The Phantom Tollbooth Review

The Phantom Tollbooth is an old story that has aged exceptionally well. You’ll absolutely be having a good time with this movie because it’s really just a wholesome adventure all the way around. The movie goes by quickly and the fantasy world is constructed well. We may not be there for a super long period of time since there’s only so much you can do in one movie but the film did a good job of making it all memorable.

The film starts by introducing us to a kid named Milo. He’s bored because he doesn’t care much for school and there isn’t anything to do at home either. Milo doesn’t see the point in an education since he feels like he will never get to use any of this stuff anyway. Well, one day a box arrives complete with a car to a whole new world. Milo decides to enter it and is now accompanied by a talking dog named Tock. The world is currently at odds because the numbers and letters have had a disagreement so rhyme and reason were banished from the kingdoms. Milo needs to try to find a way to establish world peace or that could be game over for the planet.

One thing you’ll notice right away is that the film does a good job of playing with words. almost every word has another meaning here. For example, the “Watchdog” is a dog with an actual watch inside of him. The names are all quite clever and the world seems insane but at the same time it does run on a kind of system. Milo also ends up taking some of this in stride quicker than I would have expected. He isn’t spending half of the film asking what’s going on or anything like that which is always a good thing. It’s always a shame when a character isn’t able to adapt to the fantasy world.

Milo’s not a standout character or anything but he works well enough as the lead. He does his best to help the planet out. Milo does get into trouble at times to be sure but he always ends up bouncing back and doing what he can. In the end isn’t that all you can really ask for? Of course he definitely did mess up with trying to get the sun to rise and that was probably his biggest mistake. Even if he had the skills it would have certainly messed up everyone’s routine since not enough time had passed.

As for Tock, he’s a good sidekick to have around. He knows quite a lot and is pretty good about getting Milo up to speed in a simple way. He doesn’t overcomplicate the issues and just tells it all to Milo direct. You’ve got the two kings who are both suitably petty. I did much prefer the words guy over the numbers king though. Mainly because I think he has the better point. I don’t care how good you are at numbers, you definitely need letters if you want to do anything. Meanwhile you could make a strong case for numbers not being quite as necessary. Of course you do need both in the end but letters are absolutely the winner here.

From the various villains, the best had to be the Terrible Trivium. This guy really stole the show the instant he appeared. He suckered the characters into doing meaningless tasks almost immediately and his design is even rather fierce. You do not want to get on his bad side, that’s for sure. I would have liked more of a final fight for him of course but this isn’t really that kind of movie. He still did well to slow the heroes down and remained a memorable part of the film.

The Humbug was another fun character. I think just from his name you can probably guess a few things about his personality right? Well, you’d be right on the money there and he’s a nice contrast to Milo and Tock who are just having a good time being heroes from start to finish. So we’ve got quite the solid cast in this film and the writing is really on point. There’s no point where you feel like the film is dragging on or that the scene isn’t engaging. When creating a crazy world it’s certainly possible to make things too crazy so that it all feels forced but that’s not an issue here. The crazy logic makes sense in its own way and it makes for a fun world.

The movie is really low key when you think about it. It’s an adventure without a whole lot of danger and excitement but the quality writing and characters are what keeps this one on solid ground from start to finish. The movie’s ending leaves room for a sequel should Milo ever have any doubts again. I do think it was rather rude of him to hang up on his friend though. Keep in mind that his friend stayed on the line when Milo vanished which was apparently only a few minutes at best. Surely Milo could have waited so they could have both talked about their adventure right? It shows that the friend was more loyal than Milo was.

Overall, The Phantom Tollbooth is a fun film. It isn’t particularly dynamic or anything but it’s really a fundamentally sound film. If you ever have someone ask you what’s a good movie that just stands on its own without any huge gimmicks, this one’s a good example. No big action scenes, special effects, or anything like that. It’s just a good story and a fun watch. I’m not sure a modern remake would be able to do it justice but I would be interested to see how that all pans out. Also, while this film succeeded without fight scenes, I certainly wouldn’t turn them down if a modern remake wanted to add those. That could be rather fun.

Overall 7/10


I have started the myth, the legend, the all time comedy known as Gintama. It certainly got tons of hype back in its day that’s for sure. I can see how it got so big since it really leans into its own unique comedy style with confidence. I can appreciate how out there it is and things are off to a fun start. We’ll see if it continues to rise and I will have a review up once I have finished the series.

Overall 7/10

Christmas Carol (1938) Review

Time for another Christmas Carol adventure. This is one of the earlier ones from 1938 and is definitely still a classic. The story has aged well even if Scrooge himself can be a bit cheesy with the quick turnaround here. Of course he does have to turn good sooner or later so might as well have this occur early on. It’s easy to see why the story got so big as it’s a well rounded adventure.

The movie starts off with Fred getting ready to visit his Uncle Scrooge. Scrooge isn’t big on Christmas though and is still being rather rude to everyone. He has earned himself quite the reputation so everyone knows to avoid Scrooge. Fred is unable to convince Scrooge to come over for Christmas so he heads on home. Scrooge fired his assistant Bob on Christmas Eve which shows just how cruel he can be. Well, 3 ghosts have appeared and they are going to show Scrooge the past, present, and future in order to get him back into Christmas shape. Will Scrooge see the light or will he keep yelling Humbug?

The cast is fairly small here so each character gets a good amount of development. You can quickly see each of their personalities from the jump and that provides all the context you need for the story. Like Fred is instantly shown to be a really happy guy who loves Christmas. That’s who he is and makes for a great foil to Scrooge. It’s clear that Fred is someone who will be having a lot of fun all of the time and his family was certainly doing well too with their party.

Then you have Bob who is an honest worker and is just trying to make enough money to pay the bills. It seems like there aren’t a whole lot of jobs in this town given that the only option was to work for Scrooge. I would say Bob is extremely timid but when you absolutely need a job and there no union at the ready, it’s understandable that he would be walking on eggshells the whole time. It’s a shame that he had to get canned on Christmas Eve just for having a bit of fun.

As for Scrooge, well he is the ultimate Penny pincher. The guy is as rich as can be but he still doesn’t want to pay a living wage and won’t even put wood in the fireplace to keep it warm. Scrooge even goes as far as to completely shun the people trying to raise money for the poor. Scrooge is doing his best to play the role of the Grinch and ruin Christmas but that’s when the 3 ghosts come in. They try all of the routines, being nice, scaring Scrooge into submission, or even letting him feel like he’s in control.

Before the 3 ghosts though we do get to see good ole Marley. He’s always an interesting character because he was also a very successful businessman but someone who was also generous. Somehow Scrooge didn’t even know about this so I feel like Marley must have been exceptional at business for this not to have been apparent. Still, it didn’t go very well for him since he was in chains. Was he just not good enough? In a lot of Christmas Carol versions he was shown to be just as bad as Scrooge so it made sense why he was shacked and trying to tell Scrooge not to make the same mistakes. In this version he seemed decent from the start but maybe he was still stingy to an extent and that was his downfall. It’s a small thing but something to think about.

The first ghost is the nice one who shows him the past. She has good speed and reaction times with how she was able to teleport away from his grab in the end. From the 3 visions the first is never as strong as the other two since the first is about his childhood days. Not a lot going on there but we do see how he managed to push everyone away. If he had just gone to play with the other kids then it could have been all good but I don’t think that was possible for a kid his age.

Then we have the second ghost who is the father of many. He has a lot of fun mind controlling the people which is always a bit iffy. It’s why you rarely see heroes using mind control since even using it for the right reasons seems like a bit much. You’ll never know which characters are being good or mind controlled. Nice enough guy though and by this point Scrooge had totally bought in to the spirit of Christmas. You feel like the third ghost didn’t even need to appear but I guess you might as well go for the full combo at that point.

Finally we get to the last ghost who isn’t very talkative. It’s rather late by this point so the ghost probably wanted to get this done and head out. We see the bleak futures of what could be if Scrooge had stayed in his ways. He certainly would have left quite a lot of loss in his wake. It shows how powerfully rich he was in the end. With his fortune he could really make a difference in the town.

The Christmas Carol is a fun film with good pacing and writing. There aren’t any real weaknesses to the story so you should have a good time even if you have seen the story told many times before. In this particular version it felt like Scrooge turned good a little too quickly which would be my only note. It just made the third ghost feel a bit unnecessary which I don’t think was the intention. Usually you want all 3 to play a good role.

Overall, A Christmas Carol is as good a story as it ever was. You get to see what a town experience may have looked like so many years ago and the cast is enjoyable to watch. It would be quite exciting if you could visit your own past as a sort of “Greatest Hits” montage. I could probably go without seeing the future though to avoid any time loops. You never know what ripple effects you might end up creating which will just cause a whole lot of trouble. If you haven’t seen this one yet then it’s worth checking out. Of course there are so many different versions which are all usually solid so you don’t really have to watch this one in particular.

Overall 7/10

The Blair Witch Project Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

The Blair Witch Project is definitely a very well known movie. Just about anyone who is familiar with the horror genre will likely have heard of this film at some point or another. It really got the whole found footage genre on the map in the first place. That said, it also plays out how you would expect with every single character being super unlikable and obnoxious the whole time. They crack under pressure almost instantly here.

There are only 3 important characters in the entire film so that makes them all the more crucial to the film being good. Basically Heather wants to investigate this mysterious Blair Witch and so her two friends Mike and Josh agree to go with her into the woods. It’s supposed to be a relatively small area so at least they won’t get lost right? Well, after a day of hiking they try to make their way back but can’t seem to leave the forest. They keep finding themselves back at the start only there is some scary imagery awaiting them each time. At night they hear sounds as if there are people running around. Have they already entered the Witch’s labyrinth?

From the start I don’t think it was a great plan to look into the whole Blair Witch angle. I mean, put it this way, what can they possibly learn about the witch? There’s the old crime that some townspeople mentioned where a guy kidnapped a bunch of kids and murdered them all. It seems like that may have somehow turned into the witch legend but even then, what are you going to find in the forest? Realistically you’re either going to find nothing or you’re going to find a supernatural entity and will be destroyed. In no scenario will this go favorably for you.

Back to the journey though, this reminds you why you have to be very careful when choosing your travelling companions. It’s one thing to have friends that you’re cool with during the day but how will they handle high pressure situations? Not very well in this case although all 3 characters are really at fault here.

First up you have Heather who insists on holding her camera at all times no matter how much the others beg her not too. It’s clear that this is just distressing them more and more but she will not put it down. Mike at least even asks not to be filmed on many occasions but she flat out ignores him and continues to do it anyway. That’s not good for keeping everyone agreeable with each other. Throw in the constant panicking and I definitely didn’t like her as the main character.

Not to say that the others were much better at all though. You have Mike who starts to crack before Josh. He is really stressed out about going home and is determined for Heather to admit that they’re completely lost. He’s really obsessed about this point which isn’t going to help their cause. Yeah Heather should have admitted that she was winging it the whole time but forcing her to admit that shouldn’t be at the top of their priorities. Then at the end you have Mike running off on his own a lot which puts them in a bad spot. You have to stick together at that point.

Then you have Josh who really can’t help but panic at all times. He starts singing nonsense, running out of the tent, etc. He puts them in a lot of the danger here. While I said that Heather should put the camera down, it’s still no excuse for Josh to be completely cracking the way that he is. He really needed to keep his head. This trio was really just bad at survival and I wouldn’t be surprised if they really were just running in circles the whole time.

If anything it would have been better if we stuck to the townsfolk interviews as the main plot. Those guys all seemed a bit crazy but at least they were more sensible than these three teenagers. Now I know you got to have a lot of panicking and such for drama but imagine three adults thrown into this situation instead. No panicking, none of that. Just a few rational people trying to figure out what needs to happen next. I think the “Blair Witch” would have a much more difficult time in this case.

I’ve never been a fan of the shaky camera direction in a film and this is no exception. Traditional camerawork will just always be superior to me. I want to see what is happening at all times and be able to see what’s going on. With this setup you have to hope that the characters can aim straight and with how they’re being terrorized by the witch the whole time and their own fears…well that’s a tall order. That means you miss out on a whole lot of the action which is no good.

Overall, The Blair Witch Project ends about how you would expect it too. It’s a very by the books kind of movie and I suppose at the time it was original but it feels like every found footage movie goes in the same way. What’s my interpretation of the ending? Josh took them down real quick. I’m less inclined to believe the supernatural elements this time just because there’s too much room for doubt. Usually in these things it’s clear that the witch is real but each of the supernatural elements is something that one of the gang could have done. My primary suspect is Josh and the rest was just paranoia on the part of the heroes. It’s fairly tame for a horror and so it’s not a tough watch but the characters are just soooooooooo annoying. That’s what is really going to hold this movie back for me. I just can’t picture watching the movie again.

Overall 4/10

The Lone Ranger (1956) Review

So far the Lone Ranger has not had a very good track record with the movies. I wasn’t particularly a fan of the other two versions I saw but seeing as how this is one of the original versions of the character, maybe it would have more potential. Fortunately that did turn out to be the case and in fact I would say it’s way better than the other two. I wouldn’t say it’s great but it will keep your attention more than the others.

The movie starts off by introducing us to the Lone Ranger and his partner Tonto grilling someone about the recent talk of Indians with saddled horses going around and committing crimes. There is currently a treaty in the land so that the Indians and settlers respect each others turf but this group appears to be ignoring it. The guy doesn’t know anything but refers the heroes to town. There, the governor asks the duo to take a look into this since they are the only ones he can trust. Tonto and the Ranger solemnly promise to look things over and see that justice is served.

This is one of those films where there are not a lot of likable characters on either side though. The Indians are led by Red Hawk, a man who has helped the Ranger many times in the past but he is now getting old and is slowly trying to step down as leader. The main issue is that his replacement is quite eager for battle and would jump into a war as soon as possible. If this were to happen then casualties would be unavoidable and that’s not something either side wants. Still, Red Hawk confirms that none of his men would do such a thing.

As for the guy stirring up a lot of trouble, his name is Kilgore. He’s the guy who keeps reporting these crimes but of course aside from him and his men there aren’t many witnesses. There’s certainly no time to catch any of these guys so it really becomes a battle of words which is not ideal for getting to the truth of the matter. He wants to raise his daughter as if she was his son so that she can inherit the ranch and all of his belongings someday.

Kilgore’s wife isn’t happy about this but he basically threatens her to stay silent on this. Given that this guy is a complete mob boss who isn’t above murdering just about anyone, it’s not exactly easy to get him to back down either. Of course he needs to watch his back since one of his men, Cassidy is a bit of a loose cannon. The tables can easily turn in this kind of thing.

But at the end of the day they are your classic wild west villains. There isn’t anything particularly cool about these villains. They want to grab a lot of land and conquer as much of it as possible. There isn’t really anything to their development beyond that so I wouldn’t really consider them to be all that interesting.

As for the Lone Ranger himself, it is interesting how his secret identity is that of an old man. It’s an interesting angle but it defeats the purpose when he then shows himself right afterwards. I feel like with an identity like that you need to keep it on ice a bit longer and put some distance between both of your personas so that nobody will suspect anything. If you just appear back to back then it’s very suspicious.

As an old man I suppose he intends to get people to lower their guards. It works once but as an old man instead it makes the others feel bolder at times like when the Ranger attempts to interrogate a store owner. Lets just say that it did not work in the slightest. The Ranger has a cool scene where he shoots the rope before the town can hang Tonto though.

Long Ranger is a serviceable lead. He’s not the most interesting guy I’ve seen but he’s not bad either. He wants to fight for justice and get everyone to the right outcome. It’s a classic kind of character personality. The Lone Ranger doesn’t really add anything to it, but he doesn’t take it away either so it all ends up balancing out in the end.

As for Tonto, he certainly takes a lot of the risks here. Keep in mind that all of the villains are trying to eradicate the Indians so the Lone Ranger sending Tonto on a solo mission deep into enemy territory was very risky. If the horse didn’t alert the Ranger in time he definitely would have been too late. Tonto definitely had to risk it all in order to claim victory. He fought well too, but nobody can be expected to defeat a whole town. The Ranger definitely gives his allies tough missions like that though. The instant he asks a man named Ramirez to help him out, you’ll be a little worried for that guy.

Back to Tonto’s mission though, this is really where the Sheriff looked pretty bad. He talked tough throughout the movie but when it was crunch time he ultimately faltered. He just watched as this guy was about to be hanged and didn’t do anything. The leader of the relations office tried helping so I’d give him a lot more credit than the Sheriff. It’s just hard to come back from that.

The music in the film was pretty catchy. The Lone Ranger’s alter ego had a fun enough theme. I suppose the classic hero theme has also aged well over the years. So all in all, you’ve got a pretty decent combo there. I dare say that the music is a little better than I expected. The writing is on point as well. It’s a fairly chipper adventure although at the same time, the film can certainly get serious when it wants to be. It manages both genres well.

There isn’t as much action as you might expect though. The Ranger does get to have a fist fight with Red Hawk but that’s about it. Beyond that you just have a few gunfights here and there. Surprisingly the Ranger even gets bested in one of those fights near the end. I was definitely not expecting him to get shot in the chest. At the same time, I was not expecting him to tell Killgore where his wife was hiding so the Lone Ranger really liked to surprise me.

Overall, The Lone Ranger is a franchise that tends to not really be my speed because I’m not big into the Wild West or any of the old eras like that. That said, I think this film captured the essence of the franchise a lot more than the newer films. It had enough fun dialogue and character moments to keep me entertained. I wouldn’t say there is a lot of replay value here though. If you pit it against a lot of other classic films then it would lose but on its own the film really isn’t bad. It could stand to have a little more action but it does the job if you want something quick to watch.

Overall 6/10

Whistle Review

At this point it’s been around 10 years since I started Whistle but I’ve now reached the end of the series. It was certainly an emotional journey filled with a lot of great matches and character moments. I would not put it in the same league as the more intense sport titles like Prince of Tennis, Haikyu, or Kuroko but it’s definitely a solid title in its own right. We even get a physical fight at the end of the series.

The manga is about a kid named Sho who really wants to be a great soccer player. It’s his favorite sport in the world and the guy is always living and breathing soccer 24/7. Unfortunately he’s fairly small which makes it difficult to power his way through against the bigger kids and he’s just not super gifted at the sport. He’ll have to train and practice much harder than the other kids in order to catch up to them but he’s not afraid of the effort. Sho needs to first make it on the team and then he needs to earn his way into a starting position.

The opening volumes of the series really showcase how much distance Sho needs to cross in order to be one of the very best. He does train quite hard each day so it’s not like he’s slacking off but it’s just hard to keep up with the others. Just look at the range for example, they can kick the ball from double the length which is naturally a big advantage. Additionally, it’s harder to body slam someone who’s a lot bigger than you are and while you shouldn’t target players in Soccer, there is a lot of physical contact.

What Sho has for advantages is his speed and determination. It is a little easier for him to maneuver throughout the field and steal the ball if someone lowers their guard. Additionally his stamina is quite good and he’s usually the last player to go down. That works as a good morale boost to the other players when they are starting to weaken a bit. By the end of the series Sho is surprisingly still one of the weaker players. Whistle is definitely going for a higher level of realism than most of the other sport titles and while Sho kept training, so did the rest of the cast. So in the end he didn’t make nearly as much progress as you would have assumed otherwise relative to the others.

The best character in the series was Shigeki though. He’s one of Sho’s rivals and you could also call him the final boss of sorts. He’s one of the guys who helped get Sho into soccer and continued to inspire the lead. He ends up leaving the series for a few volumes but returns better than ever. He’s got a very confident demeanor to him which is important and the guy is an ace in soccer.

Additionally, he is able to fight physically. This comes in handy as he has to save someone from getting bullied. Even when he was outnumbered 8 to 1 the guy held his own. Shigeki never ran from a challenge and only continued to get better and better at the series went on. That’s why he was my favorite character, he left a real impact here.

Tatsuya is the other rival but he doesn’t hold his own quite as well as Shigeki. The main reason for that he that Tatsuya tends to lose sight of what’s really important a few times. He gets jealous of Sho and tries to show up Shigeki on a few occasions. Things never work out for him so he inevitably gets upset and starts playing rather sloppy. It’s not a trait that’s good for the rival since you can’t take him nearly as serious after that. It also happens to Tatsuya more than once which is always a bit worrisome.

I still liked him in the end but those scenes really did a number on the guy. Now that he’s more confident in his own abilities I expect he would look a lot better in the sequel. Then there’s Tsubasa who has a run rivalry with Daichi. Both of them are goalie/keepers for the team so naturally each one wants to be the starter. Interestingly even by the end of the series it’s hard to say who the better player is. I would give the edge to Tsubasa because I found him to be more consistent but it’s really close.

It’s not as decisive as you would expect and due to that both of them get big roles in the final match as they alternate. Tsubasa did start for more periods in the match though so take that as you will. Tsubasa is a very fiery character who is very loud and outspoken. Daichi is more of a quiet guy who tends to speak his mind rather than mincing words. So in their own ways they are both very confident in their abilities but go about showing it in different ways.

Technically Whistle’s cast is a fairly large one but it’s also large to the point where it’s hard to develop them all as much as in other titles. For example Haikyu is the sport title with the closest comparable cast I would say but the series really took the time to develop all of them. Granted, Haikyu is almost double Whistle’s size but by volume 20 I would say they already had more personality.

In Whistle if you weren’t one of the two keepers or rivals then you were most likely not a very notable player. The other kids were good enough to keep Sho out of the starting roster for a while but that’s about it. You wouldn’t really expect them to do much in an actual match though aside from yelling at Tatsuya at times when he would steal the spotlight. Usually they’d start losing points for the team which is when Sho would have to be called back in.

There are some supporting characters outside the team though like the various coaches in the series. They tended to be solid even if they didn’t make too much of an impact outside of the main one. The main coach always chose to believe in Sho and support him when it counted. She did take a bit of a risk near the end of the series but when it’s the main character it’s never a bad idea to try and let him surpass his limits. There was a pro player who happened to be in Sho’s neighborhood. That guy was nice he always helped give Sho some quality advice and told the kid not to give up.

Then you have Sho’s brother Ko who doesn’t do much for most of the series but he does come through when it counts at the end. Whistle goes for a rather emotional ending to be sure but one that has a satisfying ending. If the ending had been fully sad with no recovery at the end then that would have been more on the fishy side. As it stands, it works pretty well as a way to close things out.

Whistle’s artwork does look fairly old. It reminds you of something like Saint Seiya only without the fight scenes of course. It doesn’t hold up to a lot of newer titles but it isn’t bad. You can still recognize all of the characters pretty easily and the soccer games have a proper amount of intensity. The manga isn’t actually as old as it looks but it could be an intentional style choice I suppose or it’s from an artist who grew up drawing in that style so he just stayed in that style.

With 24 volumes at the ready you can expect a whole lot of matches throughout the series. It also gives the author time to let the characters just have some fun and dialogue outside of the matches too. We have time for the heroes to enjoy some good food and hang out. Some titles don’t have a whole lot of time for that so it’s a pretty balanced set up. With this many volumes over 10 years it can be easy to forget some of the early opponents though but the you won’t forget Sho’s struggles.

Part of why the main characters are all so memorable is because they got such strong character arcs. Each of them had to deal with something. Sho had to deal with his lack of skills, Daichi had to deal with improving his skills and not relying on only hunches, Tsubasa had to deal with everyone always underestimating him, Tatsuya had to deal with self confidence, and Shigeki had to deal with his rich father who owned another soccer club. There was definitely a lot going on here so even if you don’t remember some of the specific matches it was a lot of fun.

Overall, Whistle is definitely a very good series that I would recommend. It’s a very easy read and like with most sport titles there is a ton of replay value here. There may not be anything super deep or genre breaking going on here but you know that in each volume you can expect some high quality soccer content. It would have been nice to perhaps have seen a time skip where Sho is now one of the best players out there but I guess that will be a job for the sequel series. It would be nice to see Sho’s hard work pay off at some point since so far he has only made some progress. If you like sports or a good story then you should definitely check this one out, the writing is always consistent.

Overall 7/10

Hey Punk! Are You Tuff E Nuff? Review

It’s time to look at a pretty old fighting game. The title is definitely pretty intense and right away you know that you’re in for a very intense mano a mano affair. As far as these retro games go I would say it’s pretty solid. It’s a fighting game so you can’t really go wrong there. Naturally this is the kind of game that is a whole lot better in multiplayer but arcade mode still hits all of the right notes. I don’t see you playing this over any of the new ones but since it’s free with the Switch Online that’s a plus.

The game starts with letting you pick a character and from there it’s off to the races. The gameplay is very basic with your average punch and kick moves. You also have some special abilities but those are hard to use of course. The whole thing is pretty basic and I definitely wouldn’t say that it’s very ambitious. Still, the A.I. can definitely give you a lot of trouble here so have the rewind button at the ready. You’re going to be getting a lot of use out of it here as things would be a little trouble without it.

Due to the nature of the game though there really isn’t a ton to say about it. You’ll be done with the Arcade Mode very quickly and then there’s nothing else to do aside from playing through it again and again or going into versus mode. To an extent that is true of most fighting games I suppose but with the modern ones at least you have more stat keeping or modern graphics to keep you going. At least individual character stories but this one doesn’t really have much of that.

I’d say that the graphics look pretty decent though. It’s a SNES game that had a good amount of effort put into it. The soundtrack isn’t bad either. The whole thing is a little on the basic side make no mistake about that but you’ll have a little fun here. I guess trying out all of the characters would be a good way to extend the time at least a little bit. That way you’ll also pick up on the controls. At an intro level I would at least recommend not blocking enough. The A.I. always figures out how to beat your block anyway so you’re better off just going on the attack and completely overwhelming them. Then maybe you can deal out enough damage to win. If you can find a consistent 1-2 hit combo that should be good enough to get you going. Don’t worry about doing anything beyond that. If there are even combos beyond 2 hits because I certainly couldn’t find any.

The computer definitely had a way of making every hit connect though. Maybe there are some advanced L cancelling techniques like in Melee over here. It would explain why the enemy was always moving super fast like the wind and being in all of the right spots at the right times. No matter what you would do the enemy would be ready and waiting to counter strike. I would say that they can read your inputs but I’m not sure if that was a thing back then. They just have really solid fundamentals all the way around.

Overall, Are You Tuff E Nuff is a very direct title for what is a very direct game. It’s simply a fighting game where you match your skills against someone else. There is nothing more to it and I don’t expect the game was trying to have anything more than that. The cover art is definitely one that you won’t be forgetting anytime soon though. The whole art style is just very intense and it’d be fun if the actual graphics in game were like that too. Of course that probably wouldn’t have been possible until at least N64. If you have the Switch Online then I would recommend at least giving this one a shot. A modern day remake of it would definitely be pretty fun though.

Overall 6/10

Tales of Symphonia Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 37h 13m
Total Gald 541,425
Saves 176
Encounters 866
Escapes 303
Max Combo 37 Hits
Max Damage 8544
Max Grade 1310

Character Levels

Lloyd Level 62
Zelos Level 61
Genis Level 59
Raine Level 59
Sheena Level 60
Colette Level 60
Presea Level 60
Regal Level 60

Super Metroid Review

It’s time to take a look at the next Metroid title. It feels good to have finally knocked all of these titles out of the way. I was not a big fan of the first two titles in the series that’s for sure. This third one is considerably better than the first two. It’s still not good enough where I would have been a big fan of the series back in the day but the improvements are quite massive so you can tell that a lot of effort was put into this one. My main issues with the first two games were definitively resolved here.

The game starts off with your ship crashing which was pretty intense. You now have to travel the planet and slay all of the big monsters in order to find the Metroid that you saved from game 2. I like the idea that there is some real continuity here and you also have an opening skirmish with Ridley as he kidnaps the Metroid. The stakes are high and it’s also personal now. Fortunately Samus is ready for the adventure and as soon as she grabs all of the scattered power ups in the world then she will really be ready to take the fight to the dragon.

Here’s the biggest improvement that Super Metroid made, we finally have a true map system! You add to the map as you walk around and if you find the map station in the world then you will unlock the whole area at once. It really makes a world of difference to actually know where you are instead of guessing. You are still responsible for finding all of the secret passages on your own of course but since you have something to go on that makes it a lot easier. When you had to blindly guess you could be stuck for hours just wandering the dark caverns. I couldn’t ask for much more out of a map system than what we have here. Mind you, the game is still pretty tricky with how it hides power ups and such though. You’ll still have to go through a lot of trial and error here so don’t expect to beat the game very quickly.

It took me around 8 hours so even though the speed runners tend to beat this very quickly, I wouldn’t expect to complete the game much quicker than that on your first shot. The gameplay is that of a 2D platformer. You can run, jump, and shoot as you go through the levels. You will also obtain more and more skills are you go through the game like bombs while rolling, missiles, and even x ray vision. They help a lot in the platforming efforts. It seems like the x ray vision is the only one that’s not mandatory but you absolutely need the bombs and missiles if you want to clear the game.

One nice thing about the setup is that it does feel very satisfying when you finally get the next power up. You’ve suddenly opened up a whole new range of possibilities for yourself which is always good. It may not be fun to be stuck for a while but it’s a whole lot more enjoyable than the last few games where it would feel purely annoying. I think a good deal of this is due to 3 main factors even aside from the map. The first is that we have more of a real story here. I’m not going to say that the first two games didn’t have a basic plot, but this one has more of a narrative. You have to save the baby Metroid you rescued in the second game. Right away that makes the stakes much more personal than in the first two games so you’re willing to do what you have to in order to win.

Next, the graphics are worlds improved from the last two games. This really wouldn’t look bad on the N64. The graphics are quite solid for sprites. They’re very bright and there’s a lot of details in everything that’s going on. I was pretty impressed at least. Finally, you’ve got the soundtrack as well. A lot of the themes in this game would go on to become quite iconic. The game starts you off with some pretty ominous music and it just keeps on going as you go through the film. It really makes this feel like a very legitimate Metroid experience and one that is not dated. There may not really be any replay value after beating the game but the campaign is long enough where that’s not a problem.

The gameplay is smooth and the technicals are on point. The only thing keeping this game from being higher is that there is a lot of backtracking and it can get dull after a while. If you don’t know where to go next then you have to explore the darker parts of the map. Pick the wrong one and it could take 15-20 minutes to get back to where you were and try another route. I would have liked some kind of fast travel option in this game. I think that would have been a fantastic quality of life upgrade that would have made the game a lot more fun. Make it like Breath of the Wild where you can only go to places you have been. It stays fair while also keeping you engaged the whole time.

Overall, Super Metroid is definitely a big improvement and I would call it the first quite solid Metroid game. The series would only go on to bigger and better things from here like Zero Mission and Fusion. It’s been a very long time since we had a Metroid platformer so I’d be up for that returning at some point. I feel like this franchise has a ton of untapped potential and it shows. Even in Super Smash we still only have 3 reps from the series despite it being about as old as the Legend of Zelda and Mario. What we need is a big budget Metroid game that introduces a lot of new characters. I’ll definitely be there ready and waiting for when that day finally does come.

Overall 6/10