Games, 5 Star Games, Reviews, Game Reviews

Need For Speed ProStreet Review


It’s time to look at a recent Need for Speed title I completed. Unfortunately this may end up being the weakest title in the series. It’s hard to get into this one and there’s not even much of a story. I don’t know about you but I always need a compelling story to really throw the Need For Speed games into the next level. Not having one just doesn’t feel right because the whole time you’re waiting for something to happen and it just doesn’t. Additionally there are some other gimmicks that didn’t work well but more on that later.

The general premise is that you want to become the number one racer in town. To do that you will have to win a lot of races and tournaments. After clearing a bunch of tournaments you get to a showdown level where you get to beat a boss. Then rinse and repeat until you beat all of the showdowns which will earn you a match against one of the legendary Kings. Beat him and the game is over but after that you can take down the rest of the kings in the post game to become the grand king. At that point you are the best there ever was so what else would you really want to do?

There’s a lot of content here so I’ll certainly grant the game that. The campaign itself is incredibly long due to the sheer volume of races and tournaments here. I don’t see you completing the game in under 10 hours and it’ll probably take more like 15. Aside from that it’ll take a lot of time and money to unlock all of the cars or to break enough records to take on all of the kings. Earning money takes a lot of time in this game and that’s unfortunate because you need money to get the better cars. Your starter just won’t cut it. I’m cool with upgrading, but this game tries to go a little too realistic with that. There are some cars where even if you max them out they will never be fast enough to win the race. You also have to compete in “Wheelie” competitions near the end of the game and none of my cars could pull it off. Had to get a brand new one which was a colossal waste of money since it was just good for that and the drag races.

Ultimately I made it to the King at the end and took him down in the first 4 races, but the 5th one stumped me. I really only beat the first race because he ended up crashing so I crawled to the end. His car was simply worlds ahead of mine so no matter how well I raced through the level there was no way I was going to win. I needed a completely different car if I wanted to deal any damage and going all the way back didn’t seem like a great option. So that’s where my journey ended. I really don’t think the idea of having to get new cars all the time is a good one. I like just having one good car that you can upgrade. Make the courses tougher but don’t mess with the cars.

Maybe this wouldn’t have felt quite so bad if the game had a real story. This just didn’t really even feel like a Need For Speed. There is no free roam in the game which is absolutely crazy. That’s basically the core of the NFS franchise. Gone are the underground races and trying to zip away with your car intact. It’s admirable that the game was going for something new but if you ask me it just didn’t work. The core gameplay is still good of course so I’m happy about that but that’s really all I can say about this game. There are several different kinds of racing modes, but the classic Circuit is the best one. I suppose my second favorite would be Speed since the whole idea behind that mode is going full throttle from the start in 1 long lap. One mistake will mean the end for you here so you can’t afford to slip up.

The graphics aren’t bad. They’re pretty standard as far as the series goes. I wouldn’t really say that it’s improved much at all since the last one. As long as I can see the track I’m good though. The soundtrack’s pretty limited, I can’t recall any good tunes. One element that further holds the game back is the announcer. He talks constantly as you’re going through the menus so you feel like you have to hurry and make your selections. His lines aren’t witty, they’re just annoying and super loud. Additionally the game throws in a lot more fanservice than these games typically have. You’re also forced to experience this before every single race. You know how some of these levels are so difficult you have to retry them over and over again? Well, get ready for these unskippable intros before the race because they really eat up a lot of time by the time they’re all over.

Overall, Need For Speed ProStreet really fell pretty hard compared to most of the Need for Speed games. This one barely even feels like it’s a part of the same series as the others. It only shares the name with the rest of the games but otherwise may as well be a completely different title. The gameplay is good, but that’s not really enough to save the game. If I at least got my free roaming mode I’d be okay but without that this game just couldn’t work. If you’re going to get into the Need For Speed series then I recommend starting out with just about any other game compared to this one. ProStreet just does a disservice to the series.

Overall 5/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Dynasty Warriors 6 Review


It’s time to look at the next instalment in the Dynasty Warriors series. It’s definitely been pretty fun playing through all of the installments lately. From Dynasty Warriors 2 to now the series has definitely changed quite a bit. This one does feel a bit more modern than the last few even if the gap isn’t particularly wide. The story is more or less the same as the last ones so you’re really in this for the hype gameplay. Does it deliver?

When you boot the game up you’ll have a lot of different modes to choose from but I usually like to dive straight into Musou. This is effectively the game’s story mode after all so you definitely can’t go wrong there. The story consists of 6 levels where you have to defeat scores of enemies in order to proceed. It’s also a rather difficult mode and I highly recommend going into Free Mode and leveling up a bit if you want to really be ready for action here. Otherwise you can definitely expect to take quite a few losses in the meantime. The enemies have no mercy so if they catch you that’s it.

Often times you also have to account for the fact that you’re not the only guy on the squad. It doesn’t matter if you beat 700 enemies if your captain’s about to go down. One key thing to remember is that if he goes down you go down. There is really no I in team here because at the end of the day it’s all about the camp. If your camp is captured before the enemy one then that’s going to be game over. Some levels have different win conditions so I highly recommend checking into them as soon as you start each level. Knowing what you have to do in order to win and what you should do to make sure you don’t lose are absolutely critical.

The gameplay is the same as always so you should be able to pick it up pretty quickly. It’s a 3D Beat Em Up where you have to take down all of the enemies in your way until you get to the enemy stronghold. You have your standard attacks as well as power moves and super attacks. I recommend keeping your super attack as a combo breaker of sorts. The enemies deal a ton of damage so if they start to hit you I’d say to very quickly use your super. It’ll also give you an opportunity to run.

One thing about the game is that it’s very easy to drop you guard. You just took down 300 enemies in a row so why should this one be any different right? Well, the trickiest thing about the enemies is that all it takes is one solid combo to take you down for the count. Especially a boss. Part of why I lost in one level was because I underestimated the fact that the boss could take 75% of my HP with a single combo. It’s also pretty demoralizing to lose in this game because of how long the levels are. You instinctively know that you just lost a ton or progress.

It’s why I recommend playing the levels as intended. It’s real tempting to bypass everyone and run straight to the stronghold. In most levels it doesn’t even stop you from doing that. The problem is that it takes several minutes to run all that way and then you have around 10 or more bosses running at you at once. If you mess up your combo or leave an opening even for a second then you’ll be going down. You can’t really afford to do something like this until you’re at a very high level.

That’s where Free Mode comes in. Additionally this game has a more robust level system than most of the other games. You can actually learn new skills as you level up and upgrade your stats through a skill tree. I definitely was not expecting anything quite like that here so it was a pretty welcome surprise. I can’t say enough how much I like level ups. Having trouble on a level? Just go back and beat some more enemies. The gameplay is fun as I mentioned so it’s not like this is a problem. Additionally I like when you can see the fruits of your labor and the level ups make a good difference here. It’s like night and day. I actually took down 1200 enemies in one of the levels after grinding up my level so that felt pretty good.

In terms of graphics the game holds up well. The more realistic setting does stifle the game in terms of how out there the graphics can get but we get some nice action scenes. The intro cinematic was a little shorter than usual though or it felt that way. The soundtrack is pretty nice. I always like the opening main menu riff that tends to play. It’s always a rock theme in this series which starts you off right.

The length of the game is pretty reasonable as well. The 6 level campaign should last you a few hours I’d say and then you can multiply that by all of the characters who have a campaign. Additionally you can try to complete the campaign on more difficult settings as you go through the game. Then you’ve got the whole level up system and a ton of bonus content so there’s no end to it here. This game will last you for as long as you want to enjoy it.

Overall, Dynasty Warriors 6 doesn’t hold back on any of its punches. It throws you right into the action and it’s all handled pretty well. You really feel like you’re on some kind of grand adventure the whole time. I would like them to take more liberties with the story at some point but as long as the gameplay is this good I don’t see Dynast Warriors ever faltering. The fundamentals are just too good and there’s a lot of content for the price you pay. It’s a steal!

Overall 7/10

3 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Million Dollar Baby Review


It’s time for a film about boxing. There have been quite a few good ones over the years like Rocky and Creed. Those did a good job of delivering some pretty hype fights with epic storylines. Both of them will not be forgotten anytime soon. This one started out like it was going to be another one of the greats. Unfortunately it flew off the rails towards the end and ruined any potential it might have had. The first 2/3 of the film is quite good but the final part definitely destroys the film. That’s why they say a good ending is important. You can start off quite amazingly but if you trip over the end that’s what you will be remembered for.

The movie starts with Frankie winning more fights as the manager of a top ranked fighter Willy. Unfortunately his boxer eventually leaves him because Frankie never let him compete in the title matches. Frankie is now without a boxer. Meanwhile a girl named Maggie has started showing up as the gym and is determined to make Frankie her manager. He’s quite reluctant as he’s never coached a girl before and doesn’t want to start now. Still, she gradually weakens him and he starts to warm up to the idea. Still, a part of him is worried that this is a bad idea and he doesn’t want to have any more regrets.

There aren’t many big characters in this film but they all had to deal with a lot of issues throughout the film. Frankie has his own reasons for why he never lets his boxers attempt the big fight. His instincts are usually pretty good and it’s something that can come back to bite you. At the same time, it seems like this isn’t quite the right profession for him then. In boxing people are always going to get hurt so if you’re not prepared for that then you’re going to be in for a rough time. Frankie definitely plays the role of the angry coach who’s always got something stern to say. Deep down he’s a nice guy but it’s hard to get to that level. He makes for a good character though and a solid lead focus.

Then you’ve got his friend Eddie who does a lot of the work around the gym. He’s a lot quicker to give advice. Usually the other characters aren’t quite ready to hear what he has to say but he does his best. He has one especially good scene where he takes on one of the newer characters. He does pretty well and shows that he can still fight. He’s easily the nicest character in the film and I’d say that he steals the show. We all need an ally like Eddie. Someone who will have your back through the tough times no matter what.

Finally you have Maggie who really wants to be the world’s best boxer. She’s had a pretty tough life so far as her family turned out to be pretty toxic after her father died and she doesn’t really have anyone to support her. It’s been tough to make ends meet and boxing may be her only shot at a new life. She’s quite determined and that allows her to climb the ranks quite fast. Her technique is quite solid and she showed that she could hang with the best. Maggie takes all of the situations quite well and has some true grit.

While the film is focusing on the boxing it can be quite good. You really get to see proper footwork during the battles as well as the training you have to go through in order to get to the top. The characters are pretty solid and the pacing is good. The film would have been really solid if it had just ended with a slightly different outcome to the final fight or just cutting off at that point. Continuing further was ultimately a mistake.

I can’t really go much further into the ending because of course it’s a huge spoiler to the rest of the film. Needless to say, the movie decides to go for a lot of grit and dark themes towards the end. It suddenly stops being about boxing and becomes more of a tragedy drama where things continue to get worse and worse. The film doesn’t really leave any hope left and you’re just waiting for it to end at this point. The final act drags on for quite a long time. The film also randomly adds a backstory involving a dog dying and someone who was disabled getting beat up. It’s like the film suddenly changed gears and decided it wanted to be as mean spirited as possible.

Even the plot about Maggie’s family doesn’t feel truly necessary. I think the references from early on would have sufficed there rather than getting them involved. Even threatening Frankie at the hospital was a rather odd scene. I’m assuming after that Maggie told Frankie to leave for his own safety or at least I hope that was the case since it would seem out of character otherwise. Really what it boils down to is that the final act of the movie just wasn’t any fun at all. It crossed the line of getting a little too grim dark in what otherwise would have been a pretty solid adventure.

Overall, The Million Dollar Baby is a film that could not keep up its momentum. It built up a pretty solid plot with some good fight scenes and ultimately threw it all away for shock value. I’d definitely recommend watching something like Rocky or Creed instead. Those films manage to finish the ride and deliver with great endings to each of the installments. A good ending applies to just about every kind of game, sport, or entertainment. Finishing is the true skill you need to have in order to make it to the next level. Hopefully if this film was to ever get a remake or a sequel someday it would do a better job of finishing the fight. Until then this will definitely be known as the weakest boxing film I’ve seen.

Overall 3/10

7 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Hunt for Red October Review


I remember seeing this film a very long time ago. It’s a pretty fun thriller featuring the classic match up of USA vs Russia. It makes for a pretty solid film and definitely an exciting one from start to finish. There’s a good amount of action here and the writing is solid. I’m also always up for thrillers revolving around the government. I like to see the tech in action and the more “Professional” approach rather than the main characters fumbling around. This is a movie that you should definitely check out as everything about it has aged quite well.

The film starts off by introducing us to Captain Ramius. He commands the Red October, a powerful Russian sub that is armed to the teeth with nukes. What makes it particularly dangerous is the fact that it is nearly impossible to detect by normal means. The new camouflage tech allows it to appear anywhere without warning. Ramius murders the Russian soldier in charge of watching over him. He has gone rogue and is approaching the United States. What are his intentions? The Russians aim to destroy him before he can do anything crazy. Meanwhile Jack figures that Ramius is trying to defect to the U.S. but it is a pretty dangerous gamble. If he’s wrong, then it could very well be the end of the country in an instant. There would be nothing they could do at that point since the enemy would be too close.

As you can probably guess there is quite a lot of strategy going into all of this. The heroes have to consider a lot of different angles here. They’re definitely reluctant to believe in the defecting angle and you can’t really blame them. It is a really risky endeavor and as much as Jack says he met Ramius once that doesn’t really mean anything. You can’t possibly grow to understand someone upon meeting them once. Everyone has many faces that they use in society and the man that Jack met was simply one face. His true intentions would still be a complete mystery.

While Jack’s approach may be a bit naive, he is certainly a qualified agent who came up with a solid theory he could back. Jack did a lot of work in finding out about this from the start. He may not be a big fighter, but he does whatever he needs to in order to claim victory. He’s a solid lead even if he’s not particularly exceptional. Not standing out probably helps in espionage anyway. Ramius is the main villain here and makes for a good counter. He’s clearly quite experienced in commanding a fleet and knows tactics well. Even when the rest of the crew are panicking Ramius always keeps his cool. He’s not the kind of guy to panic at every little thing the way that the rest do. He’s quite interesting.

Part of the film’s strength is in how smooth the writing is. It’s very good and keeps you interested throughout. There are a lot of moving pieces here and despite both countries being quite hostile with each other they have to keep up a pretense of kinship among them. That leads to a lot of layered conversations. In particular I liked the U.S. Embassy representative as he did a good job of keeping up the pretense while delivering some passive aggressive statements. He did a good job of not giving up any ground or giving up intel.

Aside from Jack’s deduction we also had another U.S. sub in the area which looked good. One of the workers there was able to accurately find a way of locating the Russian sub which was impressive. If Jack had not shown up at least that means the U.S. would have been able to take out the Russian sub before it made it to America. Of course there would have been quite a great deal more casualties if that had occurred so it wouldn’t have been the ideal outcome. I’m just glad the whole thing didn’t hinge on him stepping in. Either way America would not have gone down without a fight.

The final fight does come out of nowhere a bit but I was glad that the film wanted to give us a quick action scene. I’m always up for some action so this was a pretty good way to close out the film. It may not have been a very long fight but it was a way to give Jack a quick moment to shine and also delivers on making things pretty exciting. The film really made no mistakes and had a very solid opening act, middle, and climax.

Overall, The Hunt for Red October is definitely a really solid thriller. I’m always up for films about the tensions between U.S. and Russia. It makes for pretty intense story lines and I can definitely go for more thrillers about subs. I’m not a big fan of the water in general as a backdrop, but being underneath the water is a very different matter. It reminds me of the classic Battleship type game. There are only so many options you can use while in a sub so the thriller parts aren’t so much about the fights as the setups to them. You need to have good writing for that and this film certainly delivers. It’s a long film but one that doesn’t drag on.

Overall 7/10

4 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Ace in the Hole Review


It’s time to look at a film about how trying to get a story at the expense of a life may end up ruining things for everyone. I mean it’s a pretty clear message but it seemed to be a surprise to Chuck who suddenly starts regretting this a bit. It’s hard to rummage up any sympathy points for Chuck because the whole thing is completely his fault. It’s not like it’s only partially his fault or he didn’t know any better. He knew exactly what he was doing the entire time and this results in a rather unfortunate ending. It’s an interesting film but not one I would check out again.

The movie starts out with Chuck heading to another newspaper. He was fired yet again and is now known for being fired from the most papers. He’s been creative with how badly he’s failed though as he has been fired for being drunk, stealing someone’s wife, making up stories, etc. Well this next paper decides to hire him anyway since they’re nice like that. His first big assignment outside is going to be about a snake fight. Chuck doesn’t really care about this though and is glad to get sidetracked by a local tragedy. Leo has been trapped underground after wandering inside a cavern despite being told it was dangerous. Chuck realizes this is his big break. If he can stop anyone from saving Leo he can really exploit this event for big money. That’s exactly what he intends to do, but every day he stretches this out, Leo’s chances of recovery continue to dwindle.

The film definitely gives Chuck a whole lot of power here. Everyone listens to him unquestionably and he gets the upper hand on everyone. Even the guys called in to rescue Leo end up listening to Chuck and using the wrong method of recovery. Chuck does have a lot of confidence and tends to barrel right through everyone so I suppose the others didn’t want to mess with him. Part of why the plot works is because you have just enough powerful people in the wrong places. The Sheriff is corrupt and Leo’s wife actually likes Chuck and wants Leo dead anyway. Leo has really just got the worst luck here which is definitely pretty unfortunate for him. Anything that could go wrong did go wrong. I still find it a bit iffy that nobody pursued this further to try and free him before now. Just waiting on Chuck to do everything was pretty iffy. Unfortunately the only one who cared about Leo was his father who was quite old and wasn’t able to help much here.

This film’s main weakpoint is definitely the romance part. Leo’s wife liking Chuck feels like an extra plot point we don’t need. For the most part he shuts her down as he makes it clear that the story is the most important factor in his life, even more than romance for him. Chuck’s certainly dedicated. It’s particularly tragic for Leo since he doesn’t know any of this and thinks that his wife is readily awaiting his return. As the film goes on he never becomes wise to this and in a way I guess that would have been an extra blow. It makes Chuck look particularly bad with how he’s manipulating the guy though. Chuck’s clearly the villain here so definitely don’t get that sideways.

The writing is pretty solid though. There’s a lot of solid back and forth between all of the characters. Plans are made and every character’s got an angle. Chuck’s got everything sewn up so tight even the big papers start to beg him to return. He’s really got everything at this point which is really impressive in itself. The movie’s pacing is also pretty good. The opening may seem a little slow if you want to get to the main plot but I thought it did a pretty good job of setting Chuck up. He’s pretty straightforward on the fact that he’ll do anything for a story. He even convinces the youngest member of the group to go with him, thereby dooming both of them.

The ending’s definitely a downer though. I’d have preferred a different ending where Chuck still gets exposed but things go a bit better for Leo. The way his plot ends is particularly tragic since he thought right up til the end that he had a shot. He had absolutely no idea what was going on right outside. He was really just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The film never gives us a great explanation on why he was defying orders and going into caverns he wasn’t supposed to be in though. His confidence ultimately ended up costing him big time.

Overall, Ace in the Hole shows that while having 1 ace is good, two is better. Chuck ultimately needed a good backup plan and then maybe things wouldn’t have turned out so badly for him. He ultimately didn’t think things through well enough at all and it cost him when it counted. I was glad that the smaller newspaper actually tried to get involved at the end when the boss showed up and questioned how Chuck had fallen so low. To an extent this is on him for letting Chuck join but at the same time he couldn’t have known what was going on. All things considered I think he did a good job and he was an upstanding guy. The problem is that not everyone is in the biz for the right reasons and that ultimately ended up hurting them all.

Overall 4/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Mob Psycho 100 II: The First Spirits and Such Company Trip Review


It’s time to look at a quick Mob Psycho OVA from a while back. It’s always fun to see the gang return and hopefully we get a proper sequel at some point. This one gathers the characters in a new environment and Reigen gets to be the main character so you can’t really top that. The new villain even gets quite a bit of hype. It’s a reasonably sized special at around half n hour so you’ve got time to have some fun here. It’s really a good chance to hang out with the cast in a fun environment.

The special starts with a lady showing up and asking Reigen for help. Her inn is being haunted as travelers who attempt to go there fall into another dimension during the trip. As a result the Inn is losing business and she has also grown rather ill. Reigen figures this is probably fake, but the lady agrees to pay for the trip and all expenses so he agrees to help. Serizawa is now a member of the team and Reigen also invites Ritsu and Teruki in addition to his partner Mob. They all get on the train but after dozing off, Reigen awakens to find that only Serizawa remains. Not only are the other characters gone but they seem to be trapped in the car. Whenever Reigen attempts to leave he ends up right back where he started in a loop. He is clearly getting nowhere fast and that’s starting to worry him. Still, he has to keep a brave face on in front of Serizawa. How long can Reigen keep the two of them alive?

As always Reigen is in over his head on this one but I always like how he is able to fake his way through it all. He doesn’t know that everyone else escaped because of their psychic powers so he’s just doing his best to think things through rationally. Throughout it all he still has the drive to save half of the food for Serizawa despite starving to death. At his core Reigen’s still a good guy as always. He’s one of those interesting characters that you can count on for the big stuff although he will cheat you in the smaller ways. It makes for a pretty unique character trait if you ask me. You don’t really see a whole lot of characters who are quite like that.

Reigen’s also just a lot of fun and is a big part of why the adventures are so enjoyable. He’s always quick to double down on his deceptions and just doesn’t give an inch no matter what. It’s really quite impressive when you think about it. You also feel bad for him as the others are never around when he needs them. A big example of this is when he’s ready to have a pillow fight near the end since he was just sleeping for days and nobody wanted to do it. They tend to leave him high and dry all the time which is pretty unfortunate.

Meanwhile Serizawa gets a pretty big role here too as he’s nervous about working for Reigen. His whole character has always been that he gets extremely nervous in all scenarios so you can’t really blame him. Part of why Reigen is so endearing is because he’s ready to help out in times like this and does his best to help Serizawa regain his confidence. Mob and the others don’t get much of a role although they quickly help out a bit in the final fight. I thought this made the villain look good since he was able to survive a hit that was launched by the whole gang of Espers all teaming up. You have to admit that not just any villain can do that. I don’t think it’s meant to be a serious feat and just an excuse for some action here but we take those.

The animation looks solid. The style naturally means it won’t touch most of the other current animations right now, but at this point I’m pretty used to it. The colors look solid for the energy blasts too. The soundtrack is taken from the show and works out pretty well here. As the OVA isn’t long the pacing is also pretty tight with the plot moving from part A to B without any issues. This is just a fun journey and one that you’ll definitely have fun with. At the end of the day this is the kind of plot that would work with almost any series. A lot of the time I think it would be fun if we could hang out with the characters a little more after the main story is done and this is definitely one way that you could do it.

Overall, I’m not going to repeat that long name, but this Mob Psycho OVA is quite good. It’s a good reminder that you don’t always need to have a super big climax filled with tons of explosions to make for an epic adventure. Sometimes all you need is just a nice scenario to have the gang back together with some fun dialogue. As expected Mob Psycho delivers on that. It’s a very fun adventure that will really breeze right past you. I’d definitely recommend checking it out and it’s the kind of title that needs no context. If you haven’t jumped into Mob Psycho yet but have been thinking about it then this may be a pretty good way for you to start.

Overall 7/10

7 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Angels in the Outfield Review


It’s time to look at a Baseball film from a long time ago. This one’s definitely a pretty solid film. It’s always nice to have a sports flick and in this one we get some quality character development and good writing. It’s a very pleasant film throughout. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Baseball as I find the game to move a little too slowly. That said, in film format it tends to work out pretty well because you’re cutting right to the action every time.

The movie starts with the Guffy’s Pirates losing yet another game. They’ve now dropped 10 games in a row with no end in sight. They’re dead last in the conference. Guffy’s upset but he still wants to go and enjoy his dinner as usual. He beats people up and has caused such a ruckus that a reporter named Jennifer has written a story on him. Guffy then receives a message from an Angel who has been watching him. Guffy needs to clean up his act and in exchange the Angel will start delivering his team some free wins. Guffy agrees to do this but it’s going to be difficult to break his old habits so easily. Additionally there is a little girl named Bridget who seems to be able to see the Angels somehow. This has started to cause quite a stir.

Guffy’s your classic gruff main character who definitely seems to enjoy picking fights with just about everyone. He never backs down and whenever someone has a problem with him Guffy just goes and beats the guy up. Of course this is all catching up to him though. People used to like hanging out with him and now he has no friends. Guffy just didn’t care so this kept on happening. Now he has a reason to care and he’s started to be nicer, but people aren’t so quick to forgive. It’s pretty realistic. How likely are you to be friends with someone again after they’ve been badmouthing you for so long? it’s definitely not very likely if you think about it. Still, he does really try to change which is the important thing. He’s certainly a much better character by the end than when he started morally. Guffy makes for an entertaining character either way though.

As for Bridget, as far as kids go I wouldn’t say she was bad. I tend to still not be a big fan of them in films but she was helpful and never got in the way. She would see the Angels and called it like she saw it. Bridget was also pretty quick to defend Guffy which was nice. She never got tricked by the media or anything like that. Finally you have Jennifer who is a fun heroine even if she seems a bit oblivious at times. She just walked right into Guffy’s place and made herself right at home. I suppose as a reporter you’ve got to have that level of confidence though so she did good. At first I actually thought she was going to be the main character of the film. Her role is pretty sizable and she seems like a nice person. She was a great help to Guffy in getting his life back on track.

Meanwhile the Angels certainly helped quite a lot as well. Their assistance in winning all those ballgames was invaluable and the Angel certainly helped Guffy to understand that he needed to change things around as well. The movie did a good job with the writing and the humor here. There are a lot of clever little gags in the script and the jokes work quite well. If someone got the better of a character with a joke you could expect another character to fire back later on. There were a lot of callbacks and such. As I mentioned, the film is just a lot of fun the whole time. It has a nice sense of humor and tight pacing.

At times the film may not be super realistic like with the Baseball association taking Guffy to court though. You really think they would have this much drama right before the World Series? I don’t see them stopping that game for just about anything. Particularly something like this which isn’t even a crime. Even if Guffy had finally cracked, that’s something that would be looked at during the off season. That’s why I liked how the NY teams took it as they were so confident they didn’t care if Angels were helping the Pirates. At the end of the day they were still ready to square off.

I enjoyed the court scene quite a lot near the end of the film. Even if as I mentioned, it’s hard to see the court happening, it was fun to see the 3 pastor figures they invited wreck everyone else. They did point out (in a polite way) that it’s rather crazy to claim to believe in the Bible but to not believe in Angels. I know there are a lot of factions out there but it’s like how I was reading that many don’t believe that the story of Noah is real. That’s something that could warrant its own article but you can’t just pick bits and pieces of it to be accurate. Either you believe in the whole package or none of it. You can’t go halfway on something like this. After setting the judge straight and the Angel also appearing a bit, that concluded the scene but it was a lot of fun. I was a little surprised that Guffy got in one more punch but I suppose he just couldn’t help it. Fortunately the Angels had mercy on him because things could have gotten messy otherwise.

Overall, Angels in the Outfield is a very pleasant film. It’s pretty down to Earth and only focuses on a few characters so we could really see their character development. Quite a lot happens during the film and it’s never dull. While the Baseball players themselves don’t get the largest role here, I do like how one of them stuck up for Guffy when the others were calling him crazy. Additionally I was glad that the old pitcher got to have one last good game. It all makes for a pretty emotional film. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I’d recommend checking it out. It’s aged very well over the years.

Overall 7/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

The Promised Neverland Review


It’s time to look at a manga that ended pretty recently. The Promised Neverland is a very different Shonen Jump title. It’s a lot darker than most and is going for a full horror vibe. Don’t expect to find big super forms or hyper fights running around in this title. It’s more of a slow burner with the heroes trying to escape the demons, at least for most of the series. The series peaked rather early on with the final arcs getting to be a bit much with the plot armor. It’s an interesting series but one that I’m not really a fan of.

The plot starts by introducing us to Emma and the other kids who currently live at an orphanage. They have to take many tests each year which gives them various scores. The 3 smartest kids by far are Emma, Norman, and Ray. They are geniuses at this point. Unfortunately their lives are turned upside down when they find out that one of the kids has been murdered. It turns out that their home is actually a breeding ground for demons and they murder all of the kids. Emma now needs to find a way to save everyone but that will naturally be a difficult task. Can she accomplish this mission along with Norman and Ray?

You can already see how this series will be pretty dark. The heroes literally live on a farm where they are the meals. You also have to live with the knowledge that there are other farms out there with kids who won’t be quite as fortunate as the main characters. We get some pretty interesting mental battles between Norman and Ray during this arc which are typically the highlight. They’re definitely the smartest characters in the series after all. Norman is definitely a bit smarter than Ray though and tends to come out on top.

The second arc changes things up a bit as they finally escape the place. They manage to make it to another farm where Lord Bayon has trapped a bunch of other kids. The rules of this farm are different as it is a pure survival game. Everyone already knows that they are the prey in this case. Every day a few more kids are lost. Emma decides to help their commanders Oliver and Lucas take down the demons. The heroes are through with running and this time they’ll be taking the fight to the villains. Can mere human kids really take these guys down though?

We get quite a bit of solid action here and the heroes learn how to fight back against the demons. It’s definitely the best arc in the series. Granted, this is also where the power levels initially start to get a bit wonky. So the demons have a weakpoint that can be shot. It’s good since that lets the heroes do something but half the time they only win because the demons barely move. There’s no way they could hope to defeat these demons in a straight fight even with a weakpoint. The battle with Leuvis was great for sure, but it’s one that he definitely should have won. That was one reason why it was fun to throw the adults in here, you can definitely see them doing a bit better.

I’d say the third arc is probably protecting the base but it’s almost more of a transition arc. I’d say this could basically lead us to the final arc. We’re introduced to the concept of metahumans who have been developed to stop the demons. The problem is that they are still outnumbered. If they can murder the Demon Queen then this long fight will finally be over. The problem is that Emma doesn’t really want to murder the demons. She wants a world of peace and her inaction threatens to jeopardize the heroes. Will they have to take her down to ensure a better tomorrow?

This final arc definitely added quite a bit of new elements to the series. One of those things was an alien/god who would show up and it all got very meta. It’s an interesting angle even if it doesn’t feel like it’s from the series. A positive element was the metahumans. These guys have actual powers in the form of strength and speed so now this was a group I could see actually taking down the demons. I also liked that Norman’s group was taking a more active approach. They were shutting down farms left and right in what was a very effective campaign during the war between humans and demons. They were really doing just fine on their own so the whole time it felt like they absolutely did not need the main group. If anything it felt like Emma and Ray were holding them back. If they had stuck to just the metahumans running around and fighting I think it would have helped with the power levels.

Lets talk about Emma. She’s a character who changes quite a lot as the series goes on. Unlike the other kids she is not willing to make any sacrifices. She wants to save everyone without a doubt. It’s a noble cause even if the others give her grief about it. She’s a little more unhinged than most leads and the manga does a good job of showing this with the various zoom ins. The art really knows how to get very dynamic. That said, her resolve starts to get a little shaky in the final arc. Suddenly she doesn’t want to destroy any of the demons either? At some points it’s really a decision of whether you save the kids or the demons but you couldn’t possibly do both. This request is a bit more unreasonable on her part. I can’t fault it morally because it’s good to be able to save everyone but it does ruin all of the plans. Without plot armor her decisions would have definitely destroyed the rest of the group.

It just seems like a very different perspective on her part. The demons ruined everything for the heroes and they all couldn’t stand them. A big part of what changed Emma were the two nice demons who helped her out but even so, it was pretty surprising to see. Her final decision was also pretty selfless although it definitely did totally go against what everyone else would have wanted. A selfish choice to help out others, that’s one I can agree with. So Emma’s a good character, but a little too extreme at times. Of course all of the main characters tend to be extreme in some way or another.

Norman gets a really big role in the series. At his core he’s more merciless like Ray but he always tries to help Emma out as much as he can. He’s the brains of the group and does a good job of making sure Emma succeeds in whatever she wants to do. He looks pretty great throughout the series. If anything, if Emma hadn’t shown up I feel like he probably had everything under control. I can also see why his subordinates were pretty upset at the change of character. Then we have Ray who is the best member of the 3 if you ask me. He’s definitely got solid ambition. He’s easily the most rational of the 3 even if Norman is the smartest. Ray always goes for the highest chance of success even if it means sacrificing some people. Ray still does his best to be heroic though and Emma helps change him on that. He has no problems eliminating the demons though.

Then you have Isabella who is the first big villain we see. After all, she’s looking after the children and getting them set up to be eaten. She’s rotten to the core. So you can probably guess how her character arc will go during the series and all I can say is that it isn’t really earned. She did break Emma’s bone intentionally and that’s not even counting the people she actively delivered. While she can make for a good villain, it’s hard to see her as a sympathetic one. Then we have Krone who shows up early in the series. She’s pretty intimidating and also has some good tactics up her sleeve. She can’t compete with Isabella in terms of wit but does a good job regardless.

After the main 3 kids, most of the others weren’t particularly solid at least from the first house. Don and Gilda always felt like they were just getting in the way. They would ignore the wise advice from the main 3 to go ahead and do their own thing. Just because it works out doesn’t mean it was the right move. They’re always a few steps behind. Phil is another kid who gets a roll although he’s one of the youngest so he’s not exactly out in the field. Mostly his character was fun out of universe as there were many theories about him. None of them ever actually happened though so his role is extremely small. It makes sense though since having him fight would be odd.

Mujika is one of the two special demons that meets up with the main characters. She’s not much of a fighter as she is typically known as more of an intelligent demon. She tries to stay ahead of things in that sense so that she won’t even need to fight with the others. Her partner Sonju is the main fighter. Sonju is able to take down several demons at once. The guy’s pretty shady and doesn’t mind murdering humans either. He comes awful close to taking down the kids at one point. He’s not as bad as the rest though so that’s definitely a start. I thought he was one of the more interesting demons and a solid rival to have around. It would have been cool if he could have gotten a few more fights.

Then you have Leuvis who is a solid villain. he likes to have a good fight and I always like that about a villain. He’s willing to let the kids get prepared or whatever they need to make things interesting. It does make for a lot of plot armor on the heroes’ side but that’s to be expected. Regardless it was probably one of the better fights in the series. That arc also introduced us to some new kids and even two adult characters who would go on to be some of the best characters in the series. It reminds me that if the series was based around the adults it probably would have been quite a bit better.

First off is Yugo who initially doesn’t like the kids but gradually gets used to working with them. While he eventually mellows out I can’t say that he starts as anything less than a full villain. He actively did try to murder one of them after all. His fight scenes with Lucas against the government were quite solid. One thing’s for sure, Yugo was never the kind of guy to go down swinging. He went full blast from the jump. Lucas is just as solid if not more so. He never gave up the fight and kept on going the whole way. He’s not quite as skilled as Yugo, but it’s close and he definitely is very good at planning.

Then we have Oliver who is probably the most experienced member of the new kids. He’s a solid fighter and is also a bit older than the others which helps him stay ready for what’s about to come. He’s not on the same level as the metahumans who pop up but that’s okay. He’s strong enough. For the metahumans who appear we’ve got 5 main ones. First up is Vincent who is all about following the plans. He does whatever Norman says. After all, it tends to work out. He’s not really a fighter but he makes sure that all of the characters are in the right spot. I suppose it makes him a little redundant since Norman is smarter but it’s always good to have a backup.

Cislo is pretty fun. There’s not a whole lot to him but he loves murdering demons just like the others. He’s pretty strong and a capable guy to have around. Same for Barbara only she is even more zealous about this. She just loves destroying demons to the point where she eats them. I thought she was definitely the best member of the group. She was always right there on the front lines and could put up a great fight. Finally there’s Zazie who is also strong although he’s a bit more on the mindless side. The powers came at a huge price for him which was pretty unfortunate. He definitely made sure to come through when it counted though.

Ayshe had a sad backstory where she was raised by wolves and definitely does not like Norman or the metahumans. She doesn’t really care for demons either though so she doesn’t really have any friends. She’s a solid fighter though. Ayshe probably gets a smaller role than most of the other characters but the scenes she is in are quite solid. Finally we have the Queen who is of course the strongest demon. She gets a few super forms and looks good. Unfortunately she is way too powerful for this series though. The instant she appears you know that there is no way the kids will be able to do much of anything here. There is no realistic way they could hope to take her down so the final battle gets a little interesting. Either way I did like her as a final boss though. She did a good job of leading the demons even if she should have stepped in sooner to crush the humans.

The art for the series is pretty good. There’s quite a lot of detail in all of the shots. As mentioned earlier, the author did an especially good job of drawing Emma. For some reason Emma became less and less sinister as the series went on though. I don’t think she got any “evil” shots after arc 2. It seems like the author maybe had a different plan for her but ultimately decided to make her more of a hero in the end. I liked the more morally dubious Emma who was willing to blow everyone up to make a point. It did make her look a bit sketchy but that was the point. I can’t be the only one who feels like the Emma in the final arc is a completely different character right? Emma not dishing out veiled threats to people just doesn’t feel right.

Neverland can get pretty dark though so definitely keep that in mind if you start the series. Not only is there a considerable bodycount here but a lot of the people who die are kids. That’s ultimately what holds this series back. When people die it’s pretty fine if they’re main combatants. Context is key of course, but in general having a kid die is a pretty tricky element. Especially a series based around that whole fact. The whole farming thing is about as grim as it gets. You’re unlikely to find another series quite so dark. Attack on Titan’s up there though. It’s in a different way but I would say that it’s pretty comparable.

The series definitely stays pretty interesting throughout. There’s quite a lot of suspense built into it with twists at every corner. As with most mysteries you’ll have to see what you preferred, the build up to it or the payoff. A lot of times the best part of a mystery is the opening act because it’s fun to not know anything. I wouldn’t say any of the twists are bad though. I would have gone in a very different direction with the ending though and added 1 more arc but I suppose the series definitely didn’t want to drag itself out. At least like this people can point to it as a series that’s complete so you can now marathon it from start to finish.

Overall, The Promised Neverland delivers on being a very different kind of manga title. It’ll probably go down as the definitive horror title in Shonen Jump. That said, as horror is already not my genre it’s not surprising that it lagged behind the other manga titles. I’d be down for a sequel series that’s more of a sci-fi thriller with everyone trying to move forward in the new world. I think that could be pretty interesting. That said it’s not like the franchise needs to continue. The ending ties everything up. There are open plots that could be continued but if they don’t you can easily assume what happened on your own. So if you like horror titles then check this one out, otherwise I’d say to go and check out another modern Shonen Jump title like One Piece.

Overall 3/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Sephirothic Stories Review


It’s time to look at a recent RPG for the PS4. These guys made the Asdivine Games and it really shows in some areas. The music and menus are grabbed straight from those titles. The original Asdivine was a masterpiece. The sequel may not have been as good but it was still a solid RPG. That’s where this game lies as well. It’s a pretty solid game but what holds it back is really the length as opposed to the characters holding the other one back. You’ll have this game completed in under 5 hours which is pretty unheard for an RPG. I have a theory on this but more on that in a bit. Either way if you like RPGs you should enjoy this one as it’s very smooth.

The game begins by explaining the story which is a bit out there so bear with me. Sephiroth is a giant tree that powers 3 planets. It drops fruits which then snatch up some vessels which allow them to become human. They will eventually be poisoned by the murk that appears on the planet. At that point they have to either find a new vessel or get erased. Sephiroth himself has to keep being replaced as the old one dies. It’s basically a cycle of death and rebirth that happens all the time. So the game follows a fruit named Harold and his best friend the lizard monster Izzy who try to find some apples for Harold’s sister. She is quite ill and won’t last very long. The village’s heroes are sent out to find the cure for her but only one of them returns. It would seem that they were ambushed by monsters.

Harold is afraid of monsters but he agrees to help them out. He was born with the ability to sense monsters which should help in avoiding them. That’s the idea at least. After obtaining the cure, the Grandma informs them that things aren’t right with the world. Harold needs to find the lost hero quick and also see why the planet is falling into ruin. Monsters are even gaining intelligence which shouldn’t be possible. Harold will get to the bottom of this one way or the other but is it already too late for the planet? Things get pretty cosmic towards the end.

One thing you may be wondering from the start is, was using the name “Sephiroth” a coincidence? I personally doubt it since there are too many similarities to the Materia and the whole lifestream of the planet stuff from the original game. Still, it’s a good way to get people interested. The idea of Sephiroth becoming a tree is pretty interesting but there’s more to it than that. Despite the short length there are a ton of plot twists so I won’t talk about the story much. Needless to say, there is quite a lot to tackle here and nothing is quite as it appears to be.

The gameplay is a turn based combat system although it uses speed as a factor so it’s more like Mega Man X Command Mission than Pokemon. You can attack when it’s your turn but the villains can use abilities to slow that down. You then have your normal attacks or skills to use. Interestingly general magic and physical skills are both merged into the same icon for this game. You’ve also got Fusion which is a combined attack you can use later on in the game. It deals a ton of damage so save it for bosses since it can pretty much 1 hit KO just about all of them. Don’t even think about wasting it on a minion.

The graphics are pretty nice. I miss the sprite style but the 3D models look good. At most it can just be a bit clunky as characters start to walk around aimlessly during cutscenes or open their mouths for a bit before talking happens. Seems to me like some opening hiccups with the style but I’m sure they’ll have it down before long. The soundtrack is excellent though. It’s very nostalgic hearing the classic Asdivine Heart themes in there as those never get old. They’re all so fast that it really builds up your excitement for the whole thing. Then we’ve also got the quality menus that those games had. Just about everything is customizable which is fantastic.

One thing against the game though is it looks like it wasn’t tested/balanced very well. You’re simply given too many options in the game which makes it a piece of cake. For example, you start the game with a ton of premium coins so you’re able to buy one weapon of your choice. I bought the Sephiroth Sword which made Harold the ultimate glass cannon. He could take down any non boss throughout the whole game in one hit. Even bosses didn’t last much longer than that. You won’t have enough premium coins to buy anything else for the rest of the game but you don’t need too anyway. Then there are plants which you raise to enhance all of your stats and weapons you can keep on merging. Really, what this boils down to is that it makes it very easy for you to blast through the game. Part of why it was so short is you could take down bosses in a matter of seconds. I love the speed but I think they probably could have given you less options.

It does make you feel in total control though which is always good. As for the characters, they’re not bad. Harold isn’t my favorite lead since he’s so scared of things though. I prefer my main characters to be a bit more confident and just blast aside anyone foolish enough to stand in their way. Harold’s a lot more timid than that despite everyone saying how awesome he is. Clarice is the main heroine and she’s decent. Not quite as strong as most but she talks tough. She always makes sure Harold doesn’t get the wrong idea about things. Izzy’s a pal though. He’s always here to encourage Harold and make sure that he stays on the right track. The main cast may not be the most interesting but none of them are bad which is always important.

Overall, Sephirothic Stories is a fun RPG. I would have liked for it to have been a little longer though. As it is, it almost feels like you’re playing a preview to the real game. As a result the pacing is tight though as you jump from one event to the next. It also could have been more difficult but I’ll never fault a game for being too easy. After all, there are many ways to make a game more difficult for yourself. One of those ways would naturally be to just turn the game’s difficulty setting over to Hard. That’s a pretty simple way or going about things right? I’d be game for a sequel to this or maybe some kind of crossover at some point. One thing’s for sure, the developers have really mastered the menus at this point. All RPGs should have some of the quality of life bonuses this one has like turning battle effects off and speeding up the turns. Auto battle would be amazing for helping with grinding in other games. Since your characters can only use the standard attack when in auto mode it also ensures that you don’t use it as a crutch. If you’re always wondered about going into the RPG genre but was unsure about them because of the length, this is a good one to start out with so see how you enjoy it all.

Overall 7/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

The World Ends With You Review


It’s time to look at a game that I’ve had on the backburner for a very long time. The Worlds Ends With You has been patiently waiting its turn for many years. Well, it was time to finally get on with it. The game was a lot of fun back in the day but I decided to replay the whole game despite going through the first loop back in the day. The reason for this is that it has been so long. I want to make sure I really know what’s going on and with an RPG like this it’s usually best to make sure you have the complete context for everything that’s going on. The game definitely does not disappoint and is as fun now as it was back in the day.

The title starts with a kid named Neku waking up in Shibuya with no memories. He doesn’t know what’s going on but a girl named Shiki shows up and makes a pact with him. Basically what’s going on here is that the characters are trapped in a 7 day death game. The way the game works is that the villains send a message every day to the characters’ phones. Someone has to complete the mission before the time limit runs out. If you survive for 7 days you win and get to leave the game. The problem is that Neku doesn’t like people. He finds them to be too loud and annoying the whole time. Neku’s a loner who is also pretty smart so it feels like he has to wait for everyone to catch up. You can’t win this game without a partner though as that’s the only way to use pins with different elemental attacks to fight off the creatures known as Noise. Neku will have to learn to be friends with Shiki or this could get pretty ugly for him.

Right away you’ll see that the gameplay here is pretty unique. It relies heavily on the stylus so get ready for that. You’ve got two screens here. On the top you’ve got your partner and you control her by using the main buttons like A, B, Y, and X. If you follow your partner’s logic attacks on the top you can get energy towards a super attack which does a lot of damage of course. On the bottom screen you have Neku and he attacks by using the pins. Each pin has a different control setup which ranges from tapping the screen to swiping or doing something else like that. The main thing to keep in mind is to read the instructions each time. You’ve also got a hub world where you can buy items or food at shops.

In this game level ups aren’t nearly as important as your stats so keep that in mind. One thing that I didn’t do was eat a lot of food and that’s a mistake. It’s the best way to get stronger. The only way to eat is to challenge more than one enemy at a time. The more stack battles you do at once (Tapping on more than one villain icon in the hub world) the more bites you take out of your food. You don’t eat much per day so try to hit the limit every time. Do that and the final bosses will be considerably easier than if you had decided to forego this. The final boss in particular is a huge step up from the rest. Make sure you equip the final pin that gets tossed at you or you’re in for a pretty rough time.

The World Ends With You is definitely a pretty high end DS game. For starters you have a very unique soundtrack that has quite a few vocal themes. Now the one catch is that there aren’t a lot of themes so you’ll be hearing the same ones over and over again. The positive here is that they’re all pretty solid so it works out pretty well. The game also has very solid graphics with full cutscenes that play comic style as the game goes on. There’s one particular one involving a gun that maybe gets spammed a little too much but it’s a solid scene. Expect a lot of twists and turns as the game goes on. There’s certainly some nice room for a sequel here.

One thing that helps this game out as well are the solid characters. It’s almost inevitable that an RPG would have a solid cast by the end but it’s still important to note in all of these. Neku is the lead and he’s very solid. He has a big character arc since initially he doesn’t get along with anybody and by the end of the game he’s mellowed out quite a bit. He’s still not cheesy or anything though as he still has some pretty harsh thoughts about everyone and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. Then you’ve got Shiki who’s a solid heroine. She’s definitely quite lively and makes for a good foil to Neku’s character. She’s always trying her best to see the bright side of things.

Beet is another one of the main heroes but he goes through some rough patches. While he gets a lot of development I can’t really side with him after what he did at the end of Act 1. He tries to walk it back later but it was a little too late for him. Meanwhile Joshua was actually my favorite character in the game. Like Neku he always had a comeback ready and he was really handling the villains pretty well. He gets the most memorable scenes in the game. Whenever he appears you knew something fun was going to happen.

For the villains you’ve got quite a few here. My favorite one was the Grim Heaper. He had a lot of good math puns and a solid design. he wasn’t afraid to get things done his way which is always important. You’ve also go the elusive conductor although he mainly just gets mentioned a lot. You’ve got two villains who are like a serious version of Team Rocket. While they try to be nice and relatable near the end you can’t forget the fact that they’re mass murderers either way. One thing you don’t want to lose sight of is the fact that this is a murder game. Keep that in mind when all of the twists are happening. No matter how you slice it that means all of these guys are knowingly complicit in these actions.

Overall, The World Ends With You is a pretty great RPG. It’s got a solid set of characters and really nice technicals on its side. There’s a good amount of replay value since you can warp to any of the previous days to do any missions you skipped. It’s a game that gives you a lot of options for what you want to do next and the length is pretty good as well. With news of the anime coming up the series is definitely staying relevant. As long as you like a good story then this is a game I recommend to any gamer. It’ll definitely hook you on the interesting premise and solid characters.

Overall 8/10