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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Chronicle

Chronicle is another example why 2012 is a really good year for movies. I heard about it from CinemaSins (Proceeding to not watch the video because I wanted to form my own opinion) and reserved it at my library. Then I saw that it was a movie shot from the perspective of one of the characters cameras. Yeah, that kinda almost turned me off of the entire film. But I decided to sit through it anyways, because I was tired of sitting over at my computer doing nothing every day.
So Chronicle is a movie made from the perspective of a single camera throughout most of it. The first character we're introduced to is Andrew Detmer, a kid from Seattle who's decided to start recording his entire life. Like a self-made reality show.
Anyways, Andrew's mother is dying and his father has decided to take a nosedive off the deep-end in response. As such he's become an abusive jerk. Or maybe he was always like this, I don't know.
So Andrew goes to school with his cousin, Matt Garetty. Andrew records his life at school and we find that he's bullied there.
In 2012? Seriously? Nerds being nerds is cause for bullying? Maybe Seattle is different from the rest of the country.
I don't know, I've never been there. Or maybe the world hasn't changed as much as I would have thought.
So Andrew gets invited to a party by Matt to try and bring him out of his shell, but some morons at the party decided to mess with him for trying to document his life. So he leaves the party and sits in the yard doing nothing for a while.
I like how the film moves from run-of-the-mill drudgery to whoosh-crikey awesomeness fairly quickly.
So they develop super-powers and start honing them to perfection. They develop a close bond, as anyone who developed superpowers with or near someone else probably would.
So they enter into the school talent competition to show off their powers as a magic trick, and Andrew becomes extremely popular overnight. His cousin, Matt films it all, along with another student from their school who also films stuff.
So afterwards, Andrew gets drunk at a party and proceeds to vomit. Afterwards he's treated just as bad, if not worse then he was before.
What follows is a series of events that put Andrew through a series of hardships that are entirely of his own making. If he'd spent any time talking to his friends, the people who can best relate to being a godlike entity with tons of power going through highschool in Seattle Washington. Seriously, there are two other people in the world who know what's going on and he completely ignores them!
While Matt could have been a little less accusatory towards Andrew, Andrew could have solved all of the problems in this entire movie if he'd spent more time talking about the stuff he's going through with Steve and Matt.
Or even if he'd looked around on the internet, the repository of all the worlds knowledge. You know, like every teenager in this day and age does!
Ugh.... Anyways, while I did really like the film, it got a little wonky towards the end. While it kind of makes up for it with how awesome the climax is, the way they got there is highly questionable.
To be perfectly honest, it seems like they wrote a really awesome climax, but forgot to figure out how to lead into it, so they just derailed all of the characters so they could serve it. Not that it's a bad climax, it's entertaining to watch, and is about the only time that it actually seems like a real movie rather than a student film project. The problem is that the way they got there isn't entirely believable.
I can think of a hundred ways the movie could have ended better, but only one of them is funny.
All they need is Nick Fury and Charles Xavier. Fury to whip them into line and Xavier to teach them how to use their mutant/whatever powers.
Hold on, I've got a script treatment to write.....
To me, personally it seemed like they just wanted to get to the awesome climax and forgot to make the characters get into the mindset for it in some sort of believable way.
So now to the special effects. For the most part they're really good. The flying looks fairly realistic, but the green-screening for one of the skyscraper scenes looks like they laid a satellite picture of Seattle behind the actors and didn't bother adding any depth to it. The buildings never shift around the way they would in real life if you were actually filming in a city, as opposed to a set in South Africa.
So all in all, it was a good movie I suppose. I mean while it was good it was really good, but the ending wasn't how I'd have figured it would have finish off.
I give it a 7.7* rating. It loses a lot of points for throwing its characters off the rails towards the end, but gains some back for how awesome the climax was.
So, I'll see you next week with To Kill a Mockingbird!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is the 2011 followup to the 2007 film, Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End. So far it's the last one they've put out in the series. Apparently Dead Men Tell No Tales is still in development, and is slated for a 2017/16 release. So that's kind of odd. Yeah, it took four years to get this one out but come on! What's going on there?
Anyways, the story follows Jack, having escaped death twice in the last film attempting to find a way to get his ship back from his mutinous first mate, Barbossa. So far so Curse of the Black Pearl, right? Well it gets pretty different pretty fast. Jack runs into his old "friend" after saving his current first mate, Gibbs from execution. Barbossa's now a privateer, having joined the Kings service after losing a leg and The Black Pearl. So Jack finagles his way out of trouble again, with the trademark action and humor we've come to expect out of the series. He runs into his father, who's reprised by Keith Richards from the last movie. He elaborates on something that the king brought up, that someone's been impersonating Jack and is putting together a crew for a ship. So Jack decides to check it out and finds that someone is imitating his fighting style, code of dress (If you can call it that) and general all around Jack-ness.
After some more cool fighting we find out that it's a girl played by Penelope Cruz. Angelica, an old friend of Jack's has been attempting to bring Jack out of hiding.
So far so good. Nice to watch at least. Nothing really to complain about.
So Jack wakes up on a ship as a crew member, and according to the crew Blackbeard owns it.
Jack decides to stage a mutiny because he figures there's no way it could really be Blackbeard's ship, and find out it is the hard way.
Angelica is apparently Blackbeard's daughter and she's using that to manipulate him into helping her find The Fountain of Youth. Which is something Jack has been looking for. And he may or may not know where it is. So Jack runs into a new sidekick during the mutiny, Phillip Swift, a former Catholic priest who is about as sensible as Will Turner when it comes to how noble he is. That's pretty much where the similarities end, because while he's devoted to goodness, he's not as willing to take up the blade and cannon to defend what's right and good.
So Blackbeard forces Jack to find the way to the fountain, in addition to finding Jaun Ponce de Leon's ship, which contains some silver cups they need for the ritual.
In the meantime, Barbossa attempts and fails to execute Jack's first mate, Joshamee Gibbs. Gibbs forces Barbossa to take him along on their voyage to find the fountain of youth, since he's the only one (Aside from Jack) who knows where everything on the map leads to.
Blackbeard sends some of the mutineers out to bait some Mermaids, because apparently they need mermaid tears to complete the ritual.
During the conflict, one of the mermaids gets trapped in a shallow pool saving Phillip from being crushed by a falling mast. Blackbeard captures her and hauls her through the jungle.
So Jack meets up with Barbossa and finds that the chalices are missing. Apparently the Spanish Church has beaten them to the punch in search of the chalices.
So Jack and Barbossa team up to get the chalices from the Spanish encampment and are captured, but Jack manages to get them free and they abscond with the cups.
Blackbeard, having noticed that Phillip and the mermaid care for each other decides to torture Phillip to get the mermaids tear. Phillip is left for dead, but returns to free the maiden, but is recaptured as she starts shedding tears of joy at his return.
Jack leads Blackbeard and company to the fountain, but Barbossa's crew and the Spanish show up with two different agendas. The ensuing battle leaves Barbossa with The Queen Anne's Revenge and the Fountain of Youth destroyed. Jack leaves Angelica on an island and returns to the Fountain with Gibbs, hatching a plan to get the Pearl seaworthy again.
So all in all, it's a good movie. A nice return to the swift straightforwardness of the first two movies after the massive climax of At Worlds End. So I suppose that I liked it. After the massively disappointing hype-train that was The Expendables almost anything looks good though....
So Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides gets a 9.8* rating. I'll see you next week with Chronicle!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

My top eleven casting choices for the inevitable Star Trek: The Next Generation remake.

So it's pretty much a given that they're going to be remaking The Next Generation someday, so I figured I'd list out the top eleven actors I would personally cast in the roles of my favorite Enterprise crew. I will be going in order of Starfleet rank.

So after a couple of days of deliberation, I've decided to rethink my placement. My original choices will be listed under the current ones.

#11: Wil Wheaton as Q
My original choice seems fairly questionable since Chris O'Donnel is more suited for the role of a cop than a malevolent omnipotent deity. Wil Wheaton would probably be able to play that a lot better.

Original choice: Chris O'Donnel.

I was wondering who I should pick as Q, but in the end I settled on Chris O'Donnel because I've seen him actually acting and he can act despite what Joel Schumacher put him through in both of the Batman movies he was in. In fact, I would say that both of the latter two original Batman movies could have been good if they hadn't had Schumacher at the helm.

#10: Morgan Freeman as Guinan.

The only real alternative to him that I can see is Whoopie, but I would really like to see Morgan Freeman in a Star Trek movie.

#9: Logan Lerman as Ensign Wesley Crusher

To be perfectly honest, I couldn't think of anybody to play Wesley. Freddie Highmore was on my list, but be doesn't look enough like a young Wil Wheaton to fill the role.
Logan Lerman was not the number one pick for this role, but I can't really find anyone else about the right age who also looks the part.

Original choice: Andrew Garfield.
Andrew Garfield does a good job at looking like he's in his mid teens despite being 31, which is why I picked him as Wesley. I was originally going to put The Rock as Wesley just for laughs, but I decided against it.

#8: Shemar Moore as Geordi La Forge

To be perfectly honest, this is my moms suggestion, but I can't really think of anyone aside from LeVar Burton I would rather have in the role, and Shemar seems like he could fit in the role. He's a little more suited to Worf in body-type, but I can't really see him doing the voice.

#7: LL Cool J as Lt. Worf.

I would have liked to see Michael Clarke Duncan as Worf, but he's dead. I would also love to see Morgan Freeman in the role, but I picked LL Cool J because I figured he fits the body-type, and I can see him doing the voice.

#6: Scarlet Johanson as Lt. Natasha Yar.

Scarlet Johanson has proven in The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier that she can play badass, and Tasha Yar was very badass. I like me some sexy badass women.

#5: Johnny Lee Miller as Lt. Commander Data Soong.
When I was thinking about people who look like Brent Spiner, Johnny Lee Miller sprung to mind. I figure that he might make a good Data. Data is personally my favorite character from Star Trek TNG, and I would hope that Miller would be able to play the role well.

#4: Emma Watson as Commander Deanna Troi.

Emma Watson was the first person who came to my mind when I thought "Deanna Troi in a TNG remake" and I would love to see her in that role.

#3: Karen Gillan as Commander Beverly Crusher, MD.

It was taking me a long time to figure out who I wanted to play Dr. Crusher, but when I read that the characters ancestors were from Scotland Karen Gillan immediately sprung to mind.
While it's somewhat questionable given my original casting choice for Wesley, you have to remember that Karen looks like she could be forty or fifty despite actually being several years younger than Andrew Garfield.

#2: Andrew Garfield as Commander William Thomas Riker.
My rethinking on this is very simple, Andrew Garfield looks a lot more like William T. Riker pre- beard and I presume he would have better chemistry with Emma Watson.

Original choice: Wil Wheaton.

I noticed this while watching TNG the other night, Wil Wheaton nowadays looks a lot like Johnathan Frakes did in the 80s. All you'd need to do is style his hair a little differently.
As far as my original choices go, Wil Wheaton is still on my list for people I'd like to have playing that character.


#1: Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

Because let's face it, the man has not aged a single day in the last thirty years. And he could easily still play my personal favorite Enterprise captain.
Side note, Jean-Luc Picard was the twentieth result on Memory Alpha when I looked up "Captain Picard"

So, what did you think? Do you have any suggestions or comments?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Top 5 Mega Man clones

With Azure Striker GUNVOLT coming out tomorrow and Mighty No. 9 on the horizon, I figured that I would put together a list of my top 5 Mega Man clones.
The criteria is that they must be 2D side-scrolling semi-linear shooters with some resemblance to one of the Mega Man series.
And also games that I've played. Here goes!

Number 5: Power Rangers Samurai.
Power Rangers Samurai is sort of a hybrid of the old Power Rangers Beat-em-ups from the SNES and Genesis and Mega Man X or Zero. Unfortunately it leans far too much towards crappy generic beat-em-ups rather than Mega Man, despite having a lot of similarities to its immediate predecessor, Super Legends. Samurai also has far too many collision detection issues, which is why it made number 5.








Number 4: Mighty GUNVOLT.
Mighty GUNVOLT is probably the one game on this list I spent the least amount of time with, because it reminded me too much of the NES, ironically. You see, despite having owned one and played on it a lot, I don't really like older NES games because most of them are either broken, boring or bad.
Not that the Mega Man games this is trying to emulate were bad, it's just that they would have benefited at no end from the kind of save/continue system that Mega Man Zero or any of the Metroidvania games have. And that's my problem with this. Limited lives and no checkpoints.

Number 3: Power Rangers: Super Legends.
Like Samurai, Power Rangers: Super Legends on the DS is like a hybrid of Mega Man Zero and the old Power Rangers games from the fifth generation of consoles, except that it leans more towards Mega Man Zero. And like Mega Man Zero, you have a sword to slash with and a gun to fire with. You can also punch enemies if you really feel like it. I was surprised at how good the DS version was, considering how bad licensed handheld games usually are.







Number 2: Cave Story.
Cave Story is probably the single most famous game on this list. Almost everyone I've ever talked to has heard of, or played it at some time in their lives. While some might consider it more Metroidvania than Mega Man, I consider it a hybrid of the two styles personally.


Number 1: Azure Striker GUNVOLT.
Gee, this game sure sounds familiar. It's almost as if I wrote two whole articles about it!
Azure Striker GUNVOLT is one of the two games on this list I had the most fun with, which is why it made number 1. It's also the only one I felt really compelled to finish, although that was partially due to the deadline I was under to get my review out.
Deadline aside, Gunvolt is the game on this list I most feel deserves the number one spot for several reasons. First off, it does a good job of resurrecting the 3DS eShop as a platform for legitimate gamer games (Virtual console notwithstanding) and it shows that Inti Creates haven't lost their touch for making good action-shooter-platformers

Azure Striker GUNVOLT

So, after a week of playing GUNVOLT, it's time for the review!
The opening is probably the most awesome thing you'll ever see in you life. It shows you just how badass Gunvolt is.
The plot concerns the protagonist, Gunvolt (Nicknamed the Azure Striker, similar to Megaman being nicknamed the blue bomber) running around the world fighting these super-powered villains, known as Adepts. They serve the Sumeragi group, who seeks to control all of the adepts in the world.
Gunvolts' mission is to topple Sumeragi. Gunvolt works for QUILL, a covert ops team dedicated to bringing down the Sumeragi Group.
Gunvolt is a mission-based side scrolling shooter, similar to the Mega Man X series. You can play through the missions in any order, and revisit ones you've already completed at your leisure to attempt the challenges you can accept in exchange for rewards. That's pretty good, because it gives incentives to go back and replay older levels. Given that it took me about ten minutes to complete every stage (Not including bosses, those took me probably fifteen minutes or longer.) that does a good job of making me want to go through and look at the stages again.
Speaking of Mega Man X, the controls are very similar to that game, except that you can't slide continuously on walls, you just wall-jump up and then fall down at normal speeds. That's a little awkward at first, but I made it work for me.
You remember what I said about voice-clips being interjected at random? Well I was for some reason under the impression that, like Mega Man, everyone you were fighting was a robot. They're not. So those screams are the screams of people you're killing. I didn't notice that at first because they sound somewhat similar to the sounds that the Azure Striker himself makes when he gets hit. And he's not a robot.
I have to say, the music is still really cool. Everything is a joy to listen to. (Well, except the music from the haunted house, but still) I'm actually considering buying the soundtrack if and when it comes out. The only thing I really have to say about it is that a lot of the more peaceful music sounds suspiciously like the music from Ace Attorney. I'm serious, the track that plays when you talk to your girlfriend sounds almost exactly like Turnabout Sisters from Ace Attorney. That was jerking some tears from me...
The music really is evocative of times gone by. The thing that really gets me with the soundtrack is how it manages to got from upbeat and hectic to slow and eerie in just the right ways to press my music-lovers button.
If you manage to get a thousand or more kudos, you can unlock extra parts of the soundtrack. Which is something I've been unable to do, due to the fact that they go down when you get hit and there are a lot of ways to get hit. You rack up kudos from zapping people with your flash field or shooting them with your gun, but they don't count up quickly, and you lose them whenever you get hit, which will probably be quite often. So I'm not really sure how you're supposed to rack up a thousand kudos. Maybe you just don't get hit if you have super-fast robot hands?
Let's talk about some of the mechanics now. Gunvolt has this ability called "Afterimage" which allows him to dodge enemies and damage as long as he's got EP left. Afterimage cannot be used while your flash-field is on, which leads to a balance of of massively devastating attacks vs not dying. I didn't have a whole lot of issues with not dying until I got to a lot of the bosses, where I started taking constant damage if I left the flash-field on.
So anyways, onto the missions. The levels are all pretty cool to play. Despite their linearity they're still really fun to explore.
The one that stuck with me the most was the haunted house level. It was actually called "Underworld"
There were moments in there that actually had me frightened. Not just jump scares, it was actively somewhat frightening. The monsters in that level were tough to beat, hard to avoid, and drain your resources very quickly. It did a lot more to be survival-horror than Slender did, I'll give it that!
I actually felt kind of bad killing the boss of that stage, she didn't seem like she was a willing participant in this gigantic mess, and I would have spared her had I been able to. Unfortunately, I couldn't defeat what was truly evil in that lab without also killing her....
During one of the missions, I ran into what one of my support characters, Moniqa described as "A bi-gender adept." Essentially an androgynous floating red, black and pink armored person who looks like Galactus with a massive pink crystal protruding from the crotch. And you thought the tentacle monster from Mighty Gunvolt was weird!
You never actually get to fight Xe, which is a little disappointing considering that it looks like it would be really interesting to face in combat.
Anyways, I like the boss fights. They're creative, fast-paced and didn't even really get old after having to play through them ten times just to clear them. Although towards the end there are two bosses you have to fight in sequence, without a checkpoint between them and that took me three tries to clear.
Something odd I noticed is that when you die fighting a boss, instead of being restored to the state you were in at the last checkpoint, it actually resets the clock to the time it was when you cleared it and lets you keep your experience. I would've figured it would do what Sonic Colors did and keep the timer going, but it doesn't.
This is actually part of the whole reason I was able to beat the final boss. I managed to level up thrice when I was fighting him. That and the Kaio Ken Super Saiyan mode that sometimes activates when you die.
Perhaps I should explain. When Gunvolt dies, his girlfriend sometimes starts singing, and brings him back to life, with infinite electric powers (Which essentially translates into infinite health if you know how to use it) and a bright blue aura which essentially looks like a blue version of the Kaio Ken or Super Saiyan transformation. Plus, the musical cue that starts up when you come back to life is absolutely awesome! That's part of the reason why I want to know when the soundtrack is going to come out. Plus, Gunvolt lets out a cry of pure fury and it just ROCKS. Trust me, there is nothing more frustrating than getting beat down to you last sliver of health and dying right before you kill the boss. And in direct contrast, there's nothing more awesome than coming back to beat them down with electric fire to an amazing piece of music!
Remember when I said that there wasn't a way to shoot up, down, or diagonally? Well there's a kind of ammunition bolt that lets you do that, the Mizuchi, but it does it really horribly.
Instead of just aiming your gun and firing, you first must hold the D-pad or joystick in the direction you want to redirect it, then fire you gun and it arcs out at the angle you pointed it in. And you can't rapid-fire. And it moves out slightly when you fire it, making precision almost impossible. So it's essentially worthless. I only used two of the bolts anyways. The default one, Cerberus, and the Orochi, which ejects a drone that shoots in eight directions. Not particularly useful in normal combat, but it works great against some bosses.
Speaking of power-ups that got dusty, I unlocked a ton of abilities that I never used. I equipped three of them, but I mainly just used the Astrasphere and Galvanic Patch, which heals Gunvolt. That and Split Second, which restores your EP when it's overheating, but that more rarely.
Everything else just collected dust, because Astrasphere does a ton of damage if you time it correctly.
I haven't unlocked a whole ton of them, so I have no idea how many of them are actually useful.
Remember how I said the art looks amazing? Well it looks even better in 3D. I was surprised at the kind of depth they were able to simulate with 2D images.
The dialogue has a pretty cool noirish bent to it. Gunvolt himself comes off like a 40s style gumshoe, and that tickles the part of me that likes old detective stories. The fact that none of the dialogue is spoken lends to an archaic aesthetic that clicks with me in all the right ways. As a lifelong fan of the Zelda series, I find games without voice acting to be a nice little throwback to a simpler time when games didn't need millions of dollars budgeted just for the voice acting.
Something I feel I need to mention is that there's no way to speed up to text boxes other than pressing A or B. It would have been nice to have a setting in the options menu so that I wouldn't have to wear out my buttons trying to read the dialogue at a decent pace.
So at this point in time, I have beaten what appears to be the final boss and have gone through what appears to be the end credits sequence. By now I've clocked about two and a half hours into the game. (That's going by their clock, not mine since I forgot to time it, and it's not really easy to film 3DS games) I'm sincerely hoping that it's pulling a Sonic And The Black Knight and it's got a bunch of other things to do after a fake-out final boss. Otherwise it's a pretty short game. Then again, it's still more of a game than any of the other eShop games I've reviewed even if it did only take me three hours to complete all of the missions available. Mutant Mudds was too aggravating for me to finish, Dillon's Rollin' Western tried to combine The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask with a tower defense game rather poorly. Sakura Samurai was essentially Resident Evil 4 combined with a not so good beat-em-up, with a final boss who I couldn't defeat no matter what I tried. Tokyo Crash Mobs was a Zuma clone. Fluidity: Spin Cycle was fun at first, but it got real old real fast. Steel Diver: Sub Wars was a free to play submarine FPS, which sounds cool but it was glitchy, slow, and the paid version doesn't seem much better than the free version. And don't even get me started on Rusty's Real Deal Baseball.....
Anyways, the story is a lot like the X-Men. And I freaking LOVE the story from the X-Men. The adepts are becoming more prevalent, humans who feels threatened by them, adepts who want to live peacefully, and adepts who want to wipe out the human race.
Almost exactly like the X-Men story now that I think about it.
At the end of it all I was kind of disappointed that I didn't get to play as three of the other characters in the game, Asimov, Copen and Gino. I felt like it would have been really cool to be able to play as them, but alas it was not meant to be.
So unfortunately my SD card got corrupted and I had to redownload the game. Unfortunately I forgot to back it up and I had to play through the whole game again.
Going through the first level again I noticed that there are platforms and holes in the ceiling that appear as if they would go somewhere, but they do not.
I was originally going to skip all of the dialogue on my second run through the game, but then I decided against it. I'm glad I did, because I just realized the poetic tragedy of Gunvolts' words to Joule at the beginning of the game, and it, combined with the music that sounds like one of the saddest songs in Ace Attorney just broke my heart. Once you get to the end of the game you will know what I mean.
I managed to power through the main six missions, plus the first mission twice and a secret mission in just under two hours. The funny thing is, that despite having already played through them once already they were still really fun. Even though I managed to beat all of the bosses without dying, I still liked combating them. I guess that's a bunch of major points in the games' favor that it's just as fun the second time around.
On my second playthrough I decided to try out the Technos bolt, shown at the left. It fires in two directions, allows you two tags for Flash Field zapping, and is green.
Personally, I liked it at first because it let you shoot at things above and below you, but it's not as good as the Cerberus for CQC.
Because it fires in two directions diagonally, it won't hit what's right in front of you without careful positioning, and that's almost impossible in a hectic combat situation. Plus, in order to switch between weapons you need to go into the Start menu, select your gun, then select the bolt you want to change to, then hit B to exit the weapons menu, and then hit Start to leave the pause menu.
It would have been nice if they had some sort of active bolt-swapping system that you could use on the fly. Maybe something that took advantage of the Circle Pad Pro's extra pair of shoulder-buttons. Or hell, do what Ocarina of Time: 3D and Resident Evil: Revelations did and use the touchscreen to swap bolts. There's enough real-estate on it for all four abilities and a button or two to switch guns.
Something I forgot was that towards the end there's a boss-rush of about four tank robots, in addition to a few others, and that one of them takes place with two pits on either end of the screen.
Remember what I said about the HUD sometimes covering things on the screen? Well these boss-fights are critical reminders of that. One of them takes place in an area where bottomless holes lie to the left and right, in places just small enough to be covered up by the HUD. The final boss especially was annoying because the bosses health-meter covered up the hole on the right side of the screen, and Gunvolts' skill meters covered up another, so I kept falling down the holes on the first playthrough because I forgot they were there. And even in the second playthrough I kept falling down because the boss lets out a gust of wind you have to dash against, and sometimes you're moving too fast and wind up overshooting and falling down the hole!
During the boss-rush, I ran into the boss from the Underworld stage, and I felt even worse having to kill her again, especially after she was apologizing for having to fight me! Good lord that was depressing....
At time of writing, I've gotten up to right before the final boss. I've clocked about three hours, despite having taken less time to defeat each boss.
You know, I wasn't expecting the final plot twist. They did a good job keeping it from being obvious. Right down to the end I didn't suspect what was going on. Even the twist within the final twist was completely unforeseen, yet everything made sense.
I certainly hope that there wasn't something I needed to do to avert the way it ended. Because I got the same ending on both playthroughs.
The credits sequence just seemed like it was taunting me...... Trying to goad me into doing something to change what happened.... All the while knowing that I couldn't.....
That statement seems less and less apt the more I think about it. I suppose it's a metaphor for life, and how fragile it is. The song playing in the background was Joule's theme song, the one I said sounded so much like Turnabout Sisters. I figure they were trying to make it as sad as possible, and they succeeded.
After the credits end, they ask you to save, and then drop you back at the title screen.
Now, curious as I am I loaded up my save file and found that there was more stuff going on!
Or maybe not, because no new missions were unlocked. I just had a chat with Joule and Lumen and then wandered around the other missions looking for gems to give to Joule.
Which apparently was what I was supposed to be doing the entire time, because there was a hint hidden in the in-game manual to look for all seven to give to her. Wonderful. Now I need to play through the whole game a THIRD time just to reach completion!
All in all, I still had a lot of fun with Azure Striker: GUNVOLT. The hard-line critic in me is saying I should be trashing it for being so short, when you can easily get five to ten full-length games on Steam, GoG or the Humble Bundle for that same price if you play your cash right.
On the other hand, compared to everything else I've reviewed on the eShop it's pretty good. Short, but sweet.
And in the end, I'd rather play a short game that's fun than a long game that's not.
So I give it an 8.9* rating. You could easily spend you time and money in worse ways.
Azure Striker Gunvolt will be available on the Nintendo eShop on Friday, August 29th, 2014.
It will be bundled with the retro-styled demake MIGHTY GUNVOLT from August 29th to 9 AM November 28th.
By the way, in case you were wondering I will be forgoing my regular weekly article in favor of this one. We'll be back at regularly scheduled articles next week!
Oh, and I made a list of my top 5 Mega Man clones.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Jack Reacher

Jack Reacher is the 2012 adaptation of One Shot, the first book in Jim Grant's Jack Reacher series. Starring Tom Cruise as the titular character, I figured it was going to be just a lame James Bond ripoff like the Mission Impossible movies were. Considering that it came out in 2012, it was almost required by law to be good. And it was. Surprisingly so. It's one of the few movies I've seen in my life that was just as good as a film as it was a trailer. I remember having seen the trailers and thinking that this was the kind of film that will look good in trailers, but be a boring as hell movie. Sort of like Abduction.
Lo and behold, it was just as good as the previews suggested it would be.
Now, I really like the story of the movie. It's like the A-Team sequel we never got. Jack Reacher is a great character, he actually seems like a human-being while also having some supernatural elements to his investigation abilities. In fact, it's similar to both the BBC's Sherlock and Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes in how Reacher processes the evidence accessible to him, but not in the same style as both of those. It's got a lot of nice action scenes that tie in with the plot.
A man is arrested for killing five people, and instead of confessing or asking for a lawyer, he tells the police to call Jack Reacher.
So Reacher comes to Pittsburgh and teams up with the mans lawyer to investigate the case.
I'm not going to go much further because I don't want to spoil the story, but I'll try to analyze the plot without spoiling anything.
The way the plot twists and turns is quite interesting. Even though the movie is two hours and ten minutes it never really seemed like it was slowing down at any point. There was never any time when I really felt like going off and doing something else while the movie was playing. Not to mention that there wasn't much that felt out of place. Nothing ever felt excruciating or even uncomfortable to watch. Everything kind of clicked together in the end.
It even had some great humorous moments in it, and they were even funnier in the movie then they were in the trailer.
While there are a few cliched characters in the movie, there aren't very many and they wind up not being cliches after you finish up the movie. It's actually kinda cool how they pulled a fake-out on the characters.
Now, considering the film I watched immediately before this one, I might just be praising it because it's not the massive pile of disappointment that The Expendables was. But even if it is, it's still a good action movie. That which happens in it seems like something that could happen in real life, to and with real people. Unlike The Expendables, which was essentially something that seemed like it was executed by robots in a world of computers.
So, all in all I liked Jack Reacher. It was nice movie to watch for me to wash The Expendables and The Hunger Games out of my brain.
So I give it a 10.1* rating. It might have just been that what it was following up was one of the worst pieces of storytelling I've ever seen in my life, but it was still a good film to watch anyways. Yet another thing to add to my list of reasons why 2012 was a great year for movies.
So, I'll see you next week with my full review of -Azure Striker-: {GUNVOLT!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Azure Striker: GUNVOLT first impressions.

Azure Striker: GUNVOLT is a game on the 3DS eShop that comes out on Friday, August 29th.
I have to say, first impressions were good. Good music, good game, decent controls.
You play as Gunvolt, the Azure Striker. He's a blonde dude with a ponytail that goes down past his waist, and as his name suggests, he fights with electricity.

The sprites look absolutely stunning. So do the backgrounds. Visually it's a treat to behold.
Unfortunately, something I noticed is that bits on the HUD tend to overlap with other pieces of it. Gunvolt has an energy meter below him, and it is sometimes obscured by the forefront of the heads-up display. Not exactly game-breaking, but it's a little annoying.
The controls are a little less good. They're competent enough I suppose, but I don't appreciate only being able to shoot in two directions.
Years of Contra and Castlevania have trained me to want to shoot diagonally or upwards when there's an enemy in that direction. I hope it's not something really simple, because that would be pretty embarrassing.
And so onto the soundtrack. My god they did a great job on the soundtrack. It's like The World Ends With You almost.
I haven't heard a lot from the soundtrack so far, but what I've heard so far is great.
After dying once, a piece of awesome music starts up (More awesome than what's in the rest of the soundtrack) and Gunvolt gets a Super Saiyan aura around him. And he kicks tons of butt.

There are a few weird issues with the voice-acting, in that sometimes clips seem interjected at random.
All of the voice acting seems to be in Japanese, but to be honest that's actually kinda cool. It gives the game a certain mystical flair that a lot of games these days lack.

So all in all, aside from hand-cramps from the way I had to hold the 3DS, I had a lot of fun with Gunvolt in my hour or so spent with the game.

With the purchase of Azure Striker: GUNVOLT you can also get a free demake version of the game (Available between August 29th and November 28th), known as Mighty GUNVOLT. It features Gunvolt, Beck from Mighty No. 9 and the angel, Ekoro.
Ekoro is from a game that we never got in America. A rail-shooter called Gal*Gun.
Mighty Gunvolt is an NES styled demake of Azure Striker: GUNVOLT. A rare case that you see an official demake.
It marks the first appearance of Beck, the hero of Mighty No. 9 in any game, and Ekoro in an American release.
Maybe if there's enough positive response to this game Gal*Gun will get released here.
Anyways, it's a lot like Megaman in almost every way. The graphics, the gameplay, the difficulty......
The music is a pretty cool set of chiptune remixes of the soundtrack from Gunvolt.
At first, I thought that the enemies and stages were a little too nerfed compared to the ones in Azure Striker. Then I reached the first boss and found out that the difficulty had been seriously cranked up. I thought the first boss I got to in Gunvolt was hard...
Personally I think it went a little too far in the NES styling. First off, there aren't any 3D features. Second is that it uses the NES aspect ratio as opposed to the widescreen aspect ratio of the 3DS.
And third, it uses a lives system, which has always annoyed me. Plus, there's no options menu or save feature. It's got a lot of the good things about classic NES games, but it's also got a lot of the things I dislike about NES games.
The weird thing is, that if I was really good at Mega Man or Mighty Gunvolt I could probably beat it fairly quickly. It's only five stages, and I personally think that it's worth the price of free, but I wouldn't buy it myself.
NES style games have been taking a resurgence these days, but a lot of them are ignoring a lot of the good things we've gotten out of these almost forty years of gaming innovation.
Not taking advantage of the 3DS widescreen is a little bit annoying. Not having save features is also annoying because we've had them since the original Zelda and a game in this day and age not having any kind of save feature is bizarre.
I'm the kind of guy who likes to see the older things improved with better technology. That's part of why I like a lot of remakes. They usually polish the problems with the game while improving what we liked about the original.
So after having rambled on about the things I didn't like, I do have to say that if they would add in some modern save features and remove the lives system it would be a lot more tolerable to me.
Anyways, Beck seems a little overpowered. Gunvolt is pretty cool to play as, but Ekoro has her own stage.
Beck can slide under low ceilings, Gunvolt puts out an energy line you can control with the D-pad or Joystick, and Ekoro can make a defeated enemy join you and back you up with extra firepower, as well as fly short distances.
The boss for the stage Ekoro goes through is a tentacle monster that's held a girl captive.
And it sends out octopi to rub up against her cage suggestively.
Anyways, I'll see you on the 28th with my full Azure Striker: GUNVOLT review!
If I feel like being punished some more I might decide to go up against Mighty Gunvolt again.
Azure Striker: GUNVOLT will be priced at $14.99 on the Nintendo eShop, and will be bundled with Mighty GUNVOLT.