Bedlam Review

It’s time to take a look at an old asylum horror film. It’s not by the Asylum crew but it takes place in one and I can’t think of too many settings that are worse than this. Bedlam just isn’t the kind of place that you really want a film to take place in. The whole film is rather dreary and it can get rather dark for the inmates. While the film has a happy ending it does take a long while to get there and in the meantime there just aren’t many reasons to like this film. The characters can also be annoying and I’m basically spoiling my review here so lets get started.

The film starts with a prisoner trying to escape Bedlam, but quickly being murdered by the warden. His name is George and he runs a tight ship around here. He is called in by the rich to explain what happened and George responds by showing the world how enslaved his prisoners are. The corrupt laugh at this spectacle and decide not to press charges, but one rich lady decides to put a stop to this. Her name is Nell and she decides to remodel the prison. George can’t have that so he has her arrested under guise of insanity and through Nell’s poor choice of words at the event she is found guilty. Nell is thrown inside the prison and must now try to communicate with them or she may not make it out alive.

First of all, we have to look at how bad Nell is throughout the film. She doesn’t make a stand against the malicious practices of Bedlam until she is goaded into it by a Quaker. Once she does make a stand, she really doesn’t do a good job of it. She doesn’t enact any actual changes until she is in the prison. Before that she goes to court to prove that she isn’t crazy. You’d expect her to have a calm head on her shoulders as she answers questions without sass right? No, instead she is sarcastic to the council and insults them quite a few times. She refuses to answer their questions and admits to doing crazy things like eating money. Naturally the council banishes her. Sure, the council was definitely bribed here, but she made their job so easy. Why did she have to be so antagonistic right from the start?

Then, Nell doesn’t even give the prisoners a chance once she is in the cage as she asks the Quaker for a weapon to defend herself. She considers the prisoners to all be savages and you wonder what happened to her lofty goals. Gradually the prisoners get her to join them in a game of cards and she realizes that they can be good. From here she is a good character who does make things better for the prisoners but it sure took her a while. I don’t blame her for not getting in the cage with the violent prisoner as that really could have ended pretty badly, but otherwise George actually had a point that she was all talk for a while.

Naturally George isn’t a very likable main character as he plays the cruel villain role. He likes asserting his dominance over the criminally insane and as we saw with Nell, he basically chooses who he thinks is insane. A lot of these people may be innocent but apparently the whole town is rather corrupt. Everyone looks the other way when it comes to George but that does backfire on him in the end. His end definitely plays out as you would expect as there was no way that he was going to live through this. He had simply done too much by this point.

Then we’ve got the Quaker. Unfortunately he is a very annoying character the whole time. He wants George to stand trial instead of being murdered by the inmates. A noble sentiment, but since he owns the town we all know that he would have gotten away scot free and then he would have murdered the inmates. The Quaker refuses to lift a hand to help anybody since he is a complete pacifist so it’s not like he would have helped to protect them. He comes across as oblivious to the world and rather naive. He could have been a good character, but they took him to the extreme and anyone could do what they wanted to him. It’s a shame since otherwise he probably would have been the best character here.

The film never actually shows much so it isn’t all that violent or anything, but things definitely get rough for the characters. The prison implies as much violence as it can and the living conditions are certainly abysmal. There is also a parrot that gets arrested by the end and I don’t really like where that plot may have gone even if we didn’t see the conclusion. This just isn’t a good film and it drags on quite a lot. At the end of the day, the only way to fix the prison is to get rid of the head so if George wasn’t forcibly removed then it’s not like Nell would have actually fixed much. Given that he was going to experiment on her and nobody was going to stop him, it just shows how far gone the town is.

Overall, Bedlam definitely isn’t a fun watch. While it has a happy ending, that’s only the final minute or so as the rest of the film can be rather dark. The only happy scenes before the ending are when Nell is talking tough to George, but she never ends up with the last laugh there. George is always one step ahead of her which severely limits how entertaining the scenes can possibly be. Prison films in general don’t tend to be great as even the Naruto film that dealt with this was one of the weaker installments in that series. I suppose at least some of the prisoners like the ex judge were fun characters. If you want to watch a good film about overthrowing a corrupt person in power…then you better start looking as I can’t think of a good one off the top of my head. Still, I’m sure that there are more than a few out there, you just have to know where to look.

Overall 3/10


Cause for Alarm Review

It’s time to look at a very old school thriller. This one may not have a bunch of explosions or guys running around in cool suits, but it does have a letter that could potentially destroy someone’s life. It’s a smaller scale thriller to keep you at the edge of your seat. It’s certainly aged quite a lot as the main heroine would likely act a whole lot different if this was made nowadays. I wouldn’t really call it a bad film, but it can make for an annoying watch and definitely doesn’t have a whole lot of replay value. This is one of those films that you only watch once for the suspense and then move on.

The plot follows a lady named Ellen. She used to go out with a doctor named Ranney but then she rebounded with George. They married very quickly but then George got injured and was forced into early retirement. He has now gone mad with paranoia that Ellen is cheating on him and that along with Ranney she plans to end his life. His only course of action is to try and deliver a letter to the mail man but he doesn’t have the strength to stand. He has to give her the letter to mail and then the government will come to protect him. Ellen doesn’t realize what danger she is about to get herself into if she delivers the letter. Who will win this battle of wits!?

The annoying aspect of the film is Ellen basically being at George’s beck and call the whole time. She has essentially made the wrong choice in getting together with him and has been paying for it ever since he was discharged from the army. As he grows meaner and meaner she still stands by him and tends to his every need. You just want her to throw him out or just ignore his various demands after a while. It doesn’t appear as if he can do a lot about it since he is supposedly bed ridden. That’s why a great plot twist would have been if she was actually trying to destroy him. That would have completely changed the dynamic of her character and turned her from a pushover to a tactician. It may have meant that she wouldn’t be as heroic, but at least she would have taken a stand against him. George couldn’t die soon enough.

Even in the flashback when George first appears he looks pretty bad. He basically tricks Ellen into being with him for a while as a lot of misunderstandings led her to believe that he was a sick man who needed cheering up. Either way she should have left the room the instant he started flirting since at the time she was with Ranney. Ranney didn’t seem to care much considering his stake in it so I can at least see why she left him. The guy definitely didn’t have much personality and didn’t seem to think about the situation much. Even in the present he doesn’t actually contribute much. It is more reassuring to have someone supporting you, but it’s barely better than nothing when this guy is involved. At least he did get Ellen to tell him what was going on rather than just taking what she was saying at face value.

George’s mother appears to also reinforce the notion that he was always a bad guy. She explains that he never really wants to see her and closes himself off from the world. All of this still makes me wonder how he got together with Ellen in the first place. Was it really just because he was an air force pilot and that’s supposed to be super impressive? You’ll just have to suspend your disbelief for the whole movie on that front. So, part 1 of the film drags on a bit as all of the George scenes will just have you rolling your eyes as you wait for him to die. I suppose this may be different if you didn’t know that he was going to die, but it was in the movie summary so you know that the plot can’t start moving until he does.

Part 2 of the film is significantly better as Ellen tries to challenge the postal service. The mailman is a stickler for the rules who refuses to give back mail after he has taken it, even if it is the same person who gave him the mail. He tries to spin it as company policy but I just think he had some beef against the main characters. I’ve never heard of such an outlandish policy and considering what a small town this is I hardly think he would have gotten in trouble. He has a legal leg to stand on I guess, but it doesn’t make the guy any more likable. Ellen doesn’t really do a good job of confronting his superior though. She does come across as really unreasonable from the guy’s point of view. She should have either tried to falsify the statement at home with the forms he gave her or just thrown in the towel and start to prepare a defense. Instead she keeps trying for the letter until the guy promises to put it through. You always have to be thinking of what tactic to use for discussions like this instead of just looking desperate.

Part of the irony in the film is that Ellen is making George’s job very easy. She runs around everywhere which looks suspicious and won’t even talk to the neighbors. It’s too bad since the neighbor seemed like a nice enough character who probably would have been able to help. The kid wouldn’t have been a very good witness though. He’s not a bad character, but who would believe a kid? He also seemed rather greedy with how many cookies he was trying to eat the whole time. You’d think he would have been satisfied with 1 or 2 when they were offered.

I have to finally question George’s plan one more time. He wanted Ellen to deliver the letter, but lets face it. If she really was going to murder him why would she possibly deliver the letter? She would have read or burned it instead because you wouldn’t take such a chance when the plan is so close to being complete. George’s plan only works if Ellen was innocent which really makes it a poor plan indeed. Fortunately for Ellen things work out all right. While there will probably still be some questions and inquiries they will be a lot easier without the letter. In this case destroying the evidence actually turned out to be a good thing.

Overall, Cause For Alarm isn’t the best thriller because it only works thanks to a lot of conveniences. The main character had to be a wall flower and also one who isn’t very intelligent for this to work at all. If she hadn’t been overreacting the whole time the letter may not have been very effective anyway since she would have been able to convince the world that George was crazy along with Ranney. Ranney was involved so him being a doctor wouldn’t end the discussion but it would still help. I have a feeling that a lot of George’s cohorts would have been able to have given supporting testimony as well. If you still like to see a tense film where it seems like the walls are closing in on the lead then I suppose this is a decent thriller to watch. At the very least the writing is fairly solid except for George’s cringy villainous rants. Otherwise, I’d say stick to other retro films. There have just been many that were better than this one.

Overall 5/10


The Anderson Tapes Review

It’s time to look at the Anderson Tapes conspiracy film. Will this one fare any better than the last one? Not really I’m afraid. It makes quite a lot of mistakes as the film goes on and by the end you wonder if the film even knew what it was doing. After all, you’d almost think it was promoting the view of everyone being watched as a good thing even though you would assume the opposite from the film’s premise. It’s just a very confused movie.

The film follows an ex con named Anderson. From the start you will wonder if he is really reformed or not as he isn’t exactly a pleasant guy and seems to be carrying around some grudges. Still, the film could just be trying to make him a very ambiguous character where you don’t know what his goals are…nah. Turns out that the guy still is a crook and he decides to get all the local thieves together for one more crime to make them all rich. We may need some extra surveillance to stop him.

You probably see what the problem here is and that it gives the surveillance people a leg to stand on. They thought this guy was suspicious and were watching him and it turns out that they were completely right. They didn’t actually help out at all so the whole thing is moot but it’s something to think about. Of course, it’s the principle of the matter that many will not agree with and one film’s positive portrayal of it shouldn’t really have any kind of impact on anyone who is watching. It’s one of those things that you know is going on and you pick a side but at the end of the day at least it’s good that you are aware of it. The government’s already got most of your information along with many large corporations so the best you can do is roll with it. The ironic part is that most of this stuff can’t really be used in court anyway so don’t expect it to prove your innocence even if it can do the opposite.

Naturally the film goes for the low hanging fruit by having the villains spy on the character during romance moments to give him some extra humiliation. Given that Anderson has been gone for 10 years he certainly didn’t waste any time. It’s a pretty painful scene to watch and I would basically have to call it a rebound since the girl dumps the other guy over the phone. The romance here (if you can even call it that) is pretty brutal. It doesn’t help this film’s case at any rate.

One thing the film handles reasonably well is the heist I guess. I like how confident everyone was during that scene as they really didn’t even seem to care that they were being robbed. They just took it in stride and were confident that their safe could not be cracked. The main characters are basically amateurs anyway so it’s not as if there was much to fear in the first place. The main characters even let the kid get to his walkie talkie to alert the proper authorities.

There are definitely quite a few comedy moments like that sprinkled into the film but they are spread too far apart. It was nice to see one of the crooks try to drive away so quickly that he crashed. The scene may have been unintentionally funny but sometimes that is why it works. While some of the humor lands it isn’t enough to distract you from the dreadfully boring story and poor writing. It just won’t be able to keep your interest for very long and you’ll quickly start wondering why the film is just so unfocused. It really didn’t play out anything like I thought it would and unfortunately this isn’t a good thing. It should have been a straight up conspiracy story where the main character tries to find out why everyone is spying on him.

Instead this is surprisingly not much of an issue. Once he finds out that someone is spying on him he just locks the door in the guy which doesn’t actually help matters at all. He then forgets about this for the rest of the film or just chooses not to think about it. Either way the whole plan was already compromised at this point. You also have to wonder why everyone was still in place after 10 years. You can’t stress this point enough. Anderson was locked up for a full decade but then he walks out and acts like he still owns the crime syndicate. His usual informants are still in the game and he is the head honcho. The way I see it, if Anderson was caught and locked up, that would have been reason enough for one of the underlings to decide to take him down and become the new king. I wouldn’t have minded some internal conflict among the gang members as it would have at least been a little exciting.

It’s rare that I ever say this, but maybe the whole film should have taken place at the prison. At the very least that place seemed like a more interesting backdrop than what we got. Some of the dialogue there was rather sketchy so maybe the film would have just gotten even worse, but at the very least I didn’t mind the Doctor. He seemed all right and talked tough to Anderson even if he lost the verbal battle. His bluff was called, but I applaud the guy for giving it a try. Once Anderson left the prison the film still stayed strong for a little longer as the three ex cons went to an airport to hang out. Once they split up, the film split along with them.

Overall, The Anderson Tapes was definitely another flop. The plot isn’t very interesting at all and the characters aren’t any good. The spying aspect of the film doesn’t actually go anywhere and the heist is a pale imitation of a real one. Pretty much every other heist film I have ever seen has managed to pull it off in a more effective fashion. There is really no reason to actually watch this film so I’d recommend leaving it where you found the movie. If you want a film that will make you think more then you should watch Resurrection F. At the very least that film will give you a lot of power level questions to think about.

Overall 3/10


The Parrallax View Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would likely be a lot more negative.
It’s time to look at an old conspiracy film that will keep you guessing as it goes on. You can’t trust anyone and have to keep your guard up at all times. Naturally the main character couldn’t quite handle these tasks and throw in the fact that this film feels quite lazy at times and you have a decently good premise with very poor execution. Conspiracy films are hard to do well when that’s the main genre, but they do make for good twist endings. Oh yeah, this review will have spoilers btw.

The film starts off with a political figure giving a big speech when he is murdered. The cops catch the first guy while the second gets away. Years pass by and everyone eventually believes that there only ever was 1 murderer. Even the main character Joe believes this until he is visited by an old friend who was also at the place where the guy was shot and she dies soon after. This means that everyone who was at the plaza is being systematically eliminated. Only a handful of people still exist..including Joe. Joe must get to the bottom of this conspiracy and to do it he will have to try and get enlisted.

Here’s one problem with Joe’s plan right off the bat and it’s never addressed by him or any of the characters in the film. He was in the picture. I’ll discuss the ramifications of that in a second after we look at Joe’s plan again. So, Joe murders one of the members and fakes his death. Both weren’t actually part of Joe’s plan, but they happened so lets roll with it. He decides to go undercover by submitting an application as a new person and acting like he’s a little off the chains. The organization seems to buy it and gives him his first mission. I’m not exactly sure what that mission was, but Joe basically ends up being the scape goat for another murder and is quickly gunned down. So ends his brief stint as a detective. Do you see what was wrong with his plan?

He was never going to fool them into thinking that he was some random nut who wanted to join. He was on their most wanted list for years and never even put on a wig or did anything to change his look. He went in under the impression that the organization didn’t even care about him so they wouldn’t be able to tell. That’s like a guy who always goes to the local pizza store going in one day and pretending to be someone else without putting on a disguise. It just won’t work and Joe’s plan was doomed to fail. His friend also didn’t give him a great fake ID apparently since the villains saw through that as well and Joe had to make a second one. It was a terrible plan, but Joe never was much of a thinker I guess. His friend came to him for help and he basically just laughed at her and sent the girl back to her doom.

Finally, Joe compromised his safety even more by sending cassettes to his old newspaper boss and revealing that he was still alive. Lets put it this way, the more people that know, the more likely it is that the secret will gt out right? Joe even impacted events by telling Bill not to make any charges or allegations against the organization. Instead Bill stayed quiet and the villains probably thought that this was extremely suspicious. Then they were also probably watching Joe at all times so I’m sure that they saw him send in the audio every week to the boss. His plan was just full of holes and that’s why he plunged into the abyss.

There is also a long brainwashing video that is just brutal to watch. They could only afford a handful of pictures so they just keep replaying them over and over. You’ll get the point of the video a few seconds into it or more likely as Joe is heading over to the seat. This film isn’t exactly subtle. So, then we don’t need to see the entire video that feels like 5-10 minutes long. The Thor picture was fun, but the rest was all just gritty stuff to remind us that the organization is serious business. I also find it laughable how they expect that to brainwash everyone. You can’t show 1 video and expect it to work so easily or even have any kind of effect on the person it is on. If the film had said something like *10 hours later* then that would be better since it would have meant that Joe had been there for a long time.

There are also a lot of really drawn out scenes like Joe walking through the airplane. Watching everyone do nothing much gets old pretty quick. Everyone moves very slowly so you get to stare at them all. We even head to a crooked town where the Sheriff and Deputy go around beating everyone up. Of course, as we find out later they were fired ages ago, but I guess nobody in the town ever knew that. The cover ups here are hard to believe as well. Unless everyone who speaks up is getting instantly murdered I don’t see how word isn’t getting out. What was the cover up for Joe’s death at the end? The dialogue at the end basically says that Joe was the only killer so did nobody take fingerprints of the gun to find others on it? I don’t think Joe actually picked up the gun either so that should be easy, but I suppose the fingerprint guy was in on it as well. Conspiracy films definitely don’t tend to follow logic all that much and it’s not a big thing, but you will certainly find it hard to buy into any of this. Even the cops at the beginning of the film are corrupt just to reinforce the idea that everyone is evil here.

The second half of the film just feels uneventful. Joe is just following orders and slowly getting into the villain group but it basically takes him the whole film to get his first mission and then he is instantly murdered. He didn’t actually learn anything nor did he make any progress in stopping them. As a result, the entire film also feels pointless as well. It’s an interesting approach to effectively show a futile attempt at stopping them rather than the epic actin hero who defies all odds and takes dozens down. Still, it’s not necessarily a good approach or at least not this time. Joe just wasn’t smart at all and why would you just stand around by a gun for about 10 minutes? He really wasn’t thinking. The writing in the film isn’t particularly good either. The heroes aren’t smart as I mentioned and the villains have no real personality either. I do like the Illuminati though. You rarely actually get to see them appear in these films.

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend checking out this film. You can find conspiracy theories anywhere so it’s not as if they’re rare, but I guess a whole film about one theory just couldn’t end up floating. The brainwashing video drags out much like the rest of this film. It loves going for zoomed out shots of people walking and running around. Joe couldn’t save anyone in the film and he couldn’t save the film itself. If you want to look at a real conspiracy, check out the whole Berenstein vs Berenstain Bears issue. That one has always peaked my interest and has a better climax/conclusion than this film since we are still living in the conclusion.

Overall 3/10


The Italian Job Review

The Italian Job is one of those movies that you are unlikely to have heard of despite being familiar with the heist genre. It even has some big actors but I still don’t remember it making any headlines. I guess it probably just came out at a tough year. Still, it’s a pretty solid film that may not be amazing but manages to avoid making any really serious mistakes which is important.

The film starts with a group of burgers pulling off a pretty big heist where they had to race the cops in a boat and got to walk away with millions. Unfortunately just as one of the characters was finally going to retire, the group was betrayed by Steve who decided to keep the money for himself. He shots the best crook, drowns the others, and then runs off. Years have passed and now the burglars want their revenge and also hope to secure the money in the process. They managed to survive with their wit and have stayed under the radar for a long time. It has all been for this one moment but to make sure that this mission is a success they will need to bring in a secret weapon, the daughter of the dead burglar.

You will have to turn your suspension of disbelief on full blast right away here as the plans are so detailed and convoluted that you probably won’t be able to accept what is happening with a straight face otherwise. In the climax of the film the villain gets a helicopter and even a private militia as he drives through town but the main character, Charlie is able to hold his own on a quick motorcycle. His team of quirky hackers seem more than capable of taking any villain down after this film.

Where the film really did a good job was with the fast moving plot. A lot of things were always happening. The talking scenes are pretty engaging and I do tend to enjoy the planning. The execution is also on point and it’s just a solid film from start to finish. The ending was also really good. One thing that tends to happen in a film like this is that the heroes will win it, but the villains end up destroying all of the informants along the way thereby preventing anyone else from ever replicating the feat. I was worried for “Tiny” or “Slim” (I forgot which one was his name) when the villains showed up at his door. Fortunately it turned out all right for the guy and in the end everything worked out. It’s also rare for a villain to not get away with murdering random Jim #34 but in this case it’s one of the main things that comes back to bite him. Turns out that this guy was friends with the mafia and you don’t mess with those guys.

The cast of characters was also surprisingly good which is always important. Charlie is a great tactician which is shown from the start. He may not be infallible but is able to adjust his plan at a second’s notice to fix any oversights. Even by the end he was one step ahead of Steve and never found himself at the back. Steve is also pretty solid as he always talks with a lot of confidence and has a smug air about him. Definitely not a guy who gives up easy and even if he isn’t as smart as the main character he isn’t half bad at making plans. Against someone else he may have stood a chance. Of course, he definitely should have sold the gold by the time the heroes found him though and shooting the merchant just delayed this even further. Not the smartest villain around even if he is fun.

Stella is solid as well. Initially I forgot about her first appearance and for a second thought that the film was bringing in a new character. The opening does certainly make more sense in light of this. Unfortunately, her character is used for fanservice quite a bit as we have the unfortunate trope of someone walking into her room while she is still getting changed. Likewise, Stella’s entire first scene seems to be focused on her attire more than the actual dialogue. Once we get past these moments this fortunately stops happening. Stella is a solid locksmith even if she is not quite at the same level as her father yet. She can also drive with the best of them. I think her character could have been handled better but overall she was a good character.

Another one of the thieves was the Napster. This guy spends most of his time complaining about how Steve stole his inventions. He takes this the least seriously compared to the rest of the team and nearly blows there cover several times by pulling pranks on the cops and the government. So much for being discreet right? I suppose he has his own priorities so you can’t really argue with that. He’s definitely a pretty bad character though. There is also Gilligan who does his best to mess up everyone’s chances as well. When it comes time to broker a deal with someone who has the supplies they need, he can’t help but stare at the guy constantly even when he is told not too. Actually, as far as the great character cast maybe I should be more specific. Steve, Charlie, Stella, and the father from the very beginning are solid characters. Everyone else definitely has a lot of room for improvement if you ask me. Still, since the characters with the most screen time are at the top that’s what counts.

We also get a long car chase scene that I referenced earlier and works well as the climax. Who doesn’t like a good car chase right? After a while they may all start to seem like the same race if you watch enough films, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they work quite well as a satisfying way to end the film. It’s not as if we could have had a real hand to hand fight at the end as you would have then had to ask where they learned how to fight. A battle of two self taught fighters could be fun, but I don’t believe Steve ever would have bothered learning how to fight while Charlie showed earlier that he could throw a good punch.

Overall, The Italian Job is a pretty fun heist film. The pacing is always on point and the characters make for some pretty enjoyable banter. Some of the plans may seem like a stretch at times but that goes hand in hand with the genre. If you like watching a game of mental chess going on with plans and counter plans then I’d recommend checking this film out. It’ll keep you entertained the whole way through and never really make any mistake big enough to get you out of the action. It’s satisfied with just being an entertaining film and that’s a pretty solid approach if you ask me.

Overall 7/10


Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games Review

If there was ever such a thing as a low budget Mario and Sonic game then this is it. We no longer have the intense campaign mode from the first game and we don’t even get to keep the tournaments. With all of the characters and games already unlocked as well you just have to wonder what the developers were thinking. It’s not a bad game but it doesn’t do anything to help the Olympics legacy. It would have gone over better if this had been the first title in the series.

We do have a new mode though and that is essentially Mario Party mode. Here you run around a board trying to get items and bump into one of the characters who is running around. This will trigger a mini game. You want to win the mini games to get cards that you can put in your sticker album. Once you’ve obtained 16 stickers (or more depending on the length you choose) you will have won the game. Inside your sticker board you have two random items as well which may steal stickers from other players or just give you extras. They’re pretty handy so use them wisely. If you want to blast through the party then simply seek out the NPCs as soon as possible. I’m not sure if there is even a point to delaying it to be honest since grabbing the items didn’t actually seem to be doing anything. There’s probably something that I’m missing though.

I also have to point out that the mini games are starting to randomly get convoluted here. You should always be able to get a basic understanding of the game from the rules section before it starts. That wasn’t the case for the Dream Bike mini game. This one is a team game of 4 vs 4. You have to try and stay in a perfect line and shake your way to the goal. The problem is that you have to switch places during the race and the controls for being in the back were not clear. I struggled as best as I could but I just couldn’t form a line and I ended up losing the mini game and nearly the whole party map. I actually did lose the first time I played the mode, but I got them the second time.

Even the really solid games suffer from dicey instructions. Take the Nintendo/Sega trivia. The questions were solid and with prep time I could probably even get them right. However the game tells you to hold the Wii Remote horizontally when in fact you are supposed to hold it vertically. This cost me the very first question which I knew I would have gotten right. So the main point here is to read the rules carefully and be warned that you may not be able to win some of these games on the first try because you will have to figure out how it works.

One of the new games that is pretty solid is the throwing darts one. You essentially have to hit the bullseye as quickly as possible and try to get others. Essentially I don’t know if you go for all of the bullseyes but that would make sense. I hit 2 and won the mini game so just aim for the center and you will be all set.

We’ve also got some games that I believe are old like Table Tennis and Soccer. Table Tennis is the same old same old so I wouldn’t expect too much more out of that one. It’s a fun game as always but it didn’t take much effort to port it over. I forgot if soccer already existed or not but it doesn’t look good for this game either way since the soccer gameplay is probably the weakest I’ve ever seen in the genre. I know low budget Wii games with better soccer gameplay. Your passes always go too high so it is usually safest to take the bell through the whole field yourself before shooting. That’s just not good gameplay and teamwork is supposed to be the name of the game here. I just don’t know how you can possibly mess up a game like soccer this way.

100mm Swinming is another mini game that doesn’t even try to hide how recycled it is. It’s the exact same controls as always in what appears to be the same background. It’s a good mini game so I’m fine with it coming back of course, but we just should have had more games. Reusing minigames is like bringing back old fighters in a classic fighting game. It’s a great move and one that I stand by 100%. However, if the cast is unchanged then there is no point in upgrading as in the case of Godzilla Save The Earth to Godzilla Unleashed on the PS2.

What this Olympics should have done was have close to 40-50 events. They could easily have brought back events from the previous games in addition to a bunch of new ones. The only reason why I could see this being a bad thing is if they are trying to perfectly emulate the games that will be at each Olympics. If that is the case then I suppose they will need to find another solution (have the old mini games be unlockable) but either way we definitely needed more games than the rather limited amount that we got.

The graphics look nice as always at least. It’s about the same as the last game only without the cinematic cutscenes so maybe it is actually a downgrade. Those cutscenes strike me as being the hard part after all but maybe the gameplay is just as difficult. Either way the last game did manage to do both so I’d give it the edge. When it comes to the soundtrack there is no contest that the last one was better. It blended together a bunch of brilliant themes from both Mario and Sonic which made the games even more fun. While this game has a lot of those songs in the music player, don’t expect to hear them very often.

As far as the replay value goes I suppose that there is a lot to buy here. You can use your money to buy clothes which boost your stats and you can try to earn medals for all of the various mini games. That could take a little while and then you also have a lot of challenges to complete for the bragging rights. Complete all of the challenges and you will really be an Olympics champ. Considering that the game is pretty cheap I’d say that this is already enough value to justify the cost.

Overall, This is one of those games that may have been more acceptable if it had been the first in the series. However it is the third and after seeing what this series could really do with the second game it feels like a total downgrade. The game just lost all of its heart and it felt like the developers just cashed it in this time. There wasn’t much effort put behind this game as far as I could see and even though this is a decent game I would recommend going back to buy the Winter Olympics instead.

Overall 6/10


Donkey Kong Barrel Blast Review

It’s time to look at Nintendo’s biggest mistake when it comes to the racing genre. A DK racer practically writes itself and just has a ton of potential. It’s a shame that the game squandered this so readily. Motion controls are what hold this game back and while it was an attempt by Nintendo it completely backfired. Sometimes just because an idea makes sense in concept doesn’t mean that it should be implemented. This is most certainly one of those times.

There is no story mode of course but we do have a few different tournaments at the ready. There are 4 main tournaments and 2 bonus ones. The bonus tournaments allow you to pick your own stages to have a tournament with friends and another one allows you to randomize the stages. Both are handy when playing with friends but you don’t get a trophy for clearing them so there is no single player incentive. The main tournaments start out at 3 races and eventually go to 5. There are multiple difficulty levels but you are forced to start with Rookie so I just stayed at that level. Even then the game is surprisingly difficult. You have to stay at top speed and use a lot of boosts if you want to come out on top here. Of course, the Mario Party luck factor is around here so sometimes you’ll just get blasted by other racers behind you which is out of your control. Not much can be done about that.

Each racer is using a pair of drums instead of a car. It is for this reason that instead of accelerating like normal you must beat the drums to keep going fast. You have to make the motion of hitting the drums constantly to stay at peak levels and just hit one drum to turn. Hit both at the same time to jump and hold down on the Nunchuk to activate your boost. Your boost is the most important skill that you have here. It can change a whole race and just know that you can extend your boost by hitting enemies or normal barrels. If you time the boost right you can keep it going for a very long time. Just focus on the combo and don’t use your boost unless you see something to bump into.

There are a lot of games that can be called painful while you are playing them, but there aren’t many which you can say that in a literal sense. Your wrists will be absolutely exhausted after playing this game and I am convinced that it wouldn’t be healthy if you played this game long term. You can even expect some neck and back pain if you were straining a lot and too rigid while playing. Naturally the trick is to simply not play too hard but that’s easy to say until one of the computers passes you. Then it’s back to hitting the drums as quickly as you can.

When it comes to the graphics then this game finally gets to shine. The character models are definitely on point and are appropriately high quality. The levels all look great and there is a lot of variety to be found here. Whether it be Jungles, Volcanoes, or even Space DK has you covered. The final level in the game is the hype space one and it is as cool as you may expect. I was pleasantly surprised at how much effort Nintendo put into some parts of this game, but maybe I shouldn’t be. In theory this was supposed to be their next big racer. The stage themes are pretty solid as well even if they aren’t all that memorable. I suppose you can’t have every game be quite as legendary as Mario right?

Aside from the tournaments which won’t keep you busy for very long, the game has other modes at its disposal as well. One of those is the challenge mode where you attack various missions and see if you can accomplish them. The missions are actually reasonably difficult as you can easily lose a stage if you’re not entirely sure how to approach it. Take one wrong shortcut and it’s time to retry. Between the various unlockables and the main tournaments, I think you’ll find that the game has a reasonable amount of content to back the pricing.

All of this is only if you can get past the gameplay though. None of the other stuff will ultimately matter if you wrists simply can’t take the pressure. The items are fun though and if you use them right they will help you take a break. Build up some good boosts and just use it when you know that you’ll be able to keep it going for a while. During this time you don’t need to beat the drums. You have other items like armor and missiles but you have to keep shaking the controllers during this. Interestingly enough, the descriptions in the game say that you can stop shaking once you’re at max speed, but they must have meant that you could stop shaking for a moment because after that the car will immediately start slowing down again. So much for that I suppose.

Overall, Barrel Blast really could have been a good game. It had a lot of the right pieces in place like the animation, soundtrack, and array of content to keep you busy. The one area where it went wrong was with the controls and you’d think that this wouldn’t be a big deal. It’s just so drastic that it ends up bringing the whole game down with it and that’s the unfortunate part. You actually feel like the game isn’t healthy to play. If you want some exercise for your wrist and don’t think that it will end up having a detrimental effect instead, then I suppose you may want to give this game a chance. However, if you’re playing this game in the first place because you want to relax while cruising through the levels then this isn’t the right game to add to your collection. There is nothing relaxing about constantly beating the drums.

Overall 5/10


Sword Art Online Calibur Review

As I am currently playing through the Sword Art Online Fatal Bullet game, I figured that I should finally go and wrap up one of the spin-off manga titles. This one shot is based on the mini Asgard arc and has always been known as a relatively weak story. Unfortunately the manga makes it even worse by adding in a ton of fan service so you can probably already tell how this review is going to end.

The manga starts off with Suguha letting Kirito know that some players have finally found out the location of the hidden sword Excalibur. The heroes had found it about a year earlier but because they were so slow the rest of the world caught up. Kirito has to form a group of 7 people in order to conquer this quest but it may prove more dangerous than expected. If the heroes don’t complete the mission quickly than the whole virtual game will turn from a happy fairy based one into an apocalyptic ice land. Fortunately Kirito is up to the task.

This is Sword Art Online so I should probably bring up the unfortunate fan service right away since we all know that it’s coming. The manga sets the tone for how this is going to play out right from the beginning as the very first panel on the first page is a fan service shot. The author even mentions at the end that he added more than usual. It is constant enough during the volume where it probably happens every chapter. Some of the scenes are totally made up for the manga and really don’t help the overall case. It really limits what the rest of the manga can hope to accomplish.

At least the general art looks pretty good. The characters are very detailed and this translates well into the fight scenes. The quality here is high so it’s too bad that this artist couldn’t have picked a better arc than this one. Of course, this manga also has to have a quick flashback to a certain scene in arc 2 just to fit that extra bit of fan service in. So, very solid art but it’s used for scenes that really don’t help the overall manga.

Fortunately Kirito is a pretty solid main character as per usual. He comes up with the plan to save the day and even uses a new skill that is game breaking. He is always surpassing his limits so it should really come as no surprise. Even when everyone tries to mess with Kirito like putting him on the spot by asking if he would pay for the meal, Kirito takes it in stride. He was happy to pay and comes across as a solid team player.

Klein unfortunately looks about as bad as ever. He is still a very desperate character who will try to ask out a computer program and he is also super weak. The guy doesn’t even work well as a comic relief character but he does help to make Kirito look even better. That always seems like the real reason Kirito keeps him around. Klein just can’t go one page without humiliating himself.

Sinon gets the biggest role from all of the heroines. Unfortunately the author uses it for the wrong reasons at times but at least her fight scenes are solid. Since her bow and arrow skills are double that of the usual max, her weapon is actually pretty overpowered. Her reaction times are likely second only to Kirito’s here so that is very useful as well. Considering that she has apparently had the account for a day (if I recall correctly) Sinon must have trained a great deal.

Leafa is around just to feel bad for the creatures getting destroyed by the other players but doesn’t do much beyond that. If anything she can be a little on the annoying side since she knows about the Asgard myths but conveniently forgets about them until right after the fight. Asuna, Lizbeth, and Silica don’t actually get to do anything. They are basically just here to fill up the party.

Then we have the main villain who is certainly a terrible character. He’s a very sketchy villain whose goals are terrible and so there is absolutely nothing to root for in his character. There is also the prisoner who has a big plot twist which does not help her character. That’s because her actions up until the plot twist are extremely manipulative and she was basically using the heroes. Certainly not a very nice thing to do if you ask me. Not that it would have been much better without the twist but the character was having too much fun with her role. The plot twist is pretty obvious but the manga does a good job with it since the characters are self aware about it. They all know the twist but decide to play along anyway. Even then they only play along because Klein essentially forced them into doing so.

I think the only positive change that the manga did was give Sinon an extended fight. At the very least I don’t recall that happening in the show. It’s not much, but it shows that the manga did something right. With the artist’s skills he/she should still do well in a future SAO manga provided they focus on fight scenes and not adding anything else that would be tragic for the manga’s score.

Overall, This was definitely not a good SAO volume and it doesn’t do this wounded franchise any wonders. It just continues to make the same mistakes that the franchise has always made. It had great fight scenes, but is bogged down by all of the fanservice. I’d recommend just sticking to the original Sword Art Online manga instead of checking this one out. You’ll thank me for it someday.

Overall 4/10


Secret of Mana Review

The Secret of Mana is an RPG that I had heard of in passing but never focused on too much. It just got lost in the shuffle next to Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. Well thanks to the HD PS4 remake I have finally gotten to play it. It’s definitely a great RPG as you would expect and the real time/turn based mix will remind you of the .hack series.

I renamed the main characters so bear with me here. Terry is the chosen hero who is finally able to wield the Mana Sword. Everyone is shocked and dismayed because once the sword is lifted the world is supposed to fall into ruin. Terry meets a girl named Terret who needs help in stopping a witch to rescue the hero named Dyluck. Unfortunately this is a dead end but she must continue on her quest and since Terry has nothing more pressing to do at the moment he agrees to join her. Finally, they run into a sprite known as Terry Jr. who was scamming people for money. We show her the error of her ways and add one more member to the party. Now we must attack the enemy fortress and save the planet!

The gameplay is a blend as I mentioned earlier. You have a number under your character. Once it rises to 100 you are free to attack again and deal some damage. While you can attack sooner than that, it will almost definitely miss and even if the attack lands it will be weaker. Furthermore, the count will go back to 0 so waiting it out is just the better option. Also, you should start leveling up your magic early on as it is incredibly useful. Level them all up if you can, but you should focus on 1 in particular to get it to a high level early on. The Gnome magic was really useful for me, but each boss is typically a different element which is why you want a lot of them.

Equipment is extremely handy in this game as well and is basically mandatory to clear the game. You want the top of the line stuff and if you think you can beat an area without purchasing some armor then wait til the next village. Each village gradually adds better equipment options so you save a lot of money by just waiting. Of course, earning money is actually pretty easy in this game so it’s not something that you have to worry about that much. It will come naturally. Likewise, the EXP grind here isn’t bad either. It will go very quickly. That’s why you just want to stay at the top of your game since the A.I. won’t help much. They tend to just get crushed very quickly throughout the game.

Terry is a reasonably solid main character. He does actually talk and everything so he has a real personality. His personality is that he’s a hero and while that may not be all that deep or anything, the character means well. We do get a random plot twist involving his Mom which was kind of out of left field, but Terry took it in stride. Terret is a solid heroine. Her whole adventure is about saving the legendary Dyluck which is a nice twist of events. You rarely see the heroine have to go and save the famous hero and I can definitely get behind this. Shockingly they don’t even try to get you into a contrived romance with her as Terret only has eyes for Dyluck the whole game. I can applaud the title’s restraint here. Terry Jr probably has the least time to get really good, but she’s not a bad character. I still don’t get why she is referred to in the plural sense, but I don’t want to assume that it’s a translation error. Either way, she helped to raise everyone’s spirits.

As far as the villains are concerned, I would have liked them to have had more screen time. The villain group shows up out of nowhere and half of them are defeated quite quickly and without a chance to really show off their personalities. The King who makes a deal with the main villain wasn’t very smart, but made for a decent antagonist. Thanatos is the main villain to watch out for and he is definitely pretty strong. I like the design and he made for a cool antagonist. Then we have the Team Rocket trio who felt really out of place. They weren’t quite as hype as the others.

One major plot point is that you have to choose a side. Destroy the Mana Beast or destroy the Fortress. I felt like the game couldn’t really decide which the right option was as the Fortress is evil from the start, but by the end of the game we decide to destroy the Beast instead to balance things. This was part of the main plot and it made no sense. Now, I know a lot of behind the scenes stuff happened with this game and that is probably what made the plot feel rather off at times. It’s unfortunate but that’s also part of why I consider this RPG’s plot to be one of the weakest RPG plots in a while. It takes a little bit to get going and then once it does it’s like we’re playing an abridged game. Not to the same extent as Sonic Forces fortunately, but enough that parts of the plot feel weird like with the Beast. Personally I would have helped the guy, but apparently he was going to destroy the planet in the process so I suppose that wasn’t a viable option. Then we have a guy named Genma who talks tough throughout the game, but never actually got to do anything. Ah well, at least he looks rally tough.

The graphics were switched from sprites to 3D character models which usually works pretty well, but perhaps not in this case. The boss designs looked a little more intimidating in the original version and the colors were nice and sharp. As far as the cutscenes go, the characters don’t actually move their mouths while talking half of the time. Not a big deal I suppose, but basically it had the art style of World of Final Fantasy without the detail. I guess if this allowed the game to come out a few years early then it was probably worth it. As far as the soundtrack goes we have quite a few tunes. Each area has a different theme and they all work pretty well. They are classic rpg style themes so they should remind you of the good ole days.

The length of the main campaign is roughly 20 hours give or take so it’s definitely a solid amount of time for the rpg. You will almost certainly need to grind by the end so I’ll give you a pro tip here. Max out your Dryad skill since you cannot defeat is he final boss without it. I made it to the final boss without leveling it up at all which meant I had to go back and grind it out. If you level it naturally then it won’t actually feel like a grind. You’ll probably end up shaving an hour or two off as well. For replay value you can probably nab most of the trophies to end up with the Platinum. Out of the 38 in the game, I think around 26 are obtained just for completing the game. That’s a pretty solid number if you ask me. If you want to get the Platinum then you need to make a backup save before you beat the Blue Dragon as there are some rare item drops that you can’t go back for. It’s probably a good idea to defeat every new enemy you see as well to register them. Getting the Platinum here isn’t hard at all but it does take a little time and nobody wants to replay a 20 hour game just to get one missed trophy.

Overall, Secret of Mana was a pretty fun game. As far as RPG stories go the plot was rather weak, but the gameplay was still enjoyable. I just love RPGs in general as leveling up and grinding can be a blast. I can see why they got so big back in the day. Many RPGs will end up being quite solid by the end since you get used to the characters as you shared so much time together. This one is no exception and there is certainly a lot to do. Even without replay value, the story length justifies the price that you paid for it. Maybe I’ll get to play some more Mana games in the future. Until then, I recommend checking out this game and seeing what the Secret of Mana has to offer you. It’ll test your mettle one way or the other.

Overall 8/10


Tekken Review

Tekken has always been a fun franchise. The gameplay is a lot more simplistic than Street Fighter at a glance and every blow you land is satisfying because of the loud sound as well as the splash of color. While I probably remember Tekken 5 the most and played it quite a big back in the day, the whole franchise is pretty hype. I knew that I had to dive into the mobile game once it came out.

Unlike most mobile games, Tekken has a real story mode with an actual ending as opposed to most mobile titles that keep on going forever. It was a nice change of pace and I think it’s a good thing that the game came out with the full story right from the start. Granted, I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if some kind of dlc expansion came up at some point. So the plot of the game is that a mysterious foe known as Remnant has surfaced. He has begun mind controlling some of our friends in his quest to possibly destroy the world. Kazuya decides to take this guy down but he realizes that just having himself and Nina likely would not be enough to do much of anything. As such he must start recruiting more fighters to his cause and along the way they will beat Remnant’s mind controlled lackeys to free them. It will be a tough fight, but Kazuya is always ready.

The story mode will take you a couple of days at most so it’s not very long. There are 3 main chapters and each one has 5 acts. Each act has around 5-12 fights in them and each fight can end in about a minute or so. The difficulty rises slightly as you go through but not by much since if you want a challenge you can just try fighting the story on a higher level. A couple of days is actually generous since this is about 2 hours, but you may not be playing the game that much at home when you have home console games to play instead.

The gameplay is a classic tap title like the various Marvel and DC fighting games. As far as I know it may be that all of the fighting games use this as the default control scheme. Perhaps it just makes the most sense when it comes to how the phone is set up. Regardless, tap to attack, hold your finger on your character to block, and tap on your cards for super attacks. You can string together combos with your cards and deal a whole lot of damage. You’ll have the gameplay basically mastered before very long.

Aside from the story there are quite a few other modes. This is one of those mobile games that does have a lot of post story content to keep you going at least. There are daily events which happen….every day and they give you a chance to get tokens and characters. The game has around 70 characters I believe although many of them are clones. There are also a bunch of made up characters, but that’s still preferable to clones I guess. Do we need 3-4 different Nina Williams? They all have the same attire and fighting skills, the only difference is their star rank. I believe I got around 12-15 of the characters which isn’t too shabby.

You can also fight other players of course. Not really in real time though, but you fight their Dojo and try to get points that way. The rewards seem pretty reasonable to be honest. Then there is the shop where you spend your coins and tokens. Bandai has a lot of experience with creating apps so it makes sense that they were able to set up so much for this game. In a world without Pokemon Go perhaps I would play this game more, but seeing as how it does exist I won’t really be playing this one now that the story is over. It’ll join the ranks of Sonic Forces, Fire Emblem Heroes, and Ingress as I just log in every day to get the daily bonus. If they add in a story update then I’ll check that out of course. I wouldn’t be surprised as the Marvel Contest of Champions game that I mentioned earlier is very similar, but it had hundreds of levels. That amount is pretty daunting to be honest and I didn’t bother even going through a quarter of it. It’s not like the plot ever seemed to move. That’s an issue here as well, but since the story is so short it’s okay that it only has a short cutscene at the beginning and ending.

As far as the graphics go, the game does a good job of looking like the mainstream titles. The character models are on point and the attack animations are good. I couldn’t really ask for much more than that and the simple fact that you could mistake this for a home console game shows how solid it is. The soundtrack is rather limited, but the tune has a lot of replay value. You won’t mind hearing it over and over again which is certainly a very good thing.

The only real negative to the game is that the servers are still wonky at the moment. Sometimes you’ll beat an opponent but then the game won’t count it and you have to keep beating them until it does. The best thing to do in this case is typically to log out and then go back in. The game does have an interesting health mechanic though as when your fighter loses you must heal them with an item. If you are out of items then you must use another one. I guess Pokemon Go has a feature like this, but getting health items here can be a little trickier. It’s a problem you may have down the road, but at the very least you’ll definitely have enough to get through the main campaign.

Overall, Tekken doesn’t do anything new in the mobile genre, but it still manages to be a solid game. Naturally if you’re a big Tekken fan then this game already has many reasons for you to play this. It will depend on how many fighting game apps of this type you’ve played before and if you want to go with this one or not. There are some server issues but as the game gets older and people leave that shouldn’t be much of a problem. I’d recommend the game, it’s a solid title that will have a continuous stream of content for at least a year and likely longer. Running out of things to do won’t be an issue.

Overall 7/10