9 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories Review


It’s time to take a look at the second Disgaea game. After the first adventure I knew that it was time to jump into the second one. It’s a tad shorter than the first but by the end my playtime for both of them was basically on the same level. One big difference though is that the second game requires less grinding. At the same time, it’s also in part because I understood the mechanics better and had a more balanced team. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a mage on the team. I got one named Marcia in this title and she saved me more times than I can count.

The story starts by introducing us to a human town that has slowly been corrupted. Now all of the citizens are turning into monsters and it is the work of Overlord Zenon. Adell is the only human on the planet who has been unaffected and he takes this as a sign that he has to be the one to find Zenon. His Mom tries to summon Zenon but they accidentally summon his daughter Rozalin instead. As Rozalin is bound by the contract to stick with Adell for a while he promises to get her back to her father. This way they will both get what they want. Can he really trust this Princess though?

Along the way the duo meet quite a few allies to help in their quest. First up is Tink who is a demon frog with a split personality. He’s definitely a little on the crazy side and is easily the weakest character of the group. He never pitches in when it counts. Then you have Adell’s little siblings Hanako and Taro. Hanako is always calling Taro named and looks up to the demon lord Etna. She is a reasonable enough character I suppose and could be worse. Taro is too lacking in confidence and the fact that his goal in life is to be Razalin’s servant doesn’t really bode well for his character.

One character that shows up later in the game is Yukimaru. She is an assassin who wants to end Lord Zenon once and for all. Her ice abilities are pretty fun and her gimmick isn’t bad. Basically she says zam at the end of every sentence. Her brother also shows up on a similar quest although he isn’t nearly as heroic as she is. By the end of the game Yukimaru is one of the only characters who can keep up with the main two so I recommend keeping her in your party. As a character she is fun to have around as well.

One of the most enjoyable characters is Etna though. Since she was from the first game that made her appearances extra special. Initially she shows up as a guest star character who is at a crazy level 1000. She even takes down Zenon which is immensely impressive. I was glad to see the old characters get their hype since they didn’t get to be main characters this time. Etna is still as ruthless as ever though as she constantly destroys her minions. While she may be hanging out with the main characters for most of the game don’t mistake her for being some kind of hero. She’s definitely just in it to get more power and destroy Laharl once and for all.

Laharl gets a much smaller role as he only shows up for a quick boss fight. It’s still an amazing scene though and reminds you why he is the Overlord. Ultimately Laharl actually meets his match though. I would have liked to have seen him fight longer, but it was a decisive loss for him. Power isn’t everything and he probably could have used some of his old pals to help even the playing field a bit. Part of what makes Disgaea 2 so much fun is how epic these scenes are. It has the advantage of being a sequel to it can utilize the nostalgia of bringing the old characters back like this.

The amazing soundtrack is also handy for this. Etna gets a cool insert song whenever she appears as well and it fits with her amazing boss fight where you are completely helpless. It also builds the atmosphere as well. Axel gets a similar theme that’s really hype and of course Laharl brings in some of the themes from the first game. Despite just playing that one I can see how nostalgic that would be. The game also has a fully animated opening which is pretty awesome. You don’t really see those as often as you’d like. It’s got a little more shipping in it than you’d expect but the action is really hype and the lyrics are catchy. I’ve listened to that theme quite a few times.

Axel The Dark Hero is basically the replacement for the Dark Adonis. He’s another guy who thinks he is the rival to the main character. His story is a little tragic as he just wants to be rich and famous but things never tend to work out for him. When he finally does get his success everyone says he made the wrong choice. I think they were all just jealous to be honest. While I wasn’t a big fan of Axel at the start the game does a good job of developing him into a quality character. By the end he was quite enjoyable. I still prefer the Adonis but they were close.

As for Overlord Zenon, he’s a very unique villain. He takes a lot of losses throughout the game and gets beaten up so badly you keep wondering if the guy is really such a feared Overlord. It’s an interesting take because he clearly isn’t the strongest villain out there, but he’s just strong enough where people fear him. It’s a nice theme that Disgaea has done with the villains. Zenon makes up for this weaknesses with his near immortality and to be clear, he is still immensely powerful. He’d probably be top 10 for the fighters we’ve seen so far. His master plan is definitely twisted but really interesting. I don’t think I’ve quite seen such a plan before and his target’s reaction to it is also amazing. This fighter wasn’t phased in the slightest.

Adell is a great lead and one of the better main characters that I’ve seen in recent years. He’s just a guy who wants to protect his family and doesn’t need to have more of a backstory than that. He’s a very honorable main character who refuses to ever break a promise. While everyone doubts whether he is a human or not for the whole game he never has any doubts about it. His confidence is part of what makes him so solid and the game likely did subvert a lot of expectations with that. I was expecting some kind of twist by the end but Azell just didn’t need one.

Meanwhile Rozalin is a great heroine as well. At first she is constantly scheming to destroy Adell to protect her father but gradually realizes that he is not a bad guy. It’s a nice character arc for her and in particular she gets a pretty solid scene with Laharl. As royalty Rozalin refuses to back down to anyone. The only part that gets repetitive is the line “I’m a being of solitude” which gets old after the first 3 times. It gets spammed relentlessly in some games. That’s really the only thing I can say against the game though. This is pretty much a perfect adventure and the banter between Adell and Rozalin is a lot of fun. Disgaea 2 really does a superb job of balancing the hype scenes with more light hearted comedy/parody elements.

Wait a minute, did I skip the gameplay section? Well, the gameplay is basically the same as in the first one. You are in an overworld map view and your goal is to destroy all of the enemies on the square. You control up to 10 characters in a turn based combat system and use attacks and magic to defeat the enemies. You can gang up on an enemy or divide and conquer them. The tricky thing to keep in mind here is that only the opponent who actually destroys the enemy gets any XP. Everyone else does not so it can be very hard to keep a balanced party. I ended up having Laharl and Rozalin way higher leveled than the others. It takes too long to level everyone up so I just focused on having two. It’s rare where you’ll need more than 2 characters in a level if they’re strong enough.

A huge part of the game is the equipment you get though so make sure to buy the best of the best. It increases your stats way more than leveling up would. I also recommend focusing on attack power because it makes the grinding a lot faster. Also you should turn off the combat animations once you’ve seen them enough because it speeds the game up greatly as well. You’ll need to use the Dark Assembly to unlock higher enemies for the shop. If you want to pass any real bills though you’ll need to bribe them which can get expensive. It’s great for the post game though.

The main story is around 20 hours and then the post game is effectively endless. You can go up to level 1000 and there are so many things to do that it can get a bit intimidating. It’s nice to have though because if you really love the game then you can be here for quite a while. Disgaea never backs down from giving you quite a lot of content to deal with which is pretty awesome. The graphics are also quite sound and you can see how they’ve improved since the first game. It all looks quite clear and I look forward to seeing another upgrade in the third game.

Overall, Disgaea 2 is an excellent game and I would actually say that it surpassed the original. It’s very close in terms of characters but the story of the second game is just a lot more interesting and high stakes. I like the idea of every Overlord deciding to duke it out to see who the strongest one is. It’s a very complete story and one that doesn’t need a sequel but I’d like for these characters to show up again at some point. Perhaps the group would be seen as too powerful at this point but it would be perfect for a 2 on 2 fight, Adell & Rozalin vs Laharl and Etna. I’d definitely buy that. If you like a good RPG with tactical gameplay then I highly recommend checking this one out.

Overall 9/10

0 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Magnificent Seven Ride Review


I’ve never seen a movie series hit rock bottom quicker than this one. In general I’ve never seen such a big drop because typically if your first movie is pretty good then the sequels will at least stay in the same realm. The first film in this series was a very solid 8 so I really thought that the whole thing was safe. The second film was a drop to a 5 but the third went back up to a 6. This one literally hits rock bottom…..so lets take a look at why that is.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Chris and his new life situation. He is now married and the sheriff of a little town. Chris runs a pretty tight ship and has been doing pretty well for himself. He locks people up and ships them out to the big jails. The latest one he arrested was a guy who has been robbing stores and wasting all of the money. His wife and the guy’s mother tell Chris that it won’t happen again and so he goes against his better judgment and releases the guy. This crook promptly murders his wife and escapes town. Chris is determined to avenge her but the guy has made friends with a powerful tribe of bandits. Chris is forced to round up 6 allies once again to set things right.

His team of 7 is tied together in more of a reluctant sense this time. Most of Chris’ allies are guys he locked up personally so they all want to end his life. Chris has to keep coercing them into helping his cause by using every trick in the book. It’s a bit of a stretch at times since they could end him many different times before his plan comes together but it is what it is. It’s lucky for Chris that this is the case because otherwise taking on the villains would be difficult. The villains have no real character though so that is similar to the second film. The main villain only appears at the very end and the guy who murdered Chris’ wife at the beginning dies early on off screen as well so the villains really got the shaft here.

What really hurts the film here is how needlessly dark it is. The movie goes out of its way to be as edgy as possible without adding anything to the film. There’s quite a bit of rape here to the various supporting characters and Chris’ wife. This doesn’t add anything to the story and even if the film were to try and use that as an integral part of the film I can guarantee it would still be getting a sinking score. That’s not an element you ever need to put in a film. It just makes you wait for the ending to come that much sooner.

A huge part of the film’s focus is Chris on his mission of revenge. This is a cheap tool to get you to root for Chris to murder everyone and continue on the cycle of violence. The movie seems to forget this though because when Chris gets to the village he quickly gets a romantic subplot with one of the women there. For context, his wife just died in a very brutal way. There’s no way he should be moving on to a new girl so quickly. The plot is in terrible taste and makes no sense. It further illustrates how bad the writing was in this movie. Chris is also really quick to give up on the village before being guilt tripped into helping out. It’s even hinted he would have totally left them if not for the fact that his target got murdered anyway.

There’s not much to say about Chris’ band of followers because they’re all basically the same one note characters who all want vengeance and dislike Chris. None of them can really think of anything other than trying to murder the guy. The best one is probably the ex commander who is used to being the boss. At least he got a little character and seems to have some dignity. The others I can’t really say the same for. For added edge all of these guys were tortured a bunch in prison so their mental states aren’t as sound as they usually would be.

The movie is just filled with cringe scenes that have no awareness. One such moment is when Chris tells his members to each pick various ladies as partners for the upcoming fight. It should obviously be the other way around given what just happened in the village and all the mental scars that are still in place. You just don’t know what the film is thinking half the time. All of these choices just make you scratch your head and it’s why the film is no fun to watch. There’s never a sense of joy or adventure like you had in the previous films.

That’s why the soundtrack is so odd. As always the movie chooses to keep on re-using the same happy hero theme constantly. In the older films it at least made sense sometimes because the films were generally upbeat. This one is never upbeat yet you have the happy theme showing up constantly. After Chris shoots two of the accomplices and heads back out on the trail the theme plays but we just got through some of the darkest scenes in the film so there is nothing to cheer about. It’s like the sound director just made sure to put the music on every time the heroes are travelling on horseback without looking at the context for why they are travelling. The whole movie feels like it was just slapped together.

Overall, The Magnificent Seven Ride is a terrible film and one that tries to destroy the series’ reputation with how bad this one is. There’s no redeemable qualities about the movie. The characters are all pretty unlikable and the movie is just very mean spirited throughout. There should always be a fine line between trying to make a dark film and one that is simply edgy. You can be serious without crossing the line and this film was not able to handle that nuance. It jumps straight from 0-10 and so it sunk all the way to the bottom. I highly recommend staying far away from this film and if anything maybe you should just stick to the original film. It was easily the best one in the series.

Overall 0/10

6 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Guns of the Magnificent Seven Review


It’s time for Chris to round up some more gunmen in this third installment in the series. The series actually seems to take the premise of Suicide Squad more seriously than that film did with how high the body count is in these titles. Chris’ friends almost always die in these so you can see why they are always so hesitant to join him. Sure, Chris will live but the rest of them are usually all out of luck before the day is gone. It doesn’t feel like a great balance to them when you put it like that. This one is definitely better than the second film but still a far cry under the first. At least the series is back on an upward trend.

The film starts off with the rebellion leader getting kidnapped by the villain forces. This time the enemies are actually the government as Mexican forces are trying to get these rebels to submit. They aim to break the captured leader and end this once and for all. Max is able to escape and finds Chris over in town who has just helped a thief get away from being hanged. He convinces Chris to help him in exchange for some money and Chris must now round up a few guys once again. He really never has a chance to relax in these days. With the 7 of them rounded up he heads over to the prison to free the rebel leader. Will he really be able to break into the base and take out a huge number of adversaries though?

Let’s look at the supporting cast here. First we’ve got Keno, who was actually guilty of stealing a horse as revenge. The guy is a pretty good shot and pretty reasonable. He seems like the new version of Vin although he’s not quite as solid as the man from the first film. I’d still put him as the best ally in this movie though and is fun enough. Then you’ve got Cassie who is definitely happy to come along since at his old job the boss was quite unpleasant and treated him like a slave. Cassie doesn’t put up with any nonsense so he’s a pretty solid character to have on the team. He also seems to be the strongest physically.

Then you have Slater who is pretty annoying. The guy only has one good arm now so he’s always upset. Having only one arm is very difficult when you’re a shooter but he insists on taking it out on everyone else which definitely isn’t a good idea. He gets Cassie upset a few times and it was really all Slater’s fault with the remark he made. Then he goes on a drunken rampage shooting left and right. Even the way he goes out is pretty terrible. This guy really never managed to become a quality character. P.J. is another character who wasn’t very good. In his case the issue is that he is so sickly. He really wasn’t ready for a gunfight like this. It’s great that he came along to help I suppose but he looks very unimpressive next to the other characters.

Finally you have Levi who is a nice guy. He’s pretty old so he can’t move around quite as well as the younger guys but his gun skills are the real deal so he does help out a fair bit. He also takes one of the kids under his wing. Levi was a fun addition to the cast. So on the whole most of the characters were good. Meanwhile Chris is solid as always. I do feel like his skills seem less and less impressive with each movie, but he still ultimately gets the job done which is what counts. He manages to take down the enemy captain which was crucial. That guy managed to take down quite a number on his own which made him a pretty imposing villain.

This movie went back to its roots in some respects which was good such as developing the characters before uniting the group. Each one actually got a full scene to himself this time as opposed to everyone just teaming up right from the jump. It’s important to set up all of the characters individually before they team up. It gives you more of an actual reason to root for them. The villain also gets more development this time around. He has some good back and forth discussions with Chris. The guy is definitely as ruthless as they come and makes for a pretty intense villain. He certainly isn’t messing around.

The oddest part about the film is probably the music selection though. While the next installment would take this to a whole new level, the music here just didn’t feel appropriate at times. You’d have the very happy hero theme playing even during a sad scene or a moment where nothing is going right for the heroes. It felt like the soundtrack was so limited that they had to keep on playing the theme. It’s played even more than the main Star Wars theme and you know how much the films like to use that one. I don’t think the music director did a good job here. It’s not enough to have a solid theme, you need to know when to play it.

As always the villagers look pretty bad for the most part. The leader of the main group of rebels was a drunk who wasn’t taking anything seriously. It’s easy to see why the group had absolutely no luck over the last few years with a guy like that in charge. You can’t hope to succeed if your leader isn’t taking things seriously and that was definitely the case here. By the end the rebels move on without him, but if they had showed up earlier then way less people had to die. It seems like the cavalry always comes way too late.

The action scenes are solid as always though. The gunfights are good and the heroes make good plans the whole time. The Magnificent Seven feel a little less invincible this time though. The main villain took out 2-3 of them by himself which would have been pretty much impossible in the first film. I suppose eventually Chris was bound to run out of the top brass sooner or later though. These guys would just have to do in the meantime.

Overall, Guns of the Magnificent Seven is a solid film. It’s not quite as good as the first one but it’s good enough to check out if you like the genre. The music is not always placed well as it seems like the guy in charge would just slap the main theme on whenever he felt like it, but it is a catchy theme. Some parts of the film can definitely get a little dark with the main characters not doing anything to save them. Naturally in such a position they would likely lose and then there would be even more casualties but I never like to see the heroes do nothing as people are getting murdered. This one is more of a standard wild west film, you won’t be disappointed if you go and give this one a look.

Overall 6/10

5 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Return of the Seven Review


It’s time to look at the sequel to the Magnificent Seven. After seeing how solid the first one was I was hoping that this one would at least be in the same league as the original. Unfortunately this wasn’t meant to be. I guess the first one just set the bar a little too high because the sequel ultimately couldn’t even come close to the first. It ended up trying to copy all of the ideas but executed them all in a less effective fashion. Sometimes it’s just not enough to try and copy success.

The film starts out with the village from the first film getting attacked yet again. While Chico tries to fight them off he goes down after beating only 3. All of the men are kidnapped except for one who manages to get over to the main characters and asks for help. Chris and Vin got reunited when Vin reveals that there is now a bounty on Chris’ head. Vin has arrived to help him stay alive during this time. Now with news of the village being attacked Chris is forced to become a hero once again. Since most of the gunmen from the last film were murdered Chris needs to assemble a new squad. With all of the best fighters already out of commission he will now have to grab some of the B listers and man does the film try to make them as unlikable as possible. Can this group of 7 manage to stop the villains?

Here’s the problem with the film. It’s exactly the same as the last one. Usually a sequel will try to at least disguise itself as being a little different by switching up the characters a bit or making the circumstances new and unique. This film doesn’t bother with any of that to even the slightest degree. The villains are almost the same number as the last group only they have significantly less character. Chris assembles a group of hot shots once again only these guys don’t get any big intros and they are all pretty terrible from the jump. The group is assembled within the first 15 minutes. This sequel feels like it’s going on turbo speed right from the start. It cuts out all of the development time we had in the first so we can skip straight to the fights in this one.

I think the film is shorter so they didn’t have as much time as in the first film but it still could have done a better job. In the first movie at least everyone was actually here to help out the village for positive reasons. That’s not the case in this film with one guy in particular who may as well be a villain himself. He causes crimes constantly and was in jail for good reason. It’s a lot harder to root for the heroes this time around. The movie also did Chico dirty by having him lose almost instantly. Remember how he got a huge character development arc in the first film? Well, neither does do the writers of this film so you’re okay on that front.

Chris is still a good character, but he’s a lot less mysterious than he was in the first. His skills also seem less extraordinary here. He may just be acting modest but he does seem a little more nervous of the new characters here in general which is never a good look. Vin also gets less to do here. He’s still a fun sidekick and there’s nothing particularly wrong with him. I don’t get why he was so bored that he had to look for Chris though. He seemed to have had a pretty good set of goals in the last film as a drifter. No sense in giving that up now.

From the new guys first off we have Colbee. He’s the worst character in the film. All he cares about is women and he always makes it a point to go after married ones which just makes him a deplorable character from the start. It’s hard to tolerate the guy and since he’s a main character that’s a problem. Then we have Manuel who participates in cockfights. I can’t just overlook that either. It’s a terribly inhumane sport which has no business being here and the scenes in general don’t do the film any favors. We’re already down two gunmen so that isn’t a good sign at all. He’s meant to be the new Chico but the guy was getting washed in his first fight without throwing a single counter. I don’t see how this guy could possibly help the group out at all.

Frank is reasonable. He talks tough throughout the film at least so there’s that. From the new characters he is probably the best by default. At least he seemed like a decent character. Then you have Luis who is okay I guess. He doesn’t have a ton of character but he is skilled which is the important thing. The group manages to hold their own against the villains pretty well all things considered. Without the dynamite they would have been doomed in the end though. Dynamite is always a game changer so it’s important to have that on your side. With it you know that you always have a chance in battle.

The gunfights are solid as always. The opening fight when the gunmen first make it to the village is pretty good as we see them all firing at once in a pose similar to the first Avengers film. They all just start blasting and manage to take out most of the villains in an instant. Of course it was just the advance scouts and more fights would come, but it was a good start. I definitely had no issue with the action.

The pacing isn’t bad. It’s extremely fast for sure and I do think more time to develop the characters would have been nice, but in principle it’s not a bad idea to have things happen very quickly. The issue is that the characters just weren’t very good. The writing is also not nearly as strong as in the first film. Nobody acts quite as cool and professional as they did in the first film. We also had fairly pointless scenes included like the bull chasing and the cockfighting. Both scenes really should have been cut and the film would have been better off for it.

Overall, While the first film was one of the best wild west films I’ve ever seen, this would be one of the weaker ones. The whole movie feels redundant as it’s just a carbon copy of the first movie with weaker characters. The villains don’t really get to do much and even their overall plan isn’t quite as intense as in the first one. At least there the guy was trying to feed his starving men. Here these villains are basically lackeys. If the first film didn’t exist this one may have fared a little better but at it stands I couldn’t really give it a thumbs up. If you really loved the first film and want to see the characters again then by all means you should check this one out. Otherwise I’d recommend giving it a pass and just watch the original again.

Overall 5/10

6 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Review


It’s time to look at the long awaited sequel to the first Maleficent film. That one was definitely quite good and I remember being impressed because it actually did surpass my expectations. It showed that there are still new ways to adapt some of the old classics. Maleficent also made for a quality character. Unfortunately the sequel is quite the step down from the first one. It’s not a massive shift in terms of score as this is still a good movie but there are a lot of questionable moments of characters making terrible decisions and Aurora’s character was completely wrecked.

The movie starts out with Aurora deciding to finally get married to Phillip. She is a princess and he is a prince so this will be a good way to unite the two kingdoms so everyone can live in harmony and forget about the corruption of the world. Unfortunately that’s not the way it is to be. Phillip’s mother Ingrith is not pleased with this and decides that she will fool these suckers into letting their guard down. She invites Maleficent into the castle and frames her for the murder of the king. Maleficent leaves and gets sniped out of the sky like a rank amateur while Aurora loses all of her intelligence and obeys Ingrith’s every whim. Realizing that the humans are going to win at this rate, Borra convinces all of the demons to attack the kingdom. Can they stop the evil humans?

I’ve got several problems here and the graphics aren’t one of them. The film looks quite solid. I like the energy effects and the destruction scenes we have are very good. The soundtrack isn’t terribly memorable but it does work well for the dramatic scenes. There’s a good amount of technical effort that was put into this film. Additionally the script was solid and the pacing was on point. You won’t be bored during this movie and it is careful not to make any big mistakes. So far so good eh? Well, lets talk about some of the issues here because the writing was not up to the task this time.

First off is Aurora. I haven’t seen a character catch as many Ls as this princess in a very long time. She’s one of the more unlikable characters and is now my least favorite Disney princess. First off, she doesn’t believe Maleficent when the lead tells her that she didn’t murder the king. Instead Aurora chooses to passively believe the quite obviously evil queen. Then Ingrith convinces Aurora to turn her back on the dress that the fairies made for her in order to fit in. Aurora is very quick to ditch her heritage and even agree to live in Ingrith’s castle. Aurora has absolutely no agency in the film and sides with all of the worst people. She’s proven here that she is not ready to leave and completely betrays Maleficent’s trust. It’s too bad because Aurora used to be a good character but I think she let romance cloud her judgment and forgot that she has an equal stake in this.

Then you’ve got the gullible monsters who walked straight into the murder house. Why didn’t any of them suspect something when no humans were walking in to the church? They do know that the humans have despised them for a long time so as soon as they noticed that Aurora wasn’t there they should have left. You never walk straight into a villain base without a plan. Then as some of them started getting murdered by the smoke they all started panicking and running. Why didn’t the massive tree monsters try breaking one of the many windows in the castle? They also should have attacked the girl playing the trumpet a lot sooner since she had no real protection. The monsters just looked incredibly weak and I had an issue with that. The scene made no sense.

We also can’t forget how weak the demons were. They were a disgrace as the humans were actually beating them. Humans! You can’t lose to a human, it’s just not done. This only happens when the humans are evil, when they’re good guys then they suddenly can’t fight for beans. It was pretty annoying to see everyone get wiped out by Ingrith’s armies and when they finally start to make a comeback they are forced to stop fighting. The worst example of this was Borra. After watching most of his allies get murdered by one guy he flies in to avenge them but prince Phillip stops him and gives the other guy a full pardon. They’re back to being friends in the next scene. Really? This army guy just betrayed everyone and murdered tons of people but he gets a full pardon? I think a full rebellion is liable to break out in this kingdom over the next few days because that was just wild. I still don’t get how you can lose to humans but let us press on.

Prince Phillip is super oblivious to everything. Aurora should have been telling him what was going on sooner but he also should have kept himself in the loop a little more. He let Ingrith handle everything and that’s really not the case when you’re king. He also clearly did not visit his father in the hospital bed at all since he didn’t notice the obvious wound on him that would have proven that Maleficent was not to blame. He just trusted the report and had no real agency. That’s a big red flag for a character.

Ingrith makes for a good villain in part because she is the only intelligent character around. She actually makes a lot of good plans and takes down all of her opponents with ease. She comes close to murdering Maleficent twice and also takes down whole armies. While she is on the right side at least she is actually an effective ruler. Ingrith knows how to lead her armies and how to take down opposing armies. Something tells me that Aurora and Phillip will not be able to do the same.

Then we have Maleficent who is all bark and no bite in this film. She loses most of her hype with how she has to try and be nice to everyone while Ingrith doesn’t bother with such things. Maleficent loses every verbal debate they have quite badly. I was shocked at how one sided all of their discussions were to the point where I couldn’t really blame Maleficent for running away. I do blame her for getting sniped so easily though. Then in the final fight she should have taken more of the enemies down or at least beaten Ingrith. Losing to her 1 on 1 was the ultimate moment of sadness for her character.

When you boil down to the heart of things, my main issue with this film was the writing. The characters all just looked terrible and seemed to have the average IQ of a slasher film protagonist. They made it awful easy for the villain to do what she wanted to all of them. I would have preferred more of a balanced fight and for the humans to have actually taken some losses. They get away with literal murder in this film as it feels like an unconditional surrender for the fairy folk by the end. The humans now have complete reign over everything.

Overall, This sequel just couldn’t match the original. It’s a decent movie and one I could see again but it makes a whole lot of mistakes. Aurora is hard to watch with how terrible she is and the ending just doesn’t feel fair. Maleficent should have just wiped everyone out and moves somewhere else where she would have been better appreciated. I think that would have done quite a lot to balance things out. If you like the original then you should still check this one out. Logic aside the film is still pretty entertaining with only some slow parts to hold the pacing back. If we get a third film hopefully it embraces the action a little more with a better outcome to the fight. The rest of the demons also need a buff since they looked so weak.

Overall 6/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Bubsy: Paws on Fire Review


Long have I waited to check out this new Bubsy game. The first one was a little too short which ultimately limited how good it could be. I couldn’t help but feel that the game left a lot on the table. While the sequel is longer, it mostly thrives on artificial length which is regrettable. It has enough faults to where I can’t call it very good but it’s still a solid play through in the end. I’ve been a Bubsy fan for ages so it was disappointing to see this game not quite meet expectations, but I guess they can’t all be winners.

The game starts with an incredible opening cutscene where the kids tell Bubsy that his help is needed once more. Aliens show up to mock Bubsy but he ignores them and gets ready to save the world. Even if nobody is ultimately grateful to him for doing so that doesn’t stop Bubsy from doing the right thing. It’s part of why he is such a good hero, he just doesn’t get slowed down by what’s going on. It’s why Bubsy is a hero you can really rely on. The rest of the game unfortunately has no plot until literally the final cutscene where we get an epilogue. I was hoping for cutscenes between each world but I suppose that was too much to hope for.

So, as I mentioned the opening cutscene is amazing. A few times the game disconnected my controller so I was forced to hear the beginning quite a bit. I think what really makes it so good is the timing of the music and the characters running in. I just haven’t seen that level of expertise in quite time so it was most impressive. In general the graphics are quite good and the soundtrack works well. The technical elements of the game really hold up quite well. It’s just too bad that the gameplay can’t match it so lets talk about that.

This is a 2D endless runner. Personally I always felt that endless runners are best in 3D because you can really see where you’re going. Think Subway Surfers or something like that. When it’s in 2D you run the risk of “cheap” deaths where obstacles come in a little too quickly or without warning. It was always my issue with 2D Sonic games. This one keeps the deaths to a minimum, but there are still times where you have to shake your head. There will be 2 paths and one leads to an eventual death but you don’t know this until you take the path. That’s an impossible obstacle then unless you already knew which obstacle to take so I have to give those levels a thumbs down. The level designs really weren’t the best here.

The actual gameplay is smooth at least. There are 3 playable characters and they’ve all got different styles of gameplay. Beyond running and jumping you might be able to glide, double jump, ground pound, or fire off blasters while flying instead of running at all. You’ll master all of the gameplay before long. There are 3 worlds in the game and each world has 9 stages + 1 boss level. That should be easy to complete in an hour or two right? Well, one reason why you can’t do that is because of artificial length. The game forces you to get a bunch of medals in order to unlock the next levels. Completing a level gets you one medal. You can complete a level 3 times (once per character) and if you got all the pieces of a collectible you can beat it a fourth time with another character. You will need to get 75 medals to unlock the final boss. Let’s do the math here for a sec, if you beat all of the levels once you will only have 27 medals. This means that you have to replay most of the levels 2 times. Replaying old levels isn’t really my idea of a good time.

I’ll do it of course, but I don’t like being forced to do it. It should totally be 100% your choice and the fact that it isn’t is what I don’t like. It’s really just a way to pad the game’s length without actually creating new levels. I was surprised when I saw that this was the case and not in a good way. This basically confirmed that the game wouldn’t be getting the solid 7 that almost every platformer is able to achieve. The game just feels really lazy in doing this and going through the levels can feel more tedious than fun. I’m down with playing each level once but not doing them all 3 times.

Overall, Bubsy: Paws on Fire should have been an amazing game. It was going to continue the revival of Bubsy just the way everyone wanted it. Unfortunately this just wasn’t in the cards. Bubsy ended up squandering his chance to be truly great and it ended up costing us all. This is still a good game and I would recommend it but you need to like endless runners. There is virtually no story here and there is no replay value to be had after beating all of the levels. At best you can try to get new high scores and buy some T shirts but there’s nothing noteworthy here. You just gotta go through these levels over and over again until you have the medals. If we get a third Bubsy game I hope it goes back to the series roots.

Overall 6/10

Game Records

Bubsy: Paws on Fire Stats and Records

Stats time!

Total Victory Tokens 75/108

Yarn Balls 1000
Purple Orbs 1277
Golden Yarn 1035
Green Diamonds 346
Bubsy Costumes 5/6
Woolie Costumes 1/6
Virgil Costumes 0/6
Arnold Costumes 0/6

Medals for Bubsy, Virgil, Woolie, Arnold out of 150

World 1-1 140 121 139 143
World 1-2 146 147 149 140
World 1-3 128 146 150 149
World 1-4 137 140 120 –
World 1-5 108 147 137 146
World 1-6 106 138 73 147
World 1-7 69 142 126 –
World 1-8 55 125 70 –
World 1-9 131 145 103 121
World 2-1 42 72 45 –
World 2-2 57 83 34 –
World 2-3 78 94 60 –
World 2-4 60 95 49 –
World 2-5 67 104 51 –
World 2-6 61 100 47 –
World 2-7 69 93 47 –
World 2-8 75 85 32 –
World 2-9 65 100 75 –
World 3-1 41 – 44 –
World 3-2 21 – 75 –
World 3-3 75 – 47 –
World 3-4 52 – 53 –
World 3-5 46 – 33 –
World 3-6 45 – 61 –
World 3-7 49 – 15 –
World 3-8 27 – – –
World 3-9 – – – –

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy Review


It’s time to take a look at the final Professor Layton game. This one’s been on my list to buy for a very long time so it’s nice to finally have it. It’s a nice conclusion to the series and I hope to see more games come out at some point. I’ll need to get the spinoff for the Switch soon. The Azran Legacy hits all the right notes that you’ve come to expect from the Layton series and it even added some platforming puzzles which was pretty cool. Throw in a lot of twists and turns and you’re in for a fun ride.

The heroes receive a letter from Sycamore asking for their help in solving the Azran legacy. The heroes need to find out what the ancient civilization left for the modern generation and if this is a good thing or not. Unfortunately there is a villain group known as Targent which is after the Azran legacy as well. Layton manages to save a girl named Aurora from their clutches. She has been in stasis for hundreds of years and is the Azran messenger although most of her memories are gone. Perhaps they will return as the heroes collect more of the Azran relics. If the heroes gain them all they will be able to open the door to the future. Time is not on their side though.

This game definitely goes more into fantasy/sci-fi territory than the previous ones. The Azran have technology that is quite advanced including lasers, robots, and the ability to keep people alive for hundreds of years. You can reasonably say that this is technology we will have in the future though. The Azran don’t seem like the nicest people out there even if they may have a lot of good points about how humans are still corrupt in the present. The Targent officials don’t paint the brightest picture of humanity. There are two main members of the group who function like Team Rocket. They’re not really a threat to Layton, but they always get up for another go at things.

The gameplay is the same as the other installments. You travel across different lands and gather information on the mystery. Typically people will only give you clues if you solve their mysteries. Once you do that then they become a lot more receptive to your cause. The puzzles come in all shapes and sizes and they’re pretty fair for the most part. On occasion you may see a puzzle that doesn’t make sense from the description, but it makes sense in hindsight after seeing the solution. Trial and error will get you far, but you’ve also got puzzle coins for the ones that really stump you. So long as you activate the coins you are given hints which make the puzzle a lot more manageable.

There are also a lot of minigames and other little features to have fun with. A new addition to this game is the newspaper which you can use to read about various events. The main game should take you around 15 hours or so to complete and the post game content of completing every puzzle will likely extend this to around 20 hours. It’s a pretty good deal for your buck and it could also take over 20 hours depending on how you’re able to handle the final puzzles. Some of them certainly get really difficult by the end.

As always the game doesn’t cheap out on the graphics. We get fully animated cutscenes which is a lot of fun and in general the graphics are quite clear. It all feels very polished which is always a good thing. The soundtrack brings a lot of the familiar tunes back. Although I would have liked some new themes too, these worked well enough for the scenes. It’s all got a very peaceful air to it.

Layton is a very solid protagonist as always. He’s a quick thinker and can usually stay one step ahead of the villains. He can also fight when necessary like when he got into a sword duel with the main villain. He was able to win despite having the inferior weapon. Layton also manages to stay as a gentleman no matter what is thrown at him and that’s absolutely crucial. You can’t break down when the going gets tough. Luke’s a good trainee to have as always. While he isn’t quite old enough to really help Layton out in all of the cases, he does what he can. He’s not the kind of kid to hesitate.

Emmy is a lot of fun and has really helped the group’s dynamic in this trilogy. She’s always upbeat and ready for a good puzzle. She has a bit of a rivalry going with Luke as she likes to mess with him quite a bit. As Layton’s official assistant she is also quite adept at puzzles and her martial arts are second to none. Then you’ve got Sycamore who is a puzzle genius like Layton. The guy is rich and resourceful so he is quite helpful in this game as well. He seems to have a solid honor code and is always ready to put the mission on hold to save people in trouble. He may have shown up out of nowhere, but is very important to the game’s plot.

Aurora has been in stasis for a long time so she doesn’t know a whole lot about human culture. Fortunately the game doesn’t play that up to a crazy extent so she’s not a bad character. I felt bad for her near the end when everyone just watches as someone gets ready to stab her. Couldn’t someone have manned up to stop this from happening? If I were Aurora I’d be pretty sore at this whole chain of events. She took the situation well and didn’t take things personally…even if perhaps she should have. Then we have the main villain Bronev. He’s a fun villain leader although his screen time is incredibly short despite being the head honcho. I think adding in some more scenes would have helped to make him more memorable. It’s hard to have any sympathy for him even when he gets his origin story though. His actions make 0 sense and so I’m glad that Layton shut him down even if he wasn’t as merciless as he could have been. I’d have had Layton end with his first line and not say the last few.

The game is a mystery so we have a few twists and turns. There are 2 main ones. One of them you’ll likely have figured out from the opening level depending on how you’ve been watching the patterns. You may not guess the exact twist, but it’s one that the series has already used 2-3 times so you’re almost expecting it. The second twist was a lot more unexpected though and worked pretty well. The game really put Layton through the ringer having to deal with all of this. The twist does hurt the second character a lot though. The first character was never truly changed so that’s one thing, but for this character it’s a 180. It’s just hard to come back from something like that and it’s probably why the character got written out. (And because the series ended)

Overall, Layton and the Azran Legacy is a very solid installment in the series which can hold its own against the others. My favorite is still the time travel adventure but after that most of them are pretty neck and neck. One thing I’ve liked about the prequel trilogy is how all of the games tie into each other pretty well. The Azran were referenced quite early on in the prior games. Emmy also adds a lot to the dynamic so it’s hard to go back to just Luke and Layton in the present timeline games. Layton can fight, but usually chooses not to so having someone like Emmy who isn’t afraid to throw down definitely helps the group quite a bit. If you haven’t played this game yet then you can change that. The games work well as stand alone adventures so you don’t need to play the previous 5 games to understand this one although it would certainly help you know the characters more.

Overall 8/10