Episode 125: The Dark Souls of the Force

May the fourth be with you, and may it also be with Zachary ’cause it’s his birthday! (At the time of this recording, at least. Come on, these guys don’t have time travelling powers like Putt-Putt. Not everyone can be like Putt-Putt you judgmental ruffian.) The episode starts out with a bunch of yelling and weird music, but before you know it Zachary is jumping out of his own metaphorical birthday cake to make a surprise appearance. He and Cameron go on and on about Dark Souls II again, so you’d better be down for talks of death and stat-based intrigue. There’s still room for Guess That Pokemon: Wookieepedia Edition, a quiz that pits two beloved science fiction universes together in a clash that reveals Admiral Ackbar’s first name. Cameron hates this game. :)

Opening song: Chalupa Pass, from Minimap and composed by coda.

Ending song: Title Theme, from Musical Star Wars Birthday Card and composed by John Williams.

Episode 108: Happy Hollerdays

Have you noticed that it’s Christmas Eve? Everyone from the DV Cast sure has, except possibly Cameron who might still be a in a coma (citation needed). This, of course, means that it’s time for a holiday episode that decks the hall like a festive interior decorator. Events from Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Tokyo Tale, Jak II, and Myst V: End of Ages are told like family stories around a warm hearth, and the potential Year of Yoshi is held in a dubious light like a funky glass of eggnog left out overnight. The yuletide spirit invades segments as well, painting a cheery picture of History Time Christmas memories with happy thoughts hung like stockings on the mantlepiece of holly-wreathed gingerbread marshmallows for toasting and caroling out in the snow and… okay, you know what? This was a pretty lame episode. Although Zachary admirably filled in for Cameron during StarCraft Talk, Stephen and Bryan were a couple of uninspired boring faces. Make up your own minds as to the merits of this podcast, dear listeners, but you should really listen to this year’s audio drama Christmas Special instead: A Christmas Kerfuffle. It’s magic!

Opening song: Funky Bits by Yoann Turpin.

Ending song: Christmas in the Village (Silver Bells), originally from Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals and ReMixed by Dale North.

Episode 98: Gaming on Fumes

Short and full of obnoxious noises, Episode 98 is the Wario of Disembodied Voices. As usual, the DV Cast haven’t been playing any video games, but they talk about lots of things anyway. For example, Stephen raises a concern that rankles his soul, claiming that Bryan isn’t homogenous enough and would he please stop making up opinions of his own? This doesn’t work very well as Bryan immediately swivels in the direction of StarCraft II where he greets his dark master Cameron who has corrupted the younger brother’s soul with his malicious ways. They’re all pals in the end, of course, agreeing with one another that iOS 7 is rad and Death Note is rad also, so don’t worry about those guys. As for you, it is recommended that you join the good times and listen in!

Opening song: Electrolytic Man, originally from Mega Man and ReMixed by MaJIN_SaN, ambient, and tomatsu.

Ending song: Time Traveler’s Delight, originally from Sonic CD and ReMixed by rothaDom, C7, DiGi Valentine, OverClocked Assembled, Sir Jordanius, SuperiorX, The Auracle, begoma, and metaphist.

Episode 92: Return/Revenge of the Cameron

Cameron is no longer sleeping on the floor of an airport, so launch the fireworks and toast your complimentary Capri Suns, celebrate, celebrate. The entire DV Cast has reunited to talk about that most pleasant of subjects (video games), and no dearth of subject matter is to be found. Despite a tense argument over the perceivable cuteness of Wittle Wuna (?), the air is filled with lots of jovial talk about Zachary’s continued Tales tale, Cameron’s appreciation of Kill Place 3, and Bryan’s juggling of strategy games. Stephen just talks about stuff like Pokemon cards and Star Wars LEGOs, which no one really wants to hear. And then Cameron quits. So this is an exceptionally normal episode of Disembodied Voices. Enjoy!

Opening song: Electrolytic Man, originally from Mega Man and ReMixed by MaJIN_SaN, ambient, and tomatsu.

Ending song: Go into the Light, originally from Sonic Colors and ReMixed by Rexy.

Why Did I Agree To Do This? A Star Wars The Clone Wars Republic Heroes Review

Those who listen to the podcast may have heard that my birthday was on May 4. As such, the ever oh so generous Cameron wanted to get me a gift. That gift was Star Wars The Clone Wars Republic Heroes for the PC.

And that’s why we’re all here today.

Star Wars The Clone Wars Republic Heroes (try saying that five times fast) is a co-op action/platforming title developed by Krome Studios. Krome isn’t exactly a well respected developer, but they are one of the only few independent studios doing work for major publishers in Australia – so points for them I guess. That’s where the points stop though.

Krome Studios used to not be bad. They developed Ty the Tasmanian Tiger – a game that I never played, but fans swear up and down that it’s one of the best platformers of the PS2/Xbox/Gamecube era. I’m gonna take their word for it because it’s all I have. Anyway, their real trouble started in 2007 when Microsoft contracted them to make Viva Pinata: Party Animals. After that, LucasArts turned them into a Star Wars workhorse.

Now, enough about Krome. Let’s get on with the game, shall we?

Star Wars The Clone Wars Republic Heroes is best described as LEGO Star Wars without the LEGO. Now, that’s not inherently a bad thing. Sure the LEGO games get by with their derivative gameplay by having buckets of charm, but surely Republic Heroes has at least a single bucket of charm in it, right? Right? Maybe a cup of charm? How about a droplet? No?

OK, look, Republic Heroes apes the style of The Clone Wars TV series. No, not that awesome Genndy Tartakovsky series. The crappy one where George Lucas threw Genndy’s work into a computer and just expected it to work. It’s much the same filmmaking style he applied to the prequels and we all know how those worked out.

Anyway, the game obviously can’t look anywhere near as clean as the TV series, and that’s even with forced MSAA. All the characters look absolutely lifeless, and some are best described as nightmare muppets. No seriously, take a look at Yoda:

Nightmare Muppets

Now, I don’t believe in absolute zero badness. There’s always a redeeming factor and Republic Heroes’ visuals do have one thing going for it. The outer space shots with the planets in the background look absolutely marvelous.

Pretty Planet

Unfortunately, the environments on the planets look like somebody took the airbrush, cracked it open and just let whatever came out of it to flow all over the canvas. In other words, it’s a mess.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Benevolent Zach, I care not these “graphics.” I only want to hear about the gameplay. Well, I was really hoping you would stop reading by now so I wouldn’t have to get into that. But since you insist…

Remember how I said that Republic Heroes was like the LEGO games minus the LEGO? Yeah, that applies to the gameplay as well. The characters can jump, swing a lightsaber and throw the force around like a belligerent drunk throws around insults in an alley at midnight. That is to say – it’s completely ineffective and doesn’t hurt anyone.

So, you ask, the combat is bad? I wouldn’t classify it as bad. It definitely works when it wants to. I just often found myself hitting the X button next to enemies hoping to slice them in two, but only finding Anakin or Obi-Wan swinging their lightsabers at thin air in the opposite direction. This is especially annoying during boss fights where there’s only one target, but these “Jedi” seem content to swing their lightsabers at anything but the gelatinous ooze monster that’s threatening to blow up the galaxy.

Speaking of boss fights, the game lacks variety. Players are forced to fight the aforementioned gelatinous ooze monster three times throughout the game. The pattern of attack only ever changes during the final boss fight, and even then, the only difference is that you’re now balancing on floating platforms while fighting.

Now that may seem hard, but trust me, it’s not. In fact, Republic Heroes is insultingly easy. Sure, you can’t die, just like in the LEGO games, but those games never feel condescending. Republic Heroes makes you feel stupid for trying too hard. For example, the very first boss fight in the game requires players to force hold a robotic leg down and then climb up said leg to slash out an eye. Now, that sounds incredibly simple, but the solution to this boss fight was frustratingly ambiguous. It didn’t help that the nightmare muppet version of Yoda kept on appearing to tell me that I was doing it wrong, but never actually explaining how I was doing it wrong. In the end, it only helped me to understand Luke’s frustration with the little green guy on Dagobah.

After all this, you might be thinking – “Great and powerful Zach, is there anything you enjoyed in this game?” Actually, yes! I thoroughly enjoyed any of the levels that allowed me to play as one of the Clone Troopers. It was an excellent change of pace from the Jedi levels, and the levels themselves were actually fun. Of course, this comes from my adoration of twin stick arcade shooters, and the Clone Trooper levels deliver that kind of arcade action in spades.

Beyond that, however, there’s little in this game that I liked. The Jedi gameplay is dull, the boss fights are terrible, the environments are bland, and the game just kind of ends with no closure whatsoever.

That being said, there is one thing about this game that is truly phenomenal – Anakin Skywalker wearing an abnormally large Indiana Jones-style fedora:

Anakin Hat

Episode 79: May the Force Be With Luuke

Star Wars The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes. Yoda’s Stories. Star Wars Galaxies. Salacious Crumb: Nighttime Assassin. If you’ve no stomach for weird and/or bad Star Wars games, you might want to reach for the Alka-Seltzer because that topic dominates this episode of Disembodied Voices like a too-vigorous dose of jalapeno. Cameron’s out of the picture, but everyone else is pretending to be friends in the most pleasant of ways: Zachary takes one for the team by promising to review a particularly poor game gifted by the anti-generous Cameron, Stephen wants to talk about Balloon Fight (apparently?), and Bryan is acquiring Money & Castles in Mount & Blade. Light on content and heavy on silliness, everyone is pretty much hoping you’ll listen to the end purely for Shadow of the Colossus.

Opening song: Electrolytic Man, originally from Mega Man and remixed by MaJIN_SaN, ambient, and tomatsu.

Ending song: Wanderer on the Offensive, originally from Shadow of the Colossus and remixed by B33J, Cerrax, Sixto Sounds, and nonsensicalexis.

Episode 73: Not Episode 72

You have come. You have come to the throes of destiny– YOUR destiny– and it is called Disembodied Voices. This podcast will reveal to you many things and many things will be revealed. Stephen demonstrates the language of Twi’leki as he speaks of the mystical and ancient game of pazaak; Bryan summons his inner Sun Tzu to wage a physical and spiritual war against the vile Zerg; Cameron draws upon a raindrop-filled well of wisdom to elaborate on the nature of personal ownership and its enlightenment; Zachary offer instruction on the art of outrunning the Komodo dragon itself. In other words, everyone talks about video games. Come, be not afraid, and listen to this podcast, good haly. (That’s Twi’leki for “visitor”.)

Opening song: Electrolytic Man, originally from Mega Man and remixed by MaJIN_SaN, ambient, and tomatsu.

Ending song: Last Dance of the Giants, originally from The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and remixed by Kozlitek.