Dragon Ball Side Story: The Case of Being Reincarnated as Yamcha Review

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The manga trilogy has finally ended so it’s time for the review. This mini series only got three chapters so it’s pretty short. That’s too bad because the premise just had a whole lot of potential in it. The basic plot is that a kid in the human world is a big fan of Dragon Ball. Unfortunately in the real world he’s just a really unlikable guy who has no redeeming qualities. One day, he decides to fall even lower on the moral totem pole when he falls down a flight of stairs and breaks his neck. It’s surprisingly a happy moment since he felt like the main antagonist. Instead of dying, the kid wakes up as Yamcha in the Dragon Ball series. He must now find a way to become a better character and avoid dying. Since he knows the events in advance he has a real shot here, but can he do it?

You can probably see why the premise has potential. There’s so much you can do with this kind of story since you know what is going to happen and can take steps to avoid it. Yamcha may not be able to do much against the final threats like Cell and Buu but even those are things that he can get past if he knows the origins. For Buu, just eliminate Spopovich and the other ally before they can get Gohan. For Cell, attack him in his first form or tell everyone where he is and that should be easy enough. You can escape almost any scenario.

The main character actually does do quite a bit of this at first. He trains hard so he is able to actually help against Frieza and the foes before him. He basically gives up on doing this by the Cell arc and decides to just watch which is fine I suppose. He knows he’ll come back to life anyway. You just can’t explore this concept as much as you could have if this was an ongoing series. Additionally, the series throws in the twist of having another human being warped into the series and the lead has to find out who he is. Naturally, this character is evil so they have a fight but the power of being a DBZ fan wins him over. This is all so rushed and unnatural that you have to wonder exactly why it was added.

Again, this could be a really interesting concept especially when you find out that if you die you get to retry your time in the universe. It could have been like a Groundhog Day where they explore many different avenues. Instead the whole second human plot is finished in one chapter. The ending was certainly an interesting twist as we at least get a reason why the human got into the world. Unfortunately, even the ending is wrecked as the main character immediately goes back to his old shady ways of being a creep. I thought the whole point was that he was going to learn a lesson…not that he would use his newfound abilities to be even worse in the real world.

Really, this manga is only held back by the main character. Otherwise, it’s pretty solid. The art is quite good and really does resemble DBZ at some points. It isn’t as consistent and has some flaws in that respect, but I would say that the art is quite good. It’s certainly a lot better than I would have anticipated from a short title like this one. I wonder how many people even know that this manga exists.

Overall, it’s a fun concept but you can only do so much with it. I’d recommend checking it out as many fans have always wanted a fun little alternate universe story like this one. You can even argue that the story could be cannon and wouldn’t make a difference. It would raise a lot of questions of course, but it could work. Hopefully we get more Dragon Ball spinoff mangas. Despite its overwhelming popularity we haven’t gotten as many titles as I’d like. We need to keep it rolling and get the Saiyans in a bunch of different adventures. Just resist the urge to add a human original character to the mix and then we’re golden. If you do add one, just keep in the death from the first chapter without actually bringing him back, now That would be funny.

Overall 5/10

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Spider-Man

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It’s time for the latest Spiderman adventure. Ultimate still feels pretty fresh but I’m glad that they churned out another show so soon. I never want the gap between titles to be too long. It’s off to a good start and should make for a solid Superhero show. The animation may not be that good, but considering how animation has been dropping off in American television for years now, it could have been a lot worse. I’ll definitely be sticking with it and will have a review up when the series is over.

Overall 7/10

Batman’66 Volume 5 Review

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It’s been a real pleasure reading the Batman’66 comics. They’ve all been really fun to read and this is a period in Batman’s career that deserved the extra exposure. Unfortunately, this is the final volume of the main series. It had a really good run to last this long, but it’s all over now. It ended on a pretty high note with this volume though and at least I still have 3 more crossovers to read. Until those are done, I can take solace in the fact that there is more Adam West to come.

Most of the issues here have 2 adventures so the collection is able to fit in quite a lot. As such I won’t go into all of the adventures, but I’ll at least touch on most of them. The first story is more of a short than anything else as we see a few kids dress up on Halloween and try to emulate the Dynamic Duo. They stand up to bullies and give everyone a fair shake. They may not get the candy in the end, but Batman and Robin are nice enough to make it up to them. As Batman points out, being a nice person is its own reward, but it’s still fun to receive some candy. It’s a nice little story that perfectly captures Batman’s character. His heroic nature is why he’s such a great character here.

In a more intense story, Solomon Grundy shows up. He is nigh invulnerable so the heroes have a little trouble with him. Fortunately, Batman is prepared for all contingencies and knows that Grundy can’t really handle a good zap. Being alive, albeit temporarily, was just too much for his system to get used too. That’s why it’s tough being an undead fighter sometimes. What do you do about such a thing? As for the Clayface story that followed. The heroes just confuse him quite a bit. The climax may have been a bit weak there as I don’t see Clayface being fooled so easily, but as long as it gets him out of their hair. He was pretty dangerous so it’s fortunate that they stopped him.

One of the more entertaining stories was when all of Gotham’s biggest villains got together and decided to improve their PR. Fortunately, Barbara Gordon worked there so she tricks them into bickering with each other until the cops can come to arrest them. Remember the good ole days when the cops could actually take down foes like the Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, and the Riddler? This was definitely back in the days where they got a lot of hype like this. The stories aren’t meant to be taken too seriously so don’t overthink this. Just roll with it and remember that when you’re creating a name for a company, you should have a neutral initial to start it off.

Bane finally made his debut in another comic and even had the famous scene where he breaks Batman’s back. Of course this Dark Knight thought ahead and had a batarang near his back which absorbed the impact and saved him from being crippled. It was certainly a fortunate event and as Batman always points out, it’s best to be prepared for all eventualities. It was certainly a good motto to live by this time. Bane was a wrestler here which makes sense as it gives him a good reason to be so formidable. He ends up getting overwhelmed by sheer numbers in the end, but I definitely liked his portrayal. He was certainly a nice threat and maybe the strongest Batman villain in the series. At least, the strongest human.

After a quick battle with Killer Croc, a villain decided to have a big team up. She’s known as the Mom or something like that. She frees a bunch of villains and gives the heroes so much trouble that they let her share a cell with her kids. It’s one of the few times Batman compromises with the villains so that’s quite a feat in itself. Still, he makes a nice speech to help us realize that it actually was the right choice in the end. It was a pretty fun comic and I’m always up for villain team ups.

The team ups kept coming in the last two adventures. In one, Catwoman showed up to help the heroes stop Solomon Grundy and Killer Croc. She apparently had not been using her full strength until now so the heroes were pretty surprised. Of course, Batman admitted that he had been holding back against her as well. It was interesting to see her on the same side as Batman for once although you can’t really imagine it lasting. The final issue was everything you could want in a finale. All of the villains team up again, but Riddler rats them out so Batman takes em all down. It was a pretty huge ensemble of villains so for Batman to take them all down was most impressive. Slow and steady wins the race after all, just pick off a few of them and keep it moving. Eventually you’ll have am all down. The comic also had a guest star for the heroes as Batgirl showed up to lend a helping hand. The only big character to not appear was Aunt Harriett. I forget if that was her actual name, but the nice little lady that always tried to find out Batman’s secret identity. It would have been fun to have had her show up.

The Batman issues have always been pretty fun and played the humor out pretty well. This volume is no exception as the characters unleash epic one liner after one liner. It’s definitely my kind of humor as the heroes are so ultra heroic, but don’t seem to notice. They just act natural about it and there’s no annoying character constantly getting shocked about this or pointing out how crazy it is. It’s just the norm in this fair city and even the police wonder what they would do without the duo. The setting is just perfect and it always makes me tempted to go watch the TV show. I can see why this was such a big success back in the day.

The art is also pretty solid as you’d expect. The characters are all looking pretty sharp and the backgrounds are pretty good. The comic does a good job of making everyone look like their older show appearances. The art is always easy to read so you can really appreciate what is happening. Mix that in with the excellent writing and you just have a really good recipe for success. It’s why the collection is such a blast to read through. It’s just got everything you could want in a comic.

Overall, You probably know what to expect from a Batman’66 comic by now. It’s more or less the same as the previous collections and that’s a good thing. Don’t fix what isn’t broken right? It’s a pretty solid rule that I stand by and while taking risks can pay off…it is called a risk for a reason. The issues did also have some more outlandish foes like Clayface and Solomon Grundy which was interesting to see in this setting. I’m definitely looking forward to the crossover with Wonder Woman as well since that is bound to be a blast and she is certainly a lot more Super than most of the characters they have to deal with. If you’ve somehow never read a Batman’66 comic before and don’t understand what all the fuss is about, it’s time for you to start with this one!

Overall 8/10

Attack on Titan: A Sudden Visitor: The Torturous Curse of Adolescence Review

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It’s time for another Attack on Titan OVA. You’ll be happy to know that this one is the best yet. It approached dangerous territory when the characters decided to go hunting, but the special did a pretty good job of handling it. It wasn’t perfect, but it managed to save itself as there was no blood or anything. It would be a little dicey if this was a long show were that kept happening or a movie with repeated scenes of this, but as a one off it wasn’t fatal.

This special should really be called Attack on Jean. He’s a pretty minor character in the main series, but he effectively got his own special here. Jean wants to get a cushy job in the Interior so he won’t have to fight Titans for a living, but this is proving to be difficult. His best chance is to do well in a training exercise, but then his teammates destroy this chance by just being better fighters in general than him. Jean doesn’t take this too well and hastily accepts a cooking challenge against Sasha. If he wins, she’ll have to stop up staging him every day of his life. The battle is on, but can Jean really win?

I do have to say that the remixed opening was handled pretty much perfectly here. We see a lot of shots of Jean running around and trying to be relevant and then at the end when the music is ramping up we just have him walking around since he usually doesn’t get to do much during the climax. It’s emotional yet also very fitting for the character. The soundtrack in general is easily 5 star material as we get most of the show’s famous themes from the first season. It’s just consistently amazing. The visuals are also pretty good. You’ll recognize the green energy effects the show loves to use and all of the character designs are on point. It’s not an action this time around so it’s hard to say just how good it is in the end, but it’s certainly good enough for me.

One thing that is interesting to note is that Jean is a whole lot meaner than usual. In the main series he’s not the nicest of guys, but he’s still pretty even tempered as he just tries to get promoted to a safe job. In this special he’s mean to his Mom for no reason and even threatens to punch Sasha. He resorts to stealing/cheating and just has absolutely no moral compass. I suppose it’s part of the humor, but I can’t imagine his fans would be too thrilled about this. The Mom subplot in particular felt random since in the flashbacks Jean was actually a nice guy and I suppose we are led to believe that joining the army corrupted him. He’s just not the nice guy that he used to be anymore.

The ending is also really cheesy so I wasn’t thrilled with that. We all know who should have won the cooking contest based on the two dishes. On the other hand, we can also assume that the wrong choice was picked because the judge was incredibly drunk. At least he was in character as I’ve never liked this guy. He has some hype but never does anything with it and is content to boss everyone around from the sidelines. Not the kind of guy you really want on your side.

As I mentioned before, there was one tricky scene where the heroes decide to hunt a boar for no good reason. Unfortunately they do nab him, but it was at least not done in a violent way. It’s a nice consolation. That’s really is for negatives and minor gripes. Beyond that, the special had really good pacing along with its soundtrack and graphics. It did a good job of embracing its comedic nature without going too far. For example, a good scene was when everyone transformed into Titans and could only watch as someone started taking everyone down. It was a nice high budget action moment that was certainly one of the highlights. It was just a good amount of fun.

I also liked Eren’s cameos as he called Jean out and also didn’t let Mikasa do all of his work for him. Eren likes to contribute so he will get strong enough to stomp all of the Titans. It would have been cool if the special could have kept in the scene where Eren beat Jean up, but at least the highlight is up on Youtube so you can always pause the special and quickly watch it during the beginning where it would have been perfectly thrown in. In case it wasn’t too clear, I was on Sasha’s team for this mission as Jean just didn’t do anything that made me want to root for him. He was basically the antagonist in this one after all.

The special also added some clever homages to the main series like when Sasha hit Reiner with her elbow in the same way that Eren attacked him in the forest. It was the same exact shot and I seem to recall 1 or 2 other instances of this. It was a nice bit of foreshadowing for the people who had already read the manga. Fans of the series will definitely get more out of this than average viewers, but both should still enjoy it quite a bit. It’s ironic that the best Attack on Titan special would be the comedy one, but now we know what the series could have been if it was a parody.

Overall, Attack on Jean was pretty fun. I wouldn’t mind if the series followed his adventures, but I have a feeling it would still suffer from the same problems as the original and a big problem would be that there would be fewer Eren scenes to try and bring it back up. The ending may be a little disappointing, but I’d still recommend checking the special out. It’s just pretty fun and quite possibly the only time you’ll be able to see Attack on Titan like this. It’ll truly go down as a collector’s item.

Overall 6/10

So This Is New York Review

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It’s time for a really retro comedy film. This one came out all the way back in 1948 after all so it’s one of the oldest titles that I’ve seen. It’s aged pretty well with the snappy sort of humor that I’ve come to expect from the leads. Ernie is easily one of the most sarcastic main characters that I’ve ever known and makes the whole film a lot more fun. The heroines go a little overboard on how unlikable and gullible they are so it’s a good thing that the protagonist is usually around.

Ernie has been doing pretty well at his job. It’s been fun and he’s close to a promotion. Unfortunately his wife wants them to move to New York so her sister can land a rich man. She likes a local butcher, but that’s not distinguished enough for this family. Ernie protests, but he ultimately realizes that it is futile and goes along. Once they’re in New York, the sister goes after all of the men and they’re all eager to oblige, but this is New York….they’re a little more worldly than the characters suspect.

First and foremost, I definitely have to give Ernie another shout-out. He recognizes the lunacy around the New York customs and acts accordingly. Everyone wants a tip and they want the main characters to spend money constantly. Ernie’s not really into the bribery and all of that, but quickly learns how the system works. He gives 0.10$ tips and only tips a quarter in the hotel. He’s pretty wise not to waste his money. They are on a limited budget after all. The guy also knows how to throw a mean right hook as he takes care of one sinister character who was trying to pull the moves on his wife. Ernie’s certainly a no nonsense character and even comes up with backup plans in case his two companions try to waste his money. It doesn’t go well, but I liked the attempt. He just never lets up with the sarcasm.

Another character who came close to being the best in the film was Ernie’s boss. I actually felt pretty bad for the guy since Ernie’s departure caused him to lose quite a bit of money. He needs Ernie back and fast or else it’s all over so he writes some intense letters and then even comes to New York to find him. The ending is a little cheesy, but I liked this guy’s persistence. He certainly wasn’t just going to sit around and wonder what was happening.

It’s hard to say who the main heroine is, but lets say it’s the sister. She was one of the worst characters in the film as not only was she tricked by just about all of the men, but she was also very mean. She played all of them for her own amusement and then chose to go with the richest individual. Fortunately, the gangsters took care of that anyway, but it’s hard to sympathize with her at all. In that sense, the ending with the butcher was perfect since both of them kept cheating on the other. I highly doubt this behavior will stop either so they’ll stay together but will always be looking behind their backs as they wonder what the other is doing. It’s perfect!

The wife is pretty bad as well though. She is pretty naive the whole time and doesn’t realize when the strangers are getting too friendly. She makes things tough on Ernie the whole time and doesn’t realize that she is just wasting a lot of money. She’s simply not very smart. While not as over the top as the butcher, I would have liked for her to have been a more strategic thinker. Here’s an example of when she really didn’t know what she was doing.

A washed up comedy guy shows up and demands 15 thousand dollars to let them into his play. The Wife agrees since maybe the sister will form a connection with him, but naturally the play sank and then he kept all of the money. It was such a huge rip off. I can understand giving someone 100 dollars, but 1K, much less 15K in those days was completely unheard of. It was just too much. What’s worse is that they noticed Ernie’s hidden stash of money and used it as well. Talk about going all in eh? At least Ernie got a tip about how the horses were rigged and played something else, but it was all for naught in the end.

The film’s pretty fun as you could tell, but I could have done without some of the romance. Since it’s all pretty fake and all of the guys turn out to be bad anyway, I would have liked more scenes of Ernie critiquing the New York customs. A scene in the pizza place would have been cool or heading to a McDonalds. The scenes of them hanging out with the guys were only good when Ernie was around to insult them. He wasn’t even too subtle about it which was pretty enjoyable. He just said it like it was. The only scene with Ernie that may have dragged a little was when the drunk guy was telling him about the crooks. That scene could have gotten to the point sooner, but maybe it’s just because listening to drunk speak always has me shake my head.

Overall, It’s a pretty short film. The movie isn’t even 90 minutes long so it maintains a quick pace throughout. You’ll have a fun time watching it and the film even has some pretty nice effects like the epic zoom ins of the character’s faces and the translator for the cab driver. It’s also nice that you can still associate with most of the things that the film pokes fun at. Even if New York has changed in many ways since the old days, it has also remained the same in others. The cycle goes on after all. I’d recommend checking it out and most modern comedy films could learn from this one. One last change I’d make to the film would be ending it about 3 minutes earlier. Not being able to afford to leave would have been priceless!

Overall 7/10

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

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I forgot to put this on the blog way back when, but I checked out the first book in the series. There are only 11 out so far so at least it’s pretty easy to read through them. It’s not exactly my kind of series as I always look for a little action, but it’s not bad. I expected it to be worse and at least the characters are always trying to one up each other. As the title suggests, the diary plays a huge role even if the main character can’t admit that it’s a diary. It suffers from some instances of crude humor and as with all comedies, not all of the jokes work. I’d give it a look if you’re a comedy fan and it won’t take you long to get caught up. I’ll have a review out if the series ends and I make it through all of them.

Overall 5/10

Rabbids Go Home Review

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It’s time to delve back into the world of Rayman. The first game for the GBA didn’t work out so well but I’m still trying to fix it. In the meantime, this spinoff seems like it will do just fine as a little filler. It actually has some pretty tight gameplay but it is limited by the rather lackluster story and certain elements of the game that just weren’t really thought out. Ironically enough, the bad/cartoony graphics actually help the game from sinking any lower. Sword Art Online level graphics for this game would have made it quite disastrous indeed. As it is, the game actively mocks you throughout.

The general plot is that the Rabbids want to get to the Moon. Apparently that may even be their home. They hope to collect enough trash to let them reach it. By their estimation, you’ll need 23000 feet of trash to get that high. This means they’ll have to do things like say “Nothing personal kid” and teleport behind the person to steal their stuff if necessary. More likely, they’ll end up mugging the person. The Rabbids have no inclination to work with local authorities and have decides that they’ll take down anyone who gets in their way. So begins the mission.

Each level is about grabbing a lot of junk and snatching a big object by the end. You may steal a plane, a dying person, a wheel, a boat, etc. It all becomes trash once the Rabbids grab it. You then make it to a dirty toilet and flush your way back to base. The game spares no expense with the crude humor as the toilet is quite dirty each time you use it. Their base is under the toilet which isn’t very sanitary and then you go back to the hub world (It’s like New York City) and find another one to use. It’s pretty formulaic with most of the levels being pretty similar.

The gameplay is like Super Mario Galaxy meets Mario Kart. It’d a 3D adventure and you control a Rabbid who is pulling a Shopping Cart. You put all of the junk in it by making contact with objects. You can swing your Wii remote to attack and you can also use the boost to get through larger jumps. Enemies will attack you so shake the Wii Remote to take them down. The actual gameplay is incredibly simple so you’ll know what to do almost immediately. From there, it’s just a matter of getting through the levels.

Each level has 1000 pieces of junk in it and on average you can expect to get somewhere in the 800s. Do your best to get a lot since you can theoretically hit the 23K mark a lot sooner than way. I got to skip quite a few levels myself using this method. There is some replay value as you can naturally keep collecting junk until you reach the secret ending, but lets be honest…who wants to do that. Since the story is one of the weak parts of the game, that’s the last thing I’d be tempted to do. This is a game where you turn it off as soon as it is completed. The main campaign is reasonably long and should last you a few hours regardless. It’s a pretty easy game and you’ll likely only lose a small handful of lives. By and large there isn’t much of a challenge.

All right, here’s where the game gets iffy. The Rabbids strip anyone who is in their way. You literally snatch their clothes off and leave them in underwater. You do this to absolutely everyone that you pass and it gets pretty tricky. Everyone panics and gets cold after doing this, but the Rabbids don’t seem to care. When you hit an animal, the same thing happens only you take the animal and 2 pieces of meat. It’s rather disturbing. The whole game is pretty disturbing at times if you really think about it. These guys are not heroes either as you see them defying authority and picking fights for no reason at times.

As I mentioned earlier, the game also mocks you with its cutscenes. You get the same recycled animations quite a few times after they initially debut. I suppose the developers couldn’t be bothered to come up with 31 different animations. Several of the levels start to get copied off of each other as well. Maybe the budget was just a little more limited than I thought. There certainly wasn’t much of a soundtrack as the themes started to repeat as well. I will give it some props for actually having lyrical songs though. That was unexpected even if I can’t really remember much about them even though I just beat the game. It’s not a very memorable array of songs.

As I also mentioned, the graphics aren’t good and that’s a good thing. You can probably guess now why having good graphics would have been a problem. The game tries to make everything seem as ugly as possible. While that’s a pretty sad goal, the game is good at achieving it so I suppose I have to give them that much credit. Then the Rabbids start laughing and yelling at you again and you wonder what the game was thinking. You can’t even skip most of the cutscenes so get ready to see them quite a few times.

It’s really a shame since the gameplay actually isn’t that bad. Finally, a 3D Wii game where the controls were actually tested quite a bit. I’m not saying that it’s a AAA game, but the gameplay never glitches or anything. It feels fair throughout and you can turn on a dime. The controls are the highlight of the game and as I always say, the gameplay is the most important facet of the game. The levels went by pretty fast because the gameplay was pretty solid. Even the Hub World is pretty well thought out. The place is laid out pretty well so you can get anywhere with ease. It’s simple, but effective.

Overall, Rabbids Go Home had potential but it’s not like I ever had high expectations for a Rabbids game. They are some of the worst main characters in all of video games. At 2 bucks the game was too cheap to pass up, but it showed its true colors right away. The gameplay could have given this game a 7, but I have to deduct 2 points for the really terrible story. The crude humor and stripping mechanic were both just pretty bad ideas. This is one of those games that would have been better without having any cutscenes or a plot. The game also comes across as a rather mean spirited title at times. The Rabbids end up kidnapping people who are seriously injured after all and hijacking a plane which led dozens to perish. The body count in this game is rather high and while it is cartoony so the game certainly isn’t violent or dark, it just doesn’t work well. There’s nothing likable about the Rabbids and you just end up rooting for the humans even if you know that they are doomed.

Overall 5/10

Hail to the Chimp Review

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Hail to the Chimp is like the roughest of waves. It looks fun to play from a distance but once you’re on it you start thinking about how much more fun the kiddie pool would have been. The game had a lot of potential since it is effectively a 4 player fighting game with various themes built in to make the gameplay diverse, but it ends up falling flat. This is because the controls aren’t all that well thought out and the gameplay wasn’t very polished. I’ll give it some props on the unique premise of the story, but the way it was executed wasn’t great.

So, the plot is that a bunch of animals are trying to be President. Each level has you play as one of them as you become President I suppose. It was hard to tell if it meant that you won the primaries and could be President now or if you actually became President. I’ll go with the latter I suppose. Either way, it was a pretty intense moment as each character got a commercial first and then an interview after completing the level. I like to think that this must have been some kind of political satire as all of the candidates were really bad. One of them couldn’t even talk in a way that we could understand since it only knew alien talk. I wonder how it won so many votes. Anyway, that’s the main campaign. The Monkey got the last level so I’ll assume that he is the President. It is called Hail to the Chimp after all. The story was fairly amusing even if getting to the cutscenes could be a drag.

There isn’t really a lot to do in the game. The story will last a little while, but after that the only thing to do is Vs. Mode. I did unlock various videos during the story so I suppose that replaying the stories could help you get more. The problem is that the game is super vague about how or why you unlocked the videos so you wouldn’t know exactly what you would need to do. Furthermore, this came out before trophies so those can’t help the replay value. Vs. Mode is nice in that regard, but I have a sinking feeling that you won’t be playing it for very long. The game is only a few bucks to purchase though so at least it won’t set you back all that much.

The graphics aren’t anything special. The colors actually make it difficult to see the characters at times. It certainly doesn’t look like a PS3 game at all and the PS2 titles from the good ole days had more heart. The soundtrack is pretty bad as well with no good themes. I can’t think of a single catchy one and that’s too bad. I’d expect nothing less from Hail to the Chimp though. In theory the gameplay can save it so lets talk about that now.

The actual gameplay style had a lot of potential. It’s an overhead 4 player brawler so it’s similar to TMNT Mutant Melee. You swing at each other with your standard attacks and can use parts of the environment to hurt other players as well like cranes. You can even decide to do a link attack with another player if both of you press the team up button. Use this move strategically though since another player can quickly steal your teammate by running in first and also pressing the team up button. It’s incredibly overpowered and will always net you a few KOs. One issue that you’ll notice from the get go is that the controls are very limited. Every character only has one combo…that’s it. That sort of limits your options quite a lot if you think about it. Furthermore, the game rarely has you actually fighting it out with your opponents in a Last Man Standing ruleset.

The game gives you a few different goals depending on the level. In some you have to rig the voting machines by destroying them and others have you paint the machines. The vast majority of the levels are in this style and that’s the problem for me. I only really liked the combat ones. The others are all heavily luck based since the opponents will team up and sometimes they won’t. If you fall in the wrong place then you’ll waste a lot of time or all of the computers will gang up on you. There really isn’t much to look forward to during these battles and the fact that you have to play them over and over again really doesn’t help. I wouldn’t have minded the gameplay as much if it stuck to being a fighter, but the problem is that it wanted to be a party fighting game. That blend only works for the best of titles and this one lacked the budget as well as the gameplay to complete such a move. As a result, the game grows tedious very quickly.

Multiplayer mode is the only reason this game should even deserve a glance. It fixes most of the game’s issues as you can simply limit yourself to playing the survival mode of combat and the luck/cheese factor is eliminated for the most part. You may still grow bored of doing the same combat for so long but it’s a slight improvement. Beyond that, I suppose the videos will give you some chuckles. There are quite a few of them after all and the game wasn’t too popular so you may have a hard time finding them on Youtube unless you just skip through a walkthrough to nab them all.

Overall, Hail to the Chimp is not a game that you’ll want to play for long. The story mode wasn’t thought out too well as each minigame is way too long so nobody wants to play a 7 round tournament. Losing at the very end is also devastating because then you have to do it all over again. It’s quite telling that you’ll be hoping there is no secret final level just so you can finish the game already. That’s just sad. Since the soundtrack and graphics aren’t quite up to snuff either, there’s not much holding this game afloat. If you see it for a few dollars then I suppose you can’t go wrong, but you should still question whether you should do such a thing or not. It’s not worth it if you ask me. Just go buy a Mario Party game instead.

Overall 4/10

Good Scouts Review

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It’s been a while, but time to finally check out the next Disney special. Donald Duck always makes for a pretty good protagonist and this time is no different as he tries to survive the harsh elements of the great outdoors. Unfortunately, he doesn’t tie up his tent correctly so he gets splattered with honey and then a bear attacks him. Can Donald stop the bear and get back to teaching his nephews what being a professional is all about or is he doomed?

The special is super short as always, but it manages to capture the adventure rather well. The plot/pacing felt a lot tighter than usual which was really good as all of the scenes really had a purpose. When you have to tell a full story in roughly 10-12 minutes you really have to think through every scene to decide if it should be there or not. I can’t think of any scene that should have been removed. Donald was perhaps even more sputtery than usual as it could be hard to hear what he was saying, but it just increases the “Donald” effect that you like to see in his specials. His nephews were pretty solid this time around as well. They did at least try to stop Donald from nearly breaking his back on the stone tree. Perhaps they could have tried a little harder, but they did enough.

Donald also recovered from it pretty well which is why he’s such a good character. He took the whole thing in stride and even decided to play a practical joke on his nephews. It may have failed in every sense of the word and I’m not sure about the spelling of the ketchup (Was the word copyrighted back in the day?) but it showed that Donald was ready to spread the chaos. It just didn’t work this time around.

The animation is pretty fluid and consistent like you’d expect it to be. I do like these simple hand drawn days. You can tell that the animators put a lot of effort into it and I still can’t imagine drawing frame by frame. That just sounds like soooo much work. There isn’t much of a soundtrack in this one, but we get all of the classic sound effects for the chase scene. You could feel the desperation in Donald as he struggled to escape before realizing that it was all ultimately futile. There is just no running away from a big bear.

Overall, I enjoyed this special quite a bit. It’s easily one of Disney’s best shorts. The cast may have been a little smaller than usual, but it just meant that we got to see Donald more. I’m waiting for a special where he challenges Mickey to something like Basketball or Hockey so we could see his competitive side come out a little more. We know that Donald never gives up and is always bursting with confidence after all. Putting him in a situation like that would absolutely make for quite the spectacle. If you haven’t seen this special yet, then I’d advise you to do so ASAP. Prepare yourself for the somber ending though. Donald knows that he’s got to keep running because if it catches him….it’s game over.

Overall 7/10

Azumanga Daioh Review

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It’s time to look at my first pure comedy anime as well as the first one to take an anthology style to it. Unfortunately I wouldn’t say that the mix worked too well. The series got off to a rocky start but was able to at least balance the ship by the end. It’s not the best one out there, but you’ll be used to the characters by and end and will have had a fun ride.

The plot follows a group of teenagers as they go through the various years of high school. Tomo and Yomi are already friends when the series starts, but Sakaki is a loner. The situation changes up when a little girl by the name of Chiyo shows up. She is a prodigy and got to skip enough grades to make it to high school. Another transfer student nicknamed Osaka also joins up. With the gang together, they can go on many adventures and try to achieve glory in the sports fest!

Lets quickly go with why the show had a rocky start. The anthology format is a huge warning bell for me because I just don’t like it. The concept of an anthology just sounds like a bad idea as each story is so short that you can’t fit much story into it. Some of the episodes here were split into 5-6 parts so each one was only 4-5 minutes. At first this was very jarring as nothing would happen and the segments felt like they had nothing to do with each other. I also think the writers didn’t know what to do because they acted like each 5 minute segment had to be as contained as possible. For example, if a segment had a joke, it would just keep on getting repeated and drawn out for the whole time. The show tried to limit itself to one main gag in the segment. It would even recycle animation and use a ton of stock footage to literally repeat the gag.

Another thing is that one of the few aspects where anime may lose to Western animation is in comedy. Westerns seem to prefer snappy dialogue as comedy with characters just rapid firing a ton of puns and subtle burns while anime really like having a perverse character say something crazy and then everyone either blushes or starts yelling at him. The former can be great while the latter is absolutely never funny. Daioh actually has a big problem trying to be funny throughout. I feel like the vast majority of the jokes didn’t work because either they were never funny from the start or they were dragged out way too long. That’s why it couldn’t really pick up til the second half where it started to get more of a plot or at least longer segments.

For now, one last problem is that the series is extremely low budget. I wouldn’t be surprised if the series originally debuted as 5 minute shorts behind various shows and was eventually compiled into a series. It would actually make a lot of sense with how I said that each segment limited itself to effectively one scene/joke. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show with as much recycled animation as this one. The animation can be decent at times, but usually it is satisfied with as few motions as possible. You’ll notice a lot of times that if there are two characters on screen only one will move at a time. If two are talking on screen, they’ll each only use one mouth animation which continuously loops. So, I think the show just didn’t have a budget. Sure, there aren’t any action scenes so I guess it didn’t need much of one, but it should have at least gotten enough to reasonably bluff through it.

Now, here’s why the second half was better. For starters, they gave Kimura a shorter role. Kimura was one of the reasons why the humor was hit hard as his moments were just really bad. He would make scenes tougher to watch by making inappropriate comments and pointing attention to what the characters were wearing. He took advantage of his position constantly so he could be around. The show didn’t really have much in the way of fanservice but by going to the pool and trying to create it, that sort of defeated the purpose. The fact that he is still a teacher is appalling and every scene with him just reminded me of this fact. He was never completely written out, but he didn’t do a whole lot after the opening episodes. After that, the only iffy moments left where when the characters would have quick remarks about someone’s chest and those were slight in comparison. While the show show is pretty fun for the most part, he made it hard to enjoy the early episodes. As I said those just had issues with pacing and writing, but they certainly didn’t need more problems. Without Kimura the show would have definitely jumped up a star and possibly 2.

The next reason why the second half was better is that it had less segments. Episodes would be able to have a longer plot and the segments actually did continue from each other. The characters finally had goals like getting to college or studying for it. The last few episodes were all consistent in this regard. The show also stopped relying on one joke since it had plot to cover. Most of the characters stayed pretty much the same throughout the years, but Sasaki got a considerable amount of development by the end. It was a little hard to like her at first because she is extremely quiet and spends 90% of her time blushing at various animals or anything that she finds adorable. It’s cool to like animals, but it just made for a very limited personality. By the end of the series she starts to speak up more and blush less. She becomes a lot more open about playing with the animals and had a nice bond with Chiyo. She stuck up for the kid during the final sports fest when the other teens started to mock her. It was a nice friendship between them.

Chiyo is effectively the main character even if she doesn’t always feel like it. She’s rich and a genius so that makes it easy for her to be at the top of this class as well. She’s probably the nicest character of the group and constantly tries to get everyone to get along. They make it difficult though since bickering is what they do best, but all in good fun. Chiyo invites everyone to her summer home each year and is certainly popular in the classroom. She gets traumatized after a certain car trip and doesn’t do too well at the sport competitions since she technically is just a kid but Chiyo always tries her best. She’s a nice all around character.

Osaka is a total space case as she can’t think about something for more than a minute. As a result her mind is always wavering and she says random, abstract things at times. She finds studying to be pointless because she won’t remember what she looked at anyway. Osaka is a nice enough character. She’s one of the weaker members of the main cast, but she is a nice contrast from the others. I also like how bold she is like when she decided to take a nap right after getting to Chiyo’s place even though everyone was supposed to study.

Tomo is one of my favorite characters. She was surpassed by Kagura by the end, but Tomo always kept it close. Tomo is very loud and overconfident. She doesn’t do well in school but brags about it instead of stressing. She’s constantly sabotaging the team and failing to win when it counts. She’s effectively trolling the main cast throughout and even rubs it in when something goes wrong for the others. She has fun teasing them all but it encourages the team to try harder. It was infinitely satisfying when she got accepted to college before Yomi since the latter had constantly insulted her and studied so hard. You don’t need to study when you have good intuition ya know? Tomo certainly made all of the interactions more fun.
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Yomi is the most boring member of the group. She effectively plays the straight man in this series as she doesn’t understand any of the jokes and is always wondering what everyone is doing. She studies hard and doesn’t mess around like the others. Yomi tries to act mature for her age and everything but as a result she never seems to really have any fun. This act that she puts up also results in her getting sick before the big amusement park vacation so that one was really all her fault when you think about it.

Kagura is the best character and it’s mainly because of how competitive she is. Kagura is always trying to surpass Sakaki. Honestly it’s like the whole Goku vs Vegeta thing, but even more sad. Sakaki never actually trains or exercises at all while Kagura trains 24/7. Yet, Kagura can never manage to beat Sakaki….at anything. Kagura really deserves the win, but at least she continues trying and never holds it against Sakaki. She’s actually happy when Sakaki wins as it means she just needs to train more. Kagura didn’t become a main character until the first time skip in the series, but from then on she stole the show. She’s essentially Tomo if Tomo was actually good at something and is a little less extreme. She certainly doesn’t mock the others or try to sabotage anything. The two of them do get along quite well though as they both aren’t great at school work. I guess Kagura couldn’t be perfect at everything right?

Kaori is sort of one of the main characters, but she always got the shaft next to the others. Her role is just a whole lot smaller and in the second half her only role is to get harassed by Kimura. I never liked her though as her subplot is that she is admires Sakaki and has a hard time trying to talk to her. It gets old before it even begins. Finally we have the two teachers. Yukari is the main one. She doesn’t like being a teacher and doesn’t hesitate to let the kids know this. I dare say that most of her scenes are the ones that are legitimately funny. At least most of the examples I can think of involve her in some capacity. She’s effectively terrible at her job which is her character arc. Yukari is definitely crazy and she doesn’t mind manipulating her students if it will let her win the contest. I can respect her drive to win even if it’s always hard against Nyamo’s squad.

Nyamo is the other teacher and she is an example of a perfect teacher. She supports her students and is also really good at all things athletic. That being said, she can’t really handle the rowdy things that Yukari likes so if she starts drinking then things get tricky. Nyamo is fun enough. She’s not quite as interesting as Yukari but she doesn’t shut down all of the jokes like Yomi. She does a much better job of bouncing off of the moments such as when she got revenge on Yukari for mocking her students by stealing her money. (Granted, she wasn’t “stealing” it because Yukari owed her money for something else)

An example of one of the jokes that I did like was the donation box. The kids forgot to get Yukari a gift and she was pretty obvious about it so the gang decided to bring her a donation box and then they would throw nickels in it. Yukari didn’t take it well, but it was a pretty fun scene as everyone approached the box very grudgingly. A scene that was more random than anything was when this cat creature would appear. He claims to be Chiyu’s father and only shows himself once in a while. He may have some special abilities, but he’s so abstract that you don’t really need to worry about him.

One big plot that actually had an ending was the cat that would always bite Sakaki when she was in the neighborhood. She certainly fell for its tricks many times, but only once at the end. Fortunately she got her own cat guardian which stopped the bullies from messing with her. I guess the cat was just a mean person because even at the end it seemed to have a grudge with Sakaki. The gag was a little overused in the early episodes, but it was handled a lot better by the end. I also am glad that Sakaki got her own cat since it really helped give her some kind of payoff for being bitten so often.

While the animation was quite limited it did have some good shots. I liked the chibi style it would use when characters gave a thumbs up or be in the background agreeing on something. Their arms would turn into noodles at times and it was a better effect than in some other shows. It doesn’t really make up for all of the stock footage but the actual animation certainly wasn’t bad. It may be more that the character designs were simply solid, but it’s hard to say. The soundtrack isn’t very good though. It’s also quite limited/repetitive and I would have liked a little more variety.

Even if the comedy may not always have been on point, one thing you can say for the series is that is was pretty much always fun. The negatives I have with the show don’t involve language or being super dark/violent. At the very least you can always leave the show feeling happy since it is so lighthearted. It’s one thing that I always like about uplifting shows because they should be enjoyable to watch. The characters are always having fun even if things don’t really work out. If there’s any reason I’d recommend watching it, this is the main one. To that end, I actually do tend to like slice of life shows. Sonic Boom is a great example of one that’s currently airing and to date it is the best in that genre. It perfectly pulls it off every episode and I dare say that it is the greatest comedy of all time even if that is a little bold. The show hasn’t ended yet so we’ll see if it can keep that up.

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Overall, Azumanga Daioh was somewhat limited from the anthology style it had, but I suppose it was to be expected since the manga was close to a 4 koma at times. Still, with full sized episodes I think it would have been more fun. The cast was solid though and even if you’re skeptical of the show at first you should be able to get on board by the end. After all, that’s one of the points of being a full show, by the end you should be used to the characters which will make the series more enjoyable. You’ll see the characters develop over the 3 years they’re at school so surely you’ll be a fan of at least one by the end.

Overall 5/10