Wonder Woman Bloodlines Review


It’s been a little while since I saw one of the DC animated films so it’s nice to jump back in. Wonder Woman gives us a partial origin story here along with a new adventure. It’s a pretty fun film with a solid amount of action and good characters. Ultimately it doesn’t beat the original Wonder Woman film but we do get to throw in a lot of Wonder Woman’s big opponents from back in the day. Her rogues gallery has never gotten to appear quite as much as most of the other big DC characters so it’s always fun to see them. What she needs one day is a full TV show and then we’ll be able to see more of them.

The movie starts off with the origin story as Steve was fighting a Parademon (Feels like these guys cause a lot of trouble in this continuity!) and then crashed onto Wonder Woman’s island. Naturally the queen decides he has to be captured so Wonder Woman knocks out the guard, fights with the queen, and then escapes with Steve. The catch of course is that she is now banished from the island forever. Steve takes Wonder Woman to an old historian to learn about culture in the outside world. The lady also has a daughter named Vanessa who isn’t having a super fun time at home.

We then cut to the present where Vanessa is a complete rebel now and has gotten involved in shady dealings. Wonder Woman and Steve go to stop her but during the fighting Vanessa’s mom is destroyed. Vanessa now decides she wants revenge on Wonder Woman and intends to murder her as the Silver Swan. Meanwhile Dr. Poison and her mysterious leader have more plans up their sleeve. Will Wonder Woman be able to stop them and save the Silver Swan or is this all going to end in complete disaster?

The origin story here is fairly basic. The addition of the Parademon was a nice way to give it some higher stakes. I still do feel like the idea that you can just crash onto the island or see it so easily means that it’s not a great defensive barrier though. I always question how more people don’t see it to be honest. There needs to be some other magical element at play to defend them if you ask me. From there we definitely have a more aggressive Wonder Woman who quickly solves things with her fists here but given how unreasonable the Amazons usually are I can see why this would be the fastest way out. I suppose it’s a nice intro into the film. It may be something we’ve seen before but it was executed well.

With the main story you’re going to need to deal with Vanessa. To me the opening of the film’s main story is the slowest part. Vanessa’s a fairly annoying character from square one. Julia may not be the nicest mother to her at times but it’s not like she was comically mean or anything exaggerated. Vanessa also didn’t exactly do a whole lot to stand out. I think she could have pressed the issue with Julia a bit and it would have worked since Wonder Woman was always around. Instead Vanessa went to the dark side and was pretty unreasonable the whole time. She had a fun suit of armor and abilities of course but as a character I would give her a thumbs down here. She just went down complaining a whole lot throughout the movie.

The other villains are better even if some of them aren’t great. Doctor Poison for example is a fun enough street level bad guy even if she never feels like a threat to Wonder Woman. Doctor Cyber is a lot more disappointing mainly because she was the mastermind here. Not only did she completely not think her plan through but because of this she barely even got to fight in the end. Not a good look for her. We also got a few other WW villains here like Giganta and Cheetah. It was fun to see them. I liked Giganta’s new costume here as it’s a lot more streamlined compared to the usual one and Cheetah looked really good with her speed. I’m always up for bringing along the classic villains.

Another big villain here is Medusa who looks great. She gives us one of the highlight fights in the film. I think you could make a case for Cheetah vs Wonder Woman still being the best fight but it’s really close. What helps the final fight shine a lot is it highlights Wonder Woman’s endurance. When you think about it that will always be one of her greatest assets because as an Amazon she won’t tire as quickly as most fighters. In the comics I recall it was even mentioned that her stamina is even greater than Superman’s so in a way it evens out with his power/speed being higher.

Medusa feels more like a mastermind here. Yes, I would have been cool with her not growing and turning huge here, but she showed pretty solid speed so the fight never grew dull. There was still a lot of high speed movement here as well as strategy. Wonder Woman using the acid was fairly brutal but a necessary step based on how powerful Medusa’s influence was. There wasn’t really another way around it. Based on all the abilities Medusa has, you can easily see her being one of the most deadly Wonder Woman villains. Honestly I figured her gaze would not affect a true Amazon but I suppose if it didn’t then she wouldn’t make for an imposing threat so that’s fair.

As for Wonder Woman, she’s a solid lead as always. I’m not a huge fan of her portrayal here relative to other versions but is still good in her own right. For example I thought she had a little less self confidence than in other versions like stammering in her first scene meeting Vanessa or still being haunted by her actions in the past with the Amazons. She’s certainly going for more of a pacifist route for most of the film such as continually trying to save Silver Swan and not even calling the Justice League in because she feared they wouldn’t be too understanding of the predicament. That was some major shade to the League I have to say, I guess they aren’t as close as you would think. Wonder Woman does fight her way through every challenge though.

The post credits scene is also pretty intense. Wonder Woman connects the dots and goes to confront someone. It’s a solid way to end the film regardless of if the plot will come back. That being said, you do feel like she could have done something more like capture the villain. Proof or not, Wonder Woman has diplomatic immunity as the Amazon representative and I’m sure with enough digging she could find the proof later on. This does work as a great introduction for a new villain though and if we had more films I’d love to see her try a few new plans.

One thing I have to mention here though is the hostage situation. At one point very early on in the film a guy holds a lady at gunpoint and basically does the whole “don’t move” thing on Wonder Woman. She basically ignores him and throws her lasso which knocks him away and then she gloats that she had another option. It’s a nice scene but when you think about it, she was basically calling his bluff. If he intended to shoot then the hostage would be dead. Often times in these things you either see a hero be completely paralyzed by the hostage situation or like Wonder Woman they just run at the villain anyway and hope for the best. It’s always an interesting scenario because if it went wrong it would haunt the hero forever. I just always find it interesting how differently a hostage situation can be handled from film to film. All’s well that ends well though.

Steve and Etta have a subplot where they face their own dangers the whole time. It’s decent enough I suppose. I’m not a big fan of Etta in general. Her 60’s incarnation may be the best one but I think it’s time to finally make her more of a true fighter. Steve…is Steve. As always he’s a fairly tough fighter who backs Wonder Woman up but he’s so weak in comparison all he can do is crack jokes a lot of time to lift the tension. Don’t get me wrong, he saves her a number of times in the film and is pretty proficient with his gun skills but even with that it can be hard to take him seriously in the fights. He’s also basically the rebound guy with Wonder Woman now that Superman’s in the picture so the romance angle isn’t quite so developed.

The only part of the Steve plot where you have to raise an eyebrow is when he and Etta have to take on a Minotaur. The Minotaur is slow enough where they can keep on dodging it while letting it crash into the walls and it’s weak enough where it literally faints from doing so at different points. The Minotaur disrespect was real here. Aside from that the film gave Steve pretty realistic moments where he could help out without nerfing any of the other big villains.

As always the amazons look pretty weak which is to be expected. They are supposedly a group always ready for war but they clearly aren’t. They have such high tech equipment like the purple ray and yet for battle they use bows and arrows along with swords. The Amazons desperately need to open up their borders or something because as they are now they are completely defenseless against any real threats. It makes it hard to take them seriously so Wonder Woman is probably lucky that she got booted out of there. They reap what they sow and all that.

As always the animation here is very smooth. DC always has done a great job with this. The fight scenes are on point and the costumes work really well too. Wonder Woman’s design’s a little different here as the film seems to be modeling her more like a true amazon. As a result she’s quite a bit taller and more warrior-like which makes sense. In this style I actually preferred the film’s new design for her rather than the classic one but that’s more a credit to how solid the new one looks. The battle scenes are pretty dynamic and really get across how powerful the heroine is.

Quick shoutout to the random thug early on in the film. After her reconstruction, Silver Swan decides to go and murder some people. Usually the mobsters will just die instantly but this guy got slashed but still had the wits to take a step back and fire a shot. Naturally it’s not like he ended up coming out on top here either way but I have to give him credit for trying. It was an unwinnable battle, but he did his best.

Overall, Wonder Woman Bloodlines is a pretty solid film. You get a good amount of fight scenes, character interactions, and solid animation. It goes by pretty quick as the movie isn’t super long or anything. Doctor Cyber may have been rather underwhelming but it was fun seeing the rest of the villains show up. Vanessa’s plot could be a bit on the dull side for the opening scenes and overly dramatic at other times but through it all it was always fun seeing Wonder Woman use her wits to take down all of her opponents. I’d definitely recommend checking this film out and adding it to your DC roster.

Overall 7/10

Warriors Orochi 2 Review


After many years it was finally time to jump into the second Warriors Orochi title. The first one had definitely been a lot of fun so I was eager to see how the sequel would respond. Once again this is definitely a great title. I do think there’s a bit more they could have done with the story to highlight the crossover aspect but on the whole you should be very satisfied here.

The game lets you choose between playing as the Dynasty Warrior series, Samurai, or Orochi. I went for Dynasty and it’s fun that the fire team gets to be the head fighters here. The Sun clan is always a fun team to get behind even if the leader Sun Jian doesn’t look his best this time. He is determined to keep the kingdom at peace so he doesn’t make a move against the new villains until he is effectively forced into doing so. Then he is ready for action but it all feels a bit late in the game.

With Orochi destroyed everyone is just trying to get used to living in this strange world since there appears to be no way back. Unfortunately peace isn’t something that will be maintained for long as Lu Bu has returned along with one of Orochi’s trusted followers and they intend to plunge the world into chaos once more. Meanwhile, a bunch of other villains from Samurai Warriors and Dynasty have decided to use the confusion to take over as well. It’s going to be a tough few days for the Sun clan but they have to take them all down without mercy.

The gameplay is pretty self explanatory but I’ll quickly run over it anyway. The goal of the level is to take down the enemy generals. You have to do this without letting your own men be destroyed. You have your standard attacks, power moves, and super attacks. Use them wisely as you take opponents down. As this is a hack n slash there are hundreds of opponents to defeat to the point where they are practically never ending. Never let yourself get distracted in any one area too long or your partners will die pretty quickly. I died in the first level but never after that. As long as you stay sharp you’ll be fine. It’s also worth noting that this is a rare game where you keep your EXP even when you lose a level. I was really glad to see that.

There are 8 levels in the game and on average you should complete them between 10-13 minutes. The levels feel fairly short but that’s because they are a lot of fun. Your attacking speed is a little on the slow side but you can call up your horse to move great distances when needed. Initially you’ll want to beat a lot of the minions to gain EXP but then in latter levels you can run straight for the enemy generals. Once I unlocked the 5 hit combo which burned my opponents I was definitely ready to go with a more aggressive strategy. This combo could even be used repeatedly if the opponent didn’t block the launcher move which would result in a lot of damage Without that move the levels would have certainly been a lot more difficult to navigate.

The graphics here definitely look good as expected. The character models are on point and the stages are suitably ominous. I like how everything looks, the game just has an epic feel from start to finish. It feels like a grand crossover and that’s exactly how this game is supposed to be. The character roster is also impressive although not surprising since the warrior games usually shine like this. The soundtrack is always very good. Optic Lines is the most memorable track (The name is at least something like that) but there are a lot of good tunes throughout.

Naturally there is a lot of replay value here. You can play the other story modes and really perfect your skills. Maxing out all of the characters is bound to take a lot of time as well since there are so many and level ups can take some time. I think I got my character to around Level 50 by the end though so that was a pretty reasonable jump. You’ll easily be able to find 20+ hours here by the time you do everything.

One unfortunate thing though was that in the end I beat Orochi before I could even see his little pre rendered cutscene. I had too many backed up by this point as I ran through the level so it wasn’t quite up to his I suppose. Unless he didn’t have one but I would be surprised since every other boss has one. It was definitely cool to see him there though. I’m wondering how Orochi 3 will handle the plot since I’m sure they don’t want to go for the same angle of him reviving again and yet it feels like that is what they will have to do. A lot of tough decisions there to be sure.

Overall, I am one step closer to being caught up with all of the Warrior Orochi games now. Orochi 2 was definitely a blast and I expect the rest will be as well. It’s a fairly simple/direct game so there isn’t much more to say on it. If you like the main Warrior games then of course you’ll like this one. The more you’ve played the other two series, the more you will really enjoy the unique interactions here as well. I’d like to see more interactions in future games but as it is, it was fun seeing the final boss of Samurai Warriors Katana show up here since I just beat that game the other day.

Overall 8/10

Samurai Warriors: Katana Review


Katana is a very unique Samurai Warriors game. The fact that it was for the Wii was already interesting and right away you can see that it’s nothing like the standard ones. The whole game is in first person view. I’ve never played a first person beat em up before so that was cool. The whole game also plays like an experiment or a tech demo as the game continues to change gameplay styles quite a lot. There aren’t many levels in each campaign scenario but a lot of different gameplays. It’s a fun enough game but best left forgotten as an experiment rather than giving it another try in the future.

In the game you are a mysterious soldier who has decided to help the cause of uniting the country under Nobunaga’s rule. You end up being the greatest soldier of all time and take everyone down. Each level has you defeating a ton of soldiers and even rescuing the leader. You get to battle with some of the iconic Samurai Warrior characters. The story isn’t the most ambitious or memorable, but it’s a fun enough journey. The plots for these games usually don’t take a lot of twists and turns anyway. I’d prefer to have played as a real character though.

As for the gameplay, like I mentioned it tends to shift a lot. The core gameplay has you pressing the A button to swing your weapon and you swing the Nunchuk for the super attack. Then the B button is to shoot your Gun at enemies. You also have a crossbow but the gun is just way better. It’s a little slow but the damage is on a completely different level so you definitely want to be using that one. Blocking is also very important in this game since it’s difficult to swing at all enemies before at least one of them swings back at you. There’s a good amount of strategy involved here. You don’t move as the enemies come to you.

Then you have the more traditional style where you run around to face off against enemies. This gameplay style doesn’t show up until the end of the game. It’s still in first person but the ability to move around in the large environment is definitely like something more out of the core Samurai Warrior games. There’s also another kind of style where you click on arrows to move your character one space in that direction. You keep on clicking until you are out of that maze/level. It’s a lot to take in but the actual gameplay isn’t very complicated at all so I don’t expect it will take you all that long to conquer this one and ace the opponents.

I will say that I did die several times in the game though. You can buy upgrades and items at the shop which are helpful. I maxed out attack power first and then worked on defense and health. The item shop’s healing items are also pretty good as they’re cheap to buy and even just being able to restore your health fully once is a big help. The final level has multiple bosses going after you so any advantage you can get will go a long way without a doubt.

In terms of graphics the game isn’t super impressive. It’s definitely not quite as detailed as the usual game but the illustrations are on point. There isn’t any lag in this one so that’s pretty good. With the in game graphics you always know what’s going on which is the important part. The soundtrack is largely forgettable. I can’t recall any specific theme here. So I think the bottom line in all of this is that the gameplay is solid but the rest of the areas don’t stand out. You should be playing this because you’re just a big fan of fighting gameplay or the series but it won’t beat any mainline entries.

In terms of replay value, the main campaign isn’t very long at about 3 hours. However, there are 3-4 other campaigns to play so completing them all should take you to around 10 hours. From there you can work on maxing out all stats and having a good time. Considering that the price isn’t too crazy on this one either it’s a pretty good deal I would say. You also have the added benefit of getting a bit of a workout with the controls as one level even has you run by shaking both controllers rather vigorously. If that doesn’t get you excited to rock out and have a blast then I don’t know what will.

Overall, Samurai Warriors: Katana is an interesting experiment in the series. It really feels like a one and done game but one that had a good amount of effort into it. The sheer amount of gameplay styles they squeezed in was impressive. It can even be a little difficult at times so you can’t just close your eyes and blast everyone away like you usually would. Still, when you have a core gameplay style that is already amazing, you don’t need to experiment like this. I would absolutely recommend any other Samurai Warriors game ahead of this one but if you’ve already played the others and want something fresh then this is a fun hidden gem to bump into. After having it on the backlog for almost a decade it was fun to finally knock it out.

Overall 7/10

Searching (2018) Review


This is a film where the title is a very fair way to know the premise immediately. The whole film is a pretty big search after all and it uses some pretty interesting tactics such as how all of the scenes are filmed. It’s the kind of thriller that won’t offer as much replay value since it’s a movie where you are most engaged the first time around since you have no clue what is about to happen. If you’re up for a tense flick then this should be up your ally.

The movie starts by introducing us to David and his daughter Margot. David’s wife died early on in the film so it’s just been these two. They’ve got a pretty good bond going although Margot has started to drift apart a bit more and keep some secrets. One day she calls him three times but he ended up being asleep at the time. After repeated attempts to contact her he realizes that this is actually pretty serious and gets the police involved. They call in a detective. Now the two of them must try to track Margot down fast before it’s too late.

Searching uses more of an experimental style here as the characters never actually appear through normal camera view. Every scene is from an electronic view such as a web cam, TV, or something like that. Definitely a unique look and I will say right now I already prefer it to a traditional found footage/hand cam kind of approach. There’s no shaking or anything here which is good. I’d never want this to be the new norm but it does work rather well I would say.

As the movie is a mystery part of the fun will be in trying to connect the dots on your own. See if you can figure out exactly what happened or who the culprit is. For the latter the film gives you a fair chance of finding this out. At the very least I imagine you’ll be able to pull out the smoking gun a while before even the main character gets a chance to think about it. That being said, figuring out the rest would be very difficult and the film executes the plot rather well. A film like this always has to be careful because it has to keep the thriller elements ramped up but a poor ending would destroy everything. If the film were to get too gritty then the whole movie would be a waste of space but of course it needs to keep in some danger. It’s all balanced in rather well.

David’s a solid main character. He’s portrayed as a very reasonable guy and does a great job of narrowing down the mystery and finding as many clues as possible. He’s certainly a man on a mission and you would expect absolutely nothing less from him. He tries every available resource. It was fun to see Youtube, Twitter, and Reddit making an appearance. I would say that Reddit is typically the number 1 resource for virtually anything. I would consider it to be even more useful than Google if you want to find information. No matter what kind of content you’re looking for, whether it be real life history/science, video game information, or even food recipes, Reddit has you covered.

Naturally he also has to see a lot of pretty startling information as everyone is eager to chime in on the situation with their own information. It’s not the kind of stuff he would want to see but he can’t let any lead go cold. He goes as far as contacting many people in person to get to the end of this. He had one pretty intense moment in the theater as a result and you definitely see why he attacked the guy. Things had been going too far in that guy’s social media postings.

Along the way one of the big themes of course is learning about Margot. She kept quite a few secrets the whole time, some of which were pretty massive. She clearly didn’t have the happiest time and isolated herself quite a lot. Then there’s the fact that there are a lot of bad influences at school or even at the home which got to her. As a character she certainly isn’t as strong willed as David. I expect this experience will bring the two of them closer though and she’ll certainly be on the right track.

The cast is pretty small but the other two main characters are Rosemary and Peter. Peter looks pretty awful the whole time I have to say. His first scene shows that he’s on Weed and from there things just keep getting worse and worse. Even by the end you can’t like the guy. Then you have Rosemary who has a lot of accolades for being a pretty great officer. She has a lot of contacts and is supposed to be the best the force has got. The city has a ton of unresolved cases but no matter how good you are that’s to be expected. I can’t say I was a fan of hers ether though.

Overall, Searching is a well made thriller where things add up pretty well. Even once you’ve gone through all of the twists I would say that most of it all adds up. I would make the case that when searching through the zones that’s the one area where I can’t really buy into nobody double checking them. Seems like a really bold move not too. If you really dig deep maybe you’d expect people to know more things by the end but with a case like this where the answers seem apparent, I can see how there may not be a lot of extra digging. Searching is a movie built inherently to draw you in on the first viewing but there wouldn’t be much replay value in watching it again. That would be the film’s only main drawback here as is the case for most slow burners. The movie takes a long time to develop what happens next and showing off the characters so the pacing doesn’t speed up much. It hits you with quick bursts and then goes back to staying at an icy pace. I’d still recommend checking out the movie on your initial watch. It’s a plot that can be a little more down to Earth than a lot of thrillers though so if the concept of a kid going missing suddenly in a town like this is a little too much then you may want to check something else out.

Overall 6/10

Ocean’s 8 Review


It’s been a while since I saw the original Ocean films so it was time to check out the spinoff. I do enjoy a good heist film like this where it’s not about breaking in with guns and taking everyone out but using a lot of trickery and deception to get to the bottom of things. It’s certainly weaker than the main installments but makes for a good film overall. You shouldn’t have too many issues with the execution.

The movie introduces us to Debbie who has finally gotten out of jail after 10 years. She has promised not to commit any more crimes but can’t help herself. She wants revenge on the guy who got her into jail and wants to make some money on the side. Her objective is to steal a super fancy necklace. To do this she’s going to need to form a whole team. Her main partner Lou is ready for this but they still need 6 more people. It’s time to go recruiting and then the game is on. Can they really outwit the insurance team as well as the people who are in charge of keeping the necklace safe? It’ll take all they got.

As with most ensemble films like this the movie’s first act is mainly about getting the team together. Each character is good at a different task so once they have the team assembled then they’re ready to move out. It’s a tried and true formula which works out pretty well. The characters are decent although there are few standout characters. Then we move to the actual heist which is always a lot of fun because of how much planning goes into that. The real question is always, do you buy into it?

Well, I think most of it works out rather well. Mainly due to the twist of the heroes covering their bases by the end of the film. Without that final twist the whole thing would have blown up and been completely unbelievable. With it, there’s only a few parts that break the case I would say. One is that the necklace was secured so that it could not be removed so easily. Because of this, I don’t see how anyone would believe for a second that it just fell to the floor during the party. It actually would have been easier to just slip the replacement necklace on at that point. Initially I thought the plan was going in a different direction but the whole “I found it in the water” excuse didn’t really fly. I also doubt it would have had the same kind of lock installed so the company would have realized something was wrong from the start.

The other issue here is when the heroes get greedy at the end and start stealing everything. Really guys? That last move would sabotage everything. Put it this way, they now all had to drive off in a big getaway vehicle that was caught on camera. What if the detectives decided to search the vehicle? When you add that onto the fact that Debbie is already a wanted criminal then you’ve definitely got a big issue here. Fortunately they got a certain inspector on the case but things could have easily gotten dicey there.

Those are the two reasons why I don’t think the whole heist would have gone over very smoothly but otherwise I thought the adventure worked out well enough. The film’s pacing is pretty decent. The writing is okay but it does have a tough balance to fill with the humor and heist aspects at times. For example, some of the characters here really aren’t very well prepared to handle a heist so what happens is there will be a lot of gags for the audience like the characters being obvious about what they’re doing but then in universe is raises quite a lot of questions. Again, the film’s final twist does help with this a bit though. The dialogue itself is also decent for the most part but you feel like it could have been a lot better. One thing I would have liked to see was more discussion on planning the heist rather than Debbie setting everything up off screen. The heist itself is a lot of fun though which is always the main goal here.

Debbie is the leader of the crew and the main character so she is the one coming up with all of the plans. She does pretty well at making sure everything is thought through and you do understand why she wants to squeeze the revenge in there as well even if it does ultimately put the whole thing into jeopardy. She could have easily destroyed all of their hopes and dreams with this. After all, the guy could have turned the tables had he not fallen for every trap so obviously. There’s no real excusing the second scene where he receives a call at a very convenient time and still goes to her house to have an affair even though he should know that he’s being framed. He was literally given all kinds of information and Debbie even revealed herself just to rub his nose in the situation. Any halfway decent intelligent character would have figured something was out so Debbie’s risk was pretty huge here. She’s a solid character but not a good leader.

Lou was Debbie’s main ally and certainly the one who got the biggest role here. She was solid and helped to keep the lead grounded most of the time. She’s also got a lot of talents which helps her blend into the role really well. Amita came in handy for the jewel cutting which was one of the most crucial parts. Tammy was fun as one of the more down to earth characters who had a pretty content life before getting mixed up in all of this. If anything she should have said no since the risks heavily outweighed the rewards here.

Constance was one of the standout characters here since her sleight of hand is quite impressive. Without those abilities the plan would have to be dramatically altered. Nine Ball gives the team the tech advantage they would need for this case. She’s not as solid as the other characters but does well when needed. The weakest link is definitely Rose though. She’s the old art dealer who helps out with getting the necklace but she is not good at the criminal game and really puts everyone at risk. Then you have Daphne who is a main focus here since the heroines are trying to manipulate her into being in the right place at the right time. She’s much more self absorbed than most of the other characters but does come off as one of the more likable ones. I was also glad she was shown to be a little more intelligent than she would let on.

Overall, Ocean’s 8 is a good movie. It has more positives than negatives. It may ultimately feel a lot weaker than the main one so if you compare them directly then this will lose out but on its own I would still say it’s worth a watch. I’d certainly be down with a sequel as well. That said, the movie should be a little more careful with its title. If you’re paying attention to that then you’ll know more about the film than you’re supposed to. All while it’s playing you’ll be counting to 8 and so if the numbers don’t match up….well it’s something to think about. I was surprised the ending didn’t have some kind of big reveal or plot twist for the climax but I suppose they didn’t want to tip their hand in case we don’t get another film. Perhaps that is for the best but I have to say it would have been a hype way to end things off and an improvement on the ending. The ending was satisfactory though.

Overall 6/10

You Only Live Twice Review


Bond’s adventures continue with some more espionage and thriller elements. Here’s the thing for Bond though, he’s been relying on luck for quite a while now so what happens when it runs out? That’s something Bond’s going to have to think about here as the leader of SPECTRE finally gets to appear. Ultimately this film is more of the same in many respects. It is going for a new element by having Bond stay in Japan for a while but I would say the core of the film is basically the same.

The movie starts with Bond having yet another affair. This one ends a little differently than most as the girl quickly calls in her goons and they all shoot Bond down. Seeing Bond get murdered within the opening minutes was definitely a chilling experience. After Bond gets back into the sub where we find out he faked his death, he is given a new mission. Some kind of space creature/machine has been eating up every rocket sent into space. The U.S. thinks Russia did it while Russia is blaming them. Bond has to find out who the true culprit is before World War III commences. The heroes believe the rocket may have originated from Japan so that’s where Bond is going. Will he be able to crack the case?

I don’t think anyone honestly thought for a second that Bond died in the opening scene but it definitely would have been a pretty interesting twist I gotta say. His distractions would have finally cost him everything. This film is not kind to Bond for the most part though. He looks pretty bad as expected but not just physically here. Lets start with what had to be the most entertaining scene in the film. Bond is faced off with one of the big villains and they slowly start to walk towards each other.

Sizing each other up and all. Then the guy just throws out a punch real suddenly that knocks Bond for a loop. Bond was completely unprepared for the punch and you would have thought that it wouldn’t have been a surprise since a fight was about to start. I guess his reaction times just weren’t on point. Then there’s the fact that he is still confident as ever so he doesn’t mind his surroundings anymore. He meets with one of the big suspects and just assumes he can casually leave.

If not for the heroine showing up in time he would have been gunned in the back without suspecting a thing. There’s another scene where his informant is stabbed to death while Bond was having his drink. You can’t blame him for that one but at least he knows to watch his back because the enemies are everywhere right? Well, that’s not exactly the case either. Bond goes to sleep real quick later on and nearly gets poisoned to death if not for the heroine stepping in once again. This really isn’t Bond’s best day but he hasn’t had one of those in a while so it’s not too surprising.

The action scenes are okay when they happen but I wouldn’t say there are a whole lot of them in this film. The movie tries an interesting sky view for one of the larger action scenes but I wouldn’t say it works particularly well. It feels less like a battle and when the villains jump backwards it doesn’t even seem like Bond connects with them. The Japan backdrop for the movie was nice but they definitely didn’t paint the place in a really flattering light. Bond’s liaison there goes out of his way to say that women are second over here and has what equates to a bunch of female servants working for him. This is one of the heroes we’re supposed to root for eh? Bond fits right in with all of these guys.

You Only Live Twice has more dead time than the average Bond film so at times things can almost get a little dull. I’d hesitate to say that the movie actually gets boring at any points but I would say that it is just a bit more aimless than some of the others. I also thought the countries looked pretty awful just sending their rockets up without a plan. Maybe the first time but sending it again after the others were captured and you don’t even give the pilots guns? The whole thing just made SPECTRE look good of course but at the expense of everyone else.

The leader was decent even if he’s not very smart. You’d think that as the big boss he would have everything going according to plan but Bond plays him like a fiddle. Aki does well as the main heroine and is one of the better ones in the Bond films. That being said, while she does make Bond look poor in comparison with how she keeps on saving him, she also hurt’s Bond’s character further. After the villains get to her Bond wastes almost 0 time in going for the next girl so once again you see how he doesn’t take anyone seriously.

In a way this feels like it should end the SPECTRE arc. I suppose the villain got away but at this point he won’t have the same mysterious aura anymore. Well, I suppose hopefully he can come up with another good plan. This bond film suffers from poor romance, fanservice, and an unlikable cast so the rest of the review would be rather par for the course. It could be a while til the next Bond film but at least as of this point you can’t say that Bond forgot its fundamentals. It delivered consistent performances through and through.

Overall, You Only Live Twice is definitely a pretty interesting title. Bond does act like he has multiple lives most of the time so it’s pretty fitting. As always I feel like the Bond films would be so much better if they would focus on the secret agent stuff and leave Bond’s hobbies alone. Have him act professional once in a while even if it’s just to be a change of pace. I dare say that would go quite a long way. Maybe the Bond films will be able to do this in the future or at least that’s the hope.

Overall 4/10

Samurai Warriors 2: XTreme Legends Review


It’s been a very long time since I played the original Samurai Warriors. I had been focusing on Dynasty for a while but now that I’m caught up with that series it was definitely time to go and check out how this one was doing. Well, it’s definitely a game that has aged really well. You can feel the power behind your attacks and taking down hundreds of opponents all at once certainly never gets old. I definitely look forward to playing the next installment in this series soon.

As with most warrior games you can pick whose story you want to play through. There aren’t a whole lot of options initially but I believe you can unlock more characters as you play through. I played as Kojiro Sasaki. I always like to pick the fire type fighters in these and since Yukimura Sanada wasn’t an option yet I figured this could do the trick. That said, he’s certainly more of an antagonist than I would have figured. Effectively he just wants to destroy a bunch of people but he feels like it’s all a waste. He wants to find someone super powerful to destroy so he goes around on the battlefield until he finds such a person.

I did not warm up to this guy by the end. He’s definitely crazy but would make for a solid antagonist to someone else’s story. At the very least you can’t deny that the guy has some pretty serious skill here. It’s his story so his abilities probably get embellished a bit but he ends up taking everyone out.

The gameplay is fairly standard of course. You go around beating the life points out of all your opponents. You have your standard moves, power moves, and your super attack. I recommend keeping your super on hand for whenever an opponent general shows up because it works as an immediate combo breaker. Just activate it when the opponent lands any kind of hit on you and you’ll be set. The gameplay is very smooth and landing hits is fun. To add some depth here you can power up your weapon at the shop and even buy special abilities that amp up your stats or even control your level ups.

I recommend spending all of your money on this because it’s just a great way to keep your guy ready for action. Your weapon’s important too but the upgrade doesn’t seem to do a whole lot there. The only part of the gameplay where you can tell they haven’t fine tuned it yet is the speed. Your character walks incredibly slow throughout the levels. So it can take a while to get anywhere. I suppose this helps to prevent you from running straight to the goal though. It also adds a little strategy here because moving too far away from your camp is dangerous as a result. After all if your leader dies then you lose the mission instantly.

The game had 5 levels in the campaign I played and I believe it can go up to 7 in some cases as well. It’s fairly short if you’re just playing one character and you should have it beat in around 2 hours. If you do it with all of the characters though then this definitely ought to take a long while. You have no shortage of replay value in this game which is no surprise because that is often the case with any game in the Dynasty franchise. Considering that the games go for around 10-20 bucks now, it’s a good bargain.

The graphics look pretty good here. I always appreciate the fact that there are loads of cutscenes and cinematics everywhere. You’ve got the big budget ones which appear at the beginning and end as well as the mini ones that show up whenever an enemy officer appears. It helps to make these moments feel like a big deal. The attack animations are also on point. As for the soundtrack it’s a little more on the forgettable side but it’s not bad. I’d like to have had more of a signature theme show up at some point. That would have been neat but maybe in the sequel.

The game is reasonably challenging. In particular what makes it pretty tricky here is how long the levels are. If you’ve already polished off about 600 enemies then nothing will be more disheartening than losing at the last second right? There were a few levels where I just had to run for a while to look for health items. The nice sweet spot to be in is when your health is in the red since you can use unlimited super attacks as long as you run a bit. That’s also a good strategy but they take time and it gets pretty intense. You know that a hit could be the end for you. That’s a fun feeling when you come out on top. Fortunately I didn’t end up losing here but that could have been tricky.

Samurai Warriors 2 feels very basic in a lot of respects but it’s part of the charm. You have a pretty direct plot and a lot of good gameplay for each level. In some ways this plot felt a lot more direct than the more extended one in Dynasty Warriors 9. It’s less grand of course but Sasaki’s plot was just interesting and the whole rivalry aspect with Masashi was cool.

Overall, Samurai Warriors 2 is definitely a very good game. I’d call it a great one at that. If you have time then beating it with all of the characters would be a blast since the stories should all be fairly different. I’m far less familiar with the base story here compared to Dynasty as well so it all feels pretty fresh. It seems to take place way after most of the Sengoku Basara anime since the main kings are already gone. The new characters look fun though and I wonder if the rest of the games in this series will deal with the same era and plot like Dynasty or if we’ll be jumping around a little more here. I’m not sure when I’ll get the third game but it shouldn’t be too far in the future I would say.

Overall 8/10

Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice Review


It’s been a little while since I played Disgaea 2, but I’ve been meaning to jump into 3 for a while now. The strategic gameplay of the series is always a blast. It really brings you in for a big challenge from start to finish that’s for sure. You have to consider a lot of angles when playing. While the core story is definitely a bit weaker than the first two, it makes for a great game either way and one that you don’t want to miss.

The game starts by introducing us to Mao. He’s the son of the Overlord and his goal is to rise to that position by destroying his father. The reason he wants to do this is because the Overlord broke his video game console a while back. To that end, Mao has decided that he will need to figure out what powers a hero since heroes usually take the Overlord down. Once he is able to figure that out then he will be ready to roll. To that end he captures a hero named Almaz and steals his title. Now, this gets a little meta and the game isn’t afraid to break the 4th wall but bear with me here. So effectively everyone has a title which actually affects how you act and think. Now that Almaz’s title has been taken he is slowly becoming a demon. He has to find a way to get into Mao’s heart (Which is located as basically a department store that you can walk into) to steal his title back. Will either of the characters get what they want?

Most of the game takes place at school or on campus as Mao tries to locate how to find a lot of power. Heroes are almost mythical in the demon world because of how rarely they appear. Everything is backwards in this world so to be an honor student you need to keep on cutting class and just being mean while the delinquents are people who attend class and are nice to others. It’s a fun dynamic and there are 3 little minions who show up in basically every chapter of the game to try and cause trouble. They’re always fun to have around for sure.

As a main character Mao is decent. He has his entertaining moments and I do like that he is always trying to set the record straight that he has no friends. The guy has a lot of secrets and a fascination with live experimentation so even by the end he isn’t a true hero. Still, he does end up fighting with the villains so you are at least glad to have him on your side at the very least. Almaz is the other main hero and he’s pretty fun. His plot is about getting Princess Sapphire to finally notice him but he is content to stay in the shadows until he works up the courage. He protects her from a distance and all. A one way romance like this can always be rough but at least the demons aren’t too hard on him about this.

Sapphire is a solid Princess though and one of the better ones of recent years. She has the brilliant idea of going to destroy the Overlord before he even thinks of kidnapping her. That’s pretty proactive so I can certainly get behind that. Princess Peach should consider capturing Bowser next time instead of waiting for the inevitable. She can fight which is always a pretty good skill to have as well. Her super strength punch and Buzzsaw even scare Mao at times.

Mao’s rival is a solid character as well. As leader of the delinquents you’d expect nothing less. One supporting character who could be annoying most of the time was the cook though. Literally all of his lines are using food lingo. I can appreciate good puns and all but I felt like he would never actually get to the point so he didn’t really serve much of a purpose at times. He gets a lot of hype and is apparently super strong but the game doesn’t do much with that concept.

As an RPG there are tons of other characters of course but those are the big ones. You’ll enjoy the story, there’s a lot going on. For the gameplay, it’s the same as in previous titles. You control up to 9 characters and maneuver them through a chess board of sorts. The idea is to take out the opponent fighters. Sometimes this will be straight forward and you just run to take them out while at other times there are a bunch of obstacles to get past. The levels become more like a puzzle as you have to decide how to attack the enemy. A good strategy is just as important as your level ups here.

The game holds nothing back so you will likely need to go replay levels a bunch before clearing the game. It’s difficult to level everyone up here since only the character who beats the enemy gets the level up this time. So by the end of the game I had 4 really strong fighters and my other guys were scrubs. It was worth it though. Then you want to save money to buy excellent equipment. The equipment will really come in handy since it boosts your stats massively. For example you can switch out your weapon with 100 attack power for one with 700 and suddenly you’re blasting through everyone. The toughest part is always choosing between buying a new weapon or new armor. I always prioritized weapons first since it makes the grinding quicker but ultimately you will need armor or you will fall. My strategy is to sell off all the equipment of all my other fighters and only stick to 4 but of course this is risky. It’s a great way to raise funds short term though.

There’s a whole lot of depth to the gameplay as you can also upgrade attacks here. Doing so makes them more powerful but drastically costs more magic meter as well so sometimes getting it too strong can actually be a bad thing. Then you can go to class to have the students give you money or unlock more levels at the shop. There is definitely a whole lot to consider here. The main story took me over 20 hours and there is a sizable post game story as well. This game can easily last you 50+ hours so there is a ton of replay value here. I would definitely recommend sticking with it

Naturally the soundtrack is also pretty solid. You’ll recognize a theme or two from the original game in addition to the new ones. Then you’ve got the solid graphics which go all out with the special attacks as always. It really knows how to make everything look really high tier. I do low key wish you could skip the cinematics on the special moves eventually since it takes up some time but I suppose after putting so much effort into the attacks they don’t want people just skipping them each time.

Overall, Disgaea 3 is a solid way to end the trilogy. The game has a lot of heart and depth to it. It’s a very complete RPG that excels in all areas. While I would say that the first two defeated it, you’ll definitely be invested in the game. It may be very difficult but you always feel like you have hope even if you need to go back and earn some more level ups again. Sometimes that’s just something you have to do. Going back to get stronger is a noble quest at all times.

Overall 8/10

One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 Review


After playing through Dynasty Warriors I knew that it was time to get more classic beat em up games from Kemco. One Piece was the perfect follow up. It’s a terrific game through and through with extremely tight gameplay. Every aspect of the game is just flat out amazing with a top tier soundtrack, amazing graphics, etc. There’s just nothing to dislike about this game. It really delivers and is an excellent tribute to the series. I would highly recommend checking it out whether you’re just a big One Piece fan or like the gameplay in general. It’s quite polished and I definitely look forward to the day they make a 5th installment.

The game adapts 6 of the story arcs from the manga. Naturally there’s no way you could hope to adapt everything from the series so there are a number of big jumps and such as you go through the campaign. They do manage to tackle all of the big stories though such as Marineford and Wano. For the arcs that are skipped the game gives you a quick recap so you know what went on through a set of cutscenes. The campaign is a pretty solid length so there is a lot of detail here. If you list any influential One Piece scene off the top of your head, odds are that it is in this game.

Naturally the gameplay here is your typical 3D hack n slash/beat em up. You pick a character and take down hundreds of enemies as you accomplish the goals of the level which range from defeating enemies to capturing territories. To capture a territory you must beat a large number of enemies in that zone and then take out the leader. This prevents further reinforcements from that area which is a pretty great help in these battles. I always prioritize taking over the area whenever possible. You have your standard attacks, power moves, and specials. There is also a very detailed power up system where you amp your moves up. I really focused on getting Luffy and Sanji to max as their battle styles were already really good so with the extra boost to their abilities it was like cake going through the levels.

The game likely anticipated this though so throughout the game you will be forced to play as many different characters. Then you have the tricky decision of using some of your resources to power them up even though you may never play them again or try to squeak by with level 1 stats. It can be a pretty hard decision. Also one thing to keep in mind when playing as Sanji is that he can’t do much against female opponents. The game even gives you a warning message if you try to play him in a level where they show up. I ignored the warning the first time and it got tricky. Effectively you can only offer a single strike and then Sanji immediately recoils. So you can imagine that defeating an opponent will take forever when you can only land a single move like that. Without the special abilities I would have been there all day so after that I was careful when to pick him.

The power up system also allows you to learn a bunch of new moves which are handy since a lot of them are better than your starters. You can also use transformations like with Luffy activating Gear 4. It’s a really handy move to have here. In terms of pure gameplay this has to be one of the smoothest that I’ve played in a long time. I would put it even above Dynasty Warriors 9 and Hyrule Warriors 2. Both of which tried adding some new mechanics which were fun enough but Pirate Warriors 4 is going back to basics. Just take enemies down right away. I would beat up to 2500 enemies in some levels. The best attack in my opinion is Conqueror’s Haki. Using that causes many enemies to instantly die and it also ignores any shields the enemy may have up. What can beat that?

Then you’ve also got an amazing soundtrack in this game. Pretty much every tune is amazing. I’ve been listening to the tunes online after playing through the game quite a lot. There may not be a ton of different tracks as I only see around 15 online but they are all just pretty amazing. You can feel the energy in each one of them and they really make you want to jump in and get on the action. You’ve got suitably emotional tracks as well. This has to be one of the most complete soundtracks I’ve heard in a minute. Naturally the graphics for the game are also quite good. The characters are striking and same for the various landscapes which are all unique and pretty accurate to the manga/show.

In terms of replay value there is definitely a whole lot to get through here. Aside from the main story you can also play a lot of stand alone adventures in the Treasure log and experiment with all of the characters. Obtaining the Platinum Trophy will also take a very long time. Right now you can get this game for under 30 so it’s definitely a steal. You won’t run out of things to do in this game for a very long time. The main campaign alone would justify the purchase so with all of that extra content you’re definitely good to go.

Overall, The only thing I could say that isn’t positive about the game is that for their original ending to the Wano arc it was pretty uninspired. I wasn’t a big fan since it felt like more of a cop out than anything. Otherwise everything about this game is just incredible. You’ve got a top tier soundtrack, graphics, gameplay, and story. You would struggle to find another game in this genre with smoother gameplay than Pirate Warriors 4. It’s all just so clean and polished that you can’t help but get sucked in to the adventure. You definitely don’t want to miss out on this one. I intend to play some more beat em up games like this in the very near future so definitely be on the lookout for that. It’s going to be a blast!

Overall 9/10

Thunderball Review


Agent 007 returns in this next caper and SPECTRE has a very active role here. Right from the start they’re holding whole countries hostage which is pretty impressive. I suppose when you’ve stolen a nuke this is just the kind of thing you can quickly get away with. Thunderball decides to have a whole lot of ocean scenes which unfortunately don’t work nearly as well as land ones. At the end of the day you just need solid ground to get that crispy choreography you want for the battles. Thunderball’s a pretty standard Bond film I would say, it brings in about what you would expect from the series.

After SPECTRE issues their demands we cut away to Bond enjoying a nice vacation as usual. The guy seems to have an awful lot of vacations if you think about it, but he is in the business of saving the world so I suppose it makes sense. Well, the resort is awful shady and his life gets threatened multiple times before he is pulled out. M tasks him with finding a lead and Bond remembers the murder event at the hotel and quickly gets on the case. He doesn’t have a whole lot of time to find out where the bombs are as well as the villain base before the government will ultimately have to meet SPECTRE’s demands.

I have to say that right from the start Bond doesn’t look amazing here though. For starters, while he is at the resort he notices numerous times that shady things are going on. People skulking about, going into his room, etc. Yet when it’s hit time for the stretcher exercise he eagerly gets into the machine that has his arms and legs bound. Naturally a villain shows up but instead of murdering Bond he just puts the machine on high intensity so the nurse arrives later and saves him. Keep in mind that we were barely 10 minutes into the film and Bond should have already been murdered. It’s not really a great look for the guy. My idea here is that Bond’s continued success continues to raise his ego higher and higher to the point where he no longer bothers with being cautious. Why be cautious if you always end up winning right?

Well, either way the main chunk of the film takes place in the Bahamas as Bond very quickly figures out that the big villain behind this plan is a man named Largo. The guy isn’t exactly subtle about it though so Bond enjoys humiliating the guy by beating him at cards and dancing with his girl Domino. Bond loves to troll the villains like this but it always ends up with his friends being murdered so was it really worth it? For example, in this case Bond is accompanied by a few other agents. I forget their names, but naturally the girl gets kidnapped and it doesn’t end well while things don’t go very well for the guys either.

You can always expect Bond to be the last man standing in these things but then maybe he shouldn’t be so obvious about his trolling attempts. As always he has a ton of affairs in this film. He throws himself at everyone the whole time so even when you get the emotional ending scenes it’s hard to actually buy into it because you know Bond will be going to the next girl as soon as possible. As always we do have some fun scenes with M and Moneypenny as they both try to keep him on the straight and narrow. M always tends to get the best lines in these things as he reminds Bond of who is in charge here. I’d like to see him get a bigger role one of these days although in a way the small roles help portray him as being fairly invincible as he never gets into the line of fire.

I wasn’t a big fan of Domino here so between her and Bond that means that both of the main characters weren’t great. I feel like it took a while for her to put the pieces together of what happened to her brother. It’s also an example of her not really caring that she was on the wrong side until things got personal so you couldn’t really call her a hero either. She was just content doing her own thing. She does have a good moment at the end of the film though which was a solid conclusion to her subplot. She should definitely be upset with Bond though for giving her such a loud radiation sensor. He had to have known that he was basically selling her life away by giving her that but still gave it to her anyway.

This film is pretty long. I wouldn’t say it really drags on though. The Bond films are pretty good at making sure something is always happening. As mentioned though, I’m not a big fan of the underwater scenes though. The water hampers all of the movements so it’s like the characters are fighting in slow motion most of the time so not much gets done. I much prefer the quick land moments like Bond taking people out at the resort or when he tried to rescue one of the hostages. The scenes on land are just a lot more tense and make for good fights.

As always the film has its issues with the poorly developed romances and tons of fanservice. The beach setting doesn’t really help its case either since you know the film was very intentional about the selection. As long as the movies continue to focus on this I feel like there’s only so far the movies can go. They won’t be able to catch up to the rival franchises either. At least we still have the classic Bond theme so that helps with the soundtrack but you can already tell that it is appearing less and less. Once it stops altogether that will definitely be a pretty sad day. You really need that to complete the experience.

Overall, Thunderball is a pretty standard Bond film. From the early ones I’ve seen so far I would say it is one of the better ones even if it’s almost a by default kind of thing. I do have to say that the opening henchmen who tried to defy SPECTRE is probably one of the least intelligent villains I’ve ever seen. Why would you try to swindle money out of an organization with thousands of members involved in over 100 countries that can murder you in any which way? He was literally a part of the plan where they murdered a bunch of people and assumed their identities. He can blackmail them but they can always just pretend to give him what he wants and murder him the next day. There’s no possible way this would have ended well for the guy so you’re almost rolling your eyes when he asks for the money and confidently starts to walk away. It’s humorous in a sense though. So if you like the Bond films then I’d recommend this one even if just to see how Bond’s lucky streak gets him out of jams this time. Otherwise you’re better off giving it a skip.

Overall 4/10