Aya Natsume Battles, Battles, Erza Battles

Aya Natsume vs Erza




Suggested by iKnowledge Aya can see into the future to an extent so that will mildly help her in the fight against Erza. Ultimately it will not be able to help her enough here though. Erza still has the absolute edge in speed and raw power. Just because Aya can know how to dodge doesn’t mean that she’ll have the stamina to do so forever. In a close quarters combat fight the most important skills to have are technique and speed. Erza wins in both of those so there isn’t much Aya can do to mount a comeback. Erza wins.

Advertisements
Battles, Erza Battles, Guts Battles

Erza vs Guts




Suggested by iKnowledge Erza and Guts are both pretty skilled in using a blade. They can fight from mid-range or even long range with the shockwaves from their slices. Still, Erza has the edge here thanks in part to how versatile her armors are. She can keep swapping from armor to armor which will keep Guts off balance. His battle mode is pretty strong and can keep up with her toughest armors, but her array of special abilities will ultimately give her the edge here. Guts just has less tools in his arsenal. Erza wins.

Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Cardfight Vanguard (2018) Review


It’s time to take a look at the recent Cardfight Vanguard reboot that came out. The franchise has definitely done pretty well for itself over the years. It’s got numerous seasons, multiple movies, and a solid manga. I suppose it was about time the franchise took a step back to redo the first season to get that nostalgia in. This time they’re adapting the manga adaption of the original season so there are some differences to be sure. This title effectively covers the first 3 seasons of Vanguard in one shot but it’s a very loose adaption since otherwise cramming 3 seasons into 1 would have been pretty crazy.

The show starts by introducing us to a kid named Aichi. He’s a pretty timid guy who has no friends, but one day he is introduced to the world of Vanguard by a kid named Kai. Fast forward a few years and while Aichi is still timid, Vanguard has helped him gain confidence and actually make some good friends. The timing was fortunate since a villain group by the name of Asteroid has shown up and they are twisting the game into something painful. They force the duelists to wear gloves that shock you every time you take a hit and are taking over all of the card shops. Aichi has to stop them while hanging onto his joy of the game.

That’s the first arc and it’s the famous one that introduces Ren. From the various arcs I’d say that this one is the least changed from the original series. The series does a good job of introducing us to the characters and slowly expanding the cast. Aichi is a solid main character as always and I dare say that he gets to be a good character even quicker in this version than in the original. He becomes pretty confident during arc 1 and by the end of it is already known as a world class fighter. Once he obtains Psyqualia he definitely doesn’t back down to anyone and he isn’t afraid to fight it out with Ren.

Ren is still a super solid villain as always. He’s definitely a little insane in the first arc as he tries to act like he’s not the villain at times, but that can only go so far. Even if you plead innocence, you’re a villain if you’re the leader of the group that is terrorizing everyone. You can’t just look the other way and expect it all to fade. Ren’s definitely talented and tends to win most of his duels. The other characters are just seriously outmatched against him and Psyqualia is still as broken an ability as it always was.

Kai is still a cool rival as always. Due in part to the fact that the series has to go through the early arcs pretty quickly there is less time for him to show everyone up. He still gets a lot of wins of course, but I’d say that he isn’t quite as untouchable as he used to be. He also mellows out a little bit faster. He’s still one of the best characters of course, but this time instead of being my favorite character he was actually surpassed by someone. Kai gets a good role in all of the arcs though so I was glad about that.

Misaki gets a big role as well since she is featured in all of the arcs and is a central figure in the high school arc. Her memory method of dueling is still super useful and she saves the day quite a lot. Misaki gets a lot of character development and is definitely one of the more well rounded characters in the series. Kamui gets less of an active role here, but he actually gets to act as a coach for quite a bit of the final arc. His fans will likely still be a little disappointed that he isn’t actually on the front lines dueling, but at least he is still shown to be a great duelist.

Tetsu definitely feels pretty sinister in this series. He’s basically the reason why Asteroid turned evil in the first place so it’s hard to feel all that sympathetic for him when the losses start piling on. The characters let him off the hook for being evil pretty quick so you’re glad that at least someone got to knock him off his high horse. He’s a solid duelist for sure, but he doesn’t have the same passion that the others have. Meanwhile Asaka is still a lot of fun and she has one of the most emotional duels in the series. Her battle against Ren while being mind controlled was definitely intense. She’s certainly the most loyal of the antagonists and while she never really gets to have any big wins she is still quite skilled.

Kyou actually got a much bigger role than I would have expected. He tails Aichi around for a while to learn how to wield Psyqualia and eventually is able to access it even if it is a forced activation. He has a lot of confidence and has a lot of good duels. Once his spirit is broken he still gets to show up at times and does a better job of getting back into the mix than even some of the big characters like Kai. He’ll continue to have a role in the next season.

Alas, characters like Leon don’t get nearly as big a role as they had in the original. That’s partially because of the 3 seasons, season 2 was definitely abridged the most. Most of it simply didn’t end up coming through into the remake so that’s to be expected. Leon still gets a good duel though and while he may not have gotten to make much of an impact in the story, at least he appeared right? Better to show up and not do much than to miss out altogether.

The second half of the show is about the High School arc. Aichi decides to form a Cardfight Club and thanks to help from Naoki is able to assemble a full squad. The squad is Aichi, Kourin, Misaki, Naoki, and Shingo. Together they are ready to enter some big tournaments, but their plans are put on hold when a new villain threatens to destroy Vanguard once more. His name is Takuto and he has the ability to control the soul of anyone he defeats in a match. Likewise anyone he defeats can then go and defeat someone else to continue this cycle. Then you’ve also got Kouji who is going around deleting opponents. When he defeats someone that person is cut off from Vanguard and can never enjoy the game again. Aichi has to stop these guys, but can he do it on his own?

This is really the arc that stands out in the series because it really doesn’t have a whole lot to connect it to the original. There are a lot of elements from the Link Joker arc in here, but it’s handled completely differently. Kouji also throws a lot of wrenches into Takuto’s plans which is always cool. The arc definitely has the highest stakes out of all the arcs and it’s a nice way to get the full cast in on the action. Even in the original series the Link Joker arc was the best. It’s just hard to top because it serves as a final tribute to all of the original characters like Kai and Ren as they get their big battles.

Kourin has always been the best member of the idol trio and that continues here. She actually likes Vanguard and does her best to resist the mind control. She made for a good teammate and was a valuable member of the club. As with the original series she gets a bit of a sad ending here, but at least there is actually hope for her since the next season will be continuing the plotline. I still don’t care for Suiko and think of her as a total villain. She’s more like Tetsu as she is totally on board with these crazy plans and doesn’t even care about being a nice person like Kourin. Rekka is in the same boat. While she doesn’t seem as overtly corrupt as Suiko, you can tell that she’s got her own agenda going on.

Naoki is still one of the better characters in the series and his intro is pretty great. He may be a newcomer to the game, but he does try hard to learn the rules and is quick to help Aichi out. He’s one of the more determined characters in the series and added a nice spark to the main cast. He’s one of the highlights of the final arc and I hope to see him continue to get a big role in the upcoming episodes. In comparison Shingo’s character is still more of a miss for me. There’s not a whole lot to his character’s personality and there’s not much about him to make the guy all that likable. He never gets a big moment where he finally gets to prove himself.

Takuto is the main villain so naturally he gets quite a few moments to shine. He’s definitely a tough duelist to beat and his cards have a lot of crazy super powers. I’d like to have seen Kouji take him on a second time but they did fight once so we already know what the outcome would be like. Takuto makes for a good mastermind behind the shadows so the “Concert Master” title is definitely pretty fitting. He’s definitely a much better character when in his pure evil form.

Finally you’ve got Kouji. He’s easily the best character in the series and I was impressed by just how cool he was. Every scene with him is incredibly intense and he gets some of the best fights in the series. His duels against Kai, Aichi, and Takuto are among my favorite fights in the series. They’re all just incredible and I think part of what makes Kouji work is his absolute confidence. He’s basically just a random guy who walked into a battle between worlds and he took the whole thing in stride. Kouji isn’t worried about what is going on for a minute. He just strolls in and takes names. That’s the kind of villain that you want to have. He’s a chaotic wild card and there aren’t a whole lot of series that can pull this off. He takes down the main villain and the rival. I can’t think of a single other time where something even close to that has happened. He’s like a secret final boss.

As always the animation is definitely quite solid here. The character designs are on point and the colors are sharp. You can really get into the intense cardfight battle animations and it’s all just very bright. The soundtrack is also pretty solid. It’s not quite as off the walls as the original series, but there are several hype themes like Kouji’s delete theme. They help to set the stage for the match and the music properly amplifies the experience. A good soundtrack should always make every scene even better.

This series is just awesome. Once the climax starts in both arcs it’s basically a nonstop roller coaster of intense scenes from start to finish. I’ve always loved card game shows and this one has all of the good qualities involved. The duels have a lot of strategy and it’s nice seeing how many different kinds of decks you can build. The main cast is pretty strong and the writing is on point. Even the episodes that are just for character development end up being entertaining and that’s what makes for a good series. It achieves success in every tone it goes for.

Overall, Cardfight Vanguard (2018) is an excellent title. It’s also a nice way of recapping the first 3 seasons if you don’t have time to watch that many episodes. You can watch this one and jump right into Legion Mate without much of a problem. It’ll be interesting to see how far the series goes with this. The next season seems like it’ll be a totally original story at this point. Then we’ll either get a G remake or the series will do something else. As long as the franchise continues to go on I’ll be fine with whatever they decide to do next. So I definitely recommend this series. Whether you jump in as a newcomer or you just want to relive the original days it will definitely satisfy your needs.

Overall 8/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Insurgent Review


Time to jump into the sequel to Divergent! As you likely read in my last review, the series is off to a good start so the question is really whether or not the sequel could manage to keep up the momentum. Well, I can safely say that it did. It continues to harness the same level of energy and makes for a pretty fast paced sequel. I do feel like the third film is going to be the one that has a hard time keeping up since this film basically ends the main plot. The third film would be starting a whole new arc and since it’s the last film there isn’t a whole lot of time to finish it.

The second film picks up pretty much right after the first one ended. Jeanine isn’t happy about how things have turned out so she has just made it plain and clear that she is taking over the world. She does so under the guise of justice though so people are pretty cool with it. The only faction that didn’t like her has been wiped out anyway so they don’t care much. Four and Tris are still on the run and decide that they need to meet up with the rest of Dauntless to regroup. Along the way they’ll have to deal with faction-less gangs as well as get past other factions and a peace group to reach their goal. Once they make it they’ll have to then decide how to handle this situation. Do they start a civil war and take Jeanine down or just flee the country and risk seeing what is hidden beyond the borders? I don’t think I mentioned it in my last review, but in Divergent the world is surrounded by a lot of large walls. Supposedly there is nothing beyond those walls except for deserts, but most of the characters don’t believe this.

The film starts up with the characters hiding among a group of peaceful people who don’t want to take a side in the current situation. That’s rarely a choice in these things though so they are just prolonging the inevitable. The heroes can’t stay long though since Peter picks a fight and Tris nearly murders him. It does help them see Peter’s true colors though and the heroes fight their way out and onto a train. This leads to another action scene where they are forced to take on the whole crew. Both of them do a good job of holding their own here. Tris and Four take down a significant amount of enemies, but ultimately are not on the winning side here since they are simply too outnumbered. They would have been in a better spot if Tris’ brother Caleb had actually been helping more, but he was too scared to act. It’s a solid action scene though and definitely gets the film off on the right note. That’s already quite a few fight scenes and the film had only barely started.

Caleb never quite recovers though. I didn’t like him in the first film and he is significantly worse here. Being afraid of the villains isn’t a bad thing, but when you’re so afraid that you’re willing to let them murder your family that’s when things have gone too far. He should definitely be pretty ashamed after that and then he makes all of the wrong calls as the film goes on. By the end of it you just can’t like this character. He quickly sinks to being one of the worst characters in the movie.

Meanwhile Peter gets a bigger role here and he continues trying to be as unlikable as possible too. He antagonizes Tris quite a bit, but since she is such a quality character she shuts that down real quick. Not only does she completely overwhelm him in combat, but she scares him enough where you know he won’t try picking another fair fight with her again. An extra second and he would have been down for the count. Peter comes across as fairly petty though since most of his latter scenes seem to be direct retaliation against her. He never seemed like a trust worthy ally though so it’s not like this is surprising.

If you think about it there are probably more antagonists than heroes in this film. You’ve also got Eric who returns again and is still the villain who appears the most. While he isn’t the best fighter compared to the others, he usually has some kind of advantage to help him. The mind control serums and knock out gas still work as well as ever and he’s always got a gun. His fight with Four goes as you would expect though and was handled really well. It definitely made Four look good. Jeanine is still a solid villain, but she does appear to have lost a lot of her intelligence here. She’s very obvious about how she doesn’t care for her lackeys and that’s not a good idea when you put one of them in charge of your entire security system. At least pretend to be looking out for that guy or just destroy him otherwise. That felt like the beginning of the end for her.

Four and Tris are pretty consistent with their first appearance. Four still makes it clear that he’s here to protect Tris first and save the world second. I’m glad that he doesn’t hesitate in heading over to save Tris and just leaves the compound. He has the right priorities there. While I’m definitely still not with the romance now that it’s already a thing it’s naturally less forced than in the first film. It’s more or less just how things are so it’s not really a matter of questioning its inclusion now. Tris goes for the classic action star haircut here which seems to happen to most protagonists at some point or other. I’ll definitely miss the more Metroid esque look, but it’s not like it changes her personality. She’s still just as tough as always. Just as she was ruthless in combat during the first film she definitely doesn’t hesitate here and continues to be one of the better heroines. She definitely goes through a lot here since her allies keep dying left and right. That’s why it’s tough being the toughest person in the room since its inevitable that you’ll see some allies get taken down along the way.

Christina gets less of a role here than in the first film. She spends a lot of it being fairly upset, but ultimately handles it well. It’s hard to blame her since being directly lied to is never any fun, but at the end of the day she still helped out when necessary and didn’t try to get revenge on Tris or anything like that. I don’t think you could ask for a better reaction to her situation. Four’s parents show up and his Dad is still pretty bad. He’s the kind of character who absolutely can’t be redeemed at this point and I think the film knows it. He half heartedly attempts to bridge the gap to no success. The Mom in comparison doesn’t seem nearly as guilty. Of course leaving Four wasn’t the right call and she should have found a way to take him, but at least she wasn’t actively being a villain. The film is definitely hinting that she is a dangerous character though so it’ll be interesting to see what she does in the third movie.

All of the strengths from the first film carry over to this one. The writing is pretty solid and the core characters are good. We get a lot of nice action scenes which definitely hold up and the pacing is solid. The film doesn’t drag on and it avoids making any big mistakes. It does have more emotional moments than the first film which do slow the film down to an extent, but I don’t think it’s overplayed. You do feel bad for the random dude who shows up to talk to Tris when she’s down though since you know that he’s dead right away. This is the kind of film where you just know that the no names are doomed as soon as they start to talk. Any divergent who isn’t Four or Tris is also typically doomed since none of them are all that smart. If you notice that everyone is acting evil and mind controlled you should probably pretend to be under the spell too instead of wandering around looking confused. One of the kids also doesn’t look good since she disobeys orders, but as she’s a kid you can’t be quite as harsh I suppose.

The dream sequences for the trials are still pretty fun. We get quite a few of them and Tris gets to show her determination each time. Even when there’s one simulation that is obviously not the real world the film handles it pretty well so people who are new to the genre could potentially fall for it. Tris also gets random nightmares throughout the film. These aren’t quite as interesting visually or even in context, but it does show up the events are messing Tris up. In such a hopeless world I imagine that most of the characters are pretty messed up by now. The best of the training sequences is definitely Tris trying to save her mother from a burning building. It depicts her determination pretty well and I still remember seeing that part in a trailer which is what made the series look interesting in the first place.

Of course the best sequence in the movie is also in the dream world. You can call it the final test/sequence, but basically Tris has to fight herself in the simulation. The effects here are awesome and it’s like a fight out of Man of Steel. You can feel the intensity behind every hit and by the end of the match you are definitely fully on board with that being the definitive scene. I’d like to have more fights like that, but realistically it isn’t likely. I’m just glad they were able to put in such a cool fight.

Overall, Insurgent continues to keep the series on track. Again, I do think the third film may have a tough time since I feel like the upcoming plot wouldn’t be as interesting, but there are countless ways the movie can go from here so I suppose I can’t really say that with any confidence. I’ll go into the next movie with an open mind ready to see what they’ve got in store. While you could probably watch this film and understand everything without the first it’s definitely the kind of trilogy where you are meant to watch it in order. More so than most of the other trilogies these 2 films at least feel like one big story that you’ll want to watch almost back to back for the maximum experience.

Overall 7/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Kuroko’s Basketball: Extra Game Review


Now that I finished the Kuroko’s Basketball manga it was time to take a look at the quick sequel that came out. As the title suggests, it is about one last game that the main characters were involved in. The plot is definitely basic, but really the ultimate plot for a series like this. It’s a nice excuse to bring back all of the big characters for their ultimate scrimmage against the toughest opponents imaginable. It’s definitely an excellent read that I highly recommend.

The story takes place after the main series. A team from America known as Jabberwock has arrives for a quick scrimmage game against one of the Japanese teams. Jabberwock crushes them pretty badly though and goes out of their way to humiliate the players while also insulting all of Japan. One of the coaches takes this personally and challenges them to a rematch in a week to prove that Japan can hold their own. He says that he’ll destroy himself if they lose. The Jabberwock team is excited to hear this and since they want Japan to feel inferior to America they accept the terms. This is their chance to crush Japan’s spirit and enthusiasm in Basketball in one shot. The coach is forced to call in the full team of the Miracle Generation in order to stop these guys. Can even Japan’s best take down this team?

That’s what I call a hype story. Up til now in the series we never got to see the Miracle Generation really get to team up. It wouldn’t have made sense within the story after all. In this one though it’s the perfect reason to have them join forces. It also solidifies Jabberwock as a true threat since the best players we had seen in the series up til now are also acknowledging that this won’t be an easy fight. The idea of “There’s always someone stronger” is pretty much the foundation for these action titles so it’s the perfect way to do a sequel manga. Naturally as it is only 2 volumes there isn’t a lot of time for much else and the game basically takes up the entire series but that’s fine with me. Everyone gets their moment.

Surprisingly Kuroko and Kagami are pretty quiet in this one. Extra Game is more about the other members of the Miracle Generation and the two heroes already got to have their fun in the main series. Kuroko’s invisible passes are rendered useless almost immediately and Kagami’s jumping and power are surpassed by Silver pretty quickly. Not to say that Kagami and Kuroko are pointless here as they still hold the other members back, but this is definitely not their show anymore.

Kise probably looks the best from the group if you ask me. He’s able to improve his copy ability even further and this continues the subplot of him having the most potential from the Generation members. He had already been improving a lot towards the end of the first series so it was good to see him go even further here. Then Akashi also gets to help out a lot. His eyes are still as deadly as ever and he also gets a bit power up. Gold is sort of like a rival to him so they go at it quite a lot. Akashi was a solid antagonist and also makes for a fun ally.

Then you’ve got Aomine who is clutch as always. His whole thing used to be that he was the best 1 on 1 player so since Gold and Silver seem to outrank him that does hurt his performance a bit. It’s just hard to match their power and hax, but he does his best. Aomine is finally able to use Level 2 of the Zone for the first time so that does help him up his game. He’s still my favorite character regardless and has a lot of hype moments here. While Midorima may not be able to keep up with the others in terms of agility or dribbling his 3 point shots are still super handy. You just can’t block his shots when he is so far back. If someone counts how many points each player scored I wouldn’t be surprised if he came in first. There’s one point in the story where he lands a bunch of 3 point shots back to back.

Murasakbiara probably gets the least amount of hype moments in comparison. He’s the strong guy, but isn’t as strong as Silver which makes things tough for him. Still, he does remember his training and takes his game to the next level. It’s a team effort so taking away any of the members would have made this a losing battle. That’s why at the end of the day Silver and Gold were still so impressive. It was basically just those 2 taking on the whole team from the start. The author goes out of his way to make them as unlikable as possible though. So they make for solid enemies to be defeated, but I wouldn’t call them good characters.

Silver is basically just a walking pile of vices. He loves drinking and is constantly yelling about something. He can’t stand any of the Japanese players and also plays dirty when he is starting to lose. His talents are definitely the real deal, but the guy doesn’t have heart. Then you’ve got Gold who is the villain leader. His stats are nowhere near that of Silver’s but his extra abilities help to make up for that. His eyes for example are pretty overpowered. Being able to see the future and such in a basketball game seems really hard to beat if you ask me.

The art here is definitely still really solid. It’s definitely as good as the main series. It’s got a lot of polish and you feel all of the pivotal moments in the game. This mini series will fly by and I basically read it all in one sitting. It’s just great fun and feels like something that was basically made to be a movie. It’s like the new Broly film or most Shounen films in general. It’s got a quick setup and then a large battle to keep you right in the thick of things. It’s a winning formula and is definitely the ideal way to make a quick sequel. As a result there isn’t a whole lot to say besides talking about what a great game it was. It’s just a great end to what I’d consider to be a great franchise. The games don’t get much more high level than seeing all of the best players duke it out right?


Overall, Extra Game delivers on showing us more of the Miracle Generation. I did mention in the original series that it would have been nice to have seen the full Miracle Generation fight a little more and that’s exactly what we got here so I was definitely a satisfied customer. As I mentioned Kagami and Kuroko didn’t get to do much, but it makes sense. Kuroko’s tactics have already been shown not to work too well on strong opponents. Kagami is a little more surprising since he is basically a Miracle Generation member by the end of the series, but I suppose he still isn’t quite there. Maybe this game is the true passing of the torch moment for him. I definitely recommend checking this series out when you’ve got a chance.

Overall 8/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Divergent Review


I remember seeing the trailer to the second film in this series many years ago. It was a pretty solid one and definitely gave the series a more interesting vibe to me than the competitors like Hunger Games. Still, now that I’ve finally seen it, does the movie live up to the hype? I do think it’s a pretty fun movie, but nothing particularly special. There’s enough here to keep you marching towards the sequel.

The film introduces us to a world where people are divided into sub categories based on a test result and then their own choice via blood oath. There are a handful of titles in the world, but the one that looks the most enjoyable to the main character Tris is the battle faction Dauntless. She undergoes the test, but the result gets glitched out and she is told to keep this a secret. Tris doesn’t like the way this is going, but it does mean that she can effectively choose whatever faction she wants. She naturally chooses Dauntless and after a harsh initiation barely manages to get in. She finds out that she is what they call a “Divergent” who is smarter and more emotional than the average human. Unfortunately the government doesn’t seem to like divergents so she will have to keep this under wraps. It’s a lot of pressure but she’ll just have to keep this in mind as she also struggles to stay in Dauntless as the commander decides to keep on weeding out the lowest ranking members.

It’s a pretty interesting future setup. Naturally you’ll have a lot of questions about how humanity arrived at this point, but the past doesn’t have to be explained all that much as you can just take this at face value. Of course you can probably anticipate some of the upcoming twists relating to the world structure as a result. In general I like the world that’s built here. It’s a lot more interesting than both Maze Runner and the Hunger Games since we actually have some future tech here and you can tell that we’re still in the future. I think it defeats the purpose of a future setting to have everything look really old so Divergent doesn’t fall into this trap.

It’s also got a reasonable cast. I like Tris wayyyyyyyy more than Katniss or that guy from Maze Runner. A point in her favor is that she is quick to adapt to what’s going on rather than panicking. In her first moments as Dauntless she is told to jump off a building, jump off a train, climb a tower, and do all kinds of crazy stuff. She just gets it all done without complaint. Now this doesn’t mean that Tris is completely fearless, she admits as much during the film, but she always puts on a brave face which is important. You have to act the part if you want to eventually live it out. Tris calls several characters’ bluffs and steps up to protect her friends when they’re about to get diced. She’s just a great lead and does a good job of carrying the film.

As for the main guy, Four is fairly good. He’s a solid fighter and doesn’t approve of Eric’s harsh methods of teaching the recruits. However, he doesn’t do anything to stop Eric so I can’t give him all that much credit yet. He likes Tris so he coaches her and helps the lead out, but he doesn’t do that for anyone else. Towards the end of the film he gets better at doing his own thing though. One thing that may be a bit overdone is how many times he grabs Tris to turn her around when she’s trying to leave. It’s borderline becoming a running gag by the end of the film and it even carries into the next installment. I guess he really needs eye contact when talking to her. Four’s definitely fairly gruff and mean to everyone who isn’t Tris but he’s still solid overall.

The other characters start to get a little dicey. You’ve got Eric who’s the commander of the Dauntless. He’s obviously corrupt from the start and is happy to murder his fellow comrades. In this grim world where everyone’s mean and thinks about themselves you’d think that someone would have rebelled by now. The guy has quite a lot of control and seems to be pretty much untouchable. Then you’ve got Al who’s pretty nervous the whole film and cracks by the end. He’s definitely a terrible character. Tris’ brother is pretty annoying as well as he is quick to ditch Tris and everyone else for his new job. The guy has a very inflated ego and is brainwashed with ease.

Christina is a good ally at least. She goes out of her way to help make Tris feel welcome in the beginning. She does make some dicey decisions to antagonize Eric and Four without a plan though. It’s played off like she doesn’t know better, but by that point I feel like she should. Then you’ve got the antagonistic Peter. It’s actually pretty hard to get a bead on the guy since sometimes he’ll seem like a friend who just goes a little too far with his jokes while in other scenes he seems downright villainous. He does add some personality to the cast though and is a good addition. Finally you’ve got leader of the government, Jeanine. She makes sure that everyone stays in their lane and definitely has big plans. She’s fairly generic, but handled pretty well. It’s nothing that you haven’t seen well, but the writers did handle her character with care so it’s not like she’s just going through the motions.

I definitely have to give the film a thumbs up for the writing. I’m not going to say that it was exceptional, but it did take shots at something that a lot of films let slide. Lets go back and imagine this scenario. You’ve just been selected to join the meanest, most corrupt squad in the land. You’ve just seen as Four and Eric have yelled, bullied, and beat up anyone who dares challenge them. Are you going to continue to antagonize them? Well, a lot of the characters would say yes to that. In their defense, you usually get away with making sarcastic remarks in most other films. Even the mean characters will just shoot you a glare for doing that. Not so in this film. One character remarks later on in the film that the guns look pretty weak so naturally Eric shoots her to prove that it wasn’t. Another one asks Eric if she can give up even after he told them numerous times not to give up or bad things would happen. He ends up throwing her over a cliff. Another guy says he won’t go pick up his dagger so Eric uses him as live dagger throwing practice.

It feels like these characters just never learn. They come across as extremely slow on the uptake. It’s handled pretty realistically with the consequences for this though as naturally the villains won’t let it slide. A lot of the film is fairly dark and mean spirited like this as being in Dauntless is definitely portrayed as being a life threatening situation. Still, the film never goes too far with it so it doesn’t actually hurt the film.

One weakness the movie does have is the inevitable romance between Tris and Four though. It really is just there to fill in all the usual tropes, but it all happens very fast and there’s no real reason for it. Four basically did save Tris’ life multiple times so it’s not unreasonable that she would fall for him, but at the same time with the stakes so high it’s not really the right time or place for it. It also eats up valuable time that could be used for other aspects of the movie. Most of the movie is well paced, but it gets a little rushed by the ending. I actually thought the film was going to end before the raid on the enemy base, but the movie actually managed to squeeze it in.

So we’re introduced to a whole new group of characters who are part of a resistance and they want to break into the villain stronghold. You would expect that this would be a very long sequence of planning and such, but the heroes basically just walk right in. To put this in perspective, they even get the main villain at gun point. If they shoot her then the whole trilogy is basically over in an instant. For reasons that elude me they decide to spare her. Sure, it’s the hero move, but that isn’t really one of their top priorities most of the time and they’re trying to win a war right? Well, that catches up to them in the sequel. It’s a fun climax that actually is pretty hype, but it all just happens so fast.

While we don’t see them much, Tris’ parents were decent. The dad didn’t get to do a whole lot, but the Mom had some pivotal moments and definitely made a difference. She also reminded Tris to stay strong and the heroine did good when confronted with one of her old allies. You can’t just knock out mind control so easily so she made the right call in ending the fight in a single shot. Naturally going for a non fatal wound would be ideal, but it is definitely tough to aim like that in close quarters. The fight scenes throughout the movie are really solid. The hand to hand is on point and even the blaster battles look good and aren’t dragged out.

Overall, Divergent is a pretty fun film. It’s actually surprising how solid it is, I wasn’t expecting it to be all that good. You may have to suspend some disbelief for how dangerously the Dauntless like to live though. They let Tris ride down a roller coaster where there are at least half a dozen spots where you can die if you don’t move at just the right moment. I feel like a lot of trainees would have died in those spots and there’s really no reason to do such things. There shouldn’t be many people left alive in that faction if they continue like this. Still, it’s a solid way to start the series and it’s just a lot more exciting than you would expect at first. It actually lives up to the thriller genre and at this point it’s looking like the series to beat as far as the YA movies based on books go. I’ll have a review up for the sequel soon.

Overall 7/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Golden Sun Review


It’s time to look at a fairly legendary RPG from back in the day. While Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest tend to have most of the popularity right now, Golden Sun used to be pretty big back in its day. It’s only got 3 games, but the series still got quite a lot of fans. I’ve had this game on the back burner for an extremely long time so it’s good to finally be able to jump in and experience the story in all its glory. It reminds me why I love the RPG genre. Fighting games will ultimately still reclaim the top spot, but RPGs are always fun to play with. It’s partially because the idea of grinding your stats up is always a good one and the games last long enough for you to really enjoy the characters.

So in this world there exists a few select people who are called Adepts. They are able to harness elemental powers like fire and water to increase their strength or to be used as projectiles. Some already had these abilities while others are triggered once a meteor storm occurs. There is a group of enemies who want to light all 4 of the lighthouses. Isaac and the other heroes don’t exactly know why they want to do this, but they can’t allow the villains to do as they please. They decide to stop them, but along the journey they end up finding out that there is more to their plan than meets the eye. Is stopping them from lighting the lighthouses really the best move?

The game is fairly long and it took me around 22 hours to beat it. This is partially due to how big the map is, but also how difficult the enemies get. Golden Sun’s no joke and the difficulty really spikes towards the second half of the game. Suddenly the enemies are able to take you out in a few hits and that’s just the minions. The bosses basically one turn KO you so you need to level up a lot if you want to beat them. I got everyone up to Level 30 and that made the battle pretty manageable. I think if you want it to be a little calmer getting up to level 32 would probably be a good bet. Also, a big part of the game revolves around the Djinn so you are going to want to grab those guys.

There are 28 of them in the game and they are like power sources that allow you to summon. There are 4 types and 7 per type. The strongest summon of each type is worth 4 orbs so you can summon 4, 4 level summons in one match and then 4 level 3s. I only got 25/28 of the Djinn, but I can guarantee that without them I would not have been able to beat the final boss. Initially I didn’t go after them and even avoided obtaining them unless they were directly in my way. I figured that they weren’t all that important, but they are crucial. Aside from the summoning just owning the Djinn increases all of your stats as if you got multiple level ups. So once you have 25 you’re way stronger than if you didn’t have them. For example one of my characters went from having 200HP to over 500 with them equipped. I can’t stress enough just how useful these guys are.

Golden Sun is definitely an RPG with a pretty intricate gameplay system. The turn based combat is pretty much the same as always, but then you’ve got the element system. This also ties into the Djinn. Depending on which ones you’ve got equipped and your element ratio, your attacks per character will be different as well. Likewise they will also change depending on if you have your Djinn set or on standby. There’s a whole lot to consider as a result and it does make you have to re-think how you want them arranged on the board for each fight. You’ll want to think over every fight very carefully. Even by the end of the game I can’t say that I really understand the system perfectly. It’s also hard to tell which attacks are best to use since the type advantage system isn’t always obvious. By the end of the game using a normal attack is typically better than using almost any of the magical abilities which is pretty interesting.

The game definitely holds up quite well with the visuals. There’s a lot of nice backgrounds here and the game even gets a nice 3D effect during the credits. The attacks are all a lot of fun to look at and in general everything is pretty bright. Then the game also has a dynamite soundtrack. There are a lot of great themes to listen to here that range from being fairly heroic to setting up a moody atmosphere. It’s all exactly what you want to see here. Golden Sun just holds up well in every area. There is almost nothing to dislike about the game.

While the story may not be quite as exciting as some other RPGs, I did like it overall. You can tell that there’s more to this story than your usual heroes vs villains story. The villains definitely have their own reasons for doing things and don’t seem to be inherently evil. Of course there are many villains who believe they are the hero, but since the heroes don’t know what will happen if the lighthouses are activated, it’s possible that it is the right thing to do. Of course, it would be easy to tell the heroes this, but none of the villains ever feel like talking. The heroes also get lucky quite often as the villains could have easily won on a number of occasions. They just prefer to split up rather than fight as a team.

Isaac doesn’t really have a personality in this game as he is just the player. Garet is a good ally who basically acts as the leader of the team even if he is a bit impulsive. Mia’s a solid medic who joins on later. We don’t get a whole lot of time to develop her personality but she seems nice. Then you’ve got the young mage who seems really nice even if lacking in experience. The childhood friends are all suspect though with how they don’t tell the heroes much. They basically miss the entire game as they just get a few scenes after being kidnapped, but they seem to be taking it in stride. It seems like the villains ultimately start to convert everyone.

The game ends with quite a lot of loose ends for the sequel. While there are probably one or two that you could finish through side quests, there are definitely some that can’t be. There’s a scene after the credits for example which shows that the adventure isn’t quite over yet. It makes sense since there’s a big villain who doesn’t show up in the climax. Also, in general it just doesn’t feel like a conclusive ending because there are more lighthouses left and more villains so the heroes can’t rest easy now. As I already own the sequel you can bet that I’ll be jumping on that one pretty soon.

If there’s anything that’s a bit iffy here, it’s that the game isn’t always clear on where to go next. It actually has a map with town labels on it so that’s a big upgrade from something like Final Fantasy VII, but at the same time there are usually multiple routes to choose so you end up wasting a lot of time looking for the right one. The good news is that it gives you more time to level up though. Once you’ve gotten strong enough then you can also just flee the battles, but it takes quite a while to get to that level. Another thing I do like is that if you die you are taken back to the temple, but don’t lose any data. It costs money to revive your teammates, but that’s a fair price. A lot of little things like that help the game overall because it takes away the irritating nature of a game over. Dying and being forced to restart the area is very fair if you ask me.

Overall, Golden Sun is definitely an excellent RPG and deserves to be known as one of the greats. It’s aged really well and made for a very fun 20+ hour experience. I look forward to seeing how the sequel goes since it should feel pretty similar. I’m also ready for Isaac to talk since that would be awesome, but even if he doesn’t I’m sure the story is going to be really good. If you haven’t played this game yet then I highly recommend changing that. It’s just a great all around title with no real weaknesses. You’ll be engaged from start to finish even if you might end up with a slight headache from how complex the gameplay mechanics are. The important thing is that you’ll feel a sense of pride and accomplishment because this is definitely one of the tougher RPG titles out there.

Overall 8/10

Battles, Roadblock (Decepticon) Battles, Splinter (1980s) Battles

Splinter (1980s) vs Roadblock (Decepticon)




Suggested by Sonic It’s time for a Hasbro battle. This one’s pretty tricky since Splinter hasn’t gotten many power ups over the years. He has a lot of good hand to hand techniques and he’s quick so he can definitely put up a good fight. Roadblock is strong and has good blasters, but he is definitely lacking in speed as well. At the end of the day I’ve got to go with him to win this match though since I think Splinter will have a real difficult time dealing any meaningful damage here. Roadblock (Decepticon) wins.