Cross-Up may be on hiatus, but the game is forever! Let's game with Kamen Rider Ex-Aid!

January 11, 2018

The 6th Anniversary Post: Do Stories Matter Anymore?

So is this just gonna be a thing now?  Me wanting to write about Kamen Rider, but getting waylaid by cultural juggernauts and entertainment industry shifts of infinitely greater weight?  Probably, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be salty about it.  How can I get people to like the things I like if I can’t shill the things I like?

…I mean, granted, the next post on Ex-Aid would inevitably have me tearing it several new ones.  But it was gonna be so much fun.  Alas, now I have to do this first.  Just as well, though; it’s the blog’s sixth anniversary, so I should write something special instead of the same old, same old.

Blame the Porgs.

January 4, 2018

Let’s discuss Kamen Rider Ex-Aid (Part 1).

Okay, I know this is a post about Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, but I’m seriously just biding my time until I can start watching Kamen Rider Build.

Setting aside the main Rider’s design (which, as a reminder, is infinitely superior to Ex-Aid’s), I had a hunch that it would turn out to be pretty interesting.  I mean, come on.  How often do you get a genius scientist as a lead hero?  That’s worth some brownie points right there.  At most I’ve only seen a handful of clips and previews, but apparently the story’s about to take a turn into some bold new territory I can’t wait to get the context behind.  Also, they’re bringing back a Kamen Rider alum for a new role, and that’s got me pretty hyped.  “Oh!  It’s that guy!” I cheered.  “Wait, who’s that guy again?  Let me check…OH!  IT’S THAT GUY!”

I guess if KR has taught me anything, it’s that I should trust my instincts a bit more.  It’s optimal to act on solid evidence and knowledge, but there are times when it’s fine to listen to your gut.  I say as much, because prior to Ex-Aid’s release I had a hunch that it was going to be good.  Lo and behold, I was right.  More importantly, I was right in the best way possible.  Ex-Aid had the perfect setup for the most impactful, in-depth exploration of its themes in a KR installment yet, so they just needed to pounce on the chance.  They did exactly that.

…Well, mostly.  But “mostly” is better than “not at all”.  So let’s get to it.


December 21, 2017

Ho, Ho, Ho! Merry Switch-mas!

I mean, granted it’s not Christmas yet -- assuming you’re reading this on upload day instead of that hallowed holiday -- but it’s close enough.  It’s the highest without going over.  Also, we’ve apparently been in Christmas Mode since…I don’t know, before Halloween.  So it’s fine.

Anyway, 2017.  What a year.  Not what I’d call the best year in terms of politics and global events (and let’s leave it at that), but man.  Games on games on games.  Remember that borderline-lethal deluge of games in the first third of the year?  And I say borderline, but it wouldn’t surprise me if people actually bit the dust because of what dropped.  Persona 5, Nier Automata, Yakuza 0, Nioh, Resident Evil 7, and more -- with personal props going to Tales of Berseria, the secret top-tier RPG I’m only mildly butthurt about vis a vis its inevitable overshadowing by higher-profile titles.  But part of the reason we had this deluge is because Nintendo chose to release the Switch in March.  And boy, is it a doozy.

I’m not going to spend any time raving about Breath of the Wild because of course it’s the GOTY.  Instead, I’m going to focus on four other Switch games I’ve put some time into -- and I hope you do, too.  Make yourself or some friend or relative happy…which to be clear can be done just by giving them a copy of ARMS.

Don’t worry.  I won’t talk about ARMS any more in this post.

December 14, 2017

RE: Kamen Rider Ex-Aid

“We Madoka now.”

I remember using that line to describe Kamen Rider Gaim a few years back, and with good reason.  For those unaware, Gaim -- a tokusatsu series carrying the Kamen Rider torch -- was spearheaded by Gen “The Butcher” Urobuchi, who by then had long since stolen the spotlight with his now-infamous magical girl anime, Puella Magi Madoka Magica.  Confession time: I haven’t seen the latter series, but I have seen the former.  And cultural osmosis has made me suspect that there are more than a few parallels between Gaim and Madoka…which I’ll spare you of here, because spoilers are involved.

Parallels or not, Gaim went on to become a fan favorite with plenty of spinoffs to its name.  I’m mostly okay with that; I like Gaim, and I can see why people would absolutely love it, but to me it’s not the be-all and end-all.  Good, but not outstanding; strong, but not without flaw.  It did give us Micchy, one of KR’s best characters (IMO), but it also gave us Kaito, one of KR’s worst characters (IMO).  My thoughts aside, it’s not hard to imagine the showrunners wanting to reproduce the success and fame that Gaim brought in -- especially as a follow-up to the less-than-stellar KR Ghost.

Enter Kamen Rider Ex-Aid -- which at a base level is “We Madoka Now: Revengeance.”  But if you cut even an inch deeper, it’s Gaim 2.0.  But if you cut two inches deeper, then you might have the same opinion I do: Ex-Aid is the bizarro-Gaim.  It’s good for the reasons that Gaim was bad…and bad for the reasons that Gaim was good.

…In my humble opinion, of course.

November 30, 2017

Super Novel Adventures of DOOM (AKA Hiatus Time)

All right, I’m just going to come out and say it: I like Infinite’s theme from Sonic Forces.

I’m an easy mark for songs with heavy guitars and/or metal vibes, so the instrumental aspect has its charms.  The techno stuff is fine, too, especially given the character we’re dealing with -- a masked menace that uses a perversion of science’s power to cast illusions and inspire fear in others.  In theory, that should mean I’d say “the lyrics are the weak link”, but I’m fine with them.  It comes off as someone with a HUGE ego boasting about how strong and cool and deadly they are.  Expected, but appreciable nonetheless.

I’m not 100% in love with the song, granted, but I’ll give it a listen without cringing.  Maybe that’s because I’m inclined to play the contrarian; I’ve seen comments decrying the song and the character as “LOL SO EDGY” and “THE EDGIEST CHARACTER EVER” -- and I don’t really see it.  Is it just because it sounds like a Linkin Park song?  Is it because of the context of the character?  I guess it begs the question of what it means to be edgy in the first place.  Unless we can all come to a consensus on the qualifications, I get the feeling that --

What?  Huh?  What do you mean this isn’t another post on a Sonic game?

*reads title*

Oh.  Okay, let’s shift gears then.

November 27, 2017

Be a hero. Battle for the net.

I feel like I shouldn’t have to do this.  But I guess I have to do this.


All right.  Let’s do this lickety-split.  Because I guess if the government isn’t going to act in our best interests, we’ll have to pick up the slack.

November 23, 2017

What’s the Deal with Sonic the Hedgehog?

This is, like, the fourth post on Sonic that I’ve done in the past couple of months.  Does that mean that this is a Sonic blog now?  I hope not.  I’ve still got more bellyaching to do about Squeenix, and my hunger for vengeance shall not be sated.

In the meantime, though, I have to ask.  What’s the deal with Sonic the Hedgehog?  What deal?  Come on.  You know exactly what deal.  The memes; the OCs; the stigma; the scorn thrown the fanbase’s way; there’s so much orbiting around the blue blur that it’s actually overshadowed the character and his franchise at large.  Now that it’s infected the mainline games, there’s no point in even daring to ignore it.  But for the sake of this post -- and my presumably-life-threatening curiosity -- I want to unpack things however I can.

So that’s what I’ll do.  I’ll warn you upfront though: this post won’t be complete without mentioning Sonic Dreams Collection.  If you don’t know what that is…be grateful.  But I’ve been sitting on these thoughts for a while, so we might as well get through them together.

November 20, 2017

What Should We Do About EA?

Well, I was going to do another post on Sonic the Hedgehog, but it feels like that’s slightly inappropriate right now.  I appreciate the irony of the situation, though; who would have guessed that the company with exclusive rights to the Star Wars franchise (for now) would willingly and eagerly become the villainous empire the canon’s heroes have clashed with for decades? 

I mean, besides everyone.  Because this is EA we’re talking about.  But at least now, it seems like every gamer on the planet is giving Electronic Arts -- an increasingly ill-fitting name -- dirty looks and glares fierce enough to pierce through a steel wall.

So.  Let’s talk about EA.  And not Sonic, unfortunately.

November 16, 2017

Let’s “discuss” Sonic Forces.

When I was nine years old, my mom got me an electronic thesaurus/dictionary to help me with my homework.  See, my third grade class tossed out tons of vocabulary assignments week after week; since we didn’t have a good computer or internet connection at the time -- and I wonder if was even a thing -- my mom got it for me one Christmas to slash homework time down to a fraction.  It worked, and it continued to work for years afterward.  I’ve actually still got it within a foot of me as I type this; it needs batteries, and I suspect the display is busted, but it makes for a good memento.

I’ve always had this theory that whatever you had or did as a child would decide what you’d do in the future.  I’m pretty sure that theory’s been debunked, but I think back to that from time to time.  If I hadn’t gotten that thesaurus as a snot-nosed baby afro, would I have ever wanted to become a writer?  Probably, given that stories helped inspire me, not just tech.  Either way, I’d think that having that gadget around pushed me toward developing stronger diction.  Toward choosing the right word for the task.  Toward saying what needs to be said.

What does any of that have to do with Sonic Forces?  It’s simple.  I don’t need any gadgets or reference materials to give my thoughts.  I can sum up the game in one word.  And unfortunately, that word is flaccid.