Sly Cooper Thieves in Time Stats and Records

Stats time!

PS3 Trophy% 33%
Game Complete 87%
5/60 Masks
Bottles 18%
Treasures 0%
Safes 0%
Masks 8%
Chapter 1 88% 11/30 Bottles 1/11 Masks 0/12 Treasure 0/1 Chest
Chapter 2 86% 4/30 Bottles 0/12 Treasure 0/1 Chest 1/11 Masks
Chapter 3 86% 6/30 Bottles 0/12 Treasure 0/1 Chest 0/11 Masks
Chapter 4 86% 4/30 Bottles 0/12 Treasure 0/1 Chest 1/11 Masks
Chapter 5 85% 2/30 Bottles 0/12 Treasure 0/1 Chest 1/11 Masks
Chapter 6 98% 1/5 Masks

Sly Cooper Thieves in Time Review

731080674
This game was on the backburner for many years, but I finally got around to completing it. The story takes a while to get good and honestly it is probably the weakest game in the series, but it was still pretty good overall. I just think that the game should have been a little less formulaic and should have gone for a more connected and changing story. It would have made the whole thing a lot more interesting and Ratchet and Clank is always adapting like this. It would have been simple enough for Sly to have copied that approach. Well, it is what it is.

Sly had finally gotten his happy ending after the third game. He pretended to lose his memories so he could live a peaceful life without having to force Carmelita to choose a side. Unfortunately, someone is messing with the timestream and Sly can’t just let this go unpunished. He must bring his thieving skills back to work with his old gang as they time hop to find the source of the problems. The trust that has been lost between him and Carmelita may be hard to repair so this case is going to be a very personal one. Is Sly up for the job?

As always, this Sly game is a 3D platformer. You use stealth for most of the game as you get from point A to point while getting past obstacles. You can also fight enemies and take them out easily enough, but it’s usually faster to slip past them or use the one hit KO stealth attack. Each area is very large so you have a lot of room to maneuver and you can also use that time to grab some extra collectibles. They’ll all come in handy by the end if you want to earn the shiny Platinum to add to your collection. You can never have too many trophies right? This is the only Sly game that I have not Platinum’d yet so I aim to fix that at some point in the future.

Aside from playing as Sly, you get to play as a lot of other characters this time around. That’s because one of the gimmicks in this game is that you finally get to meet Sly’s ancestors. Each era in time has a Cooper and they all have their own special abilities. One can climb walls and another has a gun. This results in some new twists that are added to the usual gameplay and that’s a good way to make the gameplay more diverse which was good. Bentley also gets his own minigames as one is like an overhead version of Tron and another is a 2D shooter. His minigames were always fun so I was glad to have them around. Murray’s is probably the least exciting as you just go around punching people. Finally, we can’t forget the short driving levels as you play in the mini car. Those were a nice change of pace as well, but in the end, the classic Sly gameplay is still the best.

As always, the gameplay is handled really well and the controls are very smooth. It makes the cases fun and going around the city is so streamlines that it makes the grind for all of the collectibles very manageable. The quick time event bosses were always handled well and they always feel great no matter how many games use them. Final Fantasy XIII-2 still did the best job out of all the games, but it’s a little hard to match the level of epicness that title was able to attain.

Graphically, Sly looks good. It may not stand out the same way that something like Super Smash does, but it holds up well on the good ole PS3. When it comes to the soundtrack, that part is a little more bland. You aren’t likely going to remember a lot of the tunes once you’re done. They’re passable, but just aren’t anything all that grand when you really get down to it.

There is a good amount of replay value here as you can go back to all of the chapters to grab treasure, collectibles, and open the safes. Buying everything from the shop will take some time as well and each story level is roughly an hour or longer. It’s certainly a game that gives you a lot of content for the money that you paid, which sounds good to me. It’s not artificial length like some other games either as you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment as you go through.

I do want to take a second to say that all of the past Coopers were annoying. I felt like the game wasn’t even trying with them as they were all super gimmicky. The cave man Cooper was the most annoying as you couldn’t understand what he was saying and he just wasn’t that smart. All of the Coopers had a lot of attitude, but it wasn’t deserved as we had to save them all from the villains. None of the Coopers were able to do anything on their own so you have to question how they got such a famous legacy. Evidently, Sly is the only cooper who can hold his own. It just makes you wonder.

Sadly, the classic banter that we had in the previous games is gone in this one between Sly and Carmelita. It’s an unfortunate side effect of their dynamic completely changing thanks to the third game. I’ll definitely miss it since the Sly games had the strongest dialogue from the three main Naughty Dog series for a while. The writing’s still good, but it’s just not as clever. Sly’s still a good main character even if he made a lot of the wrong decisions. Carmelita’s also good as the tough rival who is always making threats although this is not her best portrayal. Murray and Bentley are around as usual. I can’t say that they’re my favorite characters though. The villains are all right I suppose, but while they all technically have personality and character thanks to their origin stories, I never got too attached to any of them. The main villain is also a Skunk who is comic relief so he isn’t meant to be taken seriously either.

Overall, Sly Thieves in Time is a good installment to the series, but it’s not the game that I want to be known as the final in the series. It’s certainly a step down from the other games and that’s partially why it took me so long to complete it. I was never able to play the game with the same gusto that I tackled other titles with. It was a good throwback since a game hadn’t come out in a very long time for this series, but the plot did hold it back quite a bit. The supporting cast just weren’t all that good and this game lacked the impact that the first three did. It really survives on the gameplay alone because every other part of the game was either not that great or simply could have been better. To be fair, gameplay still is the most important quality in a game so that is enough to justify a good score. The cliffhanger for the game is pretty intense although to fully see it you better get that Platinum Trophy ready. It does make you wonder about some things though. All those months…what was Sly doing? It depends on how you interpret the ending I suppose, but another game would clear that up. This is certainly a must buy for Sly fans and generally, I think any platformer fan will be able to appreciate this title.

Overall 7/10

Batman Beyond Review

3366496-batman_beyond_soundtrack
It’s time for the final main show in the DCAU lineup. I still haven’t seen the Zeta Project or Static Shock yet so those two won’t be getting reviewed for quite a while. I’ll probably be watching them at some point though. Batman Beyond took a very different approach to the Batman mythos and it certainly worked well. I imagine it was probably pretty controversial back in the day and I can only imagine the reaction it would get nowadays. Still, that’s why you have to take a chance sometimes since it can pay off very well.

Batman Beyond takes place well after the events of the original Batman show. Bruce Wayne started to get older and suffered heart problems. He was forced to take off the Cape and cowl. (The final movie in the series has a plot twist so old age wasn’t the cause for Batman’s retirement, but that’s another story) Gotham City has completely reverted back to how it was before Batman showed up. Crooks are everywhere and the civilians are all scared out of their minds. Terry is a teenager who has grown up in this era and has developed into a tough individual who can look out for himself. One day, his father is murdered by the Joker gang so he decides to steal the Batman suit to avenge him. Wayne is reluctant to agree at first, but gets on board and that’s how Terry becomes Batman for the rest of the series. He may not be the genius that Bruce was, but Bruce assists him through a communicator which makes that a non issue. Terry was also already a fighter so we don’t have to watch him act like a total rookie. He handles his tenure as Batman very well.

Terry is the main character and for the most part he is a great lead. While he may not have Bruce’s charisma, he has the passion and hot headed nature that most great anime characters possess. His first episode was a little rough as he was acting out quite a bit, but a tragic attack forced him to mature a lot in that regard. He always sticks up for the weak and keeps his emotions in control when it counts. Terry has no shortage of confidence either and is never afraid to go up against an opponent, even if Batman thinks he should wait. Like Peter Parker, (A character who has a lot of similarities to Terry) Terry has to deal with a lot of romance drama, but it never becomes the main theme of the show or a priority to the point where it would take away from the plot. I was definitely satisfied with having him as the main character.

Bruce Wayne may not be Batman anymore, but he is still rich and retained his intellect. Batman was never feared purely for his amazing hand to hand combat. His genius is what also intimidated opponents. It can be frustrating to see him so old and unable to defeat opponents like Inque, but at least he continues to try so you have to give him points there. That’s why it was cool to see him turn young again in the Ra’s episode since he got to finally fight at peak strength again. The show even managed to give him a stronger sound effect than Terry’s to show the difference in power. Bruce was only a little unlikable in the first episode and you can understand his reasoning for wanting the Batman legacy to die. The last thing he wants is for another ally to bite the big one. Terry wasn’t even formally trained so he would be in a lot of danger. I can get that, but shutting down Terry’s suit while he was being attacked was going a little overboard. Not to mention that sending Terry away without any real help was also pretty bad since he was essentially helping the villains by doing that. Letting Powers steal the company is also something that is hard to picture for such a strong willed individual. I guess you can say that Bruce also regains his old spark while Terry learns how to be Batman. We also can’t forget that he has a real cool guard dog by the name of Ace. I didn’t care for Ace’s episode as it was one of the iffy ones, but he’s definitely a great character. Ace is fearless and never backs away from an enemy. Terry was lucky to have him around quite a few times.

Max is one of Terry’s friends. She has good hand to hand skills and after she finds out his secret, she helps out in the background a lot like Oracle. The heroes are always hesitant to accept her help, but by the end she is one of the gang. She did give us the weakest two part event with the King Cobra villain, but you can’t really blame the character for that. Max was a solid supporting character and I’m sure that her role would have grown more f we had gotten another season since the heroes were working with her more.

Dana is the main heroine of the show. She is around to give Terry a reason to have a daily life, which prevents him from being Batman close to 24/7 like Bruce. Bruce was always in the Batman mindset at any rate I’d say. Dana is pretty reasonable for the most part and there is certainly less drama than some other super hero romances like Mary Jane and Spider-Man. I’m definitely on Dana’s side more than Terry’s for the show since she was always loyal while Terry did cheat on her with someone else. He broke it off fairly quick, but it shows that he went on the rebound fairly quick. It would have been cool to have seen Dana get a crime fighting suit, but I suppose every supporting character doesn’t have to turn out to be a fighter. Dana is smarter than some of the other characters as well since she actually put the pieces together about Terry’s mysterious disappearances.

Barbara Gordon lost a lot of her personality in the transition to the new era and has become another pencil pusher with no real idea of what goes on in the field. The worst part is that she knows who Batman is so she can effectively blackmail the heroes. It is definitely annoying but luckily Batman is always ready for things like this and Barbara got a fairly small role in the show. It’s a shame, but I guess some superheroes lose their likability after they hand the costume in. Powers is really the main villain of the series. There are other recurring villains of course, but Powers is the only one who lasted a full season. He would show up a lot in both major and minor roles. Powers even got special abilities of his own that made him a real threat. The radiation that he emits would allow him to beat many foes despite a difference in power. Sure, he would lose to a really strong foe, but he would give them cancer so it would essentially be a draw. He was a good villain to have since having someone who’s not one and done is always a good thing.
bruce_wayne_batman_beyond
Inque was another villain who shows up a few times and I thought that she was definitely better than most of the others. Her powers make her a really powerful threat to Batman. It’s hard to capture her or to even land any damage because of how she can almost become liquid. Electricity is her only weakness and even then you have to be careful how you handle her. Forcing Batman to swallow her was definitely one of the most traumatic moments of the series I’d say since it looked quite painful. Mr Freeze is one of the few old villains who shows up in Beyond. His fate is rather tragic here as he was a head for many years and once he finally gets his body back, he is promptly betrayed. He really wanted to turn over a new leaf and become a good person, but it wasn’t to be. The betrayal made him go off the edge once more and then he lost his motivation to go on. He was easily one of the best “villains” here and it’s too bad that he couldn’t have a happy ending.

Shriek had a cool design. I figured that was worth giving him a quick write up here. He’s basically a generic villain otherwise. There’s not much to him otherwise. Kobra is a fairly annoying villain who took over the big villain organization at a young age. He’s just that much of a prodigy I suppose, but he went from being a fairly decent rival/classmate to being a generic villain. Now, Ra’s is a more interesting opponent. Granted, his method of kidnapping Bruce Wayne and going about his plan was rather off. He could have planned things out a bit better and then maybe his plan would have been successful. It was still neat to see how he had survived all of these years though. He certainly was a very cunning opponent for the dark knight.

The Royal Flush Gang went after Batman a few times. This show’s Ten got the biggest role out of all the members. They made for good opponents because while they were weak individually, they were a threat as a group. Defeating Batman with sheer numbers was always their plan, even if it wasn’t always an effective one. I like the designs and the concept is fun too. They’re just rich people with a bunch of time on their hands so why not become thieves right?

Finally, we also had the Justice League show up. Their members may not be as impressive as the ones you’re used too, but they can still deal some damage. Superman is still around and while his powers have lessened over the years, he’s still quite powerful. He’s as smart and dependable as always even if his will power isn’t quite as good as it should be. I do like his Justice Lords design, but I do have to wonder why he would ever don that costume. It certainly makes you wonder. Aquagirl’s probably the only super nice member of the group and she does her best to help Batman fit in with the others. She doesn’t seem to be all that powerful when it comes to combat though. Green Lantern comes off as rather annoying and is easily my least favorite GL. He doesn’t appear to have a great imagination and his voice just got on my nerves. It’s easy to see how he died in Justice League. Warhawk is basically a male version of Hawkgirl. He’s loud and talks a good game, but he’s not all that strong. The design was good though and at least he did have enough strategic awareness to come up with a plan when things started to get out of control. I’d say that this already makes him a better character than Hawkgirl for me. Big Barda’s another tough member who doesn’t like Batman. It should come as no surprise that Batman was eager to get away from the team as soon as possible. Lets face it, there was no reason for him to stay somewhere where he’s not wanted.

Lets take a look at some of the episodes of Batman Beyond. Naturally, the opening two parter was a lot of fun. It got a high budget and started the whole series off. It was very fast paced and I was satisfied with the origin. It’s sad that gangs can break in and out so easily in Gotham, but the city has always been like that so it’s not too surprising. The place has always been corrupt and that’s why Batman is always needed. A Gotham without any crime fighters is a very scary place indeed.

There was an episode with a homage to the Fantastic Four as an experiment went wrong (Don’t they always?) and a group of individuals got super powers. It was nice to see how the FF would fare in a DC world and needless to say, it goes as you’d expect. They can’t really handle Batman, but it made for some nice battle scenes. Another good episode was Inque’s debut. As mentioned, she’s an interesting villain and a very deadly one. Batman really had to think fast in order to keep up with her. Since she also ends up finding the Batcave, the heroes have to think about making the place even more secure. Not that it worked as Return of the Joker showed us…

The Mr. Freeze episode is golden. His fight with Powers was a lot of fun. Now, I think Powers should definitely have the edge here and he was winning, but it was good to see Mr. Freeze put up a fight. Powers’ brief fight with Batman was also good. The episode just had a lot of action throughout and the animation was stellar. It’s the kind of episode that you could even watch directly after the first Batman series since it’s a sequel in part to the original. It’s a tragic episode, but an enjoyable one.

Another episode saw the debut of Curare, a skilled assassin. I forgot if the show explicitly said that she was from the League of Assassins, but if not, then an equivalent organization anyway. Her skills were certainly very good and as she has never failed an assignment before, Batman really had to be careful here. By the end she has to watch her back as well since the League is after her, but given her track record, she should be able to hold her own right? Well, that’s exactly what happens as she appears in another episode and we find out that she simply got rid of the organization. That’s why you probably shouldn’t try to destroy your best agent on a whim like that. Both episodes were great and some of the best in the series.

Lost Soul was a pretty interesting episode as someone takes over the Batman suit so Terry must used his hand to hand skills without backup for a change. It’s a fun change of pace since we don’t get to see Terry do a lot of formal sleuthing. He does check things out in his alter ego, but seeing him stick to the shadows is rare. Back to a more conventional episode, Terry is challenged by The Stalker. The Stalker wants to destroy Batman to prove that he can hunt anyone. Unfortunately, he’s bitten off more than he can chew and starts to suffer delusions by the end. Batman completely broke him. The Stalker made for a good enemy though. Babel was another fun episode as Shriek eliminates language. Nobody can understand each other now so that makes Batman’s job a lot harder. He’s got to find Shriek without Bruce’s help. It’s tough, but Terry never gives up so he’s got this.

Another solid episode is when Spellbinder frames Batman for murder. Barbara Gordan is very quick to jump on this so Batman must dodge the official lines and find a way to win. I believe that Mad Stan was also in this episode. I forgot to mention him earlier, but he’s easily one of the best villains in the entire series. I’m being serious here folks, Mad Stan is just amazing. He’s a conspiracy guy who is always yelling and talking a good game. Tell me with a straight face that he doesn’t sound amazing. It’s just not possible. He’s easily one of the funniest figures in the show.

Sneak Peek is a good episode where a reporter learns how to go intangible. Unfortunately, this slowly corrupts him since the powers were too much and he ultimately meets a sad fate. Batman got lucky here since he was completely out of his league by the end. Seriously, there was basically nothing that he could do against this guy since no attack would work. It’s why nobody likes dealing with intangible foes. Repeller had a villain who couldn’t be touched. He had a barrier around him at all times. This guy was also crazy strong and Terry needed some luck to take him out. It’s always been a fun concept and the original X-Men comics had a villain named Unus with the same ability. It’s not used too often though because of how overly powerful it is. Finally, Where’s Terry is another good episode as we see Max and Bruce be the main characters instead of Batman for a change. It plays out like a mystery as they follow a lot of clues to see where Batman is. The episode is a little embarrassing for Terry, but you can’t win em all right?

The show’s animation holds up very well to this day. The futuristic look ensures that it looks about as good as Justice League despite airing sooner. The colors are very good and everything is sleek. Batman’s suit is better than a lot of the redesigns that you see nowadays and is still one of Batman’s best costumes. It may be the best besides the classic DCAU one. (Yes, Batman had 2, so I’m talking about the Justice League one) Likewise, the soundtrack is excellent and one of the best that you will hear in a show. Certainly the best in western animation. It’s just hard to get better than this since every theme is very fast paced and techno. It fits the future environment very well. It also goes without saying that the writing is very solid in this show. It’s the DCAU so you’ve probably come to expect this by now, but it’s still a nice credit to its resume. Nowadays, shows would do a lot to grab writing as solid as this.
justice_league_unlimited_batman_beyond
Overall, Batman Beyond is a great show. It did a good job of showing what it would be like to be Batman in a future DC universe. It was dark toned throughout, but it was usually not dark for the sake of it and never got super violent or anything like that. There may have been one or two episodes that went a little too far with that, but they were few and far between. The average episode was very solid and this is a series that I recommend to all action fans and especially to DC fans. It’s the next generation of Batman, how can you afford to miss it? Even if you don’t ultimately end up finding Batman Beyond to be more likable than the original, you should end up being a fan by the end. To be fair, Bruce Wayne is still the definitive Batman for me as well, but I actually like Terry more than all of the Robins in the DCAU. He was just written really well.

Overall 8/10

Devil Girl vs Ai Enma


devil_girl_movie_poster
ai_2
Devil Girl makes her debut onto the blog with this round. I had the inspiration to quickly do this match when I happened to catch sight of the dvd. At the very least, I think this was the DVD, it may have been a similarly titles horror film since there are so many of them. Ai Enma is more commonly known as Hell Girl and she still has the edge in this fight. She has control over fire and can fire large energy blasts. Not to mention the fact that illusions do not affect her. Devil Girl has some mild super strength, but that’s not going to get her very far against Ai Enma. The tables have turned and it’s time for her to start exorcising these horror movie monsters! Ai Enma wins.

Kino’s Journey Review

key_art_kinos_journey
It’s time for an anime review! It’s been a little while since I reviewed one so it’s time to get back in the swing of things. Unfortunately, Kino’s Journey is one of the weakest anime that I have seen in a long while and doesn’t hold up well. Despite the dated animation and unlikable characters, the show does have something going for it. Kino’s Journey is only 13 episodes. Beyond that, it’s a pretty tough ride and not a title that I would recommend for aspiring anime fans.

Kino’s journey is about a girl who drives around on her talking motorrad. She is a traveler, which means that she has no place to call home and simply visits towns as she travels the world. Her only rule is that she can never stay in a place for more than 3 days. She gets to see the worst of humanity and its best. Just about all of the episodes are stand alone adventures and some episodes even have 2-3 stories within them. As with most anthologies, this means that some episodes are good while others are really bad. Unfortunately, the latter is usually the case. Since the series is so short, lets take a look at most of the episodes.

The first episode has a Twilight Zone esque feel as Kino arrives in a town where machines do everything. Humans now live by themselves and avoid each other. The reason for this is that they have mastered telepathy and now know each other’s dark secrets. They are all so dark and mysterious that they can’t even look at each other. Kino listens to the sad tale and drives off, admiring the irony of how they originally just wanted to get to know each other better. This was a good way to start the series. It was an interesting episode and the plot was sound. It may not be very exciting, but it was decent enough.

Unfortunately, the second episode was the worst in the series and shot the series right into the gutter. Kino was driving across a snowy mountain when she noticed three human traffickers dying of hunger and thirst. She quickly murders a few rabbits and give them to these crooks, but not before they ate the people they were carrying. Kino quickly dashes off and realizes that she should have spared the rabbits instead of the humans, but 20/20 hindsight won’t be winning Kino any points. The episode is so dark and grim that it’ll just make you shake your head. Reading memes about Harambe is more thought provoking than this episode as Kino just proves that she has a lot more respect for saving humans than animals. The series really never recovered from this episode.

The third episode is an anthology inside of anthology. It was a little on the boring side since most of the stories didn’t have enough time to actually do anything. The first story is all right as a guy states that the world will be ending soon, but then another guy says that he counted the days wrong so it won’t be ending quite yet. Kino takes the opportunity to nab as much free food as she can and heads out. Another town showed up, which lived only to entertain travelers. Kino got out of there quickly to ensure the town’s demise. Well, the episode was a lot better than the second one.

Next was the episode where we finally saw Kino’s origin story. She lived in a twisted town where all kids had to undergo an operation to turn into adults. Luckily, a guy named Kino showed up. He was a traveler so he didn’t want to interfere, but when he saw that the town was going to murder Kino, he quickly stepped in. They murdered him and went to get Kino, but she escaped on the motorrad. This was the turning point where she lost her personality, design, and character in exchange for gun skills. It was a pretty fun episode and it shows how many towns are actually pretty twisted and you have to either get with the program of get out. I recommend the latter.

The 5th episode was fairly interesting even if it was a little repetitive. Kino discovers a land where there is an infinite cycle made by 4-5 guys. One guy spends his whole life taking apart the tracks, another guy spends his life putting them back, another guy polishes them, etc. They are all working together, but don’t see the other guys since they are a few miles apart. This means that none of them will ever make any progress or be able to return home to their families. It’s a shame, but they are getting paid so I suppose they should be grateful for that. Not to mention the fact that they technically could go home, but choose not to do so for some crazy reason. Kino decides not to mention any of this since she doesn’t want to change the customs and just tells them stories as she rides on. This was a good, calm episode.

The next two episodes contained the tournament saga. These episodes were the only ones with real action behind them so that was neat. Kino entered a tournament where she had to fight a lot of opponents to the death. Kino wanted to win without destroying anyone and steadily climbed the ranks. Then she realized that the leader was pretty corrupt so she decided to break her traveler law and shoot the guy in the face. A pretty dramatic Hunger Games esque ending to that event. Well, the tourney was pretty fun, but Kino was a jerk to everyone as per usual. She refused to keep anyone in the loop and just did what she wanted when she wanted to. At least this proved that she is certainly a very good fighter and someone who should be feared. It was a fun two parter.

The next episode had Kino be a supporting character for once as another character decided to build a plane. She did pretty good and completed the task. There’s not much to this episode, but there’s nothing wrong with it either. If anything, the main character was a definite improvement over Kino so that’s always a good thing. The one after that involved a land where books are forbidden aside from really family friendly ones. Naturally, that means that Kino didn’t like the books since she needs something with a little more edge to it. She meets a delusional author who believes that reality is fake and everyone starts chasing each other and the episode loses its sense of purpose by the end. There were fires and a lot of crazy stuff, but the episode was pretty jumbled and didn’t make too much sense by the end. It was all right I suppose, but Kino really needs to stop getting in everyone’s way if she’s not actually going to do anything to help.
vlcsnap-2013-08-16-20h42m22s133
Episode 10 saw Kino head to a house where the family were robots. It takes Kino a really long time to figure this out, but at least it means that she will get free meals all the time. Kino ultimately decides to move on, but it was a decent enough resting place I suppose. Robots get more realistic each day eh? The next episode was another anthology esque episode where Kino remembers the good ole days. There’s a boat and a lot of stories, but we can skim over this episode as well. It wasn’t really an attention grabber. The last two episodes certainly are, but I’m afraid that this is not in a good way.

Kino heads to another evil country where two powerful lands have decided to band together and murder people for sport. Whoever murders the most people wins. The two lands do this every so often and are pretty proud of themselves. Kino doesn’t bother to stop them or do anything about it since she’s just a traveler, but she does take a few shots at the people who are being murdered. In her defense, they tried to murder her first as it’s their past time to let their aggression go after being hunted. It’s a pretty vicious cycle of violence, but as mentioned earlier, it doesn’t matter to Kino if her neck isn’t on the line. She just drives off. It’s another really dark episode that makes you really dislike Kino.

Finally, we have another really dark episode. Kino heads to a town that is about to be destroyed in three days. The adults know it, but most of the kids do not. The parents have decided that the kids have to die alongside them, but they’ll spare Kino. Kino doesn’t know about this until she leaves and sees that everyone has died. Well, at least Kino has lived so now she can go watch more tragedies and suffering with the strange traditions that people have. Not a bad plan eh? Kino’s Journey decides to end the series on this low note and I do have to question a lot of its decisions.

As you can guess, I really didn’t like Kino. She’s easily one of the worst anime main characters that I’ve come across. By visiting all of these lands and not actually interfering unless it’s something that personally offends her, Kino is basically an accomplice to the crime. She can fight and actually could help people out, but purposefully chooses not to do so. There’s really no point to her journey and she should feel ashamed for making all of these bad decisions. Injuring animals, Watching people die, chatting it up with the villains, you just have to wonder whose side Kino’s on. She seems to just be in it for the thrills. Her cold personality is certainly fitting then as she always gives very vague answers, acts rude to everyone that she talks too, and also has a pretty bland design. There’s really nothing to like about Kino and it’s a shame since she was fairly all right in the flash back episode.

The only other real character in the show is the motorrad. The motorrad is fairly bland was well though as half of his lines are just repeating what Kino just said or asking a really obvious question. The motorrad was always super annoying and the voice was so raspy that you just knew that he was doing it on purpose. I don’t blame him since Kino’s no mean all of the time, but I was never invested in any of the characters. I think the old Kino could have ended up being more interesting, but at the same time maybe not. The other Kino also didn’t like to interfere, but he did prove that he would help in a pinch when he saved the current Kino. That makes me think that he has a slightly stronger moral compass. A shame that current Kino couldn’t learn from his example.

The animation is rather sub par and certainly one of the weakest ones that you will be seeing. The colors are all pretty faded out and you’ll notice that they reuse a lot of scenes to save on the budget. Watch out for Kino’s daily gun practice and how she starts up the bike in every episode. It just gets annoying after a while and even if the animation isn’t great, the show could have used some nice backgrounds to bluff its way past that. The show just looks a lot older than it actually is. It came out in 2003 and yet the original seasons of shows like Pokemon and One Piece can take it on. That’s a little sad. The soundtrack is also not very good. The theme song’s a little on the boring side and the music inside each of the episodes is very lifeless. You’ll forget the tunes as soon as they pop up. That’s not a great way to make people more excited about the actual episodes. Not by a long shot!

The main problem with Kino’s journey is just how dark and depressing the whole show is. There is nobody to root for and Kino herself drags the show down. If it wants to go the Twilight Zone route and have episodes where we can see places with a lot of strangeness, then tragic endings can work a little better. It still shouldn’t go as extreme as Kino’s last two though. However, by having Kino around, it makes the whole thing worse since the victims have Kino right there to help them, but she decides not to do so. It’s like having a villain as the main character and that’s no fun.

Finally, the show tries to be deep and thoughtful in its own way with text in between the episodes and scattered at random points. Kino will also beat you over the head with a message at the end of every episode. The problem is that most of the dialogue ends up feeling very obvious or just like rambling. At least Serial Experiments Lain had aliens show up and cool conspiracies and fights. Lain also had a much better atmosphere and characters. I didn’t even like Lain all that much, but you can feel the difference. Lain is what Kino’s Journey wanted to be, but could never reach.
kino_no_tabi_04h264-vorbisniizk-mkv_snapshot_16-29_2010-07-05_00-10-15_thumb
Overall, Kino’s Journey is not a good anime. The animal violence is terrible and the episodes can get way too grim. If this show is supposed to be a calming experience, then it is clearly failing at that. The show also needed a far more likable pair of main characters if it wanted to get anywhere. Some plots never really went anywhere and just showed up to buy time like Kino training her gun skills every night. We get it, she can fight, but do we need whole minutes of her taking the gun out and putting it away again? That kind of training isn’t very fun if there’s no payoff and there should have at least been some music in the scenes. Ugh, I recommend watching just about anything else that I’ve reviewed instead. If you want a dark anime that handles itself well, watch Madoka Magica instead. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed in the slightest.

Overall 3/10

Ratchet & Clank Review

14045_poster2
It’s time to finally check out the recent Ratchet and Clank film that came out. I’ve played most of the games and it is definitely a fun franchise. Jak’s the most epic and Sly typically has the best banter, but the Ratchet series has always had the best overall package. The gameplay is always very crisp and the colorful cast of characters makes each game a lot of fun. This film didn’t do the greatest job of adapting the game and I can see why people would have a lot of issues with it, but it’s still a fun film overall. A faithful adaption of the first game would have been even better, but if you didn’t know the source material and just walked up to this one, I think you’d be reasonably satisfied with the end product.

Ratchet is a mechanic on a sandy planet who has grown bored of the routine. Being a Skywalker would be a lot more fun so Ratchet decides to head to the Galactic Ranger tryouts to see if he has what it takes. The Rangers are adding a new member for the first time in a very long while because they need to beef up their defenses to take on a new threat. Planets are being destroyed across the universe and the culprit must be brought to justice. Unfortunately, Ratchet fails the exam and heads back home. Suddenly, a robot appears with a grave warning for the princess rangers and Ratchet uses this opportunity to live out his dream. Will Ratchet and his new robotic sidekick Clank be able to stop the villains or will this team up be short lived?

You can definitely see quite a few similarities to the Star Wars beginning in the film. I didn’t really notice the similarities in the game, but granted, the film expanded on a lot of the intro. The film also added a few Easter Eggs like Sly Cooper and Daxter as Clank tried to find out what species Ratchet was a part of. The beginning of the film is probably the best part. The cool music that played when Ratchet first appeared helped to set the mood and the first fire fight between the Galactic Rangers and the enemy robots was neat. The villains were actually pretty tough and I wouldn’t have minded seeing more Star Wars esque battles like that. Don’t get me wrong, seeing the Mini Zorgs running after everyone is almost hype and all…but I prefer my full on battles.

Granted, Ratchet and Clank isn’t a super serious action movie. The games aren’t like that either, although things did get a little more serious during the time trilogy. The games have always walked a very fine line between total comedy and light hearted action adventure. I’d say that the film definitely went more towards the former and probably overdid it just a bit. Some of the comedy was a bit much and just on the generic side. Qwark is rather extreme, but that’s in character so I can roll with it and he does a better job than most of the others.

The graphics are pretty good. I’m not sure if I’m prepared to say that it looks better than some of the latest games because I was actually more impressed with those, but it certainly looks sharp. It’s pretty surreal to see the series getting a big theatrical film like this. As mentioned earlier, the soundtrack is pretty sharp. At the very least, the film didn’t hold back on the technical aspects. I think better writing would have gone a long way, but it’s not bad either. I just think that it wasn’t up to par with the main games. Perhaps the film was trying to appeal to the general audience a bit.

The characters are solid and that’s not just nostalgia talking. Ratchet’s a very relatable hero who wants to do something great with his life. He has a lot of skills, but things just don’t always work out the way he hoped they would. His careless nature is maybe a little extreme in the film, but he’s a hero at heart and always makes the right call. Clank’s a good sidekick as well. The film didn’t use his iconic laugh as much as it should have, but he still got to shine. Case in point is one of his earlier moments where Ratchet tries to say that Clank was taking him out of context so Clank had to whip out his recorder. Ratchet’s comeback would have worked on just about anyone, but Clank was prepared for it. It was a good move and it shows that you can never be too prepared. They make for a good combo and I do prefer Clank to his rivals Daxter and Bentley.

Captain Qwark is a fun character as always. Betraying everyone was a rather serious crime though and he did get a whole planet destroyed as a result. It’s a little hard to simply walk back from that although people didn’t seem to care too much and he already wrote a book about it. It may be a little hard to buy at times. One aspect that I think the show got wrong is how people started to ignore Qwark in favor of Ratchet. Part of the point to Qwark is that he’s like Hercule from DBZ. The main characters know that he is a phony, but nobody else does. The film didn’t really get that vibe across. Maybe they figured that the plot would not be able to work otherwise, but it is quite the change.

I didn’t really care for Drek as the main villain. Ratchet & Clank’s one weakness has typically been the villains. You can’t really take any of them seriously. Drek is worse than the usual villain though because at least some of the others can fight. Drek can only give out orders or jump in a mech suit if he is feeling lucky that day. I liked Victor though. His design was actually pretty good and his energy sword made for quite the weapon. He’s easily the most intimidating presence in the film even if it is never really explained how he was immune to the magnet. He’s made of the same stuff as the others right? Hmmmm. Doctor Nefarious is around, but he’s a lackey for most of the film. I’m not sure if he started out this way in the games too, but I look forward to seeing him in a leadership role instead. It’s just odd seeing him like this.

The other Galactic Rangers are fairly generic and I look forward to seeing them get written out of future films. Seriously, there’s no point to these guys and they just steal screen time from the real characters. They are really cardboard cutouts who just live up to their character tropes and no more than that. While that may sound harsh, I don’t really dislike them all that much, I just don’t think they really needed to be present. Qwark is the only superhero that you really need and the plot could have just been altered to have had Qwark bring along a sidekick instead of a 5th member. Problem solved!

For all the film’s faults, it still manages to achieve the general goal that every film has. It’s a fun film. You’ll never be bored during Ratchet & Clank and it’s a film that’s easy to watch no matter what time of the year it is. Christmas, Thanksgiving, President’s Day,….Halloween, this film will still be fun. It’s not all that long either at only around an hour and a half so it’s easy to fit into just about any slot. It may not be a masterpiece, but the film has heart and I’d be content to see the creative staff behind this one tackle some more franchises someday. It’d be great if they could play up the action angle a little more considering how high tech everything is in this universe, but I’ll take what I can get here. As long as the film never goes downhill and starts really overdoing it with the comedy, then I’m on board.

Overall, Ratchet & Clank may not have been as great as it could have been, but it’s still a good film. It’s a shame that we may not end up getting a sequel at this rate. It’s nostalgic to see the characters again since it has been a while since I played one of the games. Turning more video games into movies is definitely a good idea and I want to see Sonic and Mario get that treatment at some point. Honestly, just about any Nintendo game could make for a good movie and I’d also like some RPG movies like how Final Fantasy XV got one recently. The more the merrier I say. Whether you’ve played the games or not, I recommend checking out this film. It’s a fun little adventure film that I could recommend to anyone and there’s not even a cliffhanger so if that’s not your thing then you don’t need to worry. I do have to say that the one sad part of the ending is how Ratchet’s boss isn’t very sympathetic. It’s hard to feel bad for him when he doesn’t give Ratchet a day off for saving the universe. I think Ratchet had a point when he said that he thought the boss would be a little more touched at the gesture of Ratchet coming home instead of becoming a billionaire on another planet or something. I guess that’s the boss though, he does what he wants when he wants.

Overall 7/10

Pizza Delivery Boy Review

PIZZABOY wii LINER
This is a game that I’ve been playing for a very long time. I have to give the game a lot of credit for being a very long title. I bought the game for 3-4 bucks back during my Wii spending spree. It sat on the backburner for a while and I’d play some levels here and there. Finally, I buckled down and got the last few levels out of the way. The game is better in doses and you will get a little tired of it by the end, but you will also have a nice feeling of satisfaction. It’s leagues better than some of the other Wii titles that I’ve played in the past, but there are still some things keeping it from being better.

The game starts off with a bang as two great pizza chefs become rich. Unfortunately, the fame goes to their head and they become mean so the town decides to teach them a lesson. They rip apart their cookbooks and spread the recipes across 3-5 different cities. The pizza boys become broke and are forced to sell off their many stores until only one is left. They decide to hire a Pizza Delivery Boy so that they can regain a connection to the neighborhood. You develop bonds with the civilians as you deliver the pizzas and gradually you earn enough money to start buying the shops back. You must continue to do this until you are a pizza monopoly once more and you can prove that you are the greatest delivery boy of them all. It won’t be easy, but few things are!

The “cutscenes” are really just stills with dialogue slapped onto them, but I am still glad they are there. Having an actual plot gives the game some depth. You get a cutscene every time you level up your reputation or move to another town. The Chef will also make a comment or two every time you finish a daily task. The graphics are fairly good. The main character’s smirk is always pretty intense. In game, the graphics are good enough for you to tell what is going on at all times. The town is rather simplistic, but it still looks better than you might have guessed from a low budget Wii game.

Unfortunately, the soundtrack is not quite as good as the visuals. There are only 2-3 actual themes and they all get rather irritating by the end. They’re just a little too loud and in your face the whole time. I’d like something a little more subtle and relaxing. On the other hand, I’d like a nice fast paced theme when making a pizza pie for the 500th time. It can get a little tedious so a change in music could end up making a world of difference if you ask me.

There is no replay value in the game so don’t look forward to that. Once you unlock the final level, the game even tells you to watch out because you cannot go back. After you beat the game, you will never be able to make another pizza pie or head out to play another mission. You can only replay the Pizza Boy of the Year tournament match and that’s it. So, make the most of the game while you can because after you beat it, there is not turning back. That’s why it all depends on the main gameplay so lets launch into that right now.

The game runs on a daily system. Day 1 is always delivery day. You have to decorate the pizza pies with toppings and then drive around as you deliver them. Actually making the pies is very easy and you will always finish with a lot of time to spare. The game is lenient with where you put the toppings so you will always get some kind of credit for it. A perfect placing is worth more so you should try to be as close as possible. Cooking the pizzas is easily my least favorite part of the game. It’s too easy and even when the controls are working it is not all that engaging. Maybe doing it a few times wouldn’t be so bad, but it gets old very quickly.

The second half of day 1 is riding around in your scooter as you deliver the pies. This part is a lot more fun and the controls actually aren’t half bad. You will gain new abilities as you play through the game like doing a wheelie or bunny hopping. This makes travelling a lot easier and more convenient and you can feel the progress the whole time. You will get better vehicles until you finally get your own Pizza Car. The car is probably a little too fast for its own good, but it does feel like a nice achievement when you pull it off.

Day 2 is about fulfilling a task for the citizens. This can range from delivering newspapers to wowing critics with blind pizza assembling. Day 2 is infinitely more fun than Day 1 as you just launch into the task and you also earn money, reputation, and pages from the cook book. It’s as if Day 1 is filler and then Day 2 is when the plot kicks in. I’d say that this is the best way to think about it at any rate. Since you need money to unlock the next towns, you’ll always be looking forward to Day 2. If the whole game was day 2, then this title would surely be a 7. Unfortunately, the repetition of day 1 is the problem here. This game wouldn’t have taken nearly as long as it did if the game was more enjoyable. Lets face it, that’s how you can tell a good game from an underwhelming one. It’s the very definition of a 6 for me as a 6 is a good game that has one or two things keeping it back from being a normal fun title. A 6 has the potential to be a 7, but just doesn’t live up to it.

Overall, The Pizza Delivery Boy definitely appears to have had a higher budget than some of the other Wii games that I’ve played, but the extreme amounts of repetition and recycled cutscene animations expose it. The developers seem to have taken as many shortcuts as they could and I wonder how many people actually played this game through to its entirety. Each town has 24 days within it since there are 12 tasks and every other day is a delivery day. I had to do the full 24 days for the first two towns and was able to unlock the final town after the first 18 of Town 3. That’s still a lot of levels and a whole lot of pizza. You’ll be making up to 7 orders by the end of each town and you’ll just be tired of making it. I never get tired of eating pizza, but making it is evidently a different story. I recommend this game to you if you’ve ever been curious about a pizza delivery boy game. That being said, it’s best to play this along with another game and then take turns every day or so. It’ll keep the repetition from getting to you. Otherwise, you may as well play a game that’s a lot more enjoyable like Sonic Colors.

Overall 6/10