Weekly Panda Roundup – Snipperclips Finale & Why I Love Anime Conventions

Weekly Panda Roundup – Snipperclips Finale & Why I Love Anime Conventions

Welcome to another Weekly Panda Roundup! How was your weekend? Ours was busy, but fun! Crystal Dragon and I spent another weekend out of town for an anime convention! After many weeks of teasing a post about why we go to cons, I’m happy to finally share the reason below. We also have some videos to share, including the Grand Finale of our Snipperclips playthrough! We have a special thank you message for everyone who’s supported us in this series, and some news for the future of our channel.

So without further ado, let’s round ‘em up!

What’s Next for Pandas at Play – Special Announcements & Thanks

Our YouTube Channel, Pandas at Play, will be going through some changes, but we’re still going to strive to bring you quality Nintendo focused videos with our fun, quirky selves! With our Snipperclips playthrough reaching its finale this week, we wanted to share some words of gratitude and announcements for what’s to come.

First of all, my sincerest thanks to all of you who have been following our Snipperclips adventures and my heartfelt gratitude to anyone who has been following our channel! All of this is only made possible because of your support, your viewership, and your kind words that keep us going. And I truly mean that. There have been times when I’ve honestly considered prematurely ending the Snipperclips series, and it was your kind words and my wife’s loving support that kept it going to completion.

As the channel has progressed, we’ve been evaluating what actually brings us fun from this. And while we love to play games together, playing it for a video brought about too many changes from the kind of leisure time we wanted. You see, we’re no masters of gameplay, no Games Done Quick speedrunners, and definitely not pro EVO tournament fighters. We’re just a couple who loves games, and the last thing we want is to no longer desire that. The reason why Snipperclips worked out so well for us is because it’s such a friendly game, open to all despite skill. For that reason, we recorded our playthrough and loved every moment of it. Snipperclips is seriously a special game, and I hope it’s visible from our videos.

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Much love to you for supporting our video series!

We’ve decided that moving forward, we’re looking to do more on-camera discussion alongside our review content as opposed to straight playthroughs. I apologize for anyone looking specifically for let’s plays, and I hope our other content is every bit as meaningful and entertaining. If there are any special games that would be great on video, we’ll definitely consider uploading a single episode of it, but otherwise, we’ll be shifting gears. I believe us simply talking to you about the games we love will help us establish closeness with our audience, and we’d love to discuss any topics you might find interesting.

As we are in a time of transition causing a lot of stress right now, our future on-camera content will be on hold for a while. I will still be posting weekly video reviews, but we hope you can patiently await for our full-fledged discussions to start! If there’s anything you’d like to see, please let us know!

Thank you from the very bottom of our hearts for your support! It means the world to me, and it helps drive us forward to continue bringing you fun Nintendo video content!

  • If you haven’t yet seen our videos and want to see what we’re all about, you can check out the links below! We sincerely hope you enjoy!
  • Our YouTube channel link is here! https://www.youtube.com/mrpanda2002
  • And if you’d like to subscribe after watching our videos, please click here! http://bit.ly/2oaYX1r
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Thank you – from the Pandas at Play!

Snipperclips Co-Op Part 12 – GRAND FINALE!

This is it! The Grand Finale of our co-op Snipperclips playthrough! We’ve gone through many puzzles, snipped ridiculous shapes, and cut it out, together! And now we come face to face with the final challenge, putting those blobbies to sleep! Come give us your energy for this ultimate brain stumper and stay for the surprise heartfelt ending!

Please be sure to read the first couple of paragraphs above for news about our playthroughs going forward. And also check out our special message here:

We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to all of you who have been following our Snipperclips adventures, whether you started here or were with us from the beginning. We’re humbled every day that you come watch our silly playthrough and even engage with it. You’re the reason we kept going, and we’re incredibly happy to have our full completed series on YouTube.

Look forward to both a Snipperclips review and a highlights video showcasing our best (worst) “clips!” If you’d like to see more of this kind of content, please let us know! And again, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You all are the best!

AND CUT!

Now that the series is over, now’s an excellent time to find the full playlist starting at Part 1 – “Stabby Sticks” here: http://bit.ly/2nFmc5v

Death Squared (Switch) Review

Here’s my video review for SMG Studio’s Death Squared, a cooperative puzzle game starring colorful cube robots who must push switches and avoid deathtraps. How do the cubes stack up to other Switch puzzlers like Snipperclips? Crystal Dragon and I played a lot of this game together, and I’m excited to share my thoughts!

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild DLC Review

And earlier, I also uploaded my review video for the first DLC pack for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, entitled “The Master Trials” AKA hard mode with cosplay! Is the DLC Expansion Pass worth your time and money? I look at the Trial of the Sword, the harder Master Mode, and other new unlockable costumes including Majora’s Mask, Midna’s Mask, and Tingle’s Outfit. Tingle Tingle Kooloo Limpah!

Anime and Comic Conventions – Why I Love Them

Aside from games, one of my other major hobbies is anime. I’ve loved anime since I was a kid, and have seen many series since. I do my best to catch up with anime every season now, and engage in numerous events to support my fandom. One big way Crystal Dragon and I celebrate is by attending anime and comic conventions a year, sometimes traveling a good distance away. They’re usually fun times, with panels about the anime we love, game shows that test our knowledge, lots of merchandise to purchase and peruse, and lots of people in costume (cosplay). It’s a great way for us to meet others who have the same hobby.

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Meeting the legendary voice of Pokemon’s Ash Ketchum, Veronica Taylor

But that’s certainly not the only reason we go. Otherwise, why would we travel so far for these? One of the biggest draws for me is getting to meet voice actors from my favorite anime and games. Just like many follow actors/actresses from popular TV shows and movies, I specifically love the actors behind characters in animation. My admiration began back when the original Pokémon anime was first broadcast. No doubt I fell in love with the voices after listening to them everyday, like many of you probably did when you first heard them.

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Had to post one of Crystal Dragon’s favorites – Us with Ray Chase – voice of Final Fantasy XV’s Noctis

What fascinated me most about the original Pokémon voices was none other than the wannabe Pokémon master himself, Ash Ketchum. I was surprised when I first learned that he was voiced by a woman named Veronica Taylor. It’s a fairly common practice for women to voice young boys (Bart Simpson voiced by Nancy Cartwright, for instance), but the concept mesmerized me back then.

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My prized Pokemon VHS (that’s right, VHS) signed by Veronica Taylor (Ash)

Ever since, I fascinated myself with learning about all the actors in Pokémon, Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, and other shows I was watching. Nowadays, there are plenty more new and coming actors, but years ago, there was a limited pool, so many voice actors were repeated from show to show. And for some reason, I loved that. I liked to recognize voices and figure out who was whom simply by listening to them. Just like many look up to celebrities in sports and films, I did so with voice actors, and the list of people whom I was a fan of only grew over time.

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Lots of fun things to do at cons, no matter what you’re into! We crashed this Yu-Gi-Oh! championship tournament during a con! It’s time to d-d-d-d-d-d-due!!

Fast forward to the first time I ever attended a con over a decade ago. I had the opportunity to meet two voice actors from the Meiji-era swordfighting anime Rurouni Kenshin: Sandy Fox (opening theme singer) and Lex Lang (Sanosuke). Having no merchandise from the show at the time, I had them sign my shirt. Though the autograph has washed away over time, my fondness from meeting them has not. Although I stopped going to cons for a time, those memories persisted, and I had always wanted more opportunities to meet more of my favorite actors.

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Front left to right: Brian Beacock (Monokuma from Danganronpa, Takato from Digimon), Colleen O’ Shaugnessey (Sora from Digimon, Ino from Naruto), Steve Prince (Ken from Digimon, Shino from Naruto). We got to have a one-on-one with Steve, which was an awesome opportunity!

Moving towards the present, having married my best friend and fellow anime/gaming fangirl Crystal Dragon, we started attending more cons as our marriage hobby. Before I continue my story, I’ll add that our home is filled to the brim with wall scroll (posters) from my favorite anime. It’s a quite colorful abode, and in every direction you look, there is an action-packed image of anime characters. We thought that it would be fun to try to fill these large wall scrolls with autographs. It began with our pirate anime One Piece wall scroll, which we wanted to fill with each of the main characters’ signatures. We sought out nearby cons just to meet the nine core members of the cast. Eventually, we decided to open it up to anyone who’s ever worked on the show, and also started bringing more wall scrolls from other shows with the intention of collecting autographs.

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Meeting the voice of Mario, Charles Martinet, was a huge moment in my life!

Thanks to our hobby and travels, we’ve been fortunate to meet many of the people who were important to me from my childhood. Some of the most wonderful people I’ve met are Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario whom I had previously written about here, Steve Blum who is the voice of Tom from Toonami and Spike from Cowboy Bebop, and Veronica Taylor, the voice of Ash whom I had admired since childhood. Meeting her was one of the most encouraging moments in my life, strengthening my resolve to make things better in my life and follow my dreams. Every one of these meetings have been meaningful, regardless of how short. Although we travel to collect autographs, we’d never do so without also personally meeting them, because it’s these interactions that have meant so much to us.

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We got to meet the nine main crew members of the pirate anime One Piece!

At present day, we still go to cons, having fun geeking out while seeking our favorite voice actors. Thanks to three years of congoing, we’ve completed a lot of our goals, including meeting every single one of the nine main cast members from One Piece and filling over a dozen other wall scrolls with multitudes of autographs. Even though we’ve seen a lot of these people multiple times now, we’re still starstruck that we get to meet childhood heroes along with new, amazing talent. At the same time, we’ve grown to know some of them as people, having gotten some extended time with some of them.

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For you Final Fantasy VII lovers – an Advent Children playmat signed by Steve Blum (Vincent) and Beau Billingslea (Barret)

Congoing and autograph hunting is now a big hobby for us, and we will continue to do it as long as it’s fun and rewarding. If you ever see a couple with a large pink armchair bag that holds wallscrolls, say hi because chances are it’s us autograph-seeking pandas! Thanks for letting me indulge you into something so meaningful in my life, and please be sure to let you know if you attend any geeky cons (anime, comic, Star Trek, game, etc.) and if you have a fascination for voice actors as we do!

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See you space cowboy. Bang. – with Steve Blum (Spike) and Beau Billingslea (Jet) of Cowboy Bebop

Next Time…!

Thank you so much for reading this week’s roundup! Look forward to another video on Thursday! And look forward to a special Snipperclips “Best Clips” video coming soon!

Have a great week everyone! Until then, see you next time!

How was your weekend? What games are you playing?

Have you ever been to any kind of fan convention whether anime or otherwise? Do you have any favorite voice actors/actresses? Have you ever gotten the opportunity to meet any of them?

What did you think of our Snipperclips playthrough? Any favorite episodes, puzzles, or moments? We’re putting together a highlight video of our best “clips,” so let us know!

What are your thoughts on the 1st DLC Pack for Breath of the Wild and/or Death Squared, whether you’ve played it or not? If you’ve played either, do you have any favorite moments?

Please share any thoughts or questions you have in the comments section below! Thanks for reading and watching!

Death Squared (Switch) Review

Death Squared (Switch) Review

Colorful Puzzle Robots!

The Nintendo Switch is no stranger to cooperative puzzle games, having launched with the unconventional Snipperclips. Indie developer SMG Studio introduces its own take on the genre with Death Squared, a local multiplayer puzzler that tasks you with guiding colorful cube robots past cleverly placed deathtraps. Unlike Snipperclips, which takes an anything-goes approach to its offbeat logic, Death Squared delivers a more mechanical experience, emphasizing the rule that every action has a reaction.

Here is the Video Version for your viewing pleasure!

In each of the game’s 3D puzzle stages, you and a partner each control a colored cube robot: one red, one blue. The colors aren’t just to help you tell your characters apart; you must guide your robotic cubes to their respective colored circular switches to complete a level. Most of the game relies on color coordination; only red bots can activate red switches and pass through red blocks, and vice versa. The same rules apply to lasers that instantly kill any robot that doesn’t match its color, but do absolutely nothing to one of the same color. In this way, you can usually see what the goal is upon entering a stage. The challenge is manipulating each level’s pigmented parts to your favor.

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Spikes – colorful but deadly.

What gives Death Squared depth beyond its color matching is the golden rule that every action has a definitive reaction. Press a switch and a block may rise, for instance. However, you’ll never know what a switch does until you press it. Instead of raising blocks, the same type of switch might activate spikes on the floor, potentially killing your partner. Pushing buttons isn’t the only action with consequences; simple movement can suddenly shift blocks or force down a spike ceiling. Unfortunately, this leads to a lot of trial and error, which can make some deaths feel unfair. The penalty for dying is just restarting the stage, but for the longer puzzles, there’s a devastating feeling when all your progress is wiped because you accidentally killed your partner. It doesn’t help that there’s a death counter that exists purely to mock you.

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Some lasers actually follow you.

Movement is another issue; you can only use the analog stick and not the d-pad to move around each stage’s grid of blocks. Surprisingly, your cube robots are not limited to exact grid-based movement. You have freedom to move however you like, which sounds good on paper but has poor execution, given the mechanical puzzle design. It isn’t always clear if you’re in the death zone of a laser or if you’ve completely boarded a moving block. Too often, moving feels like a balancing act as you try to avoid falling off the stage. In addition, depth is difficult to judge, and you can’t rotate the camera to account for it. I’ve accidentally fallen through many gaps because I couldn’t tell if there was solid footing there or not.

Despite these flaws and numerous frustrating deaths, I enjoyed most of the game’s 80 puzzles, primarily because of its excellent co-op implementation. Aside from the obvious benefits of having a second person to bounce ideas off of or to laugh with after a sudden death, Death Squared puts teamwork at the forefront of its design. It’s not enough to simply get your own cube bot to your circle switch; you must communicate with your teammate, who may need to press switches to help you advance. Or perhaps there is a blue laser aimed at your red partner, and the only way to proceed is to absorb the ray with your blue body. I liked seeing the puzzles progress, increasingly forcing my partner and me to move in sync and complement each other’s journeys.

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If 2-player is too easy, try 4-player!

While you can play the entire story mode in one-player, it’s difficult to control both robots at once; you move each one with a corresponding analog stick. I often lost track of which stick moved which robot and ended up inadvertently falling through many pits. Additionally, later levels required a lot of coordination, which were actually harder to pull off alone than with a teammate. At least you can choose any control scheme to play this game, whether playing with the Joy-Con controllers in the Switch’s handheld mode or using a Pro Controller. You can even use a single Joy-Con on its side, though that makes it especially difficult if you’re controlling two robots – you need to press a separate button to identify which bot you’re playing as.

Each puzzle took me anywhere from a minute to half an hour for some later levels. You can replay any completed levels to improve your time or challenge yourself to beat it without dying. If the 80 story levels and extra difficult postgame puzzles aren’t enough, there is also a party mode, granting up to four players control of four robots. Aside from being a lot harder to manage, the game doesn’t change much. There are only 40 party mode levels, but it gets insanely tough a lot sooner, not even including its separate batch of postgame puzzles.

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It’s like a beautiful, horrible rainbow.

Although the game has bland factory-like settings, the cube robots themselves exhibit some character through their bleeps and blinks. The game’s personality truly shines through voice over banter between sarcastic Omnicorp employee Dave and the A.I. Iris. Its humor is most similar to Portal, though Iris never reaches the ridiculous lengths of GlaDOS. Dave can be annoying too; if you leave either robot idle for an extended period of time, he starts yelling at you to move – which goes against the slow-paced nature of the game.

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KA-BOOM!

Conclusion

As a fan of both puzzles and cooperative experiences, I enjoyed my time with Death Squared. It’s easy to say “just one more” after every inventive and devious puzzle. Although the game has some flaws – its reliance on trial-and-error and imprecise movement – playing with a teammate alleviated those frustrations, leading to laughter each time an unexpected death occurred. Although playing the game alone is neither that fun nor easy to control, playing with a well-coordinated partner provides the perfect setup for this mechanically colorful puzzler.

Score: 8/10

A review copy was used for this article. This review was originally posted on Darkstation.

What are your thoughts on Death Squared?

What are your favorite puzzle platformer games on any system?

How about your favorite cooperative puzzle games?

Please share any thoughts you have in the comments section below! Thank you so much for reading and watching!

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – The Master Trials DLC (Switch) Review

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – The Master Trials DLC (Switch) Review

Challenge Accepted

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has garnered praise from players all over the world since its launch with the Nintendo Switch. The game ventured into new territory as the first 3D open-world Zelda title and did away with the traditional linear structure. Now, it’s the first mainline Zelda title (not counting Hyrule Warriors or amiibo) to have DLC, starting with Pack 1: “The Master Trials.” It’s a surprising move given how massive BotW already is. The big questions are: what did Nintendo substantially add and is it worth it?

Here is the Video Version for your viewing pleasure!

First of all, you haven’t yet played Breath of the Wild, you can check out my previous review. I would highly recommend going through the main storyline and doing as much as you can before considering picking up the DLC. Note, there are some minor visual spoilers but no story-related spoilers in this review.

The Master Trials’ hooks are the difficult Trial of the Sword (TotS) and the harder Master Mode, so this set is clearly geared towards players seeking a challenge. Trial of the Sword is a 45-floor gauntlet, similar to those found in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD. Unlike Twilight Princess, the TotS strips you of all of your equipment and items, leaving only your hearts and stamina. Needless to say, the mode is tough from the get-go, even before it starts throwing the truly devious enemies and environmental challenges at you. Thankfully, a couple of permanent checkpoints ensure that you make some progress, but if you die before reaching any of those, you must start over from the beginning.

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Let me just take out my trusty sword… Oh.

Although it can get frustratingly difficult, I liked how TotS emphasized the core themes of the main game: survival and resourcefulness. Since you must build your repertoire each time with very limited healing, it felt like a true test of endurance. It’ll likely take at least a few hours to get through this challenge, but that’s assuming you finish it one try. Completionists will appreciate the Master Sword upgrade, but merely beating it is already an accomplishment.

The other major addition, Master Mode, is a harder version of the main game that restarts you from the beginning on a separate file. Unlike the Master Quest in Ocarina of Time, the game is by and large the same. The shrine puzzles don’t change, nor do any quests or locations. It’s the enemies that get tougher, with lower-ranked minions replaced by stronger ones. There are some surprises regarding enemy placement and new floating Octoroks that can lift other foes in midair. Additionally, enemies now recharge health over time, making battles taxing on your weapons’ limited durability. I found this annoying, especially since I wasn’t a fan of the durability system in the first place.

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Sky Octoroks – unexpectedly awesome addition

I’m mixed about the developers’ decision to completely separate Master Mode from your main file. On the one hand, it makes sense to separate the mode since the experience is different enough. On the other hand, starting another 60+ hour file when my old 100+ hour file is still incomplete wasn’t the most appealing route. Overall, it’s fun to replay a remixed, more threatening version, but part of my enjoyment comes from the fact that BotW is already a fantastic game.

There are a handful of goodies that roundup the DLC package, though you have to manually find these unlocked prizes in the world. Although I loved having something big to look for again, some players could be understandably upset that they have to earn something they already paid for. The one thing that is available from the get-go is the Hero’s Path, a map function that tracks everywhere you’ve traveled in the last 200 hours. It’s extremely detailed, allowing you to retrace your exact path, including humorous voice samples where you died. It sounds like a silly idea, but it’s surprisingly useful to see which areas you’ve neglected.

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Useful for planning your next trip to Hyrule.

The most helpful item for completionists is the Korok Mask, which alerts you when one of the woodland creatures is nearby. It doesn’t tell you how to find the Korok, but a nudge in the right direction helps in locating the many hundreds of them hiding about. Another useful item is the Travel Medallion, which lets you set a custom warp point; it’s a small convenience, but it pays off if you’ve reached an isolated area without a nearby fast-travel point.

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Yahaha! You found me!

The remaining armor pieces are references from other games and mostly serve as fan service for collectors. Majora’s Mask is my favorite of the set, not only hailing from the amazing game, but also allowing you to walk alongside enemies without being attacked. The Phantom Armor is next in terms of usefulness, boosting your attack and defense, making combat easier. Both of these outfits help considerably in Master Mode.

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You’ve met with a terrible fate, haven’t you?

Meanwhile, Midna’s Helmet protects you from Guardians, and most importantly, lets you cosplay as one of the best Zelda sidekicks. Finally, Tingle’s Outfit lets you become a beautiful 35-year old man cosplaying as a fairy in a skin-tight green suit… It also lets you run faster. Tingle Tingle Kooloo Limpah! Overall, the outfits look great and have some nice powers. The drawback is that none of them can be upgraded, making all but Majora’s Mask mostly useless once you have better armor. I take that back; dressing up like Tingle is never useless.

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Tingle Tingle Kooloo Limpah!

Note that you can only purchase the DLC as part of a set that includes the upcoming second DLC pack entitled “The Champions’ Ballad.” We know nothing about this except that there will be a new original story and dungeon. It won’t arrive until December though, so you could also wait and see what pack two holds before plopping down your money for the pass.

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Rare footage of Link shooting the ad for his own DLC pack.

Conclusion

While I found the DLC to be a reasonably priced excuse to re-enter a more challenging version of one of the best Zelda games, it’s certainly not for everyone. This DLC set caters to a fanbase that wants the game to be harder; skilled players and completionists will get the most out of this package. If you’re just in it for the costumes, it might not be worth your time. And if you’re still trying to beat the game, then it’s best to wait and see if you want more from the already massive experience. Otherwise, if you’re interested and you don’t back down from a challenge, then “The Master Trials” live up to their name.

What are your thoughts of The Master Trials DLC Pack?

What are the best and worst inclusions in the pack?

What kind of DLC do you want to see for Breath of the Wild?

Please share any thoughts you have in the comments section below! Thanks for watching and reading!