Saturday, December 4, 2021

Old School Lane's Favorite Episodes of Casual Chats

It's December, the last month of the year! Can't believe that in a few weeks, it'll be 2022. 2021 was definitely an improvement over 2020, but it was still a fairly rough year filled with many ups and downs. But this month is a time for celebration. This month is when my best friend and I started Old School Lane. Even though Kevin had left long ago to focus on his own life endeavors, I kept it going. Now, it'll be about 10 years since we posted our first blog article. It's incredible to think that we've been able to keep it running after all this time, but we did. It's thanks to your amazing support that we've continued going on talking about our favorite movies, TV shows, video games, and everything else in between.

5 years ago, I had posted on what had been my favorite blog interviews, blog articles, podcast episodes, podcast interviews, and videos. I had done so many other videos and podcasts since then that I want to reevaluate my years of content and update some of my lists. When I say some, I meant I would look back on my favorite podcast episodes, podcast interviews, and videos. I had stopped doing blog articles and blog interviews in favor on focusing on doing podcasts and videos, so I will not be redoing my favorites on those. Instead, I will be doing some other lookbacks on my work on Old School Lane that I'll be going over throughout this month. There's even a surprise that I'll be doing to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Old School Lane, but I'll announce it very soon. In the meanwhile, here's a lookback on my favorite episodes of Casual Chats in chronological order.

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 23: The Adventures of Pete & Pete 
Originally released on November 18, 2013 on YouTube.

I don't look back fondly on my early episode of Casual Chats. The audio is terrible, my editing skills were rough, and working on a old hand-me-down computer with a $20 webcam/microphone didn't make it sound as professional as I wanted to. But talking about my favorite Nickelodeon live action show back around 2013 was a very enjoyable listen as Kevin, Alex DeCourville, Jim Bevan, and myself as we reflected on our favorite episodes, characters, the music, and the debate on whether it created the modern day hipster, especially since we released on the show's 20th anniversary. While there are plenty of better podcasts we had recorded and produced, this is the podcast I felt that was the starting point of where the quality of our discussions were getting better after doing podcasts one year after Casual Chats had started. 

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 32: Sonic the Hedgehog
Originally premiered on September 11, 2014 on YouTube.

One of my favorite video game franchises of all time was the Sonic series. When I was a kid, I had gotten a hand-me-down Sega Genesis from my older cousin with Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and a few other games. Since then, I own most of the classic Sonic games on Steam mostly thanks to the Sega Genesis Classic Collection and some of the modern games such as Sonic Generations and Sonic Mania. I had talked about this video game franchise more than any other and this is the first of many Sonic podcasts I would do with my friend Tom Carter. We talked about the games from the original Sonic the Hedgehog to Sonic Generations since Sonic: Lost World was the newest game at the time, the different animated series, and the comics. While video game discussions on Casual Chats were never our most popular, I had a blast with Kevin and Tom talking about our favorite blue hedgehog. 

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 40: Avatar: The Last Airbender 
Originally posted on February 22, 2015 on YouTube

Avatar: The Last Airbender is what I would consider to be the last of the classic Nicktoons ranked up there with Doug, Rugrats, The Ren & Stimpy Show, Rocko's Modern Life, Hey Arnold SpongeBob SquarePants, and more before it went through a massive rough patch where it had a mostly dry spell of great Nicktoons that would only be filled with The Legend of Korra, the 2012 incarnation of TMNT, and The Loud House. It's still to this day my all time favorite Nicktoon next to Hey Arnold. This episode of Casual Chats had the most amount of people in a Casual Chats, 10 including myself, talking about our favorite episodes, moments, the lore, the world building, and the terrible live action movie in honor of the show's 10th anniversary. It was a crazy, erratic, and I was so happy to see a new generation of fans gravitating to the show when it was released on Netflix and staying on the #1 spot for two months. Because of this, Mike DiMartino and Bryan Koneitzko, the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender, are now making new Avatar projects starting with a movie combining 2D and CGI inspired by Spider-Man: Enter the Spiderverse. Even over 15 years after its premiere, I had always considered Avatar: The Last Airbender to be a nearly flawless masterpiece with its memorable and fully developed characters, intriguing story, interesting world, unique creature designs, and moments that made you both laugh and cry. It holds up beautifully to this day and would set a new standard of Nicktoons.

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 46: Tiny Toon Adventures
Originally uploaded on September 14, 2015 on YouTube

This is one of my favorite Casual Chats episodes that Kevin and I have done together. Tiny Toon Adventures was the first of the Warner Bros. cartoons produced by Steven Spielberg and would be the start of now classic cartoons from the Amblin lineup such as Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, and Freakazoid. Kevin and I talked about the importance of bringing a breath of fresh air into the Looney Tunes cartoons, the way it was able to bring female characters into the limelight at a time when they were side characters or one-note, the episodes, the music, and the TV movie How I Spent My Summer Vacation. Tiny Toon Adventures was always one of my favorite animated series as a kid and while you may say that Animaniacs had perfected its formula, it isn't without its charm. Now I'm genuinely curious on how they're going to capture that same charm with the upcoming reboot Tiny Toons Looniversity. 

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 62: Metroid
Originally uploaded on August 7, 2016 on YouTube

My favorite video game franchise of all time is the Metroid franchise. While it may not be not as renowned as Mario, Zelda, or Pokémon, Metroid has always intrigued me with its atmosphere, gameplay, bosses, power ups, soundtrack, and story. Jim Bevan, his friend Lily, and myself did the podcast when the franchise was celebrating its 25th anniversary and Nintendo had released the polarizing spin-off game Metroid Prime: Federation Force on the 3DS and Milton "DoctorM64" Gausti had released his critically acclaimed fan remake of Metroid II called Another Metroid II Remake. It's amazing to think that 5 years later, Metroid Dread would be released and would gain a larger audience and would be critically acclaimed receiving Game of the Year Nominations. It's the only game series that I did a Let's Play series on to celebrate the franchise's anniversary because I loved the games that much. Some of my favorite blog articles I had ever written had been about the Metroid franchise. It's great to see more people exploring the world and perspective of Samus Aran.

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 72: The Amblimation Trilogy
Originally uploaded on November 24, 2016 on YouTube

The first of many trilogies we would cover on Casual Chats was the discussion of the three animated films under Steven Spielberg's short lived animation film studio before being the co-founder of DreamWorks Animation. James Sullivan, Taylor Wyatt, and I talked about An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, We're Back: A Dinosaur's Story, and Balto, its history behind the films, and what other projects it would've released had it still been around. Both Don Bluth and Steven Spielberg are huge influences of mine and being a huge fan of their work, I had wanted to talk about these series of films that had since then been overshadowed by the animated films that were released during the Disney Renaissance. Fievel Goes West was released on the same day as Beauty and the Beast which was critically acclaimed by critics and viewers and nominated for Best Picture at a time when animated films had never been revered as such. Balto was released shortly after Toy Story premiered and changed the course of animation forever. It was great talking about a piece of animation history during that Thanksgiving season.

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 78: The Disney Renaissance Films
Originally uploaded on March 5, 2017 on YouTube

This would be the start of a series of Casual Chats episodes that Chris Moore and I did covering the seven Disney eras. At the time, Chris was working on a book looking back on the Disney films that were released from the late 80's to the late 90's and going over the morals and life lessons he had learned from watching them. Out of the all the Disney films that were released, these 10 films are still fondly remembered by animation fans and Disney enthusiasts. It was great revisiting these films and seeing it from a different view that I hadn't before. Because of this, it would be the inspiration of Chris and I going to Disney World together a year later and doing more Disney podcasts together.

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 79: Sailor Moon
Originally uploaded on March 12, 2017 on YouTube

It was the 25th anniversary of the iconic magical girl manga and anime Sailor Moon created by Naoko Takeuchi and J.L. O' Faolin, Curt Clark, and myself talked about the different seasons, the characters, the animation, and the terrible DiC English dub. Out of all the podcasts I've done talking about anime, this is the most viewed one and I can understand why. Sailor Moon is one of the shows that had gotten people into anime, including myself. A lot of people still look back fondly of Sailor Moon, especially the original 90's anime. When I was going to conventions, I would see at least one cosplayer dressing up as one of the Sailor Guardians. I hadn't seen Sailor Moon since the late 90's and when watching them again on the Viz Media website, I had fallen in love with the series all over again. When Sailor Moon Crystal completes its run, you can be sure that we'll be talking about it.

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 81: Azumanga Daioh
Originally uploaded on April 9, 2017 on YouTube.

On the 15th anniversary of the slice of life anime Azumanga Daioh, ZenithWillRule and I talked about our favorite characters, episodes, moments, and jokes. This was a different discussion since Azumanga Daioh is mostly known for its characters and jokes more than its story. I have had a strong connection with this anime since college and would be one of the shows I would make my way to watch every year. It has influenced me in so many ways that I've even drew elements of it on a series of stories I want to publish someday. Azumanga Daioh is one of the quintessential slice of life anime that would go on to influence other shows such as K-On!, Lucky Star, and more. It's a classic that has stood the test of time and I had enjoyed talking about it with Zenith. 

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 89: The Sullivan/Bluth Studios Movies
Originally uploaded on August 6, 2017 on YouTube.

Going back in the realm of Don Bluth is this discussion of the eight films that were released on his animation studio from the early 80s to the mid 90s alongside with James Sullivan and Mat Brunet. It was perfect timing since The Secret of NIMH was celebrating its 35th anniversary. As a kid, I had grown up watching Don Bluth's films and they were just as great as the Disney films at the time. Films such as An American Tail, The Land Before Time, and All Dogs Go to Heaven are childhood favorites of mine and it was great revisiting them for the first time in decades. It wasn't so great visiting his later films, but we had a blast talking about them nevertheless. 

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 91: Recess
Originally uploaded on August 31, 2017 on YouTube

It was the 20th anniversary of the ABC animated series Recess and who better to talk about the series than the people behind the show. I invited creators Paul Germain and Joe Ansolabehere, writers Bart Jennett and Peter Gaffney, composer Denis Hannigan, and voice actor Courtland Mead to talk about their experiences working on it. It was such a blast getting together the people who were a part of one of my favorite shows growing up and recalling fond memories of how they came up with the episodes, characters, and music. 

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 101: The Fox Animation Studios Trilogy
Originally uploaded on January 9, 2018 on YouTube.

Continuing with the discussion of Don Bluth, I had James Sullivan, Taylor Wyatt, and Nero Angelus talking about The Fox Animation Studios trilogy. After Sullivan/Bluth Studios was shut down, he had started another studio at Fox releasing Anastasia, Bartok the Magnificent, and Titan A.E. I had seen Anastasia and Titan A.E. before, but had never seen Bartok the Magnificent before. Knowing that there were a lot of animated direct to video sequels on Don Bluth films that he had no involvement in, I was curious to see how Bartok would end up. Sadly, it was underwhelming and disappointing. But Titan A.E. was even more of an underwhelming disappointment knowing the behind the scene issues that occur in the making of the film, the deleted scenes that strengthened the story and character development, and the box office failure that resulted in the end of Don Bluth's film career and the shut down of Fox Animation Studios. We had concluded the podcast going over the Dragon's Lair movie animation pitch that only his Indiegogo donators were able to see. Since I was one of them, I had talked about how the origins of Dirk the Daring and Princess Daphne reminded me of The Swan Princess. Who would have thought that Titan A.E. would still be considered his last animated film when it was reported years later that the Dragon's Lair movie would now be live action? I didn't, that's for sure.

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 103: The Pokémon Movies and OVAs
Originally uploaded on February 11, 2018 on YouTube.

I had just recently watched Pokemon: I Choose You in theaters and had decided to watch all of the films and OVAs after not having seeing most of them. The films I did see I hadn't seeing in over 20 years and had revisited them again. With Jim, Eli Stone, and Des Shinta, we talked about our memories watching films based on the anime based on the video games. While some of the films weren't that great, there were others that I was genuinely surprised on how complex and emotional they could be. I haven't seen the newer Pokémon films yet, but when I do, I definitely want to return to this topic. I had a great time talking about these films.

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 115: SNICK
Originally uploaded on September 22, 2018 on YouTube.

This was a podcast episode I had to record a second time when I had lost the original audio. I had invited David and Eli from the Are You Afraid of the Dark? podcast You Scared of This? to talk about the Nickelodeon 2 hour block SNICK that would air certain programs on Saturday nights. We talked about the iconic programs that aired on that block like Clarissa Explains it All to the more obscure programs like Space Cases. We talked about the height of its popularity around the 90s and its eventual downfall around the 2000s when its best shows were cancelled and were replaced by other programs that never caught on. The Nickelodeon podcasts have been my most listened to on Casual Chats and this has been one of my favorites I've done. I'm so glad I re-recorded the audio because it's one that I'm still very proud of. 

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 121: The Land Before Time Franchise
Originally uploaded on December 19, 2018

This is the 3rd time that Don Bluth was a topic on Casual Chats, but this time it was on The Land Before Time, its 13 sequels, and animated series. I brought Eli to this discussion since he was an expert on the subject having seeing all of the films. I had only seeing the first 5 sequels and skipped on the rest. When I had marathon all 14 films, I had noticed that they started to get progressively worse around the 11th, 12th, and 13th sequel with its mediocre songs, softened story, unnecessary character additions, and low budget animation. It was a far cry from the original Land Before Time movie I had loved and cherished. But I still had fun looking back on these films and poking fun at their hilariously bad moments. 

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 133: The Swan Princess Franchise
Originally uploaded on November 29, 2019 on YouTube

It was the 25th anniversary of The Swan Princess and I had brought J.L, Curt, and Christy Esterlie to talk about the franchise. I had watched the film's pink carpet celebration and listened to a podcast where the producer talked about the making of the film and found it to be very fascinating. It was the first animated film by Nest Entertainment (now known as Crest Animation), an animation studio founded by former Disney animator Richard Rich who had left the company to do his own work. While never receiving the same critical accolades of Don Bluth, he's still working on animated films which is what we talked about looking at all 10 Swan Princess films. While the first film was simply okay, the sequels got worse and worse, especially when they switched over to 3D. But the discussions were a blast to get through and a great way to get through the awful films.

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 139: A Goofy Movie and An Extremely Goofy Movie
Originally uploaded on April 8, 2020 on Anchor.

It was both the 25th anniversary of A Goofy Movie and the 20th anniversary of its sequel An Extremely Goofy Movie and Arun Mehta, Jim, Eli, and Tariq talked about both of them. We talked about the surprise lukewarm reception that A Goofy Movie received from critics back in 1995 and its overwhelmingly response from the people who loved the film. It was able to humanize Goofy in a way that was never shown in the 1940s Disney shorts and even in the animated series Goof Troop with the relationship he had with his son Max. With the sequel, it continued the relationship with Max now that he was in college. We went over the juxtaposition between Goofy and Max with Pete and PJ, the music by Powerline, and the serious moments that surprised us when rewatching the films again. 

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 139: The Studio Ghibli Films
Originally uploaded on August 31, 2020 on Anchor.

It was the 35th anniversary of the founding of the Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli by Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, Toshio Suzuki, and Yasuyoshi Tokuma. Zenith Warrior Princess, Filip Kanzurovski, and myself had only seeing the Miyazaki films, but we talked about how he was able to feature fantastic female protagonists, environmental stories, calming music, whimsical settings, quiet atmosphere, and magical elements. From Nausicaa to The Wind Rises, Miyazaki's films have become just as beloved as Disney animated films. We promised that we would return to Studio Ghibli films to watch the films we weren't able to. With Miyazaki announcing his next animation project, that would be the best time to make a follow up podcast.

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 154: Calvin and Hobbes.
Originally uploaded on January 4, 2021 on Anchor.

The first time covering comic strips needed experts on the subject and inviting Andrew Farago and his wife Shaenon Garrity were the perfect guests. We talked about how we were first introduced to the comic strips by Bill Watterson, the hilarious moments featuring Calvin and his toy tiger Hobbes, the profound moments of intellect, and its exaggerated presentation. While the strips ended over 25 years ago, fans are still gravitating to the strip's timeless tales of simple childhood wonder and the parents' frustrated personas on raising a sarcastic and over imaginative boy. 

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 158: The Pokémon Anime
Originally uploaded on February 23, 2021 on Anchor.

In honor of Pokémon's 25th anniversary, I had invited Malik and Devonte McLeod talking about the anime featuring the trainer Satoshi (Ash Ketchum) and his travels from the Kanto region to the Galar region. I had not seen the anime since Pokémon Advanced Battle ended so having two guests who caught up with the anime was great since I was able to learn what had happened since then. I was able to give my insights on the Kanto, Johto, and Hoenn seasons and talk about some of the episodes I had remembered and the moments that made a lot of people laugh and cry. We even covered the music that was produced in both Japan and America and how it was able to impact the show. I had a great time talking about the anime and learning some new information I hadn't known about before.

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 165: The Owl House Season 1
Originally uploaded on June 7, 2021 on Anchor.

At Old School Lane, we have been known for covering older movies, TV shows, video games, etc. So, a new show has to be very special if we were going to be covering it. That's exactly what happened with the 2020 Disney Channel animated series The Owl House. Arun, Paul Thomas, Michael McKinney, Tim Murphy, Rebecca Rose, and I had talked about the show's first season in honor of the second season's premiere. Arun and I had gotten requests from our listeners to cover this show, so we had decided to watch it together on Disney+. We had loved it so much that we decided to cover it as soon as we were done watching it. Since then, we had been doing episode recaps on Arun and Patricia and brought it up in our discussion at our PixMix episode of Monsters at Work. It has become one of our favorite shows and we cannot wait until the second half of Season 2 begins. 

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 173: As Told by Ginger
Originally uploaded on November 1, 2021

I have stated multiple times over the years that I felt that As Told by Ginger was the most underrated Nicktoon ever made. In this episode, I invited Antoni Garcia and Ryan Stevens and Brooke Smith from the Nation of Animation podcast talking about it. We talked about our favorite episodes, characters, moments, and our opinion on why the show was overlooked. Every year for the past 5 years, I had released content about As Told by Ginger and had continued the tradition. It was great that more and more people had been tuning into As Told by Ginger over the years in thanks to the series being more available on streaming sites like Paramount Plus, Amazon Prime, and Pluto TV. It was even more great to read the comments from people saying that they loved the show and really appreciated the podcast talking about it, especially since the As Told by Ginger podcast We're in Between had ended its run years ago. It was great talking about this show again.

That's it for now. Tune in next week as I talk about my favorite podcast interviews. Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Thanks for reading.



Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Old School Lane Update: August 2021

 Hey everyone, Patricia here. Summer came and went so fast this time around. Now, I'm at the final stretch of school. I'm officially a senior majoring in Broadcast Journalism and minoring in English focusing on Professional Writing. The last time I wrote about my school update, I was minoring in Entrepreneurship, but after a semester of taking accounting and Intro to Entrepreneurship, I felt that it wasn't for me and dropped it. It's crazy to think that I've come so far. This is probably the most cliched line of all time when people say "It only feels it yesterday when I first did *insert event here*), but it's true. It felt like I just did my freshman invocation with my mom whispering to me when we saw students wielding cameras "Someday, you'll be doing that" and the next thing I knew, I'm a senior at a camera recording freshman marching for their invocation. While I'm at the home stretch, this coming school year will be my busiest yet. I have six classes, two internships, and a lot of school activities that I'll be participating in for my fall semester. For my spring semester, I have seven classes and an exit exam I have to pass in order to graduate. So hearing all that, I'm left with some bad news for Old School Lane. I'm going on a slight hiatus...again.

Around the same time last year, I wrote an article looking at how disappointed I was that my podcasts and videos were at an all time low with little growth in subscribers. Now things have gotten slightly better. In the beginning of January, the Old School Lane YouTube channel had hit a milestone achievement with 9,000 subscribers. It's been over a half a year and we only had an additional 800 which means only 200 more and we would reach the milestone of 10,000. That's great and all, but the views have remained somewhat the same. Once again, I wanted to break away from talking about strictly Nickelodeon stuff and delved into topics I've never covered before. The first podcast episode of 2021 was about the comic strip series Calvin & Hobbes alongside Andrew Farago and his wife Shaenon Garrity. The next one after that was about the 2020 Amazon Prime Film Borat: Subsequent Movie Film, the sequel to the 2006 film Borat alongside Arun Mehta from The Arun Mehta Show. The latter was a disaster in views and made me lose some subscribers. It was a very polarizing topic for a lot of people. The third episode was about the 1970's British comedy Faulty Towers again alongside Arun. Views were the same as Borat and losing a subscriber in the process. 

Not only were subscribers and views were pretty low, views in premieres were pretty low. The most amount of people that would be tuning into a premiere of a podcast would range from 4-10. The lowest I've received was the repost of The Banter Broadcast episode of the Tron franchise were only 3 people showed up and they dropped after the first 10 minutes. That had crushed me and made the conscious decision to only leave YouTube premieres for videos only. 

I had then posted a poll to my listeners on the reason why views were getting low and the majority of them told me that the topic wasn't interesting enough to tune into. After that, I focused on posting something that they would be happy to hear about: animated shows. The most successful podcast episodes I've done this year were the Pokemon anime podcast with Malik and Devonte McLeod, the Invader ZIM podcast with CBJohnny, the Adventure Time podcast with Taylor "Whyboy" Wyatt from ToonGrin, Michael "Fusionater" McKinney, and Paul "Gunterfan1992" Thomas, and The Owl House podcast with Arun, Michael, Paul, my friend Tim from his blog A Look at Disney, and YouTuber Rebecca Rose. I'm glad that they were happy and I'm proud on how it turned out. However, I felt somewhat stuck. 

Luckily, I had gotten a hold of some amazing special guests that I've wanted to interview for many years. Voice actors such as Adam Wylie and Spike Spencer, a new interview with Fred Seibert after Kevin and I's first interview with him back in 2012, YouTubers Craig "Stuttering Craig" Skistimas and PokeKellz from The Dex, Hardline and Crush 40 singer Johnny Gioeli, and television writer Martin Olson. It felt great to talk to them about their careers, their triumphs, their projects, and advice for upcoming actors, writers, singers, and content creators. However, views were surprisingly low and no subscribers were gained in any of them. Once again, despite me being proud of the interviews I did, the views didn't reflect on it. Again, I felt stuck.

So, maybe I need a creative break to focus on schooling until I can figure out how to balance what I want to post and what my listeners/viewers want to see to make them happy. I know you want the same old content of me talking about one particular medium of entertainment over and over again, but I can't do that. That's not what Old School Lane was about. It was about covering all kinds of mediums of entertainment: movies, TV shows, video games, anime, and everything else in between. Then there's also the time period that the content came out in that people gravitated to. Most of my listeners/viewers may recall when Kevin and I would cover a lot of stuff from the 80's and 90's. While we do love the shows, movies, video games, etc. that came out around that time, the newer stuff have been amazing. Even some of the much older stuff are too important and classic to ignore. Nostalgia is an ever changing beast and will continue to change and evolve the more that the younger crowd grows older. Being in college again surrounded by 18-22 year olds reminiscing of shows, movies, and video games from the 2000's and 2010's gave me not only a new view of looking back at old times through fresher eyes, but made me feel really old. 

Bottom line, I'm happy with the direction that Old School Lane is going in. Of course I would love to post more podcasts and videos. I have a ton of ideas that are constantly swimming in my head. However, my current situation makes it possible to post a lot less than I would like to. Whether you want to join in on my journey or not is up to you. If you don't, that's perfectly fine. If you do, thank you for sticking around this far. I do have some plans for what I want to do for Old School Lane around December since it would've been 10 years since it first started. But we'll wait and see how it turns out. In the meantime, see you around when I have the time to post anything.



Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Thoughts of Metroid Dread

Well, this is something I never thought I would be talking about. E3 2021 has come and gone and most of the presentations left a lot to be desired. It made sense since due to COVID-19, video game venues weren't open to the public, journalists weren't able to enter the convention center to interview the representatives of video game companies there and play the demos of the showcased games, and some video game companies like Sony weren't going to showcase their games, but instead do it on their own showcase instead. While some companies such as Xbox/Bethesda showed some games that a lot of people were excited about, but the clear winner for me was Nintendo. What sealed the deal for me was presenting a game I thought would never see the light of day: Metroid Dread. 

For those who don't know, Metroid Dread was first announced as a Nintendo DS game in 2005 in an article by the gaming magazine Game Informer. It was suppose to take place after the events of Metroid Fusion where the protagonist Samus Arun had destroyed the Galactic Federation research station where the X Parasites had killed all the scientists and experiments and turned them into fearsome monsters that would do severe damage to the universe. Due to Samus killing all the Metroids in Metroid II: Return of Samus, the X Parasites were able to roam around SR-388 since the Metroids were their predators. Speaking of Metroids, the Galactic Federation had cloned Metroids using the last remnants of the Metroid DNA from Samus after using it as a vaccine when she was attacked by the X Parasites. It ended on a note that had a lot of concerns swimming on my head. Samus is now deemed as a traitor from the Galactic Federation. She has the last remnants of the Metroid DNA. She destroyed SR-388, the X Parasites, and the last living Metroids. I was waiting for Metroid Dread to answer the questions I wanted to see play out. But over the years, it was pushed further and further aside due to other games in the series being released such as Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and Metroid: Other M. Corruption was the last little reference that Metroid Dread was in the final stages of completion. After that, no announcement. 

Shortly after the release of Metroid: Other M, Yoshio Sakamoto, the co-creator and producer of the Metroid series hadn't gone any further about Metroid Dread. It was just as I feared: Metroid Dread was cancelled. From 2002-2007, it was considered to being a golden era for the Metroid series that was never replicated since. Thanks to the Metroid Prime games from Retro Studios and the handheld Metroid games for the Game Boy Advance, Metroid was given the same amount of love and treatment that Nintendo would give to their other AAA franchises like Mario, Zelda, and Pokémon. Unfortunately, unlike those other AAA franchises, Metroid never sold very well, especially in Japan. North America loved the franchise a lot more, but nevertheless, the sales didn't justify making more games. The hardcore fans could only keep a niche franchise alive for so long. When Metroid: Other M flopped, the golden era of the franchise was over. Here's a sad fact, Animal Crossing: New Horizons sold more copies than all the Metroid games put together. One game sold more copies than all 11 games in a franchise. The idea of seeing Metroid Dread coming to life was like a pipedream alongside other wished for games that were cancelled such as Half Life 3, Mega Man Legends 3, or Silent Hills. 

15 years later, that pipedream became a reality. Metroid Dread will be coming out for the Nintendo Switch this October and the trailer showed some great promise. It started with Samus rocking out a new suit as she wandering around an unknown location. But then, a robot looks down from the ceiling targeting her and Samus tries shooting it down. Her beam weapon and her missiles do no damage and she has no choice but to run. Then it shows gameplay of Samus shooting, wall jumping, attacking, sliding, using an invisible powerup, and some cut scenes of the robot, Samus fighting a monster, and a Chozo typing in his computer. After the trailer, Sakamoto gave more details about the game such as how Dread was going to be the last game in the storyline involving Samus and the Metroids taking place after the events of Fusion, the robot was called E.M.M.I. and it belonged to the Galactic Federation, Dread was cancelled twice because of technical limitations not being able to do the game he envisioned, and MercurySteam, the same company who did the remake of Metroid II, were going to be developing Metroid Dread. Then, Nintendo Treehouse played the game for 20 minutes. If you're interested in checking out the trailer, click on the video down below.

The gameplay looks very similar to Metroid: Samus Returns with its emphasis on the combat, the free aim on Samus' arm cannon, and the slick angular art style, but it looks way better. It makes sense since Samus Returns was on the 3DS, but still, the more enhanced Switch really takes advantage of building the sense of unease that the Metroid series was known for. Because MercurySteam is working on the game, they'll even include more information that was briefly hinted at Samus Returns: the Chozo Memories. After you complete Samus Returns to 100%, you were able to unlock a few photos where you saw the Chozo, a group of bird aliens that created the Metroids, Mother Brain, and later on, raised Samus after Ridley killed her parents, land on SR-388 to collect Aeion for their experiments, discover the X Parasites, create the Metroids to combat them, learned that they were evolving, sealed SR-388 with acid, and called for help from their other Chozo allies. The last picture showed one of them killing the soldiers and scientists and left the Metroids alone. In the Metroid Dread trailer, there was a brief glimpse of a Chozo in his computer. This is the very first time in the series we've seen a Chozo alive. All the Chozos in the games have either been ghosts or statues that would give Samus her powerups. I'm guessing that he's going to be a major antagonist in this game alongside the Galactic Federation and the E.M.M.I. As for how he connects with Samus, that's going to be an interesting revelation. 

Sakamoto had mentioned in an interview that while story was going to be very important, he wanted it to ease the fans to playing it if this was going to be their first game. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption did that as well where it was trying to get newcomers into the franchise, but it ended up with the hardcore fans complaining that the story slowed down the pace of the game, it was too linear, the different planets didn't make the experience as memorable compared to other games in the series where it was in one location with variety, and the Wii motion controls were "too gimmicky". Now I've seen some people saying that Dread is going to do the same thing. I couldn't disagree more. The last few days has never made me more prouder to be a Metroid fan. Seeing everyone excited to check out Metroid Dread, game journalists saying it was the highlight of E3 2021, and even the newcomers who had never played a single Metroid game have done fan art and reaction videos saying that they are going to purchase it has made me so happy. The hardcore fanbase is very appreciated, but it could only go so far. We need to welcome new fans into this franchise. Look what happened to Fire Emblem Awakening. It was going to be the last game in the series because sales for the previous games were not justified in making more. But because it streamlined the gameplay, expanded the story, and made it a standalone experience, it not only saved the franchise, but it had gotten more games and has far more representation in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Sakamoto even said that he already has the next game scripted, so if we want to see more Metroid games come out, we need to buy it! It's made me happy to know that it's the #1 pre-ordered video game according to Amazon. But I'm not happy to hear about the scalpers pre-ordering the special edition Metroid Dread including the Amibo figures and artbook and charging hundreds of dollars. Those guys suck! But nonetheless, let's make Metroid Dread a huge hit and start a new golden age for the franchise.

In conclusion, the Metroid franchise is my favorite video game franchise of all time. Super Metroid is my all time favorite video game. The fact that not only we're getting a new Metroid game in a few months, but it's a game that was laying dormant for 15 years. This is a big deal for multiple reasons. It's the first new 2D Metroid game in 19 years. It's the first console 2D Metroid game in 27 years. It's the final chapter in the story that has been around since the franchise's inception in 1986. This game is the perfect way to celebrate the series' 35th anniversary. It wasn't a disappointing port collection like what they did with Mario last year. It's a brand new game that has the promise to be incredibly successful and I can't wait! Hopefully we hear some new information on Metroid Prime 4 soon, but I wouldn't hold my breath. 

That's all for now. Hope to see you around soon.