Thursday, 30 March 2017

Who Defends the Defenders? - Niche Watches Marvel's Iron Fist

You may have heard some of the controversy over Marvel's Iron Fist. While the term “whitewashing” is inappropriate (the original character is White), there are still concerns over whether Marvel made the right choice when they could have had an Asian-American lead. I want to address those before I move on to discuss some of the flaws of the series but also why it isn't as bad as some might say.

The problem I have with Iron Fist isn't one of race but I don't want to ignore it as a potential issue. Most complaints call out the "white saviour" trope and I'll leave you to form your own opinion but I have a few points to be considered. It's worth noting that Danny's character flaws and dereliction of duty make him much less of a White paragon of power, he may be White but “saviour” may be too strong a word. Becoming the Iron Fist of K'un-Lun wasn't about him being the White outsider that is somehow better than those raised into that lifestyle (however assuming all Asian people are good/the best at martial arts raises its own issues). It was about him doing things differently, if anything he is a terrible Iron Fist; doesn't follow the job description at all, talks about his solemn duty at the same time as abandoning it, but if none of this happened he wouldn't be the catalyst for change that the series is setting him up to be.

Now we have that addressed, let's move on to the the biggest issue I have with this series. Danny Rand as Iron Fist is boring. This may not be for the reasons you're imagining but Danny happens to be a rather traditional hero which in my eyes is what makes him boring. I use "traditional hero" as a negative here because I've come to realise I can't stand the kind of hero who does the right thing because that's who they are, always doing the right thing because it's the right thing. I much prefer the heroes that do the right thing in spite of who they are. All of the other Netflix heroes have had to work to become a hero well after they were granted powers. To be fair Danny has a tonne of other flaws to overcome, but there's still something irritating about these "I won't question it because it's the right thing to do" types. Because of this, seeing Iron Fist play off against the other Defenders could work out in interesting ways.

A number of common complaints point to poor action sequences and messy fight scenes. It's not that the fight scenes are bad, if they appeared in any other TV show there wouldn't be an issue. However in a universe that contains the breathtaking and groundbreaking fights in Daredevil, I would have expected a lot more particularly from a series based on a supposed martial arts master. The biggest problem is that fight scenes suffer from some of the same issues as modern super hero flicks, with fast moving close-ups and many many cuts to other view points. As I see it Kung Fu should be more about a constant flow of action, and clean, defined dance-like shapes. Oddly this is something that seems best expressed by the CGI title sequence. Although there are some nice moments of action before it, Episode 8 finally gets what I was expecting; clear martial arts without shaky close ups, over the shoulder shots and fast cuts. One fight proved that Danny hasn't been watching any Jackie Chan movies and was one of the highlights of the entire series (hint: the one I'm thinking of is also available on Netflix). It's not the only scene that plays homage to the classics, and frankly the show would have been improved by more of these.

If you take the time to look you'll find this show actually has more layers than an animated ogre.
You'll form first impressions of people that will turn out to be overly simplified, even supporting characters rarely have a single motivation. Most times this inner conflict is shown in subtle ways, the odd glance or a throwaway sentence. Other times it will be much more obvious. Even the less likeable characters have redeeming qualities, and one or two of the initially likeable ones have a hidden mean streak. It has me slightly baffled, I've heard people call out "bad acting" but I feel some of these characters have an intentional blankness, there's a lot of talk about wearing masks and keeping secrets and I think that these characters themselves are trying so hard to present a certain image some viewers may be picking up on that. It also explains why this image looks like a stock photo. I had concerns that these shifts in character were a bit sporadic so can understand that being interpreted as bad writing. However given the conflicting motivations in these characters I've been able to see reasons for these occasional strange outbursts. It's really not all that bad.

Iron Fist was always going to be the hardest one to get right, Danny is an outsider whichever world he is in. Whereas Daredevil dwelt in the shadows of Hell's Kitchen and Luke Cage found a home to protect in Harlem... Iron Fist is meant to feel out of place. For example other incarnations of Iron Fist I have seen have also had the characteristic of reeling off Buddhist philosophy and this one is no different but if you had a friend that did this it could seem pretty odd... nothing against the Buddhist philosophy – we could all probably learn something from it. It would be the same for anyone who interrupted conversation with their favourite quotes, whether they were from TV, film, books or famous folk. It all makes sense when you think he has spent most of his life around these teachings, having them drilled into him whenever they are relevant.

This brings me to another key to unlocking the character of Danny Rand, everything he does, everything I've heard him being criticised for, whether it's childish outbursts, unfounded arrogance or complete naivete; they all stem from his history, from his childhood or lack thereof. In many ways Danny is still the 10 year old boy who lost his parents, it may not make him a particularly likeable protagonist but it feels believable. I might not be a fan of flashback sequences but their repeated use in the first few episodes are just there to reinforce this notion of Danny being trapped in his childhood as it's pretty essential to accepting the character. This also plays into how/why Danny was chosen to be the Iron Fist but I'll let the later episodes explain that one rather than giving away spoilers.

Jessica Jones may be the female led show of Marvel's Netflix lineup, but the female characters of Iron Fist shouldn't be overlooked. The screen crackles with energy whenever Coleen Wing is present (at least for the first half of the series) and most of her fights happen to be more satisfying to watch than Danny's. A predictable guest appearance is actually more welcome than I expected and might be one of my favourites. Carrie-Anne Moss also returns as Hogarth and I swear she is settling into the role more and more each time. Then there's Joy Meacham, one of those characters I couldn't quite fathom at first but seeing her pulled between her family and the company while still remaining in control makes for great TV as she slowly appears more human compared to the "Corporate Suit" she is introduced as. It's also great to see Madame Gau is back as she completely rocks the enigmatic villain role effortlessly stealing any scene she is in.

Iron Fist doesn't have the tight choreography of Daredevil or the perfectly tailored soundtrack of Luke Cage, it doesn't have the brutality of any of the other Defenders series. What it does have is interesting characters, a unique mysticism and a closer look at the shadowy machinations of The Hand. It is significantly slower paced than most of the other Marvel Netflix shows but I discovered there was always something that meant I just had to find out what happened next.  

Friday, 17 March 2017

Niche X: Senran Kagura Estival Versus Review

You may be familiar with our recent Adult themed special issue, Niche X. It featured raunchy games, a (literal) graphic novel and some steamy cosplay among a host of other less PG content. 

One game series that is a perfect fit for Niche X is Senran Kagura and with the latest game getting a release on Steam the time is right to announce there will be a Niche X part 2 coming later this year! If you would like to take part either by submitting cosplay images, writing a review or just suggesting a feature/interview/review please get in touch:

In the meantime, why not whet your appetite with Crosshire's full review of
Senran Kagura: Estival Versus!

Hey! Do you enjoy being a one person killer apocalypse of hack and slash glory? Are you a little bit of a pervert as well or do you simply enjoy the fantastic aesthetics of the female form? Well boy oh boy is this the game for you....

In case you're new to the Senran Kagura series they revolve around rivalling schools of Shinobi who hit each other until their bras explode off! The series is filled with a huge range of girls to play as who each have there own moves, weapons, transformation scenes, and more. The most recent additions to the series follow the 1 vs 100 genre, similar to the likes of the "Warriors" series i.e. Dynasty Warriors, Hyrule Warriors & Gundam Warriors. Senran Kagura doesn't just give you an army to cut and slice through however, but also a few challenging boss fights against rival Shinobi schoolgirls.

The fighting mechanics themselves appear relatively simple but there's enough going on to keep things interesting. Combos are not the most complex, mainly consisting of two buttons and charge attacks so the combat never gets too deep or complicated but I whole heatedly believe that is what a game like this needs. When clothing is blowing off left, right and centre I doubt a Dark Souls level of complexity is what you are after; it's more than likely you're here to just have fun.

Keeping it simple and fun is very core to this series. For example in the Warrior games you sometimes have to backtrack and run across large maps to defend or attack your objectives; Senran is much more to the point. There isn't much backtracking, it's just a case of beat all the people in the room and move on, with very clear directions as to where to find the next area full of people to beat. Estival also features some new techniques to shake up how you fight with wall run attacks/abilities and a new transformation that strips you down to just your panties! This activates a whole new attack boost as an alternative to your normal transformation that allows you to use big ultimate abilities and change your outfit.

Now as mentioned before the recurring theme in Senran Kagura is that the more you fight, the more damage you and your enemy receive in battle which can rip your cloths off bit by bit 'til at least one of you is left in just their underwear. If you're a good enough fighter with a strong enough win it could even be fewer clothes than that.

Now Senran Kagura is X-rated (or at least equivalent to a 16 rating by PEGI standards).
Although it is centred around nudity, more often than not characters will be cleverly censored by having these just off camera or in times where it's unavoidable we are given “beam of light” censorship. Previous games in the series used chibi versions of the characters to censor.  Although I understand this is pretty fun/comical I found it rather distracting.

At the end of the day I am a mature adult buying a game with mature themes, I am very understanding as to why there is no uncensored feature built into the game however I feel losing the chibi is a step forward. With this new edition on steam I'm rather hoping it gets mod support on steam workshop to make the characters more "atomically complete" for audience member's who seek it. Fortunately the humour in this game is very light-hearted and so however perverted you feel there's no doubt there will be a few characters who are even worse.

The overall plot of Estival is that our cast of girls has been transported to a beach setting for some kind of Shinobi tournament. However, this tournament and this beach world is that of the living and the dead. This opens up the chance to meet characters from the series otherwise thought (or even known) to be dead. Over the game there's some nice stories about each of the girls and each has a nice strong characterisation with motives and personality.  This is reinforced by anime cut scenes as well as CG interactions with dialogue boxes which feel a whole lot more expressive and emotive than ever before!

There are a few new cast members too and in a game where the theme is girls' clothes being ripped off, more girls are always welcome! Even better is that this release also includes DLC characters from Ikki Tousen (Battle Vixens).

The beach setting is also fantastic, I genuinely love the variety of girls and their bikinis. However, I do get a little sad when the odd character has a very basic looking bikini while the larger cast have imaginative character style bikinis to match their style or personality.

Besides the story there's a nice range of challenging side missions as well as individual character missions. This gives you so much you can do considering how many characters there are to begin with. The icing on the cake is good old unlockable content. The unlocks in this game happen to be outfits and underwear and BOY oh boy do I LOVE me some unlockable underwear outfits! This is yet another thing driving me to keep playing this game.

Even better when these outfits can be customised in anyway with any characters you like for before and after their transformations. There are so many bras and panties in the game it's unreal! They even have a lottery for you to unlock 100+ lingerie. If you're obsessed with outfits like I am it's more than likely you'll have enough money for them all after doing each and every mission in the game. I feel there are enough missions and game modes that by the time you have beaten everything you can, the only reason you might want to replay would be to get a higher grade on a mission. There are also a number of difficulties to make the game more challenging if you see fit.

Estival Verus is the newest in the series, originally released on PS4 (and ported to PSVita) last year and it has now been ported to PC and WOW! Does this game look stunning! Character models look all kinds of amazing and the finer details make me so happy! In past games in the series not all enemies would lose their clothes as they fight and from what I've seen every generic enemy in this rendition losses their gear as you hack and slash away. The size of enemy hordes seem a whole lot larger as well.

I really do like this game, its light-hearted and downright fun. Senran Kagura: Estival Versus has improved on previous entries by looking stunning and adding extra characters, abilities and transformations. The missions can feel rather samey and is only really broken up is via the change in characters between missions. If your are quite ok with repeating tasks then you may well like this but I can only find myself playing a few hours at a time before feeling I need a break.

It ports very well to PC I just hope we can get steam workshop support to make modding more accessible for those that want to try it. After all, modding is one of the greatest selling points of owning something on PC.

If you're already a fan of the Senran Kagura series you're no doubt already sold. If you like beating hordes of enemies with some tougher boss battles mixed in, then this may well also be for you. Mainly this is a game for you if you enjoy the “Female form”. If it's not your taste you might just sit there thinking it's unnecessary and distracting in some ways and sadly I can see it stopping some from enjoying the game as a whole.

Regardless of you preferences, Senran Kagura: Estival Versus is an enjoyable game with lots of character and I highly recommended it!

Sunday, 5 March 2017

The Fall of Minecraft and The Rise of The YouTuber

Minecraft and YouTube have gone hand in hand for around 5 years now. YouTube might even have contributed to Minecraft's popularity and Minecraft has definitely created a few new YouTube stars. However, with the Minecraft craze starting to lose steam (it's still popular just not at the hypercraze levels of yesteryear), what happens to those that have been making a rather impressive living from uploading game-play videos?

Surprisingly the answer lies in my GCSE Geography!  Just like Cumbrian Hill Farmers these Youtubers have had to diversify!

There's no jam and tourism here though.  Some channels have already abandoned Minecraft for other creative games such as Roblox. Those still sticking to Minecraft have started to support these videos with other games, covering whatever is popular, discovering hidden gems or following fan suggestions.

Perhaps this ability to engage directly with fans and receive near instant feedback is part of how YouTubers have become the new celebrities.

I'm going to focus on two such celebrities, that happen to be two of my son's favourites, and see what steps they have taken to keep their content fresh and how they have become a brand in their own right outside of YouTube.

First up, DanTDM also known as The Diamond Minecart.

Dan started on YouTube with a Pokemon TCG channel (PokemanDanLv45 if you're curious) but eventually created a new channel featuring showcases of mods in Minecraft (for anyone that doesn't know, mods are unofficial modifications to the game that can add new features and mechanics).

Four years have passed and now the channel has over 14 million subscribers but as the development of mods for Minecraft has declined Dan moved on to multiplayer Minecraft and a range of story maps. Oddly with the decline of mods a lot more is possible using Command Blocks.  This means there has been some truly impressive story maps and even whole new games created within Minecraft (Take a look at Terra Swoop Force for a great example of what is possible). Unfortunately these kinds of creations take time which is not ideal for YouTube channels that put out daily videos.

Looking outside of Minecraft Dan has several popular series such as Tomodachi Life and Pokemon: Brick Bronze (an entire pokemon game/tribute inside of Roblox). There are also a number of games that just don't have enough content to support an entire series. These could be one off mobile apps or shorter games but Dan's fans seem to enjoy the new experiences and seeing him just have fun with games. I've lost count of the number of games my son has wanted to try, just because he has seen them on YouTube: and he's not the only one.

Over the past year or so Dan has tried a few more obscure games, even going back to some Flash based ones. With millions of subscribers that means that there's likely thousands of new people trying these games, and in the case of Riddle School(a point and click adventure) this has resulted in a new chapter in the game 10 years after it had ended. With Dan trying a few new and early access games you can see how much of a difference his influence can have for small developers. I can think of at least two that have been so grateful as to add DanTDM content to their games!

This is the point where channels reach outside of YouTube. You can also see it with the amount of merchandise available, even smaller channels might offer t-shirts etc. Some of the bigger channels even have toys as part of the TubeHeroes range. This is a clever way of avoiding licensing issues with both Minecraft and YouTube that still gives kids a chance to own their favourite characters.

Dan has taken this concept further, recreating regular characters from his videos outside of Minecraft. Primarily this is through a new graphic novel style book featuring an original story but also spans to the live show. Yes I said live show, as in theatres and tour dates! You may have seen our review in Niche Issue 14, if not then go check it out! It's true some guy who played games in his bedroom/loft has put the work in to now be touring the country like some kind of rockstar! There show has now even reached two other continents and there's even rumblings of some kind of animated outing for these characters!

There is another YouTuber creating his own books and may have actually developed his characters outside of Minecraft a bit sooner. Mr Stampy Cat or just Stampy for short or even Stampylonghead/nose as his channel is named.

Stampy hasn't reduced his Minecraft content, if anything he's now producing more but in more diverse and unexpected ways. His main series is currently fast approaching 500 episodes. It started as a standard survival mode let's play but now follows Stampy and several recurring characters as they create new buildings and mini-games. There is an ongoing story with some "big event" episodes that have involved flights to the moon, undersea exploration, battling pirate ships and high altitude thrills in an air balloon. Oh, and a few visits from aliens and father Christmas.

It helps that Stampy himself (Joseph Garret in real life) has a background in film production and editing. Which also comes through in some of his new projects, namely "Stampy Shorts". These shorts might be the kind of projects film students would create but at least so far they have all been created within Minecraft. It may have mixed reactions from fans but I'm impressed by the innovation.

Most of these shorts have a comedy element that unexpectedly feels Monty Python-esque and even though I say my son watches these videos I do find I'm occasionally watching by myself.

For example I'm slightly hooked on the "Quest to..." series. What started as a mission to defeat the Ender Dragon is becamegeneral craziness and surreal builds with around 1/3 of the video dedicated to the intro and an improv comedy sketch..

That brings us onto Stampy's collaboration with Maker Studios for Wonderquest, an educational series built in Minecraft. There are now two seasons of this show, having covered a whole range of topics; from the water cycle to states of matter, all pitched at a level that covers quite a few age ranges. This along with the fun filled story, family friendly humour
and a few guest appearances means there's something for most kids, even if the science is a bit too simple or advanced for them. Each episode is accompanied by an animated short with some
additional lessons, yet another example of characters
breaking out of their Minecraft home.

Stampy still continues with other Minecraft content too, but mixes it up with challenges and game show elements. In particular he takes part in weekly building competitions (Building Time) with fellow YouTuber iballisticsquid. These videos go live the same time each week and they have become a family tradition. We all gather round to watch in much the same way as I sat with my parents to watch Gladiators etc.

These examples are just the start. Other creators have their own project, even family channels such as FGTeev/Funnelvision have branched into animation. Others have collaborated to create the Pixelarity miniseries and at least two I can think of have their own mobile games (iballisticsquid and PewDiePie). So there you have it, YouTubing isn't quite as simple as it used to be, with creative folks pushing their brand well beyond the streaming service.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

BSG: Squadrons - Mobile Games: A Love/Hate Relationship

I'm torn between full review and full blown rant on this one... 
Battlestar Galactica: Squadrons (BSG:S) is not bad, for a mobile game. 
It inhabits the world of the more recent TV show and transports you there.
Would you like to know more? Scroll down and I'll see you after the jump.

Sights, sounds and characters will all seem familiar, you'll even have to respond to contacts on DRADIS and initiate an FTL jump if things get hairy.There's even a gameplay element that focuses on maintaining the surviving human population.The game even goes one further with its ship models, verging on starfighterporn (hence all the images in this post) ... the graphics and design look so good and then you upgrade a ship to an elite cylon hybrid and wow!

The problem I have with all of this is that it isn't a full game in the traditional sense, it's firmly rooted in the casual mobile camp. Which means however much you might want to jump into the cockpit of one of these fighters, you can't.Even though the game is immersed in the universe of the show it's still painfully out of reach.Just FYI there was a Battlestar Galactica PS2 game that I can recommend.

Being a mobile format the game is held back in other areas; I love that you get rewarded for having a higher population, what I don't love is that it's obviously skewed to force you to buy into the in-game currency, it's easy to lose thousands of people but once you hit level 6 or 7 it's very unlikely you'll be picking up enough to cover your losses.It's a great mechanic but has it's potential is wasted. I can't help thinking a full retail game would do a better job of storytelling too, the plot is delivered through a few lines of text from some of your favourite characters, no voice acting though, it touches on the plot of the show but in no way can it do it justice. Entire episodes are summed up with a few lines. Some care has been taken to keep the dialogue in-character but without any character development it doesn't count for a whole lot.

The gameplay itself involves your ships in turn based battle, with the usual class system for strength/weakness although the game refers to the classes as Greek letters it's never really reinforced and I'm still not sure what the point of the purple and gold classes is. It's not bad, and has you thinking tactically at times... until you find the autoplay button, good for grinding, but the bane of any semblance of actual gameplay. If these free to play games didn't require you to grind levels for resources or experience this feature would be completely un-needed and I could go on believing that having a brain is actually an advantage.

I've enjoyed BSG:S so far, but I can't see myself playing for long before typical mobile game features put me off. BSG isn't the only game facing these problems, nearly every licencesed mobile game now has the same approach. Nail the aesthetic, plug in a tonne of fan service and skimp on any meaningful gameplay. It's all designed to hook people in, maybe part with some cash, the more they spend the more they are invested in the game and less likely to quit, meaning they'll probably spend even more without even realising they aren't really playing the game any more just clicking through simple tasks to maintain some virtual and artificial sense of achievement. That's not the kind of game addiction I want, although I' not the best at avoiding it (Yes, I am still playing Avengers Academy and no, I don't know why).

Thinking of games I've tried out recently Star Trek Timelines and Avengers Academy are pretty bad culprits alongside BSG, Games from DBZ and Futurama have some similar issues but don't force in-app purchases down your throat. Moving away from the free to play model appears to help; both Space Galaga and Battlefleet Gothic: Leviathan make great use of their licences without skimping on actual gameplay.

I don't hate mobile or casual games, it's just starting to seem like a lot of missed opportunities, it reminds me of the old movie tie in games where character models would be on point, shiny and detailed, but the actual games would butcher the story and just plain suck. It's about time someone took this flare for presentation and backed it up with some high quality gameplay.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Pokemon Go Gen2 Release

It's the news a lot of people have been waiting for with speculation going wild, the long rumoured Generation 2 update for Pokemon Go starts this week with 80 new pokemon to be added plus new items, game mechanics and customisations.

It looks like you'll have to go out and find the 3 starters, rather than being given them so keep an eye out later this week.

We'll have more details as they are made available.  In the meantime check the tags for our other Pokemon themed blogs.

Official details available here.

New features and new Pokemon are now available!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Shopping Review: CosplayMat

Recently I decided to give Worbla a try and ordered from Cosplay Mat, a UK based cosplay supply store.

The website itself is easy to navigate and has a wide range of supplies for you cosplay needs.  I did find the website a little slow on both my pc and tablet but nothing that would stop you from shopping.

My order came within two working days and I received an email confirmation at every step of my order.  I ordered two sheets and they came in a large box, rolled up with an invoice.

Overall a great shopping experience and highly recommended for
UK cosplayers.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

DaNoob: Pokemon Sun&Moon - a Vicarious Review

DaNoob reaches for new heights of noobiness as they attempt to review a game they've never played, best not to take them seriously, this is just what too much YouTube looks like...

I've never played a Pokemon game, but it looks like something I'd be into, although not so much I'd go out and buy a New 3D Lite 2DS XLi (and to think I was confused by PSVita not being PSP2?). The latest instalment has been greatly received by fans and critics, now I've watched some YouTube let's plays ... which obviously means I know better!

Nintendo have wheeled out another remake of a game that was great 20 years ago... only this time they've actually listened to fans and made some improvements, why it took this long I have no idea, other games have nailed some of these elements for years.

I mean how long does a game have to be around before characters have actual voices? I'm no expert on the 3DS (noob) but surely it's powerful enough to at least allow voices for the main story? Talking about the power of the machine, I've seen YouTubers refer to the awesome graphics and detailed environments... but all I can see is rough and blocky and nothing like a game from 2016, I've seen retro 8bit titles look sharper.  How does a 20 year old franchise expect to keep with the times and  only jump to 3D graphics 2 years ago!?

Apparently fans have been waiting for an ability to ride pokemon to travel round the ingame region, your pokemon that you can ride, they wont be battling alongside you, these ride pokemon are basically pokemon shaped vehicles!
so why has it taken so long? Seems like a no-brainer to me, and if there's one thing I know it's no brainers. Also I lose any hype for this new feature when I find out it's not

Having access to a feature called Exp Share early on also sounds like big deal... so we've had 20 years of this not being standard and no one thought it might be a good idea? Perhaps it wasn't such a common feature  way back but then most games allowed you to play with a party of several characters, not one at a time.Which means I'm still baffled by why team battles seem like such a breakthrough... this isn't something new people!

In place of any real innovations it's also good to have a new gimmick. The new Z-moves seem familiar.... they're activated by an odd dance that makes Dragon Ball Z's Fusion Dance look completely sane and sensible. This is then followed by a powerful aura from DBZ surrounding the pokemon and an over the top attack animation that ranges from great orbs of DBZ style energy to mountain destroying DBZ style punches. I'm starting to wonder of "Z-moves" got there name because adding the "DB" would have resulted in copyright issues. Does the (equivalent of a) letter "Z" have some significance in Japan?

Still perplexed I watch YouTubers being amazed by tweaks to battle that let you see what status effects your pokemon have... maybe the devs missed RPG design 101... although they are learning, the game can now show you which moves will be effective/super effective after you've fought a particular pokemon once which as there are now 18 types with multiple strengths and weaknesses is a welcome but overdue addition..

After battles there's a chance to interact with your team of tiny monsters, ok fine this is a good idea  for a series built on training monsters, a chance to do some actual training, or not quite. I'm not sure how it affects the game at all, from a company that also published NintenDogs I expected more.

It seems Pokemon is slowly being dragged into the modern era but still with some old school quirks (no autosave? On a handheld? Seriously?) and seemingly held back by it's hardware, a game with this many framerate drops would normally be crucified by critics, why has there never been a console release of a main-line Pokemon game? I'm not hating the games, they seem at least decent, at no way worse than any other RPG, and everyone seems to have an absolute blast playing it! I just can't get my head around the popularity,

I've come to the conclusion that Pokemon is the Batman of RPGs.

Why is it so good?

Because it's Pokemon!