June has arrived and… well that means we’ll all have a lot of time to pass before anything interesting comes out. So that’s what we’re offering for you this month: the best games and anime to eat up huge portions of your month.
The Slayers series has spanned decades in terms of release, albeit with some downtime. But it has five seasons and over a hundred episodes total… and the whole show is hilarious. It is one of my favourite lazy day anime when I just want something awesome to watch. It has become one of the most well-known and influential anime around, with its influence even being felt in the gaming realm – its heroine, the sorceress Lina Inverse, was copied into the popular MoBA DotA2.
But regardless of the influence… I watch it because it is fun, lively, and exciting. And because it has great characters, amazing humour, and utterly incredible magic.
Record of Agarest War Zero
I recommend Agarest fairly frequently… but that’s because it is one of the most underrated games around. It is an amazing strategy RPG with an interesting story, if a bit loaded with fanservice. It is a game that I have literally spent 10-15 minutes planning a single turn. You’ll be lucky if you spend less than 60 hours on your first playthrough of this tragic tale of war… and if you do, you’ll probably dive right back in for a second to try to get a different relationship, specialization, party, or ending. There is so much content here that if you enjoy it, you’ll probably spend hundreds of hours on it, if not more.
Inuyasha is a story that has a special place in my heart as it was one of the few anime I had access to back when I was younger. Part touching love story, part high fantasy action, it is tied together by some of the best music the anime industry has to offer. Really, it is a big part of why I have come to be as infatuated with anime as I am.
The show is also incredibly long, spanning several arcs and hundreds of episodes… it is a show I keep wanting to revisit but can just never spare the time to get past the first few arcs. Maybe this month will be my chance! But every time I watch it, whether I go over the parts I’ve seen or otherwise, I have a blast.
When planning this month’s recommendations out… I almost made the horrible mistake of leaving out Rogue Legacy. Almost. This game is one of the few roguelike or rogue-lite games to really catch my eye in years… and for good reason. It is fantastic.
The soundtrack is a perfect fit, the gameplay is challenging and fun, and they have so many little unique hooks. Probably the most distinct element are the traits… you see, the premise of the game is that each time you tackle the dungeon, you play as the descendent of the last character you took into it, selected from among 3 candidates who each have a distinct class and traits.
The traits aren’t what you’re used to though… they’re things like nearsightedness – which makes the outer rim of the screen blurry – or dwarfism – which makes your character half the size. There are dozens of them, and they make every run feel like a new game, even though you are inheriting your previous character’s equipment(and level).
Our next week of recommendations are ready! Sorry they’re delayed… E3 has me distracted!
I have been historically very critical of Diablo 3. When it released, it was bad. It was really bad. It had some good ideas, and there were glimmers of hope… but the flaws so far outweighed the good that it simply wasn’t fun long-term.
Over the agonizing months that followed, Blizzard gradually came to realize their mistakes and systematically undid those flaws. The game, after the release of its first expansion Reaper of Souls, is in the best state it has ever been and is, aside from one really bad decision that turned me away for a while, exactly what I hoped it would be back when I first played the beta.
Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls is a great way to pass hours – even days – of your time, and if you’re looking for someone to play with, you can always add my BNet ID and I’ll be glad to spend some time slaying demons with you, maybe even on stream.
And here’s a special treat… this week’s anime recommendation is written by ShadowedBlade’s web designer (and my wife) Anne.
Bleach is your classic fantasy action-adventure-comedy anime, with a super-powered cast fighting the good fight against evil. With over 300 episodes, all currently available subbed on Crunchyroll, it will certainly take a good deal of time to get through.
The show follows the adventures of Ichigo Kurosaki, your typical high school teenager slash Soul Reaper, along with his friends and allies both mortal and supernatural. The show has a ridiculously large cast of both main and secondary characters, and does a pretty good job of not focusing all of its attention on Ichigo so that others get a chance to shine. In fact, most of my favourite characters are secondary characters, including several Soul Reapers and Ichigo’s dad, Isshin.
The storytelling format is divided between apparent ‘monster/opponent of the week’ single-story episodes, and larger arcs where a single battle can span several episodes – thankfully, with less wordless shouting than the Dragonball franchise. Plot Levelling abounds, with attacks that were super-powerful and rarely used in the earlier arcs becoming standard fare in the later parts of the show, and the series is so trope-heavy that it has multiple pages on TV Tropes. It is also, despite all of this, a great deal of fun.
I have a special treat for you all today. This week’s recommendations have been graciously contributed by fellow streamer Alucard2004. He is a good friend of mine, and one of the inspirations behind me starting to stream in the first place. When I was planning out my recommendations for this month, I immediately thought of him. His primary stream game is the game recommendation for this week, and he is one of the biggest fans of this anime that I know. His passion is constantly evident, and he was more than happy to share it with you all.
If you’d like to see more of Hex after reading his recommendations, he streams nearly every day… but at 12 PM EDT on June 28th – next Sunday – he’ll be doing a very special stream. You see, every month he holds a ‘Hextravaganza’, during which he streams for a solid 10 hours and does a ton of Hex related giveaways every hour. It is the best time to get some exposure to the game and its community – and maybe even grab some free stuff to get you started.
HEX: Shards of Fate
Hex: Shards of Fate is my dream game. It creates a perfect storm of a deep, strategic digital trading card game (TCG) mixed with MMO features. While the game is in beta, it still provides a huge variety of replayability. The free-to-play Frost Ring Arena offers a unique experience where you can battle against a challenging group of foes with unique abilities, use equipment to buff up your cards with special powers, and collect loot from your success destroying powerful bosses with insane card powers and abilities. The game also contains the most fun experience I have ever had in a game – an extremely deep drafting meta where you can combat seven other players in a tournament to win prizes.
Hex offers other tournaments like single elimination constructed for highly competitive players and TCG veterans, but also has new player friendly swiss tournaments for draft, constructed, and sealed deck. Hex will be releasing its third set, Armies of Myth, within the next few weeks. In the future, Hex will boast a PvE Campaign filled with MMO-complete features like dungeons, guilds, character leveling, raid bosses that you can battle with your friends, and more!
I would be remiss if I also did not stress the amazing community that has formed around Hex. As a streamer for Hex, I am constantly reminded of the generosity of many of the people who support this game – veteran players helping new players with starting their collections, new streamers coming on to the scene to help both new and veteran players learn tips and tricks to improve their game, and the overall positivity of every Hex player that I encounter. These common bonds that we share are my most treasured part of why I recommend Hex. So if you are looking to get into Hex, I urge you to embrace the community and become a part of it. It will absolutely take your experience playing this amazing game to the next level!
One Piece is my favorite anime of all time. Nothing comes close. One Piece may seem on the surface like it’s about a band of misfit pirates going on silly adventures together. Well it is that, but there’s more to it!
One Piece offers the richest and deepest story of any anime I have ever seen. While a lot of the anime of this style of show tend to focus on conflict and the epic battles among characters that ensue, One Piece does this in a more meaningful way. The way Eiichiro Oda has masterfully crafted the story will find you seeing connections across dozens if not hundreds of episodes, which makes me find deeper, emotional connections with every single character. And while there are times when the show can be super serious, there are also very light-hearted, humorous points in the show that will put a big smile on my face or even have me laughing out loud to the point of tears.
Any time I recommend One Piece to anyone, I always hear groans that the show is just way too long. It’s long, but it’s worth it! I appreciate that Oda has tactfully spent all this time using nearly 700 episodes to tell a beautiful story that is still ongoing. One thing that I still can’t explain is how the story has managed to build and build and get better with every single episode that is released. Every time, I say “They can’t top that last thing that just happened!”, but they prove me wrong every time. So don’t hesitate when it comes to watching the show – jump into One Piece and embrace the story, embrace the characters, and have a blast!
And back to our regularly scheduled programming… here are the final week’s recommendations in our Passing the Time theme.
Sailor Moon, like Slayers, holds a special place in my heart. Aside from Samurai Pizza Cats back in my early childhood, Sailor Moon was really my first exposure to anime – I was in Grade 4 when I discovered it. And thus, no matter how bad the dub is, no matter how much they butchered the story when it crossed to North America, and no matter how the animation may look by today’s standards… I will always love this show.
Now, don’t let any of what I’ve just said turn you away… because it is still possible, albeit difficult, to find the original Japanese run of the show subtitled (all but the last arc) and that is a far better experience in most people’s eyes. The show tells a fantastic love story, a great story of friendship, and is one of the progenitors of the Magical Girl genre that we all know and love.
And if you can’t find the original, well a reboot of the series, more strongly tied to the original manga, is being simulcast on Crunchyroll (which started last summer). Honestly, in a lot of ways, the reboot is a vast improvement over the original with better character development, voice acting, and with the girls feeling a bit more powerful than in the original. No matter how much improvement they make though, nothing will ever replace the classic Sailor Moon I grew up with, the clumsy, awkwardly voiced, strangely gap-filled Sailor Moon that helped me to fall in love with anime all those years ago.
The Disgaea series of Strategy RPGs is a hard one for me to recommend, as I’ve never really given it the time it deserves. But if you’re looking to pass the hours away, Disgaea 4 has a solution to offer you. I played Disgaea 4 quite a while back, but never finished it. You see, every time you stray from the beaten path, you run into things that are hundreds of levels higher than you. Yes, hundreds – sometimes many hundreds. This should give you an idea of the amount of time Disgaea expects you to spend with it.
The core story is really just a starting point in Disgaea, the real meat of the game comes from the near-endless barrage of post-game content that you begin to expose yourself to once you finish it. Post-game content that will require you to level your characters into the thousands. But it makes this time interesting with a dynamic and strategic twist on the SRPG gameplay we all know and love coupled with some of the best humour the genre has to offer. Someday I hope to be able to find the time to give a Disgaea game the attention it deserves, and I think that day may come soon as Disgaea 5 is only a few months away. But don’t make my mistake! Squeeze it into your schedule – you won’t regret it.