Tekken Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10


LBX: Little Battlers eXperience Review

I’m always up for a good robot game. Mega Man and Custom Robo were always exceptional titles and so naturally LBX looked like a winner from the get go. I actually got to watch the TV show way before the game so if anything this version feels pretty nostalgic while playing through. The anime adapted the game pretty faithfully to be honest and the quality is sharp since it’s by Level 5. Those guys really do a great job of completely building a game around its concept. Layton is the perfect puzzle game and this is the optimal robot experience. You just can’t go wrong with buying this title.

The story follows a kid named Van. He’s really interested in the new game that everyone is playing. It’s called LBX and you buy a mini robot that you can use to fight with other people. Think of it like those classic Rock em Sock Em toys that used to be around, but 1000X cooler as the robots have weapons with live ammo and you control them with your phones. Unfortunately his Mom is against it for reasons unknown and Van’s Dad may have created the LBX franchise, but he died in a plane crash. A mysterious lady gives Van a one of a kind LBX one day though and after he stops some burglars from stealing it, he ends up joining a private faction who is trying to stop the villain organization from using it for their own means. They tell Van that his Dad is actually alive and being held hostage so Van quickly goes on board. His two friends Ami and Kaz agree to help as well. They’ll have to win multiple tournaments, break into enemy territory, and hone their skills. The risk is high, but there are lives on the line so the heroes put on their game faces and get ready for action.

It’s a pretty long game at 15 hours so that’s really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the plot. There are 12-13 episodes in the game and the length varies for each one. There is also a lot of replay value as you have many parts to buy and quests to complete. I did a few quests here and there and got a bunch of weapons, but getting them all would take a long while. There are also online battles that you can play so content is certainly not lacking in this title. You can have fun playing the game for a very long time and it’s worth the full price.

The soundtrack is stellar. It was pretty cool hearing the tunes from the anime even if they technically came out in this game first. It was still nostalgic and most of them are quite memorable. LBX spared no expense in this department and the same goes for the graphics. Not only are the in game graphics sharp, but there are a number of fully animated cutscenes at the ready as well. They really help you dive into the game. It used up a bunch of these cutscenes early on and I would have preferred for Jin to get more of them, but it’s how it goes. It’s really impressive that they added so much in and I feel like we got more animations than Layton. It just feels that way so I can’t confirm it, but a quick Youtube search would give you the answer to that.

As you can imagine, the gameplay is really sharp. It’s in full 3D like Custom Robo and you can equip two weapons at a time. I always went with a good Machine Gun and an electric sword. Even if it’s not the strongest, I like the electric sword because it stuns the opponent so you get more hits in. More hits = More damage or at least that’s how I saw it. The gun can be safer, but the opponent can use the downtime between rounds to get in close and take you down. You have to use a lot of strategy here. You can carry health items to help yourself out as well. There are also a number of final smashes that you can equip. You can use a weaker one to try and get some damage in, but the catch is that the enemy might dodge it. You can instead use an ultra attack which is impossible to dodge, but you can’t move for around 5-8 seconds which is a long time and if an opponent deals enough damage during that time you will lose the attack. I was able to use it successfully in the final boss which was helpful. It seems to always happen that the boss gets me to my last bit of health and then I clutch it out. It’s an amazing feeling, but also super stressful. The final bosses were definitely incredibly powerful so I recommend training a lot so you’re prepared for it.

I still think the concept of LBX was borrowed heavily from Megaman Battle Network, but it certainly did a good job of making a name for itself. It had a lot of its own unique features which differentiated itself from Megaman. It’s also a good move to be like Megaman since Capcom isn’t making any new games at the moment so we can get our Megaman fix this way. Imagine a Megaman game that was 3D like this one with a bunch of hype cutscenes. Hopefully Capcom can learn a thing or two from this title and incorporate it into future titles.

The cast is basically the same from the anime, but I’ll briefly mention some of the big ones. Van is a solid hero as you’d expect. He’s always ready for a fight and is very proactive in trying to save his Dad. He has a brief lapse in confidence, but gets over it right away. At times he can almost seem too happy like when they arrive to the toy store to buy things which felt like a contrast to his rather serious self, but at the end of the day he’s still just a kid. It’s hard to say if he beats Lan Hikari or not as they’re both very similar. He’s a lead you can get behind.

His two friends aren’t bad. Kaz is always low on confidence which can be a little grating, but he still helps out when he can. Ami is always supporting Van and doing her best to get in on the action. The school friends are pretty bland and underwhelming though. I can see why they got such tiny roles in the game since they didn’t add anything to the dynamic. Jin is a great rival and his LBX has an excellent design. He’s pretty reasonable throughout and does a good job of balancing this while still acting really confident the whole time. He’s an ideal rival and his team up fights with Van at the end are a blast.

Dak and Gouda are two other characters who help out a bit. They’re a step below Jin and Van when it comes to ability, but the more allies the better right? I thought Dak was an enjoyable supporting character, but Gouda is a little too weak to be taken seriously. He was good as an opening boss though. Mr. Kaido is a solid main villain. The fact that he can actually fight goes a long way since he doesn’t have to hide when the fighting starts. His robot is also really cool and has a great design. One villain that came in towards the very end was Kirito and he was exceptionally good. Taking out almost the whole cast on his own was certainly a hype moment and the fact that his LBX had a Super Form was really cool as well.

I have to say that I liked how the super forms were incorporated in this game. When you get below 25% health you can activate it and heavily boost your attack power. It helped a lot in the final boss and just looked really cool. When an opponent would use it, it would up the stakes as you had to focus on defense a lot more. Since some fights would give them all of their health back, the game really didn’t hold anything back. You need to be pretty good at the game and be at a high level to win. It always feels fair and balanced with just the right amount of difficulty to make things interesting.

Van’s Dad is okay at best here. I still think he tends to run off too often and leave Van behind for no reason. He gets a lot of hype so he’s a good scientist, but seems like a bad father. I wasn’t impressed with the Red Haired guy and his Team Rocket homage members. They’re the only part of the cast/plot that I couldn’t take seriously. I just never liked them for some reason. The true final boss of the game was great though. His origin story was definitely pretty intense and his LBX even more so. It was a pretty nice/explosive way to end the game. It’s great to see Level 5 get to go all out with the ending here as most of their other titles are a lot more down to Earth. Now we know what they can do with a good action title. I didn’t even totally get how the final boss worked and just had to keep on buying time and using hit and run tactics. You can probably see why I just barely defeated him.

Overall, LBX is without a doubt an excellent game. There are absolutely no negatives with it. The gameplay was completely on point. It felt balanced and it was easy to lock on to an opponent. The levels were huge which was a lot of fun but you can move fast so you don’t have to worry about matches dragging out. The plot was really engaging and kept you alert with all of its twists and turns. You felt like you were playing a big RPG and I think this probably would fit in the genre considering that you do have to backtrack to various areas and you explore as you go through the game. The cast of characters was a lot of fun. It’s a little hard to get used to the American names so in this review I mainly used the ones I was familiar with but not all of them were downgrades. The main case where the English name definitely loses is with Justin though. The graphics and audio were definitely well above average and there is a lot of content in this game. It’s the definition of a AAA title and I’m convinced that Level 5 is one of the best studios of all time. It’s hard to see them churning out a game that isn’t great at this point. I highly recommend buying this game. You’ll be glad that you did.

Overall 9/10

Star Wars The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes Review

It’s time for another title set in the Clone Wars. Republic Heroes may be the first Star Wars game that I’ve played on the PS3, but it ended up being the weakest installment in this saga. I don’t know why, but it just couldn’t hang with the others. I blame it on the game’s poor gameplay mechanics and lackluster plot. It’s still a solid game that will last you for a reasonable amount of time, but I was expecting a little more since we are now in the modern era.

The game has you split up into several groups. It appears that Count Dooku is up to something again and he sends Ventress off to cause some havoc. Cad and Kul are also fighting over a weapon of mass destruction. I don’t think we ever actually learn what it does to be honest. Well, Anakin and Ahsoka go to check things out while Obi Wan and a Jedi master I’m not familiar with head to a space station. Two other Jedi Mastered investigate the canyons and along the way the Clone soldiers do their best to help out as well. The heroes have spread themselves rather thin, but they’re always ready for danger. Hopefully they are prepared!

Here’s why the plot sags behind the others…there are no hype moments. The original Wii game was a blast because of the stellar soundtrack and the tough talk between all of the characters. It worked really well as a result. The DS game worked because of the fun gameplay and I really enjoyed the Shadow sisters as villains. The problem with this game is that none of the villains are particularly interesting. They don’t feel like threats either. Cad is a guy with a gun…so he shouldn’t last long. Kul is a robot who has a lot of weapons, but it seems like it’d be an easy matter for the Jedi to swing him around. That just leaves Ventress and Dooku but since they lose in all of the games I don’t think we’re meant to take them too seriously anymore. The banter between the characters can still be pretty fun and the characters aren’t bad, but the plot could use a little work.

The gameplay is 3D hack and slash. You have to fight your way through large armies of droids as you try to keep your wits about you. There is a lot of variety as you will play as both Jedi and Clones as well as ride hovercraft and large robots. You can also jump onto any enemy to control it and force others to try and oppose it. You can use your Force abilities or go in close for the lightsaber. The Force is incredibly overpowered here so the game got that part down pat. To make up for this, it doesn’t give you all that much money so if you want to buy a lot of stuff in the shop you should stick to close quarters combat. I was able to buy everything anyway at the end and I used a lot of The Force so money isn’t a huge issue. Even if you don’t have enough by the end you can probably just replay a level and you’ll be good to go.

It’s fun to mow down legions of enemies with your blade. The game can feel like a mini beat em up at times due to this. That’s also why the Force waves are fun as you can send about 6-10 enemies flying with a single hit. Unfortunately the gameplay can also be a weakness. The title uses an odd auto jump system where your character will lock on to an object and try to land in a controlled arc when you jump. The problem is that the character can’t decide what to do right away so a lot of times he unlocks right as you jump and you plunge to your death. You always have to wait a second before jumping to make sure that you don’t flal. It feels rather odd and it’s a weird part of the game. I had a ton of deaths that way.

Fortunately, there are no real deaths here. Each character has infinite lives and even if both die at the same time, you’re still fine. I am playing on the first difficulty though so maybe that changes later. I wasn’t about to start the campaign on hard after all. It’s pretty useful I admit even if it maybe does make the game a little too easy. I did die over 140 times according to the stats though so I probably got sloppy thanks to it as well. The game just doesn’t explain things too well at times like how to defeat the large droids. That kind of messed me up at times and those bosses would take ages. Just remember to jump on the enemy when in doubt since it automatically destroys most of them.

The main campaign has around 35-40 levels and each of them is about 5-10 minutes long. That will last you for a good amount of time and getting all of the PS3 trophies will add in some replay value as well. There are a lot of collectibles to grab so keep a sharp eye while in the levels. The more that you grab now, the less that you’ll have to worry about in the future right? I grabbed as many as I could, but I believe that I may still be missing around 30 or so.

I wouldn’t say that the graphics are all that good. They look like a Wii game rather than a PS3 one. They haven’t really aged well I’ll admit. It’s not like they’re awful or anything though, they’re still good enough. The blasters and attacks look good at any rate. The soundtrack is rather limited. It uses a lot of the same themes from the other two games. Surprisingly, the only good theme in the game was the end credits tune. That one was surprisingly amazing so I’m a little sad that they saved it for the credits. It should have been used for the actual game if you ask me.

I’ll give the game credit for handling the Force well though. This game probably had the best application of it from all the games that I’ve played so far. It was actually very useful the whole time and didn’t feel like a tacked on feature. There were also no artificial moments made to make the game longer. Every level was direct and to the point. I can definitely appreciate the game’s honesty there. I’ll take a 6 hour game with no repeating levels than a 30 hour one where it is just the same level over and over again.

Overall, Star Wars Republic Heroes is a good game. It could have easily been a great game if the gameplay was smoother and the story was more interesting, but it tripped up there. There’s no way I’d die 140+ times if the gameplay had been smooth. It feels a bit like a cash in at times, but you can tell that some effort was still put into the game. It at least feels like a real game and the levels go by fairly quick. The developers certainly had a bunch of ideas as the game introduces new features even near the end of the game. It’s interesting to see a tutorial message pop up when you’re in the final act. It may not have all worked and they should have used some more time to refine the actual platforming element of the game, but it’s a nice package overall. I’d recommend getting it. It’s not the best Star Wars game on the market, but it’ll introduce you to all of the core concepts.

Overall 7/10

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith Review

The Star Wars marathon continues! The last game was exceptionally good and set the bar quite high. Unfortunately, this one is not able to quite reach the same level when it comes to the pure gameplay, but the exciting story and multiplayer turn the tables. There are some obvious problems with the gameplay that hold it back just a bit, but it overcomes those odds. While it could be more polished, the rough gameplay actually helps to make the multiplayer mode more interesting. Just press some buttons and hope for the best!

The game covers the events of the third movie. Anakin and Obi Wan continue to do their best to stop the Sith forces and all of the other villains who are around. The main problem is that the head of the Republic is also evil so the heroes have to watch out for threats from both sides and one of their ranks allows the pull of the Dark side to sway him. This game covers the birth of Darth Vader!

I have to say that playing this game again reminded me why Episode III is still the most epic and exciting Star Wars film to date. It may not be the best, but it does make sense why it would be the coolest. This was back in the days where there were many Jedi warriors and lightsaber battles were commonplace. The film had a bunch of awesome fight scenes within and the game adapts them all and then some. It’s something that all of the movies since have lacked and I’m hoping that Episode VIII gives us a bunch of hype battles. I could definitely get behind that and I’m expecting great things from it.

This game starts off rather slow, but quickly picks up once Anakin joins the dark side. Suddenly you’re fighting other Jedi warriors instead of mindless droids. This makes for more enjoyable battles and also an engaging plot. The banter between the characters is brilliant during the fights and you’ll actually like some of the characters more than you did in the film. One warrior who showed up and confidently took on Anakin is safely one of the cooler Jedi warriors. It was a quick moment, but one that separated her from the common masses who were all dying in an instant.

The game didn’t adapt the cool scene where Palpatine took down the 3 warriors though. I had to quickly watch that scene myself and saw a cool video explaining why the Jedi masters lost so quickly. It was simple, they lacked the speed needed to defeat Palpatine. Apparently that is his strongest skill and he can strike so fast that he barely appears at all. Mace was only able to hold his own because he used a forbidden technique that granted him the power of the Dark as well so it was definitely an interesting watch. Needless to say, despite the video hinting otherwise, I’d still take Anakin over them even at his current level.

There are 16 levels like in the other Star Wars game. In addition, there are 4-5 bonus levels and you can unlock Darth Vader for multiplayer mode. That will be your main source of replay value since fighting friends never gets old, but you can also go back to the levels and grab the secrets. Each level has secret health and Force power ups which permanently increase the size of each. I found a bunch of them by breaking things so I imagine that’s how you find them all. The campaign is only around 3 hours long, but couple it with these other factors and I’d say that the game has a fair length. It’s just a lot easier than the last game so it goes by a lot quicker.

The gameplay is purely about hand to hand combat. It may be more accurate to call it Lightsaber combat. You have standard slashes and power moves. There are also your Force abilities of course, which allow you to lift opponents, stun them, and even push them away. I didn’t properly learn how to use the force until the final 2 levels so I recommend trying to learn it a little sooner. Boss fights in this game are quite difficult as they will block or parry just about anything that you throw at them. Ironically, the final boss is easily the weakest one in the game as he refuses to block just about anything. For the others, I recommend whacking them a few times and then going off to heal. (Yes, you can heal yourself in this game) Then rinse and repeat until the job is done. You can usually run fast enough to get this strategy to work. Alternately, you can master the rock, paper, scissors gameplay, but it didn’t make much sense the whole time so I just reverted to classic button mashing. It’s never failed me before so I have always trusted this legendary technique. Your character will gain experience after each level and you can use it to improve your force abilities (Like healing. I highly recommend focusing on that one) and physical abilities. By the end of the game, your character will be close to being maxed out.

The graphics look quite good. The lightsabers really stand out the whole time and they did a good job with the blasts getting deflected off of the swords. It’s aged pretty well and I can definitely see why this game would be thought of as an older Force Unleashed. There are a lot of similarities to be found here and I look forward to trying that game out at some point. The soundtrack is just as good. It has all of the classic Star Wars themes that you may wish for and the battle themes are all intense. It’s definitely a rock solid game on a technical level.

Overall, Episode III may have gotten off to a rough start initially, but it really grows on you. I was sure that it would only be getting a 7 at first, but the plot really picked up and the gameplay is definitely a lot more fun when you’re fighting actual sword fighters. There is a lot less variety when it comes to the gameplay compared to the other title, but how can you not like a classic 3D sword-fighter styled gameplay? It never gets old and none of the levels are painfully long so that also helps a great deal. It’s the kind of gameplay where I also wouldn’t have pictured a multiplayer mode so it’s really cool that it was featured. The cast could be longer, but I guess we’ll save that for an official Star Wars fighting game. The series certainly has enough characters for it by now. I definitely recommend checking out this title. My Star Wars marathon will likely go on a brief break here since I’ll be getting some new games for Christmas, but it’ll be back at some point.

Overall 8/10

Rayman Arena Review

Rayman Arena
It’s finally happened. I’ve finally gotten around to playing one of the Rayman games! Honestly speaking, I can’t say that he’s probably going to become one of the more likable main characters. I just can’t get behind this guy in the same way as the hardcore platformer leads like Sonic, Pac-Man, Mega Man, Mario, and Roy(?). That being said, I do like fighting games and I really like 4 player ones. That was a huge advantage that the Gamecube always had over the other consoles. It’s the one thing that the Playstation consoles have lacked. If they ever got this feature for most of their games, it would be Game Over for the competition. This game is great when playing with friends and just good if you’re by yourself. You need to have others around to make the most of this adventure.

There are two main forms of gameplay here, Racing and Fighting. Each of these two options have two more options so lets get right to it. The normal way of fighting is a time limit is set to around 2 minutes and you have to blast each other. The player who scores the most points takes the win. You can use your normal blaster to take away life points from the other player or you can use the power ups which are scattered across the stage. I highly recommend going for these super weapons since they are incredibly overpowered. Grabbing the Green Multi Rifle basically guarantees a full 5 life wipeout for the opponent. There is no way to escape once you have been hit which is why the next 4 shots are confirmed. You can also grab bombs, (Which are terrible) self guided missiles, (Also terrible. They should have grabbed a page from Star Fox Assault’s playbook) and Barriers. (Which are awesome) There are a few more weapons, but those are the main ones. A nice defensive option is a magnet, which lets you steal the opponent’s weapon. Use these tactics to win the fight! You can jump and hide to cheese out the opponent if necessary. It may not always feel fun, but if it works then it’s time to use it.

The other form of combat has both opponents try to grab as many objects as possible. Both players get a freeze gun to start the match and shiny objects are placed around the field. They switch positions each time someone grabs one. The matches are all right I suppose, but these are definitely very luck based and once you have a large lead, you can just stand in place and wait out the clock. I definitely prefer the standard combat. The main racing game has you try to dash to the goal. There are many obstacles around the stages and you have a purple energy blast which you can use to activate traps and grab aerial rings to give yourself a boost. Activating traps may not sound like it’s in your best interests, but you can really trip up an opponent that way. This was definitely the toughest mode as the A.I. is quite good. Just remember to pace yourself and look for the shortcuts. They will certainly come in handy.

The alternate racing style is a one on one fight. You have to get ahead of your opponent by 6 seconds in order to win. This results in a lot of incredibly short 1 lap fights in one player mode, but I don’t see how it’ll work in multiplayer mode when you’re facing someone of similar skill. Maybe you just lose if you’re behind when a certain amount of laps end or something like that. Both players get freeze guns once again so you can try to freeze your opponent at a tricky spot so they lose a lot of time I suppose.

Graphically, the game holds up pretty well. The character designs have that solid Gamecube feel about them. They have depth and everything looks pretty sharp. The color scheme is a bit dark if you ask me, but it’s solid otherwise. The soundtrack is very forgettable though and it doesn’t help that the game doesn’t really have any cutscenes. World of Final Fantasy puts this game to shame in that aspect among others. It doesn’t hold the game back, but having some more up beat tunes would certainly make the game a lot more fun.

There isn’t a whole lot of replay value to be found here. There are 4 tournaments for each event and you can play each event in two difficulties. That makes 32 tournaments or 96 actual matches since each tournament has 3 rounds. You can beat each tournament in around 10 minutes and possible less depending on the event. It’s not a terribly long game, but there’s not much point to beating the hard mode versions aside from a few extra shirts for the characters. It wasn’t enough of an incentive for me honestly and that’s the only post game content available.

Of course, there is one form of replay value that does save the game. I’m talking about multiplayer mode of course. The fact that it is compatible with 4 players opens up a lot of doors that had been slammed. The game would still get a solid 7 if it was just single player, but it would be lacking quite a bit in content. Fighting games get around this through the multiplayer and that’s exactly what Rayman does. This kind of gameplay would work really well with 4 players. It has less depth than others, but the core gameplay is solid. The racing works really well and I can only imagine how chaotic it gets with 4 people around. Likewise for the shooting events. That ultimately helps bump it up an extra star as it’s a game I can definitely see myself picking around Christmas time for everyone to have fun with.

Overall, Rayman Arena is definitely a solid game. Adding in both racing and fighting was definitely a good idea as it adds some variety and also adds more content to the title. A little more of a story would have been appreciated though. It would possibly help me like Rayman more as a character and it would make Story Mode more interesting. Just look at Pokken, they were able to squeeze in a nice story during the normal campaign. Trust me when I say that it makes quite the difference. Of course, Pokken was just a complete masterpiece in every sense of the word so that’s another story. Rayman’s great, but Pokken is amazing. It’s scary how large the jumps are between scores. Look at Super Smash Bros, Pokken isn’t even in the same league because Smash is the ultimate game. It’s like the saying goes, there’s always something better. I digress. I definitely recommend picking Rayman Arena up if you want a new fighting game to play or just something fun and chaotic for a session with friends and family. This game won’t let you down and it’s very easy to simply plug and play. The controls are intuitive.

Overall 8/10

Pokken Tournament Review

Nintendo has churned out another winner folks. The Wii U has gotten a lot of heat over the infamous Gamepad as well as the lack of third party games, but it’s always very easy to forgive these oversights when you look at the first party titles. Super Smash Bros for Wii U is the greatest game of all time and Mario Maker is an all star title as well. Pokken continues to set the bar very high and isn’t afraid of those other titles. In fact, I’d say that this game beats Mario Maker and it’s automatically my 2nd favorite Wii U game. It has a lot of replay value and I can definitely see myself playing it for a very long time. This one’s a keeper all right.

Pokken is a mix of 2D and 3D fighting. There are two phases which have different rules and strategies so the game is deeper than you would expect. In 3D mode, you want to either overwhelm your opponent with projectile spam or quickly hit them with a close attack. 2D mode plays more like Street Fighter and you have to really think about which move you are going to use or it’ll all be for naught. The game has a bit of a rock paper scissors mechanic so it’s all about out thinking your opponent.

Your standard attacks beat out grabs. Grabs beat out Focus Attacks. Focus Attacks beat out Power Modes. Power Moves usually beat out strong moves and strong moves are basically pointless, but I’m guessing that they beat out standard ones. String them together for combos and then you also have the Burst Mode at your disposal once you have enough meter. That mode essentially gives you super armor on just about all of your attacks as well as a great final smash which can eat through just about every single attack. I highly recommend using it after performing an unsafe combo, the opponent will try to punish you and that’s when the final smash really comes through.

I’m not usually a fan of the classic Rock Paper Scissors for fighting games, but it’s implemented well here. It doesn’t feel like luck and it’s really more tactical than anything else. Conditioning an opponent feels more important here than in Super Smash as you want to lead an opponent to your destination. (For example, spending the first 2 rounds of a set always going for a Focus Attack when getting up to set up the grab for the third round where you’ll go for a strong combo instead.)

An interesting choice that the game made was to include a level up system. I suppose that this is a feature that has always been in the Pokemon games so getting rid of it may not have gone over well with the older fans, but it does give you a bit of an advantage online. It actually applies to your online “For Glory” mode and that means that the person with the higher leveled fighter has the edge. The level caps at 100 and you should have that after 2-3 days, but until then you better watch out. You can choose to use your level up points on Attack, Defense, Synergy, or Support I believe. I put everything into attack so my Final Smash is truly awesome now!

The bulk of your playtime will likely go towards the local multiplayer mode or online to fight with friends and rivals as you rise through the ranks. I really like how the leaderboard rankings are set up because it’s less discouraging than some other games. For example, a loss won’t get rid of any of your points until you make it to C rank. That’s when the true struggle will begin. This differs from a game like Street Fighter where you’ll lose points each time you lose and one loss can force you to have to make up a lot of ground and you can even lose your rank. That can happen here, but it’s a little safer and going on a losing streak is just as tricky as going on a win streak due to the solid matchmaking algorithms in place.

Right now my For Glory Win% is around 80% and I’ve made it to E1. I expect to be in the D ranks by tomorrow and my progress will likely start to slow around that point as the opponents will get a lot tougher. The rounds are short and fun so it’s easy to play this game for hours and hours. It’s easy to see how streamers can keep on playing in front of their audience for so long. It’s the kind of game that has unlimited replay value.

The offline modes are not quite as brilliant. There’s a nice tutorial/practice mode, but you may not want to spend much..or any time there. I recommend at least giving it a quick stop, but you should use Story Mode to practice your moves since it’s so long and the opponents in the first league won’t really fight back anyway. The plot of the story is that a mysterious Shadow Mewtwo has been challenging players and defeating them all. He continues to get stronger, which is a problem since it’s draining synergy, the life force of the planet. If he’s not stopped then the planet will blow up so the main character has to get strong enough to end this.

The plot shows up at the end of each tournament before finally coming into play after the third one. The plot is actually pretty enjoyable. The exposition was a little unnaturally long, but for the most part the characters were interesting and the universe was nicely developed. Shadow Mewtwo’s boss themes were also incredible and I’ll never forget the very first time that he showed up. It was such an epic moment and easily the best part of the whole story experience. Unfortunately, the gameplay of the story is what I’m not crazy about like with DBZ’s Budokai 2.

There are 4 (Possibly 5 from what I’ve heard) tournaments. Each tournament has you start by moving up the ranks as you face 5 opponents. You must then fight them again and again to move past that part and enter the 8 man tournament. After you win that, then you fight the Promotion Battle and then you rinse and repeat after a quick cinematic fight. It gets longer and longer and according to Reddit/Gamefaqs calculations, the story is around 110-120 fights long and that number will vary if you happen to lose during the run. I completed the first 3 tournaments so far and I’ll admit that I’m not too crazy about the prospect of going for the next 2. I will do them, even if only to get Mewtwo and the final support Pokemon, but the story didn’t have to be artificially extended quite so far. There was just no reason for it.

The short part that is actually the story is quite interesting though and I really would have liked the whole story mode to be about that. Maybe next time I guess. The voice acting has been chuckled at a lot online and I can see why. As one guy said for the first big promotion battle master, he sounded like he was eating while talking. The voice was very muffled. Still, it’s pretty funny and I’d say that the voice acting is pretty well done depending on how intentional it all is. I actually like Nia as she constantly rubs the losses in your face and takes credit for your wins. “You’re like a Magikarp out of water” “They made you their punching bag that time!” Those are epic quotes that may seem mean spirited, but that’s just who Nia is. It’s not personal, even when she gives you advice like “Keep your guard up” right before the opponent grabs you. You have the option to turn her off, but I can’t bring myself to do that. The constant dialogue is hype and she’s much better at her role than Navi. Mewtwo’s owner is also a pretty cool character. She’s a mysterious figure and even her ending is rather sudden so I guess that’ll leave some room for the sequel. Hopefully the main character gets to talk if there is a Pokken 2.

The gameplay is great, which is lucky for me because it makes this a lot more bearable than it would have been otherwise, but it’s still really long. My recommendation is, don’t lose when you’re in the main tournament phase. Trust me, it’ll make the whole cycle even tougher. You can cheese most of the opponents though, but make sure that you are truly good by the time the last tournaments roll around because the cheese tactics won’t be nearly as effective.

Each round earns you up to 20K and winning tournaments gives you significantly higher amounts. I’ve earned almost 10 million already, but the money goes very quickly. I don’t even know how many accessories and clothes you can buy, but it’s a lot and I’m nowhere near rich enough to purchase them all. That’ll come with time since the game is quite generous with the money. Local battles and friendly matches still give you the 20K so just play a lot and eventually you’ll have all the money that you could ever want. I can’t say that most of the clothes are anything that I would want to use for my avatar, but to be honest I haven’t looked through most of the choices yet.

The graphics for Pokken are very well done. It has the semi realistic look of Tekken while still being very bright and fancy. As you may know from the Brawl days, I’m not a super big fan of darker, more live action esque designs, but these stay colorful enough that they still feel like Pokemon and it does leave a trail of epicness for the fights to escalate to even greater heights. It’s part of why I like maining Blaziken so much, his fiery attacks look so great when you’re in the middle of a good ole fashioned fist fight. Blaziken was the very first Pokemon that I ever got in Pokemon Ruby, my first Pokemon game so he has a lot of sentimental value for me. He may be a low tier fighter next to most of the others in Pokken, but he’s currently my main and he’s taken me pretty far.

The soundtrack’s decent for the most part. I’ll admit that most of the stages are fairly unmemorable when it comes to the music and I tried to listen to a few of them on Youtube, but some of them just aren’t that good. Luckily, Shadow Mewtwo makes up for that with his incredible themes. I could listen to those for hours and the tunes are great enough to raise the whole soundtrack for me. Still, that’s reason enough for me to just call the soundtrack decent, it doesn’t really live up to my expectations of how good it would sound. Most of the handheld games have a better overall soundtrack.

As possibly mentioned earlier, there are 16 fighters. This is a really low amount and I’ll admit that a few of the choices were pretty underwhelming. Chandelure and that Fire Fox? Really? I don’t think they’ve earned a spot on the roster to be honest although I support Shadow Mewtwo and Pikachu Libre so..my opinion is a little unique. Unlike Super Smash where you’ll have memorized all of the attacks for all 50+ characters right away, it’s tricky to do that in this game since there are 4 different attack types for each character and then you have to double that for 3D mode + 2D mode while also accounting for their attacks in both modes while in Burst Mode. Simply put, it’ll take a while unless you make this game your top priority.

I’m going to be spending a lot of time with this game, but it’ll never be my top priority the way that Smash Bros is. I’ve put in well over 100 hours on that game just watching gameplay footage from the top players around the world. I’ve maybe put in 2 hours for that with Pokken, but I’ll really just spend my time playing it as opposed to watching. I am entering the Pokken event at Apex 2016, but I’ll see how far I can go as I am. Back to the main point, the 16 characters limit doesn’t feel as bad as it could. As it is, it’s very hard to pull out another fighter once you’ve chosen a main and do well enough to win the fight. I have pulled it off with my classic pockets, Pikachu Libre and Chandelure, but it’s tricky since I’m relying on pure fundamentals and button mashing.

Blaziken’s definitely my guy right now. He unfortunately has a very tough time against projectiles though. If I see any strong Gengars or Chandelure players, I can probably count the match as a loss although I’ll try to keep it real. I like Pikachu since he really has a lot of good projectiles and Libre’s command grabs make him a real threat. Each of the characters have their strengths with the only one that just feels weak is Charizard. He’s just soooo slow, although I pulled off a nice win with him online, I doubt I will play him again for a while. I still haven’t even tried out around 5-6 of the characters so I have to get around to that. This is the kind of game where you don’t spend much time choosing different characters since there’s not much merit to it. Just pick 2 characters to cover your matchups and you’re set.

By the way, you’ll want to stay active online or your ranking will plummet. You won’t lose points, but people will just leapfrog you. I made it into the 8000s on my first day, but then I took a break from online for a day to focus on the story. When I got back I was in the 14000s. I’ve since made it back to the 10000s, but it just goes to show how many people are playing it right now. I kind of want to make the top 1000, but that’s unlikely unless I really play it a bunch. I’ll probably look at the overall sales figures and then I’ll try to stay in the top 10% or 5% by the end. That’s a reasonable goal I’d say.

Overall, Pokken is a fighting game that you’ve got to get right away. The gameplay mechanics can be a little complex and overwhelming at first, but put in an hour or two of just fighting normally in Story Mode and you’ll start to pick up all of the little rules. It’s not a game like Virtua Fighter where you can play for days and still not pick up most of the terms. Once you’re in, you’ll see how much fun the game is. There may only be 16 fighters, but you’ll still have a tough time learning all of their attacks and now you can really prove your stuff with your main. The replay value is endless and you also unlock a lot of titles from time to time, which are fun to use online. There are so many choices that it’s tough to decide on one. Aim to become the world champ with your character and I’ll see you at the top!

Overall 9/10

Avengers Battle For Earth Review

I’ve wanted to get this Avengers game for years. Ever since it first came out, the game has looked like a blast and a half. Alas, it just never quite made the cut when I was looking to buy games for Christmas or my Birthday. Well, the wait is over and the game has certainly lived up to my expectations. It’s great even if you can tell that it’s not exactly a AAA title of technical mastery. A sequel would have definitely been a blast.

The plot of the game is based on the Secret Invasion arc from the comics. Skrulls have taken over the planet through deception and the heroes have to weed the fakes out from among the real heroes. The best way to do that is to beat them all up and that’s exactly what the heroes do. Some villains even decide to join in by the end like Magneto, Loki, Venom, and Dr Doom. Together, these guys can’t lose to the Skrulls right!?

The main campaign for the game is fairly short. There are 40 battles and each battle is a best of 3. Each individual round can sometimes only take about 10-20 seconds while the later battle are harder. This is one of the only games that you can play and complete for the most part with your eyes closed. With the exception of the final level in each of the 5 areas (5 Areas with 8 levels each) all of the battles can be won by simply flicking the nunchuck’s control stick up. Do that and you’re guaranteed to win just about every fight. It’s probably one of the easiest games of all time.

You can take a snooze while playing if you really want too. Granted, you can also use the Gamepad for similar results. Surprisingly, I found that the Wii Remote is much more effective in this game. Using special attacks is much quicker with that setup, which gives you a noticeable advantage in battle. For the remotes, you just have to flail around. For the gamepad, you have to draw the correct shape to use the attack. It’ll work out if you just main 2 characters and memorize the shapes, but if you’re playing around with a bunch of characters, you’ll be at a noticeable disadvantage. Such is the fate of Gamepad users this time around although I’ll admit that it may feel like more of an actual fighting game since you can just keep on swinging to victory with the Wii Remote.

The main reason why I used the Wii Remote in the first place was that using the Gamepad meant that you could only see the cutscenes on it. A work around is using the Wii Remote to shift the camera angle, but then you have to do that for every fight, which can get quite tedious. It’s an odd feature and one of the main hints that this isn’t your big budget 60$ Avengers game.

If fans were mad that Super Smash Bros had a few clone characters, they would be furious at this game. All of the characters are essentially clones. Sure, there are some cosmetic changes to the attacks, but every fighter basically has the same 5 moves along with a final smash. Some look better than others, but aside from the gestures being different (Or in different areas anyway as it cycles from around 5) you’re basically playing the same character the entire time. Hey, I said that it was fun, not that it was high budget!

The graphics are decently good, although this is where I may disagree with some of the reviews. The character models aren’t incredibly detailed and can come across as a little “free to play.” Certainly not what you’d consider Next Gen, but a lot of the attacks are very flashy and the character designs are all on point. The opening movie was a blast even if the graphics would not wow someone. The fights were neat to see and the animation certainly isn’t bad. It’s not great, but it works for me and I was satisfied with what I saw. Once again, I have to point out that all of the energy attacks look great.

The game also has an epic feeling to it. The story mode is actually really engaging. It’s a shame that there are only 11 big cutscenes in the whole game as the other levels just get a quick line of dialogue. Still, the cutscenes that we do get really show the importance of why comic panels can be good if used right and not as rather uninspired pages like in Mario Galaxy 2. The game’s ending also leads up to Siege/Dark Reign, which would have made for a very enjoyable sequel. Obviously, this game did not succeed nearly enough to warrant a sequel, but boy would I have enjoyed one!

The soundtrack’s a little forgettable, although it wasn’t bad. Mostly the themes are the kinds of music that you would expect from a game that doesn’t want to spend a lot in that area. Luckily, the presentation before the fights is always good as each character has a quick introduction and the 2 vs 2 format works well. It pops out at you and the matches feel really official. I wouldn’t mind Super Smash Bros taking a cue from that and having a similar introduction for 2 on 2 battles someday. It could be optional of course so it wouldn’t always slow a match down.

I can’t say that there is a whole lot of replay value though. You can finish Story Mode in under 2 hours and probably much quicker than that if you’re good at spamming the nunchuk control stick. Once you’ve beaten the game, you can play Arcade Mode, Challenges, or Trials to unlock costumes and character panels to use as your avatar. The unfortunate part is that there is a lot of on disc DLC like Street Fighter X Tekken. Some of these things you have to buy on the E Shop and others are related to UPlay. I’m not sure if UPlay is even up and running anymore, but either way it’s always unfortunate. I’m cool with DLC, but don’t clutter the mission select with it. As a result, my Game Completion% looks a lot smaller than it should because the DLC is actually counted. Boooo. There’s really no reason to play the game again unless you want to have a good multiplayer match.

Naturally, that’s the big hook of the game. The multiplayer is a lot of fun and even if it is a total button masher, it’s the kind of fighting game that is easy to play and you can have a lot of rounds in it without getting bored. It’s like a discount version of Marvel vs Capcom 3. Certainly not as good as that game when it comes to gameplay, replay value, graphics, or soundtrack, but it’s good for Wii U fans who want a piece of the action. The character roster is also quite good with non Avengers like Dr. Doom, Venom, Spider Man, and the Phoenix. It may just be me, but I feel like Phoenix is the strongest fighter in the game, although Black Widow has the best charge attack. You can easily defeat a foe just by spamming her slide attack. It’s quick and packs a punch.

Overall, Battle For Earth is a game that’s worth your investment. The price isn’t all that high nowadays anyway and you’ll be surprised at how well done the gameplay is. Considering that the game must have had a limited budget, it’s actually very exciting. There’s voice acting for all of the characters, the avatar pictures are cool, and the character roster is solid. Not to mention that the opening scene was a blast as well. The whole game had an epic feel to it, yet you can still tell that a higher budget would have improved the game immensely. I can only imagine how much fun a sequel would have been. Naturally, this game is best if you have someone to play it with you, but if not there’s still enough here to satisfy you with the single player experience.

Overall 8/10

The King of Fighters Ex 2 Howling Blood Review

This is one of those games that has a story behind it! I actually purchased the game quite a few years ago. The problem was that I had to wait until I purchased the first game. It took a while, but I pulled that off about a year ago….only this game would not work. Since it had been so long since I purchased it at Gamestop, I couldn’t get a refund. That was all right, Game Boy Advance games are some of the greatest of all time. They will eventually start to work and I would be ready! Finally, that day came…and I was ready!

When the game started to work I knew that I had to seize my opportunity. I quickly beat the game with the first team. There’s not really much of a story mode here of course as it’s your standard Arcade Mode. It uses a 3 on 3 system (Not at once of course. It’s 1 on 1 and you move on when your teammates are defeated) and there are 21 fighters, which makes for 7 teams. That being said, just about all of the story modes play out in almost the same way. The first game was infamous in that fashion as I beat it well over a dozen times only to see the exact same cutscenes and identical dialogue from the villains. No matter what the new hero would say, the villain would just go on a tangent. I don’t know if it was that similar here, but definitely close to that.

That being said, it didn’t even matter. See, the game had to have the last laugh. The cartridge was in Japanese for some reason and there’s no way to switch the language setting. It’s safe to say that I was mind blown as I could not actually read any of the dialogue in the “story mode.” The game must have been laughing a little too hard as the next time I put it in, the game had stopped working. I could probably try to revive it once again, but there’s no real reason to do so. I got what I came for as I beat Arcade Mode once. There’s little reason to beat it 6 more times, especially considering that the dialogue is in Japanese.

There’s no real replay value here except for just battling computers or hoping that someone else has a GBA with the game. Beating Arcade Mode with the 7 teams should take you about 3 hours or so. The game’s definitely not a long one so you will be done with it in no time! Since it only goes for a few dollars or so in person and a little more online, I’d say that it’s still worth the purchase. Just make sure that your game has the right language setting or you’re toast!

The graphics and soundtrack are essentially identical to the first game. This is one of those games that you could really believe is just a recoloring of the first title as they are that similar. The sprites are just about the same and likewise with all of the combos. I’d say that the graphics have aged decently well and I’ve always been a good fan of the classic sprites. They really made you feel involved in the game and the fast soundtrack makes the fights more enjoyable. The soundtrack isn’t very memorable, but it gets the job done and you’ll be ready to crush the competition!

As for the gameplay, it’s your standard Street Fighter styled way to fight. You can throw out some quick attacks or just more powerful ones that are easier to dodge. Every character has some special attacks and you can also have an ally jump in to help you out when you’re in a pinch. The gameplay is fun and very easy to get used too. It’s hard to picture myself ever going up against experienced fighters in this one though as I find the controls to be a little hard to grasp. It’s a pure button masher for me so I just press everything and wait until I win. If that doesn’t work, then rinse and repeat the process until it does!

There’s not much more to say about this game. As I mentioned, there’s really nothing to do after Arcade Mode except to maybe enter Vs and have a little fun there. Beyond that….it’s basically Game Over. Still, I definitely won’t be forgetting this game anytime soon thanks to the epic story behind it. The game may have had its laughs, but I still managed to beat the game before it powered down again so I count this as a perfect victory. I haven’t played many King of Fighter games at this point, but I look forward to challenging more in the future. I’m always up for a fighting game after all and sometimes trying out a classic with no real gimmicks like this one is the thing to do when you need to get back into the genre! (Of course, Super Smash Bros literally blows the genre apart on its own)

Overall, King of Fighters Ex 2 Howling Blood is a solid game. If you bought both of the GBA games at the same time then you would probably be a little disappointed as it is essentially the same game in a new wrapper. I don’t even think that they increased the character count all that much and it may have even gotten lower. That being said, I certainly haven’t unlocked anyone so there are probably 1-2 more guys to unlock. If you want to play a fighting game from the old days, then this is definitely the title for you. There can be unlimited replay value if you really like the gameplay so it all rides on that. With this game down, it’ll be time to go back to the Legend of Kay and maybe some MnM’s as well.

Overall 7/10

Dragon Ball Z Rebirth of F Review

To celebrate the upcoming DBZ movie, they made a three chapter mini series that covers the first 20-30 minutes of the film. It naturally ends right when the big battles are about to get started so that you can actually see the film. I look forward to seeing is when it is dubbed in the summer, but until then this teaser is pretty fun to check out. The action scenes are good and it gives you an idea of what the film is going to be like. So, it’s brief, but fun.

Frieza has returned and he is preparing to demolish the Earth. First, he wants revenge on Goku for what happened on Namek so he has dispatched an army to attack it. He is now biding his time for Goku to show up. Meanwhile, Goku and Vegeta are training with Whis so that they can reach new levels of power. It’s slow goings though and they simply don’t have enough time to learn as Frieza appears on Earth. The series ends with Frieza about to unveil his new form and the heroes must now be prepared for the fight of their lives!

The art here is very good as can be expected of something in the Dragon Ball franchise. The designs are simple, but effective and likewise with the rest of the art. The pages never feel cluttered and it is always clear as to what’s happening on the page. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve always liked the art so much in Bleach and it works just as well in Dragon Ball. The fight scenes really look great as well, which is a nice combo.

The series is very short so there’s not a whole lot more to say about it. That being said, there are some elements here that should have you a little worried. For one thing, I feel like Goku and Vegeta are being really downplayed lately. We can’t ignore how sad it is that Frieza just trained for a little while and was able to surpass Vegeta and Goku’s normal forms. There’s no way that he should even be close to their level of power no matter how much he trained. Has everyone forgotten that Saiyans are the best at training and getting power ups? Surpassing them is no easy feat and I think that this new movie is really downplaying that feat.

It gets worse when you consider that Bills and Whis are drastically stronger than Goku and Vegeta now. I seriously cannot buy that for an instant. It’s wrong and simply not right. I don’t mind Bills being decently strong, but not after he gave Frieza so much hype last time. Even then, Goku should have utterly stomped him in the actual fight. Since he wasn’t able to do that, the ending was very disappointing. While Goku will likely wreck Frieza more than Bills, it’s still sad that Bills and Whis are shown to be so much stronger than Goku and Vegeta.

The Saiyans actually get nervous around those two villains, which is really embarrassing. Also, this does not just affect those two as Gohan gets hit rather hard by the nerfs as well. He can barely enter Super Saiyan mode anymore and he is shown to be incredibly weak. Even if he never trained, he would never have lost so much power. He’s still Gohan and his abilities were incredible back in the day. Seeing him take on less minions than Krillin and Roshi is a little embarrassing. I’m sure that he’ll look more impressive in the film, but he seems like “just another saiyan” rather than being acknowledged as one of the heavy hitters.

Jaco joins the cast to fight Frieza and it’s cool to have a guest star on board. I’m a little skeptical as to how he can keep up with these guys at all though. Seriously, his power level is just sad and his jet pack can only go so far. Even if his gun can disintegrate the villains, he shouldn’t have a chance of keeping up with them. Dragon Ball’s never been the best in terms of power levels, but we’re really starting to push the envelope here.

Of course, the power levels debate may be a little sad for this part of the franchise, but it’s still a really fun read for the action and excitement. You just don’t want to focus on the logic of it all or you may start to fall into the “Superman is stronger than Goku” trap and we wouldn’t want that! On the bright side, we are finally seeing the Z fighters become Sun busters and they’re even getting cool abilities. Whis can move through time, which is really good since time travel is about as overpowered as you can get. If Goku can learn this trick, that will certainly be fun. It won’t help him feel any stronger to me, but it would still be a fun ability to have.

Overall, This manga will only take you about 10-20 minutes to read so you’ll be done with it really quickly. Naturally, it never drags on and you’ll actually be wishing that it was a little longer. I’m eagerly awaiting the film now. There are certainly a few plot holes involving Frieza’s new strength, but Dragon Ball has never been a series full of logic so we don’t have to take that too seriously. Either way, we’re still getting a new Dragon Ball Z adventure. No matter how the logic goes, the sheer fact that DBZ is still going is always a great thought. I still highly recommend checking this manga out and you will not regret it. Goku better win with ease in the end!

Overall 8/10

Samurai Jack Review

Samurai Jack is a retro show that a lot of people like. It’s known as a classic and it probably rivals famous action cartoons like the Powerpuff Girls back in its prime. Unfortunately, it infamously ends with nothing actually being resolved so it can be a pretty disappointing way to end the series. It’s a good title, but the problem lies in the fact that most episodes are filler. Because of that, some episodes are really good and some are downright bad. It’s good to check out, but you’ll probably want to skip some of the filler episodes that couldn’t stack up to the rest.

The plot of the show is that a demon by the name of Aku has enslaved the planet. Samurai Jack’s parents (and effectively the whole planet as collateral) were taken from him by Aku and he has trained his whole life so that he can get some payback. Just when he was about to defeat Aku, Jack is sent to the future. Aku’s reign is now absolute and defeating him will be difficult. Still, Jack shall never give up and he will find a way to stop Aku! Even if it takes a lifetime.

The show made it through 4 seasons, but that doesn’t help its case as much as you would expect from the average show because of the fact that over 90% of the series is filler. There are good episodes and then there are bad ones. The final 3 episodes of the series are all pretty bad for example while you may have random ones in season 3 that are very good. It’s something that you have to take on a day by day basis and it can get pretty tricky. It’s why I don’t recommend such a format for any show.

It is intriguing to see just how big the planet is though. Jack comes across countries from all sorts of different time periods. A lot of them just don’t make sense when compared to others and that’s one of the things that makes the planet so much fun. One corner may still be in the 40’s while another one has tech from the year 3000+. It’s too bad that everyone doesn’t unite to stop Aku, but I have a feeling that it could have happened if the show ever got an ending. It was practically leading up to that as Jack went around the world helping people.

Samurai Jack is a pretty good protagonist. You could even say that he is great although he doesn’t always look as good as you would expect depending on the episode. He is tricked into losing his memory at one point and he does tend to let his guard down around female villains. Jack is an honorable swordsman so he never actually lets romance get to him, but he doesn’t try as hard to escape it as he should. His swordsmanship skills are top notch and Jack has been shown to take on whole armies in the past. It’s rare that he ever loses a fight and Jack always gives the match his best effort. It’s hard not to like such a fighter and the show likely wouldn’t be half as good without him. Once in a while, an episode won’t be from his point of view so it’s always fun to see how he looks from an antagonistic standpoint. There are at least 2 episodes where he is the main villain and those are always sad since the “heroes” usually have some kind of reason as to why they need to defeat him. Of course, they’re doomed so it is always for naught.

Aku is the main villain of the show and he is the kind of villain who isn’t for everyone, but will certainly get some fans. I am not a big fan of the villain. Aku can be pretty funny considering that he rules the planet with an iron grip, but that’s about it for qualities that I like. His goals are pretty generic and his “invincible” abilities never actually seem that great. It’s a little hard to see how he managed to defeat all of the heroes on the planet. Depending on the episode, he can be a cruel tyrant or a misunderstood anti-hero. He just doesn’t take anything seriously which is why his attitude tends to shift a lot, but the heroes can’t forgive his actions. He is still a villain no mater how heroic he may seem at times.

The Scotsman is really the only recurring member of the supporting cast in the show and I believe that he only appears in 3 episodes. It’s possible that it’s more like 4-5. Out of 52 that’s not bad….I suppose. He is Jack’s rival and a nice ally to have. He’s definitely not as powerful as Samurai Jack, but he gets by pretty well on his own. He has a machine gun and he’s a very physical fighter. His accent makes him easy to identify in a crowd. The Scotsman is very charismatic and it was fun having him in the show. I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing more of him.

One factor that does hurt the show quite a bit is the animation. I really don’t care for the style that is used here and it makes the show appear to be decades older than it actually is. You can basically see most of the animation shortcuts that are used without any effort. Considering that this was airing back during the good ole days of Pokemon, we know that the animation could have been significantly better. As it stands, the fight scenes were very good at their height, but we know that they would have been even better with the proper animation techniques behind them. It’s the main reason why this show wasn’t a 7 and who knows, an 8 may not have been out of the question with better animation although it would have been a bit of a stretch.

Due to its episodic nature, the series falls into many holes. Aside from the romance one, we also have the animal violence tropes that we always try to avoid. This happens in quite a few episodes and animals are enslaved in another. It’s the kind of thing that you never want to see in a show, but it typically pops up as a show gets more episodes. Whenever that happened it would be pretty sad and I would just hope that the show would get better next time.

On the bright side, there are many great episodes to counter those. Typically, the duel episodes are the best one. There are probably around 10 or so of those where the fight gets to last for nearly the whole episode. The train duel and the battle against the guardian of the portal come to mind, but there are many others. Even Jack’s battles against Aku and the Cyborgs tend to be pretty long. There are also heist episodes like one where Jack has to stop a James Bond figure from looting a pyramid before him.

Once again, that’s why having every episode be a stand alone with the occasional two parter is super risky. The quality of each episode really varies and ultimately this helps to keep it from the elusive 7. There are enough episodes that simply aren’t very good, which is enough to keep it from that spot. At it’s best, Samurai Jack is 8 star worthy and at its worst it’s probably a 3-4. I certainly would have liked more of an ongoing plot here.

The soundtrack really varies and it’s probably one of the most diverse ones that I’ve ever heard. It definitely gets a 5 star rating there since it’s usually pretty enjoyable. The themes tend to fit the episodes and they also help with the fights. The show is definitely more dramatic than your average cartoon and the fights can get really intense. The musical themes that accompany them help to solidify this image and it really helps the show.

There’s not a whole lot more to say about the show. It’s a good action show and it tries its hand at many different kinds of stories. It tends to feel pretty high quality and that’s always a good thing. It’s too bad that we never got a real ending, but there’s always a chance that we will get something at some point. We just have to keep on waiting and hope that they do come through with a new film or give us the ending via the comics.
Overall, Samurai Jack is a pretty fun show that really gets hurt by the amount of filler in it. It’s made that way though so you could also just not think of them as filler episodes and just consider the series as a bunch of short stories. There’s not necessarily much of a timeframe to be noted so the stories can take place at any time. It’s a show that feels like it’s not meant to ever end and you just get to see Jack go on all kinds of adventures. Some are good and some are not. If you’re looking for a good action show then I definitely recommend checking this one out. The fight scenes can definitely be really good and it has a good soundtrack. Updating the animation would certainly help its case a lot though. We’ll see if you like Samurai Jack as a character as much as I did.

Overall 6/10