[1199] The Samurai
 

[1199] The Samurai

Unfortunately, there will regularly be weeks with only one update in the coming months. I currently don’t have any material for new strips anymore because I’ve put all my free time into the upcoming Gaia anthology The Complete Gaia. I hope you understand that this book and writing a proper ending for Gaia has topmost priority at the moment.

  • Sandra: … and this is my raccoon Woo.
  • Hitomi: Awww, he’s soooo kawaiiiiii!
  • Hitomi: HIYAAA!
  • Sandra: ?
  • Woo: Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmh.
  • Hitomi: Ancient samurai technique to tame tanuki spirits.
  • Sandra: Teach me your ways, senpai!
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new news and old news…

Some of the best YouTube channels

In the last years and months, I’ve discovered a couple of independent YouTubers who produce content that is truly exceptional. I’d like to present them in this news entry. All of them are enjoyable for people of all backgrounds and political affiliations.

  • LEMMiNO produces well-researched top-10 lists and documentaries with a focus on popular mysteries like the origin of the Universal S and the lost colony of Roanoke. While the videos of many other documentarians mostly consist of read out Reddit posts, his videos boast high production values and a cool visual style.
  • CGP Grey also produces documentaries about a wide range of topics. Most of them feature funny looking stick figures. He also tackles topics that you may have never heard of before, like the race to win Staten Island and the trouble with tumbleweed. If you can’t get enough of short documentaries, you may also want to check out Tom Scott. But his stuff just isn’t as original and exciting as LEMMiNO’s and CGP Grey’s.
  • Summoning Salt creates videos that present the world record progression for the fastest speedruns of games like Super Mario Bros. and Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out. If you haven’t been interested in speedruns before, chances are high that you’ll become a regular on speedrun.com after watching a couple of his meticulous composed videos. You’ll watch a 55 minute long video on Castlevania and will be sad that it’s already over… If you’re interested in individual speedrunners afterwards, I suggest the channel of Super Mario Bros. runner Kosmic.
  • The LockPickingLawyer picks locks. That’s pretty much all he does, but his unusually pleasant voice and the little stories about the history of the locks he picks make his videos true highlights. Most of them are very short, since the crappy locks are no match for his leet lock picking skills. If you can’t get enough of lock picking, you can also check out the videos of his friend BosnianBill.

Spoiler-free review of The Last of Us Part 2

https://clips.twitch.tv/AuspiciousPlausibleMagpiePunchTrees

I honestly didn’t expect these reactions after the game got a 95% on Metacritic. I guess that shows how much a 10/10 is worth nowadays.


Boardroom suggestion

Boardroom suggestion

It’s often said that reality isn’t black-and-white, but that there are various shades of gray. But in this conflict, there rather seem to be shades of black.


Review of Final Fantasy VII Remake

If you’re still undecided about getting Final Fantasy VII Remake, here’s my own review of it.

Characters

  • ✔✔ The strongest aspect of the game! They nailed the personality of all the characters! Cloud, Tifa, Aeris, Barret & Co. behaved just like in the original game. Moreover, the increased playing time gave more room for personal moments that made you like the characters even more.
  • That was also true for the minor characters, some of which have gotten much more screen time. Biggs, Wedge and Jessie from Avalanche only had a few lines in the original, but now were a huge part of the story. So you began to truly care about them.
  • And let’s not forget Don Corneo and Hojo. Square couldn’t have done a better job regarding these sleazy criminals.
  • Most of the new characters also were very charming and unique, especially in the Wall Market section.

★★★★★★ (6 out of 5 because the game features the best bunch of characters of all time in any kind of media)

Story

  • Final Fantasy VII was always about the characters, not the strange and convoluted story. But the story still served as a strong vehicle for the characters as the most iconic scenes from the original game were left intact.
  • The more realistic graphics increased the impact of the most emotional scenes on the player even more.
  • Square somehow managed to make the Wall Market section even more awesome than in the original game.
  • Square somehow managed to butcher the iconic scene at the end of the Shinra headquarters infiltration.
  • The controversial ending could lead to something great if done right in the sequel(s). But it’s more likely that it’s one of Nomura’s overcomplicated and ultimately meaningless timeline shenanigans.
  • The dementors diluted some of the most iconic scenes from the original game with their presence.
  • There was a definite power creep regarding the main characters at the end that I’m not sure how Square will solve in the sequel(s).
  • Some parts of the game felt drawn out, especially the dungeons.

★★★☆☆

Combat

  • ✔✔ The combat system felt like a careful modernization of the original system without the tedious waiting times.
  • So many colorful explosions and light effects! Megumin would love this game!
  • Different enemies required different strategies.
  • The arena battles were a nice touch. Especially the final boss of the big tournament was an amazing idea that was executed perfectly.
  • Boss battles felt drawn out. The bosses should have taken less damage, but dealt more damage.
  • The camera was sometimes not showing what you wanted to see.
  • The fighting speed was just too high for my taste. You often couldn’t make out what was happening on the screen.

★★★★☆

Gameplay

  • The minigames were challenging and fun.
  • There were lots of things to discover, but the levels didn’t feel maze-like.
  • The controls felt fluid and natural. It was a lot of fun to just run around and admire the levels.
  • There was a severe lack of dialog options for Cloud. Only a handful of dialogs gave any dialog option at all.
  • I would have liked some more interactive elements that involved more than just pressing the triangle button.

★★★★☆

Graphics

  • ✔✔ The game looked fantastic most of the time with an incredible amount of detail, wonderful lighting and an obscene amount of special effects. Some of the locations, such as the slums around Aeris’ church, Wall Market and Shinra’s headquarters simply looked breathtaking!
  • ✔✔ The main characters and the most important minor characters had lovingly designed character models. Tifa and Aeris in particular looked like goddesses.
  • Some locations didn’t have the same amount of detail and there were some textures with lower quality. Other users also experienced problems with textures that didn’t load properly.
  • Almost all NPCs looked very ordinary, making the main characters stand out like tanks in a meadow.

★★★★★

Sound

  • A good to great musical score that almost everyone will enjoy. Some of the classic themes sounded better (battle theme), some worse (Aeris’ theme).
  • A good to great voice-over that fitted the characters.
  • ✘✘ Maybe the worst aspect of the game was the truly terrible sound mixing! The volume of talking characters depended way too much on their distance to the camera, making them talk too quiet or loud all the time. This was especially true for the random comments by NPCs as you pass them. They talked way too much and repeated the same lines again and again, resulting in a cacophony of voices as you ran through the crowded areas of the slums.
  • Sound effects and music also had volume issues that couldn’t be solved with the volume sliders.

★★★☆☆

Overall

  • Final Fantasy VII Remake is a great game as long as you can get over what it once was (a game changer like The Matrix), and look at what it is.

★★★★★★★★★☆


Character occurrence frequency 2008 to 2019

Here are two diagrams that show how often the main and supporting characters of Sandra and Woo appeared in each year. Note that there were only 20 strips in 2008.

You can click on the images for larger versions.

Main characters occurrence frequency 2008 to 2019

Supporting characters occurrence frequency 2008 to 2019

Here is the total number of occurrences:

  1. Sandra: 607 (52% of all strips)
  2. Woo: 405 (35%)
  3. Larisa: 382 (33%)
  4. Cloud: 251 (22%)
  5. Richard: 109 (9%)
  6. Ye Thuza: 101 (9%)
  7. Lily: 87 (7%)
  8. Yuna: 80 (7%)
  9. Zoey: 80 (7%)
  10. Sid: 65 (6%)
  11. Landon: 55 (5%)
  12. Shadow: 52 (4%)
  13. Luna: 51 (4%)

Notable characters who have not appeared in at least 50 strips yet are:

  • Butterfly: 38 (3%)
  • Woo’s kits: 32 at most (3%)
  • Michelle: 28 (2%)
  • Ruth: 24 (2%)
  • Seeoahtlahmakaskay: 24 (2%)
  • Taylor: 19 (2%)

Number of new strips per year:

  • 2008: 20
  • 2009: 105
  • 2010: 107
  • 2011: 106
  • 2012: 104
  • 2013: 100
  • 2014: 104
  • 2015: 105 (incl. 1 illustration)
  • 2016: 115 (incl. 17 MSPA inspired illustrations)
  • 2017: 105
  • 2018: 96 (incl. strip #1031 with seven rows)
  • 2019: 97 (incl. 2 illustrations)
  • Total: 1164