Congo’s Caper Review

Congo’s Caper is a fairly traditional platforming title. You get to travel through different lands as you jump and fight your way to the goal. You can swing at enemies with your club and duck under obstacles. It’s a fairly short title but a fun one all the same. If you like platformers then you’ll definitely enjoy this and you can’t go wrong since the game is free after all.

The main character was enjoying a nice peaceful day when the heroine gets kidnapped by the main villain. He now has to save her before all hope is lost. The characters are now monkeys but with an item he can turn into a human. It’s an interesting gimmick. Instead of shrinking like Mario when you’re hit, the player turns into a monkey. I can tell you that the gameplay is a lot smoother when you’re a human so I advise you not to get hit. Sure, that’s easier said than done but I recommend that all the same. It’s just way easier to land blows and fly through the stage when you’re a lot bigger.

Each level is fairly different so the game deserves a lot of credit for keeping things fresh. You never feel like the levels are recycled or anything like that. The stages are also at a good length where they don’t drag on or feel too short. It’s actually a rather well polished game considering that you’ve probably never heard of it before. The gameplay is smooth as well and some of the bosses can actually be rather difficult. You’re probably going to have to break out the rewind and access point features a whole lot here.

Now the story is rather basic and by the numbers so you’re definitely here for the gameplay. The heroine getting captured is extremely standard but at least the game has her getting captured more than once which is a little different. Clearly the heroes need some kind of security detail at the ready since the villains can just waltz in and do whatever they want otherwise.

The bosses have cool designs and the boss battles themselves are rather creative. For one boss you have to avoid all of his legs and wings as you try to hit the head in the center. This boss is particularly difficult because he can move so fast and making any kind of contact with him will damage your health. You really need an air tight reaction time and a good plan in order to take him out. Otherwise you’re just doomed.

Throughout the game there were several moments that seemed incredibly difficult. You had to run ahead of some spikes or the ground collapsing. I died so many times to that and had to keep rewinding until I cheesed it. It wasn’t until the final level that I realized what was going wrong..there actually is a run button. It explains why the character was moving so slowly. I was actually walking for the majority of the game. In my defense the game didn’t make that particularly clear. It was fun to finally have this at the ready though.

The graphics look pretty good. I’d say that the style they used is one that ages really well. The colorful animations and character models are still rather sharp and the same is true for the environments. It’s closer to the high end on the side. The soundtrack is more on the forgettable side. Some decent tunes and all but nothing that will keep you up at night. It could have used some more high energy tracks which would have taken this to the next level.

Overall, Caveman’s Congo is a solid game. I won’t overhype it and say that it’s great or anything but you’ll have a good time with it. The game lasts for about an hour so if you need something quick to play then you should just jump on this one. You’ll be glad you did and I think it could do really well with a modern remake someday. Caveman type stories aren’t really my thing but for a platformer the gameplay is the most important part and I think this game proved that it could make this work.

Overall 6/10

Just Listen To The Song Review

Time for another Shonen Jump oneshot but this one is surprisingly short. It’s barely longer than your average weekly chapter so there isn’t time for much. It’s got an interesting enough premise here that could have been for a longer story so it’s a shame that it ends so quickly. Ultimately it feels like more of a writing prompt than a full adventure and so I don’t think you will really remember this one much in the future. It does show how tough classmates can be.

The series interestingly decides not to name any of the characters. I assume this had to be an intentional choice so I’m curious on why. Is that supposed to be something to ponder during the chapter? Well, either way the story starts with the main guy deciding to confess to a girl that he has liked since middle school. She’s clearly not interested in him so he has one last ditch effort. He uploads a video to Youtube proclaiming his love and asks her to watch it. Unfortunately she sends it to the entire school body and this guy is now a laughing stock. What’s worse is that the video states that God is not real, takes shots at gun laws in America, and there are ghosts in it. This kid’s video is now a global phenomenon and everybody is watching is. What can he possibly do?

Surprisingly there is no big twist at the end, no crazy ending or any of that. I suppose you can call it more of a sad ending or a happy one depending on how you interpret it. Personally I’d consider it a sad ending. I don’t think the girl is going to suddenly fall in love with him or anything like that. She just doesn’t like the guy and things like that don’t really change overnight. Even if she does suddenly decide to get with him, would it be because he’s famous around the world now? There will always be some doubt but I’m going to take the ending at face value here. He looks dejected as she says that the videos are everywhere so I think he’s doomed. She’s just listening to it again to really rub this in his face.

Compared to most embarrassing videos though, I wouldn’t say his rates that high. If anything he should be feeling a little happy about all of the attention. Sure, in the moment it’s kind of sad that everyone got to see you be rejected but once that moment passes then it feels like everything should be goo right? He can turn monetization on and rake up a bunch of cash. Even if he can’t recreate the magic of the videos, he can cash in through other means and quickly stockpile some cash. That’s the best way out of this for him and also the best method of turning this into a positive experience.

It was rude of the heroine to upload this for everyone to see which is also why the guy needs to move on. Perhaps she thought it was harmless fun but it was a big blow to his trust. I was glad that the school was not overplayed with the reactions though. Sure, they definitely poke fun at him and there’s a lot of teasing but it doesn’t go too far. Perhaps that is just due to the length of the oneshot but I thought the reactions were on the normal side. They made sense and were fairly realistic here.

In general this is a fairly laidback oneshot. It’s all a bit sad for the main character while not being too dramatic. The video has a lot of weird things happen to it which is strange but played out as if this was not a big deal. It’s almost like a Twilight Zone episode. You never actually expect that the story will get into how his video could be defying reality by saying something different in each language. You just sort of roll with it and how that affects his life.

The art is fairly good here. The character designs are all clear and you could always tell what is going on. Of course with no action scenes that is not as difficult but it’s always worth mentioning when the art is good. I think the writer should take my advice and make this into a full ongoing. I think there’s a whole lot you could do with this premise that there just isn’t time for in a short story like this.

Overall, It’s always fun reading oneshots like this because it’s cool to see all of the unique premises out there. I’ve read a lot of short stories when I was a kid, but far less manga titles. I’ll always be more partial to long running titles as my favorite since you can then get attached to the characters and setting but a solid oneshot will always hold up well. I think this one was a little too short for its own good and so there’s nothing to latch onto but it’s not bad. It’s just a title that you won’t really think about afterwards, there isn’t much to ponder here compared to the last one.

Overall 5/10

Fighting EX Layer Another Dash Review

Whenever there is a free fighting game to check out, it’s definitely worth a play. Fighting Ex Layer is much like Street Fighter X Tekken in that you can see the full game content right out of the gate in the menus but you just can’t interact with them unless you pay the full price. I went into this one with the freemium version of course so I stuck to my selection. The game’s modes aren’t too extensive anyhow.

The modes here are vs mode (Online and Offline), Arcade mode, and Training. There isn’t a story mode here and Arcade only has one block of text as a character ending of sorts. So this is really a game that is focused purely on the combat. For most that will probably be enough for them to spend money on the full version so they can play the online vs mode. Battling against people online really throws in the replay value after all. If you stay strong on that though then your best bet is playing through the Arcade mode.

You get 4 fighters to play with and each one has their own special techniques and attack options. Mastering each character is your best way to win. I was able to complete the Arcade mode on normal and easy and they were reasonably tough so I imagine going on hard mode would really be a tough ordeal. Definitely not something to do unless you’re really confident in your own abilities. You have to have absolute confidence in yourself or it’s all over. I recommend going for the leg sweep, they seem to have a hard time blocking that move.

Mix in a few aerials and just keep swinging buttons. I can’t say I had an easy time finding out which attack combo’s into another so just find a 2 hit combo and you’re set. You can at least launch a flying kick and then go for a sweep which should work for any character. Pull that off and then you’re in a really good spot. You can also use an unblockable attack by pressing the A and X buttons at the same time. It’s super slow but gets the job done in a pinch.

Another benefit to jumping a lot is that if the opponent counters you will be just out of range. A final tip I should mention is grabbing is really good here. Just throw the opponent all over the field and you won’t have a problem. It’s a great way to keep the momentum at all times. It also deals quite a bit of damage so the game reminded me of Street Fighter V in that sense. Man I used to throw all the time there and it would just work. That’s how good the throws were.

The graphics are definitely really solid here. The game looks new and has a fairly sci-fi kind of feel to it. You feel like it’s a modern title and I would like to see the characters show up in a game with a story mode someday. Now that would absolutely have a ton of potential behind it. The soundtrack is more on the forgettable side. No real bad tunes or anything but none that you’ll remember once you finish the game. It could really use one rock solid rock theme if you ask me.

In general the game is just lacking in content kind of like Super Mario Run’s free version. It would be good to have added some more things to do here or maybe we could get a story mode at some point. The best thing to do if you ask me would have been to have added some text before each opponent so the arcade mode feels like a story. I think that would have hit the best balance by far and it’s a relatively low impact way to enhance the game as a whole. I’m surprised more titles don’t quickly slap a little story together like that. Would be a perfect way to pull it off.

At the end of the day the game is still good because the gameplay is solid though. It may not be the fastest paced fighting title but the moves make sense and you always feel like you have a chance. It’s got a higher bar to really learn the controls than a lot of the other fighting games so you can’t expect to just pick it up and start landing combos. This is one of those games where actually learning the moves will be absolutely mandatory.

Overall, Fighting Ex Layer is a game that I’d recommend giving a download. After all, it’s free so there’s no reason not to. Way I see it, downloading a free game is always worth the effort. Even if it doesn’t light your world on fire, you’ll have still gotten to play a nice game and it won’t have cost you anything. I don’t think you’ll be playing this game for very long as there isn’t much to do on your own but you can enjoy the nice gameplay and characters. Slap on some more content for this without having to purchase it and you’ll definitely have a winner here. It just has to be done soon before people have forgotten about the game. Honestly the marketing wasn’t that intense so you very easily could have missed hearing about it even from the start.

Overall 5/10

Father’s Little Dividend Review

It’s time for the sequel to the last film in this series which means that Stanley is going to have to deal with another trial. You definitely have to feel bad for the guy because he just got done spending a fortune on the wedding and now there is a kid on the way. Granted there is a time skip of course as kids don’t just come out of the blue but it looks like the burden will be on him again. This is one dividend that he may not want to accept.

The plot starts with Stanley being in a good mood though. He is in a great point in his life where everything is working. His life is clicking like a well oiled machine which is just perfect. The problem occurs when his daughter Kay announces that she and Buckley are having a baby. This was not the good news that Stanley was hoping for and naturally a lot of issues start to come up. Kay and Buckley are fighting again and Ellie is hoping that they can move back in to the main house. Stanley will have to think of something quickly or his life is basically going to be gone yet again.

As with the last film I sympathized a lot with him here. You figure at least that after the marriage there would be peace as Stanley can visit and all but they’re still in separate houses and he doesn’t have to worry about anything. Asking them over to come and live at home is really a bit much. Ellie doesn’t take it well as she guilt trips Stanley but I feel like she could have been a whole lot more understanding on the matter. Certainly she can see how it would end up being a lot of trouble on his side here since a baby is really a full time commitment. It doesn’t help that the baby doesn’t even like Stanley and is always throwing a fit.

Of course Stanley’s no saint here either. He has one scene where he really messes up in leaving the kid alone for 30 minutes. Ultimately he is able to sweep this under the rug after the cops find the baby and he convinces them to stay quiet. It’s all well and good for him and his reputation but that was such a bad look for him. Beyond that he looks good here and ultimately he is as supportive as possible even when he’s not thrilled about the whole thing.

Both sides of the family fight a bit about what the baby’s name should be and if they want it to be a boy or a girl. I always thought that kind of conversation puts a whole lot of pressure on the parents because it’s not like you can really control that. As for the name, I personally think the parents should have that all settled before even talking to family so that there are no issues there. Imagine allowing peer pressure to dictate what the name of your kid would be. There’s no way that would end up being even a remotely positive experience for anyone involved.

I didn’t really care for Kay in the first film and that continues here. She still has a bad habit of dashing out of a situation where anyone starts to question her. She tends to panic at the drop of a hat and doesn’t handle her disagreements with Buckley very well at all. We don’t see the whole scene but the movie never portrays it as Buckley being super out of line but rather Kay just seems to be a little overly sensitive. Considering how long they’ve been together now you would figure that their relationship would be a little stronger so that it wouldn’t crumble at the drop of a hat like this.

As for Buckley, what happened to the guy? He was some kind of fancy young CEO in the first film but now he’s hard up for cash?? Does not compute. It felt like the movie needed some excuse for them to be on tough times financially but I think this could have been handled a little better. I can’t say I really liked Buckley by the end either. It’s really up to Stanley to hold the film together as per usual.

Ellie and Buckley’s parents are all reasonably good even if they don’t always seem to get along a whole lot. There’s definitely a lot of competitiveness going on between the two sides. Ultimately things always turn out well for Stanley and Ellie so I wonder how the other two feel about that. At the end of the day though it’s not like the characters are awful or anything so they still do a good job of keeping the movie going.

Where this film shines is that it’s just a fun rom-com. The movie has good pacing so it never drags on and I would say the script and writing are both good. You’re always sure to be entertained which is absolutely the important thing here. There’s a lot of fun little events you can have with a kid coming into the picture, especially when the kid himself doesn’t have a big role for most of it.

It’s the kind of film that does still feel long but more in the sense that a lot is going on as opposed to you feeling like they’re overplaying a part. In general that can be a strength of a rom-com. You can fit in a whole lot of scenes and development because the more low key the film, the more you have to rely on talking scenes and a lot can happen there. A single conversation in a movie can completely change the plot after all.

Personally I would say that the first film has the slight advantage though. It’s always hard to beat the first encounters and that’s when all of the characters really got to meet up. Additionally, the whole thing was a lot more personal with Stanley trying to stop Buckley as opposed to the kid who is coming whether he likes it or not. There is much less that he can actually do about the situation here and so the stakes aren’t nearly as high.

Overall, You should have a good time here. This is a film with quality writing throughout and is just fun. It’s got a good amount of replay value and I wouldn’t say that I had any serious issues with it. The series would probably need to change up the formula a bit if it got more movies but this works very well as a follow up. This kind of film rarely gets a sequel either so it’s fairly neat to see how the characters are doing after the events of the first movie.

Overall 7/10

Ayashimon Review

Whenever a series gets cancelled you feel a little bad because it could have kept going and become the next Naruto. A series that everyone respects as one of the all time greats. I know that’s what I was thinking the whole time for many titles since if you ask me, a series that it good should just continue forever. Never end the series unless it’s actually bad. Now, this one may not have been super amazing or anything like that but it was pretty good and definitely should have lasted longer.

The series starts by explaining that the demons used to all be ruled by a single man named Kioh. He was a strong monster who kept everyone in check and under his rule things just worked out. Unfortunately he died under mysterious causes and so the group descended into a bunch of small gangs. In particular there are now 4 gangs that rule the world and they are all striving for power. We are then introduced to the main character Maruo.

Maruo is really obsessed with Shonen Jump and has read all of the big titles. He lives his life like he’s a protagonist and is bored because everyone’s too weak. That’s when he bumps into a girl named Urara who is being chased by a bunch of demonic yakuza. Maruo beats them up and decides to serve her as a Yakuza member. She is the daughter of Kioh and intends to destroy all of the demons and become the top family again. Maruo will help to the best of his ability because he really wants to get some good fights. Can he pull this off or is it game over?

So lets start off with some of the good parts here. The series has solid action. I enjoyed the action scenes here and the series has good art from the start. Usually you’d expect it to be a little rough around the edges but it holds up from the jump. At worst I would say some of the designs may not be all that memorable but you won’t have any trouble reading what’s happening in the scenes. It all just flows together really well.

I also thought the character cast was good. Perhaps a bit small but I think this would have ended up being a solid team. The manga moves rather quickly and it’s already getting a little high tier with the feats. There’s a lot to like here and while the manga delves into some darker subject matter, I wouldn’t say it goes too far. The idea of uniting all of the Yakuza gangs is also a classic. Just replace “Yakuza” with almost anything and you’ll see that it’s a classic kind of plot. Maruo and his friends need to be the best and it’s a tested formula.

So what happened, why did this series get cancelled? Well, I do think some of the world building elements may have been a little too much too soon. For example we learn about different kinds of ghosts here and how they can only stay alive through coins and belief. It’s hard to say which is more important but we know for a fact that demons turn into coins when they’re destroyed. The others can then use that to strengthen themselves. Belief somehow helps keep you tangible as well but it’s hard to say if this turns into more coins or not.

Otherwise, how does it help when you’re made of coins? The series goes on to show that demons exist in another realm and the coins help them get a physical form. That’s a little odd to buy into though, what is this other realm and are they always just floating around but invisible and intangible? As you can see, you can make sense of this whole thing if you make some assumptions and connect the dots but the series overcomplicates the issue a bit too much.

Especially because it’s honestly not that important. Just say that yokai are made out of money and when they die other demons use the money to get stronger. Boom, you’ve still got everything you need without big info dumps. Especially when a series is new you don’t have time to be throwing info at people like that. Still not a big enough issue for the series to have been cancelled though.

I suppose Maruo’s backstory was a bit grim with his having an abusive father and all but main characters have had worse. I was really surprised by this but it’s handled fairly well. It explains why Maruo got into manga and how he trained to become so strong. Usually you have the heroes training to fight some end of the world boss or something but here it was just so that he wouldn’t get absolutely crushed day in and day out. It was a pretty interesting change of pace there.

As a main character Maruo may not stand out a whole lot but he’s a good kid. He likes to fight and is always trying to get stronger. That’s already the most important step for a main character so he’s off to a very good start there. He may be a little too one note in how obsessed he is with Jump but I’m cool with it. You have to establish character traits early so I can see why he is this obsessed. I think it would calm down a bit as the series goes on. His physical strength was impressive and I always like a brawler fighting style.

Maruo is a loyal guy and doesn’t give up easy so I’ll always remember him as a pretty solid character. Then you have the heroine Urara who is good. She has mixed feelings about exactly why she wants to be at the top. In part it’s because she wants to bring honor back to the family name and in another way it’s also because she wants to find out the truth about what happened to her father. I’m sure there would ultimately be tons of twists about her father had the series kept going. Still, she did her best and tried to follow the rules the whole time. Things just didn’t work out for her.

She ultimately becomes a good character once she decides that her friends take priority over the revenge. At that point she was really making all of the right decisions and goes from being a shady boss to one who has found her priorities. Hopefully she’ll get a longer time limit on her super form eventually though because only being able to use it for a few minutes is pretty iffy. It would also be nice if she could fight at least a bit in base considering how powerful her father was. Perhaps as the series went on she would have gotten stronger.

So the first story arc has the heroes decide to find a weak gang to beat up so they can have a base of operations. They run into a demon named Ten who gladly invites them over to take out his mean boss. Maruo pulls this off easily enough and it works well as an introduction to show how strong he could be for a human. The series does give an explanation for this like every few thousand years a human is born with incredible power. I almost feel like you didn’t need an explanation for this but I suppose it’s better than nothing so that is still fine.

The villains here are mainly one shots aside from Ten who actually joins the team. I can’t say that I was particularly impressed with the guy though. He’s your classic coward type character who is afraid of everyone and can’t fight. That’s definitely not the kind of guy that you want to have on your squad. He gets one fight before the series ends and the whole thing is really cheesy. Ultimately he wouldn’t have done much to help the dynamic if the series had kept going on.

Then we get to the first big arc which introduces us to the leader of the strongest gang, Doppo. Doppo kidnaps Urara’s informant Hashihime and it’s clear that he plans to take her out for the count. She was a bit of a double agent which is always a super risky job. Maruo figures he can take this guy down since Shonen Jump heroes never lose. It’s a good way to show off one of the end game threats of the series and to have Maruo lose. The action was good and everything but I just had one big issue here.

You immediately realize that what will give Maruo some pep back in his step is that he’ll remember how leads can lose the first fight but then will win the rematch. The reason the plot is too contrived here is because Maruo was already established as a complete manga expert. There’s no way he would somehow forget that the heroes lose from time to time. DBZ is one of the series that he said he read and Goku lost his share of fights. So the author could and should have handled that part a lot better.

Hashihime was a really solid character and I definitely missed her once she was gone. She could fight and did rather well in combat. At the end of the day that’s just not enough when you’re up against Doppo’s group. Her flame powers were fun while they lasted. Then you have Doppo as the big leader of his group and that guy was a solid villain. He is one of those quirky types who likes his artwork and making sure his victims don’t die easily.

He explains that this was actually difficult because of course in this world the demons will die naturally without money and if they recover too well it could be dangerous. Well, his idea is to let them partially regenerate and turns them into piggy banks which forces them to stay alive. The whole thing was very clever on his part. It’s good that they’re made out of coins though or the scene could have been a little too grisly. Either way it is rather disturbing for anyone who gets captured by him. You do not want that to happen.

Doppo’s power is able to suck fire out of anything or anyone which is interesting. I haven’t quite seen a power like that before and I thought it worked really well. It helps the ability really stand out next to the others. A normal ice ability wouldn’t have stood out as much. I may not be the biggest fan of the guy but he certainly lives up to the hype with how powerful he is. Even by the end of the series he isn’t taken out.

Next up is more of a small arc as the heroes realize they need to get much stronger while also increasing the fights at their disposal. The best option is to form a truce with the biker gang. Naturally this ultimately leads to a clash between their leader Kotton and Maruo. Kotton reminds me of an Accel World type character with how he zooms all over the place. He’s incredibly fast, maybe too fast as it’s hard to see Maruo fighting with him at all. Sure, Maruo is getting wrecked for most of the fight but maybe it should have been for the whole fight. The water weakness was convenient against Kotton but he should still be too fast to fall for any traps.

It could have been worse as the author at least tries to cover the bases but that’s always an issue with speed types and I think it would have continued on even further here if it had kept going. I liked Kotton as a character though and now he’s a guy who could really add onto the dynamic. He likes a good fight and is all about friendship and protecting his men. He’s the kind of leader you want to have on your side.

Finally we enter the last arc where Urara is kidnapped at a hotel by Tamagawa, another one of the leaders. His ability is to shapeshift and he even gains that person’s powers. It’s a solid ability with the only downfall being that if he stays in the shape for too long then he can’t transform back. That’s certainly a risk here but one that is likely worth the extraordinary powers that he gets. This guy is one of those by the books fighters who doesn’t like to live on the edge. He’ll take the safe option every time.

He didn’t really stand out to me even though he did make for a very solid boss. He’s more of an obstacle than a big character. This worked as a preview to the final boss with Doppo though as the guy turned into him. Since the author likely knew the series was ending at this point, it makes sense why he would have the guy turn into Doppo. If the series did end then at least Maruo got his revenge in a sense.

At 25 chapters long the series escaped the U-19 club but ultimately it still didn’t last a very long amount of time. It feels like you have the series wrapped up in an instant. As you can tell I had a good time with it. Sure, it may not have broken out on its own as some kind of elite or really stood out a ton but ultimately it got a lot more things right than wrong. Each chapter was fast paced and the story was engaging.

The story also had a good amount of humor which worked well. Maruo constantly talking about beating people up or using his special attacks was always entertaining. The series was even going for almost a One Punch Man kind of vibe with Maruo one hitting everyone for a bit but it branched out early on so I wouldn’t say that it was trying to rip that off. In general I thought the power escalation was handled well. Maruo faced off with his first real challenge right away but won enough fights where his hype was warranted. That’s a good way to go here and of course the series had its emotional moments as well. I think you could easily retool this into a one-shot movie since the series didn’t keep going.

Occasionally it would have some tonal clashes like the heroes having a comic relief, slapstick fight against the villains in the hotel but for the most part it was relatively serious. The action was good and I do think the author was working hard to get in a solid main cast. I always have a section on what the series could have done differently to avoid getting cancelled and I listed them earlier, but I do think the author tried really hard. I’m a bit surprised that it didn’t go further. The series didn’t really have any fanservice and it seemed primed for big things.

Overall, It’s a shame that Ayashimon ended but I suppose they can’t all be winners. I would definitely recommend this if you’re looking for a solid action manga. Maruo was getting stronger and stronger so it would have been nice to see what heights he could have reached. Perhaps a sequel will be out someday but I’m always super skeptical. It is a longshot after all but never rule it out. This is at least one series that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon, especially with how bold it was to have characters like Goku and Joestar actually appearing in Maruo’s head.

Overall 7/10

Breath of Fire II Review

I was really satisfied with the first Breath of Fire and I can safely say that this one is a really good sequel as well. I wouldn’t quite say that it beats the first as it loses out on at least one big quality of life feature but it’s still a really solid game all around. To compensate for that it does have the better story here. Either way if you like RPGs then you will definitely like this game.

It actually starts off with some Undertale type vibes as the main character and his pal enter a dark cave and things get rather trippy. You have an evil eye that it always running around, a giant monster that murders them, and things like that happen. Finally, a few years pass by and Tery’s (That’s what I called the lead) best friend Bow decided to become a bit of a thief. He is going to help this one guy who was already stolen from so in a way it’s like payback but it backfires and now everybody thinks he is a thief. Tery must quickly come to his aid and prove Bow’s innocence. Additionally Tery must find out why nobody remembers him and why his whole family is gone. Does it have something to do with the main villain?

There are a ton of monsters in this world so naturally it is not quite the kind of place that you want to be when things get tough. Tery got to meet one of the more powerful creatures in the tutorial after all even if he isn’t sure whether it was a dream or not. There’s this whole emotional system too where talking to people will light up or darken your crystal but there didn’t seem to be much of a point to it. Perhaps it alters your ending but I would have liked it to have made a bigger difference throughout the game. I appreciated how the game would get rather spooky at some points but ultimately it’s more for show than anything else.

The game is fairly long and you can certainly expect to take many hours to conquer it. Unfortunately the game doesn’t track your play time but it has to at least be 25-30+ hours. There’s a whole lot to do here, villages to help and party members to recruit. Additionally there is no easy way to bypass minions. So in the first game you could buy an item that stopped them from appearing for about a minute or so. I would stock up on as many of those as possible and it was a great deal but that’s not the case here. There is an item that (barely) reduces how often they spawn but it can’t prevent it.

Half the time it feels like the item didn’t do anything to be honest so it was a bit of a waste. It’s too bad they didn’t bring the item from the first game back because it’s just so much more peaceful when you’re able to run around and don’t have to worry about minions attacking. You can explore to get treasure and all kinds of things like that. Trying to run is usually not going to work so you have to keep rewinding until it does or you could just fight every minion in your way.

It is good for grinding I suppose. Speaking of which, be prepared to grind a whole lot here because the final bosses suddenly jump up a bunch of levels. They were not playing around but I would expect nothing less from an RPG final boss. Those are the kind of opponents that you want to go all out. Show us why you are the demon king or whoever the final boss is. The final battles are really an endurance test so buy as many potions, revives, and MP items as possible. I had over 100 items when you add in the amounts for each and I still barely made it. That was definitely not easy in the slightest.

The game’s ending isn’t super satisfying though. You can’t help but feel that Tery made the wrong choice unless there is some kind of true ending here. He overthought things but it did work as an intense twist of sorts. The game always has that uneasy feeling thanks to the prologue which shows just how effective it was even if the rest of the game plays it straight for the most part. The story is really engaging so you should be having a blast from start to finish. Tery’s companions were definitely really good as well and if anything the toughest part is deciding who to keep home.

Each ally has their own special ability which you’ll need on the hub world. One can fly, one can swim, one can jump, etc. So there will be times when you have to switch companions and you just can’t worry about it. Additionally some characters have a 1 on 1 story fight that can’t be skipped so if they are at a low level then that’s game over. You obtain shamans to power up your fighters but one if missable which can be disappointing if you didn’t get him. So if you see a chance to donate some money later in the game, make sure you click donate 20 times. If you don’t do that then you won’t get him at the end.

That’s really my main tips here, you should be able to get through the game with no real issues. The graphics are real good here and some aspects of the game have aged extremely well with the visual style. For example there’s one boss fight where you’re falling off a tower and then there’s a scene where Tery is running through the flames. You don’t see a whole lot of cutscenes using the sprites like this outside of combat so I thought that was pretty cool. The soundtrack is also good although as far as RPGs go I wouldn’t say it stands out a ton.

This is the kind of game that just freezes once you beat it so that means there is no replay value. Fortunately the main campaign is so long that this really is not an issue in the slightest. You’ll get to have your full barrel of fun here. The cast is fairly solid and of course Tery steals the show even if he’s the silent kind of protagonist so you won’t really see him talk here. You just know that he has what it takes to win.

Overall, Breath of Fire II is a great follow up to the original. I would probably still learn towards the first game as a whole even though this one had the better story. Breath of Fire is certainly one of those games that could do well with a modern sequel or remake. After all stories about dragons are always cool and this one has plenty of them. It’s a very challenging game so you do need to keep your guard up but then making it to the ending is that much more satisfying.

Overall 8/10

Fall Guys Review

It’s great to finally have Fall Guys as a free to play game. I remember that one got a ton of hype along with Among Us and really broke out into the mainstream. Well, I can say that Fall Guys lives up to the hype and is definitely a fun title. There is a lot of downtime both between and during matches so you’ll want to have something with you to read or play in those moments but the actual gameplay is a lot of fun.

The controls are extremely simple here. You can move, jump, dive jump, and grab things. That’s it, the idea is to survive until the end and have everyone else be eliminated. This is done over the course of a few different events that will test your platforming skills. At the end of the day the big thing here is definitely being able to react quickly and get to the end. The really fun part of course is that you’re up against a bunch of fellow players who are presumably good at platformers too. So it’s not like you’re styling on a bunch of A.I. or anything like that. You’re going up against potential world champs.

It’s also not easy to win because the levels themselves are also reasonably challenging. So between that and the other players then you’ve got quite a lot to balance out. I managed to get 1 win during my first day of playing but it still did take quite a few rounds before I got there. Don’t expect to get a win right away. No matter how good you are at platforming, it’s still going to take a little bit to get used to exactly how this works. Also, there are quite a few different levels and they randomly alternate so eventually you just want to be really good at all of them. Otherwise all it takes is one tough minigame to knock you out of the event.

Once you lose you can choose to stay and watch the others or leave. I personally recommend leaving so you can start the next event a little sooner. On the flip side if you win a level early then you have to keep on watching until the rest of the players make it. This is the downtime I was talking about before and so you’ll probably want to have a plan for that. Otherwise it probably can drag a little which could hurt the experience for you. It is necessary as I don’t see how the game can get around this though. So just stay ready and then you go up against all the rest in the next minigame as well. Rinse and repeat until you are the single champion

Naturally the game does have a level up system and lots of quests so you can work on those as you play the game normally. It’s always fun to have some kind of progression system and I dare say that any free to play game which is lacking in this will probably end up having a rough time. You need some kind of way to keep people coming back after all and this is a very tried and true way of doing it. The replay value never ends that way and the devs will just need to hit that sweet spot of getting new levels from time to time without removing all of the classics too quickly. I feel like they will be able to pull this off though.

It’s a rather simple formula that is hard to mess up. Who doesn’t like platforming anyway right? So long as the rest of the levels are fun like this one then I think you should be in a really good position going forward. The graphics are nice and while the little characters themselves may not be super stylish yet, you’ll unlock different wardrobe items to fully customize them. I expect within a year or so you’ll have countless items with which to make them hit the next level.

How long you stay with this game will probably depend on wat else you’re playing at the moment. After all, picture playing a Mario level for a while. It’s a lot of fun but how long will you keep playing until you decide to call it quits? A progression system in and of itself is probably not enough to keep you on the title forever. That said, one of its strengths is certainly how easy it is to pick up and play at any time. You don’t need to actually remember the game at all to quickly remember how to jump and move around. So as long as you have it downloaded you can easily feel like just playing it on a whim at some point.

Overall, I had a good time with Fall Guys. The developers were really smart in deciding to make a game like this. It’s one of those things that feels obvious afterwards since this is just a really great gimmick to go with. Who wouldn’t want to just be playing a lot of platforming levels and having a blast like this? It was satisfying to get the 1st place that one time after all and no matter what happens you always feel like you won or lost by your own efforts. At least right you never feel like the level RNG elements override your abilities. That’s probably the main thing the game needs to watch out for. Keep on experimenting and bringing in new things but be careful not to go too crazy. I’m confident this game can pull off the balance though.

Overall 7/10

Father of the Bride Review

When you’ve got a movie with a very laidback premise like this you know that it’s going to feel like a very long movie. Whether this is a good or bad thing will definitely depend on the writing and the characters. If this is handled poorly then that’s really game over but if handled right then you’re in for a fun time. Fortunately I can say that this was a fun film. While it was hard to get behind the actual romance, I did like the main guy’s reaction to all of this.

The film starts off with Stanley in a fair good mood. It’s been a nice day and he’s enjoying dinner with his family. That’s when his daughter Kay drops the bombshell that she likes a boy named Buckley and intends to marry him. This sends Stanley into hysterics while Ellie is thrilled with the idea because she wants to be a grandmother. The next bombshell drops which is that according to standard customs, the parents of the bride must pay for everything and spend their whole life savings on the wedding. Stanley’s life has now been turned upside down…can he make a comeback here?

So in a lot of ways I sympathize with Stanley because I do think the whole wedding gig has been absolutely taken over by corporate and nobody realizes it. It all starts with the Wedding Ring that you have to spend a ton of money on as a symbolic gesture of love all the while not realizing that you are just tossing money into the tank. Why do you think so many people believe they have to spend a fortune on the wedding and make it a big event where they hire planners and such?

Big Business came up with that and have been laughing all the way to the bank for years. I’m telling you it’s just not worth it. If you ever end up getting married, make it a very small affair where you just get it official and don’t even worry about the ring. Once that’s done you can have a fun house party where everyone brings a dish of food and you all celebrate. Now you’ve taken the middle man out of the equation and just made it a really fun time like a Christmas party or something like that. You’ll have also saved on thousands of dollars minimum which is a really big deal.

You can then put that money to far better use. In the film we also see that Stanley has to pay for every person that attends. Forget that. I’m calling up my friends and telling them that they’re paying to attend if we’re doing some kind of formal gathering. Everyone pays for themselves and that keeps it even stevens. Definitely makes it all a whole lot better if you think about it that way. Of course you don’t even run into that problem if you do my suggested way. There are a ton of ways to save money on this while still having a great time with the wedding if you think it through. Naturally you should be thinking that through with your partner well before the actual date so it doesn’t become a surprise.

Throughout the film Stanley runs into the issue of having to lose money at every corner and that’s why you feel bad for him. He had been saving up for so long and to see it all go in an instant like this has to be rather rough. It’s hard to just get that money back when you’re already later in life like this. Ultimately he’s still a good sport for Kay’s sake and that’s definitely appreciated. He could have been harsh about it but didn’t want to guilt trip her about the whole thing.

Stanley also has a good sense of humor and helps give the film a lot of life. His inner monologues are really solid and the film has great writing in general. He’s definitely thinking things through all the while and he also stands up for his school when Buckley’s father gets a little ahead of himself. Ultimately you can always count on Stanley and he’s the standout character in the film.

Ellie is solid as well. She’s his contrast for most of the film as she is thrilled about all of this right from the jump. Ellie also wants a really big wedding and is eager to help out with it. At times Stanley gets so nervous that he ends up getting her nervous as well but in the end she always bounces back.

Then we have Kay but she would be my least favorite character in the film. She’s constantly bursting into tears and running off whenever she is confronted in even the smallest way. This even leads to her nearly cutting all ties with Buckley after we’re super deep into the film. He calls her spoiled at one point and you definitely see it. It’s to the point where she’s super irresponsible about the whole thing. Imagine if they hadn’t talked her out of it and she did cancel the wedding? A lot of the expenses can’t be taken back so the parents would have been out of a ton of money with nothing to show about it.

Even then Kay seems more upset about herself than the money. She barely ever lets Stanley get a word in edgewise before panicking or getting super defensive. Even when the characters are being very pragmatic like discussing which invites to cancel since they were over budget she runs off and starts yelling. It just ended up being impossible to like her and she made the whole situation a lot tougher on Stanley and the crew than it needed to be. The first red flag was not even telling her parents that she was in a relationship so serious that she was ready to get married.

Finally we’ve got Buckley and he seems okay I guess. The guy is constantly nervous but seems successful in his business. It raises some questions for the sequel but here he is really well off to the point where Stanley is rather surprised about it. Buckley’s got his priorities in order and will ultimately be going places. At least they know Kay will be in good hands. I think Buckley does try to make an attempt to do the right things an get a good bond with Stanley even if that tends to be tough.

As the whole film is building up to the wedding that is why it can feel long if you aren’t engaged. To me the film does a great job of staying interesting but I will say that it still does feel long. Because the plot doesn’t change much you can really see how it takes a while to get to the end. It’s a good movie though so that just means there is more time to enjoy the characters squirming and wondering what to do.

Overall, Father of the Bride is a pretty good movie. It doesn’t overstay its welcome even if the length gets a little close to that point. You’ll probably sympathize with Stanley a lot on all of the wedding traditions that have to be kept because they’re historic even when they aren’t particularly practical. I can’t imagine tossing so much money up for an event like that but I know that it’s still the popular thing to do. The movie got a sequel so you can expect a review on that pretty soon as well.

Overall 7/10

Megaman ZX Advent Review

This is one of those manga titles that is just so tragic on every level. It’s got solid art and it’s based on a game that should be a lot of fun. Just give me a straight to business manga where the heroes are fighting off the mavericks. It’s not that complicated…and yet the series goes straight to being a gag manga like the Zero title. It only gets serious for the final two chapters and of course by then it’s over anyway so there’s not even much of a point by then. It’s a true shame….feels bad man. Feels….baddddddddd.

So the manga starts with Ashe on one of her treasure hunts when she bumps into a little kid named Grey. He has the ability to bio merge with the model robots that are nearby and so he can become Megaman. Ashe figures that will be handy in her hunts and so she recruits him to the team. Grey is happy to help since he just loves to mess around. Their mission is officially to grab Model Ws which can be used to help resolve the energy shortage on the planet but Ashe just wants to be rich so that’s her main priority. Will she be able to get rich in 10 chapters?

Every chapter has a different maverick show up to cause some trouble and take names. The heroes pack them up and go on their way. The chapters are fairly short so it’s easy to go along with the formula approach but it’s just not a great formula. So you’ve got Ashe, Grey and Model A running around all the time. Model A’s whole character is that he’s a perv and that’s even how he is introduced in each chapter’s cover page. Man that’s a sad reputation to have. The manga seems aimed fairly young so at least his antics don’t get too crazy but he still tries to cop a feel and such which is just disgraceful for a Mega Man character.

Model A is just awful the whole time. Then I don’t get why this series decided to not have Ashe be a fighter. Basically she can’t fight at all and I don’t know what she would have been doing before Grey showed up. Evidently she’s been in the group for a while so did her hand gun actually prove to be all that she needed? This is even worse when we find out in the very last chapter that she also has the ability to merge into Mega Man but didn’t realize that because she always had to keep her distance from Model A since he was so suspect.

I don’t blame her for not wanting to merge with him but it’s all just such a forced way to keep her out of the battlefield. If you were going to make her a noncombatant anyway then just don’t even put her in that arena. Have her stay as a support/treasure hunter right through to the end. Otherwise it’s just a tease the whole time. Even with that she still manages to be the best out of the trio.

For Grey, he’s just too young. The kid is always messing around and never gets serious. I suspect that he really doesn’t even understand the true gravity of the stakes right now. Not like there’s much danger since he can dominate any opponent anyway but they should have made him a little older. That would have done a world of good for the character if you ask me.

Aside from the main 3, you have the robot for each chapter but of course they’re dead almost as soon as they appear so they don’t get a lot of character. For example Buckfire is up first and before he can sizzle the characters then he is vanquished. The water type is blown up before she can even be introduced. Rospark at least gets to have her main trait as a flirt but is still taken out without mercy. The most tragic one might be Vulturon because the poor guy was just trying to play his music but he was doing better than Ashe so she declared that he had to die.

The scene is played as a gag as they murder the poor guy but when you actually think about it, he hadn’t really done anything wrong yet. Sure, as a maverick he probably would have done something soon and in most games the villains are basically shoot on sight but with how the robot reacted you couldn’t help but feel bad for him. He really didn’t think he had done anything to deserve being completely destroyed and I can’t really argue against that.

Albert was the big villain in the game so you’re probably waiting for him to turn evil here but that barely happens. He’s the comic relief scientist for most of the chapters as he tries to use the W energy for good each time but it tends to backfire in his face. He has Ashe and Grey babysit his kids at one point as well. The only time they get to fight him is when the W energy takes him over and they beat him up real fast. Then he’s back to being comic relief again. Such is the fate of Albert in this continuity.

Interestingly in the final 2 chapters it’s like a whole completely different series just like with Megaman Zero. Suddenly Albert is evil and shady and there is a whole new group of villains. You have Prometheus and Pandora talking about how the great Megaman war is approaching as all the Megaman are gathering across the planet. We see characters like Vent and Aile, Omega, the 4 guardians from the Zero games, Grey and Ashe, and someone who looks like Copy X all show up. It’s a great premise for a series that’ll never come out.

Why have all the cool things at the very end when it won’t amount to anything? It always reminds me of what a wasted opportunity this would have been. There’s so much cool potential that you can do with this instead of the actual gag manga that we got. I suppose I’m glad that these two final chapters were added in at the end but this is really the tone and feel that the whole series should have had. It would have been so cool and I want to see those characters mix it up. There’s a lot of great lore here.

Another thing that holds the series back is that it’s not very funny. I can’t say I’m surprised as comedic manga tend to be funnier when they aren’t the gag types. Gag manga tend to rely more on crude humor and everyone being super exaggerated instead of acting like real characters. That’s what holds them back here. The crude humor isn’t excessive at least, it’s probably just a scene or two but the main humor like Grey having to mimic animals to transform just doesn’t land. You probably won’t crack a smile here.

The art being strong is definitely the best point of the series. That’s at least something that you can point to if you want something really good to say about the series. There just isn’t much of a sense of purpose to this title and since I liked the original ZX a lot, this felt like a real step down. As always I’m glad for more Megaman content but I’m not sure why the Zero and Zero related titles tend to become gag titles. Doesn’t feel like that would be the first thing you think of when it comes to Zero right?

Again I have to point to the final 2 chapters on what you’d want to see in a Megaman title like this. A Megaman war would be unbelievably awesome. Even if you don’t go and grab some of the ones from alternate timelines like EXE or Starforce, there is still a lot to love here. My money would be on Omega and Vent as the top big dogs in the arena for sure. They should be able to soundly crush all of the other Megas in attendance but the fights would all be awesome nonetheless. You shouldn’t waste someone who is really good at drawing action scenes on a series without much action.

Overall, Megaman ZX Advent is a series that you’ll probably finish very quickly. After all 10 chapters goes by in the blink of an eye especially when they’re short like this. It’s not good but if you really want to see some more Megaman action then you may as well go with it. At least if they ever do decide to bring this one back and adapt the Megaman war then you’ll have some context for it. That’s definitely the best case scenario by a mile and is the optimal way to think about it even if that’s a super long shot. It’s more likely to hope for an X Dive manga which would be pretty awesome to be fair.

Overall 5/10

Death Note: Short Stories Review

It’s time to return to the world of Death Note. The concept/premise has so many possibilities that I’m surprised this isn’t revisited more. You could say it’s a bit of a gold mine of ideas. Think of it like Twilight Zone or something and you could have a different person get it each time. After a point you’ll probably want to make them fully standalone with the prior events not happening though because I think the longer it goes on, the tougher it would end up being with handling the reactions since having it first happen in the world is part of the fun with how shocked everyone is.

There are quite a few stories here as well as some 4 koma adventures. I won’t go into the mini strips but I’ll dive into the main stories. Of course one of the stories is one I reviewed back in 2020 so check out my full review for that one in this link. The story definitely holds up really well and is still a great What If. You feel like the Shinigami King effectively had to cheat to stop this guy because otherwise it was completely a perfect plan. There were no weaknesses and even Near had to admit defeat. So I thought that was really impressive and it’s a plan that holds up under scrutiny. Even if you think about it a lot of put yourself into Near’s shoes, there was likely no way to break apart this strategy.

There’s a story here for L’s origin which is fun enough. We see how he was a genius ever since he was a kid and how he got rich. Ultimately L gets inspired to be a detective which ends up being a strength of his. The guy is very quirky and has a lot of odd habits so it’s good that he became a detective because he probably would have struggled in more traditional situations. After all, the guy likes to do things at his own pace. I suppose he would be rich enough where he wouldn’t have had to worry either way but this way he has something to put his mind to focus on. There’s not much to it but seeing a glimpse into L’s past is always cool.

Now we dive into the 2 main stories that I hadn’t read before. The first one is C-Kira. Basically someone has appeared with the Death Note and is murdering all of the senior citizens who say they want to die. This Kira is effectively trying to be a mercy killer who only destroys the people who really want to die. Then it starts to go further as he’ll murder people getting in his way, people who criticize him, and this all starts to go down a path we’ve seen before. The police quickly contact Near but unfortunately he doesn’t care enough to help.

The ending to this story is incredibly convenient to the point where it does weaken the whole thing though. You can’t get me to believe that this guy could be stopped with a sentence or two on the air like that. I think the author wrote himself into a hole here because there would be no way to track this guy much like the previous story. After all, in this case people were volunteering their information so they could be murdered and anyone with internet or a TV could see them so the suspects are unlimited.

It helps to underscore how even with Light nobody could have ever tracked him down if he had played it safe. If he relied on public information rather than using classified police files then the heroes would have been cooked. Even if he hadn’t responded to L’s taunt with the big screen then it would have been that much harder to find him. Light technically did make a lot of mistakes and it was only his overall genius which kept him in the game so long. In this compilation you’ll notice that the characters constantly put him on a pedestal.

Of course they don’t agree with Light, that’d be crazy but they constantly talk about how he was so smart and how these new villains shouldn’t even be called Kira. It’s almost like a running gag where every chapter you can expect them to talk up Light to some extent. Light was a very fascinating character though so that makes sense. To date he’s one of the top main characters, I don’t think we’ll see very many villains who could match this guy.

Finally, we end with the pilot story involving the magic eraser. A kid gets a Death Note and accidentally takes down the bullies who had been messing with him. Naturally he didn’t realize that writing their names in the book would murder them but fortunately the eraser comes in handy. The cops get involved eventually and it becomes a whole big thing. As you can guess the eraser was a pretty big deal here. It would completely change the dynamics of the main series if it were to actually be here. After all, any and all deaths could be immediately reversed in the series which would lower the stakes but also add a whole new element into the mix.

Ultimately the eraser is an interesting idea but you can definitely see why it wasn’t put into action. I think there’s enough potential where you could do a whole series with that concept and I’d be interested to see how the characters react to that, but I doubt it would past the original. Still, from these various stories you can see the overall potential of the universe. There’s just a whole lot here and this is only scratching the tip of the iceberg.

For example we see that a lot of people still look up to Kira. Apparently Light’s actions caused all war around the world to end and lowered crime by 70%. It’s one of those classic examples where the ends don’t justify the means but once someone already did all of that, you have no choice but to accept the benefits. Some characters still resent that this had to happen while others have made peace with it already. Still others continue to root for Kira. In the story where he is murdering the people who want to die, it’s an interesting discussion. You could ultimately use the Death Note to help someone pass on peacefully without any pain. (Conceptually at least. This guy still went for the heart attack in each case since he didn’t seem to know about the rules)

As always though we see how this corrupts each of the users. No matter the intentions, the Death Note will ultimately cause its user to want more and more power until they start murdering just anyone. It’s just not a good idea to use it and murder is always wrong. Seeing the characters wrestle with the notion of this being wrong while also being tempted to let it play out is the most interesting dynamic here. You could probably talk in circles about how cool the premise is for quite a while to be honest.

If you’re a Near fan then you might not be super pleased with him here. Personally I never cared for the ugy much and this volume reminds me why. He barely ever tackles any cases and he’s out of his depth when he does. His only win here is pretty much by chance since the villain should not have lost and I just feel like he never has the charisma or genius of L. The government is going to need a new L at this rate if any more Kiras show up. Meanwhile the art is really good too so it’s easy to follow the action. It’s a very detailed style that works well for a serious mystery title like this. The Shinigami world can be a little hard to visualize but that may be intentional to show how odd that world is.

Overall, It was nostalgic to see more Death Note stories here. I think the author needs to get to work on more of them. The idea of having a Death Note appear in real life would certainly be terrifying. Imagine everyone having to conceal their real names at all times so that nobody would find it out? A person’s birth certificate would suddenly be worth its weight in gold. It also makes you wonder how it affects things like changing your name. Does the Death Note take that into effect once it’s legally certified or the instant you change it? There are infinite things to discuss so ultimately the best thing to do is to read this for yourself and see what you think.

Overall 8/10