Battle Royale: The Last Generation Of An SNES-CD Saga

Summer 2016 (Part 11) - Pocatello New
Pocatello

Pocatello is a cinematic/mystery/action title published by Activision and published by Skytree Games, an original TTL studio consisting of a mix of programmers/writers from OTL's Telltale and Naughty Dog companies, along with a few young developers who didn't work in games IOTL. The game is a murder mystery centered around the city of Pocatello, Idaho, consisting of investigation and cinematic scenes punctuated by occasional scenes of action gameplay. Inspired by titles such as Terror Trip, The Lobotomized, Crime Stories, and even games like Dick, Pocatello is intended to be a big budget mystery game in which the player is encouraged to explore and take in the game's sights while getting sucked into the story. There's a good deal of lore for the player to find if they dick into every nook and cranny, while it's also possible to build relationships and explore quest lines with people who are only peripherally attached to the game's mystery storyline. You play as a man named Robert Caldwell who's visiting the city on business, only to get caught up in a mystery after his intended contact is murdered, followed by the grisly murder of three young students at the nearby college campus. Caldwell must work to solve the mystery, while the town's police force hones in on him as the primary suspect. The mystery is connected to a long-buried incident that occurred 30 years ago, an incident Caldwell must get to the bottom to if he is to stop the current string of murders. The game is divided into eight chapters, and the player will spent most of their time looking around and talking to people, though at times, Caldwell will need to flee or fight, depending on what's happening. These action moments play out like a typical third person shooter, though the game's controls are a bit more stiff, owing to the fact that Caldwell isn't trained in any kind of fighting or combat (fortunately, his foes are for the most part equally untrained, and the player is encouraged to flee from anyone who poses too much of a threat, like cops or the killer themselves). The game allows for mostly open exploration, in both the city itself and the surrounding wilderness areas, and a good portion of the real city of Pocatello has been digitally recreated within the game itself. There's not a lot of music in Pocatello, save for a few short leitmotifs to set a certain mood, a few licensed tracks, and two original lyrical songs. As for the game's voice acting, Activision has brought on a fairly strong cast of veteran character actors and talented voice artists to play the game's main characters, while a lot of side characters are voiced by the "usual suspects" in terms of LA-area voiceover talent. The cast isn't nearly as stacked as the cast of Time Cop for example, but there are some decently known people, with Eddie McClintock starring as Robert Caldwell, Dean Norris as Tom Sykes, the lead detective assigned to the murder case, Cissy Jones as Willa Anderson, a rookie officer who disagrees with Sykes' handling of the case and begins feeding information to Caldwell to help him out, and Laura Bailey as Amy Morrell, the best friend of one of the murdered students, who thinks she might have been the real target and starts looking for the killer on her own.

After Caldwell arrives in Pocatello, the game gives the player a chance to explore a bit on their own before the actual murders begin taking place, as a way to get the player acquainted with some of the people they'll be meeting during the course of the game. After the first murder, Caldwell initially isn't suspected, and at first, the player isn't really looking for evidence, just finding information as a curiosity. However, once Caldwell begins digging a little deeper, and the college murders take place, events accelerate quickly. Caldwell is brought in for questioning by Sykes (and this is the first time Willa notices him). Eventually, after Caldwell is released, he ends up meeting Amy, who is investigating things on her own, and soon has to chase her down after she causes some problems for one of the investigators and gets herself into trouble. Amy confides in Caldwell at first, but after she learns he may have been involved in the crimes, she turns on him, and people become more reluctant to cooperate with him. Eventually, Caldwell is forced to investigate on his own, and gets into some run-ins with wild animals, and some of the locals, including a dangerous drug addict that Caldwell has to kill in self defense. This latest killing is blamed on the murderer as well, causing the finger to be pointed at Caldwell even more (though the police can't conclusively connect him to the killing of the druggie). At this point, pretty much the only person who trusts Caldwell, and the only person he can trust, is Willa, who begins surreptitiously helping him. This next portion of the game sees Caldwell trying to keep a low profile... he's not officially wanted yet, but he knows most people in town hate him, so he has to be very careful about where he goes or who he talks to, creating an atmosphere of tension and suspicion around the player. We meet a number of other characters at this time, all of whom could be potential suspects, though the game also indicates that Sykes could be the killer, and Willa also has some suspicious mannerisms that indicate her as a potential suspect... we also learn of the incident from 30 years ago, in which a boy was kidnapped several times by someone who eventually killed him (based on a real life incident from Pocatello in the 1970s). This boy was Sykes' younger brother, and the incident is what spurred Sykes to become a detective, though the kidnapper/murderer himself was never caught. Caldwell eventually learns that his business contact, the one whose murder kicked off everything in the first place, was the man responsible for killing Sykes' younger brother back in the 1980s, and that it's likely that Sykes killed him for revenge (Willa strongly suspects this), though this would also mean that the first killing and the killing of the college students are actually two separate incidents, meaning that not only is Sykes a murderer, but that there's a serial killer going around. We then learn that Amy's boyfriend Cameron (voiced by Ryan Guzman) is also the son of Caldwell's murdered business contact, and when Caldwell manages to get Amy to talk to him again, she learns that Cameron was abused by his father for many years. Eventually, Caldwell ties everything together: Cameron killed his father for revenge, but unfortunately, he too is a deranged killer, and killing his father wasn't enough, so he's begun killing other people in town. A series of confrontations marks the game's final two chapters: Caldwell and Sykes try to kill each other but eventually realize that they're both going after the same guy, Amy tries to kill Cameron herself but is nearly killed in the attempt, but is saved by Caldwell, who battles it out with Cameron. He's nearly killed by Cameron as well (after their fight), but Willa shows up and saves the day by shooting Cameron just before he can kill Caldwell. The mystery is solved and the city's state of fear ends, Caldwell gets an official apology, Willa gets a promotion, Sykes takes a sabbatical from the force, and Amy recovers emotionally and physically at the hospital.

Released on September 6, 2016 for the Reality, Virtua, and Nexus, Pocatello gets high praise from critics and fans alike, for its cinematic graphics and cutscenes, its mystery solving gameplay, and its voice cast, which is hailed as perhaps the best ensemble voiceover cast of the year. It's not QUITE the revolutionary Game of the Year shoo-in that some expected it to be, with some critics even considering it a disappointment, but it gets review scores in the high 8s and is generally considered one of the better games of 2016 and one of the best ever in its genre. It would contend for a few overall Game of the Year awards, while doing better in the writing, animation, and voice acting categories. Meanwhile, sales would be excellent, thanks to the game's pre-release hype and strong word of mouth (fans were never hyping it up as much as critics were, so there's little disappointment from fans). It would become the fastest selling game in its genre ever, and one of September 2016's best selling games overall. It helps to set a new standard for cinematic storytelling, progressing the "artistic" side of the medium, and while it would fail to stand out in a very crowded year, it would be more appreciated down the road as a landmark example of storytelling in games.
 
Kids' TV In Fall 2016: A Seismic Shift New
The current state of the major kids' cable networks as of fall 2016:

Cartoon Network: Steven Universe, as IOTL, is bigger than ever and is currently the network's highest rated show. Not too much about the show as changed from IOTL, the biggest change is that Peridot is butterflied away thanks to no Invader Zim, but in her place we get more Lapis, Jasper, and a gem named Black Onyx who is somewhat of a stoic warrior gem. Hero Quest and Acrotopia have faded back a bit, though the two shows are considered part of the “Big Three” with Steven Universe. Iron Giant and its pals, the contingent of DC Comics/anime shows that have been on Saturday night Toonami for the last couple of years have also seen ratings declines, but the block is about to get a huge shot in the arm with the debut of Lyte and Darke in September. The network has also gotten a couple new comedies that are doing well, including Little Miss, a show about a bratty, hyperactive young girl who gets into random adventures, and Uncle Grandpa, an absurdist show about a strange magical old man who helps kids with their problems. These two shows, along with Stones, have helped elevate the network's comedy slate. The kids' block anchored by Thomas The Tank Engine has ended, though the popular train toon still airs on weekday mornings and sees new episodes and specials on a regular basis.

Nickelodeon: Nickelodeon has leaned heavily on internet interactivity, which has been hit or miss for them over the past couple years. There's a Saturday morning block in which kids vote for what they want to see, calling to mind the somewhat obscure U-2-U phone in show with a similar format. Virtual Challenge remains popular, though the idea to bring back Nick Arcade has fallen through, as has the idea to bring back Are You Afraid Of The Dark? (The network is sticking with its Goosebumps specials). There has been a major cartoon debut on the network: The Loud House, an animated show about a family of bunnies in which there's one boy bunny and ten girl bunnies, each with their own unique trait. That show has proven to be somewhat popular, though it hasn't quite developed the massive fandom it has IOTL (due to the fact that the show went with the original idea to use bunnies instead of humans). There's also another live action sitcom joining Zack and Zips: Tripped Up, about three teen triplets who have their own webshow. It's much more kid-savvy than OTL's iCarly, and the showrunner (a 29 year old woman) is far less problematic than Dan Schneider. Nickelodeon has been doing well, though the network lacks a runaway hit.





The Disney Channel: The Disney Channel has seen three major hits launched in the last few years, bringing the network's profile up significantly: Goldilocks: The Series, an adaptation of the popular movie, has proven to be incredibly popular in its own right, challenging Steven Universe for cartoon supremacy. Sonic The Hedgehog launched in spring 2016, an exciting CGI animated cartoon with some of the same writers from the Pixar film, it mixes adventure and comedy and is far better than OTL's Sonic Boom (its quality is comparable to the popular SatAM Sonic series, in fact). Then there's Home Run, a baseball-themed kidcom about a preteen Little League star and his younger sister. The show has proven popular amongst boys and girls alike, and Disney has already given the green light for two more seasons. They've also greenlit a series produced by music legend Selena, called She's Got It, that will star her daughter Crystal Rain as a wannabe pop star, which will debut in 2017. Disney has recovered quite well over the past few years, though the network is somewhat different from its OTL incarnation (apart from Rick And Morty, there's not much in the way of offbeat cartoons like there is IOTL).

Fox Family: Fox Family is still struggling to produce a major hit post-Welcome To Riverdale. Its Marvel cartoons just aren't clicking like Cartoon Network's DC cartoons, and the Capcom cartoons haven't been doing well either. Growing Up Super is probably the most popular show running on the network now, as its ratings and popularity have steadily climbed, but the network has fallen to #4 in the family cable ratings, and needs a big hit to bounce back.

PBS Kids: Tom Kalinske has done a great job of bringing the PBS Kids block back to prominence, and many of its new shows have become hits. Flora and Ulysses has become a massive hit, bigger than even Arthur ever was, with multiple Daytime Emmys in its first season and huge ratings, especially for a PBS show. The new Reading Rainbow has been huge, though Michael B. Jordan's growing acting career has limited the number of episodes he's been able to film (the show is testing out co-hosts for him). Where On The Page Is Carmen Sandiego? and Exploring the Multiverse have also done well. PBS Kids isn't a cable network, so it's not ranked against Nickelodeon, Disney, and the like, but if it was, it would be #3, just behind Nickelodeon and just ahead of the Disney Channel.

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Lyte And Darke was an animated fantasy/adventure cartoon, and the third animated series created by the team of Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, after Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend Of Korra. While not having anything to do with either of those two shows in terms of plot, the show did have a similar animation style and similar themes of courage, bravery, love, power, rebellion, and family. The show had been in the conceptual stages for six years, even during the conception of The Legend Of Korra, and was one of the main reasons Mike and Bryan decided that The Legend Of Korra would last for only one season, as they wanted to focus most of their time and energy on this brand new IP.

Lyte And Darke takes place in a world with some elements of our own: more advanced technologically than the steampunk Legend Of Korra, it combines “modern” technology with magical power to create a sort of hybrid “magitech” world blending the two elements together. The world is populated with cities and towns much like our own, with most people being normal humans with nothing in the way of special powers or abilities. However, the world is also populated by two diametrically opposed groups of superpowered people: Crusader Knights, who are embued with the power of light energy from the world's high deity Luxarch, and Shadow Witches, powerful magically inclined people who use dark energy to cast powerful magic. The Crusader Knights utilize magical energy too, but they do it in a different way, wielding bladed and blunt weapons into battle and relying more on physical brute strength and superhuman abilities, somewhat similar to shounen anime protagonists on a somewhat lesser scale. Meanwhile, the Shadow Witches are straight up magic casters, utilizing magic of all sorts of different elements, and their powers work like a blend of the benders from the Avatar universe and the witches and wizards from Harry Potter. For a time, the Crusader Knights and Shadow Witches lived and worked together, but at some point in the past, a great war was sparked between them, leading to deaths and atrocities on both sides, and for hundreds of years since then, there have been many conflicts between the forces of light and the forces of darkness, with some periods of peace but other periods of brutal war. As of the time when the series begins, the Crusader Knights have just finished fighting a three year war against the Shadow Witches, and have nearly wiped them out entirely, with their goal now focusing on containment and eradication. Only a few Shadow Witches dare to operate out in the open (and only under close Crusader Knight supervision), with the others being hunted down and exterminated.

The two protagonists of the series include a young Crusader Knight named Lyte (voiced by Inez Delgado), and a Shadow Witch named Darke (voiced by Regan Hardwick). Lyte is a 15 year old prodigy and has been named a Knight Captain, the youngest ever to obtain such a title. Though she was too young to fight in the war, she already has a reputation due to her marks in training, by far the highest ever obtained, and her victories in duals with several powerful older Knights. She is given the task of leading a squad to capture fugitive Shadow Witches. Darke is a 12 year old orphan, a Shadow Witch who has been on the run for several years, including the entirety of the war. All alone in the world, she is frightened and scared despite her prodigious power, power that makes her exceptionally dangerous. She encounters Lyte in the first episode of the show, and Lyte's fateful decision to work with her instead of capturing her leads to the events of the rest of the series. Lyte has numerous friends in the Crusader Knights, the most prominent being Archer (voiced by Vincent Martella), her closest companion and friend, who has a more happy go lucky attitude than the strict and stoic Lyte. Then there's Celica (voiced by Zelda Williams), who was grievously injured toward the end of the last war, and returns to become a companion and older sister figure to Lyte. The two start as rivals, since Celica was supposed to have the position that Lyte ended up being in before her injury, but eventually, she becomes a very trusted companion. Lyte and the Crusader Knights live in the nation of Sanctum, ruled by Emperor Arvain (voiced by Patrick Stewart), who becomes at times a father figure to Lyte (who is also an orphan, as her parents were killed in the war). Then there's Celica's mother, High Priestess Cress (voiced by Frances McDormand), matron of the Crusader Knights, who serves as Arvain's right hand woman, so to speak. The tension between Cress and Celica ends up being a major point of contention, especially later on in the series. The main villainous force in the series is the Coven of Shadows, consisting of a group of powerful evil Shadow Witches, once led by Malicar (voiced by Steve Blum), who led a powerful army of dark witches to destroy Sanctum, only to be defeated, his powers stripped, and Malicar himself sealed away, leaving control of the organization in the hands of Zagus, the Scavenger, who is the main coven fugitive on the run. Voiced by Adam Driver, Zagus is a background figure early in the series, but becomes more prominent later on.

A big driving force for Lyte is the death of her 11 year old sister Theresa, just weeks before the start of the series. One night, an intruder believed to be a coven member slipped into Theresa's room and drained her essence, causing her to become sick and die soon after. Lyte blames herself somewhat for the murder, as she had been too busy training for the Crusader Knights to watch over her sister, but she has also been on a relentless hunt for the killer, which becomes another major part of the series, even as Lyte carries out her Crusader Knight duties. Lyte And Darke was, as you may have guessed, an oftentimes dark series, covering more mature themes even than The Last Airbender and The Legend Of Korra. It didn't shy away from depicting death, violence, and bloodshed, with even Lyte and Darke suffering numerous injuries across the series' run. It was TV-PG, and not a “soft” TV-PG like Steven Universe and Hero Quest, but a full on series aimed just as much as adults as it was at children, an exceptionally bold experiment for Cartoon Network outside of its Adult Swim material. There was even mild swearing at times, including multiple uses of “damn” and “hell” per season, and even the word “bastard” being uttered as an insult more than once. The show had a huge animation and voice acting budget, with numerous famous guest stars being brought in (and of course, it wasn't cheap to have actors like Patrick Stewart and Frances McDormand in prominent roles, though they were lucky to secure Adam Driver before he became a bigger star toward the end of the 2010s). The relationship between Lyte and Darke is at the heart of the series, and though many fans (controversially) interpreted it as a romantic one, it was instead intended as a sisterly bond, Lyte gaining a new younger sister to fill the hole in her heart left behind by Theresa, and Darke gaining an older sister to replace the parents she barely knew. The “found family” trope is at the very core of Lyte and Darke, permeating every inch of the series, not just its two primary characters but other characters as well. The series did include some LGBTQ themes, with two prominent male side characters engaging in a gay relationship that gets confirmed in the last season, while the relationship between Celica and the Shadow Witch Demire (voiced by Alycia Debnam-Carey) is the most visible and impactful LGBT relationship in the series, with the two starting off on opposite sides of the conflict, only to come together through their mutual attraction that grows into love over the course of the series.

Lyte And Darke would last a total of four seasons, premiering on September 17, 2016, and running until May 23, 2021. Each season (or “book”, as is the custom for Mike and Bryan's animated shows) would run 20 episodes each, with each season furthering the show's myth arcs while also being its own self-contained story. The seasons would play out like this:

Season One: Season one starts out by setting up the world of Sanctum, the conflict between the Crusader Knights and the Shadow Witches, and establishing Lyte's relationship with Darke. We are shown that Crusader Knights and Shadow Witches do often work together, with one prominent pairing being that of Reddick (voiced by Gideon Emery) and Visian (voiced by Naoko Mori). Reddick was a hero of the recent war, and he and Visian seek to bring the last Shadow Witches to justice peacefully, an approach that proves controversial among most, though Lyte admires him, especially after getting to know Darke. Much of the first half of the season is sort of a “monster of the week” format, with Lyte and Darke getting to know each other, getting better acquainted with their powers, and taking down random criminals, from rogue Shadow Witches to simply bad normal humans. The two obviously don't trust each other at first, but eventually Lyte begins to bond with her, showing her softer side, while we learn more about the Shadow Witches from Darke. The second half of the season deals with the workings of the Crusader Knights, and a corruption growing within. We're initially led to believe that Celica may be the cause of the corruption, but we eventually learn that the corruption stems from Reddick, who's actually being manipulated by Visian (who herself is shown secretly meeting with Zagus and Demire). While we are also shown that most Shadow Witches just want to live in peace, and some Crusader Knights are genuinely brave and open-hearted, there are many people in both factions who want to seize power, and that the corruption in the Crusader Knights is threatening to cause the war to spring back to life. Eventually, Reddick is brought to justice, Visian is defeated, and the corruption is rooted out of the organization. Lyte is hailed as a hero, but there's a steep cost: Crusader Knights are no longer allowed to work with Shadow Witches under any circumstances, and in fact, the goal has shifted from capture to eradication. Lyte, however, continues to meet with Darke in secret, knowing that the tensions between the Crusader Knights and Shadow Witches are about to ramp up severely.

Season Two: Season two focuses on the growing conflict between the Crusader Knights and the Shadow Witches, with the Crusader Knights cracking down more and more, especially with more Shadow Witches openly attacking people out in the open. Demire is a major villain early on, still working directly under Zagus, but there's another new threat: an anarchist named Cato (voiced by Phil Brooks, also known by his wrestling name, CM Punk). Cato believes the Crusader Knights are tyrants, and has rallied many followers to his cause. He has no powers of his own, but with lots of manpower and weapons at his disposal, he proves to be a bigger threat than Visian and Reddick ever were, and his activities cause the Crusader Knights to act even more zealously. Meanwhile, Lyte has been pulled further and further away toward Darke (instead spending more time training under Celica, who plays a big role this season as well), so Darke has begun wandering... and eventually discovers Malicar, beginning a mentor-student relationship with him. She knows Malicar is “evil”, but she still knows that she needs to train with him to get a better grip on her powers... and we eventually learn that Darke is Malicar's biological daughter, and is destined to lead the Shadow Witches back to glory. Darke's communing with Malicar becomes a serious point of tension between Lyte and Darke, one that has to be resolved toward the end of the season. We eventually find out that Malicar has been using Darke to undo the seals on his powers, and very nearly succeeds after Zagus is able to manipulate Cato into doing certain things to release numerous Shadow Witch prisoners. Of course, Demire begins to slip out of Zagus' influence after a few chance encounters with Celica, while it's eventually discovered that Lyte has been continuing to work with Darke. She is threatened with execution, but she and Darke are able to convince the Emperor and High Priestess to trust Darke, and indeed, to end the campaign of extermination against Shadow Witches after several of them help to battle back Cato and Malicar's forces. In the season's climax, Lyte and Darke work together to re-seal Malicar, while Cato and his forces are disbanded. The Crusader Knight crackdown ends, Shadow Witches are allowed to come back out of the shadows, and Lyte and Darke's friendship grows stronger than ever.

Season Three: Season three features an all out war between the Crusader Knights and Shadow Witches after Zagus finally re-surfaces in a big way, bringing dozens of powerful coven members with him. Meanwhile, Lyte is more determined than ever to find Theresa's killer, especially after she learns that Zagus himself was the one responsible. While the battle between the forces of light and dark has never been so ferociously waged, we also learn a lot more about the past of both the Crusader Knights and the Shadow Witches, with more clues about Darke's family, including her mother. Darke continues to be distrusted by many Sanctum authorities, but she and Lyte have grown closer than ever, Celica has become a close friend of both girls (and has also grown closer to Demire, whose loyalties are tested after she learns of Crusader Knight atrocities in the war, but who continues to trust Celica even as the intensifying war threatens to drive them apart), and Lyte's conduct has been unimpeachable, as she becomes the most powerful and heroic fighter in all of the Crusader Knights. The season culminates in an epic battle against Zagus to save the world, and he is defeated by Lyte and Darke together in an epic battle, stripping him of his powers and enabling him to be captured. The world rejoices, and despite some Shadow Witches committing some terrible crimes in the recent conflict, the ones who fought on the side of the Crusader Knights, including Darke and Demire, are treated as heroes by the people, with Darke finally being accepted for who she is. However, even after all of that, Lyte still can't let go of her sister's murder. She has learned that Zagus wasn't responsible, but that he might know who was, and she visits him while everyone else is celebrating. Zagus gives Lyte a clue that she overlooked, and Lyte, despite her better judgment, goes to check out the clue... which indicates that it was actually Darke who murdered Theresa. The murder was understandable: Darke was dying due to her own magical essence fading, and when she sensed Theresa nearby, she felt she had no choice but to drain her life force away. She thought Theresa would survive, and stole into the night with the stolen life force. Lyte refuses at first to believe it, but realizes that it's true, and immediately goes to confront Darke, who is still at the celebration in the city. Despite their friendship, despite everything they've been through, Lyte immediately attacks Darke, and begins fighting her, aiming to kill her, blinded by rage and revenge. Darke at first merely tries to defend herself, but once she begins fighting back, their battle rages throughout the city, the two girls throwing incredible bursts of power at once another, causing massive destruction. It's a horrifying, tragic fight, with echoes of the climactic Anakin vs. Obi-Wan battle in Revenge Of The Sith, or Zuko and Azula's final deadly showdown in The Last Airbender... but here, it's two young girls who have been through so much, coming to blows because one of them can't let her hatred and anger go. The fight lasts just a few minutes, but it's perhaps the climax of the entire series, one of the most tragic moments ever displayed on a television screen, the two crying, screaming at each other as Lyte tries to kill Darke with everything she has and Darke tries desperately to defend herself before unleashing her full Shadow Witch power with terrifying results. The fight ends in the Crusader Cathedral, the main HQ of the Crusader Knights, with Lyte standing over Darke, seemingly about to kill her.... only for a bolt of lightning to strike. We believe it's Lyte finishing off Darke, but instead, it's shown to be the other way around, a last, desperate burst of energy fired by Darke... and Lyte falls, seemingly dead, still with tears of rage in her eyes, whispering to Darke that she hates her before falling silent. Darke loses it as the Crusader Knights advance on her to arrest her, unleashing her power and bringing down the entire cathedral on the Knights and on Lyte's fallen body before flying out of the rubble, sobbing but also looking emotionally dead. The last scene of the season shows Darke returning to Malicar, telling him that she just killed her best friend and now she's going to kill everyone else, and Malicar smiling viciously.

The season three twist and finale was one of the most stunning moments not just in animation history, but in television history. It aired in July 2019 and set the internet on fire, with an enormous fan reaction and debates raging immediately afterward about who was in the right and what was going to happen next. Was Lyte really dead? What was Darke going to do? The cliffhanger lasted 14 agonizing months, the longest gap between seasons by far, generating enormous amounts of fan angst and discussion. Finally, in September 2020, the final season began to air, giving fans the answers they had long been waiting for.

Season Four: Season four began with Lyte, injured but alive, but also in chains in a Crusader Knight prison, charged with high treason for fraternizing with the Shadow Witch fugitive Darke and for causing the destruction in the city. She's still furious with rage, demanding to be freed so that she can find Darke and kill her, though the Crusader Knights already have plans for that. Once again, Shadow Witches are being hunted down and killed, and most of them, including Demire, have fled the city, while Celica reluctantly stays with her mother, torn about what to do next. Meanwhile, Darke is training fully under Malicar, ready to become his living weapon and the instrument of his vengeance. Lyte eventually breaks out of jail and goes on her own to hunt Darke, even as Celica tells her to calm down and to try and forgive the girl she was once so close with. We begin to learn even more about Darke's past and about the Shadow Witches, and that many of them have fled persecution to a secluded area known as the Umbrella, said to be a place for Shadow Witches who were fleeing both Crusader Knight persecution and also the evil ambitions of the coven. Darke journeys to this place and learns more about her mother, a woman named Lenora (voiced by Pat Benatar). Darke also learns that she once lived in the Umbrella, but that she and Lenora moved somewhere else in the dead of night for unknown reasons. Of course, Lyte and Darke eventually have another ferocious confrontation, and this time, Lyte has the chance to kill Darke, but she can't bring herself to do it. She still hates Darke, but she's calmed down since initially learning of Theresa's murder, and instead of killing Darke, she leaves to go and find Malicar to kill him instead. Darke then learns that Malicar seduced Lenora by telling her that he wanted to free the Shadow Witches so they could all live in peace, and that Darke would be the key, but when Lenora realized Malicar's intentions, she fled with their daughter, first to the Umbrella, but then, after realizing that Malicar could track them, fled to another village on the outskirts of the zone between Sanctum and the realms outside. Malicar found this village and not only slaughtered everyone there, but also killed Lenora after she refused to give up Darke's location. Horrified after learning of what happened to her mother, and feeling a new wave of guilt over Theresa's death, Darke decides to return to Sanctum to turn herself in, even though she knows she'll be killed. Lyte confronts Malicar but is unable to defeat him, and is nearly killed by him, only to be saved by Demire. Lyte is brought to the Umbrella, and though she knows Darke murdered her sister, the things she sees and hears from the refugees there lead her to forgive Darke, and to go and find her. Darke is surrounded by Crusader Knights, and Lyte attacks them to save Darke. The two are both nearly taken, but Archer and Celica show up, with Celica sacrificing herself by allowing herself to be captured, while Lyte and Archer get Darke to safety, leading to an incredibly heartfelt and tearful apology between Lyte and Darke, who re-affirm their sisterly love through waves of tears, both forgiving each other for what they've done. This sets up the last half of the second season, in which Lyte, Archer, Demire, and their allies work to fortify the Umbrella against an invasion by the Crusader Knights, while Malicar, utilizing the power Darke was able to obtain for him, plots his escape, using his agents to corrupt the mind of Emperor Arvain. Lyte and Darke eventually learn that Darke didn't actually murder Theresa... but that instead, Theresa, sensing Darke's pain and fear, reached out to her with her powers of healing, sacrificing her life force willingly to save Darke, and that now, her soul is a small part of Darke's, embuing Darke with healing powers and also enabling her to fulfill the Prophecy of Darkness and Light that becomes essential to the final episodes of the series. It's also why Lyte was so drawn to Darke and willing to trust her so quickly, because she unconsciously sensed Theresa's soul fragment within her (of course, once Lyte was willing to trust Darke, she started to care about her and love her for who she truly was, not because of her sister's soul fragment). The final episodes consist of a grand war between the Sanctum forces and the defenders of Umbrella, with Sanctum's Crusader Knights battling a combined alliance of Shadow Witch refugees, Crusader Knight defectors, and non-powered rebels. Meanwhile, Emperor Arvain seeks to fulfill the Prophecy of Light and Dark himself by stealing away Malicar's power to unify both light and darkness within him, allowing him dominion over both. This enables Malicar to finally regain his freedom and the full use of his powers, so while Lyte goes into the city with Archer and Demire to save Celica, Darke must wage her own private war with her father, to stop him and avenge her mother's death. She is able to defeat Malicar, but seemingly at the cost of her own life, as her soul is torn and twisted by Malicar's evil and rage. Meanwhile, Demire saves Celica, and Celica stands up to her mother Cress, engaging her in a fierce dual, while Lyte challenges Arvain. Lyte is defeated after Arvain is revealed to control both the powers of darkness and light, and it's Cress, who after her defeat at her daughter's hand, realizes the harm she has done and sacrifices herself to allow for Lyte and her allies' escape, while Arvain declares a new age of light and darkness coming together, where there will be no conflict or war because he will rule as the glorious Eternal God-Emperor of Sanctum. Meanwhile, Darke, caught between life and death, ends up “meeting” Theresa. Darke begs Theresa's forgiveness, but Theresa tells her there's nothing to forgive and asks Darke to take care of her sister. Darke returns to the world of the living and quickly flies to the capital, meeting with Lyte. As their friends battle back the corrupted Crusader Knights, Lyte and Darke go together to confront Arvain. As the two go to the palace, a cover of Pat Benatar's “Invincible”, performed by Inez Delgado and Regan Hardwick, is played, and the song continues to play during the final battle in which Lyte and Darke combine their powers to eradicate the evil Emperor once and for all. Though the Emperor is destroyed and the threat to the world is ended, it's not such a neat and tidy ending... the people of Sanctum still largely see the Shadow Witches as evil, and many of them supported the Emperor, even as he became an all powerful dictator. Though there is now peace, Lyte and Darke can no longer return to their old lives, and instead go back to the Umbrella, to protect it from the threat of a future invasion. Celica takes over the Crusader Knights, with Demire at her side, and promises to do what she can to keep the peace, though it will take time to change the hearts of the people. For now, and hopefully for many years to come, there is peace, and Lyte and Darke live together as sisters, protecting their new home and hoping that someday, the people will open their hearts and forgive the transgressions of the past.

Lyte And Darke was, without question, the most acclaimed animated series of its time, and perhaps of all time, surpassing even shows like The Simpsons and Batman: The Animated Series in cultural appreciation. It would win many, many Emmys, including a voice acting Emmy for Regan Hardwick's performance in the incredible third season finale, and would surpass both Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend Of Korra in critical acclaim, though its ratings would lag slightly behind The Last Airbender overall. Its fandom would become one of the largest around, and though the fandom would produce many great works and would generally be peaceful, there would be tremendous controversies throughout the run of the show, most notably over the Larke (Lyte/Darke pairing). Controversial due to the fact that it not only pairs a 15 year old with a 12 year old, but also because they essentially become “sisters” over the course of the series, it would generate enormous debate within the fandom about the ethics of shipping such a pairing, with the debate between Larke “pro shippers” and “anti shippers” nearly splitting the fandom in two, particularly during the long 14 month hiatus between the third and fourth seasons. Despite the controversies, the good about the series would heavily outweigh the bad, and Lyte and Darke is the show that would cement non-comedy television animation in the West as no longer being simply for kids, but for adults as well. Its influence would lead to a number of people on its writing staff being given their own shows, most notably Noelle Stevenson, who would be given the chance to helm a revival of Jem and the Holograms for Blockbuster's streaming service starting in 2023.

-

Here are the ten most popular currently running kids' shows as of September 2016. This isn't in terms of absolute ratings, but a combination of ratings, reviews, and cultural relevance:

1. Flora and Ulysses
2. Steven Universe
3. Goldilocks: The Series
4. Home Run
5. Rick And Morty
6. Sonic The Hedgehog
7. Zach and Zips
8. Hero Quest
9. The Loud House
10. Growing Up Super
 
Sonic The Hedgehog launched in spring 2016, an exciting CGI animated cartoon with some of the same writers from the Pixar film, it mixes adventure and comedy and is far better than OTL's Sonic Boom (its quality is comparable to the popular SatAM Sonic series, in fact).
On the one hand SatAM-4-EVER! So this makes me happy!
On the other hand, since it is and was always meant to be its own separate universe, I actually like the Sonic Boom cartoon.
I think it balances story and humor well enough (it's certainly better than Adventures of Sonic, SatAM's more well known at the time contemporary).
But still, I certainly won't complain about being given an even better show.
And speaking of better shows....

Lyte And Darke
HOLY SHIT!
That was amazing!
I would love to actually see this show!
I probably would've been in tears at that Season 3 finale though...
 
On the one hand SatAM-4-EVER! So this makes me happy!
On the other hand, since it is and was always meant to be its own separate universe, I actually like the Sonic Boom cartoon.
I think it balances story and humor well enough (it's certainly better than Adventures of Sonic, SatAM's more well known at the time contemporary).
But still, I certainly won't complain about being given an even better show.
I personally like "AoSTH". I think it worked really well as what it was. Which was basically a Looney Tunes knock-off with Sonic as Bugs Bunny. It's rather amusing that two shows with such wildly different tones coexisted literally at the same time.

What really amuses me in hindsight is that the first few issues of the Archie Sonic comic (RIP) the comic were basically SatAM with the tone and style of AoSTH.
 
If you ask me, if there was only one Sonic cartoon on TV in 1993, having SatAM with AoSTH's tone and style would have been the best way to tackle it.
I never watched Satam as kid, so never got nostalgia over itt, AOSTH was okay, and sonic underground was weird....Sonic X was better those three anyway, sans chris awful personality
 
Lyte and Darke sounds incredible - another home run for Konietzko and DiMartino, who are going down ITTL as having created two of the most universally beloved animated series of the 21st Century so far (alongside Avatar: The Last Airbender). Paired with Steven Universe and it's no surprise Cartoon Network is almost certainly running circles around the competition right now.

Meanwhile Nickelodeon is going for being Extremely Online. As we enter the late 2010s, this could be a huge advantage for the network by making it more attractive to young viewers who (ITTL and IOTL) have been fully born and raised in a digital landscape, and will find the ability to connect with and have their voices heard by the network exciting. It's likely a leading role in Nick's current battle with Disney Channel for (presumably) second-place among the children's networks - a (tweaked, but still moderately successful) Loud House certainly doesn't hurt either. It can also be a equally huge pitfall - hopefully network management has hired some good internet safety and security people to help keep any potential internet trolls and bad actors away (if that is a serious problem ITTL).

Still hard to see Rick and Morty as a Disney Channel show ITTL XD

The two protagonists of the series include a young Crusader Knight named Lyte (voiced by Inez Delgado), and a Shadow Witch named Darke (voiced by Regan Hardwick).
IIRC, Inez and Regan are the daughters of Selena and the late great Brittany Saldita, respectively, right? No better way to begin carrying on their family legacies than to voice the two main characters on a megahit animated series👍
 
Lyte and Darke sounds incredible - another home run for Konietzko and DiMartino, who are going down ITTL as having created two of the most universally beloved animated series of the 21st Century so far (alongside Avatar: The Last Airbender). Paired with Steven Universe and it's no surprise Cartoon Network is almost certainly running circles around the competition right now.

Meanwhile Nickelodeon is going for being Extremely Online. As we enter the late 2010s, this could be a huge advantage for the network by making it more attractive to young viewers who (ITTL and IOTL) have been fully born and raised in a digital landscape, and will find the ability to connect with and have their voices heard by the network exciting. It's likely a leading role in Nick's current battle with Disney Channel for (presumably) second-place among the children's networks - a (tweaked, but still moderately successful) Loud House certainly doesn't hurt either. It can also be a equally huge pitfall - hopefully network management has hired some good internet safety and security people to help keep any potential internet trolls and bad actors away (if that is a serious problem ITTL).

Still hard to see Rick and Morty as a Disney Channel show ITTL XD


IIRC, Inez and Regan are the daughters of Selena and the late great Brittany Saldita, respectively, right? No better way to begin carrying on their family legacies than to voice the two main characters on a megahit animated series👍
Selena is actually Inez's godmother, Inez is the daughter of Carlos Delgado (accomplished game designer responsible for Frederico and Quixsters) and Sonora Almodovar (who did some acting mostly in the 90s but is now a home designer). But yep, you're right about Regan ^_^ Inez and Regan also host a webshow about board/tabletop games together, so they're quite popular and visible.
 
Nah, the Browns are a decent team now. They went 0-16 a couple times during their post-Michael Vick doldrums, but now they have Russell Wilson and Aaron Hernandez (who has gotten the mental health care he needed and doesn't commit the horrific murders he committed IOTL), so they're an okay team (stuck in a tough division though).
 
Nah, the Browns are a decent team now. They went 0-16 a couple times during their post-Michael Vick doldrums, but now they have Russell Wilson and Aaron Hernandez (who has gotten the mental health care he needed and doesn't commit the horrific murders he committed IOTL), so they're an okay team (stuck in a tough division though).
Have anyone else gone 0-16?
 
I never watched Satam as kid, so never got nostalgia over itt, AOSTH was okay, and sonic underground was weird....Sonic X was better those three anyway, sans chris awful personality
Full disclosure: I didn't watch SatAM when it aired either.
I didn't even know it was on.
I watched AoStH, and I loved it as a kid...because it was the only Sonic cartoon there was...(or so I thought).
After the fact, I vaguely remember seeing Sonic listed on Sat. mornings, on a different channel than it was usually on.....but I thought it was AoStH....
It never occurred to me that there might be a second and completely different Sonic show on a different channel at a different time...
I didn't find out about SatAM until it was on reruns, I caught part of "Blast to the Past" on USA one time....I could never find it again...I thought I'd dreamed of "that Sonic show that's like the comics"........until a while later when they put out a few VHS tapes of it and I found one in...it was either Walmart or K-mart...and I was so excited that it was actually real...
For the longest time, all I had was that 2 episode tape (it was "Hooked on Sonics" and "Warp Sonic").
Then when I was in college one of my friends had just gotten back from shopping and I saw the Shout Factory DVD release sitting on his table, as soon he told me "It's at Walmart and it's like $20" I was out the door, in my car, searching through the store with a purpose, and speeding back to my dorm room to watch the whole series for the first time.
I was a big fan of the Archie comics growing up, but lost track of the story when it started becoming more serialized.
The last issue I really followed was the "Rage Against the Machine/Mecha Madness" arc.
So through the comics, and the two episodes I had on that tape....I am nostalgic for something that would have been a huge part of my childhood....if I'd only known about it sooner.

AoStH on the other hand, hasn't aged as well....it has issues....and my own tastes have changed...
That being said, it still had some interesting ideas that could easily be worked with; and I still find myself repurposing some of them for my own Sonic things.

I actually liked Sonic Underground...its biggest faults were not having unique actors for Sonia & Manic, and the fact that they got some rando studio cover band to do the music.
If they'd actually gotten Crush 40 to do all the music, that show would've been amazing.

4Kids botched the first localization of Sonic X, I hope the rumored Funimation redub fixes it, because yeah, Sonic X is tied for second place with Sonic Boom (the TV show, not the games) in my book.
I honestly like the '90s OVA too, the English dub was hilariously awful, but if you watch it in Japanese with subs, it's pretty good.

[For the record, SatAM is now tied for first place with the Movie (sequel confirmed by the way!), the movie was great!]
 
Full disclosure: I didn't watch SatAM when it aired either.
I didn't even know it was on.
I watched AoStH, and I loved it as a kid...because it was the only Sonic cartoon there was...(or so I thought).
After the fact, I vaguely remember seeing Sonic listed on Sat. mornings, on a different channel than it was usually on.....but I thought it was AoStH....
It never occurred to me that there might be a second and completely different Sonic show on a different channel at a different time...
I didn't find out about SatAM until it was on reruns, I caught part of "Blast to the Past" on USA one time....I could never find it again...I thought I'd dreamed of "that Sonic show that's like the comics"........until a while later when they put out a few VHS tapes of it and I found one in...it was either Walmart or K-mart...and I was so excited that it was actually real...
For the longest time, all I had was that 2 episode tape (it was "Hooked on Sonics" and "Warp Sonic").
Then when I was in college one of my friends had just gotten back from shopping and I saw the Shout Factory DVD release sitting on his table, as soon he told me "It's at Walmart and it's like $20" I was out the door, in my car, searching through the store with a purpose, and speeding back to my dorm room to watch the whole series for the first time.
I was a big fan of the Archie comics growing up, but lost track of the story when it started becoming more serialized.
The last issue I really followed was the "Rage Against the Machine/Mecha Madness" arc.
So through the comics, and the two episodes I had on that tape....I am nostalgic for something that would have been a huge part of my childhood....if I'd only known about it sooner.

AoStH on the other hand, hasn't aged as well....it has issues....and my own tastes have changed...
That being said, it still had some interesting ideas that could easily be worked with; and I still find myself repurposing some of them for my own Sonic things.

I actually liked Sonic Underground...its biggest faults were not having unique actors for Sonia & Manic, and the fact that they got some rando studio cover band to do the music.
If they'd actually gotten Crush 40 to do all the music, that show would've been amazing.

4Kids botched the first localization of Sonic X, I hope the rumored Funimation redub fixes it, because yeah, Sonic X is tied for second place with Sonic Boom (the TV show, not the games) in my book.
I honestly like the '90s OVA too, the English dub was hilariously awful, but if you watch it in Japanese with subs, it's pretty good.

[For the record, SatAM is now tied for first place with the Movie (sequel confirmed by the way!), the movie was great!]
I was subscribed to the Archie Sonic comic basically all the way to when issues with Sega and fallout from a writer taking his toys and going home abruptly cancelled it.

Elements from AoStH made it into the comics. Like Scratch and Grounder.

Some elements of the 4Kids dub were good. You can’t go wrong with Dan Green as Knuckles and Mike Polluck is the second best voice for Eggman/Robotnik. The first naturally being Cummings.

The OVA was weird considering the needless change of the species of Knuckles. It did give him a sweet hat, though.

I’m definitely looking forward to Sonic 2. Hopefully we’ll be able to see more of Sonic’s world. Like other Sonic characters like Knuckles or Amy.
 
I just begin to read, and I really like, but will take a long time to read it all, so I want to ask how is gaming culture, we all know OTL gaming has a serious problem with misogyny, racism, toxicity and etc. How are those things in ITL ? Is gamergate a thing ? Is hardcore console gamer still so male focused ?
 
I just begin to read, and I really like, but will take a long time to read it all, so I want to ask how is gaming culture, we all know OTL gaming has a serious problem with misogyny, racism, toxicity and etc. How are those things in ITL ? Is gamergate a thing ? Is hardcore console gamer still so male focused ?
Toxicity is still a thing, because it's an unavoidable fact of life, but it's much less of a thing ITTL, due to some early butterflies that I won't spoil. The dudebro-focused marketing of our world was basically strangled in its cradle, and while the ATL industry has got its issues, they're more related to the process of developing consoles and games than to misogyny or racism.
 
Elements from AoStH made it into the comics. Like Scratch and Grounder.
Oh did they? That must've been after I stopped I reading...I remember Robotnik had a Crabmeat in the Archie comics though.
Some elements of the 4Kids dub were good. You can’t go wrong with Dan Green as Knuckles and Mike Polluck is the second best voice for Eggman/Robotnik. The first naturally being Cummings.
Dan Green is always awesome...but I kind of always thought he was a bit too much for Knuckles...
Mike Pollack is great as Robotnik, Cummings is still my favorite, but props where they're due, the late Deem Bristow was fantastic as well.

The OVA was weird considering the needless change of the species of Knuckles. It did give him a sweet hat, though.
If I ever have the skill/resources to make a fan game, I'm giving Knuckles that hat back.
And I don't think he was supposed to actually be a mole in the OVA, I think Sara just him that because she didn't know any better.

I’m definitely looking forward to Sonic 2. Hopefully we’ll be able to see more of Sonic’s world. Like other Sonic characters like Knuckles or Amy.
Likewise! I've got all kinds of ideas for where the sequel might/could go....
And I picked something up on a recent rewatch that I'd missed before that makes one of them a lot less convoluted than I'd initially made it.
At the very least I know what I would do, given the first movie as a starting point...but the creative team have earned my confidence that they'll do something awesome.
 
Summer 2016 (Part 12) - The Rest Of The Games New
(Here are the rest of the notable games from July 2016 to September 2016!)

-

Nintendo Reality-

Punch-Out!: Real Boxing

Punch-Out!: Real Boxing is a boxing game exclusively for the Nintendo Reality. Like its predecessors, it features a stylized/cartoony version of boxing, with arcade-like gameplay and exaggerated animations and fighters. In this game, players can customize their own fighter (though it can only be a male fighter), and can do battle with 20 opponents, divided amongst five “circuits” of four fighters each, with ten fighters returning from previous games, as well as ten brand new fighters.. The game utilizes a control scheme similar to that of previous games, with a few improvements in terms of timing and punch variety. The game also gives the players the option to use traditional controls or motion controls, and of course there's also the option to use VR, which the game is somewhat built around. There's also the option for two player boxing matches, either with another player in the same room, or online. There's not too much new here, so reviews average right around 8/10, but it's as fun and enjoyable as other Punch-Out games and the VR is a nice bonus.

Lash Out 5

The fifth mainline game of the series, and the second to grace the Reality, this is the first game in the series without the involvement of David Jaffe (who's been busy working on the latest Kid Icarus game). However, most of the old writing/programming team is still around, so this game plays much like Lash Out 4, with the primary difference being that Lash has returned as the game's protagonist, and has a mix of his own skills from Lash Out 3 and Mercuria's skills from Lash Out 4, with the newest mechanic being a clone that can be deployed in order to utilizes four whips at once. This clone is on a special meter, so it's not possible to deploy it all the time, but it can be used during heated battles or specific puzzles to clear them more easily. The plot sees Lash forced to defend his new home from galactic invaders, while attempting to trace a mysterious message from a woman who turns out to be Mercuria (who eventually becomes playable in the second half of the game, with her own set of moves, no cloning ability but more effective weapons and able to move more quickly as well). Lash and Mercuria eventually journey to an ancient temple on a nearby planet, where a secret weapon lies that can stop the invaders. Once the invaders are defeated, Lash and Mercuria have a moment of peace, and Lash can get some closure with Laika, whose soul still rests within Mercuria's body. After this, Lash and Mercuria decide to venture to the stars together in search of new people to protect and new mysteries to solve. Lash Out 5 is seen as mostly a formulaic, paint by numbers affair, but despite the lack of originality, the game gets some decent marks thanks to its fun gameplay and the Lash/Mercuria interactions. It's a decent game, though fans do lament that David Jaffe no longer works on the series. Sales are decent, enough to help the game turn a decent profit, though it's clear that the series' glory days are past it.

Lost Nebula

A VR FPS title with some looter shooter elements, Lost Nebula is a game meant to push the Reality to its technical limits, and intended to be one of the most epic games of its type ever made. It stars three intergalactic explorers: a man named Darek, a woman named Leya, and a man named Gulver, and the player can choose which of the three to ply as (they represent the different “classes” in the game). These explorers are among the first wave of people to a nebula with planets said to be rich with resources, but when they arrive, they're confronted by a population of ferocious aliens who try to kill them (only to later learn that the aliens are merely trying to protect their home). Lost Nebula boasts some of the Reality's best graphics to date, with gorgeous environments and beautiful animation, and the game is in some way meant to be a rival to After Time. Unfortunately, the main campaign is a bit short, and to make matters worse, there's no online multiplayer, it's meant to be a single player game only. It's a bit of a victim of its own hype: a good game, but not quite as good as the expectations promised. Initial sales are good, but slow down later on, while reviews are only marginally decent, averaging in the 7s, nowhere near the Game of the Year caliber title it was hyped up to be.

Apple Virtua-

Phantasy Star Warriors

A musou title developed by Apple and Koei, Phantasy Star Warriors is much like the Fire Emblem Warriors and Hyrule Warriors titles of OTL: an action packed army fighting game meant to capitalize on nostalgia and fandom for a popular video game series, while telling an epic story with lots of throwback elements to the original games. It brings in characters from all across the series to fight an epic battle with Dark Falz and his evil hordes (also assembled from major series villains). Full of fun, frantic, hack and slash action, it mostly lives up to the hype, pleasing both Phantasy Star and musou fans alike. Like OTL's games, it also has plenty of DLC, both free and paid, adding more characters and missions to an already content rich game. While not QUITE as popular as OTL's Hyrule Warriors, it still turns a respectable profit, with Japanese sales proving to be quite excellent, making it one of 2016's top Virtua titles in that country.

Emma's Dance Party

A dancing game featuring VR, but also some twists and turns along the way, it's not your typical dance game, and even though its marketing has it geared toward girls and kids, it's meant to be a game for all ages. It features a character named Emma (who has some similarities with Ulala from the Space Channel/Spice World games) leading players on a dance-based adventure, and can best be described as Space Channel 5 meets Just Dance. Definitely one of the year's weirdest titles, and the marketing hurts the sales, but it's seen as a sleeper hit once holiday sales figures roll in.

Google Nexus-

Harry Potter: The Wizarding World

An open world RPG-type game set in the Harry Potter universe, this game can be somewhat compared to OTL's recently announced Hogwarts Legacy, though with some key differences: it takes place in the 1900s rather than the 1800s, and it's somewhat less complex, from a graphical and gameplay standpoint, as it's geared toward more younger players than Hogwarts Legacy seems to be. Despite that, it's still a very fun Harry Potter game allowing the player to customize their own witch or wizard to journey through seven years at Hogwarts, building up their magical abilities, participating in duals and combat against evil wizards, and even having fun in games such as Quidditch. It's not QUITE the perfect Harry Potter RPG, but it's still a good game that gets solid reviews and becomes one of the biggest hits of the year for the Nexus.

Nintendo Connect-

Lectrodes

An action/puzzle/superhero game published by Nintendo and focused on superpowered teens who can shoot electricity from their bodies. It's a fully 3-D action title with gameplay that hearkens somewhat to OTL's Infamous, though without the good/evil elements of that game (in Lectrodes, you can only be a superhero). The puzzle elements come from the numerous puzzles that can be solved by utilizing your character's electrical powers to activate various nodes and destroy certain objects, and while these can be quite fun and a break from the action combat, most players prefer the action. The game doesn't take itself all that seriously (it's a very lighthearted superhero tale, similar in tone to something like the Marvel Secret Warriors webtoon), and works well with the Connect's connectivity features, allowing you to power up your hero by bringing the Connect in close proximity to your Sony electronic devices. Gets decent reviews and average sales, and doesn't get a sequel, but becomes somewhat of a cult classic.

Forever War 2

The sequel to Nintendo's popular war-based game from 2013, that itself was a spiritual successor to the Nintendo Wars series, this sequel sees a bit more of everything: more units, more missions, and more online battle modes, and features pretty much everything that made the original fun and popular, though it doesn't add a whole lot of new content in terms of gameplay, much like OTL's Advance Wars 2. Despite that, this game is still fairly popular, not selling quite as well as the original but easily clearing a million copies thanks to strong reviews, good word of mouth, and a really strategic online ladder.

Sara, The Senior

The sequel to the surprise hit Sara, The Sophomore is developed by a small team at Naughty Dog North over a period of several years, and continues the story from the original game, of a high school girl named Sara, her boyfriend Jonathan, and her best friend Maya (who was revealed in the last game to be a secret alien with special powers) as they once again are forced to deal with high school drama and outside threats. This game has more of a serious tone than the last one, with Jonathan being badly injured in a car crash and Maya disappearing, and Sara forced to decide between staying at her boyfriend's side or looking for her friend while someone tries to stalk her. It's a short game, but at a budget price of $19.99, that's to be expected, and it retains the original's visual novel style while featuring some presentation improvements. The voice actors for Sara and Maya are both different this time around (they weren't able to get Miranda Cosgrove or Allison Scagliotti back), but they do a good job of sounding close enough to the originals. Overall, this is a well reviewed game that becomes one of the Connect's top digital titles of the year.

Apple Gemini-

Hell's Highway

A police/state trooper sim in which you play as a policeman who must patrol the deadliest highway in America. Solve crimes, give chase, and help civilians in this surprisingly deep cop sim that becomes a critical darling, but only scores mediocre sales.

Multiplatform-

Iridium: Silent Death

A futuristic FPS focusing on a sniper, this game has a lot of cover fire (aka escort, but with snipers) missions and is a bit slower paced than a lot of other FPS games, making it unique and critically successful, but hurting the game's commercial potential a bit. Achieves the most success on the Virtua, where the game's VR features really stand out.

R.E.V.O. 2

The sequel to 2013's hit Electronic Arts title, R.E.V.O. 2 sees the titular android return with his human friends Mikey and Leilani, and their drone buddy T.O.T., exploring numerous worlds and helping to solve the various problems there (as was implied at the end of the previous game). The game builds upon the gameplay of its predecessors, with R.E.V.O. getting numerous upgrades that allow him to fight faster, utilize more weaponry, and battle back stronger enemies, while Mikey and Leilani are also playable for certain segments of the game. Peter Cullen returns as the voice of R.E.V.O., and has significant speaking lines, though he's still a mostly silent protagonist as he battles alongside his human friends. This sequel sees the return of Red Eye as the main antagonist, now downloaded into a much stronger body built for combat and seeking to hunt down the robot and his friends as they help the various worlds they encounter and battle some minor villains along the way. R.E.V.O. 2 is considered a solid game, getting good reviews for the most part, but is a bit of a disappointment, lacking the poignancy and gameplay variety of the original title, and is also marred at launch by a few unfortunate glitches (nothing gamebreaking, but enough to harm the overall experience), and sales don't match up with the original, though it's still a profitable title. A third game goes into production, though it's more likely that it'll end up on next generation hardware than on the current crop of consoles.

Diana: The Queen Of Glory

An RPG for the handhelds that features a bit of puzzle solving in addition to being an engrossing title about a queen with amnesia who seeks to reunite with her friends and regain her throne. The game has some Phaedra's Heart vibes to it (with the developers, a young team of gamers, citing that title as influence on the design of this one, along with games like Elvenfall and Mysteria). The game isn't quite as big a success as some of the other RPGs on the handhelds in 2016, but it's good enough to be a critical and commercial success (at least in terms of being a handheld RPG).

Synthetica

An RPG/shooter about a customizable android protagonist, this game has some unique elements that contribute heavily to a wave of hype in cult circles, though not very much in mainstream gaming circles. It combines elements of looter shooter titles with traditional WRPG elements, and has features unique to the Google Nexus' second screen, though the game runs better on the Reality/Virtua. It gets good reviews, but its short campaign and somewhat repetitive combat make it a bit of a disappointment, and despite the hyped launch, sales don't quite match up.

Eastern Front

The spiritual successor to 2013's World War II FPS Western Front, Eastern Front sees the player take the role of a Soviet soldier battling back the Nazi invasion of the USSR in World War II, culminating with an epic series of battles at Stalingrad. This game attempts to fix a lot of the problems of the original, adding a multiplayer mode (though it's somewhat bare bones), and is a decently well reviewed FPS title, with reviews around the same as Western Front, averaging in the low to mid 8s. The game would see strong sales in its release month, but is a bit overshadowed by games like Time Cop, and doesn't live up to its full potential.

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Top Selling New Console Games In North America (in terms of sales over the first four weeks of release):

July 2016-

1. Harry Potter: The Wizarding World (Google Nexus)
2. Steep (Apple Virtua)
3. Steep (Nintendo Reality)
4. Punch-Out! (Nintendo Reality)
5. R.E.V. O. 2 (Nintendo Reality)

August 2016-

1. Nephilim (Google Nexus)
2. Madden NFL 17 (Nintendo Reality)
3. Madden NFL 17 (Apple Virtua)
4. Mario And Wario: An Unlikely Adventure (Nintendo Connect)
5. After Time (Apple Virtua)

September 2016-

1. The Covenant Zero (Google Nexus)
2. Time Cop: A Man Out Of Time (Apple Virtua)
3. Time Cop: A Man Out Of Time (Nintendo Reality)
4. Virtua Fighter Infinity 2 (Apple Virtua)
5. Pocatello (Nintendo Reality)
 
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