It appears Stage 3 has addressed some of the issues I had with Stage 2. The protagonist is back to using much of his original moveset (with the usual improvisation to make up for his limitations), and the virtual world has a greater emphasis on real-life consequences. The joke of history repeating itself worked quite well, as I found myself laughing and blurting out "Oh, FFS!" as the protagonist develops a sudden affinity for shock therapy, while the NPCs remain clueless about their virtual existence.
Both Stages 1 and 2 mix video game mechanics with a real-life theme, but I feel this episode has really used it as a way to tell the story in a quick and entertaining fashion. Stage 3 has a particularly complicated storyline, because it gives development to three characters. The female continues to support the protagonist while struggling to retain her humanity, the protagonist is slowly learning to fit in with video game society despite being controlled by an omnipresent trolling player, and the new character who suffered an abusive past.
All of this was explained in less than three minutes, and as commenters have pointed out, effectively used Pac-Man to stay relevant to video games while explaining much of these complex character developments. This simplifies the story for us to understand in a fun way which is a significant feat to accomplish (quantity versus quality). For this episode, I also feel there is more graphical content to enjoy, with more locations shown and more animations to accommodate more NPCs; the use of hoods on generic characters is a good design choice to reduce visual noise and keep us focused on the important people. As for the audio? Well didn't I say it last time? I want the damn soundtrack digitally available! Especially the song played during the Stage 3 preview at the end of Stage 2.
I am starting to think my review for Stage 2 was typed prematurely, because I feel that Stage 3 complements Stage 2 as some of the issues I had before are now resolved, so the timing of their releases must've been intended to be watched together. While I remain confused that the female character continues to stick with the idiotic protagonist who benefits her in no way, I do feel the series is going at a proper steady pace and artistically uses video games as a way to condense complex story mechanics to fit in episodes of short durations. If a team of seven people can continue to produce something that television productions are still striving for, then I will gladly drop my minor gripe about a single character and restore that missing star from the previous review, giving this a 5 out of 5. Hope to see you again soon StudioJOHO.
One last thing, I noticed there were two characters at the pub who did not have hoods on (one has a nice hat on though), and they're not paramedics. Are those two meant to be a cameo?
I knew I'd get my fifth star. Though I wont hang onto it too tightly. My brother does the sound and music and will be stoked to hear.
As for dude with hat: this Wednesday.
Wow Joe, don't know if that is a personal aspect but it's applied so cleverly and strikes chords with me. And as always, funny and original!
These are unbelievably great for sprite movies! Your harnessing of common 16-bit side-scrolling gameplay and conventions to tell a complex story with surprising humor and emotion, interesting visual metaphors and rich characterizations is both innovative and fascinating -- particularly since you've done it all without text or dialog. Your timing is superb and your story construction is terrific. Well done for surprising me!
Appreciate the detailed feedback, and compliments to timing. From animatic to rushes I hack and hack until there's as few wasted frames as possible.
I really liked the Pac Man metaphor. FIVE STARS!
Ahh would be nice if life really worked that way.