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

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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

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Main Event Review


It’s time to look at an old comedy film that threw in a little boxing. It’s not a film that has aged particularly well though and rarely ends up being funny. The characters aren’t particularly likable and it definitely has one of the worst endings that I’ve seen in quite a while. This film definitely doesn’t feel like the main event and I’m not even sure that I would book it as a side show. As far as I’m concerned this one just ended up dropping the ball at every turn.

The film starts off by introducing us to Hillary who has been doing pretty well for herself as a perfume expert. Unfortunately her accountant runs off with all of her money so now she is poor. All of her assets are sold to pay off her debts and the only thing she has left is the rights to a boxer that she owns. The problem is that he has been living off her money without actually training or boxing for years. Hillary forced him to get in the ring since she still has bills to pay, but can he really win enough matches to actually make a difference? Also, this Eddie fellow isn’t the nicest of guys so she’ll have to keep him on a short leash or he is liable to run away as well.

There is a big problem with the film’s plot from the start. Since Hillary was an excellent perfume mega star why didn’t she just try to regain money by staying in the same field? The competitors are happy to get rid of her by paying for some of the debt along with an agreement of hers to leave the business for good, but I feel like she could have stayed in the career path and made the money back again. It would be difficult but certainly not more so then entering an entirely new field with a boxer who’s never won a fight. Seems to me that she put herself through a lot more trouble than necessary.

Then you’ve got Eddie who is portrayed as being a pretty terrible person from the start. He’s lazy and doesn’t actually want to do any work. There’s really no excuse for this though since he basically lives in a gym and knows that he is getting money to work out. He chooses to waste it away instead as he chases after his dreams, but that isn’t endearing. It just shows that he is self centered and you can’t really root for him. It also makes the second half rather cheesy as this out of shape boxer is suddenly able to take on everyone including the current champ. How is this guy so good after just training seriously for a little while? Something doesn’t add up here.

Then we’ve got the ending. I can’t go into depth with it here, but throughout the film a running gag is that Hillary doesn’t know anything about boxing despite reading books on it and attending all of his fights. She will jump into the ring and do a lot of crazy stuff that gets everyone in trouble. It’s unrealistic and bad writing, but at least it’s accidental. Then she makes a choice in the end that is completely terrible. There’s no positive effect of doing this and I can’t imagine anyone actually doing this. It ends the film on a pretty low note.

You’ve also got to take into account the poor romance in this film. Naturally the two characters don’t like each other as the film starts, but the more they hang out the closer they get. It’s all very generic and obvious, but it really makes no sense. Eddie is also far too pushy the whole time and was beyond the point where you could root for him. The whole plot of Hillary having to stay at the same inn as the rough boxers was also terrible. They’re portrayed to be downright villainous and you’ll just feel bad for Hillary the whole time. She’s the one who’s had a rough time of it. In comparison Eddie is really just whining when he has no right to do so.

Overall, The Main Event is not a film I’d recommend. The writing really isn’t that good. With enough jokes thrown in I’m sure some will land, but ultimately you could do a lot better with the Streisand films. The plot starts off flimsy so throwing in a crazy ending was really the decisive blow. There isn’t really anything positive to say about this film. I suppose the fights were okay, but they were definitely no Rocky. That’s an impossibly high bar to compare with of course, but I haven’t seen a whole lot of boxing movies so I don’t have too many options to use. Hopefully her next film is a little better.

Overall 3/10

3 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Family Party: 30 Great Games Obstacle Arcade Review


It’s been quite a while since I’ve played a low budget party game but it was time to finally do so again with this title. 30 Great Games is actually a series that also had an installment on the Wii. That one was not particularly good and the same can be said for this one. There are some decent mini games thrown in of course, but they’re surrounded by poor game design and odd decisions on how they are structured. You won’t be sticking with this game for very long.

As the title suggests there are 30 different mini games to choose from here. Some of them are pretty solid while others leave much to be desired. If you just look at the games you would probably expect this game to actually be pretty decent. They aren’t as overly long as in other party games and there are actually good ideas here that I would like to see Mario Party incorporate. If the game could have just put a little more effort into the other parts then it could have been good.

Where the game messes up is in every other area. For starters the only modes in the game are the free play mode and the main campaign option where you unlock all of the mini games. Free play is self explanatory and works well. The main campaign has issues though. There are 6 worlds and each one has 5 levels. That would have been straightforward enough but then you have to get through the 5 Gamepad levels as well and there aren’t many of those so prepare to face the same mini games over and over again. This is definitely a case of quick padding to extend the game despite the lack of content. Think about it, for every world to have 10 levels we would need 50, but since there are only 30 that means you need to keep on replaying quite a lot. Throwing away the Gamepad levels or simply including them once would have been much better. It would have been a proper campaign even if it was rather short.

As for the controls, they aren’t particularly good. Part of the point of the Wii U was to finally get rid of the motion controls so we could go back to proper gaming. Unfortunately this game didn’t get the memo. Wii Remotes are actually mandatory and you very rarely get to use the Gamepad. The game can’t even decide on what control scheme it really wants so you are forced to keep on changing depending on the minigame that has been queued up next. This means that you have to have the Wii Remote and Gamepad on the entire time which is a huge waste of battery power.

I wouldn’t say that the graphics are anything to write home about either. It looks pretty standard and I’ve seen some N64 games with more heart. Forget about a soundtrack as well. There are unlockables here and it is a party game so I suppose we do have replay value. It’s not done in a very organic way though. You can’t even play the final 2 worlds unless you beat the first 3 multiple times. I don’t really get the purpose of this except to annoy the players. Why lock the final levels behind this extra grind? It just isn’t right.

I guess we should talk about some of the minigames though. One of the ones that I did enjoy is where you have to walk around a log that is constantly shaking. While you attempt to do so the other 3 players will try to hit you with cannonballs. You can block with your shield, but you can’t move while you are blocking with is definitely a tough tradeoff. You have to go slowly but surely as you wrestle your way through the stage and it is not easy. Then you’ve got a level where you try to run over 3 players who are hiding in the dark. The 1 vs 3 games were just the most fun even if they didn’t always feel very balanced. The 3 have the edge in most of them.

There’s a free for all minigame where you have to jump over hurdles and sprint to the end. This one’s pretty fun and doesn’t really have any gimmicks. It’s just about going fast. Then there are various reaction games where you have to press the combo on screen before anyone else does. You do this for a few rounds and then the points will determine who won the battle. These are all solid and I can’t say that there were any minigames that were bad. The worst ones are really just hurt because of the motion controls. For example there was a jumping one where I couldn’t get the remote to let me jump sideways. Likewise there was another one about moving sideways and my guy wouldn’t budge. Take that away and those games would be a lot of fun.

Overall, This is not a party game that I would recommend. I would consider it to be one of the worst ones. At least the Wii party games have a good excuse since they were forced onto the console and needed to use the motion controls. This one just chose to do so for some reason and that was not the best decision. I’ll always stand by the fact that motion controls will always be worse than the standard ones and so I’m glad that they’ve been phased out. If you want a good party game to play through then I’d suggest picking something a lot more mainstream like Mario Party. You want a game like that which will last a while as well as give you a good journey along the way.

Overall 3/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Pokemon Battle Revolution Review


Technically, I played through this game many years ago, but my Wii broke before I could grab the review. We got a new Wii shortly afterwards but never really got around to replaying this game. I figured now was as good a time as any so I booted it up and went through a few tournies. I grabbed my team from Pokémon Diamond which included fighters from Pokémon Ruby. With Groudon and Blaziken at the ready I was prepared to take names. Unfortunately this game still doesn’t hold up as a spiritual successor to Pokémon Stadium.

When you start the game you are introduced to your limited amount of modes. The main one is to jump right into the Colosseums as you try to conquer them all. Every time you defeat an arena you get some money which you can use in the local shop to buy some clothes. The idea is that your character will look fancier and fancier as you win tournaments and by the end you will look like the champ. There’s not a ton of outfits to buy at the moment so it seems easy to get them all, but I’m guessing that you unlock more outfits as you progress during the game. It’s a quick but nice way to add replay value I suppose. Hopefully you enjoy this because that’s really the extent of the replay value.

For the Colosseums the game makes the odd decision to add a lot of luck and chance to the equation. Before I get ahead of myself though you may be wondering how you get Pokémon. Well, you start the game off with a “rental pass” which gives you access to 6 Pokemon that the game chooses for you. You can also connect one of your portable Pokemon games to bring over a real team which I highly recommend. Once you’ve done that, you enter the colosseums which all have different rules. There is the standard 1 vs 1 battles with 3 Pokémon each and the doubles battles with 4. These are classic and work well.

Then the game decides to get sneaky and introduces the Neon tournament. This one throws in a wheel of fortune and the gimmick here is that your Pokémon as well as your opponent’s are thrown into the wheel and both of you throw darts at it. Whoever it lands on is the Pokémon you will use and each of you do that until you have a full team at the ready. Of course the computer got my Groudon right away…. I don’t see the point of putting this level of luck into the game. Part of the point of Pokémon is to fight alongside the Pokémon you’ve trained up, not some random ones.

Another problem with this one is the colosseum length which makes losing pretty punishing. The tournaments are mainly 7 rounds and you have to win them all back to back. You can do a quick save to take a break from the game but if you lose any of the 7 matches then you have to start the tournament all over again. That means for the luck based one you have to be fortunate many times in a row. That’s not really something you want to bank on. Personally I would have either shortened the tournaments to 3-4 battles or I would have just made it so you continue from where you lost. Either option makes for a much more enjoyable gameplay experience. As it stands the colosseums are too punishing and not rewarding enough.

The game also suffers from how long the matches take which is something that affects most of the big console Pokémon games to be fair. There are a lot of animations in the battles and they can’t be turned off so you have to watch each attack. Even Pokémon Colosseum was affected by this so I’m guessing it is difficult to speed up the games. The portables do it though so there’s got to be an answer. That’s actually one of the things I’m hoping Pokémon Sword can fix. If any Pokémon game can get around this it would be the latest installment in the main series. I’ll give the developers of Battle Revolution props for adding so many unique effects to all of the characters since I’m sure it was visually challenging. There should just be a way to toggle it on and off. Graphics is one of the strongest points of the game and they aged very well. All of the character models are on point and stages look quite solid. The soundtrack is also pretty iconic at this point. As soon as I turned on the game I was hit with the nostalgic tunes. Battle Revolution did a good job of creating its own soundtrack and it holds up quite well. It does lot have the scope and variety of the main games but is still a solid collection in its own right.

I think another part that hurts the game is that aside from having no story you don’t even have the classic Gym Leaders to help out. We do have Colosseum leaders, but none of them are particularly noteworthy and since you have to make it past a full gauntlet to see them you won’t really get to savor the experience for long. There’s no real hook beyond the fact that this is a Pokemon game and that’s not enough to carry a title for very long.

Overall, Pokémon Battle Revolution is one of those games that should have been much better than it actually was. I feel like it’s hard to mess up with a Pokémon game but this one threw away a bunch of opportunities through its Colosseum format. I really don’t understand why the game did that. Pokemon Stadium already created a very nice format for how you would handle a home console Pokemon game. Battle Revolution should have focused on that rather than trying to re-invent the wheel. That was their big mistake and while they may have been trying to be innovative it completely backfired. It’s still entertaining, but only in small batches and you could always be playing a better Pokemon title.

Overall 6/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

FIFA World Cup: Germany 2006 Review


It’s been a while, but now it’s time to go up against a team in soccer. This is also the first time in a very long while that I got to play a small console sport game. Typically I just play the home console versions so it’s a nice change of pace to see how it goes on the handheld. It’s pretty smooth and the PSP has always been particularly great at emulating the home console experience. That being said, aside from Madden I can’t picture myself playing any sport game on the go for very long.

Since this FIFA is specifically about the World Cup all of the modes focus on this as well. The main mode has you jump right into the World Cup and aim for success. Naturally I was repping the USA as I jumped in to take names. To my credit I actually scored a goal and then held the lead for most of the game. Then as always seems to be the case for these titles the computer’s difficulty level suddenly spiked without warning and they scored with only about 10 seconds left in the game. I can tell you now that this felt really crazy. Just like that I had lost my win and had to settle for a tie. Since it was only round one of the World Cup they didn’t have us play extra time and just ended the game there. I felt a little cheated to be honest, but I was glad that I at least scored a goal. The next game was more of a standard 0-0. I ended up losing the World Cup since my record wasn’t enough but it was a good run while it lasted. The computer evidently didn’t think I was good enough to keep tying though as I had it simulate some games in another World Cup and I lost almost every one.

I do like the World Cup format although it’s not like it makes a huge amount of difference to me as whether I do a quick game or a world cup match it’s basically the same outcome. As expected the graphics here are definitely pretty solid. The soundtrack stands out more than some of the others as a song pops up whenever you pause the game. The tunes seem reasonable enough, but you likely won’t be hearing them enough to ultimately form much of an opinion. You’ll be too busy gearing up for the second half or starting the next game.

There’s a solid amount of replay value here. The games are a little too long to easily play on the go, but since the PSP can just go into standby mode you don’t necessarily have to actually finish a game. You can just do most of it and then just dip out of there. That’s always been a pretty nice plus for the PSP in general. I think how much you play the game will depend on if you already play FIFA on the home console games and are just using this as a change of pace or if this is your main FIFA experience. If it’s the latter then I can easily see you spending a bunch of time here.

Really the only difference between this one and a home console title in terms of gameplay is that it’s not quite as clear since you’re on a smaller screen. You’ll feel a little more constricted, but that’s more mental than anything. It’s really still the same game through and through and feels like a direct port. It’s definitely still fun even if you may have a hard time scoring.

I really feel like FIFA and NHL have more in common with each other than any other sport title. If you ignore the terrain (Ice vs Grass) there really aren’t any substantial differences with the two. The way you shoot and pass is the same and you’ve got around the same amount of players. Even the distance of the field is the same. I wouldn’t be surprised if EA is able to copy a lot of the code to use in between the two games. As a result I feel like my NHL training as of late transferred over into FIFA even if I wasn’t quite able to secure a solid win. I came close at least.

Overall, World Cup 2006 feels like a true soccer title and it’s a fun concept for a spinoff. It slightly scales the title down which is quite convenient for the PSP in general. This was the only sport game I had left on my portable backlog so you likely won’t be seeing another one again for a very long time. For the first time I’ve actually gotten my sport backlog down to 20 games so it’ll be quite the milestone to have that one empty at last. Finally I will have more time for trophy hunting, general video game lounging, and getting unstuck in some of the trickier games on the backlog. Lets not get ahead of ourselves though.

Overall 6/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Reviews

NHL 11 Review


Time for the next NHL game on my marathon. It’s definitely been pretty surreal to play so many of these back to back. I will say that unlike NHL 10, you can feel that the graphics have gotten a little sharper here. Maybe it’s the field I was playing in for the tutorial, but the arena looked incredibly well polished. The white stood out and you could practically see through the ground. The players also felt sharper, but that could also partially be that the game is more zoomed in. Regardless, NHL 11 is definitely a game you’ll want to have.

Naturally I went right into the quick play mode after clearing the tutorial. I was ready to take the hockey world by storm and while I may not have secured the win I do feel like I did pretty well. I was laying on the pressure pretty thick and I did manage to score a goal which was hype. After that they started laying on the goals since my goalie cracked under pressure. I lost 5-1 or something like that, but it could have gone worse I suppose. At least I was always right up in there with the action which is the important thing. I am working on the aiming and passing, but it almost feels like it just comes down to luck by the end.

I can get a good shot out if I have space, but usually the enemy players are right on top of me at all times so I can’t get a good angle. No matter how fast I move they seem to move just a touch quicker than me. There’s just no escape and these guys are really good at stealing the puck from right underneath your nose. Once in a blue moon you’ll actually make it to their side with nobody on you, but it’s not like making the shot is a cake walk in that scenario either. I talk a lot about passing and shooting, but at the end of the day you’re also going to need to play tight defense because odds are that this is going to go to overtime with a score of 0-0. The computer never eases up on defense so you just have to surpass your limits somehow.

When it comes to the fighting gameplay none of the opposing players wanted to humor me. I only got to take one of them down and for the others they would just ignore me when I tried to start the fight. I guess they just didn’t want to have to hold the L this time and I can understand that. Still, the fighting is always one of the best parts in these games so I was sad to see it go. Maybe there’s a better way to pick a fight but based on the tutorial just pressing triangle should do the trick when you’re near them. It typically makes your player mess with their hair.

This time I also went ahead and tried one of the bonus modes. The name of this one was Shootout and basically the concept is that it’s a 1 on 1 battle against the goalie. You have to get the puck past him and you’ve got 5 tries to do it. Likewise the computer also gets that many opportunities. I’m happy to say that I actually did win this round. I may have not done so well in the real games, but I like to think that this meant I was finally able to step up during crunch time. When the chips were down, my puck wasn’t. It took a bunch of attempts before I got the puck in, but the computer couldn’t make any shots so that’s why my team got the victory. The mode seems to go on past the 5 players until someone scores or at least it felt that way to me because I’m pretty sure I tried to shoot more than 5 times.

As always there is a ton of replay value here as long as you like soccer. While the shootout mode may not work for long periods of time, it is a good way to take a break from the main gameplay while also working on your fundamentals. Then of course you’ve got the full season to play and in general every game will always be unique. You can get this game for a dollar or two so that’s a lot of value for such a price. As I mentioned the graphics definitely look quite nice here and the presentation is definitely on point.

Overall, NHL 11 is a great follow up. NHL continues to be operating at a high level and I don’t expect that to stop anytime soon. It seems like a consistent series much like all of EA’s other sport titles. They may not have the best reputation, but I don’t think you can deny the fact that they tend to hit it out of the park with all of these franchises. Even if Hockey isn’t really your thing you’ll likely be able to appreciate how smooth the gameplay is. Soon I’ll be trying out NHL 12 so we’ll see if that one also shows a noticeable improvement around the board or if it’ll be the same. So long as it doesn’t get worse I can’t say that there would be any problems here.

Overall 6/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

NHL 10 Review


It’s time to take a look at the next NHL game in my marathon. This one’s pretty similar to the last few as always, but I dare say that it is even more similar than usual. You really wouldn’t know that you were playing a different game to be honest as it’s all basically identical. Still, it’s just as fun as the others were so that really works out quite well. I’ll definitely be continuing on into the later years soon.

So this one had a tutorial to start things off which is always a good idea. I quickly worked on my shooting and passing as I got ready to scrimmage against the real teams. I have to admit though that it didn’t really help all that much. The actual games still turned out just as you would expect as the team would just block all of my shots and parry them like they weren’t even there. I did manage to score 1 goal which was good, but it took forever and by that point I was already down by around 5 goals.

That’s one big change compared to the other games though as the defense just feels a little trickier. Usually I can hold them down to 0 goals or just 1-2. This time they actually scored 6 different goals so for some reason my goalie was just slacking. Maybe I wasn’t applying as much pressure or something, but I was still surprised. I would have hoped that it would also mean my offense would be improved as well, but I had no such luck with that one. Ah well, maybe I’ll be able to score the win next time.

I did get to indulge in the fighting mechanics a little more this time though. The tutorial actually included the boxing inside of it so I was able to land a few good hits and down the opponent. I think I won 5 out of the 8 fights. Towards the end I was really getting the hang of it which was definitely handy. It’s also just a lot of fun to see the players square up and just start slugging each other. You could tell that these guys meant business.

As for the graphics, they’re just as sharp as ever. The field looks good and the character models are on point. It may not be much different from the last game, but it all already looked pretty good so it’s not as if they aged any worse. It’s still a solid presentation and one that I believe will still hold up well 10 years from now. The NHL games do a superb job of really making you feel like you’re in the action.

As always there is a lot of replay value here as well. It’s to the point where I sometimes feel like my reviews are repeating themselves, but I suppose that is inevitable to an extent since the games themselves are so similar. At the end of the day whether you like the game or not will really depend on how much you enjoy playing Hockey. You won’t necessarily love the game just because you love watching the sport since the gameplay is a big deal. However, I would say that it helps and if you like the gameplay then you’re really set. Just get ready to go in there and play a bunch of games as you rise up the ranks and take names.

For my gameplay tips section, I’d recommend slamming the opponent whenever possible. You won’t have to worry about getting the penalties for tripping this way and they rarely care if you body slam the players. I only got in trouble a few times for picking fights which may also be why my goalie was overwhelmed since my team had less players on the field for most of the game. It was worth it of course, but if you don’t want to attract any penalties then you probably shouldn’t do the fights. The penalties aren’t too serious so as long as your skills are on the level you should be fine.

Lately I haven’t been getting too many trophies for these sport games so I was happy that I actually managed to snag 2 during my playthrough. I don’t even know why I got those trophies so don’t ask me that, but the important thing is that I was doing something right. It’s like I lost the match, but I ended up winning the war so I certainly can’t be sad about that. One day when I inevitably go back to improve my trophy% for each of these games this will probably be a high pick since most sport games likely have some easy trophies even if the platinum is incredibly difficult.

Overall, NHL 10 is definitely another solid installment in the series. Hockey still isn’t my favorite sport, but the gameplay is fun enough. You’ll have a good time regardless and the game is smooth with no real glitches that I could think of. You can reasonably be playing this for many hours as long as you like the game and there are enough various ways to play to keep you entertained throughout. Since the game is only around 2-3 dollars it’s not like it’ll set you back all that much either.

Overall 6/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Kung-Fu Heroes Review


Time to look at the next NES game on the docket. This one’s a fighting title so that definitely looked pretty interesting to me. It’s a fun enough title although certainly less polished than the last one I played. The gameplay is sound, but there are times where you’ll be sure that you dodged an attack and yet you get slammed anyway. It feels a little cheesy at that point, but the more you play the better you’ll be able to keep a wide berth between you and the enemies.

The basic plot is that the princess has been captured and you have to save her. You have to go across the many worlds level by level in order to make it to the end. There seemed to be about 24 levels give or take so that’s pretty good. The levels are short and I see that someone beat it in about 40 minutes, but I think you can reasonably expect the game to take you closer to a few hours instead. The Switch games all have the checkpoint feature as well as the rewind button so you should always be able to make it to the end of the game if you so desire. Just keep on chugging away at those levels!

It’s an overhead game and your main weapon is your punch which has a range of one square. The idea is to beat enough enemies in a level to open the gate. Once you’ve opened the gate then you can use it to reach the next level. Rinse and repeat until you’ve cleared the game. Since your range is so short you typically want to hit the enemies from the side so they don’t counter attack. If you both punch at the same time then you will most likely lose the encounter. At least that seemed to be my experience. Another attack up your arsenal is your jump which can also defeat just about any opponent. The advantage of this attack is the longer range, but if you mistime your jump or the enemy decides to do the same then you’ll lose a life. Whether you’re attacking or being attacked someone will get KO’d. All enemies only have the 1 health point as well as the character you’re playing as.

Each of the levels have a bunch of objects that can be destroyed. They house a bunch of different items including a blaster, extra lives, and points to improve your score. You can also find a key which leads you to a bonus room where you get even more points. In theory the best way to play this game is slowly as you should try to get as many extra lives as possible to be prepared for the end. The levels definitely get considerably harder as you progress so while the lives may feel unnecessary at first you will be very glad that you had them by the end of the game.

Also, definitely watch out for the bosses that show up once in a while. As far as I can tell they cannot be defeated so just try to wait them out. At least that was the case for the first boss who ran in and then quickly left. He will try to hit you with a bunch of energy blasts as he chases you around the place, but dodging isn’t particularly difficult since there are no minions while he is around. You just have to keep on turning corners and running full speed. Do that and you should definitely be safe.

The graphics look fairly good. They’re definitely quite old by this point and not as refined as some of the others, but it’s still a cheerful game where you can always tell what is happening. I do think the hurtboxes on the characters might not be properly aligned with the characters based on how I died at some points, but nothing can be 100% perfect. As it stands it was still close enough where it wasn’t too regular. As for the soundtrack, it’s fairly standard stuff. Nothing to write home about, but it works well given the title and the context of the story.

Overall, Kung-Fu Heroes is a fun game. There’s not a lot of depth or replay value to it, but it’s one of those titles that you could easily have fun with for an hour or two as you try to clear the levels. I don’t expect you will stick around for much longer than that, but since the game is free that’s really all that you need. I look forward to seeing which games Nintendo adds next month. I’m thinking we’re ready for the next console, but if they stick to NES I wonder what games they will pull off next. I’m sure there are technically still a bunch we don’t have yet so they could probably drag this out a little longer if need be.

Overall 6/10