Which 2D Beat ’em Up Series Need to Return?

The beat ’em ups of yesteryear recently made a return to form with the release of several prominent games. Also known as Brawlers, this 2D side-scrolling genre began in the ’80s. With or without platforming action, the characters could jump, punch, kick, throw, and use weapons against hordes of enemies. The genre became famous for 2-4 player co-op and fighting against powerful bosses.

Double Dragon II (1988)

Brawlers of the 80s and 90s made their presence known on Arcade machines. Titles such as Double Dragon II, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Final Fight were but a few major names of the era. When Capcom’s Final Fight was ported to the SNES with limitations, Sega went onto create their own title. Following their own Golden Axe and Altered Beast titles, Sega created one of the most prolific beat ’em ups on the Genesis: Streets of Rage.

Streets of Rage 2 (1992)

Unfortunately, Beat ’em ups began to phase out of popularity in the late 90s which was during the rise of 3D gaming. With the exception of few titles, the genre became a sort of novelty and less of a norm. With the release of recent games, such as Streets of Rage 4, however, perhaps the gaming industry may see a new revival of the genre.

3D Beat ’em ups

While names like River City Ransom, Streets of Rage, and Double Dragon became synonymous with the genre, 2D beat ’em ups were not the only titles. The mid-2000s boasted several titles that featured similar gameplay. One example was Clover Studios’ God Hand. Despite being only one player, this cult classic became a favorite among those who played it.

Another was Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks. While reimagining the story of Mortal Kombat 1 and 2, this title featured 2-player co-op, juggling combos, and even Fatalities. Much like many titles featured here, Shaolin Monks never received a sequel or a re-release.

3D beat ’em ups began to take form in one particular series. Sega’s Yakuza series adapted the fighting style for its combat in the series. Additionally, using skill trees, Kiryu can unlock new abilities. Plus, Yakuza animated the fights and special moves with ass-kicking technique.

Yakuza 0 (2017)

2D beat ’em ups in the post-2000s.

Viewtiful Joe lead the example of a 2D brawler during the big wave of 3D titles. This single-player adventure served as a platformer/brawler hybrid. Its stylish VFX moves, cel-shaded visuals, and overall charm won the hearts of many players. Viewtiful Joe would continue with several sequels and spin-offs before quietly disappearing from the gaming industry.

Meanwhile, developer Vanillaware created beat ’em up/JRPG hybrids such as Odin Sphere. Original a spiritual successor to their 90s beat ’em up, Princess Crown, the developers would later follow-up with Dragon’s Crown. The latter title not only featured multiple lanes but 4-player co-op as well. Vanillaware’s titles, which were published by Atlus, would be remastered on the PlayStation 4.

Sega re-released their Saturn classic, Guardian Heroes, on Xbox 360. The Xbox Live Arcade release featured updated visuals and gameplay. The controls came inspired by fighting games while the fantasy setting falls in line with similar titles such as Golden Axe. Guardian Heroes is still available to play for Xbox One owners.

Studio 5pb and MAGES’ Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds serves as one of the highlight beat ’em up titles released in the last decade. This anime-inspired game came from a spin-off of Japan’s fighting game, Phantom Breaker. The studio is also known for the visual novel, Steins;Gate, which was successfully adapted into an anime. As a result, Kurisu Makise is featured as a playable character.

Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds Overdrive is currently available for all major consoles and PC. It features 4-player co-op as well as online gameplay.

More recently, several companies would make attempts to revive the genre or add a throwback. WayForward revived the Double Dragon series with Double Dragon Neon. Several years later, Arc Systems Works, as well as Double Dragon series creator, Yoshihisa Kishimoto, would release Double Dragon IV. Despite attempting to revive a classic, the title would come out to unfortunately lukewarm reviews.

Double Dragon Neon (2012)

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Perhaps the most pressing title that sparked interested in the genre once more was Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game. Based on the graphic novel and movie, Scott Pilgrim largely paid homage to River City Ransom. The title allowed players to enter shops, bash enemies with unconscious enemies, and level up their stats. The art style also took cues from the River City series.

In addition to making references to multiple popular games, it ended up being widely successful. Unfortunately, the title was pulled from digital markets.

However, more recently, series creator Bryan Lee O’Malley mentioned that Ubisoft, developers of the game, have contacted him likely in talks for a re-release of the title.

Gone But Not Forgotten

One of the saddest things about the genre is how developers incorporated licensed franchises into beat ’em ups. While Konami’s titles – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Simpsons, and X-Men were all re-released in the 2010s, the same could not be said for other classics of yesteryear. X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse remains unreleased since its debut on the SNES.

This beat ’em up/platformer hybrid allowed you to play as 5 different X-Men which all featured their trademark abilities. Similarly to Capcom’s Street Fighter II, each character utilized button input commands for their special attacks. Featuring over 15 different stages and boss fights, X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse was surprisingly well-polished for a title licensed from a comic book series.

Meanwhile, although one TMNT game made the re-release, the same could not be said for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project (NES) or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time (Arcade/SNES). Both titles succeeded and improved upon the arcade classic and were hallmark brawler titles for their respective systems.

The counterpart to Turtles in Time was released on Sega Genesis. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist (1992)

While Turtles in Time Re-Shelled made an attempt to remake the original classic, it was only a half-baked attempt to do so. However, more recently, a new TMNT arcade game came out developed by Raw Thrills. The game may be found at your local Bowlero or Dave ‘n Busters.

Future of the Genre

With the recent releases River City Girls and Streets of Rage 4, developers attempt to bring back a genre many once thought died. Furthermore, the recently-released Battletoads brings hope that, once more, beat ’em ups will return.

While it feels pleasant to relive those days,  players want developers to remain consistent with their works. Instead of just reliving the past for nostalgia, we want the developers to continue evolving on these brands. Players want to see Streets of Rage, Ninja Turtles, and Double Dragon become a thing once again.

Capcom keeps the spirit of Final Fight alive through Street Fighter V: Champion Edition (2020).

It’s up to the developers to create quality titles, polish them, and market them to get more players to try their games. Old-school fans will always flock to these titles. But if they want to continue growing the fanbase, they’ll need to keep evolving. When you consider the quality of life improvements gaming has evolved with, along with the technology we have in games today, we might be starting off with the strongest era of beat ’em ups in history.

What was your favorite beat ’em up? Let us know in the comments below. Also, make sure to follow our social media channels to keep up with us and take our latest gaming content with you!

Up and Coming Cosplayers with Michelle LaBelle: Pictorial

We have had the pleasure of having her write for us, and now we get the pleasure of her feature!

Please enjoy Michelle LaBelle’s Pictorial debut on All Cool Things™!

-HERETICPRIME

Up and Coming Cosplayers with Michelle LaBelle: Cosplayer Score Card

 

Cosplay Name: Michelle LaBelle

How You Came Up With Name: From the song by the Beatles

Other Known Aliases: n/a

Base of Operations: Los Angeles, CA

Years Cosplaying: 15

First Cosplay: Pirate Harley Quinn

First Con: MegaCon, Orlando

Cons per Year: 2-3

Make Your Own Costume: Sometimes

Make Your Own Props: Sometimes

Do Your Own Hair: Yes

Do Your Own Makeup: Always

Do Your Own Wig Styling: Yes

Makes Your Own Wigs: Haven’t needed to yet

Bodypaints: Only when hired to do it

Favourite Cosplay: The Poison Ivy costume I made out of real leaves

Number of times you have been to Dragon Con: 0

Patreon, Ko-fi, Onlyfans, Etsy, and/or Support Link: Not yet

Lewds: Like years ago

Nudes: Not at the moment

More than Nudes: Not while my Mom is alive

Social Media: IG/TikTok @themichellelabelle Twitter @TheMLaBelle (She also has a Facebook.)

Domain of Your Own:

Secret Super Power: Ability to retain and expose data like google

Persona 5 Royal Review

Persona 5 Royal is a Japanese RPG developed and released by Atlus, in 2020, for PlayStation 4. Being a re-release of 2017’s Persona 5, Royal features new features, storylines, quality-of-life improvements, and characters. This improved version of the game echoes Atlus’ previous re-releases in the series: Persona 3 FES (2008) and Persona 4 Golden (2012).

In Persona 5 Royal, you’ll play as the leader of the Phantom Thieves. This group of vigilantes becomes known for erasing the distorted desires of villainous beings. As you live your daily life in the outskirts of Shibuya, Japan, you’ll hang out with friends, enter dungeons, and even play mini-games. The social link-building, well-paced gameplay, and epic music will surely charm fans of the genre.

When I played Persona 5 back in 2018, it introduced me to an immense world. I’ve never played something so stylish, so polished, and yet, so long. Spending over 100 hours, I found it to be one of the greatest games I ever played and finally understood the hype surrounding it. This past year, I’ve beaten both Persona 3 FES and Persona 4 Golden and admit they’re easily as engaging as Persona 5. With that said, I knew it was time to return to Shibuya for another round with Royal.

If you want to view a quick list of updates and additions in Royal, check out the list here.

Story

Persona 5 Royal features the high school transfer student, Ren Amamiya, trying to live life after being convicted of assault. Sentenced to probation he now attends Shujin Academy as an exchange student. Living at Cafe Leblanc, he must spend a year away from home while trying to manage school and his life as the Phantom Thieves.

What I love about Persona 5’s story is its ability to touch on real-life social issues. Your first villain is a teacher/coach who commits sexual abuse against female students while bullying the students on his volleyball team. You’ll fight plenty of demons, shadows, and other mythological beings. But Persona 5 does a handy job of exposing the worst of society by reforming them and changing their hearts. Of course, it’s with plenty of humorous moments along with being dead serious.

What makes Persona 5 Royal’s story especially interesting is its gray morality. The Phantom Thieves become a hot debate in society as to whether their actions are righteous or illegal. It becomes even more complicated thanks to the third semester. If you unlock the right conditions, the third semester’s story will open up. This will bring you to an even grayer area on whether it is alright to rob people of their escapism in order to pursue happiness.

Character Design

Persona 5 offers a colorful cast of appealing characters. Engaging in their social links allows you to develop your relationship and help them solve their life problems. You can even enter romantic relationships with them. The game’s writing brings the player close to the characters with such clever writing as to immerse them in the story. Their pain is your pain.

I love the character design just for how well-animated the characters are. I’m especially fond of Morgana for your being the occasionally smart-assed, sensitive cat friend. Amidst the heroes, villains, and those in-between, you’re bound to find characters you bond with. Also note that, even with as much dialogue in the game, the game cleverly paces it with strong writing.

I should also mention that one particular character received outstanding character development. While their story expired late into the original Persona 5, the 3rd semester brought forth their inner, true self in the grandest way possible. It turned a character I strongly disliked and spun a complete 180 on them in the best conceivable way.

Aesthetics

Persona 5 features gorgeous animations and visuals. It offers a robust, stylish, UI, smooth battle transitions, and feels wonderfully polished in every possible way. Persona 5 Royal now offers 4K support for PS4 Pro as well. The battle animations, anime cutscenes, and portraits breathe life into the game.

Persona 5 Royal_20200308234501

Persona 5 Royal also boasts an exceptional soundtrack. Jazz, rock, and J-Pop all meld together perfectly. Shoji Meguro also composed for Persona 3 and Persona 4 and now brings a more smooth jazz style to P5. Honestly, this could be the greatest soundtrack I have ever heard.

Gameplay

The turn-based Persona gameplay continues its traditions here. You can attack, cast spells, gun down your enemies, and even hold them up. What I love about Royal includes some of the new improvements. You no longer need ammo for your guns, you can unleash powerful Technical attacks, and it features the new Showtime abilities which are both powerful and incredibly flashy. These become your finisher attacks that occur during a desperate situation and work to even the odds in your favor.

Persona 5 Royal rewards players who pursue building their social links. It’s incredibly beneficial to boost them with party members and NPCs alike. Whether it’s to add to your battle repertoire or so party members can shield you from lethal attacks, this game rewards the notion that you go out of your way to care about your allies.

The calendar system progression offers you a set amount of days to complete all your tasks. Knowing which social links to manage becomes entirely up to you. In fact, you choose how to spend every day of your life. Whether you want to boost a social link or boost a social skill, you can talk to allies, eat at restaurants, or even invite them to mini-games. The level of variety in this game offers you a bevy of fun activities with the dialogue that goes with it.

Also, while Persona has a history with randomly generated dungeons, Persona 5 added Palaces. These feel more like your traditional dungeons which feature puzzle-solving elements. As Phantom Thieves, you’ll also engage in stealth gameplay while you hide from and ambush Shadows.

Mementos, the randomly generated dungeon, also features a complete overhaul. In addition to new songs playing at deeper levels, you meet a new character – Jose – who shows up as a merchant. You’ll collect flowers and stamps in order to buy items and boost your EXP, Money, or Item Gain in Mementos. This alone makes it a major step up from the previous release’s Mementos.

Value

Persona 5 Royal is important for the JRPG fan, the Persona newcomer, and even the Persona 5 fan. Newer fans will certainly appreciate one of the greatest JRPGs out there while veteran Persona 5 fans can unearth dozens of hours of new content. Royal features a full-on story expansion that offers new social links, mini-games, activities, unlockables, and an entire third semester.

This comes along with various improvements to battle gameplay, exploration, and the abilities you gain. To be honest, I found Persona 5 to already be a near-perfect game. Doing the unthinkable is to polish it and add more to a game I already valued so highly.

If I had to say I had any gripes with Persona 5 Royal, it’s that it can admittedly become too easy. Even if you download the DLC Personas in the Velvet Room, that alone is not enough to break the player. You’ll still need to be on your toes so you don’t get one-shotted or ambushed.

However, strategic management of social links will allow you to gain these high-level Personas sooner. Meanwhile, your continued support of your allies, especially NPC social links, will grant you abilities that will significantly boost you against powerful enemies. By the time I finished the third palace, I was playing on Merciless difficulty and died only a small handful of times.

Despite this, Persona 5 Royal offers a level of flexibility that can enable players to become godlike or even balance their challenge. While you can, in fact, become quite broken partially due to DLC Personas, it’s entirely up to you whether you choose to or not. Even then, you will surely face challenging bosses and need to keep your guard up from enemies who can KO your protagonist in a fell swoop.

Final Thoughts

I cannot say enough good things about Persona 5 Royal. It might be quite possibly the greatest JRPG, if not the greatest game, I have ever played. The 172 hours I spent immersing myself in this experience is among the greatest I’ve ever enjoyed in a game. I’ve played countless hours of other JRPGs, including Persona 3 and 4, and I’m not sure if anything will ever be possible to top this.

Nothing feels quite as immersive as getting to live as your character, indulge in social links, and invite them to play darts or pool while boosting your stats along with them. Everything you do grants incentive and rewards the player. This includes anything from building social links to implementing battle strategies. The gorgeous, shiny graphics, the beautiful soundtrack that accompanies you, and your daily life brings immense levels of world-building within your little corner of Tokyo.

Overall, this is a must-play for any RPG fan including, again, those who played the original Persona 5. The amount of content far surpasses the price tag while the quality improvements raise the bar to the highest possible standard. With that being said, I hope you will enjoy this game as much as I did.

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Review Plus: River City Girls.

Welcome to our first edition of Review Plus!

You will find our review shortly after the introduction. In addition to our review of the game, you will find useful tidbits of information covering River City Girls. Plus, this review will address the beat ’em up genre and the direction it’s moving in.

River City Girls is a 2D beat ’em up developed by WayForward. Known for the Shantae series, WayForward adapted the River City Ransom (NES) title which is known as the Kunio-Kun series in Japan. Featuring animated cutscenes by Studio Trigger, River City Girls features classic 2D pixel artwork along with anime transitions for the opening, boss fights, and endings. In addition, you will find part of the story told through manga-like cutscenes.

Despite its good intentions, I believe River City Girls falls short of its potential. While it features incredibly strong brawler action, a few issues hamper an otherwise decent revival of the 2D beat ’em up genre. However, the classic style gameplay remains both the focal point and the game’s strongest suit.

Story

The game starts off with Misako and Kyoko receiving a mysterious text that their boyfriends have been kidnapped. Contrary to the stories of games, like Double Dragon, the premise of the story reverses the role.

Perhaps the most pressing part of the story comes from the game’s ending. It turns the entire plot on its head in a surprising way and emphasizes the girls’ true role. I give major props to WayForward for this one.

Misako and Kyoko play foil to each other throughout the game. These single-track-minded women just want an excuse to throwdown. Despite their idiocy, you can’t help but feel charmed by their tenacity.

Unfortunately, I did not find much of the story and dialogue to be amazing. Aside from a little bit of witty banter, I found it to be cringeworthy. While much of the boss dialogue feels like wasted banter, one particular character, Godai, seriously bothered me.

Your resident creeper-stalker feeds you information while trying to get into your good graces. Even without Godai, much of the dialogue in cutscenes felt like forced humor. I honestly wanted to skip most of it but didn’t want to leave out any possible useful information.

For better or for worse, River City Girls maintains a cast of wacky characters.

Visuals

One of the high points of River City Girls comes from the artwork. The character designs and backdrops feature well-drawn details. I’m especially particular about the shop designs. Several shops have their own art of the girls shopping while a different shopkeeper takes their order.

River City Girls features 2D sprite artwork somewhat reminiscent of the 16-bit era. However, I’ve seen this style before used in multiple indie games which it honestly feels more like than a mainstream title. While WayForward tends to use a more cartoonish art style for their flagship series, Shantae, this reminds me more of games like Katana Zero.

Katana Zero (2019)

What I strongly dislike, however, is how small the text is on the menu. The menu is displayed on the character’s smartphone. However, I had to come up to my 52″ HDTV just to check inputs or side-quests that I could not read from my usual sitting position.

Unfortunately, I also ran into multiple frame-drops throughout the game. They didn’t prevail literally the entire game but were noticeable when they did. Even after a year’s release, I’m surprised WayForward still has not patched them out.

Audio

You’ll feel a solid amount of satisfaction breaking your fists on enemies and crashing weapons over their heads. However, I found some sound effects lacking. I don’t get why an enemy slamming a hammer on concrete produces no sound. On the other hand, bashing enemies feels satisfying as you might expect and keeps you wanting more.

Despite middling feelings on the sound effects, most of my enjoyment came from the music. Much of it was catchy and, along with a number of sound effects, featured 8-bit cues you would hear in the NES River City Ransom. Several of the vocal sounds featured some catchy beats you would enjoy while fighting.

Gameplay

This game presents its beat ’em up gameplay in a manner that says the genre never even left. It feels so seamless to beat down enemies with combos, throws, stomps, and weapon attacks. Despite this, however, the game will not count your combos.

One of my favorite parts of gameplay was the ability to recruit enemies to join you. If they surrendered, you could grab them and enlist them as summons. Similarly to Marvel vs. Capcom, they would hop in, use their signature attack, pose, and hop out. You would not be able to use them for a set time.

My problem came from the inconsistency of combos, however. This isn’t Tekken, but you will maximize your damage by juggling your enemies. Unfortunately, your timing must change based on enemy types. This threw me off multiple times.

Gameplay Issues

Another problem I had came from how invincibility frames work. Congratulations to the developer for not giving the characters invincibility frames while using throw moves. It makes them useless when you’re getting pounded in the back of the head. From my experience with other games in the genre, this is a big no-no.

Also, I had a moderate issue with the equips. The Frilled Bra and Frilly Bottom might be the only useful accessories I used. Everything else gives around a 5% increase or a 5% chance to activate. These passives were so useless that you could easily get through the game without using them. I wouldn’t bother buying them and would save your money for the Dojo or healing items instead.

Unlike other beat ’em ups, this also features an RPG system where you equip gear, level up, and can use items to heal. For anyone who remembers Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game, this is where these elements came from. The Scott Pilgrim game paid massive homage to River City Ransom and used many of the mechanics as well.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game (2010)

Let me also mention this game is full of load times transitioning between each screen. If it was another large area, I could understand that. But I feel they put no effort into good transitioning for a 2D game released in 2019. This will likely annoy you especially if you’re making trips back to shops to pick up items or new moves.

Co-op

This game is best experienced with a friend. However, not everyone is big into beat ’em ups. If you’re flying solo, you might have a harder time with it than others. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for others to play with, this game does not feature online co-op.

However, for a 2019 brawler, this feels woefully outdated. Multiple games of its genre, released in the last decade, feature online co-op. Even the recently released Streets of Rage 4 features online co-op. I do not understand why WayForward opted not to release a feature such a basic option in a multiplayer game released today.

Extras

This game encourages a level of exploration. Unlike the stage-by-stage games prevalent within the genre, the River City titles have you moving through destinations in multiple directions. You can also find statues of Sabu and destroy them. Completing the quest of destruction unlocks the true hidden final boss fight.

Additionally, you can unlock New Game Plus. Doing so not only lets you carry over your gear from the first playthrough but you can also unlock two characters. Riki and Kunio, the main characters of River City Ransom, become available.

However, this will otherwise not change much regarding the game itself. The only other incentive is a cat side-quest that unlocks infinite SP. Keep in mind, however, that Riki and Kunio are only a glorified palette swap. Nothing about the story changes as the sequences are still voiced by the girls.

The Future of the Genre

River City Girls was the first game in which I recall to pave the way forward for brawlers in the current generation. Previously, WayForward released Double Dragon Neon for PS3 and Xbox 360. Plus, Double Dragon IV came out to a lukewarm response. WayForward’s advertisement at least shined a light on a bright and colorful attempt to bring attention to the new game.

One year after its release, we now have Streets of Rage 4. Sega’s shining star beat ’em up series came back after a 25-year hiatus. Furthermore, even Raw Thrills released an arcade-exclusive TMNT title that pays homage to Konami’s titles of the past.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2018)

2D beat ’em ups feel largely obscured by their 3D evolution. Modern games include Platinum Games’ Astral Chain or Sega’s Yakuza series. It’s hard to find the interest generated in beat ’em ups in an era without the 90s interest of arcade games. However, the demand for the genre remains real and strong enough for developers to take notice. The genre is not dead and, with this momentum, might become a mainstay for the decade once more.

Also, the creator of Scott Pilgrim noted that Ubisoft, developers of the game, reached out to him.

Final Thoughts

Overall, River City Girls excels in combat despite several flaws hampering both gameplay and story alike. I found it hard to put down as I was pummeling enemies, bosses, and even cars. It even served a heavy enough challenge for me to retry bosses several times over.

However, its addition of annoying dialogue, incredibly short length for a game released in 2019, and a few bothersome issues to gameplay made me want to end the game once I was over halfway through.

While it was cool back in Double Dragon to have enemies that looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 80s. No, it is not funny today to have these same enemies that make “Ahnold” noises with Terminator references.

WayForward’s cheap humor stems from the Shantae series which is hit-or-miss. They could do without forcing comedy and that alone would boost the grade. If you want a better, cute beat ’em up based on anime aesthetics, you could always go with Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds.

Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds (2013)

However, if you’re after a beat ’em up and you don’t mind the cheesy dialogue and voice acting, then go right for it. Even then, it features undeniable charm from the character designs. It’s at least 8 hours of fun enemy-bashing and button-mashing.

To summarize, I recommend it for enthusiasts of the genre or those seeking to play some couch co-op action with a friend or a loved one. You’ll enjoy the music, the cutscenes, and the retro homages. It’s easy to pick up and play. However, I don’t think it qualifies as being a game for everyone.

In this era, there are scarcely any releases you will find in the genre besides re-releases of classics. If you passed up River City Girls, you wouldn’t miss much more than some solid aesthetics for an otherwise alright game in the genre. Depending on the systems you own, you could download classics like Double Dragon II, Streets of Rage 2, or even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time. If you want a modern release still available on current systems, Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds would surely endear you.

However, if you like beat ’em up action, then these issues might not stop you from trying a decent brawler. I recommend it to enthusiasts of the genre but I wouldn’t expect it to be anything impressive outside of the aesthetics and your standard brawler fanfare. Despite this, it should still entertain you for a few hours. While it’s not a bad game, it could truly be better.

Score: 6.5/10

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Up and Coming Cosplayers with Dearly Yun: Pictorial

Seyoun Hong is a relative newbie in the cosplay world, but I think he shows great promise.

Please enjoy this pictorial!  We hope to see more from this shining star!

-HERETICPRIME

Madoka Magica, Bravely Default, and the Relationship Between the Two.

Puella Magi: Madoka Magica is an anime, written by Gen Urobuchi, which was developed by studio Shaft in 2011. This dark, enchanting tale told of teenage girls who were lured into becoming magical girls once tempted by fate. Their dark struggles became gruesome as they realized that they were being used.

Meanwhile, when Square-Enix and Silicon Studio developed the Japanese RPG, Bravely Default, in 2014, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the two. While I beat Bravely Default before I watched Madoka, the similarities became more noticeable the further I watched the latter. For fans of either, check out what makes these two similar below.

Be wary of spoilers for both series.

Airy and Kyubey

Art by Adeshark. Please visit the author’s page here.

In Madoka, Kyubey, the small, cat-like mascot talks to the girls. He entices them to become magical girls in order to grant their wishes. Later, his purpose is revealed as a soul-harvester. Revealing Kyubey as the antagonist was a shocking turn for many as few would expect the cute mascot to be capable of evil.

Similarly, in Bravely Default, Airy, the small cryst-fairy guides the party towards rejuvenating the crystals. However, I caught her one-track mindedness to be suspicious during the Fire Crystal arc. I noticed Airy became more obsessed with the crystals than rescuing a young child from a mine.

True to my suspicions, late in the game, she’s revealed to be the true antagonist. She’s the cause of mass genocide and serves the demon lord, Ouroboros, to break his seal and set him upon the world. Despite this, they wrote Airy cleverly in as a supporting character while subtly hinting she could be your enemy.

Both of these characters are revealed as traitors despite their unsuspecting appearances. Few people expected either of them to be powerful, malevolent forces. Only when you learn the truth does it become too late to turn back the clock.

Witches and Ba’als

The witches in Bravely were oddly-shapen monsters trapped in labyrinths. These were later revealed to be the corrupted souls of former magical girls. Their labyrinths spawned from a twisted cognition of reality.

Similarly, the Ba’als (known as Nemesis in Bravely Default) were corrupted, twisted memories. These were later identified as Ba’als which came from the moon in the sequel, Bravely Second. Unlike the witches, these came from the corrupted dreams spawned by a major character.

In both cases, these powerful creatures are fought within a twisted dimension from reality. You can see a semblance of real life within the scenery. But the colorful, blotter-art dimensions and macabre enemies bring together similarities.

Time-Traveling Savior

Both Madoka and Bravely feature a time-traveler, clad in black, to prevent the worst from happening. In Madoka, Homura Akemi was Kyubey’s victim. Her time ability allowed her to go back to try and save Madoka, time and time again, while failing with each attempt. Despite originally being depicted as the antagonist, the story later showcased Homura as Madoka’s friend.

Likewise, Alternis Dim, the Dark Knight, battles the party to stop them from achieving from their goal. The party member, Ringabel, is later revealed to have been Alternis Dim from another universe. Much like Homura, he is also a victim of the aforementioned antagonist. As Alternis, his personality was changed and he lost his memory.

Interestingly enough, both focal characters of the stories are fated to die. Madoka becomes a Magical Girl while Agnes becomes the Vestal of Wind. Both would fall victim to their respective antagonists.

Notable Points

While the first two and a half episodes felt pretty droning and typical moe cuteness, the end of Episode 3 caught me completely off guard. It was dark, gruesome, and changed the tone of the entire series.

Likewise, Bravely Default did this several times. Several of the Asterisk arcs, such as Summoner Mephilia’s, took an incredibly dark turn. Bravely Default starts off as a fairly typical JRPG but ends up shocking the player on multiple occasions.

One lovable thing about the Bravely series is its amount of references and homages to other series. The Enopu Mushroom, for instance, even features a lore description that references the Super Mario series. The crystals themselves also reference Square-Enix’s headline series, Final Fantasy.

It isn’t far-fetched to say that Bravely Default took notable cues out of anime. The game was even composed by REVO, who composed the openings for Attack on Titan and Sailor Moon Crystal. Moreover, Bravely Second also features an arc where a character saved his young son’s life by sealing his soul inside a suit of armor. This serves as a nod to the anime and manga Fullmetal Alchemist.

Final Thoughts

If you enjoyed Bravely Default, I strongly suggest playing Bravely Second and Octopath Traveler which were also made by the same developers. Furthermore, Bravely Default II comes out for Switch supposedly later this year. Keep an eye out on our site for the latest updates on Square-Enix’s and Team Asano‘s next JRPG.

If you enjoy our content, be sure to follow our social media links below. Continue following us for more anime, video games, and cosplay content. Finally, if you enjoyed what you read and want to point out any more similarities, be sure to leave a reply in the comments!

Up and Coming Cosplayers with Dearly Yun: Cosplayer Score Card

Cosplay Name: Dearly Yun

How You Came Up With Name: Yun is actually a shortened version of my actual name! At the time I was working on my first cosplay, I listened to the song “Dearly Beloved” on repeat, and it kind of stuck with me, so the name is just those two things put together. It’s a little corny, I know haha

Other Known Aliases: My friends all call me Yun ^^

Base of Operations: Mostly at my home in Atlanta, GA

Years Cosplaying: Around 10 months

First Cosplay: Noctis (Final Fantasy XV)

First Con: Momocon!

Cons per Year: Around 3-4

Make Your Own Costume: Sometimes! But they’re usually bought and modified

Make Your Own Props: Yes!

Do Your Own Hair: This is actually something I feel pretty strongly about! Learning how to cut and style your own hair is super useful; especially if you don’t plan on living in the same area for your entire life

Do Your Own Makeup: Admittedly my least favorite part haha, trying my best to improve though!

Do Your Own Wig Styling: Wig styling is actually my favorite part of the process!

Makes Your Own Wigs: The closest I’ve done is modifying wigs, I hope to be able to make my own one day though!

Bodypaints: I’ve never done any, but I’ve been looking to try it!

Favourite Cosplay: It’s a tough one, but I may have to give it to Kaname Kuran from Vampire Knight! It’s not my best looking cosplay but it’s been a “dream cosplay” for such a long time and being able to realize it on my own terms made me so incredibly happy!

Number of times you have been to Dragon Con: I’ve been there for one day before and I don’t think I had the chance to really experience the con, I definitely want to go back eventually!

Patreon, Ko-fi, Onlyfans, Etsy, and/or Support Link: I do have a quick ko-fi account at ko-fi.com/dearlyyun

Lewds: Maybe eventually, I’ve been thinking about it actually haha

Nudes: None so far, but open to the idea

More than Nudes: This is one I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do

Social Media: IG: @Dearly.Yun

Domain of Your Own: None yet unfortunately

Secret Super Power: Getting caught up on work and forgetting to respond at times (I am so sorry T-T)

What Are You Playing? – 8/17/20

Welcome to the newest column for All Cool Things. I’m starting a new column blog where I discuss what I’m clearing off my backlog every week! If you find something you’re playing on our list, we would love to hear your thoughts.

Without further adieu…

Tekken 7

I’m no pro at Tekken. I love the character design, music, and gameplay. But I’ve never really played it competitively.

However, I live in a part of Georgia that plays it heavily. It’s one of our top 3 fighting games along with Street Fighter V and Dragon Ball FighterZ. I managed to host a 10-player tournament once but I didn’t compete in it.

Despite that, I’m on a Trophy run right now. I hate admitting that I play a fighting game casually. But I’m trying to finish collecting Trophies. I’ve done all the single-player mode achievements. The 3 Special Battles one was detestably long and random.

The only Trophies I have left are the 1 Ranked Match, 10 Ranked Matches, and win a tournament battle. I main Miguel and he’s the only one I play. I’m vaguely familiar with his style yet I haven’t even incorporated Savage Stance into it yet. Despite being new to the competitive meta, I’ve already managed to send one ragequitter packing.

Did I mention I met Katsuhiro Harada, creator of Tekken, at Final Round 2016?

Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir

Even though it came out in 2007 for PS2, I always wanted to play this game. I loved Vanillaware’s Dragon’s Crown for PS3. Ever since I played Dragon’s Crown, I’ve become a huge fan of George Kamitami’s work.

Right now I’m still only on the Valkyrie story. I love hearing all the familiar voices from the games I recently played. It might be because both Persona and Odin Sphere are developed and published by Atlus that these games share voice actors.

This game still looks beautiful as heck. Even with the remastered visuals, though, I can still tell this is a PS2 title by the mouth movement animations. That’s not a bad thing by any means.

Moreover, I can tell how much Odin Sphere influenced Dust: An Elysian Tail which is one of my favorite indie games. The hand-drawn style and 2D beat ’em up gameplay both showcase similarities between the two.

Once I beat Odin Sphere, I plan to jump onto Muramasa Rebirth for PS Vita. I had the Wii version but sold it shortly after I played it. But now I can try the definitive version of Muramasa before Atlus’ next game, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim comes out.

On that note, it makes me wish Princess Crown got localized.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

As always, I’m playing Smash. I don’t get how I can’t let this game go. Even though everyone hates online mode – and rightfully so – I can’t seem to stop logging onto Elite Smash, play a few rounds, and call it a day.

Who I’m currently playing as online.

Despite everyone’s online complaints, Nintendo did manage to patch the game’s online. However, this was honestly too vague to decipher what they meant by patching the online experience. We know it isn’t rollback netcode. But at the least, Nintendo also said they would continue patching the game’s online mode.

Fire Emblem Heroes

Did you know I enjoy gacha? Yeah, only this one and maybe a little bit of Dr. Mario World. Even as gorgeous as the Final Fantasy gacha titles look, I’m not allowing myself to get hooked on another one. That especially goes for spending any money on them.

I’m so far behind that I haven’t played much since the latest update. I’m probably missing out on a ton of orbs. Unfortunately, not only is the Pirate banner the only one that interests me, but I haven’t landed a solid 5-star in weeks now.

It’s demoralizing to the point I hardly care. Moreover, none of them give you the 40 summons + 1 free one. Why even introduce this feature if you’re not going to implement it every month? Good thing I didn’t subscribe to Feh Pass.

…Although I admit that my lazy self could also use those continuous auto-battle features. Not to mention I’ve been tempted to buy those beautiful Resplendent units.

Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise

Finally, after beating Persona 5 Royal, I’m ready to commit to another long game. I haven’t touched a Yakuza title since Yakuza Kiwami 2. I plan on beating this one before I move onto Judgment. Then I’ll start Yakuza Remastered Collection afterward.

I love Fist of the North Star. I finished the anime series before FotNS2. Yakuza is filled with references to the series so it doesn’t surprise me that RGG Studios would want to adapt Fist of the North Star into a game.

I’m only past the intro but it’s fun so far. It’s standard Yakuza side-quests and beat ’em up action with tons of violence. Plus I’m using the Kiryu skin. Interesting fact, Kiryu’s Japanese voice actor is also Kenshiro’s. It fits perfectly all things considered.

Well, that’s a wrap for my play log this week. Maybe one day I’ll finally get back to Dragon Quest IV. I would like to play the rest of the series.

In the meantime, what are you playing this week? Reply with your games in the comments below.

Up and Coming Cosplayers with Fairydevil Cosplay: Pictorial

With Fairydevil Cosplay, we decided to do something different.  We weren’t so sure if you really dug all the interviews, so we changed the format of the Up and Coming Cosplayers to just the Cosplayer Score Card and Pictorial.  The score card pretty much asks all of the generic questions that a lot of you would want to know about cosplayers, and most of the interest is in the art, so we decided to let that be the focus.

So let us know what you think.  Do you miss the interview?  Do you like this better?  We’re all ears.

-HERETICPRIME