Tag Archives: pokemon

Xenogears 08: The Ballad of Billy

Here we go!Let us consider the unwavering faith of Billy Lee Black.

Like many of the people we have featured in these sermons, Billy had a difficult childhood. When Billy was barely ten, his father went out for a pack of smokes, and didn’t come back for a decade. Billy was left alone with his mother and little sister, but zombie-like Wels attacked his home soon thereafter. While Billy and his sister were able to survive thanks to the quick thinking of Bishop Stone, Billy’s mother was lost to the Wels. When Jesse Black came back, Billy and his sister, Primera, were already forever traumatized. Primera would not speak, and Billy had turned to God for help with his broken family. Billy joined the Ethos, and took up the guns his father gave him to exterminate the Wels creatures that had killed his mother.

So when Billy encounters a group of strangers that are trying to help their sick friend, Billy does everything he can to help. He escorts the injured Fei to a church of Ethos, hoping that the advanced medical technology of the order will help the wounded boy. Billy then leaves these new comrades, because he must go back to the orphanage he runs (with the support of Ethos, naturally), so there are less children alone in the world. And then, when a ship full of Wels floats near his home, Billy works together with his new companions to eliminate the threat. Why, it is almost like these strangers were a gift brought to Billy by God!

But it seems that God was not home when the Ethos Headquarters was attacked. Billy initially suspected his truant father of being a genocidal murderer, but soon discovered that Ethos was not all that it seemed. The technology and religion of Ethos was all a front to control people, and every Etoner in the place was a puppet of the Solaris government. And when Billy’s friend Verlaine reveals himself to be an assassin, it is unambiguously demonstrated that Billy’s entire religion is a lie. Oh, and then Bishop Stone revealed he was responsible for the death of Billy’s mother. Billy proves to be the only pious survivor of the Ethos massacre…

Lil knife guysBut does Billy lose his faith? Does Billy give in to his father who has always renounced religion? Does Billy give up on being a better man? No! Billy joins Fei’s friends, and continues to fight for the good of people everywhere. He still eliminates the perverse Wels. He defends the Thames from encroaching monsters. He infiltrates an Ethos dig site, and rebuffs the nefarious Bishop Stone. He still serves his faith, but rejects the philosophy of “only the chosen will be saved”. He will save everyone! And, through it all, he still prays after every battle. Even when faced with the seemingly invincible Id, Billy’s true faith never waivers.

No matter what happens, Billy Lee Black has faith.

… And we will see if he is still praying after he punches God.

Even Worse Streams presents Xenogears
Night 8

Original Stream Night: March 9, 2021
Night of the Silver Star Story

Random Notes on the Stream

  • We’re back after taking a week off. I cannot for the life in me remember what we were doing that week. Oh, and I accidentally activated a stupid card game.
  • Maybe we could just stop playing and listen to Xenogears Creid album?
  • “Billy’s obviously a fucking nerd.”
  • “I do appreciate that your characters are now two grown men lost in a church.”
  • cut cut cutAs we hit Billy’s orphanage, we discuss NFTs. My position on this matter is clear.
  • Jessie doesn’t know how chairs work. This is canon.
  • “I wrote an entire article about how that game is the worst.”
  • “The Robin Hood movie is why we have furries.” Sure, but I blame Chip ‘n Dale.
  • Enjoy hanging out with Bill Gunhaver.
  • While raiding the boat, it is important to know how exploitative Dead or Alive 6 can be. 462 items on Steam, all at $2… so it only costs nearly a thousand dollars to completely own that game.
  • What is your worst bathtub in all of gaming? I’m voting for Eternal Darkness.
  • And then I die to the giant Wels. Whoops!
  • Trynant stops by for the night while we make attempt number two on the boss.
  • And then Kishi! Maybe they can help!
  • The Giant Wels has been defeated… forever.
  • “Oh, my dad committed genocide? Yeah, that makes sense.”
  • World Heroes: it had a Goku in it.
  • Billy: currently having a crisis of faith and looking smug doing it.
  • Love you galsThere are apparently mass-produced Jesuses in Neon Genesis Evangelion. This should surprise no one.
  • Over at the Thames we are asked to, “Just try to imagine an action sequence.”
  • Deathscythe is not so much a thing as something that is fun to say.
  • There are so many of the same monsters in this undersea dungeon that it gets kind of ridiculous. But the snail mutants are awesome!
  • “It’s not Porygon’s fault.”
  • The Elements have freckles? They sure don’t have enough fanart…
  • I pronounce Id wrong. Also: here’s Id.
  • And we close on one of our longest streams by talking about making Kishi sad through eggs.

Next time on Xenogears: It’s about the climb.

Mole Mania!
“The moll’s got a mole!”

Chrono Cross 04: Character Study

Me-owWe gave some time over to dedicated character recruitment during this update, so let’s answer this question once and for all: are the majority of characters in Chrono Cross useless? This assessment is separate from the battle system (where practically anyone can be useful if their color codes right to the area), and a dedicated look at whether or not this cast of weirdos makes any sense for the story. What do we got? Well…

Absolutely Plot Relevant

  • Harle
  • Kid
  • Leena
  • Lynx
  • Serge

You can count on one hand the characters in Chrono Cross that are 100% relevant to the plot. On one side, you have the power couple of Serge and Kid, two crazy kids (oh… I just got that) that have somehow become the center of an omniversal threat to the cosmos. On the other side of the aisle, you have Lynx, Serge’s eternal(ish) antagonist, and Harle, his sidekick that may or may not switch sides/species. And, just because she seems to fit in here, we will also include Leena as essential. She could technically be replaced or expunged from the story, but Serge needs someone/thing to fight for and represent his idyllic home… so it may as well be Leena. There may be a little wiggle room here, but you basically cannot have Chrono Cross without these key players.

Marginally Plot Relevant

  • Doc
  • Fargo
  • Irenes
  • Korcha
  • Nikki
  • Sneff
  • Starky

Stay hotNext up we have the characters that may not be 100% crucial, but still definitely serve a purpose in the plot. For instance, Doc may not ever join your party (depending on your choices), but you need someone to keep the plot moving when Kid is poisoned. Similarly, Sneff serves the purpose of being a “weirdo” that is ultimately helpful when Serge has been transformed into one of society’s undesirables (a cat boy). Fargo, Korcha, and even Starky all come with particular modes of transportation, so they are vital for the same reason Black Manta was allowed in the Legion of Doom (owns a boat). Irenes sneaks in here so the demi-human plight has a pretty face attached to that bit of worldbuilding. And Nikki gets a slot for having a tragic backstory and the key to solving racism. These seven are all characters that could technically not exist in this story, but they come attached to important bits, so they are generally valuable.

Viper Manor Relevant

  • Glenn
  • Grobyc
  • Karsh
  • Luccia
  • Marcy
  • Norris
  • Radius
  • Riddel
  • Viper
  • Zappa
  • Zoah

I recognize these losersHere is a whole game unto itself. The raid on Viper Manor could comprise its own radical adventure for some dreamers, so it makes sense that lot of characters are tied to this section of the story. You could excise a whole group of these losers (they are literally losers; you beat the majority of them in fights), but their existence does round out the “team bad guy” of El Nido. Viper is the leader. Karsh, Zoah, and Marcy are the elite generals. Luccia is responsible for all monster/trap creation. Glenn and Riddel are the “maybe they’re not so bad” kids of the gang. Radius and Zappa are the retired generation that has some consternation with the kids and old ghosts. And Norris and Grobyc represent the good and bad of the Porre Military, which becomes Viper Manor’s enemy when they all inevitably defect to the side of the angels. You could probably cut these eleven down to like five and still have the same story, but nobody is going to complain about fleshing out the (redeemable) “bad guys”.

Might see in a JRPG Relevant

  • Greco
  • Guile
  • Mel
  • Miki
  • Orlha
  • Pierre
  • Steena
  • Van

Don't look at meEvery JRPG needs a little unrelated fluffery to offer a differing perspective from the obvious protagonist. Final Fantasy 4 would not be the same without toddler twins from a magical city, and Chrono Cross would not be the same without including its own share of interesting support characters. Steena is your typical priestess that knows everything about the surrounding area. Guile is the enigmatic magician who appears to have his own agenda. Orlha and Van both have potential plot hooks with seeing their interdimensional “siblings” thanks to the quirks of dimensional travel. And we have a few JRPG stock characters here: the spiritual bruiser (luchador, in this case), the precocious kid that admires a lead (and uses a boomerang for some reason), the dancer that is trying to achieve more (a Fire Emblem staple), and the “wannabe hero” that will eventually grow into being a useful party member. None of these characters are “essential”, but they are the spice that flavors the JRPG.

Absolutely Irrelevant

  • Draggy
  • Funguy
  • Janice
  • Leah
  • Macha
  • Mojo
  • NeoFio
  • Orcha
  • Pip
  • Poshul
  • Razzly
  • Skelly
  • Sprigg
  • Turnip

And… dang. Now look at all these losers. Leah is the only one that maybe could be relevant, but it is clear that she is little more than a shortsighted echo of a “real” Chrono Trigger character. Razzly the faerie is similarly marginally related to the plot, but the fact that you can leave her to be eaten without ever knowing she existed is pretty damning. And Sprigg is a cool denizen of another dimension, but you’d be forgiven for forgetting she even touches your party after her puckish introduction. Beyond that, Draggy, Janice, Macha, Orcha, Pip, Poshul, and Skelly are all wholly superfluous, and the only thing that could be lost between all of them is one gratuitous boss fight. And, strangely enough, Funguy, NeoFio, Mojo, and Turnip are all basically walking inanimate objects, and you really do not need that many characters that could slot into that hole. Most games don’t even have one talking vegetable!

So what’s the verdict here? Well, if we look at this chart…

It is plain math

A healthy 68% of playable characters in Chrono Cross are relevant in some way. And it sure looks like Viper Manor is the center of Chrono Cross! We already knew that!

…. And let’s not focus on the remaining percentage…

Even Worse Streams presents Chrono Cross Night 4


Original Stream Night: May 3, 2022

Recruited this week:

  • Pip
  • Luccia
  • Neo Fio
  • Skelly
  • Lynx (?)

Random Notes on the Stream:

  • We are starting on a pirate ship full of skeletons. Note that this pirate ship was not initially filled with skeletons.
  • Speaking of skeletons, BEAT wants to know how long this is going to take. It is week 4. It will eventually be 10 weeks. The poor summer child.
  • Square Enix sold off Eidos/Crystal Dynamics and decided to get into NFTs right around when we streamed this. Writing this months later, we now know they are ill advisedly sticking to their NFT guns.
  • Chrono Cross is good at using elements for post battle healing. Wild Arms 3 has no such similar process for expending leftover FP. You win this round, Chrono Cross.
  • Let's fly awayWe find what’s left of Chrono Trigger’s Epoch in the basement of the library. Like every other reference to Chrono Trigger in Chrono Cross, this is sad.
  • We were venturing through a swamp to get Neo Fio when Ample Vigour arrives
  • Nobuteru Yūki was the character designer for Chrono Cross. I apologize if this entire Let’s Play is an insult to such an artist.
  • Even Worse Streams presents Jackass starring Korcha.
  • We eventually get to Water Dragon Isle. We have learned the dwarves are hellbound. Fuck dwesus.
  • A solution to housing values tanking: tanks.
  • BEAT talks about The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time speedrun strategies, and how they are life affirming.
  • The Sopranos Playstation 2 game is noted as ridiculous.
  • At the volcano, Solt and Peppor can waste your time. It is indistinguishable from any other boss fight.
  • Back to Zelda, and “go home and die” speed runs
  • Castlevania Lords of Shadow lets you skip puzzles, and that is good.
  • Let us all hate Sonic Underground and its cameo in Sonic Riders.
  • Looking for more friendsI have the “IGN Watermark” copy of Wii Okami, and I cannot see that logo for my life. Took like ten minutes of staring!
  • Would you like to be a boy, or cat boy? Serge is forced to be a cat boy.
  • We close with Deptford’s post on Chrono Cross. Let’s consider this further foreshadowing.

Next time on Chrono Cross: Your mom likes cats, but not that much.

FGC #621 Pokémon Legends: Arceus

Here comes those 'mon2001 saw the release of Shallow Hal, a generally unpleasant movie that took one fat joke and ballooned it to two solid hours. For anyone that never had the experience of watching the film (or missed the trailer, which is really all you need for this premise), the titular Shallow Hal is granted the hypnosis-induced ability to see people as physical representations of their personalities. So mean girls appear chubby and acne-ridden, while the overweigh-but-exceedingly nice Rosemary looks like Gwyneth Paltrow (because she’s Gwyneth Paltrow). This is, of course, an enormously problematic concept for a comedy, as everyone and their mother has already noted that there is no universe where such “unattractive” signifiers actually make anyone, ya know, unattractive. Gwyneth Paltrow in a fat suit is still Gwyneth Paltrow, dammit! Regardless, despite being mostly forgotten by the population at large, there is one bit in Shallow Hal that has always stuck in my mind. As part of the inevitable third act swerve, Shallow Hal is “cured” of his magical powers, and now sees Rosemary as the (supposedly) unattractive woman she has always been. The spell is broken in more ways than one, and now Shallow Hal laments the fact that he can no longer see his mate as the bombshell he always imagined her to be. Hal is forced to cope with how the woman he loves is no longer than woman he thought she was, even though she technically has not changed at all.

And that is a concept that has terrified me for a long time.

Get that bird!I am a weirdo. I like weird things. There is this one microwavable rice and chicken meal that was available in the frozen section around 2006 and I am convinced I was the only person that ever bought that (until they discontinued it for some odd reason). I have always had unusual tastes, and, while it is not impossible for me to like something popular, I seem to cherish the “weird stuff” a lot more than anything traditional. I am absolutely the person that would choose South of the Border over Disney World, and I am less interested in the Super Bowl than Netflix repurposing 1988 manga Bastard!! (of course I know it is going to be bad. It’s Bastard!!). And, to be perfectly clear, I am not noting all of this to paint myself as some cultural hipster that only likes the most esoteric of the eclectic; no, I am stating this simple fact to further reinforce that I do not know why I am weird. Where did this all come from? Why am I like this? No idea! And that means that whatever switch in my head that is labeled “likes weird stuff” could be clicked off at some point, right? I could wake up tomorrow, and realize I do not need a “Transformers collection” or “more comic books than could ever be read”. I could find myself in a situation wherein hobbies to which I have dedicated a lifetime no longer interest me. I could become someone who doesn’t like playing Pokémon games!

And, on a related note, after Pokémon Legends: Arceus, I never want to play a “normal” Pokémon game again.

I have always liked traditional Pokémon games. Pokémon Mystery Dungeon or Pokémon Ranger? Get that out of my face. But the good stuff? The games that started with the janky-ass Pokémon Red/Blue/Green, and, over decades, evolved into the Sword and Shield we know today? Perfection. Pokémon itself started when the Dragon Quest formula had been developed over multiple iterations, and now we had a perfect jumping off point for monster hunting. Eternally choosing between four moves! Evolution after certain conditions, but usually level ups! Trainers and pokémon alike itching for those turn based battles! And let’s not claim nothing has changed over the years. The types, breeding, and even simple battles have received multiple quality of life and speed improvements over the years, so it no longer takes hours to raise enough scratch to purchase better EVs. Pokémon, as a franchise, has always been “old school”, but it is the kind of old school that can be appreciated to this very day.

… Except when you play something that reinforces how “regular Pokémon” is a granny puttering along with Erdrick’s walker from 1984.

Too many 'monsRight from its announcement, everyone wanted to peg Pokémon Legends: Arceus as Pokémon: Breath of the Wild. And, let’s not kid ourselves, there is a lot of “open world” design involved in this Pokémon title. But you know what also heavily contributed to the latest way to catch a bidoof? Pokémon Snap. Pokémon Let’s Go. Games outside the catching genre, like Metal Gear Solid. There even seems to be a not insignificant amount of Xenoblade Chronicles in the mix. The mainline Pokémon series always felt like it was produced by people that had exclusively played the previous mainline Pokémon series, but now we have a Pokémon game that was designed by people that took a break from Blissey breeding. As a result, so much of what is Pokémon has been streamlined to a previously unheard-of degree. There’s an outbreak of gible? Once that meant challenging every last lil’ gator-dragon, reducing it to as little HP as possible, and then chucking balls and hoping for the best. Now you can catch fifteen of the suckers inside of three minutes, and all it takes is some bait and a good hiding place. Sure, you can still fight them, but why would you? Why would you ever bother with that again?

And, while the Breath of Wild comparison now comes to the forefront, the unprecedented level of physical motion allowed in this Pokémon title is… unprecedented. Like when you attempt to make a dramatic point but hit the wall of a limited vocabulary, previous Pokémon titles were infamous for how limited every region would become during actual play. Pokémon could be hiding around every corner was always the promise, but the reality was continually that chimecho was limited to a 4×7 block of grass outside one specific cave, pichu was only ever going to appear as the result of pikachu getting their volt tackle on, and you could always tell when you were inside a cave, because you spent the entire time tripping over low flying zubats. In short, from Pokémon Red to Pokémon Sword, you always knew you were on the prescribed path, and documenting Pokémon for a Pokédex that somehow already knew exactly where in the world to send you to find a kricketot. In Pokémon Legends: Arceus, though? Once you get some of the more mobile mounts, the idea of actually exploring for Pokémon opens up like a writer finally buying a thesaurus so they can use words like “unparalleled”. You can climb over rocks, sail across rivers, and even fly over a vast world where your literal bird’s eye view may also reveal a munchlax bathing in a nearby spring Taking flight(you pervert). You might still be bound by invisible borders and “limited” regions, but within those limits, it genuinely feels like you can go anywhere. And that is more important than anything in a franchise that has always vowed to make you, gentle trainer, the number one scientific authority on teddiursa habitats. For the first time ever, it feels like filling in that Pokédex is the result of studying a recently discovered spheal habitat, and not just that you tossed a pokéball after hypnosis finally cleared its accuracy bar.

And speaking of filling that Pokédex, holy croagunk on a cracker did they find new and interesting ways to simultaneously add new features to the universe and satisfy a player’s insatiable need for numbers to go up. Completing every Pokédex entry involves poké-specific challenges that seem appropriate for their various evolutionary stages. A baby ‘mon needs to be fed to gain points, while a fully evolved rock wrecker must be witnessed using strong moves to super effectively slay opponents. And, while we’re on the subject of slaying, “hit it until it faints” is not the answer to properly logging so many different pocket monsters. This is amazing in a franchise that has always claimed Pokémon can be our friends… and then proceeded to present a universe where you had to obliterate enough geodudes to build your own Stonehenge. It feels good to feed a piplup cake by the ocean, have a challenging fight against its alpha dad, and then see little check marks appear when you visit your local Pokémon professor. It is the same game it has always been, but now taken to a new level that simultaneously feels completely modern and honors what has come before.

And I don’t want to ever go back.

WeeeeeePokémon Violet & Scarlet was (were?) announced this past weekend. The next Pokémon generation is coming, and, for the first time in the franchise’s history, I am not excited about this new development. I am frightened. Do I think we will see another game in the style of Pokémon Legends: Arceus again? Absolutely, as today’s featured game has sold too well and been too critically praised to be a Pokémon Pinball-esque evolutionary dead end (RIP). But is Violet/Scarlet going to learn the lessons of Arceus by this Fall? Likely not, as the production time involved here seems to imply parallel teams, or at least a development department that would hesitate to throw the highly successful franchise into something that was already distinctly labeled as a spin-off (after all, this whole Legends game initially seemed to be marketed as a supplement to the more traditional Pokémon Brilliant/Shining Diamond/Pearl, a title(s) now resigned to the dustbin of history). In short, the gameplay of Pokémon Legends: Arceus seems unlikely to be repeated in a “main” game due to be released in a few months. And I’m not certain I can do without. I can’t go back to the old ways! Reducing a legendary to low HP and chucking Pokéballs like you’re desperately buying scratch off tickets is the worst part of Pokémon Legends: Arceus, and it’s the only way to catch in the mainline games! I have seen a better way! Sprigatito deserves better!

So Pokémon Legends: Arceus broke the spell. I used to be happy with the Pokémon franchise, and now I cannot even be arsed to look forward to its next main entry. The zen of catching pocket monsters has evaporated, and now I am left with an experience that previously entertained me for hours being little more than meh. Am I going to catch ‘em all again? Signs generally point to yes, but now I am going to know it can and has been improved elsewhere. What I thought was my dream is actually Gwyneth Paltrow in a fat suit, and now I’m going to have to live through an unparalleled enervation of my own making.

Thanks, Pokémon Legends: Arceus. You are a videogame so good, you ruined my life.

FGC #621 Pokémon Legends: Arceus

  • This guy is hereSystem: Nintendo Switch. I would like to make the statement that this feels like the first Pokémon game ever that demanded a “console”… but I still played it in portable mode more often than not. Pokémon works really well while watching TV!
  • Number of players: Hey, I completed the Pokédex without once having to deal with another human being. That is an extremely welcome first for the franchise, and a reason that obtaining Magmortar is viable again. There is definitely multiplayer involved here, but this is an intended-as-one-player game.
  • Favorite Hisuian Pokémon: Oddly enough, I got a lot of mileage out of “snail” Goodra. I never liked ol’ goopy before, but her new typing and backpack really changes the game. Conversely, I’m going to call out Ursaluna and Sneasler, as they add absolutely nothing to their original designs. “What if Sneasel was taller and sad” is not a question that needed an answer.
  • So, Pearl or Diamond? The Pearl Clan has a cute leader with adorable “overheating” animations, another time traveler from Pokémon Black/White, a dog breeder who wears goggles for absolutely no reason, and some shirtless dude who climbs glaciers for fun. The Diamond Clan has that one jerk with the blue hair who obsesses over a damn skunk. Team Pearl for the win, and it isn’t even a contest.
  • Goggle Bob Headcanon: Those weird bracelet thingies are keeping Irida so warm all the time. This is my belief. At least for now.
  • Look at that big lugAction Hero: There is a lot to like in PL:A. However, the control scheme is bonkers, and I cannot fathom why things like “switch mounts” are on the horizontal cross pad, but then “activate mount” is a lettered button (while the vertical crosspad buttons trigger a game-freezing menu). This usually is merely more confusing than anything, but some of the more complicated bits of the game become incredibly frustrating with this setup. Catching the genie quartet springs immediately to mind, as hopping on an elk, jumping and dodging tornados, immediately dismounting the elk, auto targeting, and then tossing a Pokéball should not be as complicated as it feels.
  • Picture it: Porygon’s existence is a mystery. If it appeared in Ancient Hisui due to time warps, was documented in that epoch, and then was the first artificially created Pokémon in modern times. So which came first? Did Porygon inspire its own creation? Or was it invented independent of reports from previous generations, and no one knows they were exactly the same? No matter! What’s important is that Professor Laventon’s entries in the ‘dex reveal his exasperation at the creature…

    He has issues

    Which inspired some art to be commissioned from Gogglebob.com contributor Poochtastic1

    Click for larger

    What is going on with this thing!?

  • Did you catch ‘em all? Yes, with Spiritomb and his blasted 107 component fetch quest being the denouement. I wonder how many people “naturally” found all those baubles, and had a completed normal ‘dex before the legendaries emerge. I may be surprised by the answer, but my personal belief is that Spiritomb and finding a wisp off in the corner of some poison swamp is the finale for a lot of players (if they even bother).
  • Did you know? The entire plot of this game is an excuse to create a painting that closes a stable time loop to inspire the bad guys of Diamond/Pearl. This is my kind of convoluted to a T.
  • I don't want to learnWould I play again: I still have to feed a few more cranidos to really complete my ‘dex, so I’m not putting it down quite yet. And after that? Well, if we don’t see another “Legends” game, I can certainly see returning. If this is somehow even further improved with later iterations though… wow, just thinking about it…

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Infernax! Oh, that sounds nice and toasty for this time of year. Please look forward to it!

FGC #617 Astro Boy: Omega Factor

Mega Fun

This is Mega Man. Mega Man has appeared in countless videogame titles, a handful of animated series, an excellent comic book, a reasonably acceptable holiday special, and more sprite comics than will ever be acknowledged. Like many “stars” of videogames and videogame adaptions, the Blue Bomber has a choose-your-own-adventure sort of canon, and, while there is a dedicated Mega Man timeline, if you want to claim that Mega lives in San Francisco or Monsteropolis, you don’t have to be wrong. And, on a personal note, I type this all with no small amount of authority, as I have dedicated thousands of hours of my life to Mega Man. That right there is Mega Man as he appears in Super Smash Bros Ultimate, and, should you require I provide a complete history of his exploits and appearances, that can be arranged.

Back off, boy

This is Astro Boy. It is a well-known fact that Astro Boy is a significant influence on the creation of Mega Man. Astro Boy was the creation of Osamu Tezuka in 1951. That would have been a year when my grandfather was younger than I am now, so Astro Boy has been around for quite a while. Astro Boy has appeared in a number of cartoons, comics, and movies since his premiere, and he even scored one of the best Gameboy Advance games ever created in 2003/2004. Astro Boy: Omega Factor is a Treasure beat ‘em up/shoot ‘em up that plays like a lost Super Nintendo classic in the absolute best ways. It also features a surprisingly remarkable story mode involving betrayal, racism, time travel, and Osamu Tezuka creations as guest stars. In fact…

Look at em all

A major point of Astro Boy: Omega Factor is that it includes a full, Smash Bros-esque roster of classic characters. Some are allies, some are bosses, and some only exist to be hidden powerups. Whatever their purpose in the game, they all appear in a final “who’s who” that relays to a neophyte fan who you are looking at and why you should care. In a lot of ways, it is similar to the “trophy mode” of many Smash Bros. titles, and it similarly begs the player to learn more about Osamu Tezuka and his prolific body of works.

And… uh… I know nothing about these guys and gals. In fact, I am going to see if I can view the Tezuka stars exclusively through the lens of the various Smash Brothers. It worked for Mega Man and Astro Boy, right? Let’s start this off with…

Dark Pit

A friendly guy

Dark Pit is the evil twin of the star of Kid Icarus, Pit. Pit has been around since the bygone era of Captain N: The Game Master, but Dark Pit was a new addition to the mythos back when Kid Icarus finally earned its third title, Kid Icarus: Uprising. Dark Pit was created by a magical mirror that was meant to draw out the worst traits of Pit… but Pit was too much of a good boy, so it created an “evil” twin that could best be described as surly. Dark Pit is an exact match for Pit in combat, though he has different divine patrons, so he can beat his counterpart in a few key areas. Regardless, Dark Pit pretty well defines the concept of the darker, edgier rival character, even if “darker” in this case mostly means “can say one (1) additional cuss word”.

Atlas

Nice hair

Atlas is Astro Boy’s mechanical adversary, and, in many incarnations, his literal or figurative sibling. This bother of a brother is as angry as Astro Boy is friendly, and has the typical rival problem of always having to be the very best, even if it means burning down the planet on the way to victory. In Omega Factor, Atlas is a tragic villain with a background involving moons and girls in suspended animation on said moons. This puts Atlas in some prime real estate to be the obvious villain at the start of the adventure, but more of a footnote as the story goes on. In fact, if you want a real villain, you should look at…

Ganondorf

Piggy

Ganondorf first appeared as the Dark Wizard Ganon in The Legend of Zelda in 1986. Fun fact: distinct from characters like karting king Bowser or baseball star K. Rool, Ganon was one of the few Nintendo villains to never be playable in an affable capacity. You couldn’t even control Ganon outside of Smash Bros. until Hyrule Warriors in 2014, and even there, he was involved in a campaign to kill literally every other playable character. Not the friendly sort! And why would he be? He is an immortal outcast that desires nothing more than ruling/destroying a kingdom or two. Ganondorf is not a pleasant fellow.

Garon

Big Boy

Garon is an unstoppable robot from the stars that towers over Astro Boy and may have nearly conquered Earth once or twice. And, oh yeah, depending on the translation, sometimes he is simply known as “Satan”. That is not a name you want to see assigned to a giant robot. Garon is one of the monsters that Astro Boy wasn’t able to defeat with basic armaments in his original appearance, so ol’ Astro has to trick Garon into monkeying with the gravity and inadvertently hurling himself into the stratosphere. Now, I’m not saying this could ever work on Ganondorf, but has anyone ever tried tricking the big guy when he was making a wish on the Triforce? It might have some fun results.

Falco Lombardi

Bird boy

Let’s get back to the heroes. Falco Lombardi is the ace pilot of the Star Fox team. He has occasional fights with his leader, Fox McCloud, but generally seems to get along with his other fellow pilots, Slippy and Peppy. There have been a few rare occasions when Falco tried to strike out on his own, but, give or take when he tried to join F-Zero, he remains a loyal pilot. He’s also a bird-man. This isn’t unusual in his universe of eclectic animal people, and nobody really makes a big deal about his avian ancestry.

Duke Red

Bird brain

Duke Red appears in all sorts of Tezuka materials, most notably (in my mind) as a criminal kingpin in Metropolis. He has been a villain many times, but is a well-meaning politician in Omega Factor that kinda sorta creates a doomsday device that literally destroys the planet. Whoopsie. Regardless, what is important is that Duke Red is some kind of bird man, and nobody ever draws attention to this fact. Many Tezuka worlds are racist as hell, so he is patently not living in some kind of utopia universe. Maybe people aren’t familiar with birds in these stories? Whatever. This whole thing makes a whole lot less sense when there isn’t a talking toad around…

Bayonetta

Bullet Hell Woman

It is miraculous that Bayonetta appears in Super Smash Bros. This is the franchise that had to stick nylons on some scantily clad weapon ladies, and could not include King of Fighter’s Mai as a background character because her design was not built for good little boys and girls. Bayonetta meanwhile is a bullet witch that hunts angels with the power of removing her clothes. She exclusively appears in games rated M for Mature, and swears like a sailor while destroying celestial creatures with hair-based attacks. And those heels! Attached to those legs! Won’t someone please think of the children!? I mean, she kicks ass and her games are awesome, but she looks a little out of place standing next to the Ice Climbers.

Prime Rose

Nice sword

In Omega Factor, Prime Rose is practically the definition of a damsel in distress, as she is caged in a tube for nearly her entire appearance, and two boy (robots) have to fight over her while she is double rescued by a brilliant surgeon. Likely as a result of being stuck in a tube/operating table, when Prime Rose is finally well enough to speak, she exclusively appears while stark naked. However, when she later is part of the game’s glossary of characters, she is wearing a battle bikini and equipped with a sword. Why? Well, apparently she originates from a 1982 manga that was meant to capitalize on a “cute girl” craze. And then there was a movie where she was some kind of anime Red Sonya. So, hey, when do we get to play that game? Prime Rose and Bayonetta could team up!

Banjo & Kazooie

Banjo!

Speaking of pairs, in the beginning, there was Banjo, and he was pretty good at racing. But this bear’s career didn’t take off until a bird’s egg fell into Banjo’s backpack, and Kazooie was born. Thus, the inseparable (except in that one game) pair joined forces, and beat back any green witch mean enough to cause a ruckus in Banjo’s neck of the woods. Banjo & Kazooie haven’t seen much play in recent years, but they are the good kind of goofy mascots that can appear in practically anything. Hey! Nintendo and Rare? Let Banjo do the Olympics with Mario. Everybody will enjoy it.

The Amazing Three

Dumb horse thing

The Amazing Three are aliens from a far-off planet that were sent here to assess whether or not Earth should be allowed to continue to Earth along, or should be obliterated with a neutron bomb. Considering we’re still here, looks like we passed. Once the Amazing Three arrive on Earth, they take the forms of a rabbit, horse, and duck. That is enough like a bear and bird for me to be happy with this article’s comparison. Also, let’s be real here: Banjo & Kazooie need the ability to destroy their planet at all times. Can’t find that last musical note? Destroy the universe. It is appropriate retaliation. Oh, anyway, The Amazing Three appear as comic relief in Omega Factor, so let’s not worry about how Nokko the Horse Alien is eventually responsible for the birth of Bojack Horseman.

Piranha Plant

CHOMP

Piranha Plant is just one of those dudes you never consider who appears in damn near everything. Not unlike the cheap cheap, P.P. has not only done his best to appear in countless Mario platformers; the prickly plant has also appeared as background fodder in various Mario Karts, Parties, and probably somewhere in those soccer games. Of course Piranha Plant became a full fledged fighter in Super Smash Bros Ultimate: he appeared in the original Smash Bros as an obstacle in the hidden arena. Even Bowser didn’t make an appearance in that game!

Black Looks

Unfortunate name

Black Looks, aka Black Lux, was little more than a pissed off dude that hated robots in his original appearance. However, in Omega Factor, Black Looks becomes a trench coat clad army of dudes with laser guns and a major hate-on for robots. They are relentless, and, in typical Treasure fashion, there are some inexplicably stretched sprites of Black Looks, so you get to fight a few “humans” that are twelve feet tall. And this is the legacy of the piranha plant: a simple fellow that, through no fault of his own, is now an entire army unto himself. No one should be surprised when Black Looks start popping out of pipes and biting plumbers.

Incineroar

Gotta catch em all

Incineroar, the heel Pokémon. Although it’s rough mannered and egotistical, it finds beating down unworthy opponents boring. It gets motivated for stronger opponents. When its fighting spirit is set alight, the flames around its waist become especially intense.

Brontus

Big Bird

Mont-Blanc, aka Brontus, one of the world’s seven strongest robots. A guide from Switzerland, it is said he had over 100,000 horsepower. He met Pluto, a gigantic bull robot, and was destroyed within a minute. He then appeared in the 1963 and 1980 anime… and was similarly immediately crushed. In Omega Factor, he is marginally invincible, and can shoot fireballs. So, like a Pokémon, his abilities are increased dramatically the minute he can run around in an actual action game.

Sora

I know that guy!

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s final fighter: Sora hails from Kingdom Hearts, a game that may have been discussed on this site. Sora has an extremely convoluted backstory, but what is important is that he will fight for his friends, and his friends include a whole lot of Disney properties. Goofy, Mickey, Aladdin, Elsa, Jack Skellington: Sora knows all the big players, and they are all connected to his heart. Of course, you’re not allowed to mention any of them in Smash Bros., because Disney keeps an iron grip on its intellectual property, and apparently the world will explode if Mario’s white gloves touch Donald’s feathery butt. And speaking of Disney being litigious…

Pook

Pooka?

I know this one! Pook (aka Bobo) is a trouble making little boy robot that appears across various Astro Boy stories, but, more importantly, this Pook can transform into Jungle Emperor Leo aka Kimba the White Lion. Ever hear about Kimba? Kinda sounds like Simba, don’t it? Well, that is theoretically not a coincidence, as there have been many accusations over the years that Disney outright stole much of Kimba the White Lion when it was not able to purchase the rights. But, let’s be real here: that’s hogwash. After all, everyone involved in The Lion King’s production has claimed that they never even saw Kimba the White Lion, and it is just a coincidence that both stories involve lion protagonists with rhyming names, wise mandrill advisors, fratricide, a lion with an eye scar taking over in the prince’s absence, hyena henchmen, and a cute lioness love interest. And the scenes that look like they were wholesale lifted from the original Tezuka anime? Complete fluke! And Kimba doesn’t even know Elton John, so they’re absolutely separate movies. Let’s just put that rumor to rest now.

Donkey Kong

You know him well

But we can’t ignore every bit of litigation in every company’s past. Donkey Kong is an established bit of Nintendo history now, but he came with a lawsuit in his early days. The estate of the late great King Kong claimed Donkey Kong was biting on the whole “big gorilla kidnaps woman and climbs on stuff” shtick, and Nintendo nearly had to retract its greatest selling arcade game for fear that it would be squashed by copyright law. While Nintendo won in the end, it just goes to show that even the most original companies often come from origins that border on theft, and all ideas stand on the borrowed shoulders of giants. If we are being honest, there would be no Donkey Kong without King Kong, and there would be no Mighty No. 9 without a Mega Man who needs his Astro Boy.

Sharaku

EYEBALL

And that’s just Krillin fused with Tien Shinhan, right? This Osamu Tezuka guy is a hack.

FGC #617 Astro Boy: Omega Factor

  • System: Gameboy Advance. If ever a game deserved to be ported to something for modern consoles, this would be it.
  • Number of players: Astro Boy gets by with the support of his friends, but is stuck in a single player game.
  • Here comes the factor!Favorite Astro Friend: It is a great bit of storyline/gameplay synergy that Astro Boy levels up as he meets more people. I normally cannot stand a leveling system in a beat ‘em up, but I’ll allow it if it means Unico adds to your fighting power. Anywho, Don Dracula, head vampire of Mu, is cowering on a train, and will sell out his boss unprompted by anything, so going to congratulate that vampire on being my favorite “ally” in this adventure.
  • What gets your points? Power up Astro Boy’s mega death laser for maximum fun. Yes, it is a hyper move that requires charging some punches, but it is absolutely the best way to do damage to practically everything. In a way, it seems like Astro Boy learned how to be a videogame from Marvel vs. Capcom 2… which may explain why I like it so much.
  • So, did you beat it? I used a FAQ back in the day, because some of the conditions for unlocking the proper paths are complete nonsense (replay the tutorial stage? Really?). That said, for a game that is based on just punching and/or lasering stuff as hard as you can, the way the plot progresses is a really interesting way to get the player to experience the same levels over again. I would be annoyed if it weren’t so much fun.
  • All aboardGoggle Bob Fact: This game was a Christmas gift from my grandmother, and now this article is publishing on her birthday. She would have been nearly 110 this year! That’s weird!
  • Did you know? The North American version of this game was delayed to coincide with the release of the Astro Boy Saturday Morning Cartoon. This allowed Treasure to put some additional polish on the experience during the waiting period, so maybe that’s why this is easily one of Treasure’s best games. Or maybe fighting robots are just a natural fit for videogames. Whatever. It works!
  • Would I play again: Yes. Now somebody release it on Switch so I can play it without having to dig out an ancient portable system with pulsating batteries.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Body Harvest for the Nintendo 64! We gonna fight some bugs! Please look forward to it!

ROBOT
Robots! We get it!