Pay It Forward Review

Try to think of the last terrible film that you’ve seen. Congratulations, you’ve just pictured Pay It Forward! I thought that the film looked underwhelming and potentially bad from the trailer, but I was still not prepared for the total and utter trainwreck that this turned out to be. We’re talking Sucker Punch and Daredevil levels of bad here folks so strap in and get ready as this film had no positives about it!

That’s good though since we can skip that part. The movie is about the concept of paying it forward. Essentially, what that means is that you will do something nice for someone and that person will return the favor by helping out enough strangers. If we lived in a Utopia world with no bad guys, then eventually everyone would be helping each other out. How such a nice message could get mixed up like this is beyond me, but Pay It Forward manages to pull this off.

Trevor is the main kid of this film and he comes up with the Pay It Forward idea. He tries to help by bringing a homeless person into his house. It may be a nice thought, but a really naive one and it only worked out because the guy happened to be a nice person. That’s…definitely not how things would usually go. He then decides to help his teacher by trying to get him together with his mom. That’s where most of the trainwreck is.

Eugene is the teacher and he doesn’t want to get into romance. He likes his simple life as it helps him to know what he should expect each day. He continues to deny the advances until Trevor tells him that he basically has to fall in love with Arlene (The mother) or else bad things will happen to the main characters as Trevor’s dad is abusive and a drunk. So…there goes Eugene’s choice. Whether he knows it or not, the choice has been taken out of his hands as he definitely can’t just leave with a clear conscience. The iffy way that the romance was handled was definitely terrible.

Naturally, the alcoholic father part was another unnecessary addition to try and make the film a little more grim-dark. This film was really pushing that for the Oscar bait as the mom had to work at a strip club to earn her salary and there were bullies who beat up on the other kids and nobody would report them. So much for the teachers and other students right? Get ready for some spoilers, not that it matters for a film like this. To really show that this film would not have a happy ending, the writers decided to let the bullies win for once as they kill Trevor. Yeah…the bullies actually came out on top with no ramifications. We can assume that they were given a slap on the wrist and taken to juvie since the teacher and mom saw them, but that was a pretty lousy way to end the film. Actually, slight update. According to Wikipedia, the bullies are seen at the funeral. Yeah…I guess they just got a reeeeeally slight slap on the wrist and I doubt anyone actually believes that they are sincere about this action. Having them at the funeral is just insulting to be honest.

For most of the movie, I had been planning on giving it 2 stars. Even without the ending it was pretty bad so a 2 felt fair, but then the ending happened and I quickly bumped it down to a 0. It’s like the film no longer had any point so it and it was almost trying to discourage people from using the Pay it Forward technique in real life. It’ll never reach everyone, but it’s still nice to help people out. This film basically just shows that you’ll probably get killed for it.

For more grim-dark, Arlene’s mother is homeless and is also an alcoholic. This is relevant because….well, it’s not. The film just gave us these extra plots for the lols and to show us just how tough Trevor’s life is. We already got that though. For extra drama, Trevor decides not to try and work through the situation with his mom, but run away instead. Trevor wasn’t a likable character in this film from the start and I still think that kids can’t hold their own movies, but this just made him look even worse. If the main characters hadn’t found him in time, he would have been done for as a bad guy as waiting at the airport. Can’t let any of the strangers be nice guys once you leave the neighborhood right? So, this essentially means that none of the characters are likable. None of them are even close to being likable either.

Wait, I forgot another grim-dark subplot! Eugene’s face and a lot of his body was burned by his father who was also alcoholic and abusive. The film decided to really throw these plots at us and never let up for a second. There was never a feel good moment in the film as it was all just really dark and terrible. It’s sad that films like this still come out in theaters. Straight to TV is fine so we can all skip it and give each other a thumbs up, but this film really had no quality.

I’m not going to say that it is the worst film of all time, but it’s certainly one of the worst films out there. You can’t go lower than a 0 right? While it is not as grim-dark and winceworthy as Sucker Punch or overly dark and violent like Daredevil, it uses a mixture of those things to get to how bad this film is. If this ever does get a remake, I think it would be better, but I don’t see it being very good at all.

We can’t even blame the genres for this as Pay It Forward is a romance drama. Those two genres are tough to get right, but it is possible. If anything, the film should have just went for more of a light theme. That would have worked much better with the plot and it certainly would have been appropriate. I was half expecting some animal violence by the end just so the film could cover all of the bases. It had the forced romance and all of the dark themes so one more area wouldn’t have hurt right? I was pretty surprised to see Trevor get stabbed on screen as violence against kids is severely frowned upon, but I’m guessing that this film wanted to be controversial so it could be on the news or something. Well, I’m pretty sure that it failed since nobody talks about this film anymore.

Overall, Stay away from this film. This is the kind of title that makes Pixels look like an utter masterpiece. Seriously, Pixels is a thousand times better than this film and I gave it a very low rating as well. At least that film has some fun moments and good action scenes. Pay It Forward has nothing so it just ends up being a boring ride where you will be counting the minutes until it’s over. If you want to see a film with a lot of drama and action, check out Yugioh 3D Bonds Beyond Time instead. You can thank me later!

Yugioh 5Ds Review

It’s been a while since I reviewed Yugioh Zexal and I actually finished this show at around the same time so this is long overdue. This is the final review that was buried in my backlog for a while so it’s good to have it all done. Yugioh 5D’s is easily in my top 10 favorite shows of all time like I’ve mentioned several times on the site. It’s just about perfect and easily deserves to be known as one of the best Yugioh series…even dethroning the original.

The series takes place far in the future. You can essentially say that it is canon to the older series or not, it doesn’t really matter as it is so far in the future that none of the older characters or their monsters will be appearing. A large accident split the country in two and all of the rich people live in the glamorous Domino City while the poor live in Satellite, hunted by the cops. Yusei decides that he wants to head to Domino City and he arrives just in time to enter a tournament.

The first arc is mainly about the big tournament and then the organizer of the whole thing, Mr. Goodwin, turns out to be a little corrupt. Longtime Yugioh fans or any anime fan will likely see it coming, but it’s still fun as he makes for a good starter villain. I enjoyed this arc although it was fairly short, but I feel like I would enjoy it a whole lot more now. While the tournament was epic, we hadn’t known any of the characters yet. Tournaments are actually a great way of introducing characters for sure, but the second watch makes it all the more meaningful since you now know them more and can appreciate their older days. Of course, the series would just get better and better from here. Mainly because Yusei’s old friends stopped appearing here as well and his newer ones were a lot cooler.

The second arc is the fan favorite one and it was a lot of fun. The main characters found out that they were actually chosen by the Crimson Dragon as the only ones who could stop the Dark Signers. One of them also had a history with Yusei as they both grew up in Satellite, but betrayal and disagreements between the teammates separated all of them. A reporter also gave into the dark side and there were many intense duels in the show as well as Yusei’s first real challenge. The stakes definitely went up for this arc and we got quite a few epic fights. The animation also went to the next level.

Finally, we had the World Grand Prix arc. This one was easily the longest and also had some filler, which won’t be too cool for some fans. Basically, this arc finally put the motorcycles back into the show. Instead of the standing duels like in the older shows, the motorcycles came into play as Yusei and his friends had to prove that they were the best in the world or the new villain group would plunge the world back into darkness. This arc introduced a whole lot of new characters. A lot of them were one shots of course, but that’s just how it goes.

The tournament battles were extremely exciting and that’s why I loved the arc so much. As I mentioned earlier, once you know the characters, the tournaments get to be even more fun. A lot of the new teams were also cool or at least made for good fights. The climax in each of the arcs was very exciting as Yugioh climaxes are always spectacular, but the final battle in the final arc was definitely the best one. We got some really epic opera themes at the last second and the villain really lasted quite a while. Ending the series on a high note is always important.

Yugioh 5D’s main gimmick, which a lot of fans had fun with is that the characters now duel while on motorcycles. It’s a pretty interesting twist and while standing duels will always be my favorite, it does make for some nice visuals. It’s fun to see such a high speed duel and the tournaments handled it quite well. It did help to differentiate it from the other Yugioh series, that’s for sure. I also think that Synchro Summoning is a whole lot better than the XYZ style from Zexal. It was a new feature that was actually a lot of fun and wasn’t too overpowered.

That being said, the final cards are naturally extremely powerful. The final ones that the villains have can essentially do anything within the rules of the game. While not as OP as the Yubel card in Yugioh GX, it’s safe to say that they can hold their own against any of the other final bosses. Each of the Time Lords has a different special ability and once you’ve got the whole army on your side, it’s game over for your opponent.

As you would expect, the animation in Yugioh 5D’s is top notch. It actually looks better than Yugioh Zexal and is automatically the best animated Yugioh series. I don’t even think that Yugioh Arc V will be able to pass it in that area. The series had a theatrical effect to it so the night duels looked especially good while the daytime ones were superb as well. 5D’s really excelled in that area. The Earthbound Immortals are completely in CGI so you may have a chuckle when those guys come out of the woodworks. The CGI is certainly obvious and they would have looked better hand drawn, but at least they got the scale wrong. I much preferred the other big cards as I wasn’t impressed with these guys, but the CGI…you will never forget it! Now, we can’t forget about the soundtrack right!?

Yugioh 5D’s gets 5 stars there as well. I got to watch the first two arcs in English for the Dub music and the final one subbed for the Japanese themes. The Dub wins as expected, but both versions are quite good. For the Dub, we got a lot of fast paced action themes that really fit with the duels and it was second only to GX in Yugioh world. I also liked the voices and missed them a lot when the Dub ended. For the Sub, I love Jack’s theme and would probably rank it as the best subbed theme with the opera one from the final boss being a close second. I also like the techno theme for when Speed World is activated. Since I got to hear two different soundtracks, it helped this show ultimately have more likable themes than most shows could ever hope to have. Another star to add to Yugioh 5D’s book.

The writing is also exceptional for the series. I’d actually say that every single Yugioh title has been quite good with the writing as they all tend to tackle some deep themes and know when to be serious as well as when to be light toned again. Yugioh 5Ds is no exception and it deals with the end of the world and how humanity can be pretty corrupt and whether it should be saved or not. Another topic is how much of a price are the characters willing to pay to save the rest of the human race. The episodes will always get you thinking and the series is always very interesting as well as exciting, which is an incredible combo.

The show is also very long. With over 150 episodes, you have a lot of time to get attached to the characters and watch their character progression. Character development is very real in this series after all. While some of the characters will never be likable like Yusei’s old friends, most of the main cast is quite good and the villains are solid. On that note, let’s talk about the characters, as the show has a decently large cast.

Yusei is the main character of Yugioh 5D’s and he is certainly a likable character. He’s a natural leader and he gets the job done. While not as overly happy and upbeat as Yuma, Yusei’s still a fairly cheerful guy to hang out with. He started out as a very serious guy, but his friends helped him to just enjoy everything a little more. He rarely ever lost to anyone in the whole series and I believe that he only lost on screen once if a commentor is to be believed on Youtube. I can’t verify this as it’s been a while, but if so…that’s very impressive. His deck is fairly balanced and it’s actually better than Yugi’s if you ask me. I like his Junk Warrior and his Stardust Dragon is a lot of fun. Yusei’s Iron Scarecrow is also a very good trap card as it can block an attack and never leaves his field. Really, Yusei may have gotten the best starter deck out of all the main characters including Jaden. It’s quite good and very powerful. It’s definitely hard to be a better lead than Yusei as I really had no problems with the character.
Akiza is the main heroine of the series and her telekenetic abilities were enjoyable to see as most Yugioh characters do not have any physical abilities. She can also duel, which instantly makes her cooler than Tea and Tori. I’d also say that she beats Alexis, making Akiza the best main heroine from the Yugioh franchise. Her flower deck is solid and her dragon also has some neat abilities at its disposal although I wouldn’t call it as impressive as some of the others in the series. While Akiza may not be quite as powerful as Jack or Yusei, she can hold her own in a fight. Her battle with the Dark Signer Misty was a lot of fun. She lost her abilities for a good chunk of the series, which was unfortunate, but maybe she would have been too overpowered with them. Either way, I’m glad that she got them back for a time.

Jack Atlas started out as a very antagonistic character. He was friends with Yusei, but set his sights on grander pastures and left his old friends. He was deceived for a while into believing that he was the King when his opponents had been throwing fights. This left him with a chip on his shoulders that he tried to get rid of during the whole series. His skills were very real though and his Red Dragon Archfiend is probably the best dragon from all of them. He’s incredibly powerful and is very useful in a fight. Jack’s aggressive playing style makes him a blast to watch. While he learns to be more strategic in the end, he never loses that fiery passion for dueling.

Crow joined the group a little later into the show. I feel like the writers didn’t even know that they were going to add him in so his inclusion into the story just came out of nowhere. I feel like he never proved himself quite as well as the other three characters and I still don’t find him to be quite as impressive in terms of dueling either. Even his dragon is a little on the weak side. That being said, he’s certainly not a bad character and is still a nice guy. While he may not have been developed quite as much, Crow definitely got his share of important duels in the show.

Leo and Luna were the final main members of the group. Leo always wanted to be one of the heroes and he finally got his chance by the end. His Power Tool Dragon was never that strong, but he was a decent card. Leo always meant well, but he was basically a kid at the grown ups table. Luna had her Ancient Fairy Dragon who also wasn’t too impressive, but was a decent card. Unfortunately, she had the bad luck of getting two duels that really weren’t exciting at all. One of them was in Arc 1 and the other in Arc 2. For some reason, any episode with her and Leo just couldn’t grab my attention the same way that the other duelists did. I think that making them just a little older or a little tougher would have really helped them.

As for some of the more minor heroes, Officer Trudge was a cop who meant well as he tried to put Yusei behind bars. He just wasn’t a very nice guy who only bgrudgingly started to become friendly with the heroes by the end as he slowly turned into a comic relief character. The fun part about him was that Trudge was actually in the original Yugioh manga for one chapter as Yami Yugi wrecked him in a Shadow Game. This furthers the theory that Yugioh 5Ds is actually an alternate universe, but since Yusei met the other heroes in the crossover between space and time, it’s interesting. Yusei did see Yugi in a newspaper after all. Maybe more time travel and reality shenanigans were involved. I liked him at first, but he slowly began to lose his cool factor. His partner was also decent at first, but then she started to crush on Jack in the same way that Trudge began to crush on her so both characters dropped really quickly.
Lazar worked for Mr. Goodwin for a while, but he eventually became the head of the police…or the city. I forgot, but either way he never became a very cool character for me. I dunno…I just couldn’t take him seriously and he seemed so clearly evil that his change of heart felt a little sudden. Why did he become good? The show never did a great job of showing what caused this turnaround.

All right, now we’re into the Dark Signers! Kalin was the best member as you may expect and he was a lot of fun in the series. After he turned good, we got to see his new 1 turn kill deck over in the wild west. Seriously…he won on his first turn due to a special ability that dealt 800 points of damage for each card placed face down. He placed 5 cards and boom…that was the game. It’s a pretty awesome combo if you ask me even if it wouldn’t work in a normal duel due to each player having 8000 points of life.

Kalin gave Yusei a crushing defeat when they first fought and it was easily one of The most epic duels in the series. It was dark out and the personal stakes made the fight feel that much more intense. Kalin definitely had no mercy on his old teammate and the tension between them was intense. Kalin’s deck may not have been the most interesting, but he made up for that with his cool ride and elite dueling skills.

Greiger was kind of a part of the Dark Signers although he came out of nowhere to quickly duel Crow. He was essentially filler although he was also in the season 1 tournament. His motorcycle was very over the top and fun to look at and he actually nearly took down Goodwin by shooting his motorcycle through the glass in the stadium. He had a decent reason for turning into a villain and even if he felt a little shoehorned into the plot, he was a good villain. Crow needed someone to fight so it may as well have been him.

Roman was the leader of the Dark Signers and his duel with Yusei was one of the best animated duels in the show. The animation had a lot of detail in it and you could tell that it was the big fight of the arc even if the arc didn’t actually end with that fight. Roman looked tough and his dueling skills were very real. He may not have had any real OP cards like you would have expected, but he was a good leader for the Dark Signers.

Another Dark Signer was Carly. She was a reporter who really looked up to Jack, but was taken out by one of the corrupt PSY users. Little did the guy know that he was sealing his own fate as she got new abilities and used the powers of darkness to end him. It was another epic moment in the series as the fatalities were finally occurring and the PSY guy had been a fairly big villain in the background. I actually liked him and at least he could back up his tough talk. Carly was mostly the comic relief in the series as a hero, so this helped to give her some much needed dueling time. As a villain, Carly was great and her duel with Jack was a lot of fun. As a hero, I can’t say that I’m a fan of her though and her screen time is typically filler.
Finally, we had Misty, who was the rival for Akiza. She blamed Akiza for what happened to her brother (I believe it was her brother) and she decided to wipe out the telekinetic user with her newfound abilities. It was a good duel and while the flashback cards are certainly…intriguing, it was a very close fight through and through. She had character, which is more than I can say for Luna’s opponent. There’s really nothing to say about the guy as he just rushed into the duel and qas quickly taken down. We don’t know why he was there and fans likely won’t even care. This guy was clearly just made up to fight Luna and we got another subplot about Fairy World that wasn’t any fun. Fairy World was surprisingly boring whenever it appeared.

Director Goodwin was the hidden boss of the arc and he had gotten a lot of hype for so long that it was great to see him jump into the action at the end. His super form was great and while his deck was not too memorable, it was still quite good. Goodwin put on a convincing act as one of the heroes for most of the show and while he started to ramble as a villain, I dare say that he may have been the best villain. If you still count Kalin as a villain, then I’ll go with him, but in terms of cool points, Goodwin may have this made. If we count villains who are not actually alive, then he does get beat though.

Sherry was a supporting character who appeared once in a while during the series until she finally got a huge role. She’s very similar to Kourin from Cardfight Vanguard actually. She ended up learning a plot twist and joined the other side for a while. It was definitely interesting, although I don’t think that she should have even considered switching sides though. It was a very interesting dilema though and I’ll certainly go into it a little at the end. She was a good character though and I admire her fighting spirit as she even had a quick scuffle with Bruno in the real world. Sherry was a strong character and I always like to see that. Being bold is a good way to claim victory!

Z-One is the final boss of the series. The show does a good job of strongly hinting the whole time about a certain twist involving another Yusei for so long. It was great as the show kept up the act and did it very subtlely so that you didn’t really have much reason to doubt the twist. Z-One’s goal is also nice and complex so he’s not your average villain. He’s doing this for what he considers to be a heroic goal. The death of a relative few to save millions in the future. We’ve heard it all before and you have to decide if you take this Utilitarian position or if you want to fight to avert the future, but risk everything. This complexity made the final battle even more epic. Not to mention that zooming around the sky with inverted gravity also added to that effect. The climax just kept on going and going with each episode getting more intense than the last.

Aporia was another awesome villain. Technically, he’s a villain combo, but at the same time, he claims that this is his original form. Time travel stuff. He looked a lot like Paradox in this mode and it was cool because we actually got to see Paradox as well for a quick cameo. This guy was certainly a powerful fighter and he put up quite a good fight against the heroes. He did everything to help his friend, which was a really neat twist since it shows how sometimes the villains can have strong bonds between them as well. After all, they didn’t consider themselves to be villains even though they put on a big production for the heroes. His first appearance was definitely something that will widen your eyes as it was a very epic moment.

Jakob was essentially the leader of Yliaster and he wasn’t quite as charismatic as his two teammates. He was the old and wise member of the group who wasn’t hot headed anymore, but it came at the expense of his character. I suppose that the team needs a reserved member like that, but it doesn’t make him any more fun. Likewise, I wasn’t a big fan of Lestor. He was the happy, kid member of the group and he had a nifty skateboard, but I was never impressed with his skills and found him to be a bit of a lightweight next to the others.

Primo on the other hand, now this was a pretty epic fighter. He really meant business and also defied the plan that the other two members had at one point. He just really wanted to beat Yusei and nobody was going to stand in his way. His super form of merging with his vehicle was cool and all of his duels were Awesome! I’m really glad that he defied orders in his duel as it just shows that his personality is the kind that I like in my villains. He’s similar to characters like Grimmjow, who just do what they want, regardless of orders.
As for Visor, he was a mysterious figure who appeared towards the end of the series. The viewers knew his true identity for a while as he fought Sherry and appeared in the background, but the heroes didn’t figure this out until the final part of the series. As Visor, he was pretty cool and he taught Yusei how to upgrade his skills to the next level. Without that form of dimensional summoning, Yusei would have been doomed in the final battle. The legal aspects of this kind of summoning are a little intriguing though as it almost doesn’t seem fair, but it does give you an incentive to drive a little faster. Visor came in handy against Ghost as well.

The Ghost is actually my favorite villain in the series. Again, this only counts if you believe that robots can be characters as this guy was awesome, but he was technically not alive. His role wasn’t very huge either, but his first duel against Yusei was one of the best in the series (I use that phrase a lot, but the series was over 150 episodes so it’s fair enough) and I liked his design a lot. This guy meant business and most of the characters in the series could not have matched up against him.

As for some of the teams in the World Cup, Team Unicorn was pretty interesting. Yusei’s team had to overcome quite the massive lead that Unicorn had as Yusei essentially had to win a 1-3 battle. Really, he shouldn’t have won that match and the episode even shows us this as Unicorn could have won, but he wanted to win mano a mano and that was his mistake. Even then, Yusei probably should have lost, but it still shows just how tough he is that he can beat 3 duelists. Jack and Akiza certainly didn’t pull their weight there, but everyone has off games once in a while.

Team Ragnarok was another impressive team who wielded powerful cards like Odin and Loki. They were actually a little important to the plot as they wanted to stop Yliaster themselves. Their eyes made them able to see the villains similarly to how the Crimson’s Dragon power helps the main heroes. That being said, Yusei’s team needed the win and the battle was quite spectacular. It was some of the final episodes that the Dub aired so it was a big farewell to that side of the show. The duel was one of the best in the series.

Team Taiyo quickly deserves a mention as their team gimmick was pretty interesting. Rather than use the same overpowered cards that everyone else had, they wanted to win using basic cards. In part, this is due to the fact that they don’t have a lot of money. They were naturally doomed against Yusei’s team, but they still put up a decent fight and were actually likable even if their whole gimmick was just a bit much to swallow at times. Using basic cards is cool….but I don’t see how they made it so far in the tournament that way.

Yusei’s decision to fight Z-One was a good one in my opinion. The tricky situation was that dueling would inevitably overload the generators someday, which would cause a global incident on a nearly extinction level. The robots and duel monsters would turn against humanity and the world would really be doomed. Yusei decided that he would defy this though. I agree with his choice since Yliastor would have blown up a city, but I disagree with how he handled it. What did Yusei do? He built more generators after the timeskip and is making the cities more high tech. As more people continue to duel, this essentially makes it inevitable that the world will perish. So, I think Yusei could have done more to avert the future, but either way, Earth can’t last forever. They may as well play the card game while waiting for that to happen right?

Now, I know that it’s a little controversial to have this show over the classic Yugioh. I think almost everyone would agree to this one beating Zexal and GX being over 5Ds is something that most people wouldn’t agree with either. The Yugioh Duelist manga was extremely awesome and would beat 5D’s, but at the same time, 5Ds just had more epic moments. It had the better animation and the better soundtrack. Yugioh has the slight edge in characters thanks to Yami Yugi and Kaiba, but even then, the rest of 5D’s supporting cast beats Yugioh’s. 5Ds was just more exciting even if it was shorter. It took a while to finish the series, but Yugioh 5Ds is a title that I will definitely not forget. The grand scheme of the show can only be matched by few titles and even less can say that they’ve had a climax that was quite as exciting for such a long duration.
Overall, Yugioh 5D’s is a fantastic show. While it loses to Yugioh GX, it could have easily been a 10 due to how good it is. I placed 5 shows ahead of it, GX, Madoka Magica, Digimon Data Squad, Justice League and Cardfight Vanguard, but it’s extremely close and you could make a decent case for it to pass Madoka and Justice League. There are so many epic moments throughout this series and even the comedy episodes and filler titles were typically a lot of fun. This is mainly due to how exceptional the writing is and how enjoyable the characters are. This is really an all star title! After a while, with so many legendary shows, some of them just have to give. Even if I have 5D’s at 6th place, that’s still very impressive. With great animation, a superb soundtrack, and a whole lot of episodes to sift through, you should absolutely start this series. Trust me, you will not regret it!

Overall 9/10

Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. Review

After reviewing the legendary Batman and Superman shows, it’s time to look at something that’s on a lower level. The Hulk show is essentially in the current Marvel show continuity, which means that you can expect a whole lot of comedy with a touch of action at some points. It doesn’t work as well as Ultimate Spiderman or Avengers Assemble, likely because the characters aren’t as interesting. It’s not a bad show and still looks good when placed next to Pac Man, but I can’t really say much for it. Ah well, it made for some good times.

The show ran for 2 seasons and actually had a bit of a long running plot. Rick Jones was turned into A-Bomb due to gamma exposure and one thing led to another so he became the Hulk’s teammate alongside Red Hulk and She Hulk. He decided to start a webshow which would prove that the Hulks are actually heroes. A mysterious being known as Skaar appears and is defeated by the heroes so he joins the team. The 4 of them stop many local threats, but there is typically a mastermind in the shadows. His name is the Leader and I hope you like him since the guy will be a major recurring villain throughout the entire series. The heroes humiliate him in every way possible, but he never stands down so you’ve gotta like his determination. Another plot that comes back a lot is the Kree as Ronan is always trying to get revenge against the Hulk and even the Avengers have to step in at one point.

Depending on how much you buy the whole quantity vs quality, you’ll like the fact that the Hulk show has a lot of guest stars. Some of them actually look good too so that’s definitely a nice plus. They certainly help to spice the show up and provide us with a little variety. Without the guest stars, the Hulk show would likely not be nearly as interesting. As with the Superman and Batman show reviews, let’s take a look at some of the good and bad episodes here.

I’d say that the opening two parter was good as we got to see Hulk fight Skaar and there was certainly a lot of action. Another good episode was when the Hulk’s personality switched so that he became an intellectual who didn’t fight except as a last resort. We got to see the Hulk think his way out of his problems, which was a nice twist and blew the Leader’s plan away. A few of the other nice episodes which didn’t involve guest stars included a challenge by the Titan Xemnu, as he fought all of the Hulks. His physical power was incredible and the fight was actually quite good. Likewise, I liked a roller skating episode that came shortly afterwards as the heroes got to test their skills.

Most of the episodes with guest stars were naturally a lot of fun. One of the highlights was when Ghost Rider appeared to drag Red Hulk to Hell. It was an intense episode and Ghost Rider was definitely given his due respect. He looked very powerful as he should and was no nonsense. The Avengers get to help out in the final two part episode against the Kree. The episodes were a little light on actual action scenes, but it’s always nice to see the Avengers show up and remind us that continuity can be real. It’s like jumping into the Avengers Assemble show.
The Guardians of the Galaxy also showed up a few times and it’s always nice to see them. They even got to be in a Christmas episode and there aren’t too many shows which let Christmas appear anymore so that was neat. I think all shows should have a Christmas episode at some point. Dr. Strange helped out against Dormammu and his Mindless ones. Those Mindless ones would eventually appear in Avengers Assemble and Ultimate Spiderman so they definitely get around. Even the Silver Surfer showed up in one episode to fight off some nightmares. His voice was admittedly very anticlimactic and not one that I would have chosen for the character. Still, I always liked the Surfer so seeing him back in animation again was certainly cool. Spider Man was also around a few times and he even got to take on Venom in one of the episodes. It was definitely neat to see the Wall Crawler show up and he always makes for one of the best guest stars with his epic quips and constant readyness to show up the Hulks.

Deathlok and the Inhumans also appear in the series. Things get a little dicey for Black Bolt and his friends as they get trapped within a dome, but the Hulks are always ready to help out. The fight with Deathlok was also fun and his guns sure pack a punch. That fight should realistically be a cakewalk for the Hulk, but we’ll just say that he was holding back. The Thing helps out in one episode although his rivalry with the Hulk doesn’t quite work as well when the Hulk is in full control like he is here. It’s just there, but it doesn’t feel as natural. Aside from being on the Avengers, Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man all get episodes in the series. Iron Man probably has the best role as he mostly sticks in character although his defenses shouldn’t be able to be hacked so easily. Captain America gives up on hope with his episode very quickly, which was more than a little iffy.

The worst would tragically have to be Thor. In one episode, the Leader becomes the All Father so Thor and Loki decide to serve him regardless of how evil he is. Apparently, they must follow whoever is on the throne as if they were from the Shiar. That’s completely out of character for Thor and it was just odd. The writers clearly didn’t know what to do there.

One of the episodes that definitely wasn’t very good was when the Hulk decided to live underground because the mole people were his true friends. It was pretty hilarious to see how easily Hulk was willing to ditch the surface dwellers, but it still didn’t make any sense and any episode with the Mole Man will typically get a thumbs down from me. Mission Impossible Man was another miss episode. I definitely don’t care for the Impossible Man as a character and this certainly did not increase his chances of being a likable character. We also can’t forget the Planet Hulk two part saga as Ego The Living Planet is involved in a huge twist, which was not a good one. There was also more crude humor than usual to be found there.

I’d say that most of the Hulk episodes were decent. The only bad ones were really the episodes that overdid it with the humor. That just happened to a lot of season 1 episodes as they would sound good on paper and then get a little gross while watching. Season 2 improved on this, they never became perfect, but you could actually go through some episodes without major crude humor attacks. That was a start, but the series never got to see if it could really go on a role.

Time to talk about the characters. Hulk is the lead and he’s definitely very heroic. You wouldn’t know it at first glance, but he really cares about everyone’s safety. Hulk’s a very selfless hero and also quite intelligent as this incarnation seems to have Bruce’s smarts along with his typical strength. He rarely ever enters into a rage and is always portrayed as the most capable hero while also being the strongest. Hulk’s essentially the perfect lead. He may make a mistake once in a while, but Hulk always gets the job done, even when the other heroes don’t believe in him.
She Hulk doesn’t like the cold, but aside from that she is always one of the more reasonable characters in the show. She has a very inconsistent rivalry with Red Hulk that shows up once in a while. She Hulk may not be as strong as the Hulk, but she helps to remind him not to lose control at certain points and she always has a witty remark at the ready. Red Hulk is essentially a one dimensional version of Vegeta who tries to act as tough as the Hulk even when he knows that the Hulk is actually the stronger, smarter fighter. He is always upstaged, but he continues to talk tough in every episode so I suppose that he deserves some props for that…I guess.

A Bomb is the comedy member of the group so he’s always thinking of some quick lines to remind everyone why he’s so tech savvy. He can turn invisible, which is a great trick, but this is Rick so he doesn’t use it as well as he should. He’s a fairly likable member of the group, although I prefer Red Hulk and She Hulk. The worst member of the team is easily Skaar. Skaar is basically here for the crude humor jokes and they can get quite disgusting at times. It’s best to just forget about him as he never contributes to the show and just brings it lower and lower.

As for the villains, the Leader is certainly the main one in the show. The Hulks won’t rest until they’ve thoroughly humiliated him in every sense of the word over and over again. They force him to plunge their toilets and work at a fast food joint among other things. The Leader puts up with it because he wants to be ruler of the world someday, but it is pretty embarrassing for his fans. His plan with Skaar was also poorly thought out to the point where you will wonder what the point of it is. His whole “Query..etc etc, Answer, etc etc” gimmick was pretty neat though. This is mainly just because the Leader’s voice was spot on. He sounds bored with every line that he utters and while the other villains also push him around, the Leader never loses his confidence.

As for the Abomination, he’s essentially a stronger version of the Leader. He doesn’t get quite as many good lines, but he almost takes down the team a few different times and he even took over the base at one point. Abomination can be a little generic, but he was certainly given more credit here than in Avengers EMH so that’s a good thing. He’s finally almost on Hulk’s level in strength like he’s supposed to be. He even took over a town, which was very…interesting to say the least.

Normally, I like to talk about how good the animation is, but I can’t really say that this time. Whoever draws the character does not know how to draw teeth, as they are simply too big and stand out way too much. Think of the classic shows like Justice League, Spectacular Spider Man, or the old Transformers show. Do you remember the teeth? Naturally, the characters had teeth and smiled sometimes, but you didn’t notice a giant pair of teeth every time they talked. That’s what happened in the Hulk show and it can be quite distracting. The fight scenes can be decent when they happen though and the character designs are good. It’s similar to how Accel World’s animation was terrific, except for the human characters. As with this show, it’s a big enough negative that you have to take a double take. I’m going to give the Hulk show a bit of a thumbs down here, but it has its moments.

As for the soundtrack, you’ll probably forget it right away. This isn’t the kind of show where you will typically remember the music. That being said, I do remember Red Hulk’s theme because it plays whenever he fights or has a meaningful scene. It’s essentially a generic “tough guy” theme, but that doesn’t stop it from being decently good. At least it was memorable and maybe that’s all I could have asked from it. The show did need a theme song though. I don’t see why everyone is ditching the theme songs nowadays. They were classic and theme songs help to take a show to the next level!

One unintentionally humorous thing from the show was that the very first episode had a plot hole. It ended with Rick being taken to the base to heal, but in the second episode, Hulk never actually made it to the base. Whoops…heh heh. It’s something that you would expect from the Hulk show, but at the same time, you didn’t expect it to happen so soon. It had a retro vibe to it I suppose, but it’s something that you’d think the writers would have noticed. Especially since it aired as a two part event.

While the Ultimate Spiderman show has the gimmick of Spiderman constantly breaking the third wall and stopping time, Hulk goes for a more practical option. At the end of every episode, he’ll sit down in front of the camera and explain that episode’s moral in case you missed it. The messages are more inspirational and heartwarming than My Little Pony Friendship is Magic. Now, that’s a little bold to say as My Little Pony has some of the best messages out there, but Hulk teaches you about caring for your family and teammates, ignoring any bad qualities they may have and focusing on the good, how problems shouldn’t always be solved by violence, trusting in your teammates, and dozens of other great morals. It’s never handled very subtlety, but sometimes that’s a good thing. Being able to talk about these things with a straight face is a good thing and the Hulk show is great for impressionable kids you are watching the show.

One of the things that really bogged the Hulk show down was the unfortunate crude humor and the uninspired dialogue. While the crude jokes are not as frequent as Pac Man (That would almost literally be impossible) they can definitely get pretty dicey at times with a lot of sneezing and potty jokes. They force the Leader to live in the bathroom for a while and the toilet is clogged so he has to try and unclog it. It gets preeeetty dicey for him to say the least. If there is a crude humor joke to be thought of, it’ll be in the show and it certainly gets old. The obvious puns and gags from A Bomb and the others can be good as long as they stick away from that area. Ah well, I guess the show didn’t want its solid seven.

Without that, the show would have been decent. It would have been similar to shows like Avengers Assemble and Ultimate Spiderman. I would never go as far as to call them great shows, but they were still fun and add to the mythos of the characters. I’m still really glad that those titles are around and I can’t say the same for the Hulk title quite as easily. Even this upcoming rating that it got is very close as you can make a decent argument for one star lower. I think it was just good enough, but it was definitely on the edge.
Overall, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. is a show that had potential. It’s essentially a Marvel version of Batman Brave and the Bold, but with less guest stars, sloppier animation, and inferior writing. Also less of a soundtrack, but that’s to be expected. It couldn’t quite keep up with the Avengers or Ultimate Spiderman. It should be really thankful that it got a season 2 as that saga certainly helped the show improve. Otherwise, I’m tempted to say that it could have gotten a 5. Still, there were enough positives for me to call it a decently good show and I’d recommend it to Hulk fans who wants to watch some fun action. That being said, you’d be better off watching the 90’s Hulk show or just going for Avengers EMH. I’m confident that Guardians of the Galaxy will beat the Hulk show so maybe everything will start to look up from here…maybe. Also, make sure that you stick around for the moral at the end of each episode!

Overall 6/10

Superman The Animated Series Review

Now it’s time to take a look at the Superman show! Unlike Batman, Superman never really got any shows after this, which was really too bad. He had the ultra old shows from the good ole days, which were a lot of fun, but Superman needs a new one. Ah well, it would have a tough time beating this one anyway as this is the definitive Superman cartoon, which really defined the character. I still consider this to be the definitive Superman portrayal. Between owning all of the collections for this one and the Batman show, our comic book show collection is going strong!

The Superman show was much shorter than the Batman one, but with around 50 episodes give or take a little, I’d say that it still had a good run. We got to see a lot of villains and there were a lot of plot lines to wrap up. I’d also say that the series had more guest stars than the Batman cartoon, which is impressive considering its smaller size. It doesn’t have that same theater feel, but that’s all right since Superman accepts its position as more of a comic book series from start to finish. It’s fantastical and gets pretty out there at times, but this is a Superman show so that’s really how it should be.

As with the Batman review, I’ll quickly highlight some of the good episodes and maybe mention one or two, which fell flat for me before going into the characters. Naturally, Lobo’s big debut made for a good two parter. The fight between him and Superman was a lot of fun and Lobo is crazy in an interesting way for the most part. Likewise, Blasts from the Past was another good story arc as two Kryptonians arrive from the Phantom Zone and try to trick Superman. When that doesn’t work, it’s fighting time and seeing Superman go up against foes who are nearly as strong as him is always a blast. Of course, they don’t have Superman’s longer exposure to the sun or his genius intellect.

Speed Demons was really fun as the Flash makes for a great guest star. I still say that Superman would easily beat him in a race, but I know that Flash fans would beg to differ. The Weather Wizard wasn’t much of a threat…but who would be right? Father’s Day was another good one as it saw the debut of Kalibak. We can’t forget the Hand of Fate either as Dr. Fate helped Superman fight off a demon. That episode was a lot of fun and the creature had a good design.

There are many more really good episodes, but let’s talk about what could be the best one. The three part World’s Finest event! Batman comes into town and Superman doesn’t like that since the Dark Knight’s tactics can be…questionable. Lex Luthor and Joker also decide to team up so the heroes have a real fight on their hands. Naturally, the big draw was that the heroes would finally be meeting up and I’ve seen those three episodes over a dozen times. This was an awesome event and I never tire of them.

Batman would appear two more times as Superman teamed up with Robin to find him and when they teamed up against Ra’s Al Ghul. Supergirl’s opening two parter was another great arc as she got to fight the Furies and help Superman out. The final two parter with Darkseid was definitely intense although I don’t believe that Superman could ever be mind controlled. It was still definitely an intense arc. Darkseid’s first two part event was also quite good as well as the episode where Clark Kent appears to have died in a car crash.

Another solid episode had the Legion of Superheroes arrive to help Superman in the past. Those characters never got to appear all that much in animation although they had a great episode in Justice League Unlimited, which was certainly neat for their fans. Seeing Superman in high school was also neat as he took down the bullies while still learning more about his true strength. He went a little far with the bully, but it was still relatively minor to what the average character would have done and Superman learned his lesson. The bully did have a rough time of it later on as he was thrown quite a long distance. (But lived somehow)

There are a lot of entertaining episodes to be found in this show. Ranging from light hearted Clark Kent themed ones to the dark and intense Darkseid episodes. The show really knows how to alter the mood depending on the situation and it makes for a lot of good stories. Superman is always in character and since the writing is always good, that takes care of most of my main concerns.

As for episodes that were more of a miss for me, basically any Bizarro episode. I definitely didn’t care for those stories. Obsession was another episode that fell flat. Basically, any time the villain is obsessed over getting a girl, the episode is going to fail because it just makes the villain look so petty. There are other episodes out there that don’t rank too high either due to animal shenanigans or villains who weren’t very cool, but for the most part, nearly all of the episodes were quite good.

Naturally, Superman is an incredible main character. He is the definition of heroic and definitely stands up for justice. While Batman gets things done in the shadows, Superman gets to be around during the daytime. The public is usually very appreciative of him and Superman does his best to keep their trust. Darkseid wrecks this for him in the end, but it’s always nice to see Superman get public support. After seeing so many heroes run from the government and be despised by the world, Superman is always a nice contrast to that.

While some may find his incredible abilities to make him boring, I’d say that they help to make him such a great character. He is supposed to be virtually perfect so then you can see how well we could all handle tough situations if we were invincible. Superman always makes the right calls and he’s a great role model for anyone. Naturally, he’s a little too tough in the sense that he has to get nerfed in just about every episode or else it would all be too easy. So, get ready for a lot of plot holes involving the power levels. Superman shouldn’t lose to just about any of the situations that he’s put in, but you can just assume that he is holding back and toying with the opponents. This is practically canon after Justice League anyway.
Superman’s supporting cast is stronger than Batman’s if you ask me. Naturally, Lois Lane has a huge role here and she instantly beats the people surrounding Batman. She’s constantly going on dangerous missions so Superman has to come to the rescue. That being said, she can fight and Lois is still prepared for many dangerous situations. It’s just that she tends to attract super threats who aren’t deterred so easily. Her bold personality has won Lois many fans and this is definitely the best portrayal of her character. She is supposed to be tough and independent, two traits that the show does a good job of showing.

Beyond that, Superman’s supporting cast don’t really get huge roles. Perry White is around to remind Clark that he needs to step up his game. A drunk sailor is typically around to back up Superman. He’s a nice guy and a good character even if he could have used some more screen time. Lana doesn’t appear very often either. I always found her to be a likable character back in the Smallville days, but the city life didn’t do her any wonders as she became the head of a fashion show and got tricked by people in the know. She also didn’t handle the puppet lady too well, but since she knows Clark’s true identity, at least she can typically count on a save since he’s always pretty close when in Metropolis.

We’ve also got Jimmy Olson here as well. I’ve never been a big Jimmy fan in any continuity, but he had some decent moments I suppose. He certainly looks better here than in some other adaptions like Superman vs Doomsday where he sold out. Thurpin was essentially the big cop in the Superman continuity. He didn’t last as long as Bullock, but he was certainly a good officer. He definitely didn’t mind jumping into danger and he talked tough right up until the bitter end. That being said, antagonizing the enemy is something that you should typically only do when you have super powers or can think of a way to survive the situation.

We also can’t forget Superman’s super powered help like Steel. He didn’t get to appear all that much, but he was a nice guy before he adopted the persona so it was cool to see him get his blows in. He would have a small role in Justice League as well, but a pivotal one as he held off Galatea for a little while. Green Lantern makes a brief appearance and he looks pretty good. It was a nice way to see his origin story even if he would never really do much in the continuity again. Sinestro made for a fun villain in that episode.

Another guest star for the series was the Flash of course. He was certainly a fun addition to the team. Supergirl had a fairly big role as she helped out in quite a few multi part episodes. She was introduced a little late in the series, but she mastered her abilities with great speed. Her powers never seemed to be as impressive as Superman’s, but she helped fight off an invasion and cover for Superman when he was out of town. She even got some episodes to herself where she proved her meddle. Supergirl’s always been a really fun character and I’d say that this show really nailed it with her portrayal.

As for the villains, Superman definitely dealt with quite a few heavy weights during the series. Metallo was one of the main stays who appeared quite a few times through the episodes. It’s safe to say that he’s nowhere near Superman’s level in strength, but he did put up quite a few close fights thanks to his Kryptonite. It’s a running gag that he always clobbers Superman at least once with that gimmick. For the most part I’ve always been a Metallo fan. He can be a little cheesy and act like a generic grunt at times, but for the most part he’s a pretty neat villain.
That being said, I prefer Parasite. His gimmick has always been cool as he can steal energy from Superman and grow stronger. I grew up with this design thanks to the Gamecube design and it always made me think of him as a really cool villain. He’s technically not too much of a threat unless he can grab Superman, but he’s able to do that quite often so I guess that would make him a legitimate threat right? Livewire was not quite as likable in her human form although I did like her gimmick of basically being against everyone. She thinks that adults are part of the old way and basically tries to incite rebellion at every chance that she can get. Even Clark Kent had enough at one point and Superman always tries to act mild mannered in that form. I do like Livewire’s confidence though as she seriously believes that she can win the fight.

Lobo is naturally a pretty chaotic villain who gives Superman a tough time. He’s definitely not my kind of villain in the sense that he’s constantly looking for romance and flirts with Lois. It’s sad because he’s a cool character otherwise. He reminds Superman that he is The Man and I like to see him fight other villains. He would make a brilliant rival/”anti hero” (likable villain) if not for his character flaws. If nothing else, he’s a pretty fun character to watch. I’d say that he’s essentially a better version of Bizarro. I personally don’t find Bizarro all that funny or entertaining. Typically his stories just end up being tragic and you can’t help, but feel bad for the guy. He gives Superman some tough fights, but he’s typically just misunderstood.

Naturally, Darkseid has a fairly big role in this series. He’s a villain from the shadows from the most part, but he does step out into the limelight when the time is right. He’s a very strategic villain who rarely fights himself even though he has the power to do so. He prefers to break Superman through other means like telepathy. Naturally, Superman can crush him when going all out, but Darkseid has the edge otherwise. He launched a pair of pretty solid invasions on Earth and he’s definitely one of Superman’s ultimate villains. He’s a fighter who always has a threatening presence.

Granny Goodness is also around, but she’s really just there to be a weak villain who lets her minions do all of the work. It’s definitely hard to find any reason to really like the character. The Furies are decent fighters and I like them as enemies for Superman and Supergirl, but their personalities aren’t really existent. I also call plot hax whenever they appear since they shouldn’t pose much of a threat physically.

Brainiac is definitely known as one of Superman’s most deadly opponents. I mainly became a fan of him through the DCAU as I liked his new mecha design much more than the traditional green one. He could actually give Superman a pretty good fight when they met up and his laser blast against Lex would certainly have some future ramifications. This genius always has a backup plan and while it is not enough to take down someone like Superman, it makes for some good episodes.

Toyman has always been a bit of a recurring Superman villain. He can be amusing at times and unlikable for the rest of the episodes. I can’t say that he’s typically my kind of villain, although he’s much better than other interpretations of the character. The one in Superman vs Doomsday for example, Toyman looked pretty bad there. Kalibak’s surprisingly more likable, although his whole gimmick is that he’s strong, but not very smart. I liked the fights between him and Superman and even the senior Kents got involved. That was one of the episodes which had a lot of fun with the soundtrack and Superman just seemed to be in shock for the whole fight. Once he snapped out of that, it was game over for Kalibak!

Superman’s animation is naturally solid as it came out during the prime of western animation! The fights are even better than Batman’s as Superman trades blows with heavyweights like Darkseid and Lobo. Buildings are shattered and Superman is taken to his very limits during some of these fights. The visuals are always very bright and you will clearly be able to see everything as it unfolds. This definitely doesn’t feel dated and should continue to look good for some time.

As for the soundtrack, the Superman show had a lot of fun altering it to fit whatever the episode’s theme was. For example, the Lobo episode used a lot of crazy disco music throughout the episode. Some will play out more like the retro Superman, heroic themes that you would expect. The music can go from ancient to futuristic, from elevator styled peace to chaotic war themes. Superman really has it all and it’s why I’d say that the soundtrack is pretty stunning. No matter what type of music you like, you should find some good themes to listen to during the show.
There aren’t any other Superman shows to compare this too so let’s look at where it ranks compared to all superhero shows! Right off the bat, it loses to Justice League, but beats up every other DC show. Really, the only other show that I would say is really close would be Avengers Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. After a little thought, I would still say that Superman has the advantage here as it has the solid edge in fight scenes. At 2nd place in the all time lists, that’s pretty impressive for the show!
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Overall, Superman is definitely a great show. He makes for a great lead in it and the characters who surround him are pretty good. Add in the solid soundtrack, good animation, and the fun battles and you have got a winner here. You’ll definitely be cruising through the episodes once you start and there’s no turning back. You can continue these adventures in Justice League and then you’ll find it hard to watch the newer versions of the characters. I highly recommend this to all comic fans or to anyone who likes a good adventure with solid writing and some action to top it all off!

Overall 9/10

Batman The Animated Series Review

It’s time to review one of the most critically acclaimed comic book series of all time! Batman was a series enjoyed by kids and adults alike as it offered many deep storylines while still having a lot of action. I finally got to see the series in its entirety from start to finish so that was certainly a blast. It’s definitely one of the greatest comic book shows out there. I wouldn’t literally call it the best as some put it above Justice League, but it has a high ranking for sure.

The show is quite long, but there typically isn’t much of an overreaching plot. For the most part, the series is comprised of stand alone episodes. There is certainly a tight continuity as characters age and Batman’s sidekicks have to rotate as the original Robin ultimately leaves so Batman has to find a replacement. By the end of the series, most of the villains are safely tucked away and while Gotham City can never be 100% safe, it can certainly try to be a more peaceful place. Also, it should be noted that I’m counting the New Adventures of Batman as the same show as the original. Similarly, I shall do the same for Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. After all, they’re practically the same show right?

A lot of the episodes are pretty iconic and to substitute for a plot stage, I’ll talk about some of the more enjoyable Batman episodes that stuck with me. One of them saw Batman and Robin head into a virtual game to rescue someone’s psyche. The villain had them solve various video game riddles and the animators had a blast making everything look chaotic and wild. It was definitely a lot of fun and I’m always up for a video game episode!

Batman’s team up with Ra’s Al Ghul was a fun episode as they definitely do not get along. Ra’s bodyguard didn’t make things easy either as he kept taking cheap shots at Batman until the Dark Knight finally returned the favor and took him down. Another fun event was the two part episode where Clayface made his debut. Bruce Wayne was arrested, which was pretty intense as that was one of his toughest moments. For Batman, it’s easy to evade justice, but not so much for Bruce Wayne.

One of the best episodes was certainly the dream one where Batman was on the run from the cops. Batgirl died after she was pushed off of a building and Commissioner Gordon decided that Batman had to go. There were several chase scenes and in the end even Nightwing was taken down. Batman decided to finally turn himself in and then even Bane showed up to finish the job.

There are many more good episodes where those came from of course. The episode where Batman is believed to be crazy and taken to Arkham, The two part episode where the Batcave is taken over, The Zatanna guest star episode, The Epic trial where the villains have to judge Batman, and Finally, the episode with The Judge! There were so many good episodes that they should prove to be a good incentive to enter the series and experience them for yourself!

One of the episodes that I didn’t really care for was a Clayface one where his consciousness split into two and one of them became a little girl who befriended Batman and Robin. They tried to save her, but their efforts were ultimately futile as Batman explained that stories don’t always have a happy ending. Certainly a deep moral and one that most current shows wouldn’t tackle unless it involved tacos, but you still end up feeling bad for the girl even if she was never really real.

Naturally, in a show as long as Batman, there will be some episodes that you don’t like, others that were okay, and then the others that were really good or great. No series, no matter how good can hit it out of the park every episode although shows like Madoka, which was only 12 episodes long can basically achieve that. Short shows are the exception to the rule and it’s naturally the hardest for long ones. There were a few animal related episodes, Man Bat adventures, etc that didn’t quite end up being that good, but there were enough good episodes to quickly overshadow that.
Batman is the main character of the show and this is essentially how I became a Batman fan. Well, this show and Justice League. This adaption of the character was just about perfect. Unlike newer shows like The Batman and Beware The Batman, we see the Dark Knight as a very experienced fighter who has already been through many tough fights in the past. He’s not a rookie, but someone who knows how to get the job done. Batman really has a plan for everything and makes it his business to know it all. We see multiple times in the series that Bruce Wayne is Batman’s secret identity and not the other way around.

As Bruce Wayne, he can be a little dicey at times since he still does flirt once in a while, but it’s also nice to see him threaten all of the criminal law makers and corrupt men in public. Clark Kent likes to keep himself hidden from the public while Bruce revels in the attention. Batman’s also a very capable fighter, but I’m sure that you could have guessed that. You really can’t top this portrayal!

The original Robin was definitely a good fighter, but he was definitely no Batman, which the show always made sure to point out. As Nightwing, he finally almost equaled the Dark Knight in skill and he was certainly someone to be feared. He was definitely a likable character and I’m glad that a plot twist stopped him from being ensnared by Catwoman. That would have definitely hurt his character. He’s someone Batman can count on even if he’s really determined to be successful on his own.

The second Robin was a lot happier and more cheerful when compared to the first, but he was also a lot smaller and more vulnerable in a fight. As Batman Beyond would later show, putting him in a fight could definitely be a dangerous move and one that Batman may want to rethink. It was cool to have him in the show though and giving Batman a sidekick is always a good idea. The show can be fun as a Batman solo adventure, but sidekicks spice up the formula a little.

Batgirl’s role was not quite as large as the Robins, but she certainly helped out from time to time. While she did not have the formal training that the other two Robins got (For the most part, we see her training at least once in the show) she’s still very useful against the villains and Batman can always use another sidekick. Batgirl has a competitive personality and she’s always eager for a fight.

Aside from his costumed allies, Batman had a good supporting cast around him. Alfred was a very loyal companion to have and he delivered many good lines during the series. This is certainly my favorite interpretation of the character and he can also fight a little when necessary. Commissioner Gordon and Batman typically get along as Gordon sees the need for a caped crusader to stop the villains when they get outside of the law’s range. Bullock is a cop/detective who gets a very large role as well. He’s always a good rival for Batman since he doesn’t mind lying if it means that the Dark Knight will look bad. He got Batman into quite a few jams during his day and you can always find him eating a donut. He was definitely a lot of fun. There were a few other officers like Montoya, but none of them ever got a big role.

That’s for Batman’s supporting characters when it comes to other nice people, but the show is also well known for its colorful villain gallery so let’s tackle those characters. Naturally, starting off with the Joker sounds like a good bet. He’s Batman’s most popular villain and I think this show played a decently large role in that. A lot of his episodes tend to be quite good and he always ends up being one of Batman’s most dangerous villains. He may not be a master at hand to hand combat, but he has a lot of gadgets of his own and there’s always a few plans in his head. While not as smart as Batman, he’s extremely smart and someone who you could never count out. His iconic laugh is quite good and this was the Joker’s best design.

Two Face is a villain who I typically don’t care for, but I thought that he looked quite good here. The episode where all of the villains were talking about how they almost got Batman was fun, but you feel bad for Two Face in episodes like that because he never comes that close when compared to the others. Luckily, he became The Judge in one of the episodes and got a major power boost. He was able to take out quite a lot of Batman’s old enemies and he nearly beat Batman as well. That was definitely a lot of fun and helped me gain respect for him as a villain.

Catwoman danced between being a hero and a villain throughout the series, but picked the villain side every single time. Even when tempted to become a hero, she couldn’t help but grab some jewels along the way. This leads to the constant chase with Batman and a quick trip to jail. It’s very quick since she escapes almost immediately, but Arkham tries to keep her. That being said, considering how Arkham’s chiefs are sometimes evil, maybe it’s for the best that she escapes. At least this leads to Batman having to supervise the staff a little more. Poison Ivy had quite a few team ups with Harley Quinn. She only fought on her own a few times and some of her plots were quite effective, like pretending to be married to a random joe. Let’s just say that the guy was a little green and he wasn’t carsick! The impressive part was that there was a large timeskip so she kept up the charade for weeks or it may have been months. She almost got away with it, but Batman’s just too sharp.

As for Harley Quinn, she’s essentially doomed to follow the Joker forever. She’s a decently good character and certainly one of the most loyal villains, but that’s why working for someone like the Joker is not in your best interest. The Penguin is actually one of the worst Batman villains for me. I can’t take him seriously as a fighter and I don’t see why he’s still in business. The cops seriously cannot pin any hard evidence on him? He’s mostly just an informant and rarely fights, but that doesn’t help his case. He’s still better than the Mad Hatter though, that guy is just a terrible villain who never had a chance at being likable.
Mr. Freeze got his big role in the movie so he didn’t get a whole lot to do in the show. Either way, it’s still worth noting that he’s a very good villain and a character who is always interesting to see. Riddler is considerably less developed in terms of personality. I actually like his riddling gimmick though and it’s interesting to see him match wits against Batman. Beyond that, he’s just an ordinary joe who’s not a master combatant so he’s essentially doomed each time.

As with Mr. Freeze, Bane didn’t get too much of a role in the show. He did appear in the dream episode to fight Batman though and he essentially won that fight even if there were a lot of circumstances in the background. Scarecrow had multiple designs, but none of them made him a very likable character. Still, one of his designs was actually really epic and made him look like a powerful figure. I have to give some more props to the DCAU for making him look like a threat.

Poor Clayface learned the hard way that being involved in crime can really end up hurting your future. Doomed to be a clay man forever, he tried to cope by being an actor. After all, being able to physically alter yourself can come in handy right? He had quite a few good episodes and he was certainly a likable villain. While not as personally connected to Batman as in The Batman show, he was still a villain who you could almost sympathize with.

Killer Croc is one of the stronger villains in the Batman show, at least physically. He looked decently good in several episodes and he always gives Batman a tough time. He may be a little outmatched when the gadgets come into play, but he’s still a solid villain. Finally, we have Ra’s Al Ghul, who Batman always gives a lot of credit. In the Superman show, it’s mentioned that he’s more dangerous than Joker and Lex put together. Even with Ra’s very large army, I’d say that the line was a big stretch, but it’s always fun to have another intelligent villain in the mix. His mind games with Batman are always a lot of fun. He’s such a good villain that I didn’t even mind the desert episodes as much as I typically would have. I could do without the mild romance between Batman and Talia though. Ra’s is always running against time though as his pit has quite a few exploitable weaknesses.

Naturally there are other villains like Baby Doll, Ubu, Clock King, the Ketchup Man, or something like that….and more. The series is filled with a lot of one hit wonders and some who appear more than once like Talia who I didn’t go over. If you want to see the large array of villains, do yourself a favor and check out the series. You certainly won’t regret it and I’m confident that you’ll enjoy the show.

The show came out during the days when animation was at its height. The show looks great from start to finish as the character designs are crisp and also deep. By “deep” I mean that they don’t look like stick figures or are too stream lined to the point where the characters look a little skinny, (Young Justice) Batman looks like a body builder, as he should. These are the character designs that I grew up with and they remain my favorites. Naturally, this also helps a lot for the fight scenes.

One of the more noticeable differences for the fight scenes compared to newer shows is that you can really hear the sound effects. It’s like comparing the sound effects in Super Smash Bros Melee to the Brawl version. You can feel each and every blow. The music is also very good as it can feel theater-like to an extent. The classic Batman theme is certainly legendary at this point. While the theme song could have been a little more exciting, I do like the music and the TV show has fun with it. Not as much fun as Superman (That show had dozens of unique themes) but enough so that I would count this as a decently big positive.

It’s easy to see why this show became so popular. While it lost a bit of the theater feel as we got into the latter seasons, the first episodes definitely felt grand in scope. If Sword Art Online is the theater version of anime, then this would be the theater version of Western animation. Another thing I enjoyed about the show is the fact that Batman got to appear as Bruce Wayne. If he had gone overboard on the flirting angle it would have been dicey, but he was usually around for his detective wit as well and he even pretended to fight when an assassin appeared from his past. I feel like the alter egos don’t get to appear very much anymore. This is especially evident in Marvel’s Avengers Assemble show, but to an extent, DC hasn’t had time for it either with Teen Titans Go. Showing off the heroes human sides is always a good thing and it succeeded the most with the Superman show.

Now, how does this show compare to the other Batman shows? Against the average array of cartoons, it would be no contest, but all of the Batman shows have been really good so far. For now, we won’t count Batman Beyond since it is a Batman cartoon, but Batman isn’t the main character. The 90’s show is the most grand, but Brave and the Bold had the most guest stars and The Batman had some of the best fights. For now, I’m tempted to say that Brave and The Bold is the best Batman show while this Batman title just barely edges out The Batman. It’s close, but that show didn’t really pick up until the latter seasons and this one had the stronger beginning. Needless to say, all three of the shows are neck and neck!
Overall, Batman The Animated Series is certainly a classic. It got a whole lot of episodes, which gave the show enough time to bring in a lot of villains and establish itself as quite possibly, the ultimate Batman show. The animation and soundtrack were on point and the fact that this is in DCAU continuity was pretty awesome. You can definitely anticipate a Superman The Animated Series review coming in shortly as I also finished that series. Whether you are a super hero fan or not, this is a show that anyone can enjoy.

Overall 8/10

Cult of The Cobra Review

Time to look at another retro film by Universal. This one definitely came out quite a while ago and I will admit that I have never heard of it before. The poster is certainly intriguing and I never get tired of seeing the scared looks on everyone’s face as they look at the main characters of the film. It was a staple of the old films after all and they do have a good reason to be very afraid. After all, their lives may be in grave danger!

A group of American soldiers were getting ready to go to New York, but they hadn’t found anything really cool to take pictures of. They became fascinated by a man who could play music to a snake and one American mentioned how their was a religious cult who believes that people could turn into snakes and vice versa. The old man told them that he could take them to a meeting so they could see for themselves…for 100 dollars plus 10 up front. The heroes went and saw an intriguing show with a whole lot of dancing. Unfortunately, one of the members was drunk out of his mind and decided to take a very bright and loud picture of the show. Naturally, this did not fly with the members there and they decided to attack.

The army members were able to escape thanks to their military training, but one of their members died to a Cobra bite and they were cursed so that the rest would die the same way. Was this real or was it fantasy? Most of the members disregarded this right away, but then a mysterious lady moved next door and all of the animals were afraid of her. Also, more of the army members started to die from mysterious accidents. It may take a rocket scientist to put the clues together before it is too late!

This is certainly a classic horror film at its core. The Cobra even gets her own theme music. Whenever she puts on her serious face, the music speeds up and you know that one of the army guys is going to die…or at least be threatened. She typically gets to play her theme music at least three times before any fatalities occur. You know that the characters will be toast, but you just don’t know when they will bite the big one. Even the wife of one of the main character is nearly taken down, but the handy dandy mailman arrives just in the nick of time. That’s why speedy mail delivery is always so important right? Naturally, I’d give the soundtrack here a thumbs up. It’s not quite Resurrection F or Bonds Beyond Time, but it’s rare for a 50’s film to have any notable themes at all, so this was quite an impressive feat.

The film’s only a little bit above an hour so it’s quite short. That being said, the end of the film starts to drag just a little as you’re waiting for the heroes to make a move or for the next victim to show up. The Cobra doesn’t even seem all that sure herself as she struggles to decide whether she should go through with the murders or not. She hints that she may not be able to stop herself, but it’s hard to tell whether she meant that physically or just about the honor of it all. Either way, if she really wanted to settle down, not murdering the main guy’s friends would have been a good way to start. As she was a half hearted villain, I can see why she never became as big as characters Dracula or the Werewolf.

I was glad that the cops were actually pretty reasonable here as the evidence was pretty clear cut so they should agree that the new girl was the likely suspect. It did make sense after all right? Paul was definitely the best character in the film as he always suspected that there was some truth to the curse as cults would need to have someone to back them up. The way that he and Lisa handled the whole wedding arrangement admittedly lacked any form of tact or honor and came across as a little rude, but they probably hadn’t given it a whole lot of thought so they were just trying to go through the motions of being Tom’s friend even though their romance was their top concern. You will feel bad for Tom for a second, except that he went for the rebound immediately which shows that he’s the kind of guy who can move on way too quickly.

I think this film could have used a little more action. Not a whole lot happens and that’s usually okay, but a good portion of the film is spent on giving the cobra some character development, which ultimately doesn’t go anywhere. That screen time could have been better used for some fights against the Cobra. Some of the characters struggle, like throwing vases and things of the sort, but how can you not be able to outrun a Cobra? At the very least, you can manage to land a hit right? Even if the bite happens first, you can squash it…of course, that would have hurt the film’s score so it’s a double edged sword.

It should be noted that the film takes the high road with the animal violence so I have to give it kudos for that. A dog, cat, and a horse appear and they are all spared. There was one scary scene where we think that the cobra will attack the dog, but this doesn’t happen. I think the dog should have been a little braver and could have approached the cobra, but since that could have been dicey, I’m fine with this. The shaking was a bit much though and you’ll feel bad for the little guy.

Overall, Cult of The Cobra was a good film. It was probably a little more dull than some of the other retro classics, but it was still an interesting film. My favorite part of it was probably the opening scenes as that could have been expanded into a film in its own right. I wouldn’t have minded if it was about them infiltrating the cult, but that’s another plot for another film I suppose. The characters were decently developed even though you knew that they would be toast by the end. Snakes aren’t too scary compared to other monsters so this definitely won’t scare you at this point, but that’s all right. The solid music theme for the cobra will be good enough for the horror/thriller aspect. If you like these retro thrillers, then I certainly recommend it. It may not be the most exciting tale out there, but it’s fairly short and the writing is solid.

Overall 6/10

Pac-Man and The Ghostly Adventures

It’s been a little over 2 years since I started this show. While the three holiday episodes have not aired yet, the show is essentially over so it’s time for this review to illuminate us all on how well Pac Man did. Was it a good show or did it fall to the immense amounts of crude humor and dicey moments? Well, it’s not the Pac Man show that we wanted, but perhaps it is the one that we deserved!

This show took the Pac Man mythos in a completely new direction. The old Pac Man was responsible, tough, had a strong moral compass, did what had to be done, and he was essentially the ultimate leader. He was a nice guy, but he could fight when pushed and he saved the world on several occasions. The new Pac Man is essentially the opposite in many ways and he’s such an obvious laugh in the face of the original that you can’t help but laugh. Depending on how much you like the original Pac Man, you will either enjoy this interpretation or you will just cringe.

Let’s quickly look at the plot. It’s been ages since the ghosts have been seen and nobody even believes in them anymore. That’s a shame right? Pac Man is also the only member of his species who is still alive. His parents mysteriously disappeared a very long time ago. One day, the ghosts attack once again and Pac Man is charged with protecting the planet from them. He can eat them with ease and Pac Man can even eat some berries to give him super powers so that he can defeat the ghosts by the dozens. His two friends, Cyli and Spiral also help him out in this battle against the evil Betrayus.

The show actually managed to crack 50+ episodes, which is most impressive. I’m pretty sure that the old show never made it that far. It’s too bad though since the old Pac Man show was a lot of fun and I even looked up some of the episodes on Youtube a while back. Each one was only 10 minutes similar to Arthur so they’re very accessible and you’ll see Pac Man as he was meant to be seen. If you’re a true Pac fan, that’s where you’ll want to be.

Back to this show, let’s start off with the technical aspects. The soundtrack is actually quite good and many of the tunes are memorable. You’ll actually remember them as you finish the show and they can actually get quite epic as there is even an opera theme at one moment. That’s definitely a good way to reel in the action fans right? Even the theme song is epic as the narrator says “The Pac is back!” He says it with a very dead voice, but that may be part of the point so I suppose that it can be excused.

As for the animation, Pac Man is unfortunately in CGI. This is a sad trend that has been going on for quite a while, particularly with American shows. Japan has also gotten into it, but not quite as much. It’s just sad because the old Pac Man show looks about as good as this one even though it’s so much older. That being said, the CGI is good as far as CG goes. One thing that you will notice is how Pac Man’s eyes are always half closed. It’s an odd quirk and one that is likely not intended to be there, but the CG just made it so. We do get some neat fight scenes, but they are naturally comedy action scenes that don’t take themselves seriously. If they did…I’m not sure if the animation could keep up. CG has a ton of limits, but still, the show does not look bad at all. It’s still clear and modern.

All right, let’s talk about the characters. Pac Man is essentially your average main character who fights to save the world. The main difference is that unlike other heroes, Pac Man literally cannot control his hunger. If there is food around, he’s going to eat it. This applies to events as well and he even eats all of the food at the President’s party, spoiling the event for everyone. Fans of the Pac won’t like how he can be pretty selfish with this and he’s never apologetic in the slightest. He gets scared by the bully of the school as well. He’s also the kind of guy who will get a crush on someone after seeing her for about a minute and he still can’t stop himself from burping after every bite. Yes, whenever he swallows a ghost, he has to burp afterwards. He does this in literally every episode of the series. I like Pac’s charismatic character to an extent…he means well anyway. I do think that the burping can be a little much though.
Spiral is one of Pac’s best friends and he’s always around to help out. His character basically is that he’s Pac’s friend as it doesn’t really go further than that. He doesn’t really have a gimmick. He seems to be the “cool” character of the group as he always says “bro” at the end of his sentences and fights off the ghosts with his cannon. I’d say that he’s a good character. Likewise, Cyli helps to keep Pac Man in check and she has more of a school presence than the other two. She nearly became class president, but ultimately decided not to do so. Her trendy parents embarrass her at times, but she mostly doesn’t have to worry about that as they only appear once or twice during the whole series.

Pac Man also has a few other supporting characters who help out. His aunt used to be a hardcore army fighter back in the wars and she reminds the heroes of this any chance that she gets. You could say that she’s the hype character of the show. Pac’s aunt is a good character although she doesn’t have all that much personality when you get past the hype. The President is on good terms with Pac Man and they have a very casual relationship similar to how the main character of Pixels could walk into the White House in shorts. The President gives Pac Man various missions ranging from being someone’s friend to saving the town. That being said, the President has a lot of dark secrets like crying as a kid or being allergic to peas, which makes him an easy target for black mail.

We can’t forget Sir Cumference, who can’t always hear very well, but he has a lot of technology at his disposal. He comes to the rescue more than once and he’s certainly one of the most dependable characters in the show. Another major character is Skeebo. He’s the bully who tries to be a relatable character once in a while, but always reverts back to his old ways. He only picks on people who are weaker than him and he loves to give Pac Man a tough time by calling him “Lemon Loser” and a lot of other lemon related names. Pac Man is pretty round so it makes the name calling easy for Skeebo. He was a pretty fun character and typically gave the show its best humor. Skeebo even turned into a superhero once, which was pretty neat! He may be a mean guy, but in the end, the heroes can count on him to help.

As for the villains, Betrayus is naturally the main one. He appears in every episode and is always thwarted by Pac Man. Typically, this happens in a very embarrassing way. Any toughness that he had at the start is quickly taken away as he is forced to team up with Pac Man several times and run away in others. At least he can fight though as Betrayus can shoot blasts of fire. That automatically makes him one of the toughest characters in the series since most of the other ghosts can just stand around and get eaten. The 4 ghosts from the classic Pac Man show are always around of course, but they have no real powers. Blinky’s the classic leader of the ghosts, but surprisingly that is rarely ever stated if at all. He’s just another guy in the gang like Inky. Pinky has the biggest role as she is always going after Pac, who denies her advances by running away. Clyde is the not very smart member of the group who speaks in a very slow and hollow voice to push that point across. He’s probably the best member of the group as he brings in the puns. Buttler and Dr. Buttocks were two recurring characters who worked for Betrayus and as you can tell from their names, they were typically the but of the jokes in the netherworld. Betrayus would have fun beating both of them up in most of the episodes.

Aside from the ghosts, we also have the aliens. They seem to know what happened to Pac’s family and may be holding them hostage although it’s hinted that they escaped. They have a warrior known as the Pacinator, who even gave Pac Man a good fight by forcing him to eat Ice Cream. That guy doesn’t mess around and that episode was the best one in the series. How can you top something that Epic!? The plot had returned and that didn’t happen too often. There were also one shot villains like the Easter Bunny who were typically fun to see.

The main thing that held the series back was how much crude humor it had. Literally every episode had multiple moments of this and it never let up for an instant. Seriously, you could expect slime jokes, burps, farts, and all kinds of gross moments in every single episode. It could definitely get quite excessive and there were some especially dicey episodes like the pimple one on picture day and one episode where Pac Man became a planet. I can’t even begin to describe how sad those episodes could be. If every episode was like that, this show would have gotten a 1 or a 2.

Luckily, there were still a decent amount of good episodes. After a while, you’ll barely even notice Pac’s burps as he eats the ghosts. It’s just too bad that the plot wasn’t around very often as 40+ of the episodes were spent on filler as Pac dealt with the ghosts. That’s not too bad depending on how you look at it, but I’m confident that the show would have been better if the plot had been pushed into the forefront a little more. Random episodes of crude humor can only get you so far after all.

Also, since this is really a complete comedy with some action, none of the characters ever stay serious for long. Even if there is an alien invasion, we’ll quickly get at least 3-5 comic relief scenes to compensate. There’s never a sense of danger or anything, but that’s the point. The problem is that the humor just isn’t good enough to make each joke good. The comic relief ones are simply recycled for the whole series instead of thinking of new ones. The characters are entertaining for the most part and we get some fun shenanigans like the campfire stories or the episode with the transfer student (That was an “emotional” one….) but I can’t forget the bad episodes. The reason why the score is still decent is that it’s typically a fun show despite its flaws.

At the very least, it is always a pretty happy cartoon so it makes for a good watch when you just want to see something light and fun. The episodes will shoot past you very quickly. It’s highly unlikely that the series will continue, but if it does, the next season would likely have a lot of promise and could bring the show up as the plot could mean more action and tension await us….or maybe not. Still, it’s fun to think about!
Overall, The Pac Man show definitely a bit of a miss. I’d say that it only barely broke even and that’s mainly due to the fact that it is a Pac Man show. Since I know the character, it’s hilarious to see how they’ve warped him. It’s like the Ultimate Spider Man show, but much more extreme. To an extent, that’s the only way you can expect to really enjoy the show a lot. If you like seeing your favorite characters look bad, you’re going to be in for some seriously hilarious moments! I aim to play the games based off of this show at some point, but it could be a little while until I pull that off. I really can’t recommend this show unless you either like crude humor or just don’t mind it. If you have to see the show for Pac Man honor, then you can at least be glad to know that there are some fight scenes once in a while. They’re around…just not too frequently! Well, I guess we can wait for the next Pac Man show now!

Overall 5/10

The King of Fighters Ex 2 Howling Blood Review

This is one of those games that has a story behind it! I actually purchased the game quite a few years ago. The problem was that I had to wait until I purchased the first game. It took a while, but I pulled that off about a year ago….only this game would not work. Since it had been so long since I purchased it at Gamestop, I couldn’t get a refund. That was all right, Game Boy Advance games are some of the greatest of all time. They will eventually start to work and I would be ready! Finally, that day came…and I was ready!

When the game started to work I knew that I had to seize my opportunity. I quickly beat the game with the first team. There’s not really much of a story mode here of course as it’s your standard Arcade Mode. It uses a 3 on 3 system (Not at once of course. It’s 1 on 1 and you move on when your teammates are defeated) and there are 21 fighters, which makes for 7 teams. That being said, just about all of the story modes play out in almost the same way. The first game was infamous in that fashion as I beat it well over a dozen times only to see the exact same cutscenes and identical dialogue from the villains. No matter what the new hero would say, the villain would just go on a tangent. I don’t know if it was that similar here, but definitely close to that.

That being said, it didn’t even matter. See, the game had to have the last laugh. The cartridge was in Japanese for some reason and there’s no way to switch the language setting. It’s safe to say that I was mind blown as I could not actually read any of the dialogue in the “story mode.” The game must have been laughing a little too hard as the next time I put it in, the game had stopped working. I could probably try to revive it once again, but there’s no real reason to do so. I got what I came for as I beat Arcade Mode once. There’s little reason to beat it 6 more times, especially considering that the dialogue is in Japanese.

There’s no real replay value here except for just battling computers or hoping that someone else has a GBA with the game. Beating Arcade Mode with the 7 teams should take you about 3 hours or so. The game’s definitely not a long one so you will be done with it in no time! Since it only goes for a few dollars or so in person and a little more online, I’d say that it’s still worth the purchase. Just make sure that your game has the right language setting or you’re toast!

The graphics and soundtrack are essentially identical to the first game. This is one of those games that you could really believe is just a recoloring of the first title as they are that similar. The sprites are just about the same and likewise with all of the combos. I’d say that the graphics have aged decently well and I’ve always been a good fan of the classic sprites. They really made you feel involved in the game and the fast soundtrack makes the fights more enjoyable. The soundtrack isn’t very memorable, but it gets the job done and you’ll be ready to crush the competition!

As for the gameplay, it’s your standard Street Fighter styled way to fight. You can throw out some quick attacks or just more powerful ones that are easier to dodge. Every character has some special attacks and you can also have an ally jump in to help you out when you’re in a pinch. The gameplay is fun and very easy to get used too. It’s hard to picture myself ever going up against experienced fighters in this one though as I find the controls to be a little hard to grasp. It’s a pure button masher for me so I just press everything and wait until I win. If that doesn’t work, then rinse and repeat the process until it does!

There’s not much more to say about this game. As I mentioned, there’s really nothing to do after Arcade Mode except to maybe enter Vs and have a little fun there. Beyond that….it’s basically Game Over. Still, I definitely won’t be forgetting this game anytime soon thanks to the epic story behind it. The game may have had its laughs, but I still managed to beat the game before it powered down again so I count this as a perfect victory. I haven’t played many King of Fighter games at this point, but I look forward to challenging more in the future. I’m always up for a fighting game after all and sometimes trying out a classic with no real gimmicks like this one is the thing to do when you need to get back into the genre! (Of course, Super Smash Bros literally blows the genre apart on its own)

Overall, King of Fighters Ex 2 Howling Blood is a solid game. If you bought both of the GBA games at the same time then you would probably be a little disappointed as it is essentially the same game in a new wrapper. I don’t even think that they increased the character count all that much and it may have even gotten lower. That being said, I certainly haven’t unlocked anyone so there are probably 1-2 more guys to unlock. If you want to play a fighting game from the old days, then this is definitely the title for you. There can be unlimited replay value if you really like the gameplay so it all rides on that. With this game down, it’ll be time to go back to the Legend of Kay and maybe some MnM’s as well.

Overall 7/10

Ant Man Natural Enemy Review

It’s time to look at another Marvel novel. It’s been quite a while since I read one and naturally this one came out to help hype the movie and vice versa. Ant Man is typically a fun character who can certainly hold his own book, but with Ant Man comes his army of ants and that’s where things typically start to get a little dicey. This book was fun, but the animal violence does do a number on it and this would have probably been even worse if it was in film format.

Scott is just trying to have a good time as he goes on various dates, trying to find a step mom for his daughter. He’s had no luck so far and then the cops let him know that a dangerous criminal has escaped a maximum security jail and may be coming over to destroy him and his family. As such, Scott, his daughter, and his ex wife have been given police protection and this threatens to destroy all of the harmony that Scott has built into his life. He may have to don the costume to fix this mess, but will his daughter be able to forgive him for embarrassing her in front of her friends by having to be with an escort? Only time will tell!

The book is more about the comic continuity than the movies, which is neat since it means that we can have more references like Spider Man being around. Iron Man also has a guest star appearance although he looks pretty bad. He is given one job, to protect Cassie. (Scott’s daughter) Then he allows her to leave and get held at gunpoint by the main villain. That’s definitely not the greatest way to prove that he’s a good hero deep down. Scott trusted him and this is how he was repaid. I definitely thought that it was a bit much as there’s no way Cassie could have escaped. Tony got in a lot of good burns along the way though, but his quick banter was not enough this time.

We may as well launch into what went wrong with the book now. Towards the end of the book, a lot of ants start to commit suicide by the thousands. Across the entire East Coast they start to go extinct thanks to a virus that hit them. This was a plot point that we really did not need. The book could have just made the ants go crazy or something, but dying off like that definitely wasn’t cool.

I also had a bit of an issue with how the book ended as Scott just walks away from the main villain, leaving her to get swarmed by ants and flies. She somehow lived through the experience, but that was a very cruel/downright evil thing to do and I thought that it really wrecked any chance that Scott had of being a likable lead. He was essentially going for the “eye for an eye” mentality, which is something that villains usually do. It just felt really drastic and it made me lose respect for the main character.

Another issue with the ending involves how Scott’s secret identity is out. This isn’t a negative, but I’m just going to call plot hax on the whole deal. No matter how unpopular Ant Man is next to heavyweights like Iron Man and Thor, the whole point of the secret identity was to protect Cassie and his ex wife. That’s because there will always be villains who want revenge and when people know who Scott’s allies are, they will be targeted. Cassie is now in danger from just about every villain. The book plays it off as if nobody cares about the reveal, but it’s actually a rather dicey ending for Scott. This will completely change the status quo assuming he ever gets another book again.

Beyond that, it was a fairly enjoyable read. I blasted through just about the whole book in one sitting. The print was nice and large so the read was very manageable. I’ll take 300 large print pages over 80-100 regular sized ones any day. Large print is just soooo much better than the normal size. I wouldn’t say that this novel was quite as good as the Civil War one or the Fantastic Four adventure, but it was still another good addition to the book format.

Scott was mostly a good main character despite his mean streak at the end. I could do without the constant flirting though as he comes across as very shallow and two dimensional. You are left wondering why and if you should even root for him as he doesn’t seem like a guy who will stay with a commitment for very long. It’s good that he can take a joke though even if the rest of the characters typically can’t. Unfortunately, Cassie was not quite as good as Scott or even close. She started out as a decent character who didn’t care for Scott’s strict rules, but still abided by them. That changed midway through the book as she constantly complained about Scott’s secret identity and gave him a hard time about everything. She went off the handle several times and you cannot sympathize with her revenge plot or her crush on a random guy in school. She comes across as a rather shallow character as well, but a much more annoying one and blaming everything on Scott just isn’t cool.

The villains are ultra generic so there’s no real need to talk about them. I think that the cops looked decently good and they gave it their all the whole time. They even saw through Scott’s fake story in the nick of time! They may not have it all together since they are outsmarted by random prisoners, but they came through when it counted. Although, getting shot and evaded in one scene made one agent look pretty bad and woefully unprepared.

Surprisingly, there is not a whole lot of action here. It’s more of a comedy/slice of life book. Ant Man has a quick bout with some gunmen and against some other insects in the cliamx, but that’s about it. Mostly, it’s about the Scott Lang drama as he tries to be very polite even when everyone takes turns insulting him. He tries to be the bigger man and now he can also be known as the smaller one. (There are a few jokes about that, which he handles well)

Overall, Natural Enemy was a fun book to read. It’s one of those titles that you will breeze through and enjoy while going through it, but on a technical level, it still made enough mistakes to keep it from a high score. The animal violence was just unacceptable and the ending wasn’t that good either. I do like the potential of his identity being public though and it certainly gives him a lot more freedom in day to day life. The only problem is that Cassie and his ex wife will be in permanent danger now. It’s why it was so easy for Iron Man as he didn’t really have any friends except for Pepper. She would be in danger, but nobody else. Ant Man has a lot more to lose at this point. I recommend checking out this book if you happen to see it on the shelf. You’ll have read through the volume before you know it!

Overall 5/10