It Could Happen To You Review

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Whenever I watch movies that are supposedly based on true stories I laugh. When I watch films that do their best to say that they weren’t inspired by true stories, I also laugh. The key point is that you should never believe a film unless it’s being straight with you. This one basically admits that they grabbed the premise from a real event and then added their own story to it which is pretty believable. This is actually what I imagine that most movies do. It’s handled pretty well and definitely has a fun premise as well.

So, Charlie is a cop, but not just any cop. He’s known as the greatest cop around as he’s friends with everyone and always gets the job done. You can count on good ole Charlie is what everyone’s always thinking and they tend to be right. He’s just a good guy who always helps the community out. One day he goes to a restaurant, but he doesn’t have enough money for a tip so he makes a deal to split his lottery ticket winnings with the lady. She agrees to the terms and then Charlie happens to win a few million on it. He honors the agreement, but his wife isn’t pleased. With both of them slowly drifting apart and rebounds beginning to happen…what will they do!?

It’s a classic story of how getting rich can drive people apart. Of course in this case Charlie and Muriel already didn’t get along very well. This just sped things up. Charlie loves giving things away and after literally giving away half of his winnings, he also makes massive donations to the local Police fund and to the beggars on the street. Muriel gets triggered by this and starts throwing money around by redecorating the house and getting into the stock market. Both of them keep trying to one up the other in terms of throwing money around. Finally, Muriel decides to go for the “Divorce to Claim Assets” combo and quickly destroys Charlie. Fortunately, Charlie doesn’t care about the money.

All right, so there are quite a few things you can have fun mocking here, but it’s an enjoyable film. Lets start with Charlie. I actually don’t really care for Charlie. Sure, he’s a nice guy and he did the right thing in keeping his word about splitting the lottery ticket. He really shouldn’t have made that deal since the stakes were so high and could have just brought a tip the next day. Once he said it though, going through with it was the right call. Now, I can understand Muriel’s frustrations with him though. Imagine waking up one morning to discover that your friend has won 4 million dollars. You’re then hit with the bombshell that it is only going to be 2 million. Then you find out that he also donated one hundred thousand to the Police…then he bought his friend season tickets and a new hat…then he gave money to everyone who asked for it outside (That line will never end) etc. I know that Charlie doesn’t care about the money as he mentions this many, many times. He needs to be a little more considerate of his wife.

Finally, the main thing holding him back is his romance with Yvonne. Even if he wasn’t getting along with Muriel, they weren’t actually divorced yet so he shouldn’t be having any kind of affair. You wait until the paperwork is complete and it’s all over before going for the rebound. It’s like the people who dash into the subway as you’re trying to get off and then the yelling starts from everyone. The fact that he was already attracted to someone else was also pretty dicey. He started with the fake “Lets just be friends” line of course as they hung out every day, but we all know how that ends. I can’t say that I ever trust the “We’ll just be friends” pitch even if I do believe that it should be possible to just be friends. People always have an angle and if you haven’t figured one out yet, then that means you haven’t looked hard enough.

Don’t take this as me saying that I felt bad for Muriel though. She’s a very exaggerated villain in this film so the movie clearly doesn’t want you to take her side. She’s mean to everyone and only cares about being rich and famous. She also wastes her money on Pyramid Schemes and plastic surgery. She constantly insults her husband behind his back and her friends give her pretty bad advice like splitting from Charlie or just cheating on him. She flirts with this really old guy for no reason, but the film gives her a sad ending to counter this. Seriously, the ending is almost humorous as everyone who got in Charlie and Yvonne’s way end up bankrupt, dead, or just plain unhappy. The people who helped him out get a happy ending like the Cop who got his season tickets. The basic moral is that you better have been on Charlie’s side or you’re doomed.

The ending is a little cheesy though since a ton of people send the main character’s money. Nah, I don’t think that’s going to happen. I can see a lot of people sending them Karma on Reddit or making some snappy one liners, but the money is a stretch. Not saying that people don’t donate money to good causes as the Reddit “Build a Potato” got thousands of dollars, but it’s still a pretty rare thing and I don’t think their story would move people quite enough.

Finally we have Yvonne. She’s a nice enough character I suppose, but she is hanging out with a married man as I already stated so that gets us into very murky waters. I also feel like the two of them are going to be bankrupt very quickly as the film ends with them renting a hot air balloon and throwing a ton of paper (It better not be money!) down to a park for kicks. Sure, it may look good for a few minutes, but that’s a huge waste of money and an even bigger mess for the environment. They do realize that custodial is going to have to clean that up in the morning right?

I know that I said “Finally” but I have one more at the ready. Finally, Charlie does a terrible job in the courtroom and when the lawyers are meeting up. I know they’re trying to present him as a “Holier than thou” kind of character, but they forgot to incorporate the common sense angle. After allowing Muriel to take all of his money since Charlie is a nice guy, she also decides to take Yvonne’s money as well. Charlie will at least fight for her right? No, he’s still too nice of a guy to get in anybody’s way so he doesn’t put up a fight for her. He just lets it all go since he doesn’t care about the money. He cares about living right? Because it’s pretty hard to live when you have no money. Those scenes were just annoying to watch because being a nice guy doesn’t mean that you have to be a pushover. Charlie lets everyone walk right over him because he just doesn’t want to be mean. I felt bad for his lawyer since he was clearly wishing he hadn’t taken this task by the end.

Overall, This is a fun film though. While I focused on the annoying bits and the stretches in logic, the main reason why I enjoyed the film was the quick pacing and the fairly decent writing. The writing isn’t amazing, but it’s goo enough. Charlie may be annoying and has some dubious choices, but he was a good cop. He did a good job of ending the gunfight in the deli by showing up and taking names. He did make the good choice with the lottery ticket as well. Hopefully he will learn from this experience and get a little tougher along the way. That would really seal the deal on his character arc. Beyond that, just enjoy the ride and think about what you would do with 2 million dollars. It’s not as much of a big deal nowadays since we have so many millionaires running around, but I’d instantly throw half of it into savings and I’d use another chunk to buy a bunch of video games and maybe a small pizza store so I could walk in and get free slices whenever I wanted. It’s a tough call since they are so many variables, but it would be a good problem.

Overall 7/10

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Spongebob Boating Bash Review

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It’s time to finally delve into the world of Spongebob! I must admit that I actually haven’t played a great deal of Spongebob games before. This is one of the first ones for me, but it’s a pretty good way to get back into the franchise. This title is a racing game mixed in with a little vehicular warfare. It makes for a good dynamic and the game even has a plot which is an added bonus. Especially considering that this game goes for only a few dollars, you do not want to miss it!

The game starts off with Spongebob failing to get his license once again. It’s a pretty emotional moment since he had been doing so well in the training, but he randomly decided to accelerate and hit every obstacle. I feel like his short term memory had just ended when the exam started so he forgot everything that he learned. He feels bad about it, but then a shark comes along and offers Spongebob a chance to get a license through…other channels. He simply has to complete the Shark’s D.R.I.V.E. school which teaches you how to be a bad driver, that way you know what not to do on the real exam. Spongebob figures that this is easy enough and decides to pay the high entry fee to join. The rest of the characters get in on the action as well.

After you finish singing the Spongebob theme song to yourself and get back into the game, you’ll see that the DRIVE chapters have now opened. There are 5 chapters in the game along with a final chapter where you must use everything that you have learned. It’s graded report card style, but fortunately you don’t need all As. The levels are mostly pretty easy. A few of them may have taken me 2-3 tries, but ultimately you’ll have it down pat. The controls are easy enough as you just accelerate, turn, and brake. That’s it. You get to choose which vehicle you want as the game goes on and once you unlock the big boat, there’s no turning back. One good hit from that car can total just about any other. It’s only drawback is that it’s slow, but that’s not a problem in bumper cars. Just don’t pick it for the races.

The different game modes are: “Smash The Cars” “Race The Cars” “Smash The Cars and pick up the pieces.” My favorite is certainly the first mode, but they’re all reasonably solid in their own right. I haven’t played a great deal of car games with this gimmick so that was definitely a lot of fun. The gameplay is actually pretty smooth and I’d say that the game got a pretty decent budget for a title based on a TV show. There are even a lot of sound effects as you’re driving where the characters hurl some pretty personal insults at each other. Lets just say that their friendships will be a little strained after this event is all over. It’s the price that they have to pay for victory!

Graphically, Spongebob delivers. It may not look great, but the levels are very clear. If anything, the only part that bothered me was the loading screen as Spongebob would get a very weird facial expression. They also added too much color to his cheeks which was odd as well. So when you ignore the loading screen, then the whole thing comes together quite nicely. I should also mention that the game has fully animated cutscenes with voice acting which was a really good bonus to have along. The music is also pretty good. The main theme is very catchy and I still remember it which is a very good thing.

There is a little replay value to be found here. Once you obtain all A ranks in the game, you’ll unlock the final vehicles and game options. It probably wouldn’t take long to get the rest of them. I got a bunch of A ranks without even trying so it’s not like you’d have to redo all of the lessons. Still, I can’t say that I’m too tempted to get the rest of the cars since the ones that I already have are pretty good. I suppose it still does help to make the overall game longer and more worth your dollar though.

You definitely do need to enjoy the gameplay though since the game is very formulaic and can be seen as a little repetitive. There are roughly 35 levels sprinkled into the game and since there are only 3 game modes, you’ll be seeing them quite a lot. I guess you could say that it’s set up like Mario Kart, but with far fewer levels so you’re usually just on the same roads. The game did its best to shift things up a bit, but the level designs was certainly its weakness. There are no colorful levels as they all look the same.

Overall, I’d recommend checking out Spongebob’s Boating Bash. It’s a surprisingly fun adventure and one of the only underwater racing games that I can think of. What really gives it an extra boost is the story mode since it’s pretty engaging. Spongebob is definitely a little more naive than I remember, but at least he’s portrayed as a good kid. He’s always acting pretty modest and addresses everyone as Sir. His friends all seem a little more mean spirited though as they all join just to beat up Spongebob. I forgot how much the whole village resents his success. I look forward to trying out one of the Gamecube games at some point, but it’ll likely be a long while before then.

Overall 7/10

Escaflowne Review

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It’s always a sad day when a franchise is brought back from the grave just to shatter our memories. I’ve always been of the opinion that more content for a franchise is always a good thing even if it’s bad. I’m glad Dragon Ball Super exists even if it mocks most of the principles from DBZ. I’m glad Naruto Shippuden exists even if it’s painfully low budget and has some of the worst directing of all time. I’m even glad that we have Teen Titans Go because it has brought some nice episodes and scenes once in a while. These additions to the franchise may not have been amazing, but they did have their share of great moments which is why I love to see them. However, a film like this one or the latest season of Samurai Jack does sometimes make me question this. Ultimately, my stance hasn’t changed, but it’s always sad when we get a modern gritty remake/reboot/sequel that really just takes away everything that made the original good. Escaflowne is a terrible movie and it will make you feel bad for the TV show. It has animal violence and gratuitous violence at the ready so with that in order, lets tackle this film.

Hitomi was a normal suicidal teenager when the film picks up. Her friend makes a joke about wanting to be there when Hitomi jumps, but little does she know that Hitomi is serious, she just feels like she isn’t brave enough to do it yet. Hitomi decides to vent on her friend since it seems like this is what all terrible main characters do. Already we can see that the film is being randomly edgy for no reason. Why is Hitomi suicidal? This isn’t a good plot point nor is it a necessary one. It’s just a jarring change to her character which was unneeded. Well, one thing leads to another and she is warped to Gaea. There she meets up with Van.

Van is the last survivor of his clan and now he just wants bloody vengeance on everyone in his vicinity. He naturally tries to destroy Hitomi as soon as he sees her, but she is saved by the resistance. No worries, she falls for him anyway right away because this is the perfect start to a romance. Van decides to use the mighty Escaflowne robot to save the day, but it’s a little more twisted in this version. Escaflowne is a robotic vampire which feeds on its hosts so in order to use it, you have to let it stab you and suck your blood. Again, this is a random change that has nothing to do with anything, but it’s an excuse for the film to be more violent and dark once again.

As such, we get to see Van stabbed repeatedly every time he enters the machine and just moving causes him to be stabbed as well. How was this film not R? The whole time I was watching the film, I was super perplexed at that. This film is certainly violent enough to justify the rating if you ask me. Anyway, with these weapons at his disposal, Van is ready for revenge and so the big battles start.

The film made some good changes so we’ll start with those. Allen doesn’t have a very rushed romance with Hitomi here. There is little in the way of romantic tension here at all so that’s a good thing. The Mole Man also gets a much smaller role which I was glad to see since he was an annoying character in the first film. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all that I can think of for the film’s positives, at least when it comes to changes. The film cut out the main villain of the show which was a pretty big mistake. Folken was never a very interesting character after all and I wouldn’t say that he’s great here either.

Wait, there is one good change to the film. I just barely remember that the concept was good because it was mostly just used for more bad scenes. The characters with dragon DNA can use The Force to blast people with telekinetic energy. It’s a pretty exclusive list though since only Folken, Van, and Dilandau have dragon DNA. It’s a cool concept and certainly makes these characters way more difficult to defeat. Of course, the film can’t control itself and one character uses it to blow a Horse apart. Noooooo! That was the worst scene in the film and I knew it was only a matter of time before the film pulled something like that. It was such a cool concept, but the film couldn’t let it rest. Folken also blasts Dilandau so hard with it that the guy’s head comes close to exploding, but that was way more mild in comparison.

You can already tell that I didn’t like Hitomi in this film, but at least Allen was decently good. He’s as overconfident as ever and easily defeats Van when they fight. He doesn’t get a robot in this film though so he’s completely useless whenever the villains show up. It feels like an even more lopsided war than in the show since the villains have all of the advantages. All the heroes have at the ready are allies who keep backstabbing each other. Van’s even more blood thirsty than usual in the film. It’s hard to find him likable since he’s willing to destroy a defenseless lady (Hitomi) for basically no reason and never really apologizes for it. He’s certainly a very skilled warrior here, but not an ally that you can trust.

The film also added a new character for the lolz. She can see the future, teleport people, and do all kinds of crazy stuff. She wants to see Folken burn so she follows him around and makes fun of him from time to time. In the end, she decides that dying will be fun as long as it’s with Folken and her whole character arc was rather odd. Folken wasn’t a bad villain I suppose. He didn’t really stand out, but he made all of the threats and did a lot of posturing so at least he performed his roll. Dilandau somehow got a happy ending out of this and developed a loyal cadre of minions. I guess he wasn’t a mean leader or something? I didn’t get that impression from him to be honest, but that’s the way the ball bounces I guess. A wise leader doesn’t slice and dice his own men so I’ll take that a complement to him from the film.

The animation is pretty good. I’m not a fan of the character designs, but if you’re able to see past them, then you can see that the rest of the animation is on point. While violent, the action scenes are very fluid with the hand to hand action being quite good. The mind blasts between the characters are nice and Escaflowne’s berserker mode is also really good. The soundtrack is a little less inspiring. I’d say that it was decent. It wasn’t bad or underwhelming, but it wasn’t really anything to write home about.

It’s another case of a film succeeding on the technical levels while not being able to uphold its integrity for the main course. The excessive violence the whole time was just very forced. I always consider it to be forced because there are many examples of shows and movies that have great fight scenes without being violent. Many of them can be completely bloodless or adding in a smidge at times. Dragon Ball Z, Toriko, Sengoku Basara, Samurai Jack, (Original show) Justice League, Digimon Savers, etc. So when a fight scene is really violent, I can only really say that it is forced. It’s just the only explanation in my eyes. At least the movie didn’t add a bunch of language, that tactic is even more desperate. If it is true that Shin Godzilla is rated TV-MA because of that…that will just be sad. The animal violence and suicidal themes in Escaflowne were just icing on the cake by the end. The film was already not in a good spot in those issues just didn’t help it.

Overall, Escaflowne was a TV show that absolutely did not need a film remake. While it is preferable to a recap film, it should have been more faithful to the TV show. Diverging to such a large extent is a high risk/high reward option, but it typically ends up failing miserably. The movie still has some interesting storylines going on and the action/animation are good, but they don’t succeed in covering up the film’s failings. This almost goes without saying, but I’d highly recommend just going back and watching the original show if you want to delve into the franchise. There’s no reason to check this film out. Lets just let it fade away into our memories.

Overall 3/10

A Monster Calls Review

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It’s time for one of those films that makes you take a step back. From the beginning you can tell that it’s going to be bad, but it just keeps on getting worse and worse as it goes on until it hits the dreaded 0 stars. In a sense, it does take talent to mess up on such a grand scale though so we have to give the film some props. Still, you’ll need to break out the Pepsi and Minute Maid for this film as it’ll drag on and on!

The film is about a jerk kid named Conor who’s not a nice guy. He only cares about himself and isn’t interested in the issues that everyone else is facing. His Mom is terminally ill which he uses as his excuse to vandalize his house and beat people up. He begins to have delusions about a monster visiting him and telling him twisted stories where everyone is evil and must be destroyed in the end. Conor agrees with this so he goes to an abandoned house and smashes it apart. Nobody tells him to stop because they all know about his Mother’s situation and don’t want to stress her out. Others just feel like it’s okay for Conor to vent and do whatever he wants in the meantime. It’s a toxic cycle, but who will end it?

This film is just so terrible that you need a breath of fresh air every few minutes or you’ll faint. So, lets start with Conor. There’s no way to feel sympathetic to this guy because he is just so extreme. Towards the end of the film, we learn that he actually wanted his Mom to die just so he wouldn’t have to deal with the tense situation anymore. That’s his big revelation in the film and naturally the Mom loses her will to live at around that point and passes away. Conor’s wish was not only selfish, but just plain despicable. If the film hadn’t already fallen to trash tier by then, this would have sealed the deal. He also gave his Aunt (Or was it the grandmother?) a tough time throughout the movie for no good reason. She was perfectly polite and a decent person, but Conor still destroyed all of her possessions and did his best to be a perfect nuisance the whole time around.

The Dad visited as well a few different times, but Conor decided to vent on him as well. We also get some plot hax at the end as Conor takes down the bully (Who decides not to fight back because…..reasons) and the guy’s henchmen just watch. It’s hard to believe that they’re nervous since it’s 3 on 1 and the fact that Conor is super weak. It’s just another painfully bad scene. The first bullying scene was just as bad though since it was made to be a little more violent and dark than it should have been. Bullying is always a pretty terrible plot to have in a film but the film still tried to go as far as it could there.

The “Monster” is obviously fake from the start and I felt like the film didn’t even try to make him seem real. It was such a clear indie “metaphorical” monster that I face palmed when he first showed up. His design isn’t any good as I just think about Groot when he shows up and he’s not all that powerful either. He’s clearly not a nice guy as he just does whatever he wants and his plot never really goes anywhere either. When all of the characters in a film are either unlikable or super minor, there’s just not much hope for the film at that point.

This film just has no fun scenes at all. There’s not a single happy scene in the whole film which is actually incredible. It’s just incredible in the worst way possible. The special effects were nothing special, nor the backgrounds that the film used. It all just contributes to the gray, hazy background that plagues every scene and destroys the tone of the film. Just as there are Indie games that remind me how they can still be good, Indie films like this one keep reminding me why I’m typically not a fan. You can make the case that this wasn’t an Indie film, but it sure felt and looked like one the whole time.

Part of the story revolves around the 3 imaginary tales that the “monster” tells Conor. Of course in actuality, it’s just Conor looking through his old notebook and telling himself the twisted stories that he created. None of the stories are any good as you’d expect. One of them has two kids die an unfortunate death so to spite the guy who let them die, someone else murders someone and the murders just keep coming. In the first story, everyone basically dies as well with enough plot twists to make you yawn. The stories are also dreadfully low budget as they look like really crude drawings.

If it’s any consolation, the film did avoid the animal violence issue. I was glad about that at the very least. Still, earning a 0 without that or gritty plots ala Sucker Punch shows just how bad this film is. I don’t even know how I’d go about making it a better film. You’d have to completely get rid of the main character and then it’s a different movie. It’s like Ryoma always says “You’ve got a ways to go”

Overall, A Monster Calls is a terrible film, but you could probably guess that from the plot summary. There just wasn’t any hope for the film as it started to show its true colors in the opening minutes. I doubt any of us could have suspected that it would continue to deteriorate as the film went on, but some films are just like that. They get gradually worse as they go on instead of getting better. Fortunately, that means this film would likely never get a sequel. There’d be no reason for one and it would just be rather cringe inducing. I’d recommend staying as far away from this film as possible. Go watch the Mr. Rogers Neighborhood marathon on Twitch if it’s still going or check out Yugioh Arc V instead. These options are huge improvements and also have a lot of content to sift through so they’ll keep you busy for a while.

Overall 0/10

Mutant Mudds Deluxe Review

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It’s time to look at a game that everyone was talking about a while back. Mutant Mudds was the next big thing back in the day, but there was no physical release. Well, now there finally is one and I can safely say that it’s a fun game. It’s pretty short and you can tell that it had a limited budget since there aren’t a lot of levels. That being said, the gameplay is solid and ultimately that’s all you really need to be a good game.

The story follows a young kid as he decides to save the world from mud monsters. There’s not much of a plot as you are just thrown into the action and there are maybe 2-3 text bubbles that pop up. Of course if you were expecting a long story, then you’ve come to the wrong title. The main experience here are the levels. There are 20 levels in the game and each one comes with a 3-5 minute timer. You will have to run and jump to get through them. Fortunately, the main character has a jet pack which lets you hover for a few seconds. It’s a very useful ability and you also have a blaster with can defeat enemies. Furthermore, you unlock 3 power ups as you go through the game although you can only activate one of them at a time. There’s the super hover, (I recommend this one) the vertical boost, (Fun, but only use it when you have too) and the Super Blaster. (No real purpose aside from bonus collectibles)

The toughest parts of the levels are typically when you have to make some real precision jumps. That being said, they aren’t all that hard when you compare them to real extreme titles like Mario Maker or even the DK games. Fortunately, the game does manage to increase the difficulty through the extra levels. Each of the 20 levels has a ghost counterpart where you play the levels again but this time you cannot let yourself get hit. It certainly raises the stakes since your platforming skills are really put to the test now. This works as part of the replay value in the game. It’s a bit of a forced time extender so if the levels had been longer I would have been a little upset. As it stands now, the levels aren’t very long I found it to be fairly reasonable.

Another form of replay value is the fact that all of the levels have 100 gems. You want to get all of the gems to complete the game and also to get closer to getting all of the game’s trophies. There is no Platinum unfortunately, but you can still get 100% completion to show off your true skills. To do that, you’ll have to beat the 40 levels as well as the 20 levels inside of the normal levels. To get to those final 20 levels, you have to use your power ups to get to the secret entrances. The tricky part is that you don’t know which one is in which levels so expect some trial and error here as you figure out what’s up.

The game also operates on a few different layers so you can jump from the front of the screen to the back at certain points. Always be careful that you don’t land right on an enemy. The trickiest parts of this are usually when you can’t tell if an enemy is next to you or on a different layer. It makes for some good mind games as you have to figure out what’s happening before you get slammed. You get 3 hearts and recover full health whenever you make it to a check point. Each level has a check point which is really helpful because even if you lose, you have somewhere to go back to.

This game brings you back to the retro world of sprites when it comes to graphics. That’s always fun to see since sprites really were a lot of fun back in the day. We’ll always be sad to see them go since they were a big part of the gaming world. The graphics aren’t going to look like a modern game’s, but the actual sprite models hold up pretty well. The soundtrack is less inspiring though as the tunes have all already faded at this moment. They weren’t bad tunes, they just didn’t sound as good or unique as they could have been.

If I have any complaint, it’s that I would have liked a boss battle. At least one for the very end to help give the game a grand ending. I don’t imagine it would be too difficult to code one in. Send in a giant version of a minion if necessary and make the battle take place in a room where you can drop things on the monster. It will keep the fight a little difficult while not being insane either. It would be a nice middle ground for the game.

Overall, Mutant Mudds is a pretty solid game. It’s short so you shouldn’t spend 60 dollars on it, but for 30 or so it’s not a bad buy. Considering that you have to beat the levels more than once, it has enough content to last you for a few hours. It’s not quite ready to hang with the likes of Shovel Knight, Shantae, or Mighty No 9, but the fact that it got a physical release already helps to put it above many of its rivals. If you’re looking for a good side scroller, then I’d definitely recommend checking this one out. It’s like a Metroid game only without the puzzles and you can’t go wrong there. I can definitely see myself going back and grabbing all of the trophies one of these days and hopefully the next installment gets a Platinum. It’s games like this one that give Indies a good name so hopefully they can keep up the good work. I can also see why people really like retro games like this one. They’re simple, but easy to get invested in as you watch yourself play for long periods of time. I’ll always be more of a big budget AAA gamer myself, but I like to enjoy all the styles.

Overall 7/10

Thru the Mirror Review

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Thru The Mirror brings us even further back into Disney’s roots as it is a solo Mickey Mouse adventure. The good news is that this means Goofy isn’t present…the bad news is that Donald also isn’t around. Mickey can usually hold his own special no problem but he isn’t able to talk in this special. That makes the task a great deal more difficult. It’s an entertaining short, but one that could have used more dialogue.

The short starts up with Mickey’s soul being thrown out of his body. It’s at this point that Mickey realizes he may never go back to his body again so he decides to have fun messing around in the real world. He doesn’t get to stay there for long though as he enters Wonderland and must now struggle to stay alive against an army of Cards and a vengeful King. Fortunately for Mickey, he is actually a great swordsman and this is good foreshadowing for the Kingdom Hearts franchise.

The animation is nice and smooth as always. The soundtrack was more limited and less eventful than the last two specials, but it still wasn’t bad. It is definitely interesting to see Mickey’s old design here since it is such a contrast to the one we are all used too. It helps you buy into the different personality a little better though.It’s hard to imagine modern Mickey being so rebellious and messing with people the way that he does here.

What you’re probably wondering now is…was the King acting rashly or did he make the right call? I can safely say that it’s the latter. Mickey went too far when he danced with the Queen and I’m glad that the King arrived to put him in his place. The fight may not have gone as well as the King would have hoped, but it wasn’t super one sided either. He made Mickey sweat and I’m sure that the mouse will have second thoughts before crossing him again.

The rest of the Alice in Wonderland cameos and elements were fun as well. It’s definitely a legend that is used quite a lot as many different titles have been inspired by it. It wouldn’t be the last time that Disney would head back to this arena either. Hopefully Mickey brings Donald around next time so we can have some banter between him and the Cheshire Cat. At the very least, I’d like Mickey to bring along his keyblade so we can have some real fights.

Overall, Thru The Mirror is a fun special that has aged reasonably well. I would have liked it more if Mickey could talk though. Dialogue is just so important in a movie because it lets you become one with the film and only then can you embrace it to its full potential. Oh well, it’s still a fun way to spend 15 minutes and after that you can get a milkshake as you continue to remember the good ole days.

Overall 6/10

Clock Cleaners Review

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Mickey, Donald, and Goofy have finally found steady jobs as clock cleaners. Unfortunately the clock seems to be alive and doesn’t like to be cleaned. Mickey, Donald, and Goofy are systematically attacked and defeated. We all know that they have absolutely no chance of winning here so the question is…how badly will they be pounded? I may as well say that the clock gets in a lot of serious hits. Possibly even lethal ones.

As always, Donald was the most interesting member in the group. He actually defeated his part of the clock until Mickey and Goofy wrecked it. Donald’s soap voice just doesn’t get old. Mickey’s plot isn’t bad as he spends a lot of time getting beat up by a bird. To his defense, it was a pretty tough bird who wasn’t playing around! He wanted his sleep and nothing was gonna stop him.

Goofy’s plot is the weakest as expected. He gets smashed by a few golden hammers and this causes him to go loopy. He keeps almost jumping off the skyscraper so then Mickey has to save him. The effects of the hit certainly lasted a while as well since Goofy stayed that way for the rest of the special. I wanted to be more sympathetic but he didn’t handle the situation very well.

The animation is pretty nice and fluid the whole time. Disney’s style has certainly aged very well over the years which is most impressive. The designs are all iconic and they certainly got famous so the company knew what people wanted to see. The sound effects and music aren’t bad either. The main clock theme is quite catchy.

Now, I suppose the real question you’re all wondering here is who was in the right..Mickey or the bird? You may not be surprised to hear that I was on the bird’s side 100%. He can sleep wherever he wants and we just have to deal with it. Clearly Mickey wasn’t on the same page, but that’s totally on him. I’m glad that the Bird fought for his American rights and never gave up even when the going got tough. There was no tie and the victor was never in doubt. This bird wasn’t playing around!

Overall, it’s another fun Disney special to add to your viewing history and I’d recommend checking it out. The special is very short so it’s not as if it’ll take a whole lot of time to watch and it’s fairly timeless. You can watch it in any year and it’ll be just as fun as you can recall. It’s definitely interesting to see how Mickey and the gang changed over the years.

Overall 7/10

Teen Titans: The Judas Contract Review

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Now I can finally be caught up with the main DC films. They’ve been on a solid roll and it’s good to have DC finally reclaim the throne. That being said, it’s not nearly as good as Bad Blood or Justice League vs Titans. Those films did set quite a high bar though and this film is still pretty solid. The action scenes are on point and all of the characters get to show off their skills. Considering that fans had been waiting for this film for around a decade, it was nice for them to finally get a payoff.

The Teen Titans are finally a pretty close knit team. They’ve even got a new member named Terra who is useful for breaking into enemy bases. Nightwing does his best to get back into the swing of things since he left the team for a long time. It looks like he showed up just in time since the assassin Deathstroke has shown up once again and he has his sights set on the Titans. The Justice League aren’t available to help in this round so Nightwing has to put his training to good use and solve this issue on his own.

The film starts off with a decent action sequence as we learn about one of the Teen Titans first missions. At the very least, it was how they first met Starfire and ultimately she would become the leader. I have to say that the old roster may have been a little stronger since they had Kid Flash, but Starfire’s a pretty decent replacement. The actual Titans from that era were fairly unlikable as expected since the film really played up the whole Teens angle. That also ends up hurting the main cast to an extent as well.

The main plot with Deathstroke taking everyone down was a lot of fun though. I was wondering how they would incorporate Deathstroke into the film since he met an untimely demise a while back, but the reason was satisfactory and the most plausible one of the bunch. Fortunately for him, Deathstroke also got a lot stronger and became better at hand to hand combat. He looked so terrible in Son of Batman, but this was a great way to finally treat the character with respect. I’m definitely a Deathstroke fan and his portrayal here was spot on.

Naturally, Terra also gets a big role, but I can’t say that she was likable here at all. I’d actually say that her TV show version was probably better. This one’s subplot with Deathstroke was pretty unnecessary and her “Too tough for everyone” personality didn’t work well. If you want an example of a character who pulled it off, look no further than Damian! Damian’s role here was fairly small since he wasn’t in the comic and the writers didn’t want to upset the fans. Still, he looked good in his brief appearance as he put up a fight against Deathstroke and seemed to be the only member with common sense. I know the Titans are about acceptance and all, but letting in random people with no background checks is extremely risky. Damian’s hunch proved to be correct as it always is.

A minor subplot is how Starfire is worried that the other members treat Nightwing as more of a leader than her. It’s to be expected since he was the leader for a while, but he’s a nice guy and does his best not to usurp her authority. Starfire’s not a bad character and still a big step up from the TV show version. She could be better though. This also wasn’t Nightwing’s best appearance and all of the scenes with him and Starfire typically just slow the film down. He still does well in combat though.

Beast Boy’s still as annoying as ever. There’s no way Terra should fall for him just because he is constantly pestering her. He was basically asking to be betrayed the whole time and it’ll probably be tough for me to ever be a big fan of his. Blue Beetle’s scarab continues to act up and it’ll be fun to see if a film tackles that plot at some point. His subplot was pretty boring though and definitely didn’t need to be in the film. It’s nice of him to help out, but did it have to immediately have to also become a romance subplot? What happened to just having nice co-workers?

Raven gets the smallest role here, but she already had her own film so that makes sense. Unfortunately, she is heavily nerfed as a result. Honestly, the power levels are pretty bad all around here which is a shame since the previous film did pretty good with them. Raven losing to Terra is one of those “I can’t believe that happened” moments and the Titans just ganging up on Brother Blood at the end was also pretty iffy. His powers seemed to magically vanish and suddenly he was getting wrecked by everyone. The only main fight that I was really okay with was Deathstroke taking on Damian and Nightwing since a super soldier serum can definitely make that plausible. Every bit of strength and speed helps a lot in a fight like that.

The animation is definitely sharp as expected. All of the fights are pretty sharp and the character designs on point. DC’s never disappointed in this area though so it’s hardly a surprise at all. Unfortunately, the soundtrack didn’t return from Justice League vs Teen Titans. That one had some really good tunes, but this one went for a more generic ensemble. It wasn’t bad, but I can’t remember a single tune, you’d think that it was a silent film.

Ultimately what holds this one back from being as good as the others is the writing. It’s a little more sub par this time around as it’s a TEEN Titans film as opposed to being a Teen Titans film. There’s a lot of romance and drama everywhere with some rather iffy lines being thrown around. We did get our fair share of superhero action as well, but these elements definitely weakened the film just enough. It also doesn’t help that I’m not a Brother Blood fan and he’s as boring as ever. At least he got a power up so he could actually fight here. Still, you can easily forget that HIVE is in the film and it wouldn’t really change much.

Overall, The Judas Contract is a good film. It’s not as sharply written as the last few films and Raven was nerfed way too hard, but it’s still enjoyable to watch. The film breezes by since it’s so short and that allows then pacing to always be pretty quick. Damian’s a highlight as always and Deathstroke has fully reclaimed his glory. I look forward to seeing what the rest of 2017 can bring for DC animation. I want to see a Justice League movie now that DC is bringing its A game back. A Trinity War adaption could be a lot of fun or we could even skip to the Darkseid War at this point. Wherever we go, it should be hype!

Overall 6/10

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Review

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It’s time to review the final DK Country game and possibly the final main DK game of them all. The Country series has been pretty solid for all of the installments so it’s nice to see what the Wii U can bring to the table. The game is a little shorter than Returns and noticeably easier as well, but it’s still a quality platformer. One nice mechanic that they added was the dash and now I can’t imagine playing a DK game without it. It makes the characters so much more versatile and deadly in the levels.I certainly had a blast spamming it and it’ll remind you of the 3D Sonic games.

The plot involves a group of ice creatures deciding to take over a mountain. This angers DK and his pals because they want more bananas and they don’t grow in frigid temperatures. Thus, DK and friends decide to beat people up along the way and eat what they can. Still, can they defeat this Bowser impostor or will the trials be too much for them? The story definitely pales in comparison to the last game though for one key reason…the first 4 worlds are filler. They have nothing to do with the plot and there aren’t even any ice levels in them. For a game that’s called Tropical Freeze, this was a little odd. Once you enter the final 2 worlds then the ice levels start to show up so that was neat. Either way, the level variety is always fun, but I wish the plot could have worked with that a little.

The gameplay is the 2D platforming that you would expect. That being said, as mentioned earlier we now have a dash mechanic. It is incredibly handy as you can cross large distances with the move. It’s also not too automatic or easy so it feels like a legitimate technique that you’ll want to master. If you learn it just right, you’ll find yourself blasting through the levels. The gameplay is very smooth and you can definitely know that this is a AAA game right off the bat. I was very happy to trade in the Wii remote controls for a more proper All Pro and Gamepad setup as well. It’s night and day comparing the two styles for this platformer.

While the levels are significantly easier than DK Country Returns, it’s not really fair to say that it’s too drastic. The main reason for this is that I just got done completing the former so it’s possible that I’m just more prepared for whatever the DK series throws at me right now. It’s like playing Dark Souls 1 and 2 back to back. 2 will probably feel a lot easier than 1 did initially. I do think that Tropical Freeze probably had the tougher bosses though. It’s a close one, but the last boss for example would certainly be rather difficult to defeat in one player mode. He has a lot of health and it’s hard to predict his horn attack. It almost feels purely random. I don’t think any of the bosses are inherently unfair though. They’re tough, but you just need to keep on going at them until you win.

The soundtrack isn’t bad. There are no super hype themes like the Returns villain jingle, but they’ll get you through the stages. The boss theme that plays when a boss first shows up is similar to Mighty No 9’s main boss theme which is pretty interesting. There’s a good guitar/drum solo that works well for that. I don’t really recall any of the stage themes, but they were pleasant enough. The graphics also look pretty sharp for the title. It brought back the Shadow levels and the elements all look really sharp. The characters also look good in the cutscenes. Nintendo never disappoints when it comes to the technical aspects and they rarely do with the gameplay either.

There’s a good amount of replay value here as you’d expect. Collecting all of the puzzle pieces in the levels will certainly take a good amount of time. There are quite a few of them in each level after all. Most of the levels require repetition to really get them down so it’s more about the time than the difficulty. I believe you unlock an extra world if you do that so that’s a nice incentive. It’ll certainly give hardcore DK players a few extra hours to have fun with. The main game will only take you a handful of hours as well. 6-8 I’d imagine, but that’s a pretty decent length for a platformer. Having 8 worlds helps a lot, but 6 will do.

Overall, Donkey Kong has brought us another pretty solid game. If you want to really experience the difficulty as the true DK experience, make sure you choose to play as DK. If you want to coast through the levels a little easier, make sure to pick Diddy Kong or Dixie. They can cheese you through just about any obstacle. I look forward to seeing another Donkey Kong country game rise to the surface. Hopefully the plot will be a little better even though I know that is rarely Nintendo’s goal. As long as the gameplay is good, I suppose the rest doesn’t matter quite as much and Nintendo certainly knows how to handle gameplay. I never got to play as Cranky, but that’s fine. I get the feeling that his special ability wouldn’t have been all that great.

Overall 8/10

Digimon World Next Order Review

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It’s time for the big, hyped return to the Digimon franchise! I’ve been waiting for Digimon to make its return to the big screen for quite a while at this point. Unfortunately, I can’t say that the Digimon World series is my favorite from what I’ve heard. The idea of growing and raising Digimon just doesn’t strike my fancy. That being said, World 4 was pretty hype so surely this would be hype as well right? Unfortunately, it is the worst Digimon game so far. It has its moments, but the overall gameplay mechanics are just bad.

Lets start from the top since there is definitely a lot to discuss at this point. The plot is about a kid who finds himself in the Digi world for some reason. The actual reason isn’t important and the game doesn’t really address it either. “Stuff happens” is the best explanation really and it’s all because the kid entered a Digi tournament and came in the top 5. The other contestants also made it to the Digi World, but it seems like the top ranked fighter is evil. The other top fighter might also be a traitor. Luckily, Terry (That’s what I called the main character anyway) still has two other friends to help him out. The problem is that one of them is always bragging about herself and the other guy has self confidence issues. Terry basically has to defend the world on his own. To do that, we need to find a lot of Digimon and force them to move to our town. After we’re confident enough, then we can head for the villain stronghold.

Here’s where the problems start off. The actual gameplay revolves around you walking through various habitats and recruiting Digimon. Some of them will join you instantly while others will have you find sticks and stones, or other materials. Others will have you fight them, but most will just tell you to back off and you have to wait until you’re progressed further in the game. The kicker is that you can’t progress further without getting more Digimon so you’ll spend a good amount of time just looking around. The exploration is big in this game like with Legend of Zelda. The problem is that you can’t actually take your time since you have Digimon partners.

The game really tries its best to make the Digimon like realistic kids, but they went too far. They can’t go 5 minutes without yelling at you to bring them food, take them to a toilet, or that they want to go to sleep. If you don’t have the items on hand, then they’ll refuse to fight in order to spite you or they’ll get sick. Once they get sick, you have to spend a bunch of money to make them better again and that’s only if the Hospital is open. You probably won’t get that for the first 20+ hours though so good luck until then. Another issue is that your Digimon are constantly dying all of the time which reverts all of their stats back and you have to train them from the beginning. The whole system is made to be as aggravating as possible.

Now, I think the intent of this game was to feel like Shantae or Breath of the Wild. Everything is difficult at first, but as you progress through the game it feels a lot better since you have upgrades which are effectively quality of life upgrades to the game. The problem is that the whole Digimon death system works against that to a solid extent. While you can get upgrades later on that extent their life a bit and help them regain some stats through each reincarnation, you’ll still have to waste hours in the gym powering them up. The gym is as tedious as you’d expect since it is just about mashing the X button. You also can’t train for very long before your Digimon get tired and take a break, get hungry, or get sleepy. You have to listen to them since you need their Digibond for EXE fusion.

Did I mention that this game does a terrible job of explaining everything? I learned about most of the techniques and tricks online. The game never even tells you about EXE fusion. I’m sure an NPC mentions it somewhere, but I never ran across it. Without EXE, beating the game would be really difficult. It is only possible when you have maxed out your bonds with both of your partners, have 1 Mega, and both have 150 Order Points. It basically makes you invincible. Granted, I only got to use it once, but it was awesome. For the final boss, I just spent a whole generation fishing until I had 3 million bucks and then I did the gym and bought food at the Restaurant for 10 days. By that time, the final boss went down without even putting up a struggle so I didn’t need to bother with EXE. It was a glaring change from how tough the rest of the game was.

Once you’re in combat, you have to watch as your Digimon try and attack. You can give them orders to attack or block which helps, but they don’t listen to you if they don’t feel like it. Also, they may obey your order once they’re out of range so the attack will miss or they’ll block, but let it go before the attack lands. I definitely prefer to control the Digimon myself or to at least have a proper turn based system instead. The gameplay is absolutely not my cup of tea. To be clear, it’s not bad though, it just could be a whole lot better. The game could have easily gotten a 7 in spite of it had the rest of the game been good.

The problem is that it isn’t. I can’t stress enough just how bad the Digimon death system is. It gets incredibly tedious during the early part of the game. You’ll also have to just let the Digimon die sometimes because you know that they won’t get strong enough in the end. At least one good thing is that your Tamer upgrades are permanent since he never dies. His EXP is based on how far you walk and for how long you stayed out. The best EXP trick is to then just walk in circles over and over again and you’ll be getting level ups in no time. It’s cheesy and feels cheesy as well, but you can’t deny the results.

Also, make sure that you pick the easy difficulty setting. It doesn’t actually affect the enemy strength or anything. The only real change is that training in the gym is a lot quicker so Normal mode is literally just in existence to make the game more of a grind. I don’t see any reason to ever even consider playing that mode. As it is you’ll be grinding a lot for materials, training, and just general walking around. This review’s been pretty negative since I want to make sure you understand what’s limiting the game. It’s hard to really do it justice even now as you have to play the game to really understand. Now let’s talk about the positives.

The graphics are decently good. They’re not quite PS4 level, but they don’t look bad either. I’m guessing they just couldn’t make the graphics look too good because of how many character models are in the game or something. Either way, they suffice. The levels all look pretty clear and the character designs are good. The soundtrack is okay. Cyber Sleuth certainly spoiled me on that, but it goes well enough with the scenes. I would have liked one hype lyrical song, but maybe for next time.

I do have to say that the plot ends in one of the worst ways possible. It always felt like the story was just something added so it could have one, but wasn’t the main focus. There’s not much to it, but there was always that feeling in the back of your mind that something hype was gonna happen. After all, most RPGs take a while to really get going. The problem here is that there’s no payoff. The final twists with the main villain don’t make any sense and actually just hurt the character. I didn’t want a sympathetic villain, I just wanted a tough one! It just eliminated the hype. The post story boss was pretty fun though. I wasn’t initially planning to do any of the post game stories, but my Digimon were so overpowered at the end that I couldn’t resist. I went and fought Diaboromon along with quite a few bonus quests to help out the stat sheet at the end.

That’s actually where the game comes full circle and I have to admit that it can be addicting. It’s strange since on the surface, it sounds like the game wasn’t all that good right? Maybe it’s just one of those “Time sink” issues but I did grow attached to it by the end. The beginning of the game was very brutal. Nothing’s worse than playing for an hour or two and not really accomplishing. On the other hand, once you do start to accomplish in the game, you don’t want to start. How I see it, the game really gets going once you are near the end of the game. That may seem to be a bit late, but from there on, the game works quite well. The quality of life improvements are just that massive. Your Digimon will finally get stronger at a rapid pace and you will be able to keep them alive for a very long time due to the new partners that you can recruit. The whole thing is time consuming and the game never stops being a grindfest but you can’t help but want to play the game again. I even briefly entertained the thought of getting the Platinum here. My Digimon are certainly strong enough now and I just need to keep extending their lives and they’ll live forever. Still, it’s not something that I’d be doing anytime soon, it would just take too long.

Overall, This is one of those games where you have to be prepared to invest a whole lot of time into it. You won’t be completing this game in under 40 hours or at least it’s not very likely. Of those 40+ hours, probably around 10 will be on the story and the rest will be side quests and grinding. You’ll want to keep completing the side quests though because every Digimon that you recruit has a unique ability and helps your city become a better place. Furthermore, you can’t beat the game without getting your town’s reputation to 100+. Each Digimon that you recruit gives you an extra 2-3 reputation. There’s enough replay value here to last you around 80+ hours as well so it’s certainly worth the money. Know what you’re getting yourself into and you’ll enjoy the game more. The final half and the post game segment isn’t enough for me to give the game a positive score, but it’s certainly a very deep game. I could play it for 20 more hours and still not quite understand all of the mechanics. You’ll have to tear yourself away at the end if you can survive the first 30 hours. I’d recommend just playing Cyber Sleuth if you want a game that’s dynamite from start to finish.

Overall 5/10