Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Goin to retype some more reviews

I will be retyping my reviews from March 2009 to May 2009

Sorry

150th review special: Psychonauts for the PS2 and Xbox review




Just like the Tomba games, it’s a shame when a great game that was produced or designed by someone famous doesn’t do so well. Let’s take famous game designer, Tim Schafer. He is famous for his unique games like the PC cult classic, Grim Fandango and a recent favorite of mine, Brutal Legend. However, there was a game in-between these two that had a lot of great reviews and is considered one of the best games of all time. Sadly, it didn’t do so well in the sales department and caused the publisher, Majesco some financial difficulties, though it is still considered a great game and an underrated gem. The game I am talking about is Psychonauts for the PS2, Xbox, and PC. It’s been 5 years since this game came out and I remember very little advertising for it, but what I saw looked really cool. Too be honest though, the reason I am playing this game now is that well…how do I put it…I forgot it existed. It’s not that I lost interest, but with how little advertising there was for the game, I just forgot about it as bigger games were put on display. This game, along with Ico and Beyond Good and Evil, were sadly overlooked. Now, you all can hate me and send comments like “ YOU HAVENT PLAYED THIS?!” or “ Fail”, but like I said, I forgot it was around until people in my game classes talked about it and the small memory I had about the game came back, and I just had to play it. So let’s dive right in and see why many people call this one of the best games of all time.

The story takes place in a summer camp called Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp, which is actually a government-funded training facility that is disguised as a summer camp. Coach Morceau Oleander voiced by Nick Jameson is briefing the new recruits about the human mind, and their ability to become Psychonauts or they can just die. However, it results in scaring the living daylights of the recruits who end up being kids. If I were scared to death by an army general at a summer camp for kids, I would sue. While debriefing though, they hear rustling in the trees as something falls from them, scaring the kids thinking that it was a lake monster. The two other teachers of the camp, Mr. Sasha Nein, voiced by Stephen Stanton, and Mrs. Milla Vodello, voiced by Alexis Lezin, using their psychic abilities, help General Oleander to bring forth what caused the chaos. They find out that it was a young boy with a pair of red goggles. The name of the boy is Razputin or as he calls himself Raz. He ended up running away from the circus to join the camp so he can become a powerful Psychonaut. While on his stay at the camp, Raz observes that something rather odd is happening to all the students, but seeing how odd the other campers are I can’t see how much weirder it can get. He then decides to train himself and find out what is going on and save the camp from whoever is causing the ruckus. I like the setting because what’s scarier than a summer camp? A summer camp filled with campers and adults who are insanely crazy with psychic powers.

Let’s talk a little about the history of Psychonauts. Psychonauts was designed and created by Tim Schaeffer. I LOVE this guy. He is like the Gennedy Tartakovsky of video games in my opinion. The idea started as a scene from one of his games, Full Throttle, where the main character goes through a psychedelic trance brought up by a cactus known as peyote. Originally, it was only going to be released on Windows and the Xbox, but Microsoft pulled out of the deal. Later, Tim Schaeffer and his company, Double Fine teamed up with Majesco to release it on the Xbox and Windows. In 2004, it was announced it would be released on the Playstation 2 also, which is good for me, since I don’t really need to get an Xbox right now, unless they make a second Conker’s Bad Furday. It was released in 2005 in April for the Xbox and Windows and June for the PS2 version. Sadly, it didn’t do well, only selling 400,000 as of 2007. As a result, this caused Majesco some financial difficulties, but it wasn’t all Psychonauts’ fault that they had a net loss of 18 million dollars that year. Another game they published called Advent Rising was over hyped, and was then panned by critics for being bug-filled and not well made. As a game tester, that is just annoying to me. However, Psychonauts was critically acclaimed and has been nominated for a multitude of awards from best story, best original game, best writing, to game of the year. People have been interested in seeing a sequel for this game, and Tim Schaeffer has shown interest in making one.

The game play featured in Psychonauts is of a free-roaming action adventure game with plat-forming elements. The main gimmick of the game is, of course, the psychic abilities you can learn by getting merit badges. There are multiple abilities that Raz can use. They are pyrokinesis, telekinesis, invisibility, levitation, clairvoyance, psi shield, psi blast, and confusion. The whole campsite is open to exploration and there is a lot to find in the game. There are arrowheads that are the game’s currency, psi cards to form psi challenge markers, and scavenger hunt items that help you level up. The way you level up in the game is to collect a few things. One way to level up is to collect psi challenge markers, which make you go up a rank. The other way is to collect things called figments as different sizes gives you different points. If the points reach 100, you go up a rank. You usually have to go up 10 ranks to gain a new psychic ability, but sometimes, you can gain them by completing different tasks, like getting to Mrs. Vodello in her funkadelic 70’s mind or helping Mr. Nein block out all the censor enemies in his mind. However, you mostly just want to level up to gain more psychic powers. There are multiple different scenarios like where Raz is a giant monster and has to fight what seems to be a parody of Ultraman, having to help put on a play, buying paintings, and wrestling Mexican wrestlers and a huge pink bull. Don’t ask why the bull is pink, you need to find out for yourself. Overall, this game gives you a lot to do.

The graphics in the game are outstanding. It helps that the unique art and character designs are by artist, Scott Campbell, who did artwork for Brutal Legend. The whole world is just mind-bendingly twisted, but not scary twisted like Silent Hill. The whole world is like if Tim Burton founded a summer school and took some form of acidic drug or just bit into a peyote. The music is very chill and calm, kind of like if Neverhood mixed with Mushroom Men and added a bit of ambiance camp sounds. This is helped by composer, Peter McConnell. This music composer is known for other games like Brutal Legend, The Bard’s Tale, Escape from Monkey Island, Herc’s Adventure, Full Throttle, Afterlife, and a lot of Star Wars games. It really fits, and I think it works for the game. It’s like Brutal Legend having a whole list of metal songs. The humor is actually really well done. It is kind of like the humor you find in King of the Hill, very subtle, but funny. There are even some jokes that seem a little odd for kids to say. Let’s talk about the kids one more time. These kids are not normal. Not because they have psychic abilities, but just how odd they are. It is like they ate a big bowl of peyote, which is a certain kind of cactus that can cause some hallucinogenic moments if you bite into it. The voice work, while not as good as Brutal Legend, is very good. You get the talents of Richard Steven Horovitz who did the voice for Zim from the cult classic cartoon, Invader Zim and Orthopox 13 from Destroy All Humans. You also get the voices of Stephen Stanton, Alexis Lezin, Nick Jameson, David Kaye, Steve Blum, David Boat, and probably my favorite female voice actor, Tara Strong. She only plays a minor role in this game, but she is very famous for her talents on shows like Powerpuff Girls and Drawn Together. Overall though, you have a good package of talent in this game.

Sadly, there are a few things that hold this game back. I remember in my game design class, people saying that the game moved slowly. Since I hadn’t been able to play it at the time, I didn’t know what to think. After playing it though, it isn’t sluggish, but it’s slow since you have to walk to everywhere, and each level can take some time to beat. Sometimes, the game gets a little repetitious during some areas like the Mexican art-themed world where you fight four wrestlers who are basically the same besides some different masks and moves, but overall they are the same. The technical issues I mentioned were not defects, but I got a defective disc that crashed on me and I couldn’t get it to run again. I wonder why some versions of games do this and some don’t. It just boggles the mind that of the 400,000 versions of this game that were sold, I got the one that crashed and had to be returned the next day. However, that is just a small gripe.

There is no excuse to not play this game. You can get it on the ps2, Xbox, and Windows, but it’s better if you get either the PS2 version or Xbox version since you don’t have to worry about lagging. This is definitely a well-made game. This game has more heart and soul than most games. I would think it has more heart and hard work put into it than most games. Let’s all hope for a sequel. It is definitely time for one since it has been 5 years. They could do a lot with this game, and I hope Tim Schaeffer does with this great title.

This game gets a 9.6 out of 10

Friday, June 25, 2010

Shin Getter Robo vs. Neo Getter Robo anime review




Giant Robots are awesome, aren’t they? Some of them are really creative and fun to watch fight giant monsters and what not. The best part of this is that we can thank Japan for the onslaught of awesome giant robot shows that we have seen over the past couple of decades. Sadly, we don’t seem to get a lot of the cooler Super Robot animes that are shown everywhere else in the world. Most of the time, We get stuff like Gundam, which can get a little more tedious since politics take a front seat to the action, but giant robot shows need to be more action-oriented. We do have some good ones, like The Big-O and Daiguard, but there is one that I have wanted to see for some time now, the Getter Robo series. It’s a really popular robot anime and manga series that is still around today in Japan. Today, I decided to take a look at one of the more recent anime adaptations of the series, Shin Getter Robo vs. Neo Getter Robo. This series, which was made in 2001 and ran for only 4 episodes, was a pretty epic show in my opinion. So, let’s get right down to it, and see what makes this series so awesome. Just a heads up though, I plan to do a review of some of the other anime adaptations later this year, and I do plan on doing a review of Shin Getter Robo: Armageddon.

The main plot takes place in an alternate universe where this anime acts as a sequel to Getter Robo. This time though, it starts with an invasion by the Dinosaur Empire. They are dinosaurs that have lived underground and evolved into humanoid form. While two of the original Getter Robo pilots try to charge up Shin Getter Robo, a stronger version of Getter Robo, the other original pilot takes the original Getter Robo, and tries to single-handedly defeat and prevent the invasion from the Dinosaur Empire in Manhattan. Sadly, they can’t get Shin Getter Robo up and running, and the third pilot of the original Getter Robo realizes he can’t hold them all off for long, and instead uses a self-destruct device using the core of the robot. In the end, the explosion kills the Dinosaur Empire and wipes out Manhattan. Years later, one of the original pilots, Hayato, is trying to find a third member for a new team to pilot Neo Getter, a newly-made robot that runs on Neo energy, due to Getter energy getting banned from the Japanese Government. However, the Dinosaur Empire somehow survived the blast from the explosion and is trying to kidnap people and turn them into its soldiers. Hayato finally finds a third pilot named Gou who must team up with the two other pilots, Shou and Gai, and save the world with Neo Getter Robo.

Shin Getter Robo Vs. Neo Getter Robo is like other Super Robot shows, in that there is an evil force trying to take over the world and the giant robot needs to stop the invasion and save the world. However, this series starts off dark, with one of the original Getter Robo characters dying. I mean, Shin Getter Robo is probably the darkest of the anime series based on of the Getter series, but this one is a little more lighthearted, but still serious. For most of the episodes, the three main pilots use Neo Getter Robo until episode 3, where Neo Getter is destroyed and they are forced to use Shin Getter Robo. Like other Getter Robos, it has three forms. The first one is basically the ground-based default robot, which is usually the titular character of the series. I mean, he IS on the title. The second one is usually the fastest of the three forms and always uses a drill attack. The final form is usually more ground-based, but depending on what series you watch, has two different styles of attacks. The Neo Getter version has a powerful wind engine-like weapon around his head, and uses it to make a strong tornado-like blast at the enemy. The other version has extendable arms, and basically has tank-wheel caterpillar legs, but uses missiles in most of its powerful attacks. There is usually a second robot on hand, like in Shin Getter Robo, and in this show also. Here we have the American robo, Texas Mach that is themed like a cowboy and uses revolvers, a lasso, rides a robotic horse, and has a huge rail gun hidden in the US and Japan, if things go bad. Let’s get down to the villains now. There is not a lot of the original Dinosaur Empire left, so it works, since this series is only 4 episodes long. They do use robots, like humans, but they usually have some form of lizard or reptile thing attached to them. The exception is the ruler of the Empire who doesn’t need his own robot since he is as big as one.

The animation looks nice. The art style of Go Nagai and Ken Ishikawa still holds up well, and I like the designs of the enemies and the robots used in the series. Sadly, Ken Ishikawa is no longer with us, dying in 2006. It’s always sad to see people who made things you watched or read in your childhood or life pass away. The music is typical Getter Robo stuff, but it helps that Ichiro Mizuki, who you all know I love, sings the opening for the anime. The anime opening is actually well done, filled with intense action music and action scenes. Don’t believe me? Then check it out for your self.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03YnHf5pGAU&feature=related

Now, it’s time to talk about the bad parts of this little series. I just don’t like the whole 4-episode thing. I think it’s too short, and it forces the creators or whoever to rush the whole story line. It seems even pointless to have Neo Getter Robo since it gets destroyed in episode 3, and then they use Shin Getter Robo to finish off the villains. We also don’t get a lot of character development. You get the basic idea of what they are all like, but still, they could have made this series at least 26 episodes. I also kind of find it weird how Americans are portrayed in the Getter Robo series. In Shin Getter Robo, they are portrayed as arrogant and brutish. In Shin Getter Robo vs. Neo Getter Robo, they are portrayed as cowboys and are cocky as they can be. It kind of makes you wonder how Japan actually sees us. Some of the designs of the dinosaurs are really weird, and only a few seem sloppy. That seems like a theme in some of the monsters in Go Nagai and Ken Ishikawa’s work, but they have a charm to them. They might seem weirdly simple looking, but they hold a charm.

Overall, this was a fun, but short 4-episode anime. I say, if you can find the DVD for this show, pick it up or just watch it on Youtube with English subtitles. I will always have a part of my heart dedicated to this series for the inspiration for a group of my giant robot drawings. Let’s just see where Go Nagai goes next with the Getter Robo series.

This show gets a solid 9 out of 10

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle for the Wii






The Wii. What can we say about it? It’s a great system with a great list of games. The Wii even brought us two games that were rated as two of the best games of the past decade. We’ve got a lot of games for this system, like Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2, New Super Mario Brothers Wii, Madworld, Zack and Wiki, Metroid: Other M, Sin and Punishment 2, Monster Hunter 3, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, and you get the idea. It has a lot of great games, though it does has the reputation for having way too many casual-player games that are just broken and not even worth the price they sell them for. I think the cause of this is that when an M-rated game gets released, it gets overlooked since the Wii is supposed to be “family friendly”. Well, to that I say BULL! I mean, if you haven’t played Madworld, then I don’t know what you guys are looking at. This brings me up to one of the better M-rated games on the Wii, No More Heroes 2 Desperate Struggle! The sequel to one of the best games on the Wii from 2008, No More Heroes 2 still holds up the charm it has from the last game with its creative art style, interesting bosses and characters, and very very lewd, but funny humor. So, what makes this one of the best games from January? Let’s find out!

The main story of this sequel is well…weird to say the least. The large Pizza Hut parody company, Pizza Bat, decides to be jerks that they are, and do what they do on their days off, go kill people. They decide to take out their lust for death on Travis’s best friend, Bishop, who ran the video store from the last game. As for Travis Touchdown, he has been out of the whole assassin’s game for 3 years, and has moved down to the rank of number 51. After killing some emo Cloud Strife wannabe (who, weirdly enough, is the brother of the guy he killed in the first game to be rank 11), he then finds out that his friend Bishop was killed. The disturbing way he finds out is that the thugs who killed Bishop, chopped off his head, put it in a bag, and threw it into Travis’ apartment. Now, Travis is out for revenge and has to fight through the 50 other ranked killers to get to number 1. I wouldn’t really hold No More Heroes up for a groundbreaking story, and this one isn’t, but it doesn’t matter. Just give any guy a beam saber and he will do anything,

The game play featured in No More Heroes 2 is more of the same stuff you do in the past game. You basically hack and slash your way through goons who don’t get paid enough to get sliced in half, fight the next ranked assassin, and more or less do it again after that fight. This time however, the empty overworld is replaced with a map which allows you to teleport to different places on the map. Now, I don’t mind this since I did get lost in the first game, and frankly, I honestly didn’t know what to do for the first part of the first game. Now that I think back, I actually liked the open world concept, since it was fun to walk around and find random stuff to collect. However, it does make getting from place to place easier when you can just choose where you need to go, kind of like how you can teleport to different places in Twilight Princess. I think the collecting has been simplified in the second game. You basically collect extra stuff for the cloth shop, Area 51. You do get different beam sabers though from the foxy scientist Doctor Naomi. This time she will sell you two different beam sabers that you had to buy upgrades for in the last game. You, of course, get your main beam saber that is the default saber. You then can buy a shorter beam saber that I think does quicker attacks, and is probably is the beam saber I used most besides the last one you can get, but I will get to that in a second. The third one, which is crazily expensive, is a two-handed large beam saber, which does great amounts of damage, but is really slow and is probably best used on groups of enemies rather than some of the quicker boss enemies. The final weapon you get turns into two beam sabers that are probably the strongest and fastest of the weapons Travis has, but the battery runs out more quickly, from what I have seen. It is the weapon I used the most after I got it. In this game though, you don’t just play as Travis. This time, you get to play as past 7th ranked assassin, Shinobu, for two boss fights, and you get to play as Travis’s Brother Henry for one boss fight. I don’t mind that you can play as them, but I will show my complaints in the later part of this review. Like in the last game, you can do side jobs to earn some cash. The side jobs this time differ from the ones in the last game. The easiest one you can do is collect coconuts in an 8-bit style mini-game. A lot of the side jobs are designed like old Nintendo Entertainment System games. The second one is a steak-cooking mini-game, where you need to cook steaks a specific way for the customers to fill a bar to get to the next level. The third mini-game is like old retro games like Rad Racer or Mach Rider. You basically get to the finish line before the timer runs out, and you gain boosts by hitting nitro cans on the road. Another one is basically set up in the style of Gauntlet, but the gameplay isn’t the same. You go through 4 rooms, exterminating bugs and sucking them up like the Ghostbusters. There are others games like picking up trash from space, going through a non 8-bit mini game picking up scorpions, and filling a square up with Tetris blocks. There is a lot more variety in mini-games, and the coconut game is a lot easier than the one in the first game. In fact, I think some of these games could pass as downloadable DSI games. There are also revenge missions, 10 in total, where you cut down mindless grunts, and gain a small amount of cash. Only twice in the game do you ever ride your motorcycle, and it is for two different boss fights. The only other thing I need to say is that there is one boss fight that takes place in a giant robot to fight another assassin who can form a giant robot. It’s pretty cool, but sadly it only happens once. The slot machine gimmick is back from the first game, and it goes off each time you kill people. Sometimes, the result is nothing, but if it does hit three of a certain symbol, it can either make a huge slash, destroying everything, making Travis faster, to even make Travis turn into a tiger, and maul fleeing enemies. It’s like a bloody version of Pacman.

The graphics still are as charming as the last game. It has a punk anime-style look that is still fun to look at, but sometimes it looks blocky. It passes with the unique characters, that play very little parts in the story, but are still fun to like as characters. Some of my favorite boss fights are with Dr. Letz Shake, the second part of the Ryuji fight, and against the mighty astronaut, Captain Vladimir. Sometimes, the boss fights can be a little sad, like the Ryuji and Captain Vladimir fight. The soundtrack is just as awesome, and still has the amazing battle music that will never leave your head. The 8-bit songs are also fun to listen to, and, dare I say, better than some of the Megaman songs that I have heard. The voice acting is also very well done with some pretty talented people like Travis, who is voiced by Robin Atkins Downes, who did the voices for the Prophet of Regret from the Halo series, Lorenzo from Haunting Grounds, Luxord from the Kingdom Hearts series, and the Prince of Prince of Persia: The Warrior Within, just to name a few. We also have Paula Tiso who did Lulu from Final Fantasy 10, Odette from Odin Sphere, and Ohka from .Hack///Legend of Twilight. The other talented people we have are Quinton Flynn as Henry, Yuri Lowenthal, Khary Payton, Jennifer Hale, Fred Tatasciore, Josh Keaton, Tara Strong, and Paul Eiding. It’s definitely a great cast of voicework to have in a game like No More Heroes 2. The humor is actually pretty funny, but raunchy at times. Let’s just say that in the first game, the perverse part of the human mind was explored. In the second game however, it was stroked and massaged till ready to burst, no pun or sexual joke intended. There are some things that you will ONLY hear from a game like this. I think two of my favorite segments of lines are when you fight the football player boss, and when you fight Dr. Letz Shake. It’s just funny, and I bet everyone will find a part in the dialogue enjoyable.

Sadly, this so-called “No More Hero” has a lot of holes, which are just annoying, and just weren’t implemented right. Why the heck do the football player and his cheerleader groupies take 25 of the ranks in the game? I mean, the cheerleaders alone are not a threat! It’s only when they combine into the giant robot that they are a threat. It’s just stupid, and mostly used it to fill space. They should have just had all 25 characters in one rank so it wouldn’t waste space. The first part of the Ryuji fight is just a pain in my back to get through. It’s so hard to control your motorcycle and it’s like one of the only two times you actually use it! It’s annoying since it’s so hard to steer and control the motorcycle, and I usually ended up falling off the side because of it. The platforming sections of Shinobu’s stage are just an annoyance to get through, as well. With the camera so close to you, it’s hard to through the jumping to see where you need to jump. I can’t count how many times it took me to just get to New Destroyman because I, accidentally, flew off the roof or jumped incorrectly to a platform because of Shinobu’s awkward movements. Why do you only control Henry once? I mean, you get to at least play as Shinobu twice, but Henry’s boss fight isn’t even a ranked fight, and then he goes off-screen to kill 3 unknown assassins. Why couldn’t they have just put those assassins in?! I mean, yeah, it would have pushed the Wii’s power to its limit, but come on!

Overall, this is a case of which one you would like better? No More Heroes was a sign of quantity over quality. The case with No More Heroes 2 is quality over quantity. I say pick up both games though. They are both really solid and are extremely fun to play, even with minor flaws. I am curious to see the revamped version of the first game for the PS3 and 360 and see how it plays. I will be reviewing it when I can get my hands on it, but I wonder what No More Heroes 3 will be like on the next Nintendo console. All and all, Goichi Suda, the creator of these two games and Killer 7, did a really good job and I would like to meet him someday and talk with him.

This game gets a 9.1 out of 10

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Import Surprise part 2: DoReMi Fantasy: Milon's Doki Doki Adventure for the Super Famicom





It’s a shame that a lot of franchises are popular in Japan, but not popular here in America. A very good example is one of my favorite franchises, the Mystical Ninja series, or how it is known in Japan, the Ganbare Goemon series. Another series that a lot of people seem to like is the series of games a character known as Milon is from. I mean a lot of people do hate the first game, but there happens to be a few games in the series that are from Japan that are liked here in America by import collectors. This little sequel title is called DoReMi Fantasy: Milon’s Doki Doki Adventure, or as it is translated in America, DoReMi Fantasy: Milon’s Heart Pounding Great Adventure for the Super Famicom. Of course, if people don’t know for some reason, the Super Famicom is the Japanese name of the Super Nintendo.

The main story of this game is rather cute, but it fits the whole feel of the game. Milon is running through the forest with his brother as they go meet his friend, a fairy named Alis. Suddenly out of nowhere, an evil wizard named Amon captures her, and takes the music of the world away also. It is up to Milon to find the fairy and save the land! Yeah, it’s a light story and if you’re not Japanese, you won’t get the text in the game, but it’s very simple and easy to pick up and play the game.

The game play featured in DoReMi Fantasy is a 2D side-scrolling plat forming game, where you play as Milon as you go through 7 worlds with sublevels within those worlds, kind of like Super Mario World, Wario World, and Kirby’s Dreamland 3. Your main form of attack is shooting bubbles at enemies, trapping them inside the bubble. Sadly, that won’t kill them. Instead, you have to trap them inside the bubble, and then push the bubble making them go flying. A cool thing is that if you push an enemy that is inside a bubble and they hit another enemy, they get launched inside a bubble also. There are several power-ups that you can get during the game. You can get stuff like bubble gum, which will let you float out of a pit if you ever fall into one, wing shoes that allow you to float downwards slower, and power-ups for your bubbles. The main gimmick in the game is exploration, since there are power-ups and bonus levels within each level, and since you don’t have a timer to go by, you can get to them if you just explore around a bit. Another gimmick after world 1 is that you need to find stars with a musical note inside them. You need to do this to get to the bosses, and they are mostly hidden easily in the levels, but it gets trickier when you go through the later levels.

The graphics in the game are top-notch for a game that came out in 1994. The colors are bright and beautiful, and the areas and enemies are well detailed and designed. The thing with music back then is that it would loop over and over again and would basically want to make you smash your brain in. However, they fix this in DoReMi Fantasy by making music subtler, and sometimes just using environmental sounds like the wind blowing in the forest levels or sparkling noise in the church levels. All I have to say is that it is one of the best soundtracks on the SNES or Famicom. The challenge is well-rounded with it steadily getting more difficult as you progress through the game, but most new gamers or old gamers shouldn’t be having trouble playing through this game. I also like the little cut scene in the beginning, and another one where you talk to the musicians. They are very well animated, and are fun to watch. I like the cover art for the game, too. It gives it a cartoon/anime feel and I like it.

Sadly, though, this game does have a few things that are annoying. During the swimming areas when you want to use a powered-up version of your bubble and you shoot bubbles everywhere, you float, which ends up with you taking damage. I find that annoying since I should be on the ground when I do this. Another thing that annoys me is that health system. I don’t mind it as much as most health bars in games, but it takes the Super Mario route, and you have to upgrade with different colored outfits. What is wrong with a health bar and the enemies taking one bar off? I also do not and I mean DO NOT like the blue birds in the fourth world. In some areas of the level, you can’t see them coming, and it ends up with you getting hit.

Overall, DoReMi Fantasy: Milon’s Doki Doki Adventure is a very fun platformer that should have come out in the states. If you are a collector of import games, I see no better game that would fit you collection. It will cost you some coin, but you can get it off the Wii’s Virtual Console, where it is a little cheaper. I don’t know of anything else to say except to go check this game out!

This game gets a 9.6 out of 10.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Import Surprise part 1: Star Parodier




Recently, I have been watching videos of Japanese-only games, like Ganbare Goemon 2 and a video series on thatguywiththeglasses.com that is all about Japanese import games that American gamers can easily play and obtain. The real reason I got interested was because of a guy named JewWario, who hosts the “You Can Play This” series on the site. I got inspired and decided to go get a few Virtual Console cards, and downloaded a couple of games. I decided to have my own little import review series known as Import Surprise! For the first import review, I wanted it to be special, so I decided to pick a game called Star Parodier for the PC Engine, which is an add-on for the Turbografx-16. I decided to choose this game because it’s good, and it’s simple and easy to pick up, though you will have to read this review to see what I think of it.

Even though in games like this you don’t really care about the story, I’m going to tell it to you anyway, since, well, I want to. However, I thought at first I wasn’t going to since the story is in Japanese, but I will sum it up to all you gamers who haven’t played this. Basically, a ship was flying around and saw something flying through space. Sadly, that thing was evil! It hit a planet and started to attack the planet. The planet then called out to the Bomberman planet, and the people of the Bomberman planet made a ship from Star Soldier, a giant Bomberman, and a giant PC-Engine robot thing to go out and fight the evil that has taken over the land. Yeah, I don’t know why they would make a giant PC-Engine robot to fight crime when the world has stuff like Gundam and other giant robots, but this is a video game and such, so I won’t question its logic.

The game play in Star Parodier is of a top-down 2D shooter like 1943 and Raiden 3. Like I said above, you have three different ships to control as you go through multiple levels, shooting down enemies, facing a boss in the middle of the level, and then another boss at the end of the level. There are different kinds of power-ups that are different for each character. That is something that is good in my opinion. In other games like Raiden, where no matter what ship you are, you have basically the same attacks. Star Parodier has different attacks depending on what character you are. For example, the Bomberman ship can shoot a wave of bombs, the ship shoots sonic booms all across the screen, and the giant PC Engine robot ship thing shoots CDs at the enemies. When you beat the game you can go do 2 and 5 minute challenges and see how many points you can get in those challenges.

The graphics are very bright and colorful. Not meaning that other shooters are not as bright, I mean, look at R-Types, R-Type Delta, and the Raiden games. They are fully colorful. However, Star Parodier has very colorful graphics that you would find in games that Treasure makes. The whole feel of the game is kind of out of an anime that is a satire of shooters. I think some of my favorite parts of the game are the boss fights. They are all so creative, like fighting two crabs that talk, a snake charmer, a walrus shooting a giant laser beam, and even a giant Bomberman, which is just so cool. The music is also very colorful and cheerful to listen to. Then again, a lot of games made by Hudson Soft, like on the NES and SNES, have really good, cheerful music. I also like the humor in the game. When you shoot some enemies, they wave white flags, which is just silly. It’s interesting to note that Star Parodier is actually a parody of Hudson’s shooter franchise, Star Soldier. The “paro” in the name means parody. The difficulty is rather easy, but I enjoyed playing through it. It is definitely one of those shooters, like Mobile Light Force, to get started on if you’re new to the series. I know it does get harder as you play through the game, but you can do it rather easily through a good chunk of the levels.

Now, let’s get to the bad parts of this Japanese-only game. There isn’t really much wrong with this game. The bad parts that are part of this game do come from the fact that it plays like an arcade shooter. Each time you die, you lose all your power-ups, and once you get up to this Egypt-like level, it is REQUIRED to have some power-ups. Don’t get me wrong, this game does have unlimited continues and you can change your ship, but I guess it is just a minor gripe. Other issues only come from the game being Japanese-only. Some of the power-ups actually power you down, so I guess they should be called power-downs or something. What I am trying to say is that if you don’t know which ones will power you down, then you won’t notice until you’ve realized your powere-up ship is now powered-down. I also wish there was a health bar instead of the whole one-hit death. It just gets annoying.

Overall though, as one of the first import games I have ever played in my life as a gamer, I think it’s very fun. I think it should be on everyone’s list of games to download from the Virtual Console. Now, to new people who are on the VC, import games are a little more expensive only by like 100 or 200 points (a.k.a 1 or 2 dollars). I would say get the VC version since tracking down this game along with a TurboGrafx-16 and a PC Engine would get very expensive, and being a gamer means you go by a budget, or you get some gift cards or something. Either way, this was a great game to review and I hope you all liked it.

This game gets a solid 9 out of 10

Friday, June 4, 2010

Argument to the film, Quest to Camelot

I like a lot of animated films, even though most of them are early Disney and all of Hayao Miyazaki’s works. Recently however, through the Internet, a lot of people have been talking about an animated film that is either loved or hated. The movie in question is called Quest for Camelot, which was released by Warner Brothers and directed by Frederik Du Chau. Now admittedly, I had never heard of this film, and only saw it once on television and thought it was okay, but I recently got interested in seeing it again, by the Nostalgic Critic on thatguywiththeglasses.com. Like I said above, a lot of people like it or hate it, and I don’t really belong to either side. A head’s up however, this isn’t a review or a rant. These are just my thoughts on the movie itself and my comments toward its highs and lows. I will be splitting this up into a few segments like characters, music, and just the whole feel of the movie compared to some other Disney films.

Let’s start off with characters. We will begin with the main protagonists, then move down to secondary characters, and finally the villains. The main hero of the movie is a young woman named Kayley voiced by Jessalyn Gilsig, who is a daughter of one of the past Knights of the Round Table. I say past since the main villain of the movie killed him. She then grows up to be a girl who wants more from life than what she already has. She is basically the main mold for any Disney princess. Now, some people have said that she looks like Belle from Beauty and the Beast. I somewhat disagree. I say this because she doesn’t look like Belle, well, she would if she was younger, but still. The reason why I agree is because of her personality since she is mostly like Belle in the film. I say this also because she lives on the farm and her song sequence is about the same as Belle’s. Next, we’ve got our hot male hero named Garret, voiced by Cary Elwes. Yes, he is handsome and such, but there is something different about him that makes him better than most of the Disney males. The sole reason I like him more than other male heroes is that he is blind. Yeah, I said, he is handsome, but blind. In the film, it is explained that he became blind when he was young in an accident where a horse stepped on his face when the farm he worked at caught on fire. A weird thing that he has in common with Kayley’s father is that her father trained him to fight. I have to say, I also like Garret since he fights a lot better than Daredevil ever could. Now, we must move onto secondary protagonists. In films like these, we would usually get one or two, but what about a two-headed secondary character? Well, we have that in the form of a two-headed dragon named Devon and Cornwall, who are each voiced by Eric Idle and Don Rickle. These guys are like the Genie from Aladdin, since they do a lot of references to things that don’t exist yet like the Genie did. A lot of the jokes they say are not that funny to a 20 year-old like me, but it is humor little kids might like, which is weird since Eric Idle and Don Rickle are famous comedians and they do play off each other nicely in the film and do have a few good inside jokes here to there that kids won’t understand.

So, let’s get down to the villains. The main villain of the film is an evil knight named Ruber, who is basically your typical villain who is greedy and underhanded, and will do anything to get what he wants. Weirdly enough, famous actor Gary Oldman plays him in the film. There are a few things I do like about him and a lot of things I don’t like. Let’s start with the good. I do like the servants he has. He uses a potion and mixes his normal henchmen with weapons to make them iron soldiers of sorts. I will admit I do like the iron soldier idea since they do look cool. I also like how he merges his right arm with Excalibur, and looks cool. Now, let’s move to the bad. I just don’t like his design. Subtle is great in a villain isn’t it? I mean he looks like a good guy, but then turns out to be a bad guy? That’s how it should work in films, but no, they make him evil from the start. He also has a gag-like thing where his eye twitches a lot, and it’s just annoying, and not one bit evil, in my opinion. I mean, look at villains like Gaston, from Beauty and the Beast. He is normal, but disturbed, and in the end turns out to be evil. In Quest for Camelot, Ruber is just evil, but he doesn’t do it as well as Disney film villains. I’m not saying any of the voice acting is bad for any of the characters, but it just isn’t executed as well as Disney films.

Let’s get jiggy with the music in the movie. Since this film was trying to take down Disney, this film does have musical numbers. Some are better than others, but only a few. I am only going to be talking about two of them since I think the others are just not that good. The two I am going to talk about is Garret’s number and Ruber’s song. Let’s start with Garret. His song is mostly the “stand up on your own and rise above expectations.” but I like the sound of the singer, Bryan White. It’s a nice song to listen to, and has been stuck in my head for a while now. While it isn’t anything different from other songs like this, it just sounds good. Moving on to Ruber’s song, I was surprised by Gary Oldman’s singing voice. He actually did a pretty good job. The song is evil and is basically like the song, Be Prepared, from Lion King. The reason why I am comparing Ruber’s song to this one is because they are somewhat the same, getting an army ready for the villain’s plan.
For example, here is a link to the song, Be Prepared, from Lion King from Youtube.com and the link to Ruber’s song from Quest for Camelot. The first link is the Lion King one, just in case people get confused. They both have that kind of “talk and sing at the same time” thing going on, but Jeremy Irons does a better job at showing Scar’s slimy nature. Nothing against Gary Oldman, but I think he could have easily gone over the song a few more times to get it right, but it is some what menacing with the whole mechanical army.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0AiN8vrn9Y

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIZ-OloTwmM&feature=related

Now that we have all that out of the way, let’s get to my main complaints about this film. During the film, there are a lot of subtle references to Warner Brothers making it like “Hey kids, we don’t want you to forget we made this, and you could easily be seeing a better made Disney movie!” For example, when Ruber shows the green potion that fuses metal and flesh together, it shows Acme, which is a company from the Looney Toons universe. Why is that needed? It doesn’t make any sense. I would have been happier to see some kind of made up magical words on the bottle. A couple more are seen during the Dragon’s musical number (if you can get through it). You basically see one of the dragons fall off a cliff similar to the Road Runner cartoons and you also see a red headed girl, which was shown from a lot of Tex Avery cartoons that I can recall. I know I typed a whole paragraph about this, but it just bugs the heck out of me each time I see it. Another thing I don’t like is the design for the dragon character. I know this is a kid’s film, but kids aren’t stupid and the dragon didn’t need a stupid design, but that is just me. This leads to my next point, this film isn’t as dark as Disney films can be. It seems like third-party studios can’t accept that kids don’t like stupid jokes and horribly written dialogue. This is why the Disney films and the Pixar films are really good, since they treat everyone equally and don’t make the parents or kids feel excluded from the film. My final complaint was also a very common complaint from the Nostalgic Critic, a lot of things are not explained during the film. I mean, there are a few things that are explained, like Garret’s blindness and where Ruber got the magic potion, but a lot of things don’t seem explained. Another thing is that there is little to NOTHING about the Camelot legend. It’s very annoying, and it just seems like they were a bunch of rejected ideas from other Camelot stories, put together. If you are going to have a film based on the King Arthur Legend, then include the story in the film!

Overall, I like this film as a popcorn flick. It’s a film that you could watch, even though it’s a bad film. This is a film that families could start out showing their kids, then just move onto bigger and better films like the Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, and Studio Ghibli films. I would say it’s like the game Dark Void, one rental and then never see again. Warner Brothers makes better cartoons than better films. As an animated film fan, I say skip it if you’re as old as me, but for new families or new parents, show it to your kids and then send it right back and get Ponyo.
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God of War 3 for the PS3 review




Well, it has finally come. After months of waiting and waiting, it has finally come. My copy of GOD OF WAR 3 came a couple of months back and it is freaking amazing! Of course, I got the Ultimate Edition (it’s very awesome), and I wanted to play the game a couple of times before having to do a review of it, unlike my other games. I wanted to make this review special since this is the killer game to have a PS3 for. After months though, I think it was well worth the wait since this game does deliver very very well.

Let’s start with a short history lesson shall we? The first game, God of War came out on March 22nd, 2005 for the PS2 and was developed by Sony Santa Monica Studios, which, to be honest, only made two other games for the PS consoles, Kinetica and Warhawk God of War was met with critical acclaim, winning multiple awards like best game of E3, best PS2 game, best action game, and multiple other awards. It sold a total of 8 million copies and is still considered one of the best PS2 games of all time. I reviewed it last year as one of my last games of 2009. It is a really good game, but it had sluggish pacing with too many puzzles and a hard difficulty level on the easiest setting. Even with these flaws, it is still a really good game. Two years later, God of War 2 was released on March 13th, 2007 and dealt with the events after Kratos killed Ares and became the new God of War. It was also met with critical acclaim just like the first game, winning multiple awards and being called the swan song of the PS2. It was one of the first games I ever reviewed. It still stands as one of my favorite games of all time and is a great game for the PS2. A year later, a new God of War game called God of War: Chains of Olympus came out on the PSP and was developed by Ready at Dawn Studios. This company is known for Daxter on the PSP. This game dealt with Kratos before the events of the two PS2 games. Chains of Olympus was also met with well-received reviews and is considered to be the best PSP game, standing as a gaming monument of what you could do with the PSP’s potential. There is also a Mobile Phone game called God of War: Betrayal. I have only played a little bit of this and it has also gotten good reviews, but I don’t know if I would get it personally since I don’t do phone games. For a while, gamers had to wait to see what would the third God of War game would be like. On July 15th, 2008 a teaser trailer was shown to the world, showing that God of War 3 was on its way. We wouldn’t see another trailer until Spike’s Game Awards on 2008, and it just got us all even more excited. On February 13th, 2009, an “official” trailer was released and was amazing. Over the months of 2009, we would get little glimpse of the game, like a walk-through at E3 and more trailers. God of War 3 was finally released on March 16th, 2010 and has met with critical acclaim and is in talk of being game of the year. I would not be surprised in my own opinion, but let’s get started with the game’s story, shall we?

God of War 3 takes place right after the events of God of War 2, where Kratos has teamed up with the Titans to take down Mount Olympus and kill Zeus with his bare hands. What comes from all this is betrayal, anger, love, and a lot of dead bodies. It’s a simple story, but I don’t think they could have done anything better, in my opinion, since this is how Kratos should end his story, and not procrastinate and drag it out. A good thing is that it doesn’t rely on any twists and turns that people would expect. It’s just Kratos is mad as heck and wants to kill Zeus. What else do you need to know?

The game play is basically more of the same stuff you have been doing in the God of War games. What I mean by that is that it’s a linear action adventure game where you hack and slash your way through multiple enemies, and fight a boss every now and then. Of course, with any God of War game, there is puzzle solving, but it’s mostly stuff like “push that box” or “pull that lever”, which is done really well. The puzzles are just well-executed in this game, and I will talk more about that later in my review. Your main weapons at the beginning of God of War 3 are your Blades of Athena and one magic attack, just like how you started in God of War 2. However, after the first boss fight and a run-in with Zeus, you lose your weapons and magic, and begin with a small health bar and a small magic bar. Luckily, the ghost of Athena helps you out and gives you the new blades known as the Blades of Exile. It’s weird since throughout the games, the blades have only changed look-wise, and I was glad they kept with this weapon, since it happens to be one of my favorite weapons of all time. During the course of the game, you will gain new weapons, which are pretty cool. The first one you get is the Claws of Hades. You can use them just like the Blades of Exile, but you can also use them to summon the spirits of dead enemies. This comes in handy since enemies have gotten smarter in this game and won’t be afraid to gang up on you. The next weapon is the Nemean Cestus, which are your giant metal gauntlets that you see in the trailers a lot. These act as your main close-range weapons, and happens to be a personal favorite of mine while going through God of War 3. You can use them just like the other two weapons, but I say use them for close-range, since they are freaking monsters when you smack people around with them. You can also use them to break certain rocks, which you will need to do during the game. The last weapon you attain is the Nemesis Whip, which is basically like a lightning-whip thing that can somewhat be used like the Blades of Exile or the Claws of Hades, but it’s better to use them from a distance and against groups of enemies, since you can shock multiple enemies using the weapon. The plat-forming elements is your basic stuff, since you run around, destroy some barrier, jump from here to there, and swing from place to place using your blades. The boss fights are SO FREAKING AMAZING! I just love all the boss fights in the game and each is memorable. Some of my favorites are the fight against Hades, Hercules, Cronos, and a giant scorpion that is near the end of the game. Of course, one of the best parts of the game is the ability to ride certain monsters and use their abilities to get through puzzles or smack around your fellow enemy. They do have a limited amount of time before Kratos decides to pull the plug on them, so use them carefully. Another big deal is the Titans themselves. Some levels actually have you walking and plat-forming all across them, which is just an amazing thing to see. Even a boss fight takes place on Cronos himself when you get to him. It’s amazing how they could pull this off. The only thing I really need to explain is the sub weapons you will get. You get Apollo’s Bow that can shoot arrows and set people on fire. The second sub weapon is the Head of Helios, literally his head, and you rip it off his body. It can be used as a lantern to light up dark areas and blind people with the power of the sun. The third sub weapon is the Boots of Hermes where you can run up certain walls and ram your opponents. The final one is this Ice-thing that is used to solve the labyrinth and isn’t that necessary as a whole. It’s also worth noting that the move list in the game is more of the same, but there are a few new moves, like using an enemy as a battering ram or lunging yourself at the enemy.

The graphics are just oh my god amazing! In 2009, people thought Uncharted 2: among Thieves had the best graphics, but God of War 3 just blew that game out of the water. There is so much detail in everything that you can’t help but just look at the screen for a couple minutes to take in all the detail. It’s even more amazing when you’re climbing on the Titans. When you are on them, it’s amazingly well animated, just seeing how large they are and how small you are. It’s so hard to describe in words how great the graphics are. It has definitely set a new standard for PS3 Exclusives titles that need to be made. I’m not saying that games like Batman Arkham Asylum, Uncharted 2, or 3D Dot Game Heroes look like crap next to God of War 3, but it’s amazing since some of the cut scenes border on the CG you see in movies. This helps the cause with no screen tearing, no slowdown, and perfect transition between areas. Like I said, it’s hard to describe all the amazing graphics in God of War 3. The music is simply epic! I think this is the best soundtrack out of all the God of War games and it just sounds amazing. The voice work is phenomenal to say the least. I’m going to list them, and say my thoughts on them. T.C. Carson returns as the voice actor for Kratos and does a great job as usual. Corey Burton does his role as Zeus very well and it’s weird since he does the voice of Zeus in the Hercules: The Animated Series. I think it’s weird, since if you put those two differently designed Zeus’s together, it’s just odd to think about the same guy doing both of their voices. Next on our list is Susanne Blakeslee, who is the narrator and the voice of Gaia throughout the God of War games. I think she does a great job portraying her and does a great performance overall. One of the more surprising voice works is the person who does Hades, Clancy Brown, who for some reason is always in my mind of people I want to do voices in my games. Now, you all may not recognize him, but he does the voice of Lex Luthor in the Superman cartoon series and in the Justice League cartoon series. This is just a chunk of the voice work they have in this game. They also have George Ball as Cronos, Kevin Sorbo as Hercules, Malcolm McDowell as Daedalus, Greg Ellis as Hermes, Crispin Freeman as Helios, Rip Torn as Hephaestus, Natalie Lander as Pandora, and April Stewart as Aphrodite. I know there are a few more, but you can find out for yourself. I also like the subtle relationship between Kratos and Pandora in the game. It’s like father and daughter getting along in the story, and it isn’t pushed in your face, but you can tell that Kratos does care and love Pandora as if she was his own daughter. It’s really touching when he wants to protect her, but wants to kill Zeus, and has to choose between the two. The whole story as a whole is really well done.

I really don’t want to do this next part. I really don’t want to say anything bad about this game. I just love it so much! Sadly, there are a few things that bug me about the game, but most of it is nit picking. The main complaint I have for the game is its length. I think it’s a little short since you can beat the game in less than 10 hours. I mean, they could have added other characters like the dream god from the Chains of Olympus game. Other than that, the rest is just going to be nit picking and won’t affect my score of the game. Why do you have to fight Hades so early? I would have thought he would have been second to last boss you fight. Why is Helios more of a puzzle boss than an actual boss fight? It’s kind of weird since he is one of the major gods, but you don’t fight him directly like the others gods. I mean, the fight with Hermes is just a game of ‘follow the leader’, but at least you fight him for a bit. Other than that, there isn’t much more to talk about.

All and all, this is a very good game and it is as near perfection or as close to perfection as you can get with a game like this. If you haven’t gotten this game yet for some reason, go out and get the Ultimate Edition like I have, since you get a bonus skin and a few cool things. Sadly, people can’t get the exclusive skins that come from where you pre-order the game. Overall, this was a great way to end Krato’s story. The developers did talk about that God of War 3 wasn’t going to be the last game in the series, but they said when they do make a new one, they will have to think carefully on what they do. Either way, I just love this game and any Sony fan will love this game too.

This game gets a 10 out of 10.