Thursday, 14 December 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi - Spoiler Free Review [TV&Film]

The first thing to really notice about The Last Jedi is that it sets quite a bit up within the first ten minutes. Then it decides to go further. What the trailers showed us and what we see in the film is different, though many suspected that it might be. Narrative structures teased in the trailers go to unexpected places, and there are plenty of unexpected things within the film.

The characters here continue from where they left off in Force Awakens, with Poe immediately being back in an X-Wing blowing things up. That trait gets focus here, and some development in his understanding of the larger plan of war happens. BB-8 is again a standout droid, giving some great character and getting into some action of his own. Leia doesn’t get a whole lot of focus, but has two standout scenes that make Carrie Fisher’s last appearance in a Star Wars film worth her inclusion. Finn and new player Rose team up on a mission, and each is given focus as a character and their new and growing relationship gets focus. Finn also again is questioning his purpose. On Ahch-To, Rey comes to grips with the Force, and has her work cut out in connecting with Luke. The story hinted at in Force Awakens regarding Luke and Kylo Ren gets its focus here, and depending on how you see Luke’s character at the end of Return of the Jedi, this character thread will either please or infuriate. Some will see it as natural progression. Some will see it as needless regression. I’m in the former of the two, since it only makes sense for Luke to react the way he does in the situation he found himself in. I’m saying no more on that.
Kylo Ren comes out even more conflicted than before, quite possibly, at the end of this film. At the end of Force Awakens he was bested by Rey, a person of no significance and untrained in the Force. Here, not only does he have the task of taking out the Resistance, he has Snoke calling him out for his weaknesses. We’ve heard in the trailers his line about putting the past behind you to allow you to move forward, but despite the fact he keeps telling himself he has, it’s clear that he certainly hasn’t, especially at the climax of the film. Phasma is again getting the short end of the stick here. The trailers show her in battle with Finn, but that’s all we really get from her. New guy DJ is an interesting character, and makes Finn think on his actions.

Away from characters, the planets themselves look great. We see more of Ahch-To, and get introduced to the Porgs that inhabit the planet. Canto Bight is certainly a great looking world, giving an upper-class society outside of any particular faction but profiting from both sides to keep the lives they lead. And Crait is a world we see little of, but still gives a sense of wonder. The set pieces we see happen on these worlds fit the places they are, and even the vastness of space gets a great opening action sequence. The musical cues here are perfectly tuned to the scenes they are a part of, and one particular set piece makes use of very little sound to pull off an impactful scene. Some familiar things will set off nostalgic feelings, such as original trilogy music pieces, and such things are used for impact within the action or plot. The entire basis of the film could be seen as Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi fused together, mixed around, entire elements changed up and new plot points added, to create something both familiar and new to a much better standard than what Force Awakens achieved. All plot points pay off, and just like Empire Strikes Back, the film ends with the good guys beaten back but not deterred in their overall goal. And despite this being the longest Star Wars film to date, everything feels well-paced and interest doesn’t get lost at any point.

This is probably too early to say, but at the minute the reviews are saying this is the best Star Wars film to date, and after the first watch – I’d agree with them. Nothing feels out of place and everything has a reason. As such, for Star Wars fans, it is an easy recommendation, as it is to anyone else who enjoys a good sci-fi/fantasy epic. However, since The Last Jedi continues straight off from where Force Awakens left us, Episode 7 is a must watch to understand several of the points raised in this one. And I’m pretty certain that Episode 9 will pick up where this one left off, so it will feel like one continuous story once the trilogy is complete. What Episode 9 chooses to showcase is anyone’s guess at the minute. One thing for certain though, is that there will be a duel of the fates to finish this trilogy off.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

December '17 Monthly Update [Network]

A bit of a change-up on certain things stated in last month's update is happening, so only the reviews had gone up. For WattPad, I really want to start putting the last of the stuff from the old site up. That means the few short stories that were on the site get put into Shorts of the Rula, and the entirety of Pokémon: Shadow Boom gets uploaded as its own story. However, it isn't just going to be a straight port of content. There's already a prologue of Shadow Boom that has been rewritten from the first part that was uploaded way back in 2012, and that will start off the new year. The reuploads of the shorts will be dotted throughout next year, and halfway through the Sonic the Hedgehog story will start.

That's for next year, though, and this month is going to be a bit slow. Custom Transform Races are now able to be built on GTA Online, so I've been working on a few. That video will show off two of them. Since the Pokémon Ultra Sun review has fallen into this month, that's two reviews that will be posted. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is coming this month, so a review of that will be posted. Any other content will be announced as it arrives, as for now there's no other plan. If a Nintendo Direct arrives this month, I'll be sure to post about it, but this month is another quiet one.
Now, I know there has been a lot of delay in things I've said would happen, but that will come to an end starting from next year. 2018 should be a big year for me, and I'll be posting new things as they happen.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Star Wars Battlefront EA 2 Review [Gaming]

Battlefront 2’s five modes might look a bit sparse on paper compared to the 2015 game, but in reducing the amount of modes, they have become more focused. And as multiplayer is the biggest draw with this game, it’s a good place to start this off.
Galactic Assault has been the mode pushed in the advertising of the game since the big reveal at E3, with Starfighter Assault coming in later as the second big mode. For Galactic Assault, the action is mostly on the ground, with three phases split across four ‘missions’. In any one of the eleven maps, the attacking team will either hack systems, defend transports, capture and hold areas, or protect a charge from being switched off. It works well, and all of the maps feel different – both in terms of objective and aesthetic. Which is great work in a game that has almost two of every biome. Jakku and Tatooine are both desert worlds, but they both have differing features in how the map plays. And that goes for the other maps as well. However, sometimes these matches can be won quite easily on the first stage, especially if that first stage is a capture and hold. A ticket counter for the attackers gives them limited reinforcements to get the job done, so if the defenders can do their job well enough, the win goes to them. Of course, that’s not really a negative point against the game, as this is the standard two teams format, and it always is based on the skill of the players [and a bit of luck in some cases]. I’ve had the most fun in this mode, and like Walker Assault in the 2015 game, will more than likely be my go-to mode whenever I hop on.

Starfighter Assault has fewer maps, but still manages to be diverse with them. Kamino takes place around the cloning facility instead of being out in space, for example. Endor has the battle within the debris of the Death Star. The objective for the attackers in this mode is to destroy the systems of either a cruiser or space station. Flight control is vastly improved in this game, and the removal of a lock-on for primary lasers is very welcome – as is the removal of automated rolls. They always felt sluggish when used in the 2015 game, and not very effective all that often, so always being in direct control of whichever ship you use is great. New Hero ships have been added for the additional eras, so Yoda’s Jedi Interceptor faces off against the Scimitar of Maul’s, and Kylo Ren’s TIE Fighter squares off against Poe’s X-Wing. There’s also a second Millennium Falcon that’s been added representing the sequel trilogy. Just like the heroes themselves, each new addition has something that sets it apart from the others.
From a starfighter focused mode to a hero focused one, Heroes vs Villains returns. Instead of being brought over untouched, it’s seen a complete revamp. Four light side vs four dark side heroes enter the battle with a set ticket count. One person per team gets chosen as a target, and whichever target gets defeated loses a ticket for their team. The team that manages to keep at least one of their tickets wins. And this seems like a good time to talk about those heroes. Returning for the light side are Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, and Princess Leia, with Rey and Yoda being new. For the dark side, Boba Fett, Bossk, Darth Vader, and The Emperor return, with Darth Maul, Kylo Ren, and Iden Versio being the new additions. At the start, only Han, Lando, Rey, Yoda, Boba, Bossk, Maul, and Kylo are unlocked. Everyone else needs unlocking through credits earned by playing. Before all the controversy that hit, Luke and Vader were 60,000 credits each – and when each match is paying out only a few hundred at a time, that’s a lot to save up. Fortunately, all unlock prices were slashed 75%, so now they only need 15,000. The mode itself is fun, and works well, due in part to the smaller sections of maps they take place on – as all small modes do.
The last new mode is Strike, where 8v8 matches are played. The idea here is that one team has a ‘flag’ that needs to be taken into the enemy stronghold. If the defenders can stop that from happening, they win. It’s a mode where sometimes rushing it can help while other times you’ll need to fight hard to make progress, all the while keeping that flag held by someone. Heroes and vehicles aren’t allowed here, so it is purely a clash of classes. Blast is the other returning mode, and remains the basic team deathmatch mode it always was. Which is to say still a good mode for those who want nothing but a standard shootout.

New to this game are the campaign and the arcade mode. The campaign follows Iden Versio and Inferno Squad – a top special forces unit within the Empire – during the waning days of the war. The plot itself is focused more on the characters than any of the events that surround them, so while we see Operation Cinder, the retreat from Endor and others such things, the focus remains on what the characters are feeling more the details of those events. As for gameplay, the mechanics from the multiplayer carry over here. Upon being defeated, you can swap out weapon and star cards to try a different approach. Some levels are quite decent in length and offer quite a lot to do. The first mission has you controlling Iden’s droid as it makes its way to her through the rebel ship. The second half then has you controlling Iden herself. Endor has you storming several groups of rebels before getting into a TIE Fighter for some aerial combat. Other missions will have you playing as other heroes such as Luke or Leia, but these aren’t quite as good. Objectives in these missions are usually to defend for a certain amount of time before moving on to the next part of the map. However, for a campaign of roughly four to six hours in length, it offers a good experience. As for Arcade, there’s eight different scenarios to play for both light side and dark side using either the team match or onslaught templates. Team match is basically Blast under a different name, with onslaught being a one vs many template. Each mission has three difficulties, with the first difficulty being completed to unlock the next. These missions are fun, but mostly Arcade will be used for Custom Battles. For now, there isn’t much to it. Various factors can be changed, such as how the classes are used [battle points from multiplayer, everything free, heroes only, etc], how many units each team has and the reinforcement tickets available. The planet that is played on can be selected, but not every planet is available. For consoles, this is still great for those local multiplayer matches – even if, and I know I’m going into territory I don’t usually go, it doesn’t match the quality of the original Battlefront 2 in terms of choice.

The sound design is great, as are the visuals. There’s a lot more proper Star Wars music in the game this time, but the voices of heroes still fall a bit flat in terms of being accurate for some. All units within the game can be buffed using star cards. Unlike in the 2015 game where these were bought with credits after attaining a certain level, we have… loot crates. The most expensive crate is 4000 credits, and with that you can get anywhere from three to six cards. However, not all of those cards will be actual star cards. One of those gives credits, and another gives crafting materials. These crafting materials can be used to upgrade cards, or get new ones, and is really the only part of this system I like. Star cards themselves can no longer be placed in one of the three slots available [which already have class specific items inserted] but instead overwrite one of the three. It feels limiting in an already limited system. Trait cards are included, and can be upgraded just like the abilities. Three cards can be active per class [after collecting ten ‘ranks’ for that class], but each class has their own star card sheet which includes those traits. Again, limiting. However, with or without the system being an active part of how you play, the game itself is still fun and you can still use the standard classes without star cards and still progress. Heroes and vehicles also have star card sheets with specific ability upgrades and additions available. Guns are thankfully tied to missions, which track progress within the game. Using a class for a certain amount of time, getting kills with that class, and getting kills with weapons of that class will unlock class-specific things. Kills with the class gets new guns, and kills with a specific gun unlocks add-ons for that gun. Kills with other weapons will give a crate for a specific item, which really begs the question of why it couldn’t just give that thing without the need of a crate. I’ve talked enough about that system, and no doubt you’ve heard all about it from the controversy anyway, so recommendation time.

Star Wars fans wanting a solo adventure won’t get much use out of this game, but everyone else I think will find it fun. How much you cherish an actual progression system over luck-based crates will be the overall factor though. While I wouldn’t say this should affect your decision, I’d also advise thinking about whether you found the 2015 game’s loadout customisation better than the one here. Otherwise, there’s a lot more here than in the 2015 game, so if you can overlook some of the factors, there’s a great game waiting to be played. And all content being free isn’t that bad either, right?

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Sonic Forces Review [Gaming]

The game starts with Sonic running through Green Hill on his way to stop another Eggman attack in the city. From this stage, it is clear what the game is presenting us with. The level looks great, but is undone somewhat by how it is designed – and that is pretty much throughout the game. The controls of Sonic are also stiff, with a homing attack lock-on that can’t decide whether it wants to work and visible shifts in speed instead of a natural flow. After beating the stage, Sonic stops the robots attacking, then royally gets his spiny blue tail handed to him by Infinite. And this cutscene shows how the rest of the story plays out. It is tonally confused, to put it mildly. This is Sonic getting knocked unconscious by his enemy, and starts with some powerful hits until it devolves into some comedic piñata pummelling. It’s as though the balance is being shifted too far in one direction after already being in the perfect position. After a bit of text explaining that after Sonic’s capture Eggman conquered the world, but a small band of resistance still fights, the avatar comes into play.

Choosing from one of seven species [dog, wolf, hedgehog, bird, bear, cat, rabbit], you’ll then choose from several options such as colour of fur and skin. Later there’ll also be the chance to add clothing accessories to the character that unlock upon completion of missions. In terms of gameplay, the avatar is a bit worse off than Sonic. Lacking a spin dash and ball jump, the avatar fights with Wispons – weapons that use the power of Wisps – to defeat enemies. Also equipped with a grappling hook that is used to replicate a homing attack, the jump of the avatar is floatier than Sonic. As with Sonic, speed gain isn’t natural flow. And this is also the case for Classic, who also sports a very botched jump. Landing on enemies doesn’t carry momentum, but crushes it. As for automation claims… That’s weird in its own right. Rolling down hills carries a bit of momentum that usually allows Classic to get around loops, but there are still speed boosters aplenty. And all three characters have sections that remove control entirely for a bit of spectacle.
There are also stages where Sonic and avatar team up, where control switches between the two depending on which specific action you do. Boosting swaps to Sonic, whereas using a Wispon will swap to avatar. These are possibly the poorest levels of the game, since if you accidentally press the wrong button by mistake [and fumbling the controls can happen when using a Wispon is on the right trigger instead of the more sensible choice of the left action button], the character automatically swaps, and if it was that left action button you pressed – enjoy a trip to the last checkpoint if you were anywhere near an open space.

The story is a simple one, with Eggman using the Phantom Ruby’s power in Infinite to make him incredibly strong. With this Ruby’s power, Infinite can make reality warp and create a new one that will affect anyone the user wants. This brings Zavok, Chaos, Shadow and Metal Sonic into the loop, but you’ll only ever fight two of them. Zavok is near the beginning, and in a way proves that when not restricted the physics can work. Zavok is the only battle fought by Sonic in an arena, and aside from the homing attack lock-on, works incredibly well. Yeah, there’s no way to speed great distances, but movement is fluid enough that if the restrictions were removed from other levels [and they had a bit more depth] it would improve playability. Metal Sonic is fought on an endless loop of a runway, and so are most of the other bosses as well. Chaos is reduced to a quick kill when Classic appears, and the Shadow illusion is taken out by the real Shadow. Both of these could have had some form of a boss. Classic fighting Chaos would be in a 2D space as usual, but it could have been a perfect way to start Classic’s entry in the fight. And Shadow, well add another arena fight. Have him use Chaos powers in unique ways after each hit. The fights against Infinite are a royal pain in the backside, as is the final boss. If you hit the illusion cubes, be prepared to dodge attacks you can barely see due to the red hue messing up vision.

The resistance is made up of familiar faces, with Knuckles taking on the commander role. He has a much better characterisation here, and most of the cast get a small time to shine with dialogue and interactions. Silver is here, playing the careful planner to Knuckles’ hot-headed nature. Espio, Vector, and Charmy represent Team Chaotix. Amy is around, as is Rouge. Tails rejoins the main force later on – having lost it due to Sonic’s disappearance. And Tails is really the only one to have regressed as a character, though that really happened in Unleashed. It’s just more prominent here. Back in Unleashed, Tails lost the Adventure developments to become a tech-wiz with little combat ability. With Forces, he is seen a few times near the beginning to cower in fear of robots and Chaos. When it comes to some true action, again he is on the sidelines. Eggman is always on the attack, and since he is the genius of the bad guys, it seems bad to keep Tails from fighting back.

The music in the game is not the best, but still has some shining moments. Most of it blends together due to the over-use of synths, but there are a few stand-outs, such as the world map theme and the avatar stages. The avatar stages have vocal tracks on par with Adventure 2’s. Think of the treasure hunting themes or a few of Shadow’s, and that’s the general feel of those offered here. Voice acting for the most part is fine, though audio logs on the map screen sometimes get lost while the music is playing – especially Shadow and Silver, who for some reason sound quieter than other characters.

Now, for everything I’ve been saying, you would think this was bad. However, that’s the thing. Frustrating at times – yes. Unplayable – no. There is nothing game-breaking here. It’s just a case of getting used to the quirks it presents. Yes, some of them are larger ones – such as the control of characters – but with the lives system gone, it’s just a case of try, try again. There is fun to be had here, and if you care to do so, there’s enough extras to keep anyone happy. Collecting red rings within stages unlock extra levels. There’s five in each, and sometimes can be within easy reach, other times presenting a bit more of a challenge. Arbitrary replayability is forced in the avatar stages, where swapping Wispon to reach some of the red rings is required. Completing daily missions give perks, which make earning those S-Ranks easier [and you’ll be needing it on some stages]. The regular missions unlock more equipment for avatar, and these come in all varieties. Completing stages, earning an S-Rank in stages, using moves of characters, completing stages under a certain time… There’s a lot of them. Some missions will also give Wispons with added perks, such as score bonuses with each 100 rings collected, or increasing speed when grinding. There are also SOS Missions that present themselves in regular stages, which challenge you to one of three objectives. Two of them are based on avatar – using a random avatar, or a rental avatar. The other is with Sonic or Classic, and requires finding a pod within the level to free animals before completing the level. The avatar ones are easy enough, just requiring learning a different set-up. Finding the animal pod is harder in some cases, as multiple paths mean it can be missed if you don’t explore enough.

So… Recommendation time. It’s difficult to really say. If you are a Sonic die-hard or want some platforming speed, other boost games can provide much better. However, if you are on consoles, this is the only boost game available on the current systems – at least until Unleashed and Generations get put on the Xbox One’s Backward Compatibility program or HD remasters of the two are released. The avatar creation system is fun to play around with, and testing out all of that on the stages can provide some entertainment. There’s wish fulfilment in that, for those who want it. If you know, like me, that you will replay stages just because of the fun in doing so, then by all means buy away. However, as a general buying guide, wait until it becomes cheaper. There’s not much here that hasn’t been done before in the series. While shorter, Generations is still the go-to game for boost gameplay, or Unleashed for some true spectacle.

Friday, 3 November 2017

November '17 Monthly Update [Network]

As I said on the last social media post, October for me had been a pretty rough month. September had been planning time, and the content from that planning will start showing itself. Here's a bit of a rundown on that.

In terms of fiction-related works, I have started on the next self-published novel. The planning for it has been pretty good, and while I can't guarantee it will come before the end of the year, it won't be far off from it. I've already stated it will be more focused on the fantasy genre, and I am now revealing that it is based in a digital world - so think how a video game plays, and you have a fair idea of where I'm going with this. The focus is JRPG's, so think what elements come into play with one of those.

On WattPad, as said in September, a new part of Crossover Corruption will be added. I haven't decided on which series to crossover yet, but it will come. As well as that, I think it is now time to add a new story, which will be a full one added chapter by chapter. Set during the events of The Chameleon Chronicles, this will follow Sonic's story, with inserts by Chaotix members that give a better idea of what they were up to during that time. Of course, parts of that are already known, but these inserts offer up full events.

I did get up footage of the Star Wars Battlefront 2 beta, even if I didn't supply any thoughts on here. The game launches this month, as do Sonic Forces and Pokémon Ultra Sun/Moon. Each will get a review by me. As for all those games I have on Switch that I've been neglecting to give thoughts on, every game I've played will get its time to shine in the One Year of Switch post, which will cover games I own and thoughts on the Switch itself. That's not until March, though, and there's going to be quite a bit to it.

A Look Inside the Morphing Grid will be going through a bit of catchup, as I go through four seasons and upload the two relating posts. Mystic Force and Operation Overdrive are still good seasons, though certain factors mean they fall short of the best of the Disney seasons. While Jungle Fury and RPM pick up a bit, there's still a few things not quite right. However, one of those two will push itself into fifth on my leaderboard.

With all of that, there isn't much else for me to cover for this month. Though if I get the chance, videos of GTA, Sonic Forces, and Battlefront 2 will be up on Youtube.

Monday, 30 October 2017

A Look Inside the Morphing Grid - Dino Thunder / SPD [TV&Film]

Ah, here we are at last. After Ninja Storm picked up the pieces from Wild Force - and shows that Disney is capable of making good Power Rangers seasons - these two prove that under Disney, the series was still able to achieve greatness. At least for me, of course, and I'm not just saying that because these were my first seasons.

The start of Dino Thunder shows Tommy escaping from an island, which the show later tells us is where he worked. Showing this allows a look at the main evil force right from the off, though at the start he is hidden in shadow as he commands the Tyannodrones to bring Dr Oliver to him. Yeah, between Turbo – where we last saw him in any focus – and now, he’s taken his original powers to heart and put focus solely on them. In fact, as I’ll touch on again later, it’s as though his Turbo tenure doesn’t matter.
Some years after that escape, he has taken a job at Reefside High, and we meet our other main characters. Randall – the headmistress. Cassidy – junior news reporter, along with Devin – her cameraman. And the three prospective Rangers, as described by Cassidy: Conner – King of all Jocks. Ethan – King of all Geeks. Kira – Wannabe Abba Girl. Our three prospective Rangers have found themselves in detention. Forced to be together, Tommy takes charge of them and takes them to the museum. The first bit of Tommy’s past on that island is shown when he says “that’s impossible” to an Anton Mercer’s takeover of the museum. The three teens have gone into the forest, find three gems, and run into the Tyrannodrones – who have been alerted to the gems’ presence. Part 1 of Day of the Dino ends with the three back at school, Kira getting captured [though not wanting anything more to do with their adventure had given the boys her gem], and Conner and Ethan back at the place they found the gems – which is the research base of Tommy. The gems have given the prospective Rangers powers, which they don’t fully understand as of yet. Part 2 brings in Elsa, Zeltrax and the dino zords. And gives the Rangers their suits. The opening does a good job of showing these three teens come together, and while not yet fully bonded to each other, work together as a team.
The next episode brings a bit of a moral choice for Conner, who gets a bit miffed that his own life is being interrupted by Ranger duties. We also get introduced to the hangout of the Rangers – Hayley’s Cyberspace. Hayley is a nice woman, always knowing what people want, and gives Kira and Conner chances to pursue their career paths. Tommy gets captured outside while Kira is performing, which leads onto Legacy of Power.
“Commemorating 500 episodes, may the power live on forever.” Hayley is revealed to know who the trio are, and as they watch Tommy’s video log of Ranger history, she sets about trying to find a way into Mesogog’s lab so the Rangers can rescue him. Then, in Back in Black, guess who’s back to Ranger duties. Mesogog wants Tommy to free something from a rock, and when the Rangers rescue him, he takes that rock, and after a blast from Zeltrax, the black dino gem is revealed from it. Tommy joins with the team to fight Mesogog’s forces.
A few side episodes expand characters, but I’m not filling in the details for that, as I want to talk about Trent. Introduced after Day of the Dino, but hardly getting any screen time, he and his dad – Anton Mercer – get that time. Anton wants what’s best for his son, even if that isn’t what Trent wants. Trent discovers an Invisiportal within his own home, setting up what comes later – when the White Ranger comes into play.
White Thunder, in my eyes, is a better arc for introducing an evil Ranger than Green With Evil from Mighty Morphin’. That’s not to say I’m going to compare them, but here’s the thing. As I’ve already stated, I felt Green With Evil went on for one or two more episodes than needed and brought with it some unneeded things. White Thunder sets the evil Ranger up, gives him a Megazord, and then sets him against both good and evil forces. Across the three episodes, the pacing is mostly fine. The second episode feels as though it has the least content – having used the full zords-to-Megazord sequence for the first time since the beginning – but there’s still quite a lot here. During the arc, Cassidy and Devin are trying to find out the identity of the White Ranger, though as an audience we know it is Trent – who used the Invisiportal in his dad’s study and bonded to the white dino gem in the first episode. Truth and Consequences is a direct follow-on to the arc, and sees Trent deal with the knowledge that he is the White Ranger. He tells Kira – the one he knows he can trust – and she tells the others. They are less trusting, and considering that Trent fossilised Tommy, it’s no wonder. And there’s also that he’s been beating them senseless every time they’ve met in Ranger form.

Leader of the Whack is where Tommy is freed from fossilisation, but a side effect being he cannot de-morph. A space rock had power to bring out the hidden qualities of people. It’s really just an excuse to have the main characters be opposites of what they’re presented as, but in story context reveals that Trent does have good in him. With Tommy freed, he can get back to the action, but unable to de-morph, he can no longer present himself as a teacher at the school. Not that it seems to be raised until a few days later [or maybe a week] when Randall asks about him to Ethan and Kira. Then in the episode after Anton Mercer takes over teaching.
Just as we know Randall and Elsa are the same, Mesogog and Mercer are the same as well. Mercer is trying to separate himself from Mesogog, which indicates he isn’t wanting anything to do with Mesogog’s plans. The Triptoids that Zeltrax stole from Ethan’s game earlier in the season finally start getting some action, and the reason why Zeltrax is so interested in Tommy is revealed at the same time Ethan deals with a bully. Zeltrax is wanting revenge for something that happened a long time ago, and makes a deal with Trent – though of course Trent’s side of the bargain goes nowhere, as he wanted to overthrow Mesogog. Zeltrax’s loyalty to Mesogog means the latter was informed by the former of Trent’s wishes. While we haven’t seen the White Ranger in action much, he’s displaying a certain level of arrogance now.
Lost and Found in Translation is an interesting episode in that it isn’t really a Power Rangers episode. Instead, most of the action comes from a Sentai Abaranger episode that didn’t get adapted into Dino Thunder. Fully dubbed, though with parts cut out to show the Rangers watching it, it shows off the differences between Sentai and Rangers to those not in the know. Of course, the episode chosen is a side episode. No point in showing off part of a plot that won’t be resolved.
Those who have seen Mighty Morphin’ will know this one as a reference, in that a Ranger is almost exposed thanks to a camera. In this case, it’s security footage that captures Kira. But the tape with the footage of Kira’s morph gets drowned in fruit punch. Trent and Zeltrax are against each other, and fight for second-in-command. Since Trent won, Zeltrax exacts a bit of revenge on Trent.
Anton reveals to Trent the truth of Mesogog, and Zeltrax creates a monster that can copy anything. Using it to trash the base with the weapon of the White Ranger, Mesogog captures Trent and sets to drain his power. When Trent appeals to his dad, the hold Mesogog has fails to allow Anton to free Trent. The power drain cracks the evil from the white dino gem, and when Trent steps in to help Tommy from another of Zeltrax’s attacks, the latter trusts him enough to induct him to the team. It’s clear that Conner still has some trust issues with him though. Zeltrax has used the Copy Otter’s ability to create a White Ranger clone, and with it, the Terrorsaurus. The Terrorsaurus steals the Rangers zords, while Tommy and Trent use their power to reveal an ancient artefact. Conner hears its calls, and rescues the Triassic Shield. Using the Triassic Ranger powers, he defeats the Terrorsaurus. With its destruction, the zords are free. Zeltrax rebuilds the aerial attack unit, as Kira gets an offer of making a music video. Tommy finally defeats Zeltrax as Conner tests out the Mesodon Rover. Kira refuses the offer of joining with the label, with the knowledge that they were forcing her away from what she sees herself as. Ethan also gets a bit of a shock as his online date turns out to be Cassidy. But that just starts the beginning of a friendship between the two, and the others as well.
Ethan convinces Kira to give Cassidy a chance, and Kira promotes Cassidy to the news network. While she fails to complete her assignment, she does manage to run into the Rangers as they defeat another monster, and Cassidy gets enough good footage of that fight that she is in the good graces of the network. She even tries to express her thanks to Kira. And this is one of the main points I love about Dino Thunder. Aside from the characters themselves, it’s this sense of the characters progressing through their chosen career paths by making choices, and that feels like one of the overall themes of the series – choices and consequences.

Tommy’s ability to unmorph is solved when Elsa reveals some slime that helps him return to normal. Only problem is that he is now unable to be seen. He uses the power of his dino gem to help stop his invisibility problem, but in the process gets put into a coma. While in it, he has to face three of his past forms to prove his ability to keep fighting. Zeo Red, White Tiger, and Green Dragon. Turbo Red is missing, and while it could be said that’s because the producers didn’t want two of the same colour, I like to think it’s correcting a problem I saw with Turbo. As I said in that post, the first half felt it wasn’t going anywhere, hardly giving any development and falling into the same plan of stopping a detonator. Only once the new Rangers came in did it start picking up. As Tommy said in his video log, he had one final mission before graduation. I read into that as the Zeo team testing the Turbo powers, with Divatox getting revenge on them after that graduation and a new team being brought in. However, that’s all I’m saying on this, as there’s a bit more to cover on Dino Thunder itself, though I’m only mentioning three specific parts now.
Zeltrax returns, and is using the power of a tree to remain strong. Mesogog also wants the tree, since it is imbued with the power of the water of life it has been growing on. A student named Krista wants to save the tree since Randall wants it removed. Zeltrax turns that tree into a monster, then captures Krista. Conner has an interest in her, and it is his passion to rescue her that unlocks the power of the battlizer. An episode before the big event up next, Trent and the White Ranger clone do battle when the energy of both starts to decline. Since the energy was duplicated, it can’t stay like it forever. The clone fails, but the battle itself was very fun to watch – even if it is interposed with the other Rangers in a Megazord fight.
Now, I called this a big event as what other season has represented the team-up in its opening credits? And the team-up is across two episodes. And just like the Wild Force-Time Force team-up, gives a bit of an expansion on the previous season. Lothor has escaped from the Abyss of Evil, and tricks Shane, Dustin, and Tori into accepting new morphers. With Rangers on his side, Lothor attacks the Wind Ninja Academy and takes its students again. Cam contacts Hunter and Blake, and attempt to gain their powers back from the Abyss. Mesogog finds out that Lothor has returned, and the two join forces. There’s a number of good battles in the second part, including a fight between Mesogog and Lothor. The morph theme gets a new kick as it is here that the victory notes, as I like to call them, get introduced into it.
Trent is starting to get jumpy that the other Rangers will find out his secret, not helped by Elsa dropping hints to his big secret. Ethan and Devin have been playing Dragon War, and Randall took the cards. When Tommy heads to get them back, he gets a shock as Randall transforms into Elsa. The two get into a fight outside the school before Elsa retreats. This episode really starts setting the tone of the finale, and Trent’s characterisation really shows here, as he does his best to protect his dad any way he feels necessary. After Elsa’s failed plot – having used one of the rare cards to make a monster – she plants it on Anton Mercer, and Trent is still trying to avoid answering the truth. That is out of his hands when Anton loses control and Mesogog forms for a few seconds in front of the Rangers. Trent then has to answer for this back at the base. In the end, he shows his trustworthiness by saving Conner – who still had doubts about him. Mesogog has also now separated himself from Anton, and his personality changes from that. Before he was more psychologically oriented, getting up in others’ faces real close and his plans had real thought put into them [even if he trusted his minions more often with them]. Now, Mesogog is in full-on attack mode, even using Elsa’s evil energy to power his new weapon. Trent plans to give Mesogog the dino gems in the hopes he can ensure safe passage through the invisiportal network for the others with their own new weapon and put a stop to Mesogog once and for all. Meanwhile, Zeltrax is back, and with Elsa now powerless, he finds her at the Rangers’ base, destroys it, and kidnaps her. And on top of all that, it looks as though their identities as Rangers might finally be revealed. However, Cassidy has a change of heart, knowing that her friends should come before her career. With all evil destroyed – as well as the Rangers’ own powers - the end of school proms is the perfect place to finish, and Kira singing the season out always brings feelings of both joy and sadness. It’s just such an emotional scene somehow, and one that can’t fully be explained.

"In the not-too-distant future, Earth has become a haven for all alien races who come from the farthest reaches of the galaxy to live in peace. 99% of the newcomers live in harmony, but for the 1% who can't there is Space Patrol Delta, the new breed of police, to bring them in." In the year 2025, SPD gets right to the point. Starting out as a two-part episode, showing off the training of three teens as part of B-Squad, and revealing the SPD as a whole. The evil of this season is Grumm, a conqueror of worlds whose next target is Earth. He needs an accelerator for his ship to make safe passage, so sends his robot henchmen to get it from Earth. Sky, Syd, and Bridge run into Jack and Z – two street thieves who give what they take to the poor. Z wants to be a part of something bigger, so when the opportunity to join B-Squad arises, she is there. Jack doesn’t want anything to do with SPD, but the one who he will do anything for is Z. Sky is set up to want to be the Red Ranger – like his dad – but that eventually goes to Jack, which sets up a rivalry of sorts between the two. The two-parter ends with Grumm heading to Earth, and Commander Cruger warning the Rangers of the peril to come.
The third episode has Grumm set a trap for the A-Squad Rangers in space, hoping to leave the Earth defenceless. However, B-Squad are still on hand to deal with him. Jack is still finding his place within the team, and gets a bit ahead of himself in being the leader. He learns his lesson, and the team are forged – sort of. Jack and Sky’s rivalry still continues. Broodwing and Mora are introduced to the ranks of the villains, the former being a weapons dealer and the latter a child serving under Grumm who has the ability to make monsters from drawings. The episode is also where the Megazord comes into play. Other Rangers get the chance to display their traits, but it is Z who gets some real focus – even if it has to be shared by a bit of backstory for the full team.
Mora’s new plan involves using a boy called Sam. Z sees the boy in action and tries to befriend him. All the Rangers have powers, and this boy is no different. The two sides are putting pressure on Sam, and he needs to decide on the right choice. It is Z who fights the hardest for this cause, unlike Sky who refuses to believe they have anything in common. The dynamic of Z and Jack is explored more as they work together in trying to befriend Sam. After a tough encounter with an Orangehead the two are called back to base and the story is revealed. Sam’s fate is personal to Z as she was pretty much the same as he was. Scared, teased, and so desperately wanting friends. Cruger had been watching over all of them, as their parents worked for SPD and had their DNA altered when working on an experiment. Sam is the sixth child of that team. Sam realises the Rangers are where he wants to be, and the enemy are defeated for another day.
Sky has to deal with a friend who’s defected, and Jack starts respecting Sky. Syd feels Jack doesn’t respect her as he makes her work an undercover mission on her birthday. Jack doesn’t know his birthdate, and feels there’s nothing so special about others’. However, he comes to know why they are special. These two episodes lead onto the focus for Cruger.
Cruger is cranky thanks to dreams of his past, and starts driving everyone to dislike him. The cause of that past returns. The Rangers learn about that past, and Kat hopes to help Cruger. His reluctance to battle is still strong, and he isn’t impressed when Kat gives him something to get into the fight again. When the Rangers start failing against that threat though, he decides he needs to help. Taking up his sword, and the help Kat had given him, he becomes the Shadow Ranger and confronts his past. One piece of the puzzle is still remaining, though. His wife still remains out in the galaxy - lost. The two episodes could have had more significance to Cruger had the focus solely been on him, but that might have lessened the effect on the next episode had we not seen the Rangers giving it their all here.
Since Shadow Ranger’s appearance, the others have become lax, relying solely on the power Shadow provided. As such, Cruger will not help, and it’s up to the others to face a tough challenge on their own and realise what they’ve become.

Mora brings Valko into the fight, who releases Goradon. A new recruit called Sophie impresses the Rangers, and is allowed clearance to become a tech specialist. When it becomes known she is a cyborg, and that she was linked to the access of a high-clearance system, she is expelled from SPD. Unknown to the Rangers, she is the key to the control of Goradon, and upon expelling her have given Valko free reign to capture her. She gets put into the control wiring of Goradon, but breaks free of the control and escapes, calling Cruger to her. Then, she unlocks the coding sequence needed to bring the SPD base into a Megazord configuration. The logistics of that are completely off the charts, especially later in the season. Even so, it's Rangers, where reason has no place when spectacle is concerned. The Rangers have learnt their lesson on prejudice, and Goradon is defeated, while Grumm acts on what he’s been threatening to do for a while and turns Mora back into what he found her as. Morgana.
Boom – chief gadget tester for SPD – gets his time to shine when he makes a mistake while trying to impress his parents that could have drastic effects. A dimension hopper has taken Jack and Sky on a tour of various dimensions, and the other Rangers try to bring them back. Boom first pretends to be the Orange Ranger, but upon letting an important artefact fall back into enemy hands, he resigns his post in shame. When the opportunity arises to fix it, he takes it, and gets reinstated upon success. And Sky just can’t catch a break as a monster then switches body with him and he has to convince the other Rangers it really is him inside the monster’s body.
An episode exaggerates personal perspective, as the Rangers give their own version of how a battle went down. As such, a lot of bigging up their own egos takes place, but it’s entertaining how in every single version of the retelling – including his own – Bridge loses count of how many enemies he’s defeated. When the proper events get revealed through backup video footage, it shows the Rangers got saved by a white light. And in Messenger, that white light gets revealed as a Ranger from the future. One that the team befriended as a boy.
The first part has Boom uncover a message from the future, saying that on this day, SPD has fallen. Grumm has won. Z heads off, shaken by the message, and while the others battle against new monster Shorty, she has a run-in with Morgana. Z comes off bad from that encounter, but still heads to the others. Morgana is now in a giant robot, and works with Shorty to call Devastation - the most wanted criminal in the galaxy. When almost fully defeated, a motorbike zord comes to the rescue. Omega Ranger joins the fight, and defeats Shorty. Devastation then tries to destroy Omega Ranger, who has declined the other Rangers’ help. They help anyway, and after defeating him, he jumps into the giant robot, the zords are called, and of course the Megazord hops onto the bike zord for a wild supersized chase and battle.
A testament to the relationship of Jack and Sky comes up next in Reflection, where Sky is responsible for setting free a criminal unwillingly. First the team has to deal with Slate, a monster able to morph into other monsters. Sky is sent to talk with Mirloc, a dangerous criminal who knows about Slate, but wasn’t talking unless Sky made a deal with him. Once Slate is defeated with the help of the new Battlizer, Sky returns to Mirloc. It is here that Mirloc taunts Sky over the loss of his father, and upon a tear appearing on Sky’s face, escapes into it. When the Battlizer was being prepared for the Red Ranger morpher, something haunts Sky in some way. While he has accepted Jack as Red, he sees it as a failing in himself that he isn’t. And while Sky doesn’t know it, Mirloc is the criminal who killed his father. That is where part 2 comes into it. With Mirloc out there, Boom looks at his file and asks Sky about it. Sky then confronts Cruger. Feeling bad for what he’s done, he requests demotion, but Jack in a way refuses that by saying that Sky isn’t living up to his father. The team split up, and all except Omega eventually get captured within Mirloc’s reflection dimension. Omega manages to break them out of it. The team boost Sky’s confidence as Mirloc continues his taunts, and Jack does the decent thing, allowing Sky to not only be the one to bring Mirloc in, but also to do so in Red. While the two might continue to have a rivalry of sorts, the differences between them by this point have certainly been sorted out.

Piggy has been around since the beginning, helping both sides, but Grumm isn’t allowing that to continue. As such, Piggy enlists the help of some friends to help him steal SPD technology. However, once they claim it, they double-cross him. And really, this part - along with the end - are the only parts of SWAT that I like. It regresses the Rangers so much, and they feel like polar opposites of the characters they were in the previous episode, that it just feels a forced plot point to make the new power-up they gain worth something in a season where nearly everything is just built for them. Since the Rangers are so antagonistic of one another, Cruger sends them to another planet for some teamwork building. At the end of the two-parter, the Rangers use the SWAT mode technology to beat Piggy’s friends. Unknown to the Rangers, Piggy takes the schematics of SWAT mode back, duplicates it, and gives a copy to Grumm and Broodwing – the latter of which has recently had plans to overthrow the former.
Robotpalooza reeks of rushing through Sentai footage quickly, featuring four [five counting Bridge’s dreams] Megazord battles. It does give a great introduction to the SWAT Megazord, ready for Impact, where more Jack and Sky interaction is given as they stop a meteor from hitting the Earth. Kat also gets the chance to be a Ranger in Katastrophe, knowing who the Rangers are up against and wanting to help stop him.
Also between Robotpalooza and Impact is the first of the team-up episodes, but it really doesn’t feel as such to me. I’ve seen others hate on the fact SPD try to protect the Dino Rangers too much [who were brought forward in time by Broodwing], but it’s only reasonable to do so. As Cruger says, the results of them not being able to return would be catastrophic for the future. My problem with it is the same as Time Force-Lightspeed Rescue. While the Dino Rangers do get time to shine, it feels as though they are just there to serve as a plot point and some one-time help. It’s still good to see them in action again, but this team-up has nothing on Thunder Storm. The other team-up where the SPD Rangers go to the past is little better, though it at least allows for the full Dino Thunder colours to be on show.
While Broodwing is up to another of his plans, Morgana is tasked to raid a laboratory, and upon her success gets turned back to Mora. However, she is curious about what is behind the secret door that Grumm is insistent no-one is to go through. Behind it is Omni, the ultimate master, who puts Mora under a spell. The Rangers overhear a statement from Cruger that makes them feel sorry for themselves, which leads into the recap of the season. During it, they realise Grumm is using Earth’s resources to build something that can be used against them. As a back-up I would expect, Grumm decides to head back to 2004 to try and conquer it before SPD fully formed. That is where the second team-up is placed, and as I said before, it suffers from the same problems as the first.
The finale is built up with Resurrection, where Jack starts feeling he’s had enough of SPD. Wants a life beyond it, and gets a chance at that, but work keeps getting in the way. A-Squad is found, but Bridge feels that something isn’t right about that. Which is proved right when A-Squad capture Cruger and deliver him to Grumm. As B-Squad battle against A-Squad, Broodwing takes over the SPD base. With both problems sorted, Piggy betrays the Rangers and hands them over to Grumm. Something he quickly decides to go back on to help SPD instead. It also appears that Grumm had been holding Cruger’s wife all this time, so as the Rangers head back to Earth, Cruger stays to rescue her. In a brilliant speech by Boom, he convinces the rest of SPD to stay and fight as the remaining of Grumm’s forces prepare to do battle. Omni has formed the Magnificence and descended to Earth, where the Rangers put the SWAT Megazord to one last good use to destroy it. With Grumm now captured and evil defeated, Jack leaves SPD. Sky is now Red Ranger, with Jack teaming up with Piggy and Ally to come full circle and do roughly what he had been at the beginning of the season – though of course this time it isn’t stealing.
And with that, I’d just like to say – thank you Netflix for messing up the order of the last ten episodes, so Wormhole appears after Endings and making it seem like the Rangers battle the second version of a monster before the first.

If I had to choose between Dino Thunder and Time Force as a favourite, it would be the former each and every time. There is little difference between the two seasons for me though. Both are great in their own ways, but Dino Thunder has the better of the two team-up episodes, so in my eyes it has to be first. While Time Force does have the better villains, it did at times feel like the Wes and Jen Show. Dino Thunder gave every member of the team a chance to shine - even if Tommy wasn't used to his fullest potential. SPD is a great season overall - though characters and plot sometimes don't get used to their fullest. Where it gets placed on my list might be indicative of a bit of nostalgia at play, but there's no denying it is still a great season.

Dino Thunder
Time Force
In Space
Lightspeed Rescue
Ninja Storm
Wild Force
Lost Galaxy
Mighty Morphin'

Mystic Force and Operation Overdrive are next to be covered, and while I'm still standing by what I said about Disney being a great match for Rangers, these two seasons aren't exactly matching the quality of the two I've just covered.