Sunday, 13 August 2017

What I'm Waiting For - Volume 6 [Gaming]

 There's a lot that's been happening since I last did one of these. In fact, it's almost been a year since that previous post. And the games that I have played on Switch have been really good fun. I mentioned one of those games in the last What I'm Waiting For, so let's cover those before we jump to the new stuff.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has been an absolutely stunning game. When I first played it, there was so much I could be doing within the world, and at first I was just exploring rather than following any quests. When I did start following those quests, I was still getting sidetracked by other things. It felt so open in approach, and allowed you to tackle things however the player wants. I can remember my opening few hours consisted of nothing but going for the towers and filling out the map. And in some places that's a lot harder than you might think if unprepared. I highly doubt I've explored everything even after finishing the main quest, though I'm always welcome to explore more.
Yooka-Laylee... I love the character this game has. All the self-referential humour and in-jokes are amusing to see. The games itself plays fine, and I've loved the time I've played it for. It's just... Something stops me from really going full-on with the game. I can explore, collect, and battle many things, but I don't feel like diving in for multiple sessions within a week. I don't think it's the game's fault, just that I hardly use my Xbox One for much except Forza.

As for the games I'll be talking about in this volume, one of them is indeed a racing game. It's not Forza, but The Crew 2. An idea I'd seen someone 'leak' for a Nintendo game involved a merge of Pilotwings and Wave Race into one game. I took that idea further, saying how great it would be if car, boat, and flying races were in one game, with the ability to create your own. Much like what's available in GTA Online. I went one step further with it. What if you could swap between the three during races? Cue E3, where The Crew 2 was shown off. While not much has been shown off, the trailer did show multiple vehicle racing with the ability to swap between them - whether that's in races via checkpoint transitions or in freeroam whenever you want. Again it features a version of America, this one with over 2000 square miles of map to play around in. This time, things aren't so linear, with what I'm hoping is multiple areas for progression opening up new opportunities. I'm hoping for things to explore within the open world as well, but we'll see what happens when the beta gets started. It's being advertised, so here's hoping it's soon. While I haven't played the first game, I do have it available from Games With Gold, so I can jump in and try it if I decide to do so. Despite being purely player created, GTA Online's races keep me coming back [half my own and half other creators] so we'll see if The Crew 2 can do the same. The Forza Horizon series is able to do it, so I see no reason why this game wouldn't also.

The second game is much harder to decide on what to choose. It could be Super Mario Odyssey, the game that looks to be surpassing all other 3D Mario games. It could be Sonic Forces, the game which hopefully looks to be utilising the expanded cast in more depth - even if they aren't playable still. And it would be ridiculously easy for me to say Star Wars Battlefront 2, what with it looking to improve on the first in nearly every single way.
For this though, I'm going to state another game coming in 2018. One that got that date only recently, and I'm hoping will stay with it. Kingdom Hearts 3. I started with the second game, and it was an absolute blast, one that kept me playing for years. I'd only dabbled with other games in the series, playing just a bit of 358/2 Days and Birth By Sleep. It wasn't until last year that I really started playing through another game. And that was with Dream Drop Distance. Kingdom Hearts 3 looks to expand on both KH2 and Dream Drop Distance in what should be the best game of the series to date. The reason I love the games is for their gameplay, and the crossovers with various Disney franchises. I loved exploring the Pride Lands in KH2, and seeing Pinocchio in Dream Drop Distance. There was a lot to do in the second game, and fighting alongside Disney characters made it all the greater. Now, with the third game, we get to fight alongside Woody and Buzz, which makes five characters in a party all fighting at the same time. When the game releases, it might become one of my all-time favourites. All the worlds are interesting to explore, and while I'm not one to follow the story obsessively, I understand enough of it that I should understand whatever crops up in the third game. So long as it can hold my interest with both story and gameplay, I'll be playing this one until the end.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

August '17 Monthly Update [Network]

As said when I posted a Sonic Generations video to social media, most of what I set out in the July update failed to show. I said on that social media post I would explain why those posts are missing. The fact is, I've been working toward getting my next book finished for this month. And that book is one I can announce, as I'm hoping I will have it ready for this month.
The old name of TV and Film Residential Camp has gone. In it's place is a new name, one that should reflect the overall theme. Secrets Behind the Truth tells the story of one Max Rushden, who is part of a week's visit to Plutes [Ploo-tez]- a place where not all is as it seems. As the week is over and no-one but he remembers the real events, he sets out reveal the truth of the place. But to put a plan into action, he must hide behind the truth that Plutes creates for everyone. Those who know of TV and Film from Weebly will know of the basic points, but nearly everything has gone. Been changed. New mandates, new reasons for doing things, even the details of events. Gone is the self-referential material that the plan was origianlly built on, and gone is the lack of focus I felt that part had.
Instead, there is some proper reasons for things to happen, the world and history has been set and corrected, and I feel this time it has a greater focus. If everything goes well, it will be out this month. As well as working on Secrets Behind the Truth, I've also been working on the planning for the next series I'll be starting. I'm not saying anything on it at the minute, but it is going to be within the fantasy genre. I haven't got a set time-frame for it yet, but it should be just before or after the New Year if all goes well.

Sticking with stories just for a bit longer, within the first short of Alternate Adventures - near the end - there is a slight mistake made. With the Alternate Extras short, that has now been fixed. When I update Alternate Adventures, it will be fixed. And speaking of Extras, the next part of that should be out this month. Also out this month will be the last part of Doctor Who: The Star Wars Chronicles.
The Star Wars post will be coming this month, and remains the same as outlined last month. A Look Inside the Morphing Grid for Wild Force and Ninja Storm is coming this month, and I'll try not to have any more missing months with it, otherwise it will be pushed into next year.
I said last month I would have a post about my thoughts on ARMS, the latest new IP by Nintendo. However, with Splatoon 2 also released since, as well as Sonic Mania coming this month, that post will feature all three games and be one of the last posts of the month. In the meantime, the What I'm Waiting For post will come.
That's all for now, so bye for now.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Nintendo Gamecube Virtual Console for Switch? Some Game Ideas [Gaming]

Nintendo Switch has yet to gain its Virtual Console service – where old games are emulated for play on newer systems – but one of the most requested systems to appear on the service is Gamecube. The Gamecube is quite possibly one of my most favourite systems, with a fair few series available on it that I feel have only been narrowly beaten by later entries, and some which still remain my favourites.
Take Mario Kart, for instance. Despite numerous entries after Double Dash, I would always say it was my favourite. Even when Mario Kart 8 came out – though it was a very tight call. With the Deluxe version of MK8 on Switch though, Double Dash has finally been beaten. For Pokémon spin-off games, Colosseum and Gale of Darkness are still my all-time favourites, and I’m hoping that when the main series comes to Switch, that game borrows some of the better elements from the two Gamecube games. You’ve probably heard quite a bit about this one, but Sonic Heroes is my all-time favourite Sonic game. For years I was undecided on Generations, Adventure 2, or Heroes, but the one I haven’t finished the last story for is the one I’m saying is my favourite.
However, this post isn’t meant to talk about my favourite games, it’s here to talk about bringing games to the Switch’s Virtual Console [if it arrives in the fashion we hope]. The only requirement for these games I’m talking about is that the game had to have been exclusive to the Gamecube. If we start talking about any game available, the list would be quite long.

Of course, to start off, we have the big games. Super Mario Sunshine is a game I’ve seen people ask for in other lists about the Gamecube, and while I’ve never played it myself, Mario games are always one of the most asked for games. While this one might struggle a bit with controls [analogue versus digital triggers being the main point], I still feel there can be a bit of a workaround with that. With Super Mario Odyssey coming October, and the Switch’s Virtual Console surely to come in 2018, Sunshine would be a good game for people to remember the older Mario games with. The game differed a bit from Super Mario 64 in that you had a water gun named FLUDD that helped you clean up Isle Delfino of ink and also added to the range of moves Mario could perform.
When talking of big games, the name that usually gets mentioned next to Mario is Pokémon [sorry Link]. Which is interesting to note, as the Gamecube had two rather main series-like Pokémon games released for it. The first – Colosseum – starred Wes, a member of Team Snagem who defected after a change of heart, taking the snag machine with him. The second – XD: Gale of Darkness – starred Michael, a part of Professor Krane’s research facility, as he uncovered the deeper plot of the Shadow Pokémon. See, these two games were different in that they featured very little in way of wild Pokémon [Colosseum having none at all], and having a deeper plot that didn’t involve a league. Instead, it was solely on taking down the evil organisation. Oh, and both games primarily focused on double battles. Adding new monsters to your team was done through the Shadow Pokémon. These were ‘mon who had been artificially altered to close all emotion from said ‘mon and turn it into a cold-hearted fighting machine. By using the snag machine, you could capture them from other trainers and use them as your own, eventually being able to restore them to their normal self. With a main series entry said to be coming for the Switch, these two games would be perfect if said game wasn’t appearing until 2019 to fill the gap.
Luigi’s Mansion was a brave game, starring the partner of Mario as he tried out for the next member of the Ghostbusters. Or something to that effect. It was a simple game, with the player having to capture ghosts across one of four stages. Some ghosts were within portraits, while others couldn’t be captured without collection of special medallions. There was also treasure to collect, which formed the basis for how big the mansion would appear at the ending scene. While a sequel did hit the 3DS some time ago [expanding upon the first greatly], having the original available on the go as well would be a perfect bonus.

There’s no other way to say what this next section is all about in any other way – it’s racing games. And the Gamecube certainly had a number of exclusives in that area. The first obviously being Mario Kart: Double Dash, which in my opinion was the greatest of the lot until, as I said above, it was beat by Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Switch. Now, if the Switch already has a Mario Kart, why would it need another? Double Dash is what many would consider the black sheep of the series, with many of its features never showing up in another title again [though some were reworked for 8 Deluxe]. The main feature being two-character racing. While any two characters could be selected, they were shown in pairs on the select screen. Mario and Luigi, Toad and Toadette, Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong, for example. Each of these pairs had a special item unique to them, so a giant shell resembling Bowser for himself and his son, a chain chomp for Baby Mario and Baby Luigi. The driving physics were looser, getting hit by obstacles hardly impeded the speed of the kart, and with enough skill red shells were able to be dodged without use of an item. And speaking of items, you weren’t allowed to hold them behind the kart. If 8 Deluxe isn’t getting any download content, then the next best thing would be getting the black sheep of the series available for all.
Now, the next two racing games I haven’t played, but there is certainly a calling for one of them. The other – Kirby Air Ride – was the precursor for a mode that featured in Super Smash Bros. 4 3DS. Smash Run was similar to City Trial, so it would be good for people to experience the game where that mode originated. City Trial had you driving around a city stage with several other sections, while grabbing upgrade items for your vehicle. Vehicles themselves were scattered around the map, allowing players to swap vehicles. Random events would happen during the trial, mixing up the playing field a bit. Once the countdown had ended, a small competition between racers would happen, whether that be a drag race, fights, glides, or laps on one of the game’s race courses. While normal races and top-down races were also part of the game, City Trial is obviously the main event of the game. With Mario Kart and the other game I’ll mention also being out around the time of this game’s release, it was considered the throwaway of the bunch, possibly due to its simplicity.
That other game being F-Zero GX, the super-fast futuristic racer developed by SEGA and the last 3D F-Zero game to date [GP Legend would be the last worldwide 2D release, while Climax released exclusively in Japan]. GX had thirty racers competing on twisting tracks, all at high speed, with a health and boost meter keeping things in check. The series, as well as other futuristic racers, has always been a difficult to master genre, but there’s an extra bit of character that this series provides in having characters along with the racing machines. The tracks are well worth playing the game for, but with newer futuristic racers such as FAST RMX and Redout making a mark in the genre, it makes one question whether this game would make an impact among them. Those calling out for a new F-Zero will surely jump at the chance to prove they want a new game if this became available, and in a way this game completes the trio of racing types. Kirby, the simple racer. F-Zero, the more core racer. And Mario Kart, the racer for all ages.

Those are the main six [well, seven] games the Gamecube had, though of course there’s still a few missing. These are the few that will be unlikely to appear. Super Smash Bros. Melee, for example, while a good game, possibly won’t see a release until after a likely port of Smash 4 releases, if at all. The game was the most technical of the series, still being featured in fighting tournaments to this day. How a re-release would be received is anyone’s guess, but having two Smash games available on one console would surely help with organisation. Of course, if the port isn’t perfect [and let’s not forget the fighting crowd preferring the Gamecube’s controller out of everything Smash Bros.], it will be left in the dust for the original console.
Another unlikely game would be Animal Crossing. The series has evolved so much since this version came out, that aside from the nostalgic value it holds, there is little on offer that hasn’t already been improved on. And with a Switch game sure to expand on everything the 3DS’ New Leaf gave us, there would be even fewer reasons to grab the Gamecube game. However, there is the nostalgic reasonings to consider, which is where the Virtual Console usually thrives.
The Star Fox games of the Gamecube are rather hit or miss in whether a Virtual Console release will happen. One the one hand, Star Fox Zero was a rather ambitious effort with a difficult to master control scheme, in effect spoiling the rather neat revival the series had with Star Fox 64 3D. On the other hand, if Star Fox 2 can get revived from cancellation due to fan demand, it must prove the series still has the staying power. Releasing more favoured games would be preferable, but at this point the general consensus seems to be that the games are getting similar in story, with Zero expanding on the maps and progression of 64 3D – even if it did add a lot more in terms of mechanics. As such, Star Fox Adventures and Star Fox: Assault could bring a greater sense of exploration back to the series.

Wave Race: Blue Storm is another racing game, but this time on water. 1080 Avalanche is a snow-sports racer. Both series saw their last on the Gamecube, and re-releases could help revive interest in both. While Custom Robo, an RPG about miniature robot fighting figures, saw a release on DS, the Gamcube game only saw a release in the west in America. Bringing it to the Virtual Console would allow more people to experience it.
Battalion Wars… The real-time tactical strategy game is a part of Nintendo’s Wars series, which also includes the Advance Wars games [which I’m more familiar with]. Featuring a more cartoonish style of visual, and a lighter tone than strategy games usually offer, the game still had enough depth to gain a positive reception when it first released. While the sequel on Wii might have improved on the original, the first is still the one that could use the greater exposure.
The Mario sports games feel like they are slowly declining, but that only really started from around 2011. The Gamecube had three Mario sports games, two of which were new sports the Mushroom Kingdom hadn’t seen before. The popular choice of sport, Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour had sixteen playable characters, with seven courses and various modes to play. While it felt a bit similar to the previous game of the series, it was still a stand-out entry in the series. Mario Superstar Baseball is one of the new sports, with traditional matches of baseball mixed up with Mario characters. The challenge mode has players moving up the ranks after beating various teams to face the final match against Bowser. There’s a bit more depth than I’ll go into here regarding the mode, but other modes were also available in the game. The last of the three was Super Mario Strikers [or Mario Smash Football for Europe]. A five-on-five game of football again takes characters and themes from the Mushroom Kingdom and places them into a sport, again mixing things up with power-ups and special moves. Reviews do point out a smaller solo-play offering than other games, but that’s likely due to the nature of the sport itself.
Continuing on with those three games, Superstar Baseball and Smash Football did receive sequels on the Wii, but both have since been missing in action as standalone games. The 3DS collection of Mario Sports Superstars included all three of the sports mentioned, along with tennis and horse racing, though all the sports seem to have lost the fantasy wackiness previous Mario games have excelled at. Releasing all three Gamecube sports games on the Virtual Console for Switch might prove that the sports need this wackiness to remain relevant as a series, and indeed different from the more realistic offerings from the likes of EA.

There’s a fair few other games Gamecube exclusive that I haven’t mentioned. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door is highly regarded as the best Paper Mario RPG, though with a Mario and Luigi game already being remastered for the 3DS, it is entirely possible for the same treatment to be had for Paper Mario on Switch. Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker has already seen a remaster on Wii U, so a port of that version is more likely I would imagine [though in a few years’ time after Skyward Sword has had a chance]. There was also Four Swords Adventures, but again it would be better as a remaster [in fact I’d say that game would need it considering how it was played].
Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg was a one-off game [due to SEGA not wanting to risk a sequel] where the gameplay revolves around finding and hatching eggs by rolling them around. These give improvements to the player character which help in his quest.
These are all games I wanted to highlight as potentials for the Switch Virtual Console, but I cannot end this off without mention of two games that will possibly never see a re-release. The Star Wars: Rogue Squadron games. Here’s hoping EA can make a series of air-combat games that channel the spirit of what the Rogue Squadron games were.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

July '17 Monthly Update [Network]

As you can probably see, I’ve been sorting out a few things on here. The first thing is changing the out-of-date author page with a new one that details the highlights of my work, including links on where to find each of them. Which leads to the second thing – the links themselves. The dark grey has been replaced with a dark red, fitting the styling I’m going for more clearly.
As for content, Doctor Who: The Star Wars Chronicles is at its final episode. Now that The Doctor has gone, DarkRula is on Endor helping the Mandalorians with their base, and he has a question to ask Skirata.

A new tag is being introduced for posts. It shouldn’t be a surprise what that is going to be, as it’s for my favourite franchise. All Star Wars content except reviews will be going under the Star Wars tag, and I’m expanding my coverage of Star Wars content to go deeper into the series as a whole. Starting that off will be looking at one particular area with a focus on one particular character. I’m not going to say the who or the what, but will say Revenge of the Sith is the episode that focus comes from.
I’ll be adding more to The Alternates Extras of Halesowen story, with two chapters that bring the other two short films. That then ends the extras from the first story, with a bit more focus placed on the secondary group next time. And speaking of self-publishing, the second book I am working on is soon to be ready. Again, I won’t reveal it until it is nearly ready, though I have no doubt that those long-time readers might be able to guess at what it is.
A Look Inside the Morphing Grid for Wild Force and Ninja Storm is incoming, and I’m hoping to put a bit less focus on the overall season arcs themselves and more on what I think of said seasons. The original post about Mighty Morphin’ worked well in that regard, owing to the massive amount of episodes that series had. Since then, I’ve put too much focus on summarising the episodes themselves, and while I won’t redo the previous posts, all new ones will make sure to give my thoughts more.

Nintendo’s new IP of ARMS has been very fun indeed, and I’ll be giving some thoughts on it. And now it is after E3 and new games have been announced, I find myself planning another What I’m Waiting For. Along with that, I’m sure I’ll have more posts about the Sonic the Hedgehog and Pokémon games coming soon.
As for now though, that’s all for now, so bye for now.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

A Look Inside the Morphing Grid - Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue / Time Force [Network]

Here we have two seasons that have some very powerful and serious stories to them. Two seasons which have great character development and world building. Time Force also brings forth my favourite villains from the series, and hits the top with many things I like from the franchise.

Lightspeed Rescue has a strong start, and manages to introduce the major elements in the first episode. Stunt pilot Joel, rock climber Kelsey, water park performer Chad, and firefighter Carter are recruited by Lightspeed to tackle the demons that have risen once again. The base is underwater, as that is the one place the demons cannot travel. The demons expect their queen to be waiting at their castle, but all they find is her son. The episode shows all of these, but does little to explain them, and that works to keep the pace brisk. There's time for explaining stuff when focus is placed on them. Joel at first is wanting nothing to do this plan, but once the monitor shows the demons destroying the city, all of them are willing to help. The fifth Ranger is Dana, the captain's daughter. The monster is tackled, along with some Batlings, and the Rangers are cheered by the watching audience. That is something Lightspeed Rescue is the first series to do - have the entire team of Rangers not hide their identities. The second episode puts the rescue in Lightspeed Rescue, and also introduces the zords and tech specialist for the season. It also acted as Joel's character test, as he has a thing for the tech specialist, though since he heads out for flowers instead of going to the induction briefing, doesn't realise who she is. Carter has to face the difference between obvious and right, Kelsey shows her stuff in rescuing a friend, and Dana has some trust issues with her dad. These first few episodes start to go deeper into what was set out in the opener, and I really like that the rescue theme is followed a lot.
Joel and Ms Fairweather part two happens in the episode that introduces some new gear to the Rangers. Vypra - one of the demons - has a powerful vehicle that the Rangers are unable to stop. Joel is making advances on Ms Fairweather again, and she doesn't want him looking in on the project at hand. He gets it into his head that it's for him, and gets a shock when the Lightspeed Cycles are revealed. The Rangers make good use of those cycles to damage Vypra's vehicle.
Cyborg Rangers come into the fight, and replace our team. Their electronics get ruined when struck with lightning, and they turn on their creators. The Rangers sort them out, though it gives a bit of insight into how they feel. Kelsey and Joel take their dismissal a bit personally, though still head to the rescue at Carter's calling. Dana is going to support the cause, and while Chad does so as well, at the minute he feels as though he is only here to fill the fifth space.
Up To The Challenge fixes that by giving Chad his own episode, and fills out his character a bit more. He is shown to not get goaded into a fight, and willing to resolve a fight without attacking. The idea of someone bad turning good is followed in the next episode, where the demons decide its time to make a dormant volcano active. With Dana on a bus heading to the volcano, a criminal is on board as well, and in a moment of chaos is rescued by Dana and the bus driver. That criminal does the same for the others on the bus when he has to take over driving and manages to avoid the debris from a rock-fall. While he still gets arrested, he says he doesn't mind as he will come out a better man. The volcano is still active and the Rangers still need to do something about it. This is where they get the Super Train Megazord, which comes in handy for battling some monsters and stopping the volcano. The story is strong within those two episodes, and only gets stronger with the next topic at hand. The Titanium Ranger.

Lightspeed are testing out the Titanium morpher, but Carter is unable to morph. It seems testing on this has been going for a while, as it is said it is too dangerous to continue. That night, the morpher is stolen. In their next battle, Vypra brings forth the Titanium Ranger, and the other Rangers are almost destroyed by his hand. They get recalled, and when in battle again with new V-Lancer weapons, the tables have turned. They have the chance to destroy him, but Captain Mitchell orders them to return again. The Titanium Ranger is his son, and Dana's brother. The story is told, about how Ryan was saved by Diabolico and his life signed over to him. Since that time, Ryan had been fed with stories of how his dad never cared for him. He learns the truth in a confrontation with his dad, when both are hanging from the same root as the night they were split. The root starts to give, and Captain Mitchell lets go to save Ryan. Ryan jumps and morphs to save his dad, but in the end gives up the Titanium power. He retakes it once he realises he had good inside him still. However, there's a complication. Ryan has been branded with a cobra curse, and each time he morphs, it moves further up his body. Once it hits his neck, he will be destroyed. It's powerful interactions within this family that make this arc so great. Everything feels well put together, and the pacing is great. We actually see the Titanium morpher get stolen, and the intruder looks upon the picture of the Mitchell family, hinting that a family crisis is to be started.
Ryan decides to face the cobra curse head-on as Diabolico does the same with the Rangers. Ryan overcomes the curse and joins the Rangers to finally take down Diabolico. In doing so however, Queen Bansheera says that her son Impus will be their downfall. His first plan is to infiltrate the Aquabase, and to do that he captures four of the Rangers and transforms into each in turn to trick those of the Aquabase into thinking everything is fine. When the entrance opens up though, they realise what is happening and Impus is revealed - now under the new name Olympius. Carter runs Olympius through the emergency water breaker and ends up at the beach. His powers weakened, the other Rangers are released from him. The other demons arrive and retreat with Olympius, leaving behind a demon for distraction.
Queen Bansheera returns, though only partially, due to the ceremony to bring her back being interrupted by the Rangers. Ryan leaves on a mission to find out how to capture the demons once and for all, and the plans to destroy the city get ever grander. As Olympius continues to fail, Queen Bansheera decides to transfer command to Vypra and Loki. Since Olympius overheard that, he takes them both out, and tells a story that they were destroyed by the Rangers. The two survive though, and end up at the tomb of the demons. There they reserrect Diabolico, and the three plan to get revenge. Ryan has seen this happen, and tries to warn the Rangers. Connection is spotty, though the Rangers find out for themselves anyway. Diabolico is wanting his star power back, which had been transferred to Impus upon his destruction, and a rivalry between the two begins.

The team-up arc. Lost Galaxy and Lightspeed Rescue. Trakeena wants revenge on the Galaxy Rangers, and so plans to attack Earth. Using the power drained from captives, she hopes to return to her full-powered form. She also tricked Olympius into thinking it was for Queen Bansheera, and when he finds out her true plans, a blade is poisoned with the intention of poisoning Trakeena's energy tubes. Now, all of the first part I found good. It showed a personal issue, with a little girl's mom getting captured, no-one believing her, and Carter befriending this girl and helping her. The Galaxy Rangers are introduced throughout the two-parter, and there's a good sense of character, some good fights, and it is evenly paced in exploring the story. The second part felt as though it wanted to rush to the battles, then felt as though it rushed through the fights as well. A battle with Olympius and the demons happens first, with Trakeena morphing to her poisoned form in supersize. The zords are called, the Galactabeasts arrive and are taken out all too quickly, and the entire two teams fit inside the Omega Megazord with the Lights of Orion active to deliver the final blow. The ending scene shows Carter thanking the girl for all her help after being reunited with her parents, and it is sweet to see this scene end with Carter giving her a Lightspeed badge and saying she is officially a Junior Ranger.
Ryan is looking for a sorcerer to read the ancient writing he found at the demon tomb, and Olympius wants to gain access to the shadow world, where the spirits of defeated demons lie. The sorcerer of the sands reveals himself to Ryan, and as Diabolico shuts Olympius in the shadow world, the sorcerer reads the sealing spell. Diabolico counters the spell and turns the sorcerer to sand. Olympius returns to the real world by pulling power from those demons previously defeated, along with a power boost from the Aquabase courtesy of a hypnotised Captain Mitchell. The end result is that Olympius gets destroyed and needs nursing back to full power by Jinxer. Queen Bansheera is finally at full strength, and she takes it out on both friend and foe. First by taking Vypra's lifeforce, then using Loki to trap the Rangers in the demon underworld. Carter isn't with the group, and runs into Olympius. Loki is destroyed by Queen Bansheera controlling Diabolico, and this scene actually makes you care for the villains in this case. They wanted nothing but to serve their Queen, but now she is back at full power, she's taking them out one-by-one.
Olympius and Diabolico fight, and the former delivers the latter to Queen Bansheera, who controls Diabolico again. The Rangers struggle to fight both of them, though Carter manages to break Diabolico from the control, and the two demons take each other out. Morphed to supersize, the Rangers bring out their Megazords, but all get destroyed in the battle, leaving them to use the one weapon they have left - the Lifeforce Megazord. Diabolico and Olympius are no longer problems, but the Aquabase is about to get a problem of its own. A Batling card placed on the Lifeforce Megazord means the creatures can spawn inside the base. The Fate of Lightspeed Part 1 does a great job of setting up the tension ready for the second part. The batlings run havoc inside the Aquabase, and outside it when they take control of the Lifeforce Megazord. Ryan has been captured, and Carter heads inside the demon underworld to rescue him. Queen Bansheera is getting ready to unleash her ultimate plan to bring all defeated demons back from the shadow world. Jinxer has taken control of the repaired Omega Megazord to prepare the ceremony, and Captain Mitchell, Ms Fairweather, and the other Rangers take control of a submarine to evacuate the Aquabase, taking out the Lifeforce Megazord as they leave. Ryan and Carter do the same with the Omega Megazord. All the pieces are in place though, and all six Rangers head inside the Skull base to do one final battle with Queen Bansheera. The tomb is opened, and Carter pushes Queen Bansheera inside, though gets caught and dragged in as well. He manages to hold on, and Diabolico returns in spirit to help the Rangers one final time. Though the demons are gone, the Rangers are willing to help out in any way they can.

Time Force opens with a battle between Red Ranger and Ransik in the year 3000. Time Force is out in full surrounding the building the two fight to make sure Ransik cannot escape. He is captured, and the court rule guilty for all his misdeeds. During the break before the decision was made, Red Ranger Alex proposes to his girlfriend Jen. Such is unfortunate what happens next. Jen, along with Lucas, Trip, and Katie, have the job of transporting Ransik to the prison. An ambush was set up to free Ransik by his daughter - Nadira - which succeeds, and the four transporters get relieved of duty. Ransik heads to the prison anyway, intending to free all the mutant criminals and take them with him to conquer the past. Alex shows up, and Jen watches as he is killed. It is up to the four to go back in time to 2001 and stop Ransik once and for all. Nadira robs a jewellery store, and the four of Time Force try to stop her. The morphers are not working, and they are outmatched. Jen fights against Nadira, and gets overpowered and held by two Cyclobots. Before they get a chance to destroy her, someone comes along on a motorbike and takes them out. Upon taking his helmet off, Jen gets a shock as the motorist looks an almost replica of Alex, and it is clear she still cannot face what happened to him. Once the motorist has gone, Jen follows him to the mansion he lives at once it becomes clear he is needed to activate the morphers. At first he is hesitant to join, but upon seeing what they are facing, Wes decides to join the four. Morphers active, the five become the Time Force Rangers and battle Ransik’s forces. Jen takes Wes’ morpher, saying he is no longer needed. This is a very strong opening. Beating even In Space in my eyes. It sets the main motivation for the Rangers to do what they have to, and Erin Cahill as Jen is already feeling like an absolute match. She manages the feelings of Jen so well, and other actors do their part as well. Ransik and Nadira are already becoming my favourite villains just from this two-parter, and when that happens, it is obvious a lot of care has been put into crafting them.
The next episode introduces the Time Force Megazord, which can transform into two modes, as well as continues the struggle between Wes and Jen. Wes tries to take on Nadira on his own, causing the other Rangers to come to his rescue. Trip tells him the story of Alex and Jen back at the mansion, and Jen gives Wes one more chance to prove himself. He does that brilliantly, and becomes the fifth member of the team. As a nice gesture to the team, he finds them somewhere to stay – an old clock tower that used to house a small business called Nick of Time Odd Jobs, which the Rangers are happy to resurrect. Wes also learns of Ransik’s past, though he gets the full truth from Jen. We haven’t seen much of Mr Collins - Wes’ dad - and we get introduced to what he is like. He only cares about money, and what it can do for him, as we see when he hands over ten million to a business deal rather than to pay a ransom to save some kids. Wes takes matters into his own hands, and takes that money. Realising he doesn’t fit with his father, Wes leaves for the clock tower.
When the Fatcatfish is released, Jen has trouble controlling her emotions, as this was the mutant set on destroying her and Alex. Frax sets up a trap so Jen is led to Ransik instead, and is almost killed. The mutant DNA of Ransik is playing up again, allowing the Rangers to take Jen away. In the last battle, Jen has the Fatcatfish at gunpoint, but Wes convinces her not to destroy him. I like all these interactions, and this feels the most real Rangers has ever got with them. There’s also feelings developing between Wes and Jen. And also the matter of starting to realise that their actions in the past will be affecting the future. First by a crystal being made by Frax that shouldn’t be invented for another 100 years. Then the fact that Mr Collins made use of a weapon that shouldn’t exist in this time. There’s also the fact the Time Shadow now exists in the future as well.

Things start heating up around Silver Hills as a new force comes into play. Mr Collins has set up the Silver Guardians, a military force that helps the rich protect their property from the mutant threat. We are also introduced to Eric, an old partner of Wes from back at school, who seems to have something to prove – as he did back then. And it seems to have caused a rivalry for the two, especially when the Quantum Controller becomes available. The fact Wes is a Time Force Ranger is revealed during a fight to both Mr Collins and Eric, with the former not understanding his son’s decisions and the latter looking for a way to one-up Wes. That is when Eric steals the Controller during a fight, and takes it to a safe place. Eric asks for leadership of the Silver Guardians due to the current leader being out of action, but Mr Collins rebuffs him, effectively treating him as though he is nothing worth considering. The chase is then on for the Controller, with the mutants, Rangers, and Eric all heading to its location. With Eric in control of it, Wes tries to convince him this isn’t something he should get involved in. Eric becomes the Quantum Ranger anyway, and while the Rangers try to convince him to join them, all he wants to do is use his new Ranger status to become leader of the Silver Guardians, and give them an advantage with the Time Force technology. To do that, he needs the Q-Rex. Ransik releases a mutant to head back in time to control the Q-Rex. Eric and Wes do the same, though they end up fighting each other as well as surviving the Jurassic period. Owing to that, the mutant gets control and creates another warp, which Wes and Eric chase the mutant through. Eric manages to get control of the Q-Rex, and achieves what he set out to do. Mr Collins makes him leader of the Silver Guardians, though he failed to get the other Rangers on his side. Across these four episodes, I felt they had strong interactions throughout. Eric as a character is set up greatly, and it is clear that he believes he is better than Wes.
Mr Collins’ research of the Ranger weapons is always going to run the risk of falling into the wrong hands. While that is the case with the next episode, it is resolved quickly and we also get to see Eric both confident and unsure within the space of a few seconds. He respects Mr Collins, sure. But seeing Mr Collins be so disregarding of the fact his lead researcher could have been hurt has got to be making Eric think. We also get to find out a bit more about Jen, and it is clear the bond between her and Alex is very strong. He was the one who mentored her just as she was about to give in, and she also seems to be conflicted with her feelings for both Alex and Wes. As Eric continues blocking the Rangers, Trip manages to find out why, and in a way Eric starts realising it. He feels different from everyone because he’s lonely. Has always been so. Jen starts to get through to him, as Eric withholds information about the Rangers from Mr Collins at her request.
I haven’t talked about themes or opening title sequences during these posts, but from this point on Time Force has a change of sequence that I feel fits better with the overall theme. It also hints at the arc in which it is used from – that being Movie Madness. This two-parter is a completely nonsense plot that crams as many movie references into it as possible. There’s kung-fu, samurai, jungle, wild-west, musical, and quite possibly what I see as a reference to Michael Jackson’s Speed Demon Moonwalker segment. The two-parter takes things to a much more comical tone than most of the entire season, and it fits despite seeming as though it’ll be out of place.
The future is brought into the past again as Jen’s first partner at Time Force is released and seeks revenge. Another mutant is causing everyone’s skin to boil, the same thing it did with Ransik, and the only cure is a serum that Ransik has control of. A few drops is all it takes for Bio-Lab to recreate it and help the city, but Ransik learns a truth. Frax is secretly a doctor that helped him all that time ago, waiting in robot form to exact revenge. The doctor showed Ransik compassion. All Ransik showed the doctor was hatred, having stole the serum and destroyed the doctor’s lab. Eric also starts to realise that helping people is a greater reward than gaining their money. He also starts joining with the Rangers in friendship more, bar Wes. Wes and Jen also realise they are close, and that really gets put to the test.

Throughout the season, there has been a mysterious figure. He looks like Alex, though we never truly know if he is. When he heads to the past himself, and reveals himself to the Rangers, it certainly causes conflict within the team, and certainly between Wes and Jen.
Ransik launches and all-out assault on Bio-Lab to gain control of the serum they made. Mr Collins stands up for Wes, and Ransik himself strikes him down. Eric stands off against Ransik but is no match, and when he sees Mr Collins getting taken away to the ambulance, he tags along to make sure he is going to make it. The Rangers defeat another mutant, and Alex reveals himself to the team. He takes over as Red Ranger and starts commanding the team, leaving Wes to take over from his dad – who Alex says will die tomorrow. As the team gets stressed by Alex’s command and Wes is missing being a part of the team, Frax gets one over the Rangers with his own super robot creation. The Rangers try twice to take it down and fail, leading the others to reproach Alex’s command. Wes stops Frax as he is about to destroy the team. Alex realises Wes should be the true Red Ranger and hands his morpher back. This arc is a whirlwind of emotion for the characters, and I love the powerful feelings it can evoke if you have been invested in them. Alex saves Mr Collins by handing him a life orb, and Wes and his dad finally have that understanding between them that shows a real bond between them. Alex leaves the future in Wes’ team’s hands.
After such a serious arc, it’s time to wind down again with an undercover mission, and a mysterious box. Frax has intentions of turning humans to robots, which Jen and Wes stop. A black knight has come to town looking for someone pure of heart to open the box of the white knight. Just as Eric got his battliser by proving himself, so does Wes – from inside the box of the white knight. The Lightspeed Rangers team up with Time Force as Vypra returns with a new super demon to tackle the Rangers with. There’s not any real character bonding or even much interaction between the two teams except for at the end, but it is a good episode.
The build-up to the end is coming, and the next few episodes slowly reveal all. Ransik is still furious at Frax, Frax is building a new robot to destroy the city, and it seems the future isn’t all that bright. With all mutants but Ransik now in containment, the Rangers face the prospect of returning to the future. Even when Alex warns them of the impending doom and order them back, they refuse. Nadira is starting to question the side she is on, and comes to the realisation that she doesn’t hate humans, it’s just been forced upon her by her father. Frax has been found and reprogrammed, and his new robot is unleashed upon the city. The Megazord is unable to be called upon, as the fabric of time gets distorted from the overload of the Trizerium crystals powering the robot and Q-Rex. Wes makes a difficult decision in sending the Rangers back to where they belong [or back to the future, if you prefer]. Wes and Eric fight through their injuries, and recover at the clock tower. They are found out, and overrun. Wes overloads one of the weapons still around and blows the clock tower up. In the future, the Rangers refuse to have their memories wiped, with Jen handing back the engagement ring that Alex gave her. Using the Megazord in jet mode powers through the time holes and saves Wes. Eric had been seriously injured protecting Wes and his dad, thanks to Wes finally getting through to him. The crystal in the Q-Rex gets neutralised, and Frax’s robot destroyed. Nadira questions the reason for the hate to her dad, but he has let it consume him and he attacks her. While he does battle with the Rangers, she helps protect a baby, hiding in a warehouse. Jen leads Ransik to that warehouse, where he strikes out and unknowingly hits Nadira instead. Jen comes up behind and attacks him, forcing him to see who he had attacked. Unable to stand that he had almost lost his daughter, he lets his hate go and turns himself in. Just as with the opening arc, the ending is just as powerful. Across three episodes, it feels paced right, and never has a moment that doesn't pay off in some way. An emotional end happens on the beach, with Wes and Jen finally admitting their feelings for each other. Mr Collins also makes an offer to Wes. He is to become the leader of the new Silver Guardians, who protect all the people for free. Eric is to be Wes' second-in-command.

Lightspeed Rescue just falls short of In Space, though it is a great season overall. It has some great character interaction with some great fights. There are a few episodes that fall short though, whether through some funny pacing or just a few flat parts. Both Lightspeed Rescue and In Space are beaten by Time Force in almost every way. As I said at the start of Time Force, Ransik and Nadira managed to become my favourite villains just from the opening episode. All character introductions felt perfect or near enough. I can't really say the same about Lightspeed Rescue's villains though. As such, Time Force takes the top spot, beating out In Space. The full list now:

Time Force
In Space
Lightspeed Rescue
Lost Galaxy
Mighty Morphin'

I realise I'm falling ever more behind with these posts, but next time is a look at Wild Force and Ninja Storm. If you read my review of the 2017 movie, you'll know that I prefer most Disney seasons and how the series was handled under them. As such, these posts should start picking themselves up again.