Batman’66 Volume 5 Review

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It’s been a real pleasure reading the Batman’66 comics. They’ve all been really fun to read and this is a period in Batman’s career that deserved the extra exposure. Unfortunately, this is the final volume of the main series. It had a really good run to last this long, but it’s all over now. It ended on a pretty high note with this volume though and at least I still have 3 more crossovers to read. Until those are done, I can take solace in the fact that there is more Adam West to come.

Most of the issues here have 2 adventures so the collection is able to fit in quite a lot. As such I won’t go into all of the adventures, but I’ll at least touch on most of them. The first story is more of a short than anything else as we see a few kids dress up on Halloween and try to emulate the Dynamic Duo. They stand up to bullies and give everyone a fair shake. They may not get the candy in the end, but Batman and Robin are nice enough to make it up to them. As Batman points out, being a nice person is its own reward, but it’s still fun to receive some candy. It’s a nice little story that perfectly captures Batman’s character. His heroic nature is why he’s such a great character here.

In a more intense story, Solomon Grundy shows up. He is nigh invulnerable so the heroes have a little trouble with him. Fortunately, Batman is prepared for all contingencies and knows that Grundy can’t really handle a good zap. Being alive, albeit temporarily, was just too much for his system to get used too. That’s why it’s tough being an undead fighter sometimes. What do you do about such a thing? As for the Clayface story that followed. The heroes just confuse him quite a bit. The climax may have been a bit weak there as I don’t see Clayface being fooled so easily, but as long as it gets him out of their hair. He was pretty dangerous so it’s fortunate that they stopped him.

One of the more entertaining stories was when all of Gotham’s biggest villains got together and decided to improve their PR. Fortunately, Barbara Gordon worked there so she tricks them into bickering with each other until the cops can come to arrest them. Remember the good ole days when the cops could actually take down foes like the Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, and the Riddler? This was definitely back in the days where they got a lot of hype like this. The stories aren’t meant to be taken too seriously so don’t overthink this. Just roll with it and remember that when you’re creating a name for a company, you should have a neutral initial to start it off.

Bane finally made his debut in another comic and even had the famous scene where he breaks Batman’s back. Of course this Dark Knight thought ahead and had a batarang near his back which absorbed the impact and saved him from being crippled. It was certainly a fortunate event and as Batman always points out, it’s best to be prepared for all eventualities. It was certainly a good motto to live by this time. Bane was a wrestler here which makes sense as it gives him a good reason to be so formidable. He ends up getting overwhelmed by sheer numbers in the end, but I definitely liked his portrayal. He was certainly a nice threat and maybe the strongest Batman villain in the series. At least, the strongest human.

After a quick battle with Killer Croc, a villain decided to have a big team up. She’s known as the Mom or something like that. She frees a bunch of villains and gives the heroes so much trouble that they let her share a cell with her kids. It’s one of the few times Batman compromises with the villains so that’s quite a feat in itself. Still, he makes a nice speech to help us realize that it actually was the right choice in the end. It was a pretty fun comic and I’m always up for villain team ups.

The team ups kept coming in the last two adventures. In one, Catwoman showed up to help the heroes stop Solomon Grundy and Killer Croc. She apparently had not been using her full strength until now so the heroes were pretty surprised. Of course, Batman admitted that he had been holding back against her as well. It was interesting to see her on the same side as Batman for once although you can’t really imagine it lasting. The final issue was everything you could want in a finale. All of the villains team up again, but Riddler rats them out so Batman takes em all down. It was a pretty huge ensemble of villains so for Batman to take them all down was most impressive. Slow and steady wins the race after all, just pick off a few of them and keep it moving. Eventually you’ll have am all down. The comic also had a guest star for the heroes as Batgirl showed up to lend a helping hand. The only big character to not appear was Aunt Harriett. I forget if that was her actual name, but the nice little lady that always tried to find out Batman’s secret identity. It would have been fun to have had her show up.

The Batman issues have always been pretty fun and played the humor out pretty well. This volume is no exception as the characters unleash epic one liner after one liner. It’s definitely my kind of humor as the heroes are so ultra heroic, but don’t seem to notice. They just act natural about it and there’s no annoying character constantly getting shocked about this or pointing out how crazy it is. It’s just the norm in this fair city and even the police wonder what they would do without the duo. The setting is just perfect and it always makes me tempted to go watch the TV show. I can see why this was such a big success back in the day.

The art is also pretty solid as you’d expect. The characters are all looking pretty sharp and the backgrounds are pretty good. The comic does a good job of making everyone look like their older show appearances. The art is always easy to read so you can really appreciate what is happening. Mix that in with the excellent writing and you just have a really good recipe for success. It’s why the collection is such a blast to read through. It’s just got everything you could want in a comic.

Overall, You probably know what to expect from a Batman’66 comic by now. It’s more or less the same as the previous collections and that’s a good thing. Don’t fix what isn’t broken right? It’s a pretty solid rule that I stand by and while taking risks can pay off…it is called a risk for a reason. The issues did also have some more outlandish foes like Clayface and Solomon Grundy which was interesting to see in this setting. I’m definitely looking forward to the crossover with Wonder Woman as well since that is bound to be a blast and she is certainly a lot more Super than most of the characters they have to deal with. If you’ve somehow never read a Batman’66 comic before and don’t understand what all the fuss is about, it’s time for you to start with this one!

Overall 8/10

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Why Sonic Forces is going to be better than Mario Odyssey

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Right now the vast majority of gamers seem to think Mario Odyssey will not only defeat Sonic Forces, but that it could be the best game of the year. I’m a pretty big fan of the Super Mario series as well and think Odyssey looks great, but I think we’re counting out Sonic Forces a little too soon. In fact, I think it’s going to beat Mario Odyssey rather easily and by the time you finish reading this article, you’ll think so as well. I’m going to tackle every aspect of both games and show you point by point why Sonic wins. For some background for those who are unaware, both games are coming out later this year and supposedly it may be within a week of each other. Odyssey is getting a lot of hype because it’s quite possibly the most ambitious Mario game since 64. It’s going to have a bunch of new features and Mario will finally be in a cool city setting. Sonic Forces is getting a lot of hype because we are finally in the pre Sonic Colors days with the epic plots and old characters returning. With the background out of the way, lets dive into this breakdown.

STORY
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This one’s pretty obvious. Sonic Forces destroys Odyssey here as we have a new villain called Infinite who has assembled all of the greatest Sonic villains from the previous games. Chaos, Metal Sonic, Shadow, etc. They’re back to rain some terror on the heroes. Sonic’s going to have to team up with Silver, Classic Sonic, and many more to hope to combat him. I’ve seen the trailer over 20 times by now and it just never gets old. This has the potential to be one of the greatest Sonic stories of all time and it feels like the big climax of the Adventure series. Odyssey is busy with the classic Peach getting kidnapped scenario. I honestly don’t see much else happening in the game. Maybe DK will show up or something but my hopes are honestly very low. I dare Nintendo to raise the bar and prove me wrong. Imagine a Mario game where a new villain brings in Bowser, King Boo, Geno, Shadow Mario, and other big Mario opponents. That would be pretty awesome.

SOUNDTRACK
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This one is probably going to be the most controversial. Granted, Mario games always have killer soundtracks and I’m sure this one will be really solid as well. When the main theme for the game came out, it really took over the internet. Then Sonic Forces brought out the Infinite theme and completely blasted any trace of Odyssey off the map. The difference in sound level is just uncanny. This is just the tip of the iceberg as well and considering all of the intense levels in Sonic Forces, the overall soundtrack is going to be miles apart. Odyssey’s themes are soothing, Forces themes are epic.

GRAPHICS
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This one is also pretty close. Mario Odyssey is clearly going to look good. The level environments are really solid and the trailer looks sharp. It’s the Mario game that we’ve been waiting for and they spared no expense. What hurts the game a little is that it can’t make use of its graphics because there are no cool villains or powerful energy effects to show off. Forces already has some really cool levels and designs. The animation really gets to shine here and it also helps that its on the PS4. This is another area where Forces wins and sure, graphics don’t matter too much when you’re already at this level but every bit certainly helps.

LENGTH
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All right, here’s an area where Mario actually wins. While the actual campaign lengths will likely be similar, Mario has always exceled in its replay value. It’s almost undeniable that Odyssey will give you more bang for your buck. Collecting everything and unlocking all of the bonuses in Odyssey will take time. You’ll also probably just have fun exploring the vast hub world and I can see this being a game that you play for weeks and weeks. That’s not to say that Sonic Forces is short. Grabbing all of the trophies will likely be difficult and time consuming as well. That being said, unless there is a local multiplayer that is on par with Sonic Adventure 2 Battle, I don’t see it beating Odyssey. It’ll have to hold a loss here.

GAMEPLAY
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Okay, the Mario picture isn’t from the actual game, but if it was real then this whole paragraph would probably be wrong. After all riding a motorcycle would be amazing.
We’ve come to the biggest and most important part of the game now. The gameplay. So, Odyssey’s gameplay is tried and true. It’s going to be incredibly smooth with so many playtesters that I expect there will be very few glitches if any. The jumping on the hat gimmick does look like it’ll slow the game down somewhat, but I have a feeling that it’ll be more fun than it looks. Sonic Forces meanwhile is back to the super fast Sonic gameplay that I’ve missed with the slower classic levels to give you a change of pace. There are also the custom levels which will work like Sonic Boom. While the latter may not help the game, the modern Sonic levels are sure to be some of the most fun ones yet. I’m afraid that there really isn’t much Mario can do to combat it. I love moving at a quick speed and it’s like how I prefer rushdown tactics in Super Smash. Just keep the action coming and I’ll let my reaction times handle the rest. I’ve said this a few times, but the point still stands. Mario will be peaceful and calming which is awesome in its own right, but Sonic Forces will be exhilarating and action packed throughout. The gameplay will really get your adrenaline pumping.

GIMMICKS
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Both games have some gimmicks. Mario’s will be the constant transforming and throwing the hat around. For Forces, it’s the Deviant art character you’ll be creating as you swing around. In this case, I think Odyssey probably has the edge. From what I’ve seen of the original character, his levels look all right, but I just don’t think they add anything to the game. The transformations in Odyssey actually look really fun though. While everyone is looking forward to turning into a dinosaur, I personally can’t wait for the Bullet Bill. Being able to fly and being almost indestructible? Count me in! I’m sure they’ll do something to balance the game or else you could cheese a bunch of levels, but the game will likely do it in a balanced/organic way where you can still have a blast. Just please give me a flying transformation in the hub world, flying through New Donk City will be a blast!

VERDICT Sonic Forces wins. I never like ties so you can certainly bet that I wasn’t going to be half hearted here to close out the editorial. As the title clearly states, I think Sonic Forces is going to be the better game than Odyssey. Furthermore, I don’t think it’s going to be all that close. At the same time, I do think both games will be a lot of fun. Honestly I may even give both games a 9/10. The main difference is that I’m going to be super invested in Sonic Forces. A good plot really does go a long way and since Forces should also have the edge in gameplay, that’s just Game Set and Match. I’ll be picking up Sonic Forces Day 1 while I can’t guarantee the same for Odyssey. After all, I still don’t even own a Switch. Sonic Forces is the game that I’ve been looking forward to for years. Adventure 2 Battle is still the best with Sonic 2006 being second, but I could definitely see this game being 3rd. Even if it loses to Shadow and only gets 4th, that will still be really impressive. I’m hoping it sells well so we can get more games like this one. It’s definitely Game of the Year material. The fact that Mario Odyssey could beat it in some areas is impressive though and the game should take solace in that fact. It just can’t help overcome one big thing. At the end of the day…Sonic is just cooler than Mario.
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Fairy Girls Review

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It’s time for another Fairy Tail spinoff. Unfortunately this is the worst of the spinoffs and is basically as bad as the main series. If anything it’s worse because we don’t have any of the hype fights of good plot lines to follow as this series is completely centered around the fanservice. It’s only 4 volumes long but since every chapter can have a lot of these brutal moments, the series goes downhill very quickly.

The crazy thing is that the first volume wasn’t half bad. I mean, it wasn’t good, but it wasn’t terrible either. The series kept itself in check and had some decent stories. After that the series decided to go off the deep end as especially in volumes 3 and 4 the series didn’t even bother to try and have a plot. There’s just nothing to really like about the series. It barely matters by this point, but there isn’t even a plot. There are just a bunch of self contained stories each chapter where the heroes encounter a bunch of crazy situations where they must get humiliated.

Lets check out a few of the plots for lols. In one story, a bunch of villains decide to dress up as the Fairy Girl members to beat people up and soil their good name. The heroes promptly show up to beat them black and blue. There’s also a longer story arc where a king is attacked by a giant teddy bear so the heroes show up to beat him up. The fight is actually a little longer this time and the bear is actually formidable. As you might have guessed, these stories were from the first volume which is why they actually sound semi decent. At least there were actually villains with special abilities who could be a bit of a threat.

When we get to the later volumes we get chapters where the heroes have to infiltrate a school and pretend to be transfer students. One where Wendy has to go on a fake date with some random guy. Another one were they are all hypnotized by a villain. A story where they decide to become models for a little while, etc. The point of these stories is just to get them on tricky situations, that’s the only reason for them. It’s all just quite sad. The guys show up once in a while, but as you’d probably guess they are rarely ever helpful and just show up as glorified cameos.

I suppose the art is pretty decent. It’s not great or anything though and the characters definitely tend to be off model some times. The fights can be rather chaotic as well. The series couldn’t even score a clear win in this category. One positive for the series is that it’s only 4 volumes so you don’t have to endure it for too long. It’s an odd positive but I can live with it.

As for the negatives, well I don’t want to sound like too much of a broken record. The obvious negative is that there is fanservice on almost literally every page. Even the covers are in on the action and it’s just pretty sad the whole time. There was really nothing the series could do to save it after a while since the fanservice was just so extensive. Even the main series had more breaks from it than this one. In my head canon, I like to think that the series was cancelled which is why it’s only 4 volumes. Surely this manga couldn’t have been getting good ratings and reviews after this. People need at least some semblance of a plot and I think everyone can agree that the series had none.

There’s not really much else to talk about with the series. I’m almost at a loss for words here because since the series doesn’t have much of a plot, that takes away a big chunk of what I usually write for these reviews. There’s also not much to say about the characters because at the end of the day most of them act in almost the same way and are just extreme versions of their Fairy Tail selves. Erza is more naive than usual, Lucy lets herself get used by everyone in their crazy schemes, Wendy is intimidated by everyone else, etc. None of them are really likable characters and they barely even have personalities since they just go along with everything. It’d be nice if they could have instead just turned down all of the crazy plans and kept the series classy. At least Gray is always fun when he shows up once in a blue moon.

I suppose one thing to talk about is why there was such a glaring change between the first half of the series and the last. Why was the fanservice suddenly ramped up while the action vanished? I shudder to think about this possibility but maybe the series wasn’t doing too well so the author decided to take the easy way out? If so, then I really hope the strategy didn’t succeed as that would just be really sad. It’s hard to even remember the first two volumes since they were well over a year ago (Not that it would affect the score though) so I may be remembering them a little better than they actually were. Still, the difference is night and day so if you ever absolutely had to read this series, just stick to the first two volumes. At least they put up an effort to be good.

I’ve read just about all of the Fairy Tail spinoffs now so that’s pretty cool. I think I just have one more left which is about Gajeel. Maybe Jellal got one as well, I can’t remember though. I have a feeling that both of them will be quite a bit better than this one though. The spinoffs had actually had a pretty good track record up til now as Zero was quite good along with Ice Trails. The Wendy manga has also been pretty fun. It’s sad that the streak had to come to an end, but it was always sort of expected with this franchise.

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Overall, Fairy Girls is one of the worst manga titles of all time. The sooner we all move on from it the better. Black Bird is still worse even though there is less fanservice there, it gets way too suspect for my taste. As for comparing this series to the actual Fairy Tail, it gets very interesting. On one hand, the worst Fairy Tail moments are way worse than this one. The series can also get darker and has more torture moments. On the other hand, this series is just nonstop fanservice so even if the series is very light toned and a quick read…it’s just not a good read. I suppose in the end I’ll say that Fairy Tail is slightly better although they’re both so low that it barely matters at that point. I’d heavily recommend avoiding this series as best you can and reading just about anything else instead. Just go read Dragon Ball Z for the 100th time or check out something more obscure like Pichy Pichy Pitch. At least that title has heart.

Overall 1/10

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future Review

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Time for the next Layton game. This is the big one folks. We assemble all of the characters from the first two games and throw in the most fantastic plot yet for epic results. While I don’t really care for some of the final twists in the game, I can’t really go into detail or else it would spoil everything. Needless to say though, the series has always been very grounded in reality which is something to keep in mind for this game. I like to think about what could have been had the twist not occurred, but it is what it is. It’s still a fantastic game and the best Layton title.

The game starts off with the Prime Minister being kidnapped. Layton and Luke head over to investigate when they are told a fantastic story. The Minister has been taken 10 years into the future and they can go over there as well to find him. Layton is skeptical, but he always keeps an open mind about these things so he heads on over. In the future we meet up with Future Luke who is now a genius who can compete with Layton in battles of the mind. He lets them know that Layton has turned evil in the future and rules the city with an iron fist. His gang is in control and the cops are no more. Layton wants to meet his future self and save the Prime Minister, but it will require some brawn as well as brain this time.

It’s just a very ambitious game and the new setting was a lot of fun. All of the usual supporting cast members got to come to the future as well which made for some fun interactions. The cop and his bumbling sidekick are here, Flora is here, the main villain from the first two games is here, etc. Everyone is back which makes the game feel pretty grand and the old villain even gets a backstory. I think the game maybe tried a little too hard to make him a nice guy all of a sudden who Layton treats as a rival, but I can roll with it. The standout character here is definitely future Luke. He had the perfect voice for the character and we just haven’t seen a really overconfident genius until now. They were either all very polite like Layton or not the genius type. Luke was just a nice contrast and any scene he was in was pretty great. It’s no exaggeration to say that he is my favorite character in the series. He was just really awesome.

The rest of the characters are really good as well of course. Layton is still a great lead who always stays calm and collected no matter what happens. He just stays in control of the situation and always has a plan up his sleeve. Honestly, I could have done without his flashbacks, but I suppose this way we finally learned about his past. It wasn’t the most interesting of tales, but I guess it gave him his motivation for why he became a genius. Young Luke is the same as always. He’s pretty eager to help out with the cases and he is actually very smart, but still lags behind the others. He’s nice enough.

I definitely enjoyed the story and it certainly went by quickly. The game is of a pretty decent length as it will last you over 10 hours, but the pacing is just really solid. It’s also still funny how everyone will randomly challenge you with puzzles for everything so you’re always solving. It’s sort of like how everyone duels you in Yu-Gi-Oh. The more forced the situation the better. That being said, I did have some problems with the final twists. I’ll try to go about it in the least spoiler way possible. Just skip the next paragraph if you don’t want to learn about the twists.

So, the big twist is that there is no future and the characters were just taking an elevator which took them to the basement of a building where the main villain created an exact duplicate of London down to every building and street. I get that the whole future thing didn’t work since it wasn’t realistic…but is this any better? I just have a very hard time believing that a duplicate London could be built without anyone knowing about it. You’d need an incredible amount of resources and time to do it. It would take at least a decade and probably more. Not to mention that at least one worker would have likely squealed at some point. I feel like the entire story doesn’t work as a result and I could not wrap my head around the twist. It happened though, so I just gotta hold that L.

The graphics are pretty good as usual. It’s still very impressive how the game has complete animated cutscenes within it. The normal levels also look really good and the puzzles are pretty clear. The soundtrack is actually better than usual and it’s easily the best Layton soundtrack. Again, you can tell that the creators of the game really put their all into this one. It’s just very well done on all accounts.

If I had another minor gripe, it would be that the puzzles can be a little unclear at times. You just don’t know what they want you to do and that can naturally make them difficult to solve. On the other hand, the game is more generous with the hint coins than usual so you should usually have enough to help you out with the tougher ones. A lot of other puzzles you can also guess through as there are a limited number of answers so you’re bound to run into the right one sooner or later. All in all, it was a solid puzzle selection though. To help with replay value, you also have parrot minigames and a car one. I didn’t play around with those much, but they’re not bad. There’s also the extra puzzles that you didn’t solve during the story. If you count all of that, the game will definitely last you a long while.

Overall, This was a really fun game. Everything is smooth, from the interface to the controls in the puzzles. I’ve definitely enjoyed the Layton games a great deal and can’t wait to buy the next one. The next game is apparently the start of the prequel trilogy so for all intents and purposes, this was the big climax of the series. You should really play the first two games to appreciate this one more, but it’s pretty new gamer friendly so you’ll be able to get into it either way. I already own the next game so I’ll certainly be starting it soon after a quick break to play through LBX first. Imagine if all puzzle games were like the Layton series, I’d be playing them a lot more.

Overall 8/10

Jak and Daxter The Lost Frontier Review

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The first three Jak and Daxter games were pretty great so I was always looking forward to finally playing the 4th one. Unfortunately it is a noticeable step down in terms of quality and ends up feeling a lot more like a cash-in title than a main game. It’s a little disappointing although the game is still fairly decent. You’ll just keep being reminded of what it could have been.

The first warning bell is the extremely light plot. Jak and Keira are flying around when pirates shoot them down. They are led by Phoenix who apparently knows Keira from way back in the day. She decides to help him and Jak comes along for the ride even though Phoenix is really mean the whole time. One thing leads to another and the fate of the world depends on Jak stopping these other pirates from using Eco to power themselves up and destroying the world. Jak has his mastery over light and dark but his powers are still too strong so he could blow up the world if he tries anything. He’ll have to be satisfied with simply using hand to hand combat. As you can tell, the plot is extremely forgettable so I may have missed a few details and nothing happens.

The game is pretty short so you can beat it in a day or two. That being said, what will help stretch the game out is the terrible map and lack of clear directions. The symbols on the map aren’t labeled so you’ll rarely know where to go. I got lost a bunch of times and wasted quite a bit of effort not actually going anywhere. There are also not many levels, only 4-5 I think so you just keep on going back there over and over again. You can even feel how the game was originally for PSP and not PS2 because the game stops as an unskippable cutscene shows up every time a door opens. This happens for every door which really slows down the pace of the game. If it’s lagging, then you have to wait a little while for the door to open..great.

Technically the gameplay isn’t too bad. It’s the usual 3D shooter/brawler gameplay but with less of a budget than usual. Instead of the really smooth running and running from Ratchet and Clank or the older Jak games, you have a little trouble aiming and switching weapons. You only get 4 weapons I believe and while they’re all decently strong, none are amazing. Some of the enemies sure can last a bit. Fortunately you have ECO abilities like stopping time and can also upgrade everything in the menu. The combat is the game’s most impressive aspect even if it’s not amazing. I can at least get behind it and compared to even lower budgets like the M&Ms or the Ninjabread Man it is actually good.

There is naturally no real replay value to this game because if you beat the game you’ll just want to move on to a better title. If you actually do like the game then I think there are a bunch of collectibles to grab so that’s something. There’s also the Hero Mode that you’ll unlock which should really test your skills. Considering that you can get the game for a pretty cheap price, it’s all pretty reasonable if you ask me.

The graphics also aren’t bad. I’d say they look comparable to the original games. What I really can count as a big positive is the soundtrack. There are quite a few opera themes which are really good and at least make the boss fights feel more grand. It gives you something nice to listen to during some of the tougher segments of the game. Very few bits are legitimately tough as the quick time events are either too extreme or you basically have to die at least once and then allow the checkpoint to give you a quick boost by giving you back all of your health even though you’re further in.

I can’t stress enough how poorly designed some of the interactive moments are. For example, when you jump on the rocket as Daxter, you’ll end up getting shocked a lot even though you’re using L1 and R1. It’s just not good and was probably the most annoying part of the game. The background characters are also annoying with their constant yelling and you have to wonder why they were programmed to have such bad lines.

I think a big part of what hurt the game was how boring the story was. It’s quite telling that I found SpRay’s story to be more engaging. At least this one did have cutscenes though which I suppose should be an instant improvement. At the end of the day, the game is good but just barely. Watch out for the lackluster plot, the bad level designs, the broken compass, and the clunky combat system. As long as you can get past all of that, then you’ll have a good time. Also, try not to jump much since the game clearly did not know how to handle that. Even simple jumps forward end up being a lot tougher than they should be.

Overall, The Lost Frontier got lost for a reason. It’s kind of sad that the Jak series had to end on such a sad note. The first three games were just so good. This game was ambitious in its own way, but it just needed more quality control. The air levels could be fun and were actually better than the ground combat ones. They also weren’t very balanced at times, but they gave it a good attempt. Just play this game slow and steady and you’ll be okay. At least you keep your parts whenever you lose so you’ll have a lot of upgrades to buy when you land. I’d sooner recommend buying the original three, but if you already have them then you should probably buy this one. It’ll at least be good for a few hours of entertainment.

Overall 6/10

Batman & Robin Adventures Volume 1 Review

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It’s time for some more Batman adventures! Robin gets to be a main character throughout this time which is certainly cool with me. He adds some witty banter to the dynamic and is the only Robin who grew up with Batman for this long so he can call the Dark Knight out if he disagrees with him. The stories are a little more serious than the normal Batman Adventures or at least it feels that way so Batman should definitely be glad that he has the backup. It’s a pretty solid collection of stories that has aged well.

The first two stories make up the initial adventure as Two Face has yet another relapse. He had been close to getting out of jail, but Joker tricks him into thinking that Bruce Wayne has backstabbed him by getting together with Two Face’s friend. He believes Joker of course since he has no reason to doubt the Crown Price of Crime and gets to work on taking revenge against Bruce Wayne. He even managed to kidnap Dick Grayson who had previously warned Batman that he had way too high of an opinion on Two Face. He doesn’t really believe in Two Face’s potential to turn good again unlike Batman. By the end of the issue Batman seems to agree as he finally considers Two Face to just be another thug. It’s a rather dark ending, but I probably agree with it. Two Face is constantly turning evil and I can’t seriously see him ever turning into a good guy. It’s just not who he is. It was a decently fun adventure although I still don’t like Two Face which limits it a little.

The next story had the Riddler return. He finally figured out that Batman had to be a rich billionaire who lived in Gotham to he kidnaps everyone who attended the latest billionaire meeting. Fortunately Batman doesn’t go to events like that and shows up to foil his plans. It’s a pretty straight forward adventure but I have to give the Riddler some credit for piecing the puzzle together. After all it just makes a lot of sense that Batman has to be rich and since there is a whole club for it, it was just a good idea. He may have lost the day, but he ultimately won the war.

After that, the next story was a Penguin adventure. He wants to free the Birds from the Zoo so he is smuggling them back to their homes, but only after they help him get rich. Ah well, there goes his sympathy points. Fortunately Batman is ready for them, but he does have to go through a few birds to do it which wasn’t cool. Batman should have just had some sleeping gas or something which could have stopped them dead in their tracks. It would have been a more peaceful way to claim victory. This was easily the weakest adventure in the collection.

I think the production values took a slight hit in the following story as everyone turns chibi at certain points and the character model is all over the place. Still, it’s a fun Joker comic so it still manages to be pretty good. He has vowed to destroy the Riddler so Batman decides to stop him. The problem is that Joker apparently always gets his man although the comic starts with someone managing to escape him. Batman basically foils him at every turn and doesn’t even let Joker take down any minor villains. I can see why Joker would be upset by the end since it was a pretty rough day for him. It was some nice hype for Batman’s detective skills though and Joker fans should be happy that he came so close.

The next story was another highlight as a magazine reports that Batman has fired Robin. Batman decides not to tell the magazines that this is a lie because he doesn’t deal with reports like that. It’ll all blow over. The problem is that a lot of people start dressing up as Robin and getting into trouble as they can’t handle the thugs of Gotham. This is getting out of hand, but what can they do? You can imagine the fun hijinx that ensues from all of this and the main Robin gets to prove himself once more. My only gripe with this one is that the fake Robins maybe talk a little too tough to Batman and get away with it. Like the one guy who basically threatened Batman not to try and make him go away so Batman just let him come along for a bit. I just don’t think threatening Batman is ever a good idea, but I suppose this guy knew how to make it work.

Back to a bit of a weak story as the Ventriloquist shows up. He breaks out of jail and decides to destroy his Mom so Batman has to really hurry this time. There’s a twist as his Mom is already dead, but he destroyed a picture of her and then shot himself. It’s just a very boring story with an unlikable villain. There’s just no real hook with this villain as he’s about as generic as they come and he’s not crazy in a good way. You can make a crazy villain be entertaining…or you can just make a villain be like the Ventriloquist.

Robin doesn’t look too good in the next comic as he is defeated by Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn and then brainwashed to do their bidding. The whole thing is a little humiliating for him but he gets a lot of hype as even Batman can’t out think him. Robin’s plans are simply too good and it shows that he really has learned a lot over the years. He isn’t the boy wonder that he used to be, Robin is now a true crime fighting expert. It wasn’t really my kind of story as Harley and Ivy rarely make for a great villain team up, but as a Robin fan I enjoyed seeing him get so much hype.

We get a Batgirl vs Talia story which is pretty fun. Batgirl had just been leaving her day job when Talia walked in and took down the guards. This naturally led to a scuffle but Talia proved to be way too strong for Batgirl which is really accurate. I like Batgirl as much as the next guy, but there is absolutely no way that she can hope to take down Talia. Talia is a master at hand to hand combat while Batgirl has just taught herself enough to beat the common crooks at this point. Talia tries her best to defeat Batgirl without destroying her which proves to be as difficult as you’d expect. While the ending is a little cheesy, it had to happen since having the villain actually win in the end would have been a little crazy. It was definitely one of the better stories with quite a lot of action to be found inside.

The final story has Talia return to tell Batman that she wants to stop Ra’s plan to destroy most of the world again. Robin isn’t invited but manages to follow them in secret as Batman unleashes his plan. It’s a pretty fun comic although Ra’s is probably overplayed by this point. His plans also always seem very easy to stop but I guess the strength of them is how well he covers them up. After all, if Talia hadn’t tipped off Batman, nobody would have even known that he was planning anything. He could have leveled part of the world before anyone even knew something was wrong. That’s actually pretty impressive, but once Batman is on the case, you may as well say that it’s curtains for the villains.

The collection is pretty similar to the last Batman one I read, but with more Robin stories which is always a good thing. Ironically despite the title he still missed a few issues here. I suppose that’s just how it goes and he can’t be in all of them but he does make the comics more fun. He finally gives Batman someone to bounce ideas off of and his detective skills are nothing to sneeze at. Batman’s also pretty great as per usual so the heroic duo is really on point.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this collection if you haven’t read it yet. It’s a pretty good bundle of light hearted action stories and the writing is on point. The art is also pretty good and you’ll really be able to appreciate the designs. Some of the stories may lag behind the others, but I wouldn’t actually call them bad either. Even the weakest of stories can still be fairly decent in its own right. I have one more Batman collection coming up so keep an eye out for that review in the near future.

Overall 7/10

Attack on Titan: A Sudden Visitor: The Torturous Curse of Adolescence Review

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It’s time for another Attack on Titan OVA. You’ll be happy to know that this one is the best yet. It approached dangerous territory when the characters decided to go hunting, but the special did a pretty good job of handling it. It wasn’t perfect, but it managed to save itself as there was no blood or anything. It would be a little dicey if this was a long show were that kept happening or a movie with repeated scenes of this, but as a one off it wasn’t fatal.

This special should really be called Attack on Jean. He’s a pretty minor character in the main series, but he effectively got his own special here. Jean wants to get a cushy job in the Interior so he won’t have to fight Titans for a living, but this is proving to be difficult. His best chance is to do well in a training exercise, but then his teammates destroy this chance by just being better fighters in general than him. Jean doesn’t take this too well and hastily accepts a cooking challenge against Sasha. If he wins, she’ll have to stop up staging him every day of his life. The battle is on, but can Jean really win?

I do have to say that the remixed opening was handled pretty much perfectly here. We see a lot of shots of Jean running around and trying to be relevant and then at the end when the music is ramping up we just have him walking around since he usually doesn’t get to do much during the climax. It’s emotional yet also very fitting for the character. The soundtrack in general is easily 5 star material as we get most of the show’s famous themes from the first season. It’s just consistently amazing. The visuals are also pretty good. You’ll recognize the green energy effects the show loves to use and all of the character designs are on point. It’s not an action this time around so it’s hard to say just how good it is in the end, but it’s certainly good enough for me.

One thing that is interesting to note is that Jean is a whole lot meaner than usual. In the main series he’s not the nicest of guys, but he’s still pretty even tempered as he just tries to get promoted to a safe job. In this special he’s mean to his Mom for no reason and even threatens to punch Sasha. He resorts to stealing/cheating and just has absolutely no moral compass. I suppose it’s part of the humor, but I can’t imagine his fans would be too thrilled about this. The Mom subplot in particular felt random since in the flashbacks Jean was actually a nice guy and I suppose we are led to believe that joining the army corrupted him. He’s just not the nice guy that he used to be anymore.

The ending is also really cheesy so I wasn’t thrilled with that. We all know who should have won the cooking contest based on the two dishes. On the other hand, we can also assume that the wrong choice was picked because the judge was incredibly drunk. At least he was in character as I’ve never liked this guy. He has some hype but never does anything with it and is content to boss everyone around from the sidelines. Not the kind of guy you really want on your side.

As I mentioned before, there was one tricky scene where the heroes decide to hunt a boar for no good reason. Unfortunately they do nab him, but it was at least not done in a violent way. It’s a nice consolation. That’s really is for negatives and minor gripes. Beyond that, the special had really good pacing along with its soundtrack and graphics. It did a good job of embracing its comedic nature without going too far. For example, a good scene was when everyone transformed into Titans and could only watch as someone started taking everyone down. It was a nice high budget action moment that was certainly one of the highlights. It was just a good amount of fun.

I also liked Eren’s cameos as he called Jean out and also didn’t let Mikasa do all of his work for him. Eren likes to contribute so he will get strong enough to stomp all of the Titans. It would have been cool if the special could have kept in the scene where Eren beat Jean up, but at least the highlight is up on Youtube so you can always pause the special and quickly watch it during the beginning where it would have been perfectly thrown in. In case it wasn’t too clear, I was on Sasha’s team for this mission as Jean just didn’t do anything that made me want to root for him. He was basically the antagonist in this one after all.

The special also added some clever homages to the main series like when Sasha hit Reiner with her elbow in the same way that Eren attacked him in the forest. It was the same exact shot and I seem to recall 1 or 2 other instances of this. It was a nice bit of foreshadowing for the people who had already read the manga. Fans of the series will definitely get more out of this than average viewers, but both should still enjoy it quite a bit. It’s ironic that the best Attack on Titan special would be the comedy one, but now we know what the series could have been if it was a parody.

Overall, Attack on Jean was pretty fun. I wouldn’t mind if the series followed his adventures, but I have a feeling it would still suffer from the same problems as the original and a big problem would be that there would be fewer Eren scenes to try and bring it back up. The ending may be a little disappointing, but I’d still recommend checking the special out. It’s just pretty fun and quite possibly the only time you’ll be able to see Attack on Titan like this. It’ll truly go down as a collector’s item.

Overall 6/10

Ghost in the Shell Review

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All right, it’s time for another Sci-Fi film. Fortunately this one embraced that side of things a lot more than Power Rangers. From the start you can tell that everything is a little more on point from the attire to the backgrounds. The whole movie takes place in a very futuristic NYC (Basically) which was instantly a good sign of things to come. The second half starts to lose focus a bit and I would have liked for Major to be a little tougher, but overall it was a pretty solid film.

Major is the first human to have had a full transplant into a machine body. Essentially, only her brain is still the real deal. Everyone else has dabbled with cybernetic implants though and normal humans are basically extinct. It’s all about Big Business and corporate money now as everyone tries to get richer and richer. Society has essentially fallen to the slums despite the enormous wealth to the top 1%. Major is an assassin who takes down all of the targets that she’s ordered to eliminate. The government has a lot of targets of course, but a hacker has surfaced who threatens the status quo. Even the Major isn’t immune to the hacking, but she decides to look into this anyway. She is being haunted by visions in the meantime though and is there something that the scientists aren’t telling her?

So as I mentioned, the costumes here are pretty good. I’m iffy on the Major’s since the costume has no real design. It also felt like it was basically just there for fanservice. I liked her black cloak that she wears for part of the film though as it’ll remind you of Mirror’s Edge or Sword Art Online. The trench coat that her sidekick wears is also really good and will remind you of Final Fantasy. Everyone just looks really cool and this is what a futuristic sci-fi is all about. FF XIII did it better than most and you can see a lot of similarities between the two. The city also looks great and the advertising also makes sense. The place has truly sunk even more as the ads are not for kids, but I can easily see this kind of thing happening.

The film doesn’t really have time to talk about all of the scientific advancements, but I’m fine with that since such an explanation would take an incredibly long amount of time. The effects are also pretty good like Major’s camouflage mode and the fight with the giant robot. Major’s suit has a nice energy feature to it where you’ll see it glow more as she exerts herself. Every part of the film felt like it had a good budget.

I was also pretty satisfied with the writing. It was pretty good and the characters stayed serious while not all sounding like high school delinquents or being over the top. They followed orders and just completed the missions efficiently. The movie even made the old boss pretty hardcore as he can apparently fight despite being at least 70-80 years old. The scene of him getting out of the car and shooting everyone was really quite good. Even the shooting scenes are better than the average film as they aren’t violent or anything. You can feel the impact without the film showing you everything.

I also thought Major was a good character. She makes for a very good assassin and her character arc is good. My one gripe with her is that she tends to get sucker punched a lot and it felt like she lost most of her fights by the end. She’s great in a fair fight, but villains rarely play fair. Giving her a little extra strength and speed would have been nice, but I suppose she’s technically supposed to be a normal robot. It’s her hand to hand skills and sharp intellect that separate her from the rest so that’s why she would be susceptible to a sneak attack.

Batou is a pretty good supporting character and the best one in the film if you ask me. He likes dogs and feeds the strays in the alleys between missions. He may not be as talented as Major, but he’s probably the next best agent on the force and can handle himself in any environment. He’s always ready to stick up for Major even if it’ll put him in a sticky situation and is just a really good guy. I was glad that he got a pretty large role in the film. The agency had one or two other agents, but they didn’t do much. I suppose they couldn’t fit everyone in, but the film did its best.

Cutter is one of the main villains and he’s a part of the shady government. He’s okay with murdering 100 people if it means he can get himself a new weapon. He’s completely evil the whole time, but does a decent job of hiding that for a while. He’s a good villain who takes himself seriously and has some good plans. He’s not over the top and he doesn’t try and take on the robots by himself. Cutter just thought everything through and he also didn’t go out quietly. Honestly I wouldn’t have minded having him as the main villain for the whole film. He was much better than the hacker.

Kuze was the official main villain. He had a cool design and looked like Starkiller II, but once he took off the mask the character died. He suddenly got emotional the whole time and while it was related to his tragic backstory, it destroyed the mystery of the character. I think the film should have just played it straight with this guy trying to destroy the world or something. That would have been neat.

The film starts off with a lot of cool action scenes and just cool moments in general. Seeing Major lead the interrogation was nice as it shows how you do that without becoming a villain in the process. She got her intel and didn’t have to act drastically. The team respected her authority and she earned it. The second half started to taper off as we didn’t get a lot of action and Major trying to find her identity wasn’t quite as interesting. The whole plot was a little anticlimactic and so we didn’t get a big Terminator esque final fight.

I also didn’t like the doctor at all by the end as she become another Professor Hamilton and just betrayed the heroes. So I can’t say I sympathized much when she was approached at gun point. If I have any real negative with the film beyond the lack of action and muddled plot in the second half, it’s that some of the imagery can just be odd and meant to look creepy without having any real depth. Everyone connected to tower, people thrown in test tubed, experimentation everywhere, etc. Fortunately this film was classy enough not to delve into those things as others probably would. It’s a glimpse at how dark the world is, but the film takes care not to go too far. It’s not violent, but the film has a dark tone throughout. It’s finally another example I can use for how you do a good dark tone.

We also get a pointless filler scene where Major has to poke at someone’s face for a while. I didn’t get the purpose of that at all. How I see it, maybe that was because she was wondering whether she was really different from a robot or not, but I don’t get how feeling it would help. Maybe she wanted to feel like a human, but certainly there are better ways. Either way, the scene just felt like it was there to be there, but it had no real purpose in the film.

I don’t know much about the original Ghost in the Shell anime, but I know it’s supposed to be a pretty deep series that tackles themes like humans vs machines and what a soul really is. This movie didn’t really tackle those topics so I can see fans being upset about that, but since there wasn’t a lot of time anyway, I was pretty okay with it. Especially since at this point we likely all have our views on that. You have a soul? Then you’re a person. Game Set, Match. Robots can’t develop souls, but it’s always a nice hypothetical if they could I suppose. It’s just not something I actually believe can happen. Nothing like that happens here either way, but if it did I could still roll with it since it is a Sci-Fi.

It’s also worth noting that the soundtrack is pretty good here. It’s the classic sci-fi themes that you’d expect. Coupled with the visuals, it really helps you get into the film more than you could have otherwise. The long intro felt like something out of Resident Evil, which despite its many flaws, certainly knew how to be epic. It was also able to do this without showing the title off twice during the opening, but I assume Ghost in the Shell did that in case you missed it the first time.

Overall, Ghost in the Shell is pretty fun and it’s a well done movie. I always like the premise of the elite assassin who goes around knocking people off and eventually wonders if it’s the right job. It’s sort of like Jason Bourne, but in this case Major actually has comrades who care about her and help her along the quest. If I had written the film, I would have added in more fight scenes with killer androids and it would have been a total action blockbuster. After all, the fights that we got here were really good, we just needed more of them. I’d certainly be up for a sequel since there’s still a lot of things you can do with this series. If you haven’t checked it out yet, then this movie is worth watching.

Overall 6/10