Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Elemental Heroes - First Look [Network]

As stated in the monthly update, Elemental Heroes is a world not unlike a video game. The police force within the world have harnessed the power of the elemental stones, and a secondary unit is ready to fill with those who are ready to progress from trainee to a full unit. In the preview below, the Primary Elemental Commander Gary watches upon a training session, ready to select three who will fill the Secondary Elemental Unit.

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Once all twenty had finished the training exercise, Gary entered the hall from the door to the left. Those trainees looked curiously at him, and the officer overseeing the training greeted him.
“PEC Storm. Good news I take it?”
“Indeed,” Gary stated. “The section I head has now got a new rank to fill. I’m here to see if three of your high-tier trainees are ready to move into it.”
“They are the top of their class, and ready to fill the ranks of the regular force. If three of the students here pass your test, they can move into your section.”
The trainees looked excited at the prospect of being chosen, and Gary could sense their eagerness. Their body language suggested they were ready now. He wanted to make sure. Being a Primary Commander meant accepting the best.
“Do we have the results of that last test?” Gary asked.
He was shown the results on one of the monitors, and looked at the various statistics shown. There were differences between time taken, attacks landed, energy lost, and other data relating to the combat. He didn’t feel that those who were best should automatically get through, so split the group into fives based on that data – best to worst – with the idea of selecting two from each group.
“Use your training swords,” Gary advised. “This will be tough.”
The first five entered the simulation zone – now formed as an office room – and the red formless creatures appeared again, though in a deeper shade of red that was almost black.
The creatures attacked with little regard for the furniture in the room, even using the items as weapons. The trainees were doing everything they could to defeat the creatures. One, two, three went down, leaving two remaining. The trainees quickly finished those, then rematerialized outside of the simulation zone once the last creature had vanished.
The same played out with the other three groups, though in the last, four of the trainees were defeated with only two of the creatures down. The one remaining managed to hold out for a few minutes more, taking another two creatures out, but failed to finish the job. Gary was still impressed that he had lasted as long as he had, and was considering that an automatic pass to the next test.
After reviewing the statistics of those last fights, he had the eight he wanted – having chosen three of the trainees from the first group.
“Those selected will now take up arms against each other in a free-for-all. However, the idea isn’t to be the last one standing. It’s about the skills you use to attack and defend, and how you approach the fight. If you are ready, head to a panel and prepare to enter the final test.”
The eight selected trainees stood next to a panel with left wrists raised to shoulder height.
“Form the simulation.”
A varied amount of colours started building in the simulation zone, rising up from the ground, until several brightly coloured structures had formed.
“A play park?” one of the trainees asked in a cynical tone.
“Learning to fight in varied places is essential,” Gary said, surprised at the outburst. “Every time you train, the battlefield is different. Just as in the real world, you could end up fighting in a place similar. Never forget that.” Gary turned back to those who waited to enter. Upon giving the command, they placed their wrist panels against those of the simulation zone’s, and materialised inside.
Standing in a circle as best as possible with the structures of the play park, none of the trainees had drawn a sword. Gary smiled, knowing this would be interesting.
“Begin.”
Upon that word, seven of the trainees launched into the fight, with the eighth – the one who had survived from the final group – sidestepping to the right and climbing the steps of the slide.
In the scuffle that was now happening, it was a tangle of arms and a few kicks planted, but nothing was breaking them apart.
One of the group was thrown to the side, and it was that which broke the group up. A female with red hair streaked with blue leapt onto one of the swings. It flew into the air, hit its apex, then swept back down. At its lowest point, the female let go and flew through the air to land an attack, which was only narrowly avoided by her target. She landed in a crouch, and blocked the counter-attack that had been aimed at her.
The one on the slide had seen an opportunity and flung himself down it, using the speed as he hit the bottom to power an attack into two others who had ventured into line with it. The two he hit were pushed back – one hitting the floor – and when they looked for where the attack had come from, their attacker had already launched himself up and was scrambling to get on top of a climbing frame.
The first defeat came when the female used a seesaw to distract an opponent – having stepped onto the lowest side then ran across it when one of the trainees came to attack. That lowest point had lifted and tripped the other, which the female took advantage of and reduced the other’s energy to zero. He respawned outside the simulation zone, and stepped back to watch.
Another of the trainees was making progress, having tackled the two who had previously been hit. He was stepping to the left and right, dodging the attacks of the other two – who had now seemingly teamed up – and striking when he could. An opportunity arose to destroy the temporary alliance, and he took it, deflecting the attack of one into the other. The latter pushed the other away, in which that one then attacked, leaving them open to attack from the one who had broke them apart. Within a few hits, both despawned.
That male then moved up onto the climbing frame, to get at the one who was still there. He hadn’t moved since his last attack, but he noticed the one approaching him.
Gary noticed a few things between these two. The one climbing had dark shadows around his eyes, but this seemed a permanent fixture rather than any form of illness or injury. These eyes were looking determined, locked onto the other up top.
And this one was also an interesting one, since he was waiting for opportunities rather than making them. His face was paler than the others, and he looked at the one who climbed with a blank expression. Gary noticed a few moments before it happened that his body was in waiting to make a leap down.
As eye-shadow, as Gary named him, made a grab for pale-face’s foot, the latter let go of the rope he was holding. Falling forward, the hand that had previously held rope now had a grip on eye-shadow’s hand and pulled him down to the ground. They both hit with a thud, and eye-shadow beat pale-face to standing by mere seconds. Pale-face didn’t have time to fully orient himself, as eye-shadow was already upon him.
Red-hair was making progress on the other trainees still left while the two males fought each other. Again pale-face was holding out longer than Gary had expected him to against a stronger opponent, but still he fell. All it took was reacting that bit later to a kick thrown out to defeat him. Red-hair had taken out the remaining two trainees, so it was just her and eye-shadow left.
The two met in an area of the play park that hadn’t been used yet. The wooden bridge had two slopes on either end that curved ninety degrees to face the rest of the park, and within the middle had two slides – one straight and one spiral.
Red-hair and eye-shadow side-stepped up the slopes of the bridge until they faced each other near the middle. Neither reacted, but the tension to strike was high. Gary knew this would more than likely be a one attack finish.
The tension was broke by eye-shadow, who charged forward with his right arm held up across his forehead as though to pin the other against the side. Red-hair grabbed that arm, but then eye-shadow’s left fist came up to strike. With both of her hands holding his right, the only thing she could do was twist out of the way. Still holding onto eye-shadow though, she used the momentum of that twist to throw him down the slide. Still holding his arm, the two tumbled down the straight slide until they hit the bottom, where she came up victorious and dug both knees into him. However, his left fist had managed to strike her side, leaving neither a true victor.

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As we get closer to release, there'll be more information released on here, and maybe one or two more previews. There will be a bit more insight to the why, but I want to save that - as ever - for when the book itself releases. With just a month and two weeks to go, the promotion of this one is set to continue.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Kingdom Hyped - Kingdom Hearts 3 Is Looking a Keybladed Purchase [Gaming]



Now, I’ve covered Kingdom Hearts 3 briefly in the latest What I’m Waiting For, but with the latest trailer comes – as the title so rightly says – a lot of hype. Within the WIWF post, I stated that my highlights with the games come from their gameplay and the Disney crossovers. The latest trailer showed exactly what I like in full force.

We’d already seen Toy Story as a world from the trailer back in July, which showcased Olympus Coliseum from Hercules as well. This time, it was Monsters, Inc. to have that spotlight. Seeing these worlds and the interactions with characters are great, and is exactly what I’m expecting when I get into it for myself. The trailer which revealed Toy Story showed off some great combat and movement, which the latest trailer expanded on. World-specific combat options are great, and seeing a bit more of the Toy Story world as well as a boss from that world have me wanting to experience it a whole lot more than I already had been from the July trailer. The Monsters, Inc. world is also a place I’m down for exploring. The trailer also showed off the Tangled world a bit, and while I haven’t seen the film, that’s true for most of the franchises that have been represented in the past games. As I’ve always said though, for me the interactions are the driving force to any story, and seeing characters exploring these new worlds is where most of my enjoyment comes from. The fact I’m the one exploring the worlds is a bonus that helps with immersion. We’ve yet to see the Big Hero 6 world in action, but the interactions within that world are sure to be great for me as well.

As for the gameplay itself, I was hooked on KH2’s control. Dream Drop Distance took a little while to get used to. Not with the flowmotion mechanics – which I instantly got into – but the fact the commands menu is not the best thing to try operate on a 3DS. I haven’t played 0.2 or any of the HD remasters to get me back into console playing, but I shouldn’t think it would be a problem. The games are pretty similar in control scheme [exceptions being the DS games for obvious reasons] that when I get into KH3, it should be familiar to me. The new addition of keyblade transformations have been seen in the trailers, producing a variety of different attack options. The gummi ship also returns, though this time moving away from an on-rails shooter to become something more open – which I am more than happy with. The gummi ship sections weren’t exactly a favourite of mine, so I’m hoping this new form of them will prove a valuable addition.

As for speculation, I’m hoping somewhere they saw fit to include a third PIXAR world. While The Incredibles would be a bit too similar to Big Hero 6, I could see maybe Finding Nemo becoming a world with an original plot-line, or maybe Wall-E being set after the events of the first film with the Heartless trying to disrupt the efforts of the humans to restore their home. What with a certain franchise being bought by Disney five years ago, I wouldn’t be surprised if something Star Wars related made it into the game. People have said it often, but a lightsaber keyblade could be awesome to wield. The setting is important with this, though, what with the Star Wars universe spanning many, many years. I think a key idea here would be something completely original, but with enough familiar elements that you couldn’t mistake it for anything other than Star Wars. Having another world based on one of the main Disney characters – including the return of Disney Castle – would be an interesting way to explore the KH-universe versions of these characters more. We know Goofy is captain of the royal guard of Disney Castle, but could his character be explored more? Even in such a simple concept as Organisation XIII trying to frame the Guard as trying to overthrow Mickey and Minnie as King and Queen.

Last of all, I just want to say that with the Switch selling like it has, I want to see the HD collection of games make their way to it in the future. Nintendo handhelds got most of the spin-offs, so to see the main series on the Switch – along with remastered versions of the games Nintendo did get – would be an absolute dream. As unlikely as it seems, having the third game on Switch – even if it has to come a year or more after first release – would also be welcome.
When Kingdom Hearts 3 releases this year, I'm sure my Xbox will be recording many hours of playtime on it and that I'll be returning to it as much as I did the second.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Future of Mario Kart - Retro Tracks Next in Line [Gaming]


Mario Kart 8 Deluxe only released last year, making any theoretical Mario Kart 10 [or 9 if Deluxe doesn’t actually count as a release] way off from releasing – more than likely 2020. However, despite that, I’m getting into it early anyway. So here is a series that will talk about the future of Mario Kart, starting off with a simple one. If a new entry was to keep the track structure of 16 new and 16 old, which tracks from previous games would return?
The choices for retro tracks in the game are falling short for some previous entries. As you’ll see below, that makes the choice of some tracks easy. Others are more personal choice. First, my choices need to be shown off.

Shell Cup – DS Figure-8 Circuit / GBA Boo Lake / Wii Dry Dry Ruins / WiiU Shy Guy Falls

Banana Cup – 3DS Alpine Pass / GCN Mushroom City / WiiU Sunshine Airport / SNES Koopa Beach 1

Leaf Cup – WiiU Cloudtop Cruise / SNES Vanilla Lake 2 / 3DS Wuhu Island Loop / GCN Bowser’s Castle

Lightning Cup – N64 Wario Stadium / 3DS Wuhu Mountain Loop / Wii DK’s Snowboard Cross / GBA Rainbow Road

Now, the easy choices were as follows. If we keep to what Nintendo has done with all previous retro tracks, a track cannot return twice. Yes, the DLC tracks ruined that in a way by bringing back GCN Yoshi Circuit, GCN Baby Park, and SNES Rainbow Road despite them having shown up before, but until we see evidence of such happening in the main track rosters, I’m sticking with just new retro tracks. For the N64 tracks, that makes it very easy indeed, with only Wario Stadium having not returned previously. Only four tracks haven’t shown for a retro remake from the GCN, and the two I’ve chosen reflect that. Wario Colosseum hasn’t been chosen, as while it absolutely is the better of the two tracks, Mushroom City can see some valuable improvements just as Toad’s Turnpike did in Mario Kart 8. That leaves Bowser’s Castle to slot in as the other track where Rainbow Road can’t, as following the latest tradition in Mario Kart, the Rainbow Road next to get in would be the GBA track. That track is here, along with personal choice of Boo Lake, just so it can hopefully see the sort of upgrade Cheese Land and Ribbon Road did in MK8’s DLC. I’d also like to see that sort of an upgrade on the SNES tracks, which Koopa Beach 1 and Vanilla Lake 2 should hopefully provide. DS tracks are running low as well, so reducing the amount of those to just one is necessary to get them all in [without bring its Rainbow Road in before the GCN one]. As such, a track I was surprised wasn’t brought into MK8 despite the obvious name begging for an inclusion, I’ve put Figure-8 Circuit in.

That leaves us with three games remaining to choose retro tracks from. Mario Kart 8 had no recent game with four tracks taken, and I’m sticking to that here. As for the choices, these are all personal. For the 3DS, both Wuhu Island tracks were chosen because I really wish more would be done with it – not just in cameos, but as a full game. For now, these two tracks will have to do, though I’m hoping Wuhu gets a new chance to shine before 2020. The third track of Alpine Pass is here as I feel it’s one of the better tracks in Mario Kart 7. For Mario Kart 8’s returning tracks, Cloudtop Cruise, Shy Guy Falls, and Sunshine Airport were instant hits with me, and if I was to include a fourth, I think that choice would be obvious. Mount Wario is left out to give another character mountain track a chance to shine. DK’s Snowboard Cross wouldn’t need much to make it better, except for putting in a shortcut to make use of the gliding mechanic. Dry Dry Ruins is here to keep a sense of variety.

Now, there could be a few changes, such as DS Shroom Ridge, or nearly any of the MK7 and MK8 tracks, but those I’ve chosen are more than likely to be in. That is, of course, if the whole idea of retro tracks doesn’t get rethought. Or even the whole layout of cups. And speaking of, features will be the next topic of this series, and specifically ways to expand on the current structure of the Grand Prix mode.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

February '18 Monthly Update [Network]


The third novel of DarkRula Media is ready for announcement - and that novel is Elemental Heroes. If you've read Secrets Behind the Truth, you might have noticed that name and wondered if it was inserted on purpose - what with other hints I've been dropping in these updates.
Elemental Heroes is a fantasy story set within a world not unlike a video game. The focus within this world is a police force within the city of Ballart, who have a special division set up to use the power of elemental stones. The aim of the elemental division is to research these stones and set up special units to use them to ward off attacks from evil forces. There is a history within the world, and the characters you will meet, that reveals itself across the story. Set across eight episodes, the elemental division of the police force is looking to create a secondary unit to combat the increasing threats from the villains. As I stated in last month's update, it will release on 7-April.
As I work to complete it, most other posts will be slowing down. WattPad stories won't be touched until it releases, but blog posts will still be around the same amount. And one of those posts for this month will be a preview of the first episode of Elemental Heroes.
The other post for this month that will be coming is the Look Inside the Morphing Grid post for Jungle Fury and RPM. I not saying much of them here, but they certainly pick up from the lacklustre Operation Overdrive.

The website has got a bit of an update, and will continue to see small updates throughout the year. These will just be adding new content in the form of the new novels, fan-created works, and other areas of the label to it. The blog will also be featured in greater form, with it now having an actual page with links to individual posts instead of just leading to the main page. This is to make it easier for people to look for the content they want away from the blog itself. At the minute only gaming and events sections have been added, but all other sections will be added soon. The Look Inside the Morphing Grid series will have its own section, alongside reviews. A similar thing will be happening for the video media section of the site. The blog itself will get the category changes in time, but for now that simple change has already happened with tags being replaced on some of the posts. Gaming is still around, as is TV and Film. Any previous post that has been tagged under Cyber Digital Services is now under network, with events such as E3 and Star Wars Celebration being under an event tag. The other tag in use at the minute is personal, which is for those posts I feel are more about me than the topic in question. The Battlefront Retrospective has gone under that tag, as has the 2014 in Review posts.

On a simpler note, I will be making sure a video goes up this month, and since I haven't covered it since the beta, that video will be Battlefront II EA. There's a number of things I can cover on the game, having been playing Galactic Assault a lot. With a new limited-time mode coming this month, I also want to be playing that.