (RPG) from Bethesda Game Studios led by Todd Howard, is easily one of my most anticipated games for my Xbox Series X since I myself played RPGs of Elder Scrolls and Fallout produced by the said creators. That game, which is set for exclusive release on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series X, Windows PC plus Xbox Game Pass (XGP) sometime in 2023, was one of the highlights of the recent Xbox-Bethesda games showcase which had a real-time gameplay showing which you watch right below…

To put things into perspective, posted below is an excerpt about the related Starfield gameplay reveal as published in an official article at Xbox.com. Some parts in boldface…

The year is 2330. Humanity has ventured beyond our solar system, settling new planets, and living as a spacefaring people. From humble beginnings as a space miner, you will join Constellation — the last group of space explorers seeking rare artifacts throughout the galaxy — and navigate the vast expanse of the Settled Systems in Bethesda Game Studios’ biggest and most ambitious game.

In this next generation role-playing game set amongst the stars, you will create any character you want and explore with unparalleled freedom as you embark on an epic journey to answer humanity’s greatest question: What is out there?

Bethesda Game Studios “can’t wait for all of you to experience the game,” Howard says. “It’s been an incredible journey for us making it, but we know that’s only the beginning, for it’s when all of you play it that the journey begins.

Like anyone else, I was very disappointed by the news that Starfield would not be released this year. I have been craving for more new, great single-player gaming experiences from Todd Howard’s team and I am done replaying Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 4. The November 11, 2022 release date was promised several times before the delay happened. As of this writing, there is still no firm date about the new 2023 release for Starfield.

Actual gameplay from Starfield.

Fortunately, the gameplay reveal of Starfield this past June 12 was very entertaining to see. I really liked the sci-fi look and feel of it while the in-game shooting reminds me somewhat of Fallout 4 which itself was pretty functional and fun with shooting. The gameplay shown did not run at 60 frames-per-second (60FPS) which is insufficient in my view because I personally prefer a 60FPS frame rate even with open-world environments implemented. Like Skyrim, Starfield allows players to view the game in 3rd person or 1st person when controlling the in-game protagonist.

There are also key game features that were shown such as the customization of your character’s own traits and skills, crafting systems (by running in-game research using resources you find), and creating mods for your weapons. What struck me is the new outpost creation feature which I find intriguing and attractive. Have you ever dreamed of creating your very own outpost on the surface of an unknown planet you visited and hire people you find qualified to help you operate it? The Starfield feature looks really promising.

Apart from the exploration and action, they also revealed the in-game construction and customization of space ships complete with varying differences in terms of performance and efficiency which players will realize and feel. Not only that, there was also the showcase of space battles in the game which looks really nice and promising. In recent times, I’ve been playing Chorus on my Xbox Series X (thanks to the benefit of my Xbox Game Pass subscription) which is strongly a space shooter in design with exploration and flying as strong gameplay features.

To see opposing space ships get blown into several pieces shows how much attention to detail was done by the developers supposedly to make the gameplay experience immersive.

Personally, I don’t expect space flight and shooting in Starfield to be the same as those of in Chorus but I do expect the experience to be fun and that the controls should be fully functional and work precisely. Starfield is, after all, a sci-fi RPG with shooting and exploration as strong features. We will find out soon how efficient and engaging space flight and shooting in the game will really be.

While it is understandable that plot details are very light, I find questionable Todd Howard’s claim that Starfield has over a thousand planet that are open for players to explore. That is pretty wild! I am not a game developer nor am I an expert one making digital worlds but can Todd Howard and his team really deliver on that promise with Starfield? Did his team really in far exceeding what BioWare achieved in their Mass Effect video games that had several worlds composed of those truly explorable (on-foot with the protagonist and teammates engaging on missions or searches) and those which are not explorable (limited to orbital scanning)? Can the developers ensure that each planet has its own distinct environments, alien life forms and other creative designs? Whatever Howard and his team did with regards to in-game world exploration, I can only hope that Starfield will turn out great.

Here is hoping that space travel will be fun and engaging to do.

Overall, I am personally looking forward to playing Starfield on my Xbox Series X sometime in 2023. After seeing what was revealed at the recent Xbox-Bethesda games showcase, I can say my disappointment over the delay has waned a lot. Here is hoping that Bethesda will be able to fully polish the game in-and-out, and somehow they can increase the frame rate to 60FPS. Take note that Starfield is just one of many Xbox-exclusive games coming as a result of the seismic Xbox-Bethesda acquisition and integration and the good news is that current Bethesda-published games have been added into Xbox Game Pass and future games will follow! Starfield will eventually solidify Xbox as the best ecosystem for gamers who love role-playing games!

Watch out for more details about the Xbox-exclusive Starfield coming to Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Windows PC plus XGP in 2023.

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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/