7 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Cardfight Vanguard: High School Arc Cont. Review


Time for another Cardfight review! This may seem pretty soon compared to usual, but that’s because this was more of a miniseries than a full fledged one. It deals with the fallout from the recent reboot season. Kouji must face his demons and Aichi still intends to bring his club a world championship as soon as possible. At 14 episodes the series has to move on pretty quick but still makes for a good watch. It’s probably the most standard of the series and by default is the weakest entry in the franchise. There’s only so much you can do in 14 episodes when the others are all around 30-50 episodes (Some are at 60+) but it does what it can.

The show picks up where the last one left off. The universe has been reset after Kouji was defeated. Everyone has seemingly lost their memories of the old timeline. As a result there are a few things that don’t add up. One is that Aichi’s cardfight club no longer has the right amount of members so the student council decides to shut them down. Aichi and his team defeat them to avert this dilemma and as part of the deal even get the council to aid them in joining the big cardfight tournament that is about to start. Aichi aims to learn why the club is seemingly missing someone despite having no knowledge of this. Winning the tournament might somehow give them clues on how to do that.

They aren’t the only team to enter the Koshien though. Meanwhile you have Ren’s team and they’ve recruited a powerful ally in Kouji. Kouji no longer wants to erase Vanguard from the world, but as a result he is frozen with fear whenever he duels someone. He knows that if he wins he will end up destroying the opponent’s will to play so he must find a way around that if it’s even possible. His plot is almost as big a focus as Aichi’s as he tries to find a new path for himself. Meanwhile Kai is also still weakened from when his spirit was destroyed and along with the rest of the emptied souls must try to regain his joy for the game.

While the main plot of the season is technically about the tournament, it really doesn’t have a whole lot of importance. It’s here as a plot device to get all of the characters together to get through their difficulties but ultimately that’s about it. Unfortunately someone must have told the animators/writers this because it gets the shaft. The tournament doesn’t start until the last few episodes and as a result just about every fight is handled off screen. Sure, you see them on screen briefly for the trash talk and posturing but then most of the duel just goes by in a flash. It almost would have been better to not have had the tournament at all. It all feels very half hearted like the show is just going through the motions.

I suppose a rushed tournament is still better than not having any duels…but there’s more the show could have done if it cut the tournament out. The best episodes here are mainly the ones about Kouji as he struggles with his inner demons. It continues to show why he is the best character in this post reboot world as he is trying very hard to change himself. It’s a pretty painful process compared to everyone else who just has to win a duel. Trying to lose is always a tough thing to do because it also hurts your reputation. I still consider Kouji to be the strongest duelist here even with the nerf as I don’t find his new deck to be quite as impressive.

Although it initially seemed like he was the only one who kept all his memories while everyone else had to start remembering little flashes, the last episode seems to contradict this. Perhaps the universe change is slowly going to get everyone and Psyqualia only prevents this for a time. Ideally I’d like everyone to remember the old days as I never like for it to be permanently forgotten. The characters all get happy endings this time around though so that’s an improvement over the last adaption of this arc. Kourin gets her proper closure and is once again a true part of the team. She’s definitely been a fun character and it’ll be nice to have her back on the cast for a future season if we go back to these guys someday.

Nakagami is probably the biggest of the new characters. He’s got a lot of potential to be sure. At times he is played off purely as a comic relief character and I have a gut feeling that this will always be the case, but there’s always the chance he will be played seriously. If the show ever does go down that route it’ll be cool. I like the concept of his demon arm and he actually seems like a pretty decent duelist. His ramblings are fun and his duel theme is great. All in all I have to say that he is just a great character and struck all of the right notes.

The rest of the student council are decent, but they won’t leave much of an impact on you. They’ve each got their character quirks, but that’s about it. I like the President’s global gimmick as he is always yelling about that. Aichi’s club is always around, but I wouldn’t say that any of them have an especially big role. Naoki does want his revenge on Kouji since ironically one of his only memories is of the days when Kouji was a villain and insulted Aichi. As a result he wants revenge during the big tournament which is his perfect opportunity to do so.

Kai’s episodes are not quite as thrilling as Kouji’s but he also does get a pair of episodes where he duels Mamoru which also works as some setup for Cardfight G. It’s just so weird to see Kai acting so weak. It doesn’t feel right since he’s always been the champ above everyone else. I dare say that he’s taken the biggest hit from his old stature in this reboot series. He is getting to his old level though so I like to think that by the next series he will be back to normal. At least he ultimately did get his hits in though. At this point we definitely need another big season with more G characters. I feel like they’re all close enough in age right now where we could get some good fights between them without the original cast being as old as they were in the original.

As always the animation is pretty sharp here. I’ve always liked the style and especially since the show isn’t very action based the animators can easily just focus on making sure that the character models stay even at all times. The colors are bright and the whole thing just works quite well. In terms of soundtrack it’s all tunes from the last season and they are just as good as they used to be. Kouji still has the best theme but the others all share solid themes as well. The action tunes go quite well with the duels.

I know there are some who prefer the days of Cardfight before the stakes became planetary level. Back in the old episodes it was more about having fun and getting better with your friends so I can understand that. However, I think it’s the natural progression of every series to get higher and higher stakes so my favorite seasons are still the ones like that such as Link Joker. Still, this is a nice refresher season I suppose which is the best way to put it. As I mentioned earlier it’s still quite solid, it’s just “average” compared to the others which would absolutely blow you away.

Overall, This was a good aftermath season. I can see why it would make sense to just include this one with the last season. Ultimately it’s not like it’s trying to tell a brand new story just yet. The next season has already started in Japan though so I’ll be watching it pretty soon. I’m not sure how long that one’s going to be, but I expect it’ll be at least 26 episodes if not 40 so the review for that will likely take a lot longer. If you’re been watching the Cardfight shows then you definitely need to check these out. If this would be your first Cardfight title then I definitely recommend watching the previous season first as you wouldn’t really appreciate the aftermath without actually seeing the events that led up to it.

Overall 7/10

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Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Fate is the Hunter Review


It’s time to look at a film dealing with airplanes and a lot of tricky situations. It also throws in a court case for the second half which was definitely fun. It’s a movie that is admittedly pretty slow for the first half, but will keep you engaged enough to see it through to the end. The film doesn’t really do anything wrong it just isn’t very exciting. You have to be ready for a slow burner but as long as you are then there really won’t be a problem here.

So Jack was known as a great pilot but one day he crashes the plane and dies along with a lot of people. He was seen at a bar the day before so everyone thinks he got drunk and that’s why he crashed. Sam doesn’t believe this was the case, but getting proof will be tough. The court case is coming up and in order to clear Jack’s name Sam will need to revisit all of his old memories and meet up with Jack’s old gang. It won’t be easy, but nothing worth doing ever is. Sam knows he is going to have to try really hard to find the truth, but he won’t give up until he does!

The film does a lot of jumping between the present and the past so we can see Jack. After all since he’s dead in the present it’s not like he could actually show up in the main timeline right? Even the flashbacks are cut up as you see different bits and pieces as Sam meets the others. Jack seems like a nice guy from what we see even if he’s always running around. He’s got so many friends that he doesn’t seem to have time for any individual one for too long before dashing off with another. Still, he’s always around when you need him and this strengthens Sam’s resolve.

Sam goes down a bit of a dicey alley after meeting Sally though. She explains to him the concept of fate and how maybe this is just how things were meant to be. Sam is skeptical at first, but slowly starts to come around. This is not good for him for a few reasons. I’ll get to those in a minute. Before that, I’ll just say that Sally was a nice character otherwise. She was definitely very helpful in the investigation. Without her Sam would have had a tough time finding anyone else. Sam’s also not a bad character even if he doesn’t think things through nearly as well as he should have. Lets just say that the whole fate angle plays about as well in court as you would expect.

All right, lets talk about this whole fate thing. The first reason why Sam shouldn’t have used it is that the argument sounds so terrible in court. Sam effectively says that maybe it was fate for Jack to crash and for everyone to die. He goes as far as to imply that it was actually a good thing in that case as all the lives on the plane were meant to end. I don’t know about you, but if I lost family on that plane and someone said that in defense I would definitely be voting guilty and that company would really be in trouble. Sam seems a little surprised at the backlash but he really shouldn’t be. It’s a terrible argument to make.

The second reason why I never bought into fate is that it can’t be wrong. Put it this way, if you buy into fate as a concept then it can explain any and everything. If you lose at something it was fate. If you make a mistake then you can just say it was fate. Nothing ultimately matters because fate controls everything and you can’t escape it. At the same time, you never know what will be fate until it happens so it’s basically a loop. I see little point in subscribing to fate in that case since whether or not I believe in it, if it’s real it’ll happen anyway. So it’s all just circular logic that will drive Sam into a deeper and deeper hole in the court. He really should have avoided that.

That’s my thoughts on that at the very least. The writing is good here and the pacing is solid. There’s no sense of danger or anything which is just why the film has a weird vibe. I’ve certainly seen films with no such stakes, but the tone here just feels like there should be. At most the film tries to throw some in at the very end when the characters try to recreate the scenario. I don’t think the scene is quite as exciting as the film seems to think it is though. Points for effort of course, but the court scene is still the best part of the film. You just can’t go wrong with a court scene. That’s simply how it’s always been and I don’t expect that will be changing anytime soon.

Now there is some irony at the end of the film. As a quick disclaimer, ultimately the reason why Jack went into the bar was to buy some drinks for a friend of his. Jack didn’t actually have any so he wasn’t under the influence. The crash was because of something else….but it was still his fault. See, he got a coffee from the attendant and then he put it down on the controls while doing a turn. The cup fell and the coffee spilled into the engine which caused it to malfunction. So, in a way it was still his careless that caused the crash. Of course the planes should be made a little more carefully than that, but the first rule of any electronic device is that you are not to have any liquids nearby. That’s why you should have soda on a plane because you drink it right away and that’s that. For a coffee that has to be cooled first it’s simply not practical. So, I found a little irony there, but I suppose it might still be a little bit of a stretch to totally blame Jack. It was a 1 in a million kind of chance that led to the crash, but I think when they present these findings the people still won’t be all that thrilled.

Overall, This is an interesting film just not an engaging one. I think you will want to stick around for the ending once you start and see what happens. The writing is solid and the film has good fundamentals so there’s nothing bad to say about the film. I think it probably should have just added more time to the search but with the added bonus of a rival or some doubter to get in everyone’s way. This film lacks banter because there are no real antagonists. The best scenes in the film are when the company shows up to get in Sam’s way and offer their own input. That kind of thing always helps a film if you ask me. Regardless, it’s a fairly unique title that’s worth giving a look.

Overall 6/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

An Experiment in Terror Review


It’s time for a noir murder mystery. This one even brings in the FBI and it’s interesting to see how they’re portrayed here. Nowadays it feels like the FBI is more secretive and if you call in you likely aren’t going to go all that high up. Granted, it’s not like I’ve ever tried. In this film you can casually fall them and someone will get on your case ASAP. In a way they feel more like a branch of the police. The film has its moments and some good detective work, but some parts really hold it back.

The film starts with Kelly getting into her apartment, but she is then put in a choke hold by a mysterious man behind her. He has a breathing issue and the camera is always zooming in on his mouth to up the creep factor. He tells her that he wants her to rob a bank for him so he can get rich or he’ll destroy her and her kid sister. After he leaves Kelly does try to call the cops, but she is taken down again since the guy apparently didn’t leave. Kelly will have to be careful about how she plays this because one wrong move could be her last. Fortunately FBI Agent John is on the case. Even though the first call was broken up he was able to be re-connected and will now aid her in identifying the man while keeping her safe.

As a noir thriller this film definitely still works. There’s always a sense of danger in the movie and the pacing is pretty solid. The film is careful to not really give you any clues as to who the assailant is. It’s not really a traditional mystery though as you’re not supposed to solve it. The FBI get clues and move in but it’s not like you have 5 suspects running around. The guy never bothers to show up in person at all. He’s already got a reputation in other places so there is no reason for him to do so.

The FBI also look pretty good here. John is quick on the uptake and doesn’t put Kelly in any more danger than necessary. All of his plans are as careful as can be and he does try to get the upper hand. I would argue that he can be a little short sighted at times though. His priority is saving Kelly and while he does a great job of that, he doesn’t really try to protect the others much. Her sister, the informant, and the other caller are all left defenseless while he pursues his main goal. The guy can’t be everywhere though so maybe the bureau should have just assigned more men to the case. I imagine they were spread pretty thin as it is though.

Unfortunately the film does go out of its way to make the villain pretty sketchy though. One such scene is when he has the sister strip. This is partially to mess with Kelly mentally as well but such a scene could have been handled a whole lot better. Given the guy’s past criminal history which is briefly brought up you can definitely tell that he’s a bad seed. This is just the latest in his crime spree and it’s good that the FBI were finally put on the case. I would have liked to have had a better villain though. Take away the breathing issue, work on the camera angles a bit, and make the villain have a better motivation. That would go a long way in helping the thriller get to the next level.

Meanwhile, the informant also does good by the end. He had a good run although his final scene is just a little off. The whole method of spying on the phone doesn’t seem too practical. I don’t see how he wasn’t caught during the many times he would use it. He made the tough calls by the end though. Then you’ve got one of the villain’s allies who has a son in the hospital. The villain has always been kind to her so she refuses to sell him out. There can be a lot of reasons as to why he never tried anything here and ultimately it doesn’t matter. As John points out, just because the guy is nice to her it doesn’t override the fact that he has murdered a bunch of people. She’s an accessory at this point either way.

One character you’ll feel bad for is the first lady who comes to the FBI because you know she is doomed from the start. At the same time, she handled the whole situation horribly and should have still been alive. There is no reason why she could not tell John at the station. I suppose she had crimes of her own but wouldn’t it be better to take the villain down and serve a little time? She could also say she had been under duress at the time and that probably would have been true to a large extent. Instead she heads back home to her secluded place where the villain has presumably already broken in several times. I can’t understand her rationale no matter how much I try to think about it.

Meanwhile Kelly does a much better job with her situation. She keeps the FBI in the loop and also tries to advise her little sister on how to act. It’s a pretty scary situation for her but she never cracks and does her best to stay on top of things. She probably tried calling the police a little too quickly the first time even if she had thought he left, but at least that also shows she wasn’t going to listen to the villain for a second. If someone tells you not to call the cops that’s usually the perfect time to do so. The threats get stronger the longer you isolate yourself from those who can help.

The film also does give us an explosive climax with a baseball stadium and a lot of shooting. The villain definitely made it surprisingly far at that point, but fortunately the heroes were ready in the end. I think with a chase scene like this there will always be times where you think they could have caught the villain sooner and you’re probably right. At least he didn’t get away, now that would have been really dicey.

Overall, An Experiment in Terror is definitely a thriller fans of the genre will want to check out. It’s definitely intense and is a fairly realistic look at a hostage type situation. If anything it’s probably slightly easier than in real life since you probably wouldn’t have any FBI backup. The villain is really the only aspect that drags the film down as it goes a bit overboard in trying to make him as repulsive as possible. All of his scenes are pretty iffy and tend to drag on. I suppose for thrillers I prefer them from the point of view of an action hero or someone trying to escape danger, but there’s a lot of different paths in the genre. I expect you’ll know if it’s your kind of film from the plot summary right away.

Overall 5/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

3:10 to Yuma Review


It’s time to look at an old wild west film. This is one of those films where the villain and main character exchange a lot of witty banter while casually trying to off one another. It’s not really personal between them. One just wants his money and the other wants to keep his life. It’s a fairly entertaining film although some parts are pretty unrealistic like the ending. You’ll just have to try and brush that bit aside.

The film starts with Ben and his gang holding up a group of travelers and stealing a bunch of dough. One guy started moving a little too much so one of Ben’s men shot him. The gang then rides off into down. Dan and his kids witnessed the event and his wife subtly pressures Dan into going into town for revenge. She feels like he should have done something while on the hill although realistically the only thing he could do at that point was get shot. Well, Dan heads into town and actually managed to get Ben at gun point. The rest of the gang are in other towns at the moment so the plan is for Dan to get Ben onto a stage coach in another town and then he’ll be in prison before the rest of the crew arrives. Dan not going to all of this trouble for petty revenge. He’s doing this because Butterfield has promised him a nice reward and Dan needs the money for his farm. Right now he is in a dicey financial situation.

As always the film reminds you that all of the town inhabitants are cowards who are afraid to fight even when they have the numbers advantage. You should see how quickly they run when Ben’s men are rumored to be showing up. Even though it would have been something like 18 vs 12 heroes to villains they quickly run off so before long it is 2 vs 12. It’s annoying for Dan because from the start Ben tells him that they’re all going to run away and it turns out that he was right. Even Butterfield loses his nerve by the end. A good deal of the film is then about Ben trying to convince Dan to let him go by playing on his weaknesses.

Dan stays strong which is good because he’d have to be a grade A sucker to fall for such a ploy. There is no way to guarantee that Ben would get him the money or even that Ben wouldn’t murder him. There is nothing to force Ben to do anything once he leaves so trying to do something would be futile. At that point it’s better to just get shot and get that part over with. Still, Dan still has to deal with a bunch of outlaws on his own now.

There isn’t a huge supporting cast, but it’s a decent one. I liked Butterfield even if he wasn’t the bravest guy out there. He still did last for quite a while. Then you’ve got Alex who stayed strong the whole time. He suffers a pretty painful death so you wish Dan would have been there to help. Instead he’s basically hiding in the room with Ben where he makes a bunch of mistakes that are almost fatal. At least he doesn’t crack like that one guy who ran into the room to murder Ben and just made the situation worse.

Dan’s a reasonable main character. I’d say that his decision to stand down when seeing the other guys start robbing the carriage was the right call. Perhaps if he was by himself he could have done something but with 2 kids right there it wouldn’t be right to put their lives in danger. After that he does pretty good with taking out all the villains and completing his mission. It may not have been all that realistic but Dan did his best.

As for Ben, I wasn’t sold on the guy. The movie does its best to try and make him sympathetic by the end but I’m not buying it. The guy’s basically a criminal/murderer who just so happens to like the bar tender Emmy so naturally he is nice around her. Even the worst of people have someone they like so that doesn’t suddenly make them a better person. Ben is still a criminal with crimes that have been accumulating for years. I also fully expect he would have taken Dan down if he had grabbed the gun early on. So his big change of heart at the end of the film doesn’t make much sense. It’s even worse when you realize that he is going to be executed once he gets to the next town so he probably shouldn’t be so chipper. Maybe he thinks he can get out alive, but that’s a long shot.

It goes without saying that his romance plot with Emmy is not handled very well. It all happens so suddenly and never feels like it was all that realistic. They just hit it off immediately which is a nice sentiment of course, but it just makes you assume that Emmy is fairly easy and that Ben’s probably pulling the moves in every town he goes into. That’s really the only implication you can make after such a subplot and it also made Ben not look very smart since he should have known that staying in a town where he just robbed the civilians would not end well. The guy was definitely pretty overconfident.

The final fight is fun, but the hero is way too outnumbered. We’re supposed to believe that Dan is taking out an entire squadron all by himself while dragging Ben around. The villains keep missing their shots, but they really should not be. People start missing shots at point blank range and then you realize that things are really getting dicey.

Overall, 3:10 to Yuma is a good film. It’s got its flaws and I don’t really think there is a lot of replay value here, but it’s a good first time watch. You’ll definitely be wondering how things are going to play out even if you won’t be surprised at how the townspeople falter when it really matters. As it stands you think they would at least recognize when someone doesn’t belong. There is one scene where it turns out that one of the villains was sleeping nearby and nobody recognized him. It’s also interesting that the sheriff would take all of the cops and leave while there’s a whole crew of murder suspects staying in town. Sure, he waited til they started to leave…but that’s pretty bold. The heroes make questionable decisions for sure, but I suppose that is why this is the Wild West.

Overall 6/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

The Messenger Review

It’s time to look at a recent game known as the Messenger. This one takes your classic 2D platformer genre and throws in some Metroidvania mechanics. It’s also part parody so it pokes fun at a lot of the usual tropes. It’s a pretty solid game, but one that would have risen up to great status if it had just not added in the Metroidvania aspect. The title didn’t really need it to be a complete title as the story and length would have still been pretty sufficient.

The game starts with the main character’s village being attacked by demons. The lead had been complaining about how boring the place was so he starts to feel a little regret as everyone is slain and he is powerless before the Demon King. Fortunately there is a prophecy that a legendary hero will arrive to save everyone. Unfortunately the hero was late so he gives you a letter to deliver to someone on top of a mountain to really save the day. You are now the Messenger and the fate of the planet rests on you. If you don’t deliver this letter then everyone is truly doomed.

That’s the basic plot but of course there’s a lot more to it than that. The second half of the game in particular really throws in a lot of other elements like time travel and other dimensions. It’s all explained pretty well though so you’ll have no trouble getting what is going on. There is also a long cutscene near the end of the game to explain the origins of how this all happened. It’s pretty interesting and the game has a nice vibe to it. The main character has more personality than I would have expected.

The writing is particularly strong here. As I hinted at earlier with the parody elements, the script is a lot of fun. The characters are constantly throwing shade around and insulting each other. For the soundtrack, it’s pretty calming. The best theme in the game is the shop tune. There are 2 themes that are randomly selected when you go to the shop, but at least 50% of the time. You’ll be hearing the really hype tune. Then for the graphics it’s all very clear. It’s got that classic sprite vibe, but it’s not blurry or retro in the slightest. It’s like a very modern version of a sprite game and that’s definitely okay by me. You always feel like you’re in the driver’s seat.

Meanwhile the gameplay is just as solid. You run and jump through the levels and are armed with your sword as well as Shuriken. Those are the only weapons you have, but they get the job done. Then you have the interesting air mechanic which is basically an extra jump you get whenever you hit an opponent or an obstacle while in the air. This leads to some pretty intense platforming sections during the later parts of the game. You’ll actually have to try quite a bit if you want to clear those levels. It’s no longer a walk in the park. It’s a satisfying level of difficulty and there are constant checkpoints so you are never worried about being sent too far back. The game design was quite solid.

So far this is sounding like an amazing game right? Well, that’s because it was quite great throughout. From the start of the game all the way to the big confrontation with the demon king’s right hand man it was a fast paced adventure filled with great platforming and a solid level up system. After that is where the game hit a big hurdle. Up til this point it was a straight forward adventure, but after beating the demon you are sent back to the time chamber and must now go back through all of the old levels to find some music notes. Keep in mind that going through these levels took hours the first time. You are given some portal shortcuts to jump around, but not nearly enough. Get ready to spend 4-5 hours just running around collecting. To get a music note you must first do other things like helping explorers and dragons.

This part was pretty tedious. It’s handled far better than a game like Metroid since you at least know where to go thanks to hints from the shop owner. Of course that will cost you quite a few shards so it’ll keep you from buying other power ups for a while. You’ll be crossing the same levels over and over again multiple times as you try to near the end. This part just felt like it was here to stall for time and I think it shouldn’t have done that. I definitely prefer when things are linear or if you’re back tracking with a purpose. At the very least you should have the ability to quickly get to where you want to go instead of having to hoof it the old fashioned way.

Ah well, that’s really the only gripe with the game that slows it down quite a bit. Once you have the music notes then you enter the climax and things get pretty exciting again. All in all, the game had a lot of really fun ideas. The shop owner was definitely one of the best characters in the game but I also liked the lead a lot. The game throws a quick fake ending at you twice and both times it worked really well. I actually think it would have been awesome if the game ended with the first ending as it would have subverted everything so convincingly. It still works without ending there of course, but it shows that the writers really knew what they were doing. They made the game in a way where you would be satisfied no matter what.

As for replay value, there are some things to do here. When you beat the game you can start a New Game +. Additionally you can work to getting the Platinum Trophy in this game which certainly won’t be easy to do. I managed to get most of the trophies in the game but there are 2 tough ones that I feel would take a long time which is the dark cave one and another where you have to beat most of the game without dying. That’s a pretty tough thing to do, but if you’re dedicated to clearing the game then you’ll manage. I definitely recommend getting as many of the upgrades as you can early on. Earning money isn’t very tough so you shouldn’t have much of a problem. Getting the upgrade that gives you triple attack is extremely handy.

Overall, I’d recommend checking out The Messengers. It’s around 10 hours long so it’ll definitely last you for a while and it’s just a fun look at the platforming genre. Keep in mind that the second half of the game will slow things down, but all in all the first half and the climax should still keep things up. The game does end with a “To be Continued” message so maybe someday we’ll get a sequel. I’d be down with checking that out and it would be interesting to see where the plot goes from here. The ending was fairly definitive if you ask me so I’m thinking it’ll either be a totally new main character or he is just thrown into some crazy situation that the blue cloaked warriors didn’t tell him about.

Overall 6/10

5 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Star Fox Review


The SNES Online is finally active! There were many who doubted that it would happen so quickly and I was definitely one of them. It turned out to be a pleasant surprise when it was announced in the direct and of course I had to jump in. My first choice was Star Fox. I’d actually never played the original one before now so that was fun. It’s definitely a short game and one that doesn’t hold up nearly as well as most of Nintendo’s other classics. Still, it’s not bad for a quick run through.

The basic plot is that Andross is here and he wants to end the entire solar system using whatever means he can. Team Star Fox is put on the case to stop him so they follow his evil trail across the cosmos. They aim to stop him once and for all when they get to the final base but it may not be quite as easy as all that. He certainly isn’t going to be pulling any punches here.

The gameplay is pretty straight forward. You’re in a ship that is flying in a straight line although you are able to move left to right as well as up and down. You blast at obstacles in your way and at the end of the level there is a boss that you will have to blast out of the sky. The health bar from the boss is fairly large so it will take a lot of shots to put him down and you’ll likely need a lot of lives to really master his patterns.Fortunately the Switch has save states and rewinding so it wasn’t all that bad.

There are around 5-6 levels and you can beat the game in around 30-40 minutes. It’s not long by any means but there are alternate paths you can take as well. There are 3 in total so I guess the game would be about 2 hours which isn’t bad. Some of the enemy attacks will feel like they didn’t really hit you but I suppose the attacks may appear to be farther than they are like in a car. There’s no real replay value beyond that so just make sure that you enjoy the adventure along the way.

In terms of graphics the game is definitely not very impressive. It’s all very blocky and pixelated like a computer game. In someways it looks worse than most of the NES games, but maybe it’s just an artstyle that didn’t age particularly well. You never want to see a game not age well,but that’s the case with how this one looks. At least the soundtrack is quite good though. Most of the themes will sound familiar from the Super Smash  games since a lot of these tunes were remixed.They’re always fun to hear.

I’m trying to wonder how people would have enjoyed this one back in the day. It has actual cutscenes and such so you’d be engaged but I wouldn’t like having to replay the levels so often because I definitely would have gotten a lot of game overs before the end of the game. It’s a sobering thought, but it does make me wonder how much of a big video game fan I would have really been back in the day. I think I would have had a very limited game collector because I’d focus on ones that had a save feature or ones that were just really addictive like Pac-Man. The rest would have simply not made the cut.

While the game may not be a global hit for me, I do think it had some good ideas with regard to the boss fights. The Andross battle is very creative and has multiple phases which is something that I feel was probably pretty unique for its time. The spinning disc battle also forces you to get really good at dodging and outmaneuvering the enemies. All of these fundamental skills are ones that will transfer well into other games so they’re worth knowing.

Overall, Star Fox is a decently fun game, but one that only really passes the bar with today’s modern features. The game as it is perfectly hits the middle since it’s a decent experience, but not one that I would ever find myself going back to. It’s just too short and feels more like a demo to the Star Fox series than an actual installment. If you haven’t played this one yet then you should still check it out since it’s free. You can’t go wrong with being free of course, but otherwise you’re really not missing anything if you end up skipping it.

Overall 5/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Rage Review


It’s time to look at another Wild West type film. This one isn’t about lassoing criminals or escaping justice though. Instead it’s a film that takes place in the old days but has an unrelated plot. It’s a decent idea, but unfortunately the execution just wasn’t there and so this film ended up as a flop.

The film starts off with a truck of performers heading over to a nearby village. They have to get past a dangerous bridge and endure a villainous driver but ultimately make it. They get their money after a few day’s hard work but one of the girls stays. Perla’s decided that she has a future with Doctor Reuben but currently he has not gotten over his dead wife. She aims to change that but it won’t be easy. Complicating matters further is the fact that something seems to be wrong with the animals around town. If the doctor doesn’t solve this right away then they could all be in trouble.

There are a few things holding this film back and I think a big one is definitely the subplot with the entertainers at the beginning. For starters this is really an excuse to have a lot of fan service thrown in for most of their scenes. As expected none of the guys have any morals or dignity here either and look quite terrible. The driver being a villain was also completely unnecessary and that scene should have simply been cut. The scenes add up quite a bit. Even once the performers are gone it doesn’t end since Perla stayed and keeps trying to bring joy to the village through dicey means.

There is also the animal violence in this film to finish off the 1-2 punch. Since the animals are being infected things don’t quite end well for them. Shots are fired and you can feel the film’s score shrinking with each bullet. By this point the film was already well on its way to the dark side but deep down you always hope that it can make a comeback. Unfortunately this was not in the cards for Rage.

Then you’ve got the main character Reuben who isn’t close to being likable. For starters he is a drunk who is constantly throwing his bottles around. He is a doctor so you will be worried for his patients. Reuben is mourning his wife but it’s no excuse for not putting down the bottle. Then you’ve got the critical scene which destroyed his character. Reuben finds out that his days are numbered but he had already promised to go help out his friend Pancho since the guy’s wife was having a baby. It was already known that it would be a difficult carriage and there is nobody else who can help. She will die if no one shows up. Knowing this, the lead puts his life ahead of hers and nearly deserts them. He wastes a few hours on this betrayal and by the time he comes back there’s already been a lot of extra pain on the wife’s part. The Doctor was completely out of luck by this point and having a main character like that is not easy.

The best character is definitely the friend Pancho. He is supportive throughout and even helps the lead after all his betrayal attempts. He does whatever he can to help his wife first and then makes time to save the day at the end. You couldn’t ask for a better friend. Pancho is just genuinely heroic and has his priorities straight. He is ready to make the hard calls and also has more practical knowledge than Reuben. Then you’ve got the heroine Perla who is okay, but since her goal is to get the guy to rebound from his wife you can’t really root for her. On the contrary, you have to hope she doesn’t succeed. There is always a case for when it is time to move on, but it’s not a case that would really save Perla for me.

Now there is one scene where a guy gets rabies and so the town is forced to tie him up. They ultimately let him die naturally but some of the characters bring valid concerns to Reuben asking him to just end it. While I understand him not wanting to push the trigger because that is quite drastic (Also it’s something that anyone could do so it’s a little iffy to put the blame on him) but not even giving him some extra shots to knock him out temporarily or block the senses a bit? In such a state it probably wouldn’t be too effective, but surely doing something is better than nothing. It’s definitely a very rough way to go for the guy infected so I can see why nobody wants to get sick like that.

The cast is fairly small, but that’s probably for the best. Pretty much every character who does show up here is pretty annoying or downright unlikable. The kids on the bus definitely aren’t very compassionate or understanding and one of Reuben’s allies seems sketchy from the start. The bus driver is probably one of the only decent side characters and at least

Overall, This one won’t rank too highly on the Wild West rankings. It brings together the worst aspects of the genre without giving us any gunfights in exchange. That’s a bad deal if I’ve ever heard of one. There really isn’t anything here to grab your attention or keep you engaged. If you’re thinking of watching this film then I would advise you to keep walking and to watch something like Trigun instead. You’ll be glad you made the decision.

Overall 3/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

I Am Here Review


It’s time to look at a pretty short romance series. It’s a fun little read that I could recommend. At the same time, some of the characters can get a little tricky which I’ll get into in a moment. I’d say that the main takeaway here is that you can’t always trust the advice you get, but some of it will be legit. You gotta then act on it or the whole thing will have been a waste. It’s a tough situation for the lead for sure, but at least she has supportive characters at the ready.

So Hikage has never really stood out in school. People don’t notice her which makes her sad since she would like to have some friends. However it isn’t that everyone at school is mean, they just don’t notice her because Hikage is always hiding. It’s a bit of a loop as Hikage is too scared to approach anyone and nobody can approach her because she’s always hiding. Fortunately Hikage has two online friends who are always cheering her on. They encourage her to go and make a friend. Hikage takes a chance and actually manages to catch the attention of the two most popular guys at school. This leads to troubles with their respective fanclubs, but Hikage is determined to finally become a more pro-active person.

The message here is pretty good about escaping your shell and joining the rest of the world. Hikage is also less exaggerated in this regard than you would expect from most other leads. It’s handled pretty realistically and she seems like a nice person. Perhaps a little indecisive but that’s also something she tries to improve on as the series continues. While she’s not going to be a scene stealer nor is she my favorite character in the series I can’t really say that there is anything wrong with her. She’s just not really my kind of character.

Hinata is the main guy and his whole gimmick is that he’s really nice. He’s also the most popular kid in school because of how oblivious he is. The guy just wants to make everyone happy and fortunately for Hikage they seem to have a connection. He’s a little too oblivious though which holds him back a little. He really doesn’t notice what is going on around him and as a result is left in the dust at times. He should really have a clue as to what’s going on considering what he knows of Hikage but I suppose I should cut him some slack.

Then you have Teru who is Hinata’s best friend. Naturally that means he shouldn’t even try to start anything with Hikage because best friends don’t do that…right? It would be pretty sketchy and unfortunately the manga goes down that road which is unfortunate. I would have loved for Teru to have stayed as just a loyal friend to Hikage. It would have been a much nicer dynamic as well as a fresher one since the two main guys always happen to fall for the same person. This inevitably leads to a falling out between them which is unfortunate. I have to put all of the blame for this on Teru though. He gracefully chose not to pursue Hikage so to go back on that is basically a betrayal. I was disappointed in his character for doing something so underhanded.

As for Hikage’s online friends, they’re pretty reasonable. You’ve got Black Rabbit who is the nice one. He’s always encouraging Hikage and tries to keep her spirits up. Black Rabbit even gets a spinoff story at the end of the series where we see his point of view. Then you’ve got Mega Pig who is a little more direct and to the point. He wants to help Hikage as well, but speaks his mind and doesn’t beat around the bush. In general Mega Pig gives better advice even if it isn’t quite as calming. He tells you what you need to hear vs what you actually want to hear.

I Am Here isn’t a very subtle series though so you can probably guess most of what is going to happen right away. From all of the twists I’d say that only one of them really worked. One character’s plot didn’t end exactly like how I expected it to. For the rest this one is really going by the books which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’d say that the writing is pretty good here for the most part. You’ll be engaged enough to keep going and will want to see what happens next.

I also enjoyed the art for the series. It looks pretty clear and the artist doesn’t draw characters too similar in appearance so you don’t have to worry about mixing them up. That’s always the kind of thing that will make me drop the grade of the art. As it stands you won’t really have a problem trying to understand what will happen next.

The weakest part of the manga is definitely the romance though. First we have Hikage’s side of the story. She’s already with Hinata so as soon as Teru tries to get into the picture she should shut him down right away. In this case she was oblivious for most of it, but once she realized what was happening she should have flat out declined him. It may have made him sore for a while, but it was the right move. Then you have Teru who knew what he was doing from the start. He should have simply gave up on Hikage since he made his move way too late. Once the girl is taken that should be it. You can’t try to steal someone away. Even if you succeed you have to live with the fact that if you stole her away so easily then someone else can do the same. The only innocent one here is Hinata even if he’s fairly bland.

The plot of Hinata and Teru getting into it is also a bit iffy. They’ve been friends for ages so I like to think they should have figured out the plot a lot quicker than they did. I guess they were blinded by their emotions and all that but I feel like they still shouldn’t have jumped the gun this quickly. I suppose I should mention that there is a villain here. She tries her best to mess up Hikage’s life after being knocked out of the inner circle. It gets a little cheesy by the end, but I suppose she was a decent villain. Her plan may not have been amazing but it worked pretty well so you gotta give her some credit there.

Another thing I liked about the manga is that the classmates are actually realistic this time around. When they see that people are messing with Hikage later on they step in. They may not have done anything at first, but later on they are at least active participants. That’s a big upgrade from the usual guys who just stand around shaking their heads as things happen. These guys would actually talk even if they were super gullible during other scenes.

Overall, I Am Here is a decent manga. The romance definitely isn’t all that good, but otherwise it’s a decent story. It’s pretty short since there are only 2 volumes, but they’re large ones so a lot of content is still covered. I think the story would have been more interesting if it had gone in different directions but it is what it is. At the end of the day it still had an interesting dynamic with the online friends and there are enough unique aspects here to separate it from other Shojo titles. If it ever gets a sequel series I expect Hikage to take charge and be the confident lead she was meant to be.

Overall 6/10

9 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Astral Chain Review


It’s time to look at one of Nintendo’s most recent games. This one looked like a day 1 purchase right away. It really had everything I could want from a game through its solid gameplay, epic soundtrack, cinematic story, etc. Astral Chain was pretty much guaranteed to be a home run hit and I’m glad to say that it did not disappoint. I definitely hope the game gets a sequel and it continues to show why Platinum is so good at making quality titles. The game will last you for around 14 hours to complete the main story which is pretty good.

The basic plot is that the world is under attack by invisible monsters. The only way to see them is to equip a Legion which is effectively a captured monster that you fight with. This helps to even the playing field with the evil monsters. The main character is one of those silent assassin types who gets the job done without complaint. His sister Akira is the more vocal member of the group who isn’t afraid to speak her mind. The two are selected to be in the Legion program and now work to make the world a safer place. Still, it is odd how there are so many portals with monsters showing up lately and their boss seems rather shady. Akira and the lead will have to stay sharp.

I picked the guy to play as, but if you had chosen to play as Akira then the guy would probably be doing the talking while you are silent. I’m definitely never a big fan of the silent lead, but I suppose it’s not like it hurts the story all that much. It just makes him really lacking in personality. Also, even though I named him Terry nobody actually called me that and in two different cutscenes they called him something else which I’m guessing is his actual name. Still, while the lead has no character the heroine is mostly solid. She’s quick to stand up to the bosses and jumps into action. Her character arc does go in some dicey directions such as her final fight with us which really came out of nowhere. Akira was solid for the most part though and that’s what counts in the end.

The gameplay is that of a 3D brawler. You can fight up close with the sword or hang back and use your gun. The gun is significantly weaker than the sword so it’s not something you’ll want to use very often. A big part of the gameplay is also in controlling your Legion. It’s effectively like an A.I. ally who comes in to help you. His attacks deal massive damage and you can also use him to jump across large distances or for combo moves. The gameplay has a lot of depth to it, but it’s explained well so you’ll quickly get the hang of it. There is also a training room with a lot of tutorials you can go to if you ever forget how to do something. The game also helpfully reminds you of the key abilities whenever you’re in a puzzle which I definitely appreciate.

The soundtrack is definitely quite solid. The main boss theme is rock based and really gets you into the zone. The whole game just clicks really well and it goes without saying that the graphics are really good as well. You can customize your character’s look a lot as well which sticks around for the cutscenes. I had fun changing up my character depending on what was happening. I started out as a hopeful cadet, then I switched to a casual slacker, and then finally to a very cynical rogue. It was a fun little side thing for sure.

I’d say that the only weak part of the game (relatively speaking. This is still a 9 star title so there wasn’t anything seriously weak here) was the investigation parts. I don’t really think this ended up adding much to the game. I suppose it helps the immersion since you’re a cop and there should be a lot of investigating going around. It’s just a lot slower than the actual combat and while you’re finding clues all you can think of it continuing the story a little more. Other than that, the game is very fast paced from start to finish with a lot of twists and turns all around.

I would say that there are enough loose ends here to have a sequel come up. Really it feels like the humans are still the shady ones here, but either way the threat isn’t over. Two plans have already been put into action without results so the heroes are going to have to think of what to do next. If there is no sequel the ending here can still be seen as definitive, but I think a sequel would be a good idea. I’m also glad that the main character stayed strong all the way through to the end even if his legion did not have similar resolve in his actions. One is better than none.

Assuming you’re playing on the Platinum difficulty then I recommend buying upgrades to your Legolas right away. Doing so gives you extra batteries which are effectively extra lives. They are incredibly handy when fighting with the bosses. The game is reasonably difficult so you’ll also want to have items on hand. They’re a little expensive but you want to be maxed out on battery chargers at all times. I barely took down the final boss and that’s considering that I came prepared with around 10 batteries and a bunch of full heals. If you come in with anything less then you’re definitely going to possibly be in some trouble. For replay value you can work on maxing out all of your legions after beating the game. There are also a bunch of side quests and achievements to complete as well. This will definitely take you some time and I expect you will be well acquainted with the world by the end of your adventures.

Overall, Astral Chain is definitely an excellent game and I highly recommend checking it out. The menu screens are all very intuitive. Leveling up is pretty easy and never feels like a drag. Obtaining enough premium codes to max everyone out seems like it’ll take a long time, but the replay value is good. It’s not forced so you only have to keep going if you want to. With all of the difficulty levels here you never have to feel like you’re truly stuck. As you learn the boss patterns you can also put up a much better fight the longer you train. If you don’t have this game yet then you’re going to want to change that.

Overall 9/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Resident Evil: Retribution Review

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

It’s been quite a while, but it’s time to finally rejoin the Resident Evil series and continue with Alice’s adventure. The movie series has always been a very interesting one. It’s got a dynamite soundtrack and the special effects are on point. It’s also got a very interesting plot and handles the whole zombie angle way better than most other titles. It ends up faltering due to the excessive violence and fanservice running around, but at least you have a decent time while watching it. This film is no exception so you’ll have a lot of fun as the film goes on even if it can’t escape some of the usual issues.

The movie starts off by giving us a brief recap of the last few films. If you managed to forget parts then this will help a bit, but honestly I don’t see how you could forget since the films are too exciting for that. To this day I have to admit that Resident Evil consistently has the best cliffhangers out of any live action movie. They always end with a bang and that keeps you going until the next movie. The credits play before that through a slow motion scene that goes backwards before then playing it again at normal speed. It’s an interesting way to start the film, but I think the scene does go on for a little too long. It’s always interesting to see how the scenes look before they’re at normal speed though.

So last time Jill and the other members of Umbrella stormed the boat and attacked the heroes. Alice was captured during this offensive and is being held at Umbrella’s most dangerous prison. The Red Queen has decided that now is the time to break Alice. Fortunately she is given an escape option thanks to Wesker. He hacked the system and sent in his top agent Ada to help Alice get out. She doesn’t trust him, but she’ll surely die if she stays so she goes along with this plan. The prison is huge with different areas spanning multiple city blocks and each area is infested with zombies that she has met in previous films as well as normal ones. Alice will really have to work hard to get out of here. Meanwhile a squad has also been sent in to rescue Alice from the outside. They’ll have to get halfway through the compound to rescue her, but breaking in is just as difficult as breaking out. Neither side is going to have an easy time here.

Well, lets tackle the film’s weak points first. For starters this is still a film that is focused on using a ton of gratuitous violence as the heroes mow down the zombies. Someone gets drilled with a spinning disc until they’re murdered, others are sliced and diced, and everyone else is eaten alive or shot down. There’s constant violence here to be sure. I feel like it’s less violent than the last one or two, but it’s been a while so it may just feel that way. As always the film does make sure to include one fanservice scene at the very beginning as the villains try to break Alice, but it’s not quite as forced as in the last films. It’s still one of the weakest scenes in the film though and I guess the Red Queen is getting emotional at this point because there really doesn’t seem to be much of a point in kidnapping Alice in the first place. At the very least they aren’t running tests or doing any of the usual maneuvers that you would expect.

The supporting characters are also pretty forgettable. Anyone who isn’t one of the main 4 characters is quickly shoved to the side. It’s hard to care about any of the group members who came to save Alice despite at least one of them possibly being a character from an older film. The main guy is Leon and he doesn’t leave much of an impact. They all just start to blend together and feel like cannon fodder. Ultimately they don’t seem all that important. At least the main cast is solid though.

As always Alice is a great character. She’s certainly kept her fighting skills over the years and is always ready for the next fight. Her character is exactly how I would like Samus to be portrayed if we ever get a Metroid film. To say that Alice is one of the best film heroines of all time would not be an understatement. At the moment I cannot think of anyone who would be above her. She’s just that good and has been consistently solid throughout all of the films in the series. This may still be her best portrayal yet as she is both a solid soldier as well as a compassionate mother figure in this movie. I’m expecting great things from her in the next film as well.

Wesker gets to appear a little here. His role is large but his screen time isn’t although that should change in the next film. There’s a lot of ways the film can finish up his character arc so I look forward to seeing what they choose. He is incredibly overpowered to the point where it seems like he could end the zombie apocalypse on his own. I suppose it isn’t that easy, but it does feel that way. Alice will have to watch out in the next film although thanks to a twist in the ending she may be ready for him.

Jill spends most of the film under mind control but makes for a terrific main villain. Her fighting skills are the real deal and when you mix in her hand to hand expertise she really becomes a serious threat. Her costume is very accurate to the games and she is a scene stealer. Then you have Ada who also gets a lot of hype for her fighting abilities, but isn’t quite as impressive as Jill. I don’t think there is ever a question of who would win if these two were to fight each other. There’s also a kid who tags along for a good chunk of the film. Her plot is fairly sad, but Alice does what she can to help. The kid can actually listen to orders so she is considerably better than most others. Her Mom also did good as she didn’t panic too much when the zombies came and actually fought quite a bit.

Continuing with the film’s excellent execution, it really pulls off the zombie invasion in this small town. It’s an intense set of scenes with a lot of good attention to detail as you see people trying to fight off the zombies in the background. I definitely don’t think heading back into a house is a good idea in the zombie apocalypse, but in the spur of the moment I suppose there isn’t much else you can do. The whole thing is pretty thrilling and it’s like seeing an AU of what it could have been.

As always the soundtrack is dynamite as well. It really feels like something out of a video game and I think that’s part of why these films shine so much. The structure and feel is like a video game and the films aren’t afraid to embrace that aspect. The costumes are on point as well and the pacing is also solid. It’s still a little hard to describe what really makes these films pop, but I think at the end of the day it’s that sci-fi works really well for any medium. It’s why Astral Chain looked so great and why these films are so engaging. Sci-Fi is just excellent.

I also need to point out that the fight scenes here are excellent. Jill vs Alice is certainly the highlight. It’s the kind of fight where it’s one sided, but close enough for both fighters to still be throwing attacks around if that makes sense. It’s just a lot of solid back and forth. Then you have the other fight of Rain taking on the side characters and that plays out as you would expect. She’s simply too powerful and Alice has a tough time there. Throwing in these super soldiers really takes Resident Evil to the next level. If there’s any complaint with this climax it is that the resolution to Jill vs Alice doesn’t make any sense. Stopping the tech should not be so easy because if it was then the fight should not have lasted so long. There would be many opportunities to do what Alice did at the end a little earlier in the fight. It’s also poor design on the villains part.

I didn’t talk much about Rain earlier, but she’s a solid villain. Her good self was also fun and you’ll feel bad for her. She did try her best to help out but is the definition of a red shirt. She was never going to last very long in this brutal world. Rain never faltered and that’s the important thing. Evil Rain is just as solid and really gave the heroes a hard time.

As I mentioned these films are known for their awesome endings and this film does its best to top them all. I’m not sure if I’ll give it the top spot over the original, but it definitely comes close with the heroes preparing for their final battle. It really feels like we have finally made it to the end of the road. It’s hard to see how the heroes will be able to overcome such crazy odds but with Alice and Wesker they have a chance. The tough part will be trying to keep the two from destroying each other in the meantime. The ending also gives a lot of hope for more awesome fights in the next film only this time we may finally be back to the more super hero-esque adventures.

Overall, Resident Evil: Retribution brings the nonstop action that you are hoping to see. It’s a very solid film on all the fundamentals and is definitely the best title in the series. It improves on all the previous ones and does its best to get over some of the negatives. It’s still dug its grave with the amount of over the top violence here, but the upwards slope this film brings the series to is definitely a good thing. If you like horror films or just want a good sci-fi thriller then you definitely need to check this out. So long as you are cool with the violence you can expect to have a home run hit on your side. Hopefully the next and last film in the series can give us a proper ending.

Overall 3/10