Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 50m
Event Play Time 10m
London Party Play Time 40m
London Party Complete: Gold Medal
Challenges Complete 4.8%
Events Won 3%
Stickers 9/104

Character Stats (Times Played)

Shadow 3
Sonic 1
Metal Sonic 1
Terry 1
Everyone Else 0


Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games Review

If there was ever such a thing as a low budget Mario and Sonic game then this is it. We no longer have the intense campaign mode from the first game and we don’t even get to keep the tournaments. With all of the characters and games already unlocked as well you just have to wonder what the developers were thinking. It’s not a bad game but it doesn’t do anything to help the Olympics legacy. It would have gone over better if this had been the first title in the series.

We do have a new mode though and that is essentially Mario Party mode. Here you run around a board trying to get items and bump into one of the characters who is running around. This will trigger a mini game. You want to win the mini games to get cards that you can put in your sticker album. Once you’ve obtained 16 stickers (or more depending on the length you choose) you will have won the game. Inside your sticker board you have two random items as well which may steal stickers from other players or just give you extras. They’re pretty handy so use them wisely. If you want to blast through the party then simply seek out the NPCs as soon as possible. I’m not sure if there is even a point to delaying it to be honest since grabbing the items didn’t actually seem to be doing anything. There’s probably something that I’m missing though.

I also have to point out that the mini games are starting to randomly get convoluted here. You should always be able to get a basic understanding of the game from the rules section before it starts. That wasn’t the case for the Dream Bike mini game. This one is a team game of 4 vs 4. You have to try and stay in a perfect line and shake your way to the goal. The problem is that you have to switch places during the race and the controls for being in the back were not clear. I struggled as best as I could but I just couldn’t form a line and I ended up losing the mini game and nearly the whole party map. I actually did lose the first time I played the mode, but I got them the second time.

Even the really solid games suffer from dicey instructions. Take the Nintendo/Sega trivia. The questions were solid and with prep time I could probably even get them right. However the game tells you to hold the Wii Remote horizontally when in fact you are supposed to hold it vertically. This cost me the very first question which I knew I would have gotten right. So the main point here is to read the rules carefully and be warned that you may not be able to win some of these games on the first try because you will have to figure out how it works.

One of the new games that is pretty solid is the throwing darts one. You essentially have to hit the bullseye as quickly as possible and try to get others. Essentially I don’t know if you go for all of the bullseyes but that would make sense. I hit 2 and won the mini game so just aim for the center and you will be all set.

We’ve also got some games that I believe are old like Table Tennis and Soccer. Table Tennis is the same old same old so I wouldn’t expect too much more out of that one. It’s a fun game as always but it didn’t take much effort to port it over. I forgot if soccer already existed or not but it doesn’t look good for this game either way since the soccer gameplay is probably the weakest I’ve ever seen in the genre. I know low budget Wii games with better soccer gameplay. Your passes always go too high so it is usually safest to take the bell through the whole field yourself before shooting. That’s just not good gameplay and teamwork is supposed to be the name of the game here. I just don’t know how you can possibly mess up a game like soccer this way.

100mm Swinming is another mini game that doesn’t even try to hide how recycled it is. It’s the exact same controls as always in what appears to be the same background. It’s a good mini game so I’m fine with it coming back of course, but we just should have had more games. Reusing minigames is like bringing back old fighters in a classic fighting game. It’s a great move and one that I stand by 100%. However, if the cast is unchanged then there is no point in upgrading as in the case of Godzilla Save The Earth to Godzilla Unleashed on the PS2.

What this Olympics should have done was have close to 40-50 events. They could easily have brought back events from the previous games in addition to a bunch of new ones. The only reason why I could see this being a bad thing is if they are trying to perfectly emulate the games that will be at each Olympics. If that is the case then I suppose they will need to find another solution (have the old mini games be unlockable) but either way we definitely needed more games than the rather limited amount that we got.

The graphics look nice as always at least. It’s about the same as the last game only without the cinematic cutscenes so maybe it is actually a downgrade. Those cutscenes strike me as being the hard part after all but maybe the gameplay is just as difficult. Either way the last game did manage to do both so I’d give it the edge. When it comes to the soundtrack there is no contest that the last one was better. It blended together a bunch of brilliant themes from both Mario and Sonic which made the games even more fun. While this game has a lot of those songs in the music player, don’t expect to hear them very often.

As far as the replay value goes I suppose that there is a lot to buy here. You can use your money to buy clothes which boost your stats and you can try to earn medals for all of the various mini games. That could take a little while and then you also have a lot of challenges to complete for the bragging rights. Complete all of the challenges and you will really be an Olympics champ. Considering that the game is pretty cheap I’d say that this is already enough value to justify the cost.

Overall, This is one of those games that may have been more acceptable if it had been the first in the series. However it is the third and after seeing what this series could really do with the second game it feels like a total downgrade. The game just lost all of its heart and it felt like the developers just cashed it in this time. There wasn’t much effort put behind this game as far as I could see and even though this is a decent game I would recommend going back to buy the Winter Olympics instead.

Overall 6/10


Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis Review

It’s been a little while since I played the original Mario vs Donkey Kong so it was finally time to check out the sequel. Unlike the first game which used a mix of Mario and Mini levels, this one double down on the Minis. They’re definitely fun to play around with so while you will probably miss the standard levels, the Minis can hold their own game. It’s a fun sequel that gives you what you expect from this series.

The plot is that Mario dolls are selling really well while nobody wants the Donkey Kong ones. Pauline even grabs the Mario one while DK watches to rub it in. In return DK kidnaps Pauline and Mario was so busy antagonizing him that he didn’t have enough time to save her. Instead Mario sends in the Minis, but can they really hope to stop the legendary Donkey Kong? This guy packs a punch so they will have to use their sheer numbers and skill to put a stop to him.

This time around the gameplay uses the stylus the whole time as this is what allows you to control the Minis and to set off stage hazards. You must guide the 2-4 Mini Marios to the door which signals the end of the level. You win as long as one Mario survives, but naturally you get bonus points if you can get multiple Marios to the end. There will also be vines which you have to lure other enemies to destroy, springs to jump on, and many enemies that you can ride. The levels will usually allow you to get used to the hazards before they throw you in. The game never gets all that difficult though so you should have no problem getting through.

There are 8 worlds with each world having 9 normal levels in addition to a Mini level if you found all of the cards and a boss level as well. Then there are 2 final levels if you have gotten enough collectibles. Interestingly enough all of the boss fights except for the final one are the same fight, but with some added twists. You’re always trying to launch the Marios high up in order to either hit DK or cause something to fall on him. It may have been a stylistic choice to have the bosses be the same or a budget one, but it’s a pretty fun boss concept either way. Bouncing the Marios off the walls while trying to avoid the critters is just as tricky as it sounds.

The graphics look nice and colorful as you’d expect from Mario. The levels are all fairly compact and so the game doesn’t really need to go all out. Most of the objects and enemies are fairly similar so it likely wasn’t too hard to get all of the character models polished. As a result I would definitely expect everything to look good and it does so there’s definitely no issue. Nintendo always tends to deliver here. The soundtrack is fairly bland for a Mario game though. There aren’t really any memorable themes to be found here. You’ll likely be too focused on controlling the Marios to really notice this though.

After beating the game you do have some replay value when it comes to unlocking all of the bonus levels. You’ll want to get gold ranks on all of the stages and collect all of the cards for bonus Mini levels. Grabbing the cards is a fairly easy task, but good luck going for the golds. The game really expects you to earn them as nabbing the gold basically means that you have to play the stages perfectly. I actually think that this is the reason why beating the game was surprisingly very easy. Nintendo decided to make it so that you could breeze through the story and see the ending, but getting the gold medals would be the challenge. A lot of the levels start you off with at least one Mario right by the goal so you would be guaranteed to win, but if you wanted the rest of the Marios to survive then you would have to actually play the level and use teamwork to get through. Moving one Mario is easy enough, but coordinating all of them will likely take some practice.

I do have to quickly say that Mario looks rather iffy in this game. I still say that he was really antagonizing DK in the opening cutscene as he grins while Pauline holds his doll. That’s fine since of course he’d be thrilled, but he’s grinning directly at DK as the ape’s doll is completely ignored. He seems fine at the end and Pauline probably goes a little overboard when trying to make DK feel better, but I just can’t forget the opening. Something tells me that Mario is still holding a grudge with DK over some of the things that happened to them back in the day. I wish I didn’t have to put Mario on blast like this, but I can’t come to any other conclusion.

Overall, Mario vs Donkey Kong 2 March of the Minis is a fun sequel to the original. The original game will still take the win due to not having to rely on touch screen controls and having some normal Mario levels as well, but this one does a good job of operating well with the stylus. You will rarely if ever die because the game couldn’t read your swipe and you’ll probably end up grabbing a lot of cards along the way to beating the game normally. By then you may find yourself wanting to grab the final cards just so you will have truly completed the game. If you’re a Mario fan or just like brain teasers then this is the game for you. It’ll force you to always be thinking 3 steps ahead.

Overall 7/10


Transformers: Titans Return Review

It’s time for the sequel to the first Transformers Machinima show. The first one had some really cool atmospheric presence and a unique setting, but was held back by the extremely short run time and how much of it was wasted on nothing happening. It was a glimpse at a part in Transformers lore that you wanted to see more of, but couldn’t since it ended so early. With this sequel we’re thrown back in there. There’s less mystery and suspense in this installment since the smoke has cleared and it’s clear who the enemies are again, but we do get more action than the first season and more of a plot as well. I’d say that it’s an improvement over the first although I’m hoping the final season focuses a little more on the core Autobots and Decepticons in favor of the larger bots.

The first season ended with Windblade announcing that the Titans had returned and this season continues that. Trypticon has been awoken and what’s more, Starscream is in the driver’s seat. He doesn’t keep control the whole time and only seems to pop in and out periodically but this is still a serious threat to the heroes. They are all still beat up and bruised from the last season so they haven’t had time to regroup. Metroplex and Windblade lead the offensive against him while the Combiners, Optimus Prime, and Fortress Maximum also prepare to join the fight. Meanwhile, Rodimus Prime has decided that he doesn’t want to be a prime anymore and goes off on his own. Megatron appears to be content to sit on the sidelines for a while and Overlord has popped up to take advantage of the situation. Quite a lot of plot lines are occurring here.

Optimus Prime looks pretty good as always. He’s on top of the situation pretty quickly and does his best to contribute in the fight. He’s a little outranked by the sheer size and power of the Trypticon, but still gets his hits in. He’s definitely portrayed as being the strongest normal size bot with Megatron being his only equal. I’m hoping he gets at least one big fight in the next season. Hot Rod unfortunately looks really bad. This is currently Cybertron’s darkest hour and he decides to get rid of the Matrix now? He doesn’t even tell anybody about it. As Hot Rod he can’t fight that well and is taken down pretty quickly. Maybe he had more fun, but it definitely does come across as incredibly selfish. Not really a cool thing to do.

Megatron seems like he’ll have a really big role in the next season since he is crucial to both the Overlord plot as well as the Megatronus one. They may even be playing him up as a temporary leader to the heroes which is sure to have a lot of the other bots riled up. He’s pretty great as per usual and I’m ready to see him fight on. Overlord hasn’t done a whole lot yet, but the show has portrayed him as a legitimate threat. It’s hard to say how strong he is because both enemies that he took down were either weakened or not really fighters to begin with. I expect he will be quite powerful though and likely you would need Megatron or Prime to take him down. Maybe Windblade could put up a good fight, but it’s hard to see her winning.

Metroplex is the first of the big heroes to take on Trypticon. He seems like a reasonably good robot but is lacking in personality. He also seems like a terrible fighter who completely relies on his size, but that may just be a side effect of the animation. He falls for every single one of Trypticon’s incredibly slow attacks. Now anyone can tell you that I’m not the biggest fan of giant fights and this is why. They’re moving so slow that everything should be dodgeable. Especially since Metroplex is humanoid and should be slightly more agile. Then we have Fortress Maximus who is a really bad character. It’s his duty to fight Trypticon and restore order to the planet but he doesn’t want to do so. He is basically forced into helping out after Windblade nearly dies in the process and still doesn’t fight too well. By this point Trypticon is already pretty exhausted. Of course, win or lose it wasn’t going to help Metroplex with his weak personality. Windblade is still a fun character and this continuity is her best portrayal. She’s less of a mysterious warrior here, but still talks tough to everyone. She doesn’t really get a chance to have a big fight this time around, but I suppose it makes sense since there weren’t many opponents in this season. She is still one of the best characters in the show and has a solid design. She just needs bigger guns when in plane mode since she never seems to deal any damage like that.

Perceptor gets a fairly big role here as Prime chooses him to wield the Matrix. I was never a fan of Perceptor, but I guess he isn’t bad here. He still can’t fight though and can be a little annoying as he isn’t very quick on the uptake. I suppose every franchise needs at least one scientist figure but when you’re one of the only characters in an action show who can’t fight…it doesn’t bode well. He’s probably my least favorite character by default. Meanwhile, Trypticon is a fun villain. He basically spends the entire season fighting opponent after opponent in a nonstop battle with no breaks. It’s a pretty incredible feat of endurance. While his fighting style isn’t elegant, it apparently does get the job done. If anything, the ending to his plot is actually very rushed and anticlimactic. You almost want to root for him by the end since the heroes were just throwing wave after wave at him. If he’s stuck it out for this long then he may as well take the win right? Fans of this character will certainly like how tough he looks here.
Victorion and the Combiners still get a pretty big role in this season although they are largely ineffective. They actually get a brand new super form as they all merge but are still too small to really be of much use. The scale of the Titans really makes them live up to the title. You’ve got the normal bots, then the combiners who are about 2-3x normal size, then you’ve got the fused form which is probably 1.5x that and then the Titans which are 2-3x that. They’re quite large is what I’m trying to say. The Combiners are just annoying though as none of the members are smart and all they care about is fighting even when they are hopelessly outgunned. They just don’t have any plans in place at all and come across as reckless, but not in a cool way. They’re just cannon fodder.

The Mistress of Flame had some potential, but she really didn’t do much throughout both seasons. She will not be missed and didn’t even put up much of a fight in the end. She’s not bad, but always feels like this character could be interchangeable with anyone else. She is a ruler and that caricature is her only personality. I guess better to have a generic one than none at all right? Finally we have the big boss at the end of the series, Megatronus. He’s always been a really cool character who is even more of a final boss esque character than Megatron. His power is on a completely different level from most of the other bots and he is treated as one of the creators here. He has yet to look bad in any form of media that I have seen him in and this will likely be no exception. The series does have to be careful with the power levels rising so high though as having a finale filled with plot hax would not be a good idea.

The animation will still remind you of the classic PS2 video games, but not in a bad way. This style of CGI works pretty well as it feels like a video game which is preferable to CGI that doesn’t look like one and still isn’t good. The character designs are on point and the energy effects are pretty good. It would be nice if the fighting was a little faster though and I feel like that would improve if we had more of the normal sized bots fighting. That may be an optimistic thought though. I guess the animation just looks better when everyone is standing still, but I’ll still give it a thumbs up in the end. With all of the constant action going on, at least I was able to follow the fight scenes. There isn’t really a great soundtrack here. One or two good themes may show up, but you won’t remember them for very long. That’s unfortunate, but not altogether unexpected. It would have been a nice bonus, but isn’t a negative.

It’s rare to watch a show where a whole season is essentially one long fight. Honestly, this may be the only time. Sure, we’ve had seasons where the whole thing is a long series of fights like DBZ or Bleach, but one long fight? I can’t think of any. Perhaps Goku vs Frieza was one long fight, but I’m not sure. If the animation was a little better and more streamlined then this could have gone down in history as one of the greatest TV shows ever. It was still a good concept though. What helps this title as well is that the writing is engaging. You’ll be interested in what is happening from start to finish. There are also no human characters around to distract from the fights and what is happening on screen which is certainly a good thing.

It’s almost going to be hard to go back to the usual Autobots vs Decepticons plots in the other shows. I suppose they never get old, but I’ve love to see more of an ongoing show tackle the futuristic era. Prime and Megatron should certainly stick around as main characters though. Writing them out isn’t a good idea when they still have a lot more to do. Even in this show, Prime leaves for 5 minutes and the city is in danger again. Considering that Windblade warned them in the last season it also does come across as a little odd that Prime would choose now to leave.

Overall, Titans Return had quite a lot of action and the season went by quickly. I can see it going down as a cult hit in the future. As the only positive effect of having such short episodes, the pacing was always very quick so nothing actually dragged on. With all of the seeds already sown for the third season it should be interesting to see how it’s handled. If the episodes are the same length as they were for these last two seasons, At first I thought the series was possibly starting more plots than they could finish, but now it seems like it all actually could wrap up. Ideally it just won’t be rushed. I think the Overlord plot will be the subplot once again as Megatronus is the focus but there should still be enough time to satisfactorily complete both plots. Most likely then it’ll end with Cybertron in another rebuilding stage. Well, now the waiting game returns, but long story short, I would recommend watching this season. It’s not as if it’ll take too much time and it’s simply a solid action show. It’s really like watching a short movie or a 3 part adventure if you add up the run time of the episodes.

Overall 7/10


.Hack Part 3 Outbreak Review

The .Hack series continues with this next game. Getting Outbreak was no easy task given how expensive these games are, but I knew that it was time. It took a little while to relearn the mechanics and weird element system (Fire beats Water?….) but once I got those out of the way I was ready to dominate. It’s a really fun game even if it’s the shortest one.

I can’t give a great previously segment since I’m hazy on that myself but more and more people are starting to behave oddly. The World appears to be having an impact on the players’ minds. The Mods have decided to shut it down, but doing that would ensure that the people in a coma stay that way which would be unfortunate. Kite decides that the team should strike one last offensive at Cubia and the army of Databugs, but the only way to succeed is to have Helba, Wiseman, and the Mod on board.

Beyond the main plot there are a ton of subplots looming in the background. The Cat user from the previous games is deteriorating more and more as the games go by. At this point she doesn’t have long until she is completely corrupted. Her friend is worried but there really isn’t a whole lot that he can do about this situation. Then you have other characters who are trying to get treasure or other rare items and want Kite’s help with this. One character is even planning to leave the game which would be tragic. I did a few of the side missions. They’re not all that long so it wouldn’t be a problem to do them, but I’ll just put them off til the final game. Then I may have fun saving all of them if I need more rare items or I’ll just try and take the final boss head on.

The gameplay is exactly as you remember it with the unique mix of real time and turn based combat. As I mentioned, it will take you a little longer to get used to it if you haven’t played the game in a whole because there are certain nuances that make this game more complex than others. You will have to keep switching your party tactics since your A.I. Allies are completely dependent on this. Then you’ve also got to remember the types. Basically there are many pairs of two elements and both elements are good against each other. Water beats fire but fire beats water. Using the elements is absolutely required and will help you take down bosses. If you don’t use the elements then I’d say that you are really in a pinch.. It’s just such a massive game changer.

Level ups are important as well of course. While I was still relearning how to play I quickly focused on level ups. I got about 20 right away and that left Kite at level 70. That’s high enough for you to beat the game. Perhaps not easily, but it is achievable. You’ll still be a bit of a glass cannon without good equipment, but that is hard to get. I barely even notice the difference to be honest so just get used to carrying a lot of potions and revives around. You’ll absolutely need them and when your partners are running low on inventory you should give them some as well. Sharing is caring after all and if everyone is properly equipped it will make the whole journey a lot more manageable. The game’s difficulty is intense, but not unfair. Just have every element on hand even if it means lugging around extra equipment that you could have sold for more money. You can always find more ways to get money, but good equipment is hard to come by. Data Draining powerful enemies is probably the most efficient way of getting effective inventory.

The graphics are about the same as the other 2 which makes sense since it’s practically the same game from a technical standpoint. It looks good and the graphics have aged quite well. The glitch effects that occur when a databug shows up are still genius. It looks as if an actual glitch has appeared as the screen will go crazy and it sounds like a computer shuts off. It’s all very meta and really well executed. I’d like to see a modern game take a stab at something like this as well. With other big data games like Digimon and Sword Art Online still going, one of them should try to have an interface like this. I think it would work really well. There aren’t really any new tunes here or maybe there are and they just weren’t memorable. Either way, it’s very nostalgic. You’ll certainly remember hearing these themes from the first two parts and they’re still a lot of fun. I would like to have an extra theme or two, but the ones in the game are satisfying enough.

When it comes to the story length this game is a lot shorter than I was expecting. The first game was 25 hours long, the second was 15 and this last one was 12. I guess we’ll see how long the 4th game was but if it’s any shorter then it’s really going to breeze by. I also think I did more of the bonus content in the 1st game which helped its case. After beating the game there are a bunch of side quests to do here so there’s a ton of replay value. Leveling up and getting new equipment isn’t exactly a fast process either. It’s certainly worth the normal price. Granted, this game goes for around 50-80 dollars nowadays so you’ll want to think carefully on if it’s worth it or not. The game’s a lot of fun so I’d say it is, but don’t spend too much on it. Know your limits. It’s why I likely won’t be getting the final game for a while since it’s well over 100 dollars. That’s just way too much money for a single game and hopefully the price will go down at some point.

I have to mention one last time that it’s really cool how the game feels like an online MMO. There’s just so much to do here and the game keeps track of every little thing. How many objects you break, enemies met, etc. It gives you an incentive to just keep playing the game and you could easily cross 100 hours just by doing all of this. One slight improvement the game could make would be to allow you to get to the main menu without having to log out every time, but I guess that is for the added realism of being on your computer. It’s definitely pretty meta.

Overall, Outbreak is a solid addition to the .Hack series. While it is a little on the short side, the gameplay and story are on point as always. We’re one step closer to the climax now and I can definitely say that I’m a big fan of the franchise. I’m also looking forward to the GU titles as those definitely seem pretty action packed. Who knows, maybe I’ll do some of the side quests at some point while waiting for the 4th game. At least I leveled up a bunch ahead of time so when the 4th game comes out I should be ready to rock and roll. I just need to remind myself that type advantages are key and by putting that in this review I will definitely be prepared.

Overall 8/10


.Hack Part 3 Outbreak Stats and Records

Stats Time!

Play Time 54h 29m
Areas Visited 269
Grunties Raised 2
Grunty Foods 77
Encounters with Monsieur 3
Encounters with Grandpa 2
Symbols Activated 112
Treasure Boxes opened: 782
Items broken 585
Gott Statue treasure opened 16
Total Gift amount 90300GP
192/303 Monsters Encountered
41/76 Characters Encountered
16 Trades
Magic Portals opened 826
All Field Portals Opened: 4
All dungeon portals opened: 3

Character Levels

Kite Level 71
Mia Level 68
Orca Level 50
Marlo Level 69
Sanjuro Level 69
Nuke Level 68
Balmung Level 69
Moonstone Level 68
Piros Level 68
Wiseman Level 68
Elk Level 68
Natsume Level 68
Rachel Level 68
Gardenia Level 70
Terajima Level 61
BlackRose Level 69
Mistral Level 52


Cars 3 Review

It’s time to take a look at the end of the trilogy. Cars had a good run as there aren’t too many Pixar films that have gotten two sequels. That being said, while the final installment is pretty solid, I’d still say that the original Cars is the best one. This film just had one thing that went against it, but it was a fairly big thing, the ending.

The film starts off with Lightning McQueen in a big race. He is at the head of the pack as per usual but then he is passed by Storm, a new kid on the block. The kid claims that he used to look up to Lightning, but that the main character is just too old to compete nowadays. He throws a lot of age related burns Lightning’s way and the lead pushes himself too hard as he tries to catch up and ends up getting into an accident. This leads him to stay out of the races for a few months, but nothing can keep Lightning down for very long. He decides to get back into the races and to do that he will have to use the latest training tech. His sponsors were bought out by a millionaire who loves the high tech stuff, but he may not be quite as nice as the older guys. At the end of the day, Lightning is going to have to prove that he has what it takes to get back on the track and claim victory.

The theme of the main character getting old and being surpassed by new talent is certainly a tried and true one. Rocky is certainly well known for doing it. We even get a lot of training for Lightning as he tries to get better although the film fumbles this part a little. Lightning’s personal trainer, Cruz decides to follow him and she doesn’t believe that he has what it takes to go all the way. As such, Lightning spends most of his time helping her out instead of actually training. He doesn’t get much faster than he was so in a way old and actually ended up winning this time. Lightning looks good during the final race but he doesn’t end up winning so that’s too bad. It’s not like he got a clean win in the first film either but at least it was obvious he was going to win and the crowd reinforced this. In this film Lightning was only projected to make it to the top 10 before he tagged in Cruz. To be clear, the point of this part of the film is that Lightning couldn’t train as much as he wanted too so that was the film’s intention. I just say they fumbled the ball because the plot took a different turn than I had been hoping for. I wanted the hype comeback story where Lightning wins and then I’d be fine with him retiring. Having him put it all on the line one last time would have been exciting. Maybe Lightning would have been able to take 1st or maybe not. We’ll just never know. As the ending played I thought that Lightning and the trainer would both be competing but under different teams. That would have been neat.

The animation is as solid as ever. The film’s definitely does a great job with all of the car designs and I still crack up at their facial expressions. Throw in the grins and you are constantly entertained. The racing scenes look really nice and the music is also pretty good. The film has an actual soundtrack which is nice. Cars 3 definitely did a good job on all the technical levels. Even the way everyone says “Lightning McQueen” is a lot of fun. I don’t know why but they always seem to taking a jab at him with the way they stretch out his name but maybe I am overthinking it.

As expected the writing is also really good and is a considerable upgrade from the last film. It is just really great to have Lightning back as the lead. He does a great job of looking like the seasoned veteran you would expect him to be at this point. The mind games don’t really work on him at this point and he doesn’t take his training for granted. Even his depression phase was quite small and he snapped out of it very quickly. I do think it makes the initial teaser very misleading as the crash wasn’t nearly as bad as it implied, but it was a good misdirect. After all, the crash still did happen so it certainly wasn’t false advertising. It’s probably safe to say at this point that Lightning is one of Pixar’s best leads.

The supporting cast is solid as well. They brought back Lightning’s rival from the first film and he definitely does not like Lightning any more than he used to. In fact I’d say his aggression has only increased with age and he takes numerous shots at McQueen whenever he is on the air. His segments are definitely a lot of fun and certainly is a highlight of the film. What you have to respect the most about this guy is that he isn’t trying to put on some kind of act. He is straight forward about how he doesn’t like Lightning and I dare say that he is the most enjoyable character in the film. It just doesn’t get better than this guy.

The new villain is also pretty solid. Storm thinks that the younger cars are the ones who should be on top of the circuit and is always throwing insults at Lightning based on his age. He has a great design and his speed is certainly the real deal. The scene where he is training and passes a hologram of Lightning is a lot of fun as well. Jackson is arrogant and extremely confident. Those are definitely qualities that you always want in a villain and he pulls them off very well. We have yet to have a bad enemy racer for Lightning which is pretty impressive. All 3 opponents were fun villains. At least this one doesn’t play dirty til the end so he did win all of his races with skill.

Finally we have Cruz. I’m afraid that her character was a bit of a miss since the movie tries to portray her as a prodigy with the oblivious nature of Mater. This isn’t a good combo for many reasons, one of which is that these character traits really clash. You can’t be someone who really knows what to do on the track and also not have any real common sense for new roads. When she heads to the beach for the first time she has absolutely no idea how to drive. Cruz can’t turn and falls in every puddle. She is exaggeratedly bad at being a racer despite earlier scenes making a point of showing that she was great at the simulator. Then she is supposed to be a great trainer who is great at helping any car get to the next level. She individualized the training for each car based on which obstacles they had which prevented them from getting to the next level. Yet, she could not do the same for Lightning and instead seems to be trying to sabotage his chances of being ready for the race. Perhaps the angle that the film was going for was that she was such a big fan of Lightning that she really did think he was too old and didn’t want him to tarnish his legacy. That theory is a bit of a stretch though and either way it doesn’t really help her case. The part of her character that had the most potential was her dream of driving but even that is a little murky.

When this plot was first introduced I figured that they were going to say that Sue wasn’t able to be a racer because girls weren’t allowed at the time or in her district. It would have been very disappointing for her and would have been a legitimate reason for her to have hung up the tires in place of being a coach. Instead, she was simply intimidated by the cars and quickly gave up. It’s hard to be sympathetic to her plight because it sounds like she never even gave it a second go. She couldn’t have been all that excited to be a racer if she gave up on her goal so quickly. At least for me, this twist weakened her story.

I should wrap up this section or it’ll start to be as long as the rest of the review! This is just my explanation for why her character was ruined out of the gate. Her personality and what we knew of the character completely clash with each other. She appears to be smart and competent in some scenes and not so much in others. You’d think that the film switched writers midway or at least made some big changes to he character. As for the other supporting characters, they were okay. We got a group of older cars who help Lightning get ready for the race with some motivation and a track for him to ride on. They don’t appear too much of get much of a role, but they seemed like solid characters. The other cars back home got their cameos in as well.

The only relatively weak part of the film is when the gang heads over to the underground racing arena where they fight a Magic School Bus homage. It’s not so much that this is a bad scene but it basically feels like filler and I didn’t care for any of the characters there. This was also during the phase where Cruz was pretty annoying. I suppose it was a good way of showing that Lightning is proficient in all kinds of races, but that probably could have been handled better.

Overall, Cars 3 is a good way to end the trilogy. If the story does end here, it’s not such a bad way to end off. Lightning still should have won the race and that would have solidified this as a great film and the best in the trilogy, but I suppose you can’t win them all. If you’re looking for a fun racing film with a good lead then you have come to the right place. What really makes Cars 3 so solid is the fact that the writing is certainly on point. It’s an enjoyable film even when not much is happening because the dialogue is good. That being said, the pacing is pretty quick for the most part. I would definitely recommend this film. It’s an all around solid movie.

Overall 7/10


Kingdom Hearts II Review

This is another manga where I got to start it a long time ago, but didn’t finish until recently. The manga needed a remake for the ending to finally make it to America. Well, it’s definitely a pretty fun adaption. It doesn’t do much to go above and beyond what it was given from the game, but still puts a good amount of effort into it, making this a solid manga to read whether you’ve played the game or not.

The plot actually begins with Roxas since due to the ending of Chain of Memories Sora is still out of commission. Roxas gets to enjoy a few days with his friends, but quickly finds out that his destiny is a sad one as he must fight his way to Sora only to give his body up and fade away as a Nobody once more. A Nobody is a character who is a literal shadow f the main body and while Roxas can keep his soul, he loses his heart. The process is rather intricate, but the long and short of it is that Roxas makes the hard decision to sacrifice his life. We then go back to Sora as he must lead Donald and Goofy on one last mission to take down the evil Organization XIII and save the world. The villains want to use Kingdom Hearts to open the gate between dimensions and I believe this will end up destroying everyone or swapping places with the Nobodies. It’s been a while so I’m not 100% concrete on the details. It doesn’t change the mission of the heroes though and Mickey/Riku, as well as many other fighters are doing their parts to stop the organization as well.

While the manga can’t get to every single world it does adapt as many of them as possible. As it’s the longest of the Kingdom Heart manga titles, I would expect no less. Kingdom Hearts 358 seemed rather long at last check though, so I’m only fairly certain that II is still the longest. It gives you a good amount of time to get used to the characters and see the universe as opposed to jumping from fight to fight like in many adaptions. Although, that is a really good tactic to use as well if we’re being honest. The manga is certainly a direct continuation to the others though so I would recommend checking them out before reading this one. I’m fairly certain that it will help you enjoy this one more.

The art isn’t bad. When the manga goes for its action scenes it can get quite detailed. Not in a convoluted way, but in a way that enhances the action. Sora’s rage mode is depicted well towards the climax when he believes that his friends were murdered. On the other side, the manga does rely a little too much on exaggerated facial expressions for the gags. A tense scene will suddenly turn into a comic relief moment at the drop of a hat. I think the game did a better job at separating the comedic and tense moments and never being too over the top with the comedy. While those artistic moments aren’t my thing, it’s not a case of the art being bad. It’s probably one of the better manga adaptions when it comes to art.

My only real negative with the series is what I mentioned in the art section right above this. The big jumps from comedy to serious to comedy again can be a bit jarring. I think the manga probably goes a little overboard on the comedy instead of being more subtle. Still, that’s basically it and when that’s your only negative you know that the title is pretty good. The series ends with a mild cliffhanger as the heroes are called away to the castle for some reason, but you could also interpret it as just the manga’s way of saying that a hero’s journey is never over. I barely count cliffhangers like that myself for this reason.

Sora is still a solid protagonist as always and I do like him more here than in the original Kingdom Hearts. Sora is a lot more confident in his abilities at this point in time and has proven himself on many occasions. He can definitely fight with the best of them now and his new costume is cool as well. His final team up battle with Riku is definitely a lot of fun and it’s a fight that the original Sora would probably have had a lot of trouble with. Riku’s role here is certainly not as shady as in the original game since by this point he has basically mastered the powers of light and dark. If you think about it, it makes sense that he would be one of the strongest characters in the series. It’s rare to wield both elements.

Most of Organization XIII shows up here and many meet their demise which basically closes this chapter of the series. They all have their own unique personalities which is good. The best member is probably Xehanort. He has a great design and can fight really well too. I also liked the member with the blue hair (Vexen I believe) and Axel isn’t bad either although he can be a little wishy washy. The group definitely has a lot of real characters in their ranks.

As far as the Disney characters are concerned, they all appear to be in character. Even though the crossover is mainly with the Disney characters, I admit that I look forward to the Final Fantasy ones more anyway. Unfortunately I don’t think they actually keep in the Cloud vs Sephiroth fight, but it’s possible that I just don’t remember it. It’s been a long time since I read the first few volumes of the series after all. It’s still hard to believe it went on for a full 9 volumes before being re released in the omnibus format. So while I don’t mention the Disney characters much, their inclusion definitely makes the series even more fun. Who doesn’t know the classic Disney characters like The Beauty and The Beast? While I can’t really take them seriously in a fight against the Organization characters, I suppose they’re tough enough for the Heartless. It’s always good to see a familiar face among the characters and hopefully for Kingdom Hearts III we finally get the big team up with all of the old Disney and FF characters for a big climactic battle.

Overall, This is definitely a fun manga. It’s got a good amount of action and a good cast of characters. I’d definitely recommend checking it out. It’s probably the best of the Kingdom Heart manga titles although Chain of Memories puts up a good fight. I always really liked that game/manga. It was short, but had a bunch of fights. It’s similar to the Battle Frontier in the Pokemon anime. Still, with the extra volumes Kingdom Hearts II definitely had more time for a lot to happen. Reading all of the different titles back to back would probably be fun. It’ll be tough for 358/2 to top this one, but I’m looking forward to seeing it try its best!

Overall 7/10


Cars 2 Review

Cars 2 is definitely a sequel that never hit home with the fans the way that the first did. There are quite a few reasons for this, but the biggest one is that Lightning McQueen has been dethroned as the main character in favor of his comic relief sidekick, Mater. This is a huge downgrade and while Lightning still has a fairly big role, his scenes mainly remind you how great the film would have been if it had stuck to that.

The film starts off with Lightning McQueen finally coming back home in order to relax for a bit before the races start up again. He hangs out with the gang and looks forward to a good time. Unfortunately, Mater notices a car named Francesco mocking Lightning on a radio show and tries to defend him. Mater does such a terrible job that Lightning has to defend Mater and it forces to step back on the track in order to prove himself. Mater may have gotten Lightning into this, but it’s up to our favorite race car to get himself out. The only problem is that Mater is sacrificing Lightning’s chances to win at every turn. Can McQueen still pull out one last win?

As I mentioned, the film is quite good when Lightning is on screen. He has certainly kept his development from the first film and doesn’t regress in any way. He is now the experienced veteran that you would expect him to be and he even won 3 World Championships off screen. McQueen coming back to visit for a while instead of entering more races also shows what a quality character he is. When Lightning is forced to go up against Francesco, it is a very tense race because both of them are champions in their own right. It’s also a fun all star race because there are a bunch of other cars who are known from various other countries and are competing in this race. While it’s clear that the main two racers are far above the others, it’s a good way for the film to raise the stakes. It’s a natural continuation of the first film’s plot and Lightning is already established as a good enough character where you definitely want to root for him. While he’s not an all powerful race car on the track and Francesco is actually faster when going straight, Lightning pulls out everything he learned from racing in the town and that gives him a really good edge by the end. Then Mater’s bad advice makes Lightning lose the race and we’re reminded that this epic plot is only the subplot.

The main plot actually follows Mater as he helps out two secret agents known as Holley and Finn. They have to stop someone from blowing up all of the cars in the Grand Prix. The two agents think that Mater is actually someone else since the actual agent put his tracker on Mater in a last ditch effort to keep the intel from the villains. The problem is that Mater isn’t very smart and the agent still did end up dying. It’s a rather brutal scene and it’s definitely a big contrast to the rest of the film. The whole movie is so light hearted otherwise and you’re not supposed to give the poor agent a second thought, but it still is quite sad. Mater could have saved him if he was a little smarter.

Again, this is where Mater will likely lose you. You’re supposed to root for the guy since he means well and by the end of the film he realizes that he has to get a little smarter. That would be fine, but the problem is that he is a little too over the top for you to actually buy into it. The film does wipe away his biggest mistake of making a mess all over the carpet with a plot twist, but he’s still just a really bad character. He certainly isn’t someone you can root for, that’s for sure. The plot is rather predictable as the characters naturally find out the truth about him at the end, but by then it’s too late. Mater is easily the worst character in this film and I took it personally right when he sabotaged Lightning’s first race.

The two agents aren’t bad though. Holley is doing her best to complete this first assignment as a field agent, but is having a hard time since Mater just thinks she wants to be with him and nobody is taking her seriously. It’s a pretty rough time for her, but she does her best to keep her composure and still
save the day with her gadgets. Finn is the other agent and he’s a veteran who has been in his share of fights. He definitely knows how to use hand to hand combat even though he is a car and while he is completely fooled by Mater’s act even more than the rest of the characters, he also ultimately decides to be Mater’s friend anyway.

The action scenes are fun and the homages to James Bond work well. See, the film’s humor isn’t all that awful. In fact, when Mater isn’t around it can actually be pretty enjoyable. It has a nice blend of quick lines and situational humor. It’s just that Mater makes everything dial it up to a 9. This wouldn’t even be a bad thing if he didn’t have to end up saving the day at the end. That’s really what makes the whole thing cheesy. A good example of an exaggeratedly unintelligent character is Knuckles from Sonic Boom. He pulls off the role because it’s not like he’s actually some kind of excellent secret agent or anything like that. In fact, things with him don’t even end up panning out all that well most of the time. It makes the whole plot feel a lot more natural and wholesome. Mater is just given way too much credit.

As far as rivals go, Francesco is rather generic. He’s really just here to fill in the role of the mean rival car. He doesn’t actually do anything past the role, but he doesn’t do anything wrong either. I definitely didn’t mind having him around and seeing more of him would have probably been fun. It’s just a shame that Lightning’s supporting cast is always around to embarrass him and hurt his arguments. Even Sally looks really bad in this film so I can see why Lightning just takes the pit crew with him and leaves his other friends behind. They’re not exactly morale boosters.

Some of the situations also seem a little forced for the plot. Lightning would certainly know better than to get off the road when Mater tells him too. This is for 2 reasons. One, Lightning can see that it’s a straight path ahead and since he knows that you should never turn in such a situation he should have just ignored the advice. The bigger reason is that prior to this Mater had already been rambling into the intercom as he chased after Holley so Lightning could easily put two and two together to know that Mater likely still wasn’t talking about him. There’s no way he should have actually ended up losing that race. Lightning McQueen had that in the bag.

Well, as expected the animation is still pretty sharp. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it looks better than the first film as to me they basically seemed equivalent, but they’re both of really good quality which is the important part. Pixar doesn’t hold back here and the character models for the cars are good. As we finally got some action scenes here as well, we got to see how Pixar would handle them. I’d say that they worked out pretty well. On the technical side of things this film certainly aged pretty well.

Overall, Cars 2 is a decently fun sequel to the original Cars, but it is definitely not quite as good. You can certainly tell that they chopped the quality down a few notches for this one and I don’t know what they were thinking with Mater. If the main character had been Lightning and his plot was the focus then this film would have been a lot more fun. Even the ending keeps the film from going strong as Holley’s personality flies out the window as she likes Mater for no reason (Again, the film is giving Mater too much credit even though most of this situation is his fault) and Lightning doesn’t even beast Francesco in the end. Was a clear cut victory too bold for the writers to pull off? Those mistakes are definitely regrettable, but at the end of the day you should still enjoy this film. It’s a fun enough movie to watch and the pacing is good so it flies by. It has a good amount of replay value and at least I thought the set up and presentation for the big tournament was great. Whenever the subplot is happening, the film is at its height.

Overall 6/10


Invisible Woman Review

It’s time to look at an old sequel. Everyone knows about the Invisible Man, but who knows about the Invisible Woman? The film seems to have fallen under the radar although I can see why. It’s not exactly a masterpiece and can be rather forgettable but at the same time I thought it was decently fun. The film goes by quickly and there’s not too much to dislike here. Granted, the characters can be annoying which I guess it fairly major, but they’re not extremely bad or anything like that.

The film starts off with a crazed scientist finally coming up with a good invention. He can now make people invisible. His benefactor, Mr. Russell isn’t too pleased with Gibbs for wasting money on such an experiment but the old man is sure it will work. He writes an ad in the paper but since he isn’t willing to pay the test subject only one letter comes through. Kitty is willing to take the serum as there’s a lot she can do with being invisible. Then scientist agrees, but only barely because he tries to stay away from girls. The experiment is a success but instead of waiting for Russell to come in Kitty decides to get revenge on her boss. A lot of shenanigans occur but then a gang breaks in and they decide to kidnap Gibbs. Can the Invisible Woman save him or are they all doomed?

The gang is honestly very out of place here. The whole film is really a light hearted comedy with Kitty just having fun with her powers. As such, the villains are about as serious as the kidnappers in every Air Bud movie. They aren’t exactly a threat and we even get a long scene where Kitty knocks out every member. Being invisible is honestly an incredible ability to have for every day life and you would be almost unstoppable in many situations. The villains are even driven to tears at times. Given that they are used for comedy I suppose they weren’t that bad, but I was still surprised when they showed up at all. It’s not like they really affected the outcome much at all.

Kitty was a fun lead though even if she was a little too rebellious at times. She makes sure to drink as lot even when keeping a low profile and should probably be a little more harsh with the professor if she wants to stay consistent. She did a decent job of getting back at the boss even if she may have let him off a little easy there. At least he did have a change of heart so she certainly made the working environment a lot better for the rest of the models. It does seem like a pretty bad job though so they should probably just have left a long time ago.

Gibbs may be a scientist but he isn’t very smart. He doesn’t realize when villains are around and holds a grudge even when you save his life. He’s exactly the kind of ingrate you would typically want to avoid to be honest and I never felt sympathetic to him. Sure, Russell doesn’t believe him, but I wouldn’t either since this guy has apparently been wasting money for many years. We can’t forget that little detail and have the guy slip it under the rug. He better product results and until then it makes sense that his funding is cut. Russell went from being rich to apparently having no money now.

Of course, I won’t bring out the violin for him either. Apparently he’s one of those guys who plays the field and goes for a lot of rebounds. A bunch of characters sued him for a bunch of things and apparently they keep winning since he’s losing money. He never seems like a particularly great guy. The banter between him and Kitty is all right at best, but it’s a little generic and doesn’t make him any better. After all, Russell is insulting her looks just so he can goad her into becoming visible again. The film didn’t go for any easy pitfalls like having her appear at inconvenient times at least. That would probably happen if this film were newer so it’s another good reason to stay retro.

When you think about it, not a lot happens in the film though. Act 1 is just Kitty messing with everyone, then the villains arrive and she beats them up. The film is over an hour, but it doesn’t feel like that. Of course, this is a good thing since it means the pacing was on point and the movie never dragged on but at the same time you could also make the argument that most of the film could be cut out and nothing would actually change. That’s just how it goes I guess, at least she didn’t go crazy like the last Invisible Man though. She kept her sanity through and through.

One thing I’d do to improve the film would be to have a few scenes of Kitty messing with Russell. She scares the boss and spooks Russell’s assistant but she never actually gets him. Knocking him out or giving him a startle would at least give her a leg to stand on during their verbal confrontations. Meanwhile, I forgot to mention the butler. I thought he was a well written character and easily the most likable character in the film. He gives Russell some good advice and while he is always retiring you can tell that the guy really wants to be helpful. He does his best to always be there for Russell during the tough times. A fun ending would have for him to have become rich by placing some stocks in the right place or something and then leaving on a high note where Russell and Gibbs wonder where they went wrong. A sequel could then be about them turning to a life of crime with the invisibility serum.

Overall, The film is a little generic and doesn’t do anything noteworthy, but it doesn’t really do anything wrong either. The writing isn’t particularly good and the characters can be one dimensional, but they are still working with a good script. Cutting out the villains may be a good idea, but they didn’t really hurt anything either. If you’re looking for a fun film where the heroine gets to use some super powers and overall look more impressive than the main guy this is a good film to check out. Especially since the guy doesn’t even seem like nice person. Just don’t go in expecting a serious film, that’d be your first mistake.

Overall 6/10