Sunday, October 2, 2016

MG Freedom Gundam 2.0

Kira's upgrade from Gundam SEED is ready to sortie!
I was pretty excited since Bandai first announced this 2.0 release of the Freedom, as the old MG was pretty dated, not to mention that the updated proportions and stylized design gave it the air of a Metal Build figure, so this was pretty much a must buy for me.
I wasn't disappointed, as this kit is basically gorgeous. A straight build is more than enough to turn it into a impressive display, however, I advice to whoever gets it to be wary of the hip joints. While the way they are engineered provides maximum range of movement, they are also extremely fragile, so handle with care. In my case I decided to stick with the pose of the boxart and leave it like that.
The main difference is of course, the blade of the beam saber. The kit provides you with the boring standard tube-shaped blades. Honestly, those are terrible. Fortunately, I had the spare beam effects of the DM Akatsuki kit, so I just painted them with clear red to get a much more agressive blade that fits the new style of this Freedom.
The beam rifle and shield got little updates in the design too, with the former being able to fold the handle when storing it in the back and the latter getting an actual layered surface. The plasma cannons behind the wings got the most changes, as they incorporate new fins, their barrels can extend and the middle section is able to open up.
The basic principle of the Freedom is to combine the Duel's agility with the firepower of the Buster. While attaching mutliple weapons can do the latter, the former is more important and tricky to surpass. It is here where the 10 wings shine. These are the defining trait of this Gundam and in my opinion, the reason why the Freedom will always be a superior design to the Strike Freedom.
The wings attach to the backpack, which is fairly small, but once the whole thing is put together, the weight makes the display base a must. Fully extended, the whole span is pretty impressive and will demand a large area in the shelf. The kit provides with some markings to number the wings. Just be careful when applying them, as there is a risk of confusing the left wings with the right wings since they look identical and are symmetrical.
After putting this thing together I also realized how desperately this kit needs its nemesis: the Providence. Such a kit would probably be quite pricey since it is bigger than the Freedom and its remote weaponry surpasses that of the Nu or the Hi Nu. Still, I would gladly buy it, but knowing our luck, it would be a P-Bandai item.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

SRW OG: The Moon Dwellers Platinum

Nothing much to say about this one. The 3rd lap on the game unlocks Special mode, giving you 15 upgrade bars to all your mechs, so shit gets crazy pretty fast.
With the previous 2 laps you should have between 12 and 15 million of cash to upgrade your units. Just fully upgrade Bellzelute and Granteed and watch Calvina and Touya completely destroy everything for the first 20 stages or so (just give the latter a Tesla Drive and a Booster to make up for its terrible attack ranges).
If anything, the only trophy that is a bit hard to unlock at first if the "Only One Crash" one, which requires you to deliver 100k damage or more to an enemy in a single battle. By the final stages this is a piece of cake even on bosses, as you just have to use an Armor Breaker, lower their morale to 50 and use a Maximum Break, involving either combination attacks or someone whose melee or shooting stat is fully upgraded.
Anyways, this was a pretty easy game to complete, save for some rough spots in EX-Hard. Now let's just hope the next OG game doesn't take another 4-5 years to appear. Honestly, I'm not really excited about the upoming SRW V given how many sprites they are going to recycle from the Z3 games, which were pretty terrible.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

MG Freedom Gundam 2.0 WIP 1

After all that effort I put into the MG Hi Nu, I decided to go with a mere out of the box build for this one, nothing too fancy with this kit, but honestly, it doesn't really need it.
I'm sure everyone already knows of the problem with the hip joints on this kit. The issue here is that said section incorporates a neat "T" shaped mechanism in the groin and hip connectors, thus giving the model a crazy range of movement for the legs. The problem is that the peg is fairly fragile and may endure too much stress when you move it.
My suggestion is to sand down a bit those pegs to reduce friction once you insert them in place. That way they will have an easier time moving around. Still, try to be careful when moving the legs to avoid an unfortunate accident from happening.
That aside, the new stylized proportions for this Freedom are awesome. All those sharp edges and angles seem akin to the style used in the Metal Builds, so it definitely will fit right among those. The kit also includes some additional gimmicks in the elbows and chest to provide additional ranges of articulation, similar to what we see in the legs, so I'm sure it will be able to recreate any pose from the show.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Persona 3 Movies

With the release of the Winter of Rebith movie, I decided to watch all the releases in a row to try to better grasp this adaptation.
Overall, I think they did a good job in capturing the core of Persona 3 in the 6-7 hours of animation we got, although they obviously had to cut or entirely remove lots of content from the game, while also adding some changes to certain events.
Nevertheless, I have to point out some pacing problems, mostly regarding the development of the main character, which is named Makoto Yuki here. If you played the game, you'll remember that many of the answer options you could choose when interacting with other people made him seem like an insensible asshole at times. Since the first movie, Makoto stands out due to his extremely indifferent attitude, to the point that it pisses off a couple of the SEES members and gets him benched during the mission where they rescue Fuuka. While his friends are getting their asses kicked, Makoto realizes he appreciates them and goes to rescue them in the last minute.
The second movie opens with the infamous mind control scene in the Shirakawa love hotel, cuts off the whole period of time where Junpei gives Makoto the cold shoulder and jumps straight to the vacation period of Yakushima Island to introduce Aigis. This is probably the movie that felt the oddest to me, as the mood is all over the place, ending up in a very depressing tone due to the whole issue between Ken and Shinji. Strangely, the one that ends up the most affected by the death of the latter is Makoto of all people, who goes back to his uninterested attitude for almost the entire next movie.
The third movie opens up with the fight against the last Arcana Shadow in the bridge (once again, ignoring entirely the segment where Junpei gets kidnapped) and goes straight to the betrayal event. After that, it introduces Ryoji who tries to make Makoto open his heart to others again. He does so right at the very end, only for shit to hit the fan with the big reveal behind The Fall.
The last movie is the longest of the four and spends the entire first hour under a very depressing mood, with all the characters pondering what to do next given that their death is imminent. Makoto gets his answer thanks to Elizabeth of all people, whom he takes in a eccentric tour/date just like in the game. After realizing their answer to fight against all odds, they challenge Nyx, where we get to see a eleventh hour superpower as all of SEES (sans Junpei and Koromaru) evolve their Personas to wipe the floor with the enemies. Also, in a blink-and-you-miss-it moment, the Reaper makes a short cameo, only to get instantly obliterated thanks to a Megidolaon (just like in the game!).
The last battle and the ending are pretty much the same as those of the game, although there is a very short scene after the credits that may suggest an eventual adaptation of The Answer, which I guess they could pull off in one last movie.
Despite the differences and changes, the movies are pretty enjoyable, specially taking into account the superb animation and OST, which recycles some of the most iconic tracks of the game, but also adds some new great songs. Still, in case you haven't done so, you should go and play the game, it is really good and gives a lot more depth to the story and the whole cast.

Friday, September 9, 2016

SRW OG: The Moon Dwellers EX-Hard

Just completed the dreaded no upgrade second lap. The mechanics are very similar to that of the previous game, although this one feels a bit rougher during the first couple of stages due to how dodgy the enemies are, so I just want to share a few thoughts.
- Calvina in the Bellzelute is probably going to be your major ace for the whole game. Her mech is pretty agile and her stats are really good, allowing you to severely weaken grunts in order for your other units to finish them off. Do try to be careful and counter with her ammo based weapons, otherwise, you will run her out of EN very quickly, leaving her almost defenseless.
- I insist on pairing Calvina with Ing in the EX-Exbein. This pair is almost untouchable and you can take advantage of the fact that Ing is the only guy that comes with the "Continuous Action" skill to move them twice per turn.
- Alfimi is a godsend, as her "Inspire" command, which gives anyone a 100% hit rate costs only 15 SP. Add the fact that she is one of the few characters that comes with SP Regen and that you get her pretty early, making her the best support-oriented character in the rooster, so try to level her up as much possible. However, this can be a bit difficult, as her mech is not so hot. While it comes with lots of neat skills (Mirage, HP and EN Regen), it is fairly fragile and does not pack much firepower. It is a far cry of the heavy hitter it was back in OG2.
- Granzon is broken. No, seriously, it is fucking ridiculous. Even more so given that you can turn it into Neo Granzon (!) once it reaches the required Will and Shu comes with the "Maximum Break" skill. Even if you get this unit pretty late in the game, it is really worth it as Shu can dish out massive damage.

As for the rest of the units in the rooster they are fairly standard and pretty much the same as the ones in the previous game. Worthy mentions are SRX yet again, since you will be spamming the HTB Cannon to kill bosses and Soulgain, a top tier unit with a top tier pilot able to tank and counter pretty much everything in the game with no problem.

If anything, the final bosses can be a bit difficult due to their horrid MAP attacks and the fact that they can move multiple times per turn, but I also have a few comments on them to make those fights easier:

- Helluga, the final boss of the GC plot has 320k HP and will not move his ass from the point where spawns. The stage where you fight him is quite hard since there are tons of enemies that are fairly agile, deal lots of damage and are really beefy (40k HP in some cases... ugh). Even worse is that a couple of turns later you get ambushed by some Zovorg units, so the pincer attack can really screw you over. If you survive the onslaught, you can take on Helluga by taking pot shots at him with Calvina (as long as she outranges him). Once you get him down to half of his HP, he will start to automatically damage all your units in the map every turn (dealing less than 10% of damage, so it is not really that much of a problem). That is your cue to lower his morale to 50 and send everyone to kill him for good.

- Gu-Landon, the big bad from the J plot takes things a higher level. He has an impressive amount of 370k HP and as you keep damaging him, he will automatically cast a couple of spirit commands to make the fight harder. The real problem is that he does it twice and among the spirits that he casts is "Iron Wall", which normally would mean that you should stop and resume your assault the next turn, putting you in danger of eating his devastating MAP attack. Fortunately, if you leave another Fury enemy unit alive and in range of said attack, Landon will never use it, saving you from that headache. Similarly, park the Hagane right next to him and he won't resist attacking such a large target, so the rest of your units don't have to worry about getting one-shotted.
As for the problem of his spirits commands, be sure to equip Leona or Rai with the Mind Blast weapon. Cast their "Direct Hit" command to get past Landon's barrier and attack him with this weapon, which will instantly dispel his spirits, allowing you to resume the pummeling and kill him in one turn.

- XN-L, the final boss of the game packs a whopping total of 430k HP, comes with HP Regen and moves THREE times per turn, not to mention that his armor stat skyrockets as you keep attacking him. This guy is basically a massive damage sponge and has a fearsome MAP attack, but the real theat is his Ace skill, which prevents anyone that gets hit from using spirit commands for a whole turn. There is also the issue that the stage only has those annoying Lamalice enemies that split into smaller strains once you kill them, so you will have a very rough time to get everyone to their max Will to tackle this boss.
However, like Landon, if other enemies are in range, he won't use his MAP attack. Similarly, as you keep damaging him, he will also cast spirits commands to screw you over a total of three times. The main difference is that besides "Iron Wall", he also casts "Awaken", which means that if you let this pass, he will attack you FOUR times next turn, so Mind Blast his ass.
Similarly, it is a good idea to make Devant spawn as a reinforcement unit in this final stage. You do so by harrasing him with Arriere during every other stage where he appears. This is because for some weird reason, XN-L seems to have a hate boner against Devant and will attack him more often than any other unit around. Thankfully, the Endlich Geist is tanky enough to survive three attacks from XN-L and has the Full Block ability, so Devant's spirits won't be affected. Again, this serves as the perfect distraction to keep your other units safe.

Well, that's pretty much it. I'm already enjoying Special Mode and those 13 million cash I got to go nuts with the best units in the game and demolish all those alien assholes.