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An Interview with… Subparshazam

As mentioned at the start of the year, I want to start bringing more people in to contribute their views on gaming etc and it just so happens that someone close to home does exactly that on his own Podcast. This week, I interviewed Shane from TripleXP to get the basics; favourite games, anime and why he hates Pokémon.

Let me introduce you to Subparshazam, aka Shane…

Welcome Shane

Unknown to my readers but you may have noticed Shane but often my blogs are inspired by our early morning discussions on WhatsApp or Discord. They often are written answers to your points after I have had time to digest them and have a coffee… so to start, tell me why do you hate Pokemon? 

I don’t hate Pokémon at all. Hate is a very strong term. Like many, including yourself, I grew up with Pokémon, one of my first great gaming loves. The issues I have aren’t with Pokémon as a franchise, but they are with Game Freak and the way that the Pokémon games are handled. With regards to the anime, although no longer my cup of tea, I think the animation style is stunning, its crisp and colourful, a pure joy to watch (the only reason I don’t is because there are substantially better shows out there). My issue with the games is that of laziness, a drive for profit over creativity and a studio that is showing more and more that it is not fit for purpose. The last few years I will admit I have not played a lot of the Pokémon titles, but what I have played have not been to the expectation I have of a studio that has been operating with huge amounts of profit for over 24 years. They have been bland, poorly executed, every title feels like a weird beta test that’s barely fleshed out. But let’s talk about Arceus as I know this is a huge topic of conversation between us. Graphically it looks SHOCKING. Now I am the first to say graphics aren’t everything BUT its all about the handling and the expectation, also where in the console make up does your title sit (I say console as we are referring to Nintendo). So if you are going for a specific art and graphic style then do that style well; for example Octopath Traveller – this game had a very specific artistic style and graphic choice but it was done extremely well. Or Stardew Valley – Another title with a specific graphical style, but Stardew didn’t try to sell itself as a triple A title; in fact it initially launched under 20 pound. Pokémon Arceus on the other hand is one of the Nintendo Big 3 (Mario, Pokémon and Zelda), sits in the Nintendo triple A bracket and is charging me 50 pounds for the displeasure.  They have gone for a specific art style (which is unpleasant) and a certain style of graphics and they have then executed those graphics poorly. This is where my graphical issue comes in. Then onto the gameplay, from what we have seen the world looks empty, the story bland and the mechanics stripped back. Now, I hope for the fans, it is an enjoyable game but I can’t see it right now. The biggest issue, MY ABSOLUTE BIGGEST ISSUE, with Pokémon games right now, is that Game Freak have been making Pokémon for 24 years and yet other studios have done Pokémon-esque games better. Game Freak should be leading the monster catching games, they have a huge franchise at their fingertips, but instead they are behind. 2011 – Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch, Level 5 made a Pokémon style game that was better than Pokémon; it had an interesting and thoughtful story, a beautiful art style and was originally created for the DS- it was later upgraded to the PlayStation with huge artwork improvements. World of Final Fantasy, Monster Hunter stories and Digimon Cyber Sleuth are all Pokémon-esque games that have tackled the Pokémon-esque formula with rich story, difficulty modes creating challenges for all ages and (some, not all achieved it) great graphical/artwork choices. I liken Pokémon now to Nike, iPhone, Alienware, Porsche or even Prada. You are not paying for the quality, you are not paying because it has the best spec, the best experience, is the most comfortable or even looks the nicest, you’re paying for the name. Unfortunately all the time fans and consumers as a whole purchase them, they will keep knocking out subpar quality titles.

Ha! I knew that would be your answer and to be honest I just wanted to throw it in there as a little warm up plus Pokémon is topical at the moment! The post I did several weeks back was inspired by the chat we had around Legends of Arceus and the expectations we have for Game Freak so I thought I would start with an annoying question for you like this so that people can see the inspiration behind the post.

Onto the questions at hand though – tell me a little about what types of games you do play and what you are enjoying at the moment. 

I play nearly all types of games, all genres and on nearly all devices. I used to dabble in PC gaming but my PC is not capable of running anything other than Stardew effectively. I have a PS5 and a 4, VR, Xbox, Switch, DS but I really am not willing to let myself be tied to just 1 of consoles because I want to explore everything gaming has to offer on any platform it offers it on. My core is JRPG/RPG, but in recent years I have played a lot more FPS titles (not a fan of online multiplayer FPS, because I’m not very good but I do play with friends). I quite like sports games but I only really play NHL or NBA ones and I dabble in racing titles but I prefer street racing/arcade style like need for speed.  Oooh I have also dabbled in the souls style games, completing the Star Wars Jedi one, Bloodbourne and demon souls more recently.  So a really mixed bag overall, I’m generally just drawn to good games of any genre.

Right now I have a few games on the go; I’m doing my first playthrough of Dragon Quest 11 which I’m playing on Xbox, I’ve just finished Kena Bridge of Spirits on PS5 and started Persona 5 strikers. I’m also really enjoying deep dig galactic at the moment as a drop in and dabble kind of game. 

That is quite the mixed bag! It’s good to get that variety in as long as you are enjoying what you play then that’s all that matters. Speaking of enjoying what you play, what would you say is your favourite video game of all time if you had to pick just the one? 

I think this is an almost impossible question to answer because as stated above, my video game enjoyment is hugely varied and I gain different enjoyment from different genres or styles of game. If we are talking FPS I would be choosing something like Doom (the 2018 remake) as it is just a pure non-stop barrage of beautifully orchestrated combat. It’s like a ballet of bullets. If we are talking action/adventure – third person tends to be my go to so I have loved games like Tomb Raider, (the later) Uncharted games, Last of Us or God of War. I don’t think I can pick one but I can tell you out of that list the first of the Tomb Raider reboot titles is the only one I have played through from start to finish more than once. Now if we are talking RPG, well that’s where my passion and love for gaming sits, one of my first games on PS1 was Final Fantasy 7 and I’ve always loved JRPGs in particular. That’s an easy win and its Persona 5. 

It took you a lot of convincing but you got me into Persona 5 and I have to admit I don’t regret it one bit. Well deserving of its praise and position on your list! And this is a fun question to ask, if you could forget playing any game, what would it be and why? Would you forget because it was terrible or would you forget so you could play it all over again? 

This one is super easy. I never regret playing a game because it was terrible, this helps me form opinions on both the good and bad in gaming. Just wanted to put that out there. 

So, Persona 5 would be the one, I’ve already played through and completed the standard edition as well as Royale but I often find myself thinking about how great it would be to experience that whole game fresh without any knowledge all over again. Easily one of the best experiences I have had with a game.

I can relate to that. It was an incredibly unique experience so being able to experience that again with a fresh perspective would be pretty cool. Moving toward this year though, what games are you most excited for this year? 

I mean this year is STACKED, majorly stacked. So top 5 otherwise this will be a long answer, and in no particular order:

  • Elden Ring
  • Horizon Zero Dawn: Forbidden West
  • God of war Ragnarök (if it comes out this year)
  • Forspoken
  • Triangle Strategy.

Can’t argue with that list. Good news will be that you will be able to tick off a few of those in the next month or so, so plenty to look forward to. Surprised there’s no new Pokémon on there though…

Moving on a bit from gaming, you are also one of a tripod that runs a Bi-Weekly Podcast called TripleXP. Can you tell me a little more about what it is, what you talk about etc? 

I can indeed. So Triple XP is, as stated a Bi weekly podcast on YouTube and Spotify. As the name suggests there are 3 main hosts of which I am one. Mike (JustMikeplays) and Colin (Madeoutofcheese) being the other 2. Each episode we talk about all things within that ‘geeky’ community. So we discuss gaming news and our reviews on video games with have played, we talk movie news and reviews and also anime. We also talk about how these hobbies and views fit in with the rest of our lives. All 3 of us are adults, married or soon to be married, one of us (not me) has kids and we all have full time jobs. So we talk about all that stuff. We are also looking to do some charity events in the future and we have recorded some episodes in the past talking about mental wellbeing and the importance of it.

Sounds really interesting. I know that I listen to every episodes and have appeared on a few of the specials myself, but its good to hear that variety. It certainly comes across as just three mates in a pub having a chat which is always welcome. Recently we saw the launch of Series 2, or at least the new era of TripleXP but that makes me wonder; Have you got any big plans for TripleXP in the future? What can we expect TripleXP to look like in 12 months time? Don’t worry I won’t hold you to it…

As stated above, we all have lives and jobs outside of 3XP that aren’t related to the podcast. So plans are FOREVER changing and adapting. With that in mind we do have some plans.  We are looking at bringing in a once a month live stream where we game together and chat with everyone who comes along, discussing the news live. We also, asmentioned, want to look at some more charity events. Lastly we will be looking into guests, we have previously had the legendary Stan bush on the show, but his year we want to make sure that we have some interesting and relevant guests to talk to. 

Awesome, I look forward to that. I loved the fact you got Stan Bush but you are going to have to really work now to outdo yourself with that appearance. No matter what happens though, I am sure it’s going to be an exciting year for TripleXP. There’s a lot of talk of Anime on the cast as well so would you say you are a bit of an Anime fan? I will admit that when it comes to Anime, I get most of my recommendations from you. What draws you to Anime the most? The stories or the boobies? 

I’m a pretty big anime fan yes. I wouldn’t say huge, I’m not going to claim in more knowledgeable than a lot of people but I am a fan. What draws me to anime has changed and developed over the years. As a child watching Neon Genesis for the first time it was the Mechas that drew me in; I’m a sucker for a good Mecha show. The as I got older its the stories.  Anime has the ability to tell stories that no other medium can tell in the same way, from creating insane combat sequences to providing amazing character growth, or even creating a beautifully stunning and colourful setting to tell a romance story. All with animation. You can have crazy powers or characters of all shapes and sizes, people that are half whale or that can rip their own skin off to fight. It’s just mental but they also tell really heart warming stories of courage and growth. The boobies, well I do find anime fan service hilariously enjoyable, its part of the experience sometimes and I say, just embrace it, its hilariously fun, plus anime boob physics are like nothing you’ve ever seen.

There have been some great recommendations from you many of which I have watched all the way through. I do find that the fan service in some of the series can be awkward to watch when, say you’re on a busy train for the morning commute but I certainly agree that it provides a great way to show off crazy stuff you can’t in live action. As you say as well, a lot of these series also care about the supporting cast too so there is a great world building element to a lot of these stories. Stay tuned to more TripleXP as I am sure the recommendations will come thick and fast!

I think a good way to close this off is to ask for an interesting fact about yourself, something that we may not know. 

Something that you might not know. Tough because I’m a pretty open book overall, but I suppose Triple XP hasn’t been running for long so I have some things I can touch on for your readers. I am a casual cosplayer. I haven’t cosplayed in a few years, time and also the whole pandemic situation, but I do like a good cosplay. I’ve previously cosplayed as Two Face, Robin, Captain Scarlet, Issei from High School DXD (that’s a hilariously fan service show) and a bank robber from Payday. I don’t claim to be great at cosplaying, I do make all of my own costumes and one day I will finish my VOLTRON cosplay. Maybe in like 5 years time. 

I have seen the infamous VOLTRON leg… I look forward to seeing the rest and hopefully attending London Comicon again so we can take the opportunity to cosplay more!

Thanks Shane for answering my questions and letting us get to know you a bit more. You can hear Shane every two weeks on the TripleXP Podcast (links below) and soon on the live streams too so keep an eye out for that! Make sure you follow his socials and the Podcast so you can stay in touch with the gang – I am sure they would love to hear from you!

Shane’s Twitter

TripleXP Spotify

TripleXP’s Twitter

Or see their ugly mugs on YouTube below!

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