I keep wanting to do a top 10 comics for you guys but there’s so many options
Maybe it should be a top 15
Pokemon X: First Impressions From Someone Who’s Only Ever Played First-Gen
So, last night I bought Pokemon X. I had been convinced to finally give the series another shot by several friends who were enjoying the new titles, as well as the fantastic trailers that do a great job selling the game (speaking as someone who doesn’t tend to be easily swayed by advertisements).
I’m only an hour and a half into my game so far, but I’m having a blast. It actually feels like I’m rediscovering what made this game so fun when I first booted it up on my old Game Boy Pocket back when I was in elementary school. It’s pretty jarring—and absolutely delightful—to see just how far they’ve taken things visually. I’m a full-3D human that can move around freely in cities and towns that look like cities and towns instead of a vaguely humanoid pixel blob with a three-frame walk cycle traversing groups of boxes! The core of the game still feels very familiar (in a comforting, “oh hey, I can slide right back into this with an idea of what I’m doing” way, not a “oh geez nothing’s changed” way), but there’s so much new stuff added on top and—thankfully—none of it feels overwhelming. A lot of it works towards the purposes of A, streamlining the game, B, giving the game more depth, and C, making you as a player feel more connected to these cute little critters you’re sending into organized cockfights. I’m just going to do a stream-of-consciousness spew of first impressions here—some of them are side notes about what I’ve done/got so far, others are just random thoughts I remember having in (roughly) chronological order.
- Wait, who’s this guy? He’s not Professor Oak! Oh well. he does serve the same role, I guess. His hair is weird.
- Woah woah woah, how do you look? I’m gonna be a black girl, because reasons. Awww, so cute! I even actually like the outfit, as opposed to the weird fashion mishmash some of the other games stuck the trainer with that I’ve seen.
- Woah! My family owns a pet rhyhorn? Okay, that is awesome. Already we’re seeing pokemon integrated into the world more…I remember the old games told you a lot about that but didn’t really show much of it.
- Oh, I guess these are my friends? Okay, cool. I—wait, what? This random kid is giving me my starters? On behalf of the Professor? What, is Professor NotOak McWeirdhair Handsomeface too good to give me them himself? This is odd. I think I’ll pick, hmm…the cute little water frog is the only one I like the design of. I’ll pick him. And name him Mr. Bubble. I never named my Pokemon in the old games, but I feel like doing so for this installment. I will hereby name every one of my Pokemon.
- (Cutting out of the stream of thought for a moment, my current party upon reaching the first actual city is said Mr. Bubble, a pikachu I have named Voltaire, a weedle—now a kakuna—I have named Honeycrisp, some sort of…fire monkey? That I have named Alton, a tiny bird that I dunno I named him something cute like Tweedlechirp I don’t even remember, and this ugly-cute rabbit I have dubbed Cocoa. I feel rather attached to the frog, pikachu, and dear little Honeycrisp. I’m trying to give the fire monkey a chance but I don’t like its face. I am straight up ignoring the bird and am dumping it into a box the first chance I get, unless it evolves into some sort of amazing bird titan. The rabbit will be…adequate for now as my token normal-type, until I find one I like the look of better.)
- Oh my gosh, you actually crouch down when you talk to children! That is an adorable detail that I don’t think will ever get old.
- Still not sure how I feel about this group of NPC kids. I mean, they’re a nice way to integrate basic tips but I don’t care about them the way I think the game wants me to.
- Man, all the NPCs look so different from each other! That’s great! They’re like…actual people now with names and stuff, instead of person-shaped obstacles. You get the sense they’re out there for many of the same reasons you are, having their own little background adventures.
- Hmmm…leveling up stats outside of battle with minigames? Great idea, even if the way you do it is…frankly, sort of odd. I didn’t know Pokemon were so enamored with soccer. But I can forsee this as a good way to give a boost to a party member who’s straggling behind the rest a bit. Honeycrisp will probably spend some time in here while they’re busy turning into a gorgeous bee.
- They integrated the item shop into the Pokemon center? YES PLEASE THANK YOU. Oh my gosh that’s nice.
- Wh…the “warning: health low” noise only goes a couple times and then stops? TH…THANK YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOU BEST IMPROVEMENT EVER. Oh my gosh, the annoyance having to deal with a constant “DEH DOO, DEH DOO, DEH DOO, DEH DOO, until the end of a fight in the old one was possibly the worst thing about it.
- I like the noises these Pokemon make. It’s a good compromise between electronic noises that evoke the old games, and sounds an actual animal might make.
- There’s…there’s…oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. There’s clothes. You can buy outfits for your trainer. You can customize how your trainer looks. Curse you, Pokemon, you’re going to feed exactly the addiction I had with the Simmmmmmms. I love character customization in a game. So much. I wish I could afford that hat. I want to get in more battles just so I can afford that hat. In fact, you know what? Gym Leaders used to have deep pockets. The same’s probably true here. When I take down that first Gym Leader, I may be wearing their badge, but that hat is going to be my true mark of victory cuz I bought it with their money. Aww yiss.
More brief little impressions of comics I have been reading lately
Cuz I reads me a lot of comics. What can I say? They’re my drug.
- Breath Of Bones: Legend of the Golem 1-3, Dark Horse: A neat miniseries set in WWII about a small Jewish town that manages to defend itself from the coming Nazi threat with a golem. A bit drier than I expected, and the golem (spoiler) only shows up towards the end, but the payoff is worth it and the whole deal is well-told.
- Solid State Tank Girl #3: Ehhhhhhhhhh. I’m getting less and less excited about this series with every issue, and I usually am excited about this character. If issue 4 doesn’t show marked improvement I’m dropping it. Has Alan Martin lost his touch? I’m not sure. But if he hasn’t he’s certainly in a bit of a slump for what to do with the character.
- Bravest Warriors #12: Even though they’ve ditched story arcs, this series continues to deliver. This issue’s dealings with the future sport of Extreme Battle Chess had a couple actual chuckle-out-loud moments for me.
- Amala’s Blade #4: The most satisfying conclusion to a story I’ve experienced in a while. This is a fantastic miniseries that is completely worth your time. It leaves me wanting more, in a good way.
- Bakuman Volume 9: Am I really already halfway through? If you love comics as a form of expression you’re missing out on this impeccable manga. Tears have been shed, you guys.
COMICS REVIEWTIME: RAT QUEENS #1 (and some other bits and bobs)
Yeah yeah yeah, it’s been a long time since I’ve tumbl’d anything. Calm your britches. Life is going okay: I continue to sell art and I’m making slow progress on some comicky stuff and some more art. Now sit down and lemme tell you about some comics, son. Daughter. Child.
I heard about Rat Queens from a tip on either The Mary Sue or Topless Robot, I forget which and if I go check right this moment I’m afraid I’ll lose typing momentum. They’re both good sites anyway, go bookmark ‘em if you don’t already. High Fantasy isn’t usually my cup of tea—I was a sci-fi kid, devouring the likes of Asimov and Verne and Roddenberry, and my love of fantasy generally starts and stops with Tolkien. (I still haven’t seen anything about Game of Thrones that makes me at all curious about it. Sorry, Thronefans.) Even Lewis, I think his sci-fi was better than his fantasy. And even devoted fantasy fans will admit that even now there’s still a lot of cribbing from Tolkien—too much of it. Original fantasy is still rare. Rat Queens felt like a breath of fresh air from how it was described to me, and I’m pleased to report that the very solid first issue delivers. A lot of ingredients I’m typically enamored of were promised to me—fun, developed characters, show-don’t-tell worldbuilding, subverted conventions. Oh, the conventions. It’d be unfair to call Rat Queens wholly original, but it thrives nicely on twisting and playing with a lot of fantasy stereotype expectations. This is a group on a quest, but they’re not heroes, really—in fact, the whole thing feels like a very fun tabletop RPG session, and I mean that in the best possible way. Let me stop babbling and try to lay down a few solid bits for you:
At the time the story takes place, there is no longer really a need for groups of heroes going around slaying dragons and the like—there got to be so many of them, being so good at what they did, that there’s actually quite a bit of peace. Which means that these groups are growing restless, finding trouble where they can, and starting it where they can’t. What were bands of roving champions are now more akin to fantasy street gangs—enter our girls, the titular Rat Queens. (A few other groups are named/seen, and all of them have equally wonderful names—like The Peaches, which include among other things a towering orc gal, and The Obsidian Darkness, a group of mopey elvish goth kids.) Itching for some action to take them out of the tedium of bar-hopping, they are stuck with a job to go goblin-hunting and sent on their way…but their quest, such as it is, might just be a front for a larger, darker plot. As these things tend to be. At any rate, it’s less about the particulars of the actual mission and more about the character interactions, and Rat Queens has a fun party to work with: Hannah, a snarky, cocky elvish necromancer and de facto leader, Dee, a human more generalized spellcaster who seems so far to function as a voice of reason, Violet, a quiet, focused dwarvish paladin, and Betty, a bubbly-but-crude “smidgen” rogue. (Smidgens, a sort of halfling invented for the series, appear to be a sort of equal blend of hobbit, Warcraft gnome, and Oz munchkin.) Their dialogue together, which as another reviewer noted, almost feels Tank Girl-esque, is very natural-sounding. Kurtis Wiebe has a good ear for speech. Roc Upchurch’s art also really helped pull me in—it’s a nice painterly style that fits the tone well and is generally pleasant to look at.
I only have one real complaint, and to be honest, despite my usual desire to soapbox about related issues, it’s a minor one. The costumes were, well, clearly designed by a guy. Especially in the case of poor Dee, who has to run around the countryside with almost a bare rump. So, yeah, for all the genuinely neat well-rounded-team-of-ladies this comic has going on there’s still a bit of a male gaze hiccup with most of the costumes…but, if I’m allowed to make a defense comparison, it’s nowhere near modern DC levels. I’m not even trying to be some sort of prude here—Hannah seems the sort to naturally want to reveal a bit, as does Betty—but I’m thinking from a practicality standpoint. They don’t have to be in full armor, per se (though Violet is) but it’d be nice to see that for all their badassery and carefree brawling they do care a little for their own safety. Betty should probably have at least some light leather armor in a few vital spots, you know? Hannah’s gonna be in trouble if someone stabs her in the leg. And Dee…well, I hope it doesn’t get chilly in whateverland. Apart from this one little hitch, so far Rat Queens is a series I expect very, very big things of. Buying issue 2 is already a guarantee for me.
In conclusion, if a girl-centric dragons-and-swords romp with a hearty punk bite sounds like something awesome to you, nip down to your local comics dealer and have a lookthrough.
Fehhhh this got long and now I’m just gonna save the other comics bits for a separate post.
Awwww yeah got spikes in the mail
Time to make everything look a little more dangerous