Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Ghost's Kitchen: Cornbread Casserole

What's cooking today?
Cornbread Casserole

Hello everyone and welcome to another segment of...

Have you ever been invited to a function or a party where the host tells you that they have the main dishes covered but they just want you to bring a side dish?  That used to annoy me partially because I would sit there and think "well... crap!  Most everything I know how to cook is a main dish or the side items are cooked with the main dish."  You don't want to be extremely lame and bring something that you just need to open the can and warm up, or something you just pick up from the store and open.  At the same time...what else is there for side items?  Sure there are some really elaborate side dishes that can be made but who has time for that?  Ultimately you just bring a pot of baked beans or offer to make a dessert instead and hope for the best.

Well now you don't have to do that.  Today's dish is a simple side dish that goes great for small outings and can easily be doubled for larger events.  It's something that shows you cared enough to actually cook a side dish but it's also extremely easy to make.  I'd like to thank my sister-in-law, Rachel, for giving my wife this recipe that I can share with you all!

Gather Your Ingredients
  • 1 can whole kernel corn
  • 1 can cream styled corn
  • 1 stick butter
  • 8 oz container of sour cream
  • 1 box Jiffy corn bread mix
  • 8x8 glass dish
  • Spoon
1. Preheat oven to 350°F

2. Place butter in dish and place in oven

3. Remove from oven as soon as the butter is melted fully

4. Pour both cans of corn and sour cream into dish

5. Mix thoroughly

6. Add Jiffy Corn Bread Mix to the dish

7. Mix till uniform texture
Don't get lazy on this one.  Mix this stuff together vigorously.  When you think it's mixed enough, mix it for another minute because the more thoroughly mixed this is, the better end product you will get.

8. Bake for 45 minutes.

9. Cut the casserole into slices and serve.

TIP: If you are having a large party and need far more of this simply double all of the ingredients, use a 9X13 pan, and bake for an hour and 15 minutes. 

This is insanely simple.  It's one of those things that can be done without really thinking about it but will be impressive to bring simply because it's not just something lame picked up at the store.  It tastes great and goes with just about anything.  One word of warning though.  This may not be the case with you but personally I wouldn't fix this dish too often.  It's not that the dish is bad it's just one of those things that... when you eat it too often you get sick to death of eating the blasted thing.  Due to it's easy and inexpensive nature you may be tempted to make this a lot as I did, but resist the urge and it will remain a favorite,

This is Ghost fading into the darkness.
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If you want to see my other food topics and recipes then simply click here!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Whovian Chatter: The Davison Years Season Twenty One

Ghost here, thanks for joining.

I'm going to be examining Doctor Who... every single episode.  I'm going to take you on a journey through the 50+ years worth of this show, showcasing the good and the bad along the way.  For each episode I'm going to give you a very brief rundown of the plot, how good/bad the story is, and anything interesting about the episode.  Basically I'll just talk about whatever comes to mind for each of them.  These will be a more in-depth overview of the series as a whole so you can see which stories or episodes (if any) you want to check out for yourself.  Today I'm going to be talking about

The Fifth Doctor
Peter Davison
Season Twenty One

Peter Davison's part of season twenty one ran from January 5, 1984 to March 16, 1984.  It contained twenty episodes across six stories.  Season twenty one was another year of rapid change toward the end of the season.  For the first time since season four we have a regeneration in the middle of a season.  This season also experimented with turning a four-episode story be turned into two 45-minute episodes with Resurrection of the Daleks.  We say goodbye to Tegan, Turlough, Kamelion and the Fifth Doctor all within consecutive episodes and we pick up a new companion in American botany student Peri Brown.  This season carries the interesting reputation of having what is probably the greatest single story of the entirety of the Classic Show which is immediately followed by the single worst story of the entirety of the Classic Show.  We'll see the good one this week and the bad one next week.

Story 131
Warriors of the Deep

The first story is Warriors of the Deep and it's four episodes long.  The Doctor decides to show Tegan something of Earth's future and lands on Sea Base 4.  Unknown to the members of the base, a battle ship of the Silurians is nearby and is reviving members of the Sea Devil race.  The Silurians and the Sea Devils attack Sea Base 4 with a large marine creature called the Myrka who kills everyone in it's way.  The Silurian's plans is to cause the humans to destroy themselves by triggering a global war.  The Doctor tries to find any way to stop the Silurians and Sea Devils but when they will not sway he ends up using a toxic gas that is lethal to all reptilian life.  The Doctor, Tegan, and Turlough along with the sole survivor of the Base leave in despair though they saved the world.

This is quite frankly terrible.  The only good thing I can say about this story is that the Sea Devils have donned a sort of Samurai outfit which looks nice.  Everything else about this story is a train wreck.  There were many production issues with this story and it was almost not made; I'm not convinced that they made the right choice.  The outfits were bad, the Silurians looked silly, the lighting was poor, the story didn't have enough substance, and the Myrka suit was one of the worst looking and laughable things I've ever seen.  I know what they were trying to go for and if they'd had another script re-write, more money and no production problems this could have been good.  As it stands...no  this is very bad.

Story 132
The Awakening

The next story is The Awakening and it's two episodes long. The Doctor has decided to take Tegan to see her grandfather in 1984, but when the TARDIS lands in a decrepit church and a boy wearing 17th century garb, they question where they've landed.  It turns out that the village in which her grandfather lives is doing a sort of English Civil War reenactment but things are getting far too serious when Tegan's grandfather is locked up, people are being kidnapped, and the leader is requesting the murder of the Doctor and Tegan.  It turns out that a creature known as the Malus, a giant face stuck in the wall of the church, has been psychically controlling the leader of the war games and is feeding off the psychic energy of the people causing them to obey and turn on themselves.  The Doctor, with the help of a couple people in the village and an actual 17th century boy who accidentally ended up in 1984 break the Malus' hold on the people and eventually cause the leader to fall into the mouth of the Malus destroying both and freeing the village.

Many of the two-episode stories aren't that great but this one is the exception.  In fact the only really negative thing I can say about this story is that it's too short.  It honestly might have been better if it were a three part story and allowed the plot to breathe a little bit.  There is SO MUCH crammed into this story that I didn't even bother to mention and I'm not entirely sure how they were able to fill these two episodes with so much content.  Why?  Despite the shortness and the amount of material, this is neither confusing nor a massive cluster.  Somehow it just works.  It's short, the villain is threatening, and everyone is doing a fantastic job.  Check this one out!

Story 133
Frontios

The next story is Frontios and it's four episodes long.  The TARDIS lands on the planet of Frontios where the last remaining group of humans are barely surviving due to constant meteor bombardment, lack of supplies and the fact that members of their party keep going missing.  The Doctor helps the injured out but after another meteor bombardment it appears as though the TARDIS has been destroyed leaving behind only the Doctor's hat rack.  As another member of the humans is dragged into the Earth, it is discovered that the cause is a group of insect aliens known as Tractators and their leader, the Gravis.  The tractators, with their powers over gravity, have effectively destroyed the TARDIS and intend on using the humans to power mining machines to transform Frontios into a space ship so they can destroy other planets via gravity.  Tegan, Turlough, and the Doctor find parts of the TARDIS stuck in the rock walls and eventually finds what is left of the console room.  They trick the Gravis inside and cause him to use his gravitational powers to reassemble the TARDIS.  This cuts him off from the Tractators leaving him immobile and the others harmless.  The Doctor dumps the Gravis off on a deserted planet and leaves the humans to rebuild their society.

Most people enjoy this one fairly well but it's lost on me.  For a story about the TARDIS being effectively destroyed, this one sure is boring.  It's probably the single most boring Davison story there is.  I'm fairly certain I've fallen asleep watching this one as well and that's a shame.  Bug creatures controlling gravity and dissembling the TARDIS should be one heck of a story but it's just not.  Come to think of it... exactly HOW did the Gravis destroy and reassemble the TARDIS using gravity when it's clearly stated in Tom Baker's era that the inside of the TARDIS is in another dimension??  Bah who knows.  You may not find this as boring as I have but I still don't recommend it.

Story 134
Resurrection of the Daleks

The next story is Resurrection of the Daleks and it's two 45-minute episodes long.  The TARDIS lands in London 1984 where they discover the Daleks have made a time corridor to a ship in the far future.  The Daleks, working with a man named Lytton, are attacking a prison ship that's holding Davros in suspended animation.  It seems that the Daleks have lost their war with the Movellans because the Movellans developed a virus that would kill Dalek life and they need Davros to come up with a cure for it.  At the same time they are making duplicates of people on earth to take over the planet and intend on making a duplicate of the Doctor, Tegan, and Turlough in order to take over Gallifrey.  Davros, however, is having none of this and begins creating his own army of people and Daleks who are only loyal to him.  A battle ensues between the humans, the Daleks loyal to Davros, and the Daleks loyal to the Surpreme Dalek.  With no other choice, the Doctor opens up a canister of the Movellan Virus and kills all of the Daleks in the area which potentially included Davros.  Due to the bleak nature of their travels recently, Tegan decides to leave as it is the proper time period for her.

Resurrection of the Daleks is an odd one in the fact that the episodes are 45 minutes long.  This story is pretty dark and it has the highest on-screen death count of any episode of Doctor Who.  It's got an interesting story and struggle going on, but the death overshadows anything else about this story.  You can't really blame Tegan for not having any fun anymore.  So far this season we've had a story were almost everyone dies, a creature that feeds off violence, almost ending the human race, and all of this death.  This is a pretty good story that I can recommend.

Story 135
Planet of Fire

The next story is Planet of Fire and it's four episodes long.  The Doctor and Turlough are taking a vacation on the island of Lanzarote when Kamelion starts to mess with the TARDIS console and is mentally taken over by the Master once more.  At the same time a young girl named Peri finds a strange artifact in the ocean that resembles the mark on Turlough's arm which is transmitting a signal. The Doctor traces the signal and heads off to the planet Sarn.  While on Sarn, Turlough meets with another man who has the same mark as him and due to that marking may, in fact, be his brother.  Turlough reveals to the doctor the truth about the marking and how his family were exiled after a revolution. The Master uses the controlled Kamelion to assist in taking the Master to the rejuvenation flames on Sarn.  The Master was meddling with his tissue compression machine and it backfired causing him to be only a few inches tall.  Eventually Turlough realizes the nearby volcano will destroy the colony and calls his home planet for help.  Elsewhere, the Master is ready to be healed, but the Doctor turns the flames to another setting on him and he seemingly dies.  The Doctor then obeys Kamelion's wishes and destroys the robot.  The Doctor and Peri go to pick up Turlough but he has decided to go to his home planet instead.

This one's just ok.  I skipped a bunch of stuff about some god the people worshiped and how the people with the mark were seen as chosen ones and so on because it ultimately didn't matter that much.  This sees the departure of Turlough and the arrival of Peri.  It's sad to see Turlough go because he was such a unique companion.  Peri, however is one of those companions who was popular at first but then the fans turned on her and I'm not entirely sure why.  She's pretty great!  This story is kind of odd.  Check it out if it seems interesting.

Story 136
The Caves of Androzani

The last story of the Davison era is The Caves of Androzani.  The Doctor and Peri arrive on the planet of Androzani Minor where they get involved in a struggle between a large corporation and an underground madman who is obsessed with beauty.  The mines on Androzani Minor are filled with the components to make a sort of life serum to keep people young for as long as they have the solution.  Unfortunately both the Doctor and Peri have contracted spectrox toxima and are slowly dying.  The only cure for this disease is the milk from a giant bat that lives in an area deep underground without any oxygen.  Things continue to get more complicated as a group of renegades start pushing the Doctor around and everyone ends up separated.  Eventually the Doctor escapes and finds the bat but there is only enough antidote for one of them.  He instantly and gladly gives it to Peri, regenerating as soon as he does.

This is an absolute must see.  This is the strongest episode of the Davison Era, 1980's Doctor Who and quite possibly the strongest story of the Classic Era all together.  Yes, it's that good.  I know I didn't go into great detail on the story but that was mostly out of respect and wanting you to watch this.  This story is near perfect.  The cliffhanger at the end of episode 3 is one of the greatest in the show's history.  There is nothing bad I can say about this story.   You have to see this one, you'll be glad you did!


Conclusion

Thus ended the Peter Davison Era.  His part of this season was rough for me.  I feel as though I should probably enjoy some of these stories more than I actually do.  Maybe you will see something better than I have but for my money, The Awakening and the Caves of Androzani are the only really good ones this season.  If I'm being honest, the whole of the Davison era just sort of blends together with only a couple of really stand-out episodes.  It's not as though the stories are the same it's just that it sort of melts into one giant mediocre blob of stories.  I have nothing against the Fifth Doctor or his era but it's just mediocre.  We do get to see the Fifth Doctor one last time but that won't happen until the Tenth Doctor's era. Please join me again as we continue to examine all of Doctor Who.

This is Ghost, fading into the darkness
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You can click here if you wish to see my introduction to Doctor Who
If you want to check out all of my Doctor Who content please click here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Ghost in the Case: Turtles Forever

"We are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  We strike hard and fade into the night."

Ghost here!  Thanks for joining me today for yet another


As obsessive of a fan as I am of Doctor Who now, it's nothing compared to the Ninja Turtle fanboy I was when I was a child.  In truth, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was the first thing I became consciously aware that I was a fan of.  Sure I enjoyed Winnie the Pooh, Inspector Gadget, Alf, and various movies... nothing was quite as amazing as the Ninja Turtles.  In the early 90's Ninja Turtles were an onslaught on people's consciousness and wallets and I was stuck right in the middle of it all.  I had mountains of toys, several VHS tapes, Turtles clothing and bed sheets, I even had my parents paint my room green!
I mean look at that Christmas '93 haul!!  You can see the green walls and, yes those are Ninja Turtle underwear that 7 year old Ghost is wearing there.  Now granted, I only got this massive haul to distract me from my first Christmas without my grandfather but that's a whole other topic...

To my delight, the Ninja Turtles struck a chord with many people and are still being rebooted and continued to this very day.  Somehow  Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird had produced something that has truly lasted and will most likely keep being brought back every few years when someone gets money or another idea.  However, all of these reinterpretations have been met with mixed results.  I'm especially talking about the Michael Bay produced Ninja Turtles movies.  I will admit that I originally boarded the hate train with the first movie before even seeing it; something that I actually regretted doing.  The film was neither a masterpiece nor the greatest film in the franchise...but it wasn't all that bad.  The sequel was released only a couple weeks ago and just like its predecessor, it is being dashed and hated by most of the critics that I have watched/noticed anyway.  I have yet to see this new installment in the franchise but I shall at some point.

So if you happen to be disappointed in the latest Ninja Turtles movies but would like to see some Turtles action...well then watch the 1990's live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as it is truly superior in most ways.  However, if you want to see something a bit different while still being good then you should check out today's entry, Turtles Forever.  Turtles Forever is the 25th anniversary celebration of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  It is a 2009 animated movie which features the 2003 incarnation of the Turtles teaming up with the 1987 incarnation of the Turtles involving various characters and technology from both shows... as well as a third set of turtles.  Let's take a closer look at Turtles Forever shall we?

The Plot

Master Splinter is alerted to a news report being plastered on TV that his pupils, the Ninja Turtles, were captured on tape fighting a group of thugs known as the Purple Dragons.  The Turtles have no knowledge of this confrontation and head to Purple Dragon HQ to investigate.  While there, they find these doppelgangers are actually themselves from the '87 series' dimension.  The '03 Turtles rescue their '87 counterparts, but a small canister of ooze splashes on one of the Purple Dragons in the scuffle.  The '03 Turtles ask for an explanation but are forced to call backup when the '87 Turtles decide not to talk and instead get some pizza.  They openly walk among the crowd, causing panic in the streets and eventually forcing Splinter to set a trap for the '87 turtles.  Seeing their sensei look so bizarre makes the '87 Turtles reevaluate everything that has happened since last night and '87 Leonardo explains.

The night before, they were fighting Shredder over the mutagen Donatello was currently carrying.  The fight concluded in Shredder's Technodrome, but the dimensional teleporter malfunctioned and it must have shot not only the Technodrome but these turtles to this other reality.  Following the recent increase in seismic activity, both Donatellos track down the Technodrome underneath New York City.  Shredder notices the eight turtles and manages to escape.  The '87 Turtles decide to build a dimensional portal device to head back to their reality and get some anti-Technodrome gear. Meanwhile, Shredder uses the knowledge he just gained to track down that dimension's Shredder as well.  '87 Shredder finds the '03 Shredder frozen off world and uses the teleporter to bring him back but discovers that not only this dimensions Shredder is a pink alien similar to Krang (who is pleased) but also that the '03 Shredder is far too insane to work with.  Krang and '87 Shredder gas the '03 Shredder and intend to cut him open and study him.  However, '03 Shredder's adopted daughter Karai breaks into the Technodrome and releases him as she had been closely monitoring his exile.

On the surface, The Turtles and Splinter are attacked by the Purple Dragons and their leader Hun.  Hun wants the mutagen that '87 Donatello has on him as the previous vial turned his man into a gigantic dog mutant.  The Turtles manage to escape but only after Hun is exposed to the mutagen himself and becomes the very thing he hates the most... a mutant turtle.  Hun wanders around the sewers in his new form before running across the Technodrome now being ruled by the '03 Shredder who has created a new humanoid exoskeleton.  '03 Shredder offers an alliance with Hun and sends him, Bebop and Rocksteady to the Turtle's lair to capture them.  Meanwhile, '03 Shredder has been upgrading the Technodrome to be extremely lethal and effective.  He has also upgraded the Foot Soldier Robots as well as replicated the mutagen and turning his human Foot Soldiers into mutants.  He then uses the Technodrome's computer to learn about parallel worlds and other dimensions.  Hun, Bebop and Rocksteady attack the Turtle's base and capture Splinter as the ceiling begins to collapse.  '87 Donatello uses the dimensional transporter device he had been building and safely sends all eight turtles to the '87 universe.

With Hun having lost the turtles, '03 Shredder keeps Splinter as bait for the turtles and launches an all-out assault on New York to drive them out of hiding.  In the '87 universe, the '03 Turtles meet the '87 April and Splinter as the '87 Turtles grab their anti-Technodrome gear.  All eight turtles open the portal back to the '03 dimension where they notice April and Casey trying to repel the attacks of the upgraded Technodrome.  The Turtles grab the Party Wagon and Turtle Blimp and head back to the '03 Dimension.  There, they tackle many of the mutant and robotic soldiers of Shredder and head into the Technodrome to find Splinter.  It is then that '03 Shredder springs his trap and begins scanning all eight Turtles.  Now that Shredder has knowledge of other universes he has the Technodrome's dimensional teleporter scan the turtles so that it can find Turtle Prime, the source of all the hundreds of Ninja Turtle Dimensions there are.  If he can destroy the Prime Turtles then he can destroy all of the turtles in existence at once.  The Technodrome finds Turtle Prime as both sets of turtles disappear seemingly destroyed.  The Technodrome travels to Turtle Prime and begins destroying that universe which causes the other universes to begin erasing itself from existence.

The eight turtles reappear in the '03 universe having been saved by Karai who has realized what Shredder's actions would cause.  The both Donatellos work together to quickly rewire the portal device to follow the Technodrome's energy traces and teleport themselves just as the '03 Dimension is entirely erased.  The turtles land in the black and white Turtle Prime, the setting of the original comics only to have their original selves attack without provocation.  They stop once the Shredder is mentioned.  The twelve turtles come up with a plan and the Prime Turtles taunt Shredder by insulting his pride.  Before '03 Shredder can even leave the Technodrome, Prime Shredder appears but is comically taken out by the other turtles in hiding.  '03 Shredder faces off against the Prime Turtles who are quickly joined by the '03 Turtles, '03 Splinter, '87 Turtles, '87 Shredder, Krang and Karai.  '03 Shredder uses the molecular amplification technology from the Technodrome to increase in size, but is knocked into the destruction beam from the Technodrome proving it to be his weakness.  However, bumbling idiot Rocksteady accidentally unplugs the beam.

'03 Shredder grabs the Prime Turtles and begins crushing them to death causing the Prime World and everyone else to begin disappearing.  Shredder would rather there be no reality at all than have any of the turtles alive.  The '87 team uses their anti-Technodrome exploding stars to stun '03 Shredder causing him to drop the Prime Turtles.  It is at this time that Bebop plugs back in the beam thinking he was helping '03 Shredder; this destroys '03 Shredder.  With the enemy defeated, the various dimensions begin to return into existence.  The '87 crew return to their dimension in the Technodrome while the '03 crew return using the portal device.  The Prime Turtles comment on the other turtles and decide to go for a slice of pizza.  Meanwhile, in another dimension, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird put the finishing touches on their first issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and express the hope that the comic will sell.


What's Good About It?

You can tell that this is a 25th Anniversary celebration as there are so many little things littered throughout the movie which point back to something or include something from the franchise.  The plot revolves around the Technodrome's dimensional teleporter, a constant from the '87 series.  If you pay close attention to the background characters in various scenes you will see Tokka and Razar from the 2nd film in the '03 Universe, while Irma, Vern, and pre-mutation Bebop and Rocksteady in the '87 Universe.  The '87 Turtles have to rescue April for no reason whatsoever as was common in that show.  Prime Leonardo begins narrating over their fight with the other eight turtles; this is a direct quotation of the opening to the original comic as the turtles are fighting some random thugs.  Also there are all the various universes seen when '03 Shredder is talking about the Turtle Multiverse...it even included that strange Japanese thing that happened.  There were several other things being referenced or seen on-screen but this is a really awesome way to look back over the 25 years leading up to this movie.  (Obviously this wouldn't include the '12 series or the Bay Movies)

What's Bad About It?

Honestly, they got the '87 Turtles all wrong.  I'm not just talking about the voice acting here.  The original voice actors could not reprise their role for the movie due to some Union garbage that was out of their control , and the guy they got to do Raphael actually sounds like the original Raphael.  However the characterization of the '87 Turtles is what I'm talking about and it was all wrong.  Yes the '87 series was a bit more cartoonish and childish.  Yes that series had a lot more strange ideas and weird things about it but it wasn't ever that bad.  The '87 Turtles wouldn't just constantly be goofing off and being childish for no reason; they wouldn't shrug off something important even for pizza.  And while I know that the older show had some bizarre creatures, to showcase off a leprechaun, mutant bowling ball, and mutant banana in the '87 Universe segment was more bizarre and dumb than that original show was.  Seriously, go watch the six episode Season One of the original cartoon and see how completely wrong the characterization on these guys are.  It's almost like the creators subconsciously wanted to point out that the '03 series was far superior.  It was just a shame because we older fans became fans because of the '87 series.  They should have treated it with a little more respect. 

When Nickelodeon first aired this show, they cut eight entire minutes off of the run time.  While nothing major was cut, those eight minutes gave some much appreciated back story to some of the actions.  It explained that Karai was keeping an eye on Shredder and was notified when his body was back on Earth.  It showed the turtles having a more in depth discussion about the differences in their Shredders etc.  Again it was nothing massive but it was something worth keeping around just to add information to what's going on and help out some of the pacing.  Nickelodeon DID add those eight minutes back in and showed the movie again on their channel, but for the DVD release in North America they left it at the version missing those 8 minutes with no plans to release the unedited version.  However they did release the unedited version on DVD in the PAL region for some reason.  Ridiculous.

The Perfect Median

I only had one positive and two negatives because I felt as though this needed it's own section. 

In many aspects, this movie is the perfect median for all of the Ninja Turtles as a whole.  It's a great middle ground for getting into the franchise.  Why?  It's equal parts goofy, funny, serious, bizarre, intense, containing ridiculous science, and awesome.  Which is honestly what most of the rest of the franchise can be in varying amounts.  Fans of the Ninja Turtles often forget some of the more...nonsensical elements of the franchise.  They forget the beginnings and some of the more strange elements.  The '87 Cartoon Series was originally created to sell toys and many of the characters would be released for purchase before a story was even written around them.  The same cartoon series had nonsensical science that would never come close to happening coupled with bizarre things like The Easter Bunny being an in-universe character.  The '90 movie which is seen by most as the pinnacle of the Ninja Turtles movies has the main villain getting teenagers to steal stuff because....who knows.  He didn't really have an endgame here.  The second movie was anticlimatic as can be while the third movie was just bad.  The TMNT movie was basically a turtles version of the 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo.

At the same time, many things are fantastic with the film.  The original comics were harsh and gritty.  The '90 movie had some of the best puppeteering I've ever seen.  Certain incarnations make April an awesome fighting member of the team.  It's great to see the Michael Bay turtles doing weird stuff in "real life" that they couldn't have done with puppets.  The '03 series was far darker and closer to the comics.  The '12 series actually made them act like Teenagers.  There's a lot of good and bad but the franchise has never been perfect...that's the same with this film.  It's certainly not perfect but it will give you a good taste of whether you will like this franchise at all once you watch it.

Conclusion

I'm glad this was made and I'm glad that I watched it.  While they did get the '87 Turtles wrong it was still a good representation of all things Turtle.  If this would have been the last thing ever made for the Ninja Turtles, I would have been find with it as it went out with one heck of a bang.  Fortunately it seems that the Turtles are going to keep going strong on into the future.  If you are interested in the Ninja Turtles at all and want to see something pretty amazing then you should definitely check this bad boy out!

This is Ghost, fading into the darkness.
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If you want to see my other Movie and Television reviews/recommendations then simply click here!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Whovian Chatter: The Davison Years Season Twenty

Ghost here, thanks for joining.

I'm going to be examining Doctor Who... every single episode.  I'm going to take you on a journey through the 50+ years worth of this show, showcasing the good and the bad along the way.  For each episode I'm going to give you a very brief rundown of the plot, how good/bad the story is, and anything interesting about the episode.  Basically I'll just talk about whatever comes to mind for each of them.  These will be a more in-depth overview of the series as a whole so you can see which stories or episodes (if any) you want to check out for yourself.  Today I'm going to be talking about

The Fifth Doctor
Peter Davison
Season Twenty

Season Twenty ran from January 3, 1983 till March 15, 1983.  It contained twenty two episodes across six stories. Doctor Who had finally made it to twenty seasons!  As such, the creators decided to celebrate Doctor Who by having every episode this season feature a character from the show's history or reference to the past.  One references the future though they didn't know that at the time.  Remember that downgrade in quality I keep bringing up?  Well, you can see it here as only one... maybe two of these stories are really pretty solid.  Yes, the other stories are still entertaining or interesting but they're not necessarily that good.  Also during this season we gain companion Turlough and lose Nyssa.

However that's not technically it for this season.  While it is a standalone story, most people include the Doctor Who 20th Anniversay Special, The Five Doctors, in with this season.  It was a single 90 minute episode that ran on November 25th 1983.  It was set to feature all Five Doctors and sort of does thanks to some footage from Shada.  I'll talk more about it and the problems in making it below.

Story 124
Arc of Infinity

The first story is Arc of Infinity and it's four episodes long.  On Gallifrey, a traitor has found the Doctor's bio-data and has used it send The Renegade, a being of anti-matter into the TARDIS to infect the Doctor.  The Doctor and Nyssa decide to go to Gallifrey because the Doctor knows the universe is in peril if this creature crosses over.  Meanwhile the High Council of Gallifrey have determined to bring the Doctor there anyway and send the eager Commander Maxil to fetch the Doctor.  The Time Lords recognize the danger and sentence the Doctor to death in order to stop the threat.  However, the execution is faked as it seems a member of the High Council is the traitor.  The Doctor is in mental communication with The Renegade who shows that he has found Tegan in Amsterdam and is holding her hostage for the Doctor's cooperation.  With help from Maxil and another Time Lord, the Doctor outs the traitor and learns that the Renegade is actually the Time Lord, Omega.  He quickly heads to Amsterdam.  The Doctor is too late as Omega has used the Arc of Infinity to cross over into this universe, but his skin is starting to decay as the transfer wasn't stable.  If he were to disintegrate it would mean the death of the universe by anti-matter.  The Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan track down Omega and use a disintegration gun to return him to the realm of anti-matter.  Tegan joins the TARDIS crew as a willing companion.

This one is just ok.  The plot is fairly confusing but it's still an entertaining ride.  There is a moment where Nyssa threatens the High Council at gunpoint to let the Doctor go which was a really great scene and made Nyssa a really awesome character when pushed to her limit.  This one points to the past by bringing back Omega from the 10th anniversary special The Three Doctors.  It was neat to see an old villain most people had forgotten but I wish they hadn't changed the costume.  His old one was much more fierce and cool.  This one also unknowingly points to the future as Colin Baker, the 6th Doctor plays Commander Maxil.  Funny story, Colin Baker was asked to tone down his performance because they felt he was out-acting the main characters (which was true) and he refused saying that everyone should act like they are the star of their own show. Its during the filming of this story that he became friends with the production crew and that is what ultimately lead to him being the Doctor next season...but I'll get to that in another talk.  This one is entertaining enough so give it a watch if it sounds interesting.

Story 125
Snakedance

The next story is Snakedance and it's four episodes long.  When the TARDIS lands on Manussa, Tegan begins having nightmares of snakes once more.  The Doctor is afraid that the Mara is trying to return to her mind and attempts to calm her down by taking her to the cave from her dreams.  Instead, she runs away frightened and eventually succumbs to the Mara once more.  The Manussians are to celebrate the 500 years since the Mara was defeated on their planet and the leader's son, Lon is to take place in the ceremony.  Unfortunately for Manussa, the possessed Tegan finds Lon and marks him with the snake mark.  They intend to use the Great Mind's Eye crystal during the ceremony to allow the Mara to become a living being once more.  The Doctor and Nyssa try to find a way to stop this and discover an old psychic snakedancer who explains the only way to defeat the Mara is with a still place in the mind.  As the Doctor and Nyssa rush to the ceremony, Lon places the crystal in the wall and summons the Mara.  The Doctor finds a still place in his mind and refuses to look upon the giant snake thus causing an interruption and the Mara turns to ash.  The Doctor then comforts Tegan that the Mara is finally gone for good.

It's not too incredibly often that you get a direct sequel to another story in Doctor Who, but here another one sits.  This is of course the sequel to Kinda from last season and our mention of the past for the episode.  This one, like Kinda is good.  Janet Fielding does an excellently creepy job of playing the possessed Tegan toying with people.  While the giant snake effect is still not fantastic, it doesn't take away from how good this story is.  If you liked Kinda then you should enjoy this.

Story 126
Mawdryn Undead

The next story is Mawdryn Undead and it's four episodes long.  Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart has retired from UNIT and is teaching math at a local school.  There, a boy named Turlough (who is actually a stranded human-looking alien) steals the Brigadier's car and crashes it.  While unconscious, Turlough is contacted by the Black Guardian who offers Turlough passage off Earth in exchange for the Doctor's death.  Turlough accepts and is sent to a star liner stuck in a perpetual time loop.  The TARDIS has also landed on that same star liner being sucked into the time loop.  The Doctor meets with Turlough and agrees to go with him via transmat back to earth in 1983.  There Turlough attempts to murder the Doctor but cannot do it.  The Doctor asks Nyssa and Tegan to fly the TARDIS down to them, however the machine appears then immediately disappears.  Trying to find out what happened the Doctor finds Lethbridge-Stewart but he has no memory of their adventures; some trauma had happened to him to make him forget.  However he does remember seeing Tegan and a TARDIS in 1977.  While in 1977, Tegan and Nyssa meet the younger Brigadier and find an injured alien in a pod they mistakenly think is the Doctor.  The alien says the ship will have the means to heal him so the three take him back to the starliner.  The Doctor, Turlough and the older Brigadier return to the star liner as well.  It turns out the star liner is full of scientists trying to tap into the Time Lord's regeneration ability but are stuck as undead beings unable to die.  Eventually both the younger and older Brigadiers meet and touch hands causing a temporal explosion which allows the scientists to finally die and causes the trauma making the Brigadier forget.  The Doctor accepts Turlough as his newest companion unaware of his deal with the Black Guardian.

This one is a really interesting story with many ideas being explored.  We get to meet our new companion Turlough and it's a type of companion we haven't really had before.  This one is intent upon killing the Doctor and even once that plan is eventually stopped there still remains a sort of underlying darkness in the character.  You never quite know what he's going to do and it's for the betterment of the show.  It's also good to see Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier again!  However as much as I enjoyed this story, it was somewhat ruined when I found out it was supposed to be William Russell returning to the role of Ian from the First Doctor's stint for this episode.  That would have been even more fantastic.  This one is fairly solid but the whole undead scientists thing just takes a back seat here to the interactions of the TARDIS crew, Turlough, and the Brigadier.  However we once again have three companions so you know what that means....

Story 127
Terminus

The next story is Terminus and it's four episodes long.  The Black Guardian gives Turlough another chance to kill the Doctor and orders him to sabotage the TARDIS console.  This causes the ship to sort of fuse with another vessel and forces the Doctor to land the TARDIS on the ship.  The ship is called Terminus and it is basically a leper colony trying to find the cure.  Nyssa quickly becomes ill and is taken by the slave-like labor force who need a chemical provided by the company to live.  She is handed over to the dog-like Garm who is trying to treat people with radiation.  The Doctor meanwhile discovers that there is a problem with the ship's fuel and if it jettisons said fuel like the computer is planning to do it will cause a massive explosion wiping out many planets.  The radiation treatment works on Nyssa and the Doctor helps the Garm to be free from his masters.  With the Garm's help the Doctor is able to disconnect the computer.  The TARDIS crew go to leave but Nyssa decides to stay behind and use her scientific knowledge to help the Garm refine his radiation treatments and turn Terminus into a true hospital.  The Black Guardian is angry with Turlough and tells him that he only has one more chance or else he will die.

These actual episodes are pretty boring if I'm being honest here.  Truly three companions are too much as once again Tegan and Turlough spend much of their time just sitting around.  What's more interesting about this story is what was going on behind the scenes.  Sarah Sutton's contract with the show was expiring.  She didn't want to have Nyssa leave.  Peter Davison asked to have her remain on as he felt Nyssa was the perfect companion to his Doctor (and in many ways he was right.)  Even the script writers didn't make it that apparent she was leaving in the episode.  You could tell the writer didn't want to write her out either but yet Turlough was brand new and Tegan had just come back so the end was inevitable for Nyssa.

Story 128
Enlightenment

The next story is Enlightenment and it's four episodes long.  After some interference by both the White and Black Guardians, the TARDIS crew find themselves on an Edwardian ship in space.  The leaders are of a race of Eternal beings and have hijacked humans and vessels to participate in a race out of their sheer boredom.  The prize is Enlightenment, the power to know all things.  The Doctor begins to get suspicious of
sabotage as some ships are seen to be blowing up.  The Doctor, Tegan, and Turlough go to the ship's deck, but when the Black Guardian mentally taunts Turlough he decides to end his suffering and jump overboard.  Turlough is then picked up by a pirate ship whose captain also serves the Black Guardian.  After some spying around and more sabotage, the Doctor and Turlough eventually work together and overthrow the pirate ship finishing the race in first place.  This causes the other ships to disappear and the human crew to return to their times and lives.  The White Guardian then dismisses the eternals back into their plane of existence.  The crystal Enlightenment stands before them but the Doctor refuses his prize.  However he says Turlough is entitled to a portion of the prize as he helped.  The Black Guardian reminds Turlough of their agreement and says that he can give up the diamond or kill the Doctor and gain both Enlightenment and the TARDIS.  Turlough refuses and throws the diamond at the Black Guardian who bursts into flames; their agreement permanently ending.  The Doctor points out that Enlightement was never the diamond, but the choice.

This one is surprisingly good.  Maybe I'm just a sucker for a good race story but I honestly really enjoyed this one.  Mark Strickson did a fantastic job showing the turning point and darkness of Turlough throughout this story.  It was also neat to see other powerful beings in Doctor Who.  Most alien races are on-par or less than the Doctor but just in large doses.  Here, however, we have multiple beings of immense power and the Doctor is more or less just a guy who does good stuff.  Check this one out, you may be surprised by how good it is.

Story 129
The King's Demons

The last story of the season is The King's Demons and it's two episodes long.  The court of King John of England is staying at a noble's castle.  When the King insults the head of house, the man's son challenges the King's champion Sir Gilles Estram to a joust.  The son loses quickly but the joust is interrupted by the landing of the TARDIS.  King John greets the Doctor, Tegan and Turlough as friends calling them "my demons."  Things become stranger when the Doctor finds the exact date and realizes King John would actually be taking the Crusader's Oath at this point and not at this castle.  The Doctor gets into a fight with Sir Giles Estram for him to reveal that he is actually the Master and runs off in his TARDIS.  The King knights the Doctor as his new champion but things still aren't adding up.  Eventually the Doctor confronts the King to find that he is actually a shape-shifting robot named Kamelion under the control of the Master.   The Master plans to use Kamelion to make the King behave so terribly that it will cause a revolt and topple the real king from the throne thus stopping the Magna Carta.  The Doctor and the Master mentally fight for control over Kamelion with the Doctor winning and sealing Kamelion into the TARDIS.

This one.....what??  So let me see if I got this straight.  The Master intends to topple the foundation of parliamentary democracy in England by making the King behave so badly that it will cause a revolt and not allow him to sign the Magna Carta...when in reality King John was so unpopular that his behavior caused a revolt which had him sign the Magna Carta.  I.....freaking what??  Don't get me wrong it's an interesting two parter but the Master's plan makes no sense.  This also introduced the companion of Kamelion and if there's one companion you didn't know about it's probably him.  Why?  Well he appeared in this story and makes another appearance in the 4-part Planet of Fire and that's about it.  All six episodes he's being used by the Master for evil purposes.  The backstory on Kamelion?  Well John Nathan-Turner thought it would be a great idea to have a shape-shifting robot that was played by an actual robot.  The problem was that the creator was the only one who could control him...then the creator died meaning no one could control him.  This is a really really weird two parter that I suggest only because of how bizarre it is. 

Story 130 (Special)
The Five Doctors

The next story is the special 90 minute episode The Five Doctors. A strange figure beings to use a Time Scoop to bring various incarnations of the doctor, some of his companions, and some of his enemies into the Death Zone on Gallifrey.  The First, Second, and Third Doctors along with Susan, Sarah Jane, and the Brigadier are successfully brought along with a Dalek and some Cybermen.  When the figure tries to get the Fourth Doctor and Romana they are stuck in a time vortex.  The Fifth Doctor feels the effects of his previous selves being ripped from time and collapses.  The various Doctors realize where they are and with their companion head towards the large tower in the center of the area avoiding traps along the way.  The High Council of Gallifrey has notices the Death Zone becoming active again and the Doctors being taken from time.  Reluctantly they offer the Master a full pardon and new set of regenerations in exchange for helping the Doctor. The Fifth Doctor pilots the TARDIS to the Death Zone and meets the Master who is knocked unconscious by Cybermen.  The Fifth Doctor uses the transmat device the council gave the Master to return to the council room.  Eventually he discovers that it is President Borusa who has been using the Time Scoop and is intent upon become the Lord President Eternal by claiming immortality from Rassilon's tomb in the center of the Death Zone.  The other three Doctors and their companions convene at the tomb, find a way to allow the TARDIS inside the tower, and find a riddle that those who lose shall win and those that win shall lose.  Borusa forces the Fifth Doctor to go with him and claims immortality for his own.  The voice of Rassilon appears and grants Borusa his wish, turning him into a living stone statue.  Rassilon then uses his mental powers to return the Master to his time and un-freeze the Fourth Doctor.  He offers immortality to the remaining Doctors who all refuse and return with their companion to their time stream.

This story is an absolutely excellent piece of Doctor Who history.  It takes a look back at the entirety of the twenty years of Doctor Who to see where it has been.  It is a celebration of everything Doctor Who.  There are a couple of unfortunate circumstances that made the story not that fantastic at point.  Frazier Hines (Jamie) was supposed to play a larger part but had to back out forcing some re-writes.  Then Tom Baker refused to be a part of the project so there had to be even more re-writes which was to the story's detriment.  Don't come here for an excellent story...come here for a celebration of all things Doctor Who.  It's fantastic to see all of these old members of the show.  We get to see Susan, Sarah Jane, and the second and third Doctors again.  We also get brief cameos of Zoe, Jamie, Mike, and Liz.  Thankfully the story starts with William Hartnell's speech from The Dalek Invasion of Earth.  I hate that Hartnell had passed away by this point but we still get to see the First Doctor  Let's also talk about Richard Hurndall who plays the First Doctor.  This is the first and only time that a previous Doctor has been played on-screen by another actor.  Hurndall does an excellent job at capturing the First Doctors gravitas and spirit to the point that the Carole Ann Ford (Susan) was almost brought to tears because she had effectively seen Bill again.  Also as a last note, it was during the filming of this story that Patrick Troughton advised Peter Davison to do the role for three years then walk away.  This was advice he heeded and passed on to David Tennant who basically did the same.  If you like the classic Show then this is a must see...if for no other reason than seeing a robot take out an entire platoon of Cybermen single handed.

Conclusion

That was season twenty.  In my opinion it's objectively worse than the previous season however it doesn't have any absolute disasters like Time-Flight was.  It's kind of hard to classify this season because there were a lot of ideas and moments that were more interesting than last season but it's also a lot more dull than last season.  I guess it just depends on your personal feelings.  The Five Doctors, however, is amazing.  Please join me again as we continue to examine all of Doctor Who.

This is Ghost, fading into the darkness
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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Ghost's Arcade: Is Nuzlocke Really Worth It?

Just giving you a heads up... today's entry is going to be a little different. 

Ghost here, thanks for joining me.

When it comes to video games, the quality of the playing experience is the most important factor.  However, there is something that is almost as important... replay value.  I realize some of you may be saying "well, if it's good the first time it should be good the second time."  That's not always the case.  There are some games that are engaging and enjoyable on a first playthrough but due to either the nature of the game, a disappointing ending, the game being stale, or some other factor, a game may not actually play well a second time.  One such franchise that has always had a bit of a problem with replay value is the Pokemon series.

When it comes to actual gameplay, the Pokemon series has always been a top notch contender at least in terms of the main entries in the series.  However, the games are more designed for non-stop play as opposed to re-starting the game and have always made things difficult for you if you wanted to re-start your file.  The ability to delete your save file is neither explicitly stated nor intuitive, re-starting means that any legends, shinies, or rare pokemon you may have will disappear unless you trade them to another cartridge or placed them in the paid pokemon bank, and all wifi DLC for these games are time sensitive meaning that you won't be able to obtain a certain key item or pokemon via download ever again.  Even if you didn't care about any of the things mentioned above, the pokemon gameplay gets rather stale because we all have our favorite creatures and know where to find them.  This becomes a problem because so often we end up just using the same pokemon to do the same stuff making the game be the exact same experience over and over.  It just gets boring.

That's where the Nuzlocke Challenge comes in... or so I'm told.  I'd heard of the Nuzlocke Challenge many times over my stint of being on the internet and would constantly tell myself that it sounded ridiculous.  However, I found myself wanting to play my Pokemon Y game again but didn't want to have just the same old thing.  After my friend Brandon talked in depth about his Nuzlocke on Heart Gold I decided I would give it a try.  I boxed up my pokemon, re-set my game and started off on a new kind of journey.

Is the Nuzlocke Challenge worth it?   Well, let's find out.

What is the Nuzlocke Challenge?

For those of you who don't know, the Nuzlocke Challenge is a special way to play a pokemon game to increase the difficulty, shake things up a bit, and draw a closer "bond" with the pokemon in your team.  The idea was originally created by an online comic trying out something funny and attempting to make a run of Pokemon Ruby more difficult.  The object is to set certain self-enforced rules in addition to how the game is normally played.  This can include things such as permanent death, limiting the pokemon you can capture, limiting items, stopping ways to make the game easy etc.  There's only a couple of rules that are considered standard.  Everything else is up to the player; you can make the challenge as easy or as difficult as you want.


My Rules

Since every Nuzlocke Challenge has rules, these are the ones that I have decided to go with for my first run.
  1. Any pokemon that faints is considered dead and must be boxed permanently
  2. I may only catch the very first wild encounter pokemon I find in any route/cave/etc.  If the wild pokemon faints or flees there is no second chance.
  3. I must nickname every pokemon I receive
  4. A white out (all pokemon in party faint) means Game Over
  5. No running from wild pokemon encounters.
  6. No Voluntary Resetting.  If things go sour you just have to let them happen as they happen.
  7. I may keep my starter
  8. Any shiny pokemon that appear may be captured and used.
  9. Gift pokemon or forced encounters are acceptable to use.  I may also capture the first wild encounter of the area.  I then must choose between the gift/forced one and the wild encounter.  The other must be permanently boxed.
  10. If I need the use of an HM and I don't have a pokemon that can handle that, I may capture one which can but it must never be used for battle.
  11. No use of Pokemon Amie or Super Training
  12. Bullcrap Clause - Occasionally the numbers game is ridiculous and allows for things to happen which pretty much never happen during normal gameplay.  I may invoke the bullcrap clause for things that are above and beyond ridiculous.
With my rules set, I decided to boot up my Pokemon Y game and begin this strange journey.   Next will be my day-by-day log of important events as I play through the Nuzlocke Challenge Pokemon Y.

My Nuzlocke Log

Day 1: Slightly Rough Beginning
  • Chose Finnekin (Harry Pawter) as my starting pokemon
  • Instantly regretted playing this as Harry Pawter performed a crit hit on Route 2's Pidgey wild encounter making that whole route useless to me now
  • Obtained Level 2 Caterpie (Margarine) in Santalune Forest (OH JOY... merrrrrr)
  • Obtained Level 5 Fletchling (Greyson) on Route 3
  • DEADPOOL: None yet
 
Day 2: Mostly Looking Up
  • Obtained Level 6 Azurill (Blue) on Route 22
  • Evolved Margarine into Metapod then Butterfree
  • Took on the Santalune City Gym - I had forgotten all about Surskit and he came within a couple Hit Points of killing my Harry Pawter.  Fortunately he defeated Surskit, leveled up, and learned Flame Charge which secured my victory!
  • Obtained Level 8 Skitty (Grumpy Cat) on Route 4
  • Invoked Bullcrap Clause on Wild Ledyba - This stupid thing decided to spam supersonic every single turn.  It hit every single turn and confused all five of my pokemon who hurt themselves every single turn till they were all almost dead.  Ran from battle
  • Obtained Level 10 Bulbasaur (Bulba Fett) in Lumiose City
  • Obtained Level 10 Bunnelby (Thugs Bunny) on Route 5
  • Evolved Harry Pawter to Braixen and Bulba Fett to Ivysaur
  • DEADPOOL: None

 Day 3: It All Goes South - EXTREME Salt Edition
  • Obtained Level 12 Nincada (Suki) on Route 6
  •  Evolved Blue into Marill and then to Azumarill
  • Fought a Furfrou double battle on Route 6.  Lost both Harry Pawter and Bulba Fett to them.  Furfrou freaking suck!!
  • Greyson grew two levels during the Furfrou battle and then evolved so he did not learn ember upon becoming a Fletchinder.  I decided to transfer him to my Alpha Sapphire because I desperately needed that fire move now that I'm without my starter.  However my Pokemon Bank has a communications error and got locked.  Had to wait about thirty minutes to retrieve my bird.
  • Obtained Level 15 Snorlax (Hodor) on Route 7 - Forced interaction.
  • Double Battles were invented by someone deeply sadistic.  Got into a double battle with Serena against Trevor and Tierno.  Serena didn't pull her weight AT ALL.  I had to defeat all three of their pokemon.  As such I lost Suki, Thugs Bunny, and Grumpy Cat in the process.  SCREW ALL THREE OF YOU TRAINERS!
  •  Was hoping my first wild encounter on route 7 would be a croagunk as it had a 35% chance of showing up.  This way I could have him instead of snorlax.  First encounter was a Volbeat so I didn't even bother
  • Went into Connecting Cave hoping for ANYTHING but Whismur.  I could have really used Zubat, Medidite or Axew.  Obtained Level 13 Whismur (Thu'umBurst)
  • DEADPOOL - Braixen, Ivysaur, Nincada, Bunnely, Skitty

Day 4: Many Small Victories and One Giant Loss
  • Obtained Level 14 Grumpig (Gerudo King) on Route 8
  • Obtained Level 16 Hippopotas (Triple H) on Route 9
  • Obtained Level 16 Machop (DoUEvenLift) AND Level 15 Shiny Cubone (Crossbones) in Glittering Cave
  • Obtained Level 20 Tyrunt (Sharptooth) in Ambrage Town
  • Was trying to level up DoUEvenLift and ran into a wild Solrock.  I sent in Blue because his water/fairy type would be a piece of cake.  Lost Blue to Fire Spin plus a critical hit from confusion.
  • Ran back to Parfume Palace with old rod to catch a Magikarp since I now had need for a water type again.  Obtained Level 15 Magikarp (Leviathan)
  • Got to Cyllage City and attempted the gym.  First trainer with a Relicanth almost killed everything in my party.  Decided to stop and level grind tomorrow.
  • DEADPOOL - Braixen, Ivysaur, Nincada, Bunnelby, Skitty, Azumarill

Day 5 - Cue the 80's Training Montage/Death of a Dinosaur
  • Obtained Level 20 Electrike (Thunda-bolt) on Route 10
  • Invoked Bullcrap Clause again when Thunda-bolt was KO'd by 3 consecutive crit hits from a hawlucha.  I've also decided that Hawlucha was created by Satan himself as encountering him in the wild always leaves 2-3 of my pokemon on death's door thanks to crit hits.
  • Evolved DoUEvenLift to Machoke then to Machamp thanks to a friend
  • With DoUEvenLift at Machamp levels, I was able to 1-shot everything in the second gym!
  • Obtained Level 21 Dedenne (Not Pikachu) on route 11
  • Yet another Double Battle and Yet another Death.  I'm to the point now that if I see a double battle coming I might as well just throw away my favorite pokemon.  Lost Sharptooth to a Machoke Mr. Mime combo that only attacked him.
  • Going to take a few days break from this Nuzlocke Challenge because I just don't have the heart to continue.  All of my best guys keep dying.
  • DEADPOOL - Braixen, Ivysaur, Nincada, Bunnelby, Skitty, Azumarill, Tyrunt

Day 6: The Reckoning
  • I have come back to my Nuzlocke after a few days determined to not lose another pokemon.  I am pissed and decide to take several hours to train my main team up to level 35.
  • Went into reflection cave hoping to find something unique that I could use like Carbink or Sableye - Obtained Level 21 Chingling (Ring A Ding)  FFFFF
  • Evolved Crossbones, Thunda-bolt, and Thu'umBurst.
  • With Greyson in hand, I obliterated the Shalour City Gym with relative ease.
  • Obtained Level 32 Lucario (Aura) at Tower of Mastery
  • Obtained Level 30 Lapras (Nessie) on Route 12
  • Was hoping for a wild Heracross encounter on Route 12 so that I could pick him.  First encounter was a slowpoke so I stuck with Lapras
  • DEADPOOL - Braixen, Ivysaur, Nincada, Bunnelby, Skitty, Azumarill, Tyrunt

Day 7: Making Good Progress
  • Ran back to Cyllage City with Good Rod in hand hoping to get a Skrelp for the eventual Fairy gym.  Obtained Level 25 Skrelp (Malfoy) THANK GOD
  • Evolved Greyson to Talonflame
  • Arrived in Coumarine City and obliterated the gym with Greyson and his dual type advantage.  Ramos' Jumpluff was a bit of an annoyance though.
  • Obtained Level 26 Gible (Toph Beifong) on Route 13
  • Continued to Lumiose City Gym where Crossbones cleaned house easily with only some minor trouble out of a Magneton
  • Arrived on Route 14 hoping for something like Haunter, Goomy, or Stunfisk.  Obtained Level 30 Quagsire (Derpington)
  • Was a little under-leveled for Laverre City Gym so I trained up to Level 43 on my whole team.
  • Although I had to run back to the Pokemon Center after every battle, Greyson and Malfoy were able to secure my victory over the Laverre City Gym.
  • Obtained Level 35 Foongas (Big Willy) on Route 15
  • DEADPOOL - Braixen, Ivysaur, Nincada, Bunnelby, Skitty, Azumarill, Tyrunt

It was at this point I stopped making a daily log.  By now I had large enough type coverage and was keeping my pokemon at a high enough level without being overpowered to handle almost anything.  Ran across a couple double battles and didn't really have to bat an eye at them.  I finally had enough power and enough of a variety in pokemon that the game wasn't throwing me any massive curves anymore.  So enough about my log, let's get to my analysis.

Is Nuzlocke Really Worth It?

That's honestly hard to say.  In my experience, the Nuzlocke run has a few really great parts to it but one gigantic negative.  Let's look at both a little bit closer.

Positives
Doing this Nuzlocke run was certainly very interesting and changed up the monotony quite a bit.  As I mentioned at the start, when re-starting a pokemon game people tend to just re-capture their favorite pokemon and run through with the same things over and over making the game incredibly boring and stale.  I'm probably the world's worst at doing this.  I re-start a game, pick the same pokemon and get to maybe the fifth gym before being bored out of my mind.  Not being able to just capture anything I wanted made finding pokemon far more exciting.  Since you have to capture the first thing you run across it's almost like playing with random pokemon.  Sure, something you want may show up 30% of the time in that patch of grass but the game may toss you something with only a 5% chance of showing up to either your delight (Dedenne) or annoyance (Whismur).  It made each and every route become a new adventure full of hope for something excellent to finish rounding out your team.  It pushed  me to keep going on with the game, since I had a team of often-times never used pokemon.  I'd never actually utilized a grumpig as my main psychic pokemon before this run...and he was a lot better than I ever thought he'd be.

It feels kind of weird to say this but a Nuzlocke run really does give you a closer "bond" with your pokemon.  Since you can only have a small amount (1 per route/town) that gives you precious few pokemon to utilize.  Each and every move has to be calculated with the objective of not only defeating the enemies but making sure your guys never faint.  This level of dedication to avoid pokemon death makes you really care about your pokemon and makes you love when they do particularly well even more.  I've never been so happy with a Snorlax, Machamp, or Talonflame in my entire life.  Playing the game regularly with revives and not caring made these creatures seem more like tools to achieve the end goal of beating the game.  Having to ensure their safety made them seem like we were a true team; they were "living creatures" and not just tools.  It was refreshing to feel that way about pokemon for the first time since I was far younger.

Negative
Anything negative can be summed up in one brutally honest sentence.  The Nuzlocke Run only becomes interesting when you start having bad luck/a bad time playing the game, thus removing much of the fun with the game.  I mean, think about it.  The only day of my daily log that was REALLY interesting to read was Day 3 when I was stuck by a plague of bad luck.  When I was talking to my friend Brandon about his Nuzlocke run of Heart Gold, it was only an interesting story because his luck had been atrocious and ended up only having like a Scyther and an Unown on his entire team.  Yes, it made things more difficult, more interesting, and it made me care for my pokemon more but that came with a price.  Restricting the type of pokemon made MVP creatures become incredibly beloved and then when something unforeseen happens, you just get depressed.  You've lost someone amazing and are left with the box fodder.  There's a difference in making a game difficult and making a game cruel.  Cruel sucks the fun out of the gaming experience and several times throughout this game I was having an interesting challenging and different experience but I wasn't having fun.  I didn't start having actual fun till I was able to get enough varied pokemon to balance out my team post 5th Gym when the thing started to get a little boring and I stopped my daily logs.  At that point, I was able to just rip through practically everything in my path.

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So it's kind of up to you if you think a Nuzlocke run is worth it or not.  On paper, there are more positives than negatives but it's the weight of the negative that somewhat kills it for me.  I'm not someone who is overjoyed by something being a potentially bad experience.  To me, when a game isn't fun, it's not worth playing... however a Nuzlocke run is only truly effective when you sacrifice fun.  Without running into bad luck and having a bad time, you sacrifice a fair amount of the point of a Nuzlocke run and it just turns into a regular run of the pokemon title just with pokemon you don't normally use.  So it's adding some different kinds of fun while sucking away another major portion of fun and....
AAAAAHH I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!!!
Ghost is confused.
It hurt itself in it's confusion.


Conclusion

Doing the Nuzlocke Challenge was definitely an eye opening experience.  It showed me a new way to play something that I enjoy and gave me insight into the world that some people truly enjoy.  If you are the kind of person who enjoys a different kind of challenge, if you enjoy say... Classic Mode Fire Emblem or things with a "git gud" mentality then this may very well be right up your alley.  For my money it wasn't a total waste of time.  I'm certainly glad that I played this game through with the added challenge.  Will I do it again?  Probably not.  Fun is the key factor to video games with me; it's why only multiplayer on Minecraft holds my attention longer than 3 minutes.  Having fun is the biggest and most important part of gaming to me and far too many times I just simply wasn't having fun.  This kind of thing is not for me but I understand if you have a differing opinion.  Honestly, I suggest everyone take on the Nuzlocke Challenge at least once.  It'll show you something different and make you "one with your team" in a way you probably haven't been for awhile.  Just be prepared for what you're stepping into.

This is Ghost, fading into the darkness.
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