Sunday, December 24, 2017

Top Six Best Movies of 2016

Honorable mentions go out to Suicide Squad for managing despite massive studio interference to somehow make a better superhero movie than Captain America: Civil War and a better ensemble action movie than all three Expendables films, but all in all, it moved a bit too fast to earn itself a spot on this list. I'd also like to give a shout-out to Finding Dory, while it was a damn good movie, it still wasn't The Incredibles 2. Jason Bourne was also pretty good, having less shaky-cam in it than the last canonical Bourne movie, but it wasn't quite as enthralling as it possibly could have been. Warcraft also gets a nod because it had a lot of potential and pretty visuals, all of which were ultimately wasted on a mediocre fantasy movie.
#6: X-Men Apocalypse
Coming out later in the same month as Captain America: Civil War was the best thing that could have happened to X-Men Apocalypse. After seeing my favorite superhero destroyed I was in the mood for some classic, animated-series-style X-Men, and boy did they deliver. While not being a perfect adaptation of the Apocalypse storyline from the comics, this film was at least thematically similar and felt like the Apocalypse storyline, which is saying something considering what Tom Rothman and Brett Ratner did to the Dark Phoenix Saga. Apocalypse actually feels like the ancient mutant monster he's supposed to be, and above all, this feels like an X-Men movie more than it feels like a muddled fever-dream put together by someone who had only ever vaguely heard of the X-Men and the storyline concepts from people on the street.
#5: Doctor Strange
After the disaster that was Captain America: Civil War, and the complete mess that was the 2016 Marvel television lineup, I wasn't expecting Doctor Strange to turn out as good as it did. In a lot of ways, this movie was the Ant-Man of 2016, an unexpectedly good movie that followed on from a bafflingly bad Marvel crossover film. Benedict Cumberbatch dominates this role like he does any other, and his American accent never once slips or sounds unnatural. I think that this movie might be one of the few classic origin-stories we've seen in recent years, all the while being far better at telling its story than almost every other equivalent it had in the early 2000's. In a lot of ways, this movie reminds me a lot of films of the 1970's and 80's, films like Commando, Ghostbusters, Top Gun, Rocky, Alien, Star Wars, and Kickboxer. They start, they introduce the heroes, the villains, the driving conflict of the plot, the hero does whatever they need to to prepare, the heroes and villains face off, then they face off again in the climax. Simple, to the point, paced out perfectly, and creates a satisfying conclusion. Hardly any films do that these days, most of the time they either spend way too much time on minutiae (Ghostbusters: Answer The Call) or speed past all the relevant details for meaningless action (The Expendables)
#4: Deadpool
2016 was a hell of a year to not be a mainline Marvel film. Marvel Studios only managed to produce one good movie based on their properties, while Fox managed to produce two. Deadpool is a character Fox never wanted to make a movie out of, but thanks to fan demand and some leaked test footage, he finally got his own film. Sections of the film were reportedly shot without permission from the studio, and the filmmakers managed to work around a smaller budget to create a damn great movie. Here's hoping that when Deadpool 2 comes along it manages to top this movie in every way.
#3: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
I was somewhat cautious about Rogue One going into it. I thought it might just be a soulless cash-in Disney was making to wring every bit of money they could out of the Star Wars universe, but it actually did the impossible by making A New Hope, one of the greatest films ever made, into a better movie. I was stunned by the storytelling, the effects, and the continuity between it and the original Star Wars. They managed to resurrect dead actors and make old ones look young again, all through incredible use of CGI that would make George Lucas weep. Rogue One is not just one of the best Star Wars movies ever made, but an example of how to do a prequel right. It might even be higher on the list if they'd managed to get a good take of Darth Vader's lines, and hadn't criminally underutilized Mads Mikkelsen.
#2: Star Trek Beyond
When I first watched this film, I was awestruck. This was one of a very few movies that I've watched that I immediately thought "This is a Best Picture contender." By the end of the movie I was convinced that this would be in my top five (now six) at the end of the year. Star Trek Beyond is the best of the three Star Trek reboot movies, not that the previous ones weren't pretty damn good too, but that this was a cut above the rest. Star Trek Beyond is easily the best Trek film since First Contact, and I don't say that lightly. Not only does it feel a lot like a Star Trek movie, it also feels like it could be a giant episode of the TV series, which for once isn't a negative aspect of the film.
#1: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition
Speaking of being a good year to not be a Marvel Studios film, I looked back hard. I watched a lot of movies from 2016 to try and populate this list, but not a single one of them compared to the sheer stature of Dawn of Justice. I debated whether I wanted to make Star Trek Beyond my best movie of 2016 or this, but in the end, BvS won out. With hidden depths and allegories requiring multiple viewings to fully comprehend, even with everything it had working against it in terms of studio interference and blatant critical bias, this was almost certainly the single greatest film of the year. The performances of everyone involved greatly impressed me, the score from Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL is stupendous, the writing and pacing is supurb, and Zack Snyder's direction manages to set new standards for filmmaking that I don't think will be able to be topped for a long time.

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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Top Five Worst Movies of 2016

#5: Warcraft
I was torn over this movie when I reviewed it, but over time I ultimately decided there were too many problems with Warcraft to not put it on the list. From the lack of European accents, to the fact that we seem to be starting this series in the middle of a trilogy, to the strange editing, as much as I hate to admit it, this film just kinda sucks. No two ways about it, the people working on this movie really screwed up what could have been an amazing trilogy of films. I hope a sequel comes along, or a prequel, but at this point, I doubt that that's likely to happen. Shame really, I would love to see more of this if they'd bother to do it right next time.
#4: Ghostbusters: Answer The Call
Of course this movie was going to be here. I had a spot on this list reserved for Answer The Call as soon as I saw the movie. It's not bad enough to put higher up on the list, but Jesus fuckmothering Christ this managed to find new ways to not be funny, or to fail as a movie. Warcraft was at least a beautiful movie, Answer The Call somehow manages to screw up even the ghost effects. CGI bleeding out of the letterbox, ghosts that look like they were ripped from Luigi's Mansion, and a whole movie made from less than half of another one? Sony, why did you think this would work?
#3: The Angry Birds Movie
For as much as Answer The Call caused me to sigh with contempt, The Angry Birds Movie actually made me kind of mad, funnily enough. Not wildly mad, just angry enough at the premise, the characters, the plot and the running time that I remembered it enough to put it in this slot of the list. This movie is the most copy-paste, derivative children's film that I've seen in years. Notice that I said "children's film," Answer The Call and my number two pick are also massively derivative.
#2: Sausage Party
Any other year, this might have been the worst movie released. With the same plot and characters as Angry Birds, but more irritating characters and story, Sausage Party actually stirred up a rather significant amount of anger in me. This movie can go die in a fire and I hope we never get any sequels. For as much as this movie should work, it just fucking doesn't. Fuck this movie, but special thanks to Seth Rogen, who apparently liked my review (Or at least liked my tweet about it without reading the review).
#1: Captain America: Civil War
I heavily debated what I would pick as the worst movie of the year, but all in all, there wasn't a single movie in 2016 that made me as angry, sad, and disappointed as Captain America: Civil War. Made solely to cash in on the superhero versus trend that Marvel figured would start with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but Marvel seemed to forget that they were the trendsetters of the last decade, not the trend-followers. With an incoherent plot that depends entirely on coincidence, the Russo's not only managed to screw up Iron Man, Captain America and Black Widow, but also Baron Zemo and freaking Spider-Man. "Miscast" is an understatement when referring to Tom Holland's version of Spider-Man. His powers are inconsistent, he's obviously hiding his foreign accent, his suit is somehow less comic-accurate than the one from the Raimi movies or The Amazing Spider-Man, and he literally just shows up for two scenes and then is gone from the movie. Iron Man reacts like an idiot, Captain America was a moron for not telling Tony about his parents being killed by Hydra, Zemo's plan shouldn't work, and Black Panther doesn't stop the fighting once he captures Zemo. I covered this piece of glorified trash enough in my review though, so you can search for that on the site if you want to know more about why this movie is a complete disaster.

For the most part, Sony dominated this list, which isn't a surprise considering what they were putting out last year.

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Top Five Best Movies of 2015

Yeah, it's late but at this point, I've been sitting on this too long to just delete it, so here we go.

#5: Ant-Man
Right off the heels of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man was a surprisingly good movie when the MCU was taking such a horrible turn for the worse. This film was better than it had any right to be, especially considering how bad Age of Ultron turned out to be.

#4: Kamen Rider Drive: Surprise Future
What can I say? This was a good year to be paying attention to anything but the big Hollywood films. In fact, I probably spent more of 2015 watching Kamen Rider movies and episodes than I spent thinking about the mainstream films of the year. I don't know, Kamen Rider Drive connected with me better than Age of Ultron did, and I'd been following the MCU for almost a decade by the time that film came out.
While Surprise Future ties rather heavily into the plot of the corresponding television show, it's a very good movie regardless. Part of that has to do with the fact that it had a large general development of the characters over the course of the series, but it all comes down to the amazing writing, acting, and directing in this movie. It's all up to the standard of the rest of the series, and all of it falls together rather perfectly with the preceding and succeeding episodes.

#3: Straight Outta Compton
I knew as soon as I saw this film that it was going to end up on my best of the year list. This film is an emotional journey through the lives and careers of the members of NWA, and it bloody rules. If you're a fan, it's a good movie. If you're not, you'll be a fan by the end.

#2: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Another movie I knew was going to be on my best list as soon as I saw it. The Force Awakens is the best Star Wars film since Return of the Jedi, easily. But then again we already knew that from my review.
#1: Blood Punch

Like this is any real surprise. Blood Punch is easily the best film to come out of the wasteland year that 2015 turned out to be.  Blood Punch turned out to be one of the most unique, funniest horror films I've ever seen, and it deserves all the praise it can possibly get. After some consideration, I finally decided it was better than my #2 pick. If you haven't seen it, buy it on Blu-ray, it's a movie you'll want to see over and over again to pick out the details.

The hardest thing about putting this list together wasn't deciding the top spot, I had the top four spots solidified by the end of January of 2016. The tough part was remembering a fifth good movie from 2015 that I'd watched, and eventually, I remembered Ant-Man.

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Mary Skelter Nightmares (Nathan Green)

2017 has been an interesting year for video games. We’ve had a number of excellent new releases this year, the PS4 and Xbox One have been churning on with another successful year and Nintendo rolled out the Switch, a console that many people are gushing over but I’m still 50/50 on.

Among all of this however the humble PlayStation Vita, now over 5 years old is still very much alive and kicking with new games still coming out for it.
While 2017 hasn’t been anywhere near as active in terms of vita games as 2016 had been we have still seen some very solid releases this year. Out of the 2017 line up however there has been one game that I have had my eye on since the announcement trailer. That game is Mary Skelter, a DRPG developed by Compile Heart and published by Idea Factory.

The first thing that caught my eye about the game was how much of a drastic departure it was from what Compile Heart usually does. The company is more known for it’s Neptunia series so when I saw that Mary Skelter was going to be a game with a much darker theme to it with a much heavier focus on plot I was rather surprised. Granted at the time I never thought it would actually get localized so imagine my surprise when an official localization was announced by Idea Factory.

I’ve been looking forward to playing and reviewing this game for quite a while so without any further fanfare lets begin exploring the jail.


Right off the bat Mary Skelter provides a very interesting setting and premise. The opening details that the world of Mary Skelter takes place in a sort of post apocalyptic unamed city in Japan that many years ago was taken over by a race known as Marchins while the land around them transformed in a living, breathing jail.
Our two main characters, Jack and Alice, are one of many people trapped in this living jail, forced to live their days undergoing various types of torture in order to appease the living jail they are trapped inside. Things change for the pair one day though when they are suddenly broken out of their cell by a girl who calls herself Red Riding Hood (yes, really).

They escape and join a group known as DAWN whose main goal is to escape this living jail that they’re inside. Naturally this involves Alice and Jack working with the other members of the DAWN to fight their way through various dungeons with a hope of escaping.

In terms of actual story, while not groundbreaking or anything Mary Skelter does manage to provide an interesting and rather unique premise with a decent amount of mystery and character interactions.

Overall while Mary Skelter doesn’t exactly sport a groundbreaking story what it has is certainly enjoyable and unique. It does feel like Compile Heart put a lot more effort into the premise, character interactions and the overall plot than they have in other titles which is really nice to see. It’s not going to win any awards any time soon but it’s certainly above average.


Mary Skelter, as I mentioned earlier is a Dungeon Crawler RPG. DRPG’s have always been a bit of a mixed bag with me. Some of them I enjoy but some of them I just... don’t.
It doesn’t help that the last dungeon crawler title I actually reviewed was MeiQ Labyrinth of Death, a relatively mediocre DRPG also by Compile Heart. With that in mind the gameplay would really be what would make or break Mary Skelter and in this case I think Compile Heart hit the ball out of the park.

Mary Skelter plays like your traditional DRPG. Walk around dungeons in a first person perspective going between floors, solving the odd puzzle here and there and fighting enemies in turn based random encounter battles. The base DRPG formula remains relatively unchanged however that isn’t to say that Mary Skelter is just another bare bones DRPG, in fact it’s quite the opposite.

Where the gameplay in Mary Skelter starts to shine is in the smaller things that they have added or tweaked. The game adds a surprising number of unique mechanics which I haven’t seen before in other DRPG’s and they really work in the games favour.

The first and most often utilized of these mechanics is the Blood system. Alice and the various other characters you’ll run into throughout the game are known as Blood Maidens. Blood Maidens have the special power to wield what are called Blood Weapons as well as the ability to actually effectively fight the Marchins. Marchin blood also helps extend the powers of a Blood Maiden in battle allowing for higher damage output and other such goodies.

This is where the blood mechanic comes in. How this works is that each Blood Maiden has what is called a “Blood Splat Meter”. There are a few ways to fill up this meter. The first way is by exploiting enemy weak spots by using the correct elemental weakness. The second way is by performing what is called an Overkill which is usually triggered when a character deals a blow to an enemy that is more than enough to kill them (for example if I dealt 100 damage to an enemy with only 10 HP left).

Performing either of these actions fills the Blood Splat Meter which the player can then use to perform a few actions. Firstly if the meter fills up to the top then on their next turn the Blood Maiden will enter massacre mode which significantly boosts damage output as well as applying a minor HP and SP regen effect.
There is a downside though. As Blood Maidens are dealt more and more damage or get K.O’d the colour of the blood in the splat meter will start to grow darker. The darker the colour the higher the chance a Blood Maiden has of entering Blood Skelter mode.
Blood Skelter mode is something you REALLY want to avoid. Upon activation a maiden receives the buffs of massacre mode but will attack both enemies and party members without any rhyme or reason. It’s something you need to be constantly aware of while playing since if you end up overlooking it then it can come back to bite you fast.
Now there is a way to prevent and counteract blood skelter but I’ll touch on that later.

The second use of blood in the Splat Meter is through the act of Licking. Yes, you read that right, Licking.
The Lick option in the command menu lets you Lick the splattered blood off of a party member. Outside of being a bit weird this does actually have a use to it since the act of licking blood off a maiden actually applies a buff or boost to either one member or the whole party. This could be an HP regen effect, SP regen effect, stat boost etc.

The act of licking also empties the Blood Splat Meter so it can be a good way of buying yourself time if you have a maiden on the verge of entering blood skelter since it resets the meter.

Jack is also a member in the party but he plays a bit differently to the rest of the members. For starters he can’t attack, instead he has the ability to use items, guard a blood maiden to block them from damage and most importantly use his special weapon called a Mary Gun.

I say weapon but you use it more like a supporting item. The Mary Gun is the main way you prevent blood maidens from entering Blood Skelter.
In a nutshell, Jacks blood has the unique trait of being able to purge corruption from a blood maiden as well as completely reverse the effects of blood skelter. This does come at a cost though since you are literally using Jacks blood as ammunition. This means you can’t just go around spamming the thing willy nilly since you have to keep a close eye on your own blood supply.
The less blood you have remaining, the higher your chances of getting stunned and being unable to move after performing an action with the Mary Gun. You do have an option to generate blood when Jacks turn rolls around and most of the time if you play your cards right Jack’s blood supply will rarely drop below halfway (this is where strategic use of licking comes into play since it can buy you time to generate more blood to purge the corruption).
It’s a very well implemented system which adds a new layer of strategy to the gameplay while not coming off as a half assed addition they threw in at the last minute.

I’d like to also commend the games pacing in terms of how it introduces new gameplay elements. The Mary gun and the whole corruption gameplay element doesn’t even come into play until the second dungeon giving the player time to learn the ins and outs of licking and massacre mode.
It’s one of the few DRPG games I know of where gameplay mechanics are sensibly introduced at a good pace so they don’t overwhelm the player with a bunch of stuff they need to get their head around right from the first dungeon.

Outside of the battle system there are a few unique gameplay elements as well, the first of these being blood abilities.

Blood abilities basically function as ways that you can interact with the dungeon in various ways to open up new paths and solve puzzles. Each maiden has their own unique ability and they all get used pretty equally. It’s a simple system but it works.
By far the most useful ability though is Alice’s rabbit hole ability. This essentially lets you create a save point anywhere you want in a dungeon as well as being able to use this point to escape from the dungeon back to the town if you need to. You have no idea how much of a godsend this has been at times. It essentially lets you save anywhere and provides a convenient way to warp back to town in an emergency if you need to.

Another element is the jail bonus system. This is basically made up of three meters consisting of Hunger, Libido and Sleep.
Filling any of these meters up starts a roulette which will grant a bonus to the party. I found that hunger was usually the easiest one to fill up with the next being libido and finally sleep. Really outside of a bonus here and there it doesn’t do much else and it’s really the only system I consider to be half baked in terms of execution.

Finally we have Murder Hunts. This is basically a chase mechanic. How this works is that each dungeon has their own boss enemy called a Nightmare. During your exploring at random intervals the dungeon may begin to grow dark. This is the sign of a nightmare being nearby. If it stays dark long enough then the dungeons Nightmare will appear and trigger a Murder Hunt. 

When a Murder Hunt is triggered the minimap will disappear and some text will pop up showing how close/far you are from the nightmare. In order to complete the sequence you have to escape from said nightmare which is easier said than done especially when you’ve lost your minimap.

If you happen to run into a random encounter during a Murder Hunt then you’ll trigger a Booked Battle. This is the same as a normal battle except the Nightmare will continue attempting to find you and if he does will start attacking you as well. Basically you want to get out of a booked battle as soon as possible. Winning a booked battle does have an advantage though as the resulting blood splatter on the walls of the dungeon will actually light up the surrounding area.

Now you might be thinking, “why can’t I just fight the nightmare?”. Simple answer. For the vast majority of the dungeon the nightmare is invincible. There is nothing you can do but run from him. 

This whole Murder Hunt system is pretty well implimented and actually adds a pretty effective element of horror to the game since these murder hunts happen at complete random so as you explore the dungeon you’re constantly aware that you could run into a Nightmare at any moment.
The darkening of the environment and complete removal of your minimap during a murder hunt only extenuates this fear since now you have no way of actually planning where you’re going to go, how you’re going to get there etc. You have to go off what you know about the dungeon layout and just leg it and it’s incredibly effective.

My only gripe is I can’t really find a pattern in what the game actually counts as “escaping” the nightmare. I assumed it would just be distance but no patterns were popping up there. Then again you could argue that this works in the games favour since it means you don’t actually know how far you’ll have to run or for how long until you actually escape the nightmare so your mileage may vary.

What is interesting is that Murder Hunts and nightmare appearances in general only start to happen from the second floor of a dungeon onwards which is a design choice I can totally get behind since it helps compensate for the lack of a mini map in the Murder Hunts by giving the player a decent amount of time to get to grips with the overall structure of the dungeon they are in so they can do a bit of planning ahead when escaping the nightmare since they know a bit about the types of designs seen in this particular dungeon. It’s a small thing but it works incredibly well.

Speaking of Dungeons...

Graphics and Sound:

The dungeons in Mary Skelter are very well designed and this statement extends to the rest of the presentation in general. Each dungeon has a surprising amount of graphical detail put into it with its presentation. The first dungeon has a very obvious Alice in Wonderland motif going on with spinning clocks and playing cards and framed pictures on the wall shaking about on their own.
In stark contrast the second dungeon, a graveyard, has a lot of coffin looking objects which have their lids fall off when you walk past (something which actually caught me off guard the first few times) along with garden gnome looking things sitting in the background which every now and then shake and pulsate as if they were still just a little bit alive.

Every now and then though the game likes to go a bit uncanny valley with its visuals by mixing in something like an eyeball inside a wall or a red intestine like thing which stands in stark contrast to the rest of the area but really pushes home the fact that this place you’re exploring is indeed alive.

It’s this kind of attention to detail which I really like and Mary Skelter is full of stuff like this. It’s clear a lot of work and effort went into the presentation and graphic design and that has really paid off. Mary Skelter is an incredibly unique looking game which sticks out in amongst the growing pool of Vita DRPG’s. It gives the game a lot of personality and charm which makes the world of the game memorable.

Character art is very nicely drawn and each character has their own unique look. Since the majority of the characters in the game are based off characters from fairy tales a lot of the respective fairy tales are reflected in the designs of the character.
Cutscenes also use that trademark sort of pseudo 3D type look that Compile Heart games commonly have in their cutscenes and like always it looks really nice.

Sound wise it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The game has a superb opening theme and some other tracks that really stick out but some of the tracks do sound a little generic at times. On the bright side I haven’t really had any music tracks which have got on my nerves so that’s a plus.

The game has dual voice track support. The English dub is a pretty standard Idea Factory affair, not bad but not outstanding either. The Japanese dub is pretty well done though.

Sound design in dungeons is also relatively standard although there are some sound cues and use of spacial sound and stuff like that here and there so there is that.

Overall sound wise the game is fine but not groundbreaking. The visuals on the other hand are very well designed and have a lot of detail put into them and they truly help make the game stand out.


After MeiQ Labyrinth Of Death last year I will admit I was worried that this was going to be more of the same. Thankfully I was very wrong. Mary Skelter provides the player with an interesting and unique DRPG with well fleshed out mechanics, an interesting story and some utterly gorgeous presentation.

Mary Skelter is also commendable in that it provides a game that is accessible to players new to the DRPG genre while having more than enough in it to keep genre veterans happy. If you’ve never played a DRPG before and are looking for a good place to start then I highly recommend picking up Mary Skelter.
If you’ve played a load of DRPG’s before then I’d still recommend Mary Skelter to you. There’s a lot of unique stuff here which mixes up the DRPG formula which alone I feel makes it a worthwhile title to play.

Mary Skelter Nightmares gets a Highly Recommended

I know I haven’t been very active this year in terms of reviews. The vita might be starting to slow down release wise but there still are quality titles coming out for it and I’ll be sure to keep covering them. Until my next review this is BDVR Author Nathan Green signing off.

Mary Skelter Nightmares will be releasing September 19th in North America and September 22nd in Europe and Australia for PlayStation Vita.

Review Code Provided by Idea Factory International.

PEGI: 16



OFLC: Er... Let’s just get onto that.

While Mary Skelter Nightmare will be seeing a release in Australia with an R-18 rating (mostly due to how the game has been released unmodified from its Japanese counterpart so it retains all the... awkward screen rubbing mini games which can thankfully be skipped after you’ve played them once) the game will NOT be getting a release in New Zealand due to the game not being submit to the NZ OFLC for classification.

It’s a pain in the rear end but I can’t do much about that so if you’re a kiwi like myself you’ll either need to make an overseas PSN account or import it.

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Saban's Power Rangers

Originally written for

Eight years. It's been nearly eight years since anything remotely passable was officially laid to film in the Power Rangers franchise.

    Power Rangers has had its ups and downs over the nearly 25-year history of the franchise. The show has come close to cancellation and been rescued numerous times, there hasn't been a movie in twenty years, and the rights have changed hands twice. The series originated in 1993 on Fox, was sold to Disney and hastily uncancelled in 2002, and then sold to the Saban Capital Group in 2010 and hastily uncancelled once more. The rights to various bits of the series are splayed about many companies. The first seventeen seasons are exclusively available from Shout! Factory on home media, Fox owns the first two movies, and Lionsgate distributes home media releases for everything from Samurai onwards. Their ongoing partnership with the Saban Capital Group led to the creation of this movie. Just a shame it couldn't lead to them buying out the television series.
    In case you were wondering, or missed one of the many times I've ranted about this subject over the last three years, I'm not a particularly big fan of the way Saban, and by extension, Nickelodeon has been treating this franchise for the last six years. Their overuse of the classic theme-song and series monikers grate on many of the fans, myself included. Plus, the downright incompetent production behind the last seven seasons of the show is just baffling. Haim Saban routinely spends approximately $35 million on each 44-episode series of his flagship cash-cow, and yet the editing, writing, scheduling, airing and direction has been below standards set by some YouTube series. And yes, all of this is relevant to my review of the movie.
    Fortunately, the crew behind the television branch of the franchise has a total of jack to do with the movie. There's no lazy soundtrack "composed" by Noam Kaniel, no Nickelodeon anti-humor, no overuse of series tropes, no Fujoshi-baiting fanservice, the Red Ranger's dad isn't a deadbeat/dead, the direction is competent, the editing is solid, the characters are compelling, and the movie doesn't constantly and consistently break in-universe rules and/or willing suspension of disbelief.
Granted, a lot of the latter comes from the fact that this is stylized, high-budget reboot of the original series rather than attempting to succeed what came before, but I'm still willing to give the movie far more credit than the show in that regard, mostly because what it asks you to believe are either easy to slot into reality, or things long-time fans of the show recognize, and can fit into the worldview the film presents us. Note that I said "most of", we're going to come back to that in a while. We'll be heading into spoiler territory here, so if you want to back out, this is the last chance you've got.
    Approximately sixty-five million years ago, during the reign of the dinosaurs, Zordon of Eltar (Played by Bryan Cranston) led the original Power Rangers team to defend the Zeo Crystal on Earth. Presumably against Lord Zedd, the series recurring lead-villain. Zordon's Green Ranger, a sorceress named Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) turned against him, and used her powers to kill most of the other Rangers. In a last-ditch effort to protect the Zeo Crystal, Zordon orders Alpha 5 (Bill Hader) to unleash a meteor strike on the planet. Zordon buries the five remaining Power Coins before Rita makes her final approach. The two of them are killed by the meteor, Zordon being buried along with the coins, and Rita demorphing before landing in the ocean.
In the present day, star-quarterback and martial artist Jason Lee Scott (Dacre Montgomery) gets detention for letting a cow loose inside the school after-hours, and house-arrest for demolishing his truck and other vehicles in the escape attempt. His father berates him for this the next day and then takes him to detention. There, he finds a bully, Colt Wallace (Wesley MacInnes) messing with a very strange nerd named Billy Cranston (RJ Cyler). Jason decides to take Colt down a peg, and in doing so befriends Billy.
    Meanwhile, Kimberly Ann Hart (Naomi Scott) meets some of her friends from the cheerleading squad in the women's restroom. They're not too happy with her, and decide to kick her out of their lives. Kimberly decides to cut her hair shorter with the pair of scissors they leave stuck in the wall before rejoining detention.
    After detention, Billy asks Jason if he can help him with something. Jason tells him he can't, since he's got an ankle monitor on. Naturally, Billy can get around this, and Jason agrees to help him if he spoofs his monitor's location. Billy gets Jason to help him haul some of his gear into an abandoned mine so he can look for cool stuff. Jason agrees, but only if he gets to use Billy's van afterwards.
Billy's incredibly strange method of locution leads to Jason bowing out of helping him inside the mine, but on his way out, he runs into Kimberly. The two of them debate whether they should just up and leave Angel Grove before Billy activates a detonating rod and gets their attention and that of two others. Zack Taylor (Ludi Lin), a local daredevil who was chilling on an abandoned train, and Trini Kwan (Becky Gomez), who was listening to music and meditating.
    They go into the mine and find a wall of peculiar glass with five glowing coins inside it. One calls out to each of them, and the colors are assigned as you would expect. Jason is Red, Kim is Pink, Billy is Blue, Zack is Black (No he's not :P) and Trini is Yellow. The authorities catch on to their presence, and the five pile into Billy's van. They try to escape, and nearly do, before Jason gets them all hit by a train. The five then wake up the next morning in their beds, in their own houses, not knowing what the hell happened. The only clue is that they all still have the coins, they're all perfectly fine despite having been hit with a speeding freight-train, and they all have powers like nobody has seen before. Not only that, Jason's bad knee stops bothering him.
Meanwhile, on the high seas, a fishing boat picks up the body of one Rita Repulsa, along with her power-coin. The reunion of the two restores Rita's body, but with a mental state far more unhinged than before. She kills a police-officer sent to investigate her body, and begins a quest to gather all the gold she can. Partially to restore her staff, which channels her awesome power, and partially to resurrect her trusted minion Goldar.
    At school, Colt attempts to ambush Billy and break his fingers (God only knows why he was using a technique that would likely dislocate your wrist and/or elbow if done properly, maybe he knows nothing about human anatomy) but Billy's newfound powers cause Colt to knock himself out. Billy becomes pretty popular because of this. He meets up with Kim and Jason, who both confirm their experiences. They're tougher, faster, and stronger all around. Their coins cause a bit of havoc in the school cafeteria, so they decide to meet up later at the mine.
    They try to chase down Trini and talk to her, but she runs and leaps across a chasm. Zack stops her from running further and the others follow. Billy nearly makes it, but falls down into the water below. Billy calls up to them, and the other boys follow. Kimberly has to trick Trini into following, but the five ultimately wind up down in the water. They dive down and find a strange barrier below. They cross it and fall into a spaceship below. Down there, they meet a mysterious talking robot, Zordon's assistant, Alpha 5.
    He introduces them to his master, whose soul he sealed into The Morphing Grid. Zordon lays out their task. The five of them are the Power Rangers, successors to Zordon's original team. They must harness their powers to protect their world and the Zeo Crystal from exploitation by those hungry for their power. If Rita gets ahold of the crystal, she can use the power it holds to create and destroy worlds. They have eleven days (The estimated amount of time it will take Rita to return to full power and recreate Goldar) to get themselves ready, or their world is likely doomed.
Naturally, most of them take this poorly and decide to leave. Jason is the last to go. He almost leaves, but Zordon's desperate plea makes him stay, and reconsider his position. Jason manages to convince the rest of the Power Rangers to return for training, and they spend the rest of the week getting into fighting shape. No matter their determination, they can't figure out how to Morph. Alpha decides to try and give them a bit of inspiration, and shows them the Dinozords. Mastadon, Pterodactyl, Triceratops, Sabertooth Tiger, and Tyrannosaurus.
    This is where we get to one of the few problems I have with the changes the movie has made. The Zords themselves are basically alright, except there's really no reason for them to swap the positions of the Mastodon and Sabertooth Tiger.
    The problem is that while Zordon and Rita came to Earth ten-thousand years ago in the show, therefore excusing the presence of the Mastodon and Sabertooth Zords in a so-called DINO Megazord, they came to Earth 65 million years ago here. Before the Mastodon and Sabertooth had even evolved. This could have been solved by simply keeping the ten-thousand-year thing and connecting Zordon's final battle with Rita with a different cataclysm in history, but considering they were foreshadowing Zeo from the beginning of the film, and appear to be foreshadowing Jungle Fury, I wouldn't put it past them to have the entire opening sequence of the movie be foreshadowing for Dino Thunder, since the subtitles at the start specifically mention "meteor" despite the object that actually wiped out the dinosaurs likely being either a comet or an asteroid.
    Anyways, Zack takes the Mastodon on a joyride, but can barely control it. Once he returns, he gets into a fight with Jason. Billy charges in to stop them, and spontaneously Morphs without realizing how. When they try and figure out how to replicate this, they fail. Zordon becomes frustrated with the lack of progress, and decides to send the Rangers home.
On his way out, Jason overhears Zordon and Alpha talking, and finds out that once the Power Rangers connect to their powers, the connection to the Morphing Grid will open up so Zordon can come back to life. This angers Jason, who sees this as Zordon and Alpha manipulating them, storms off. The rest of the team has set up around a fire outside, and they decide to stick around for a little while and try to bond. Billy talks about how he got in detention, and about how he used to come up to the mine with his dad. Zack's mom is dying, and he doesn't want to be there when it happens. Jason is something of a local superstar, so he's not too hard to explain. Kim holds off until later, and Trini generally has issues with the image her perfect parents and perfect family expect of her.
They return home, and the now fully-powered Psycho-Rita ambushes Trini in her bedroom. She gives her an ultimatum. Join her, turn over the location of the Zeo Crystal and live, or fight and die. Trini goes to the other Rangers, and they decide to stand up and fight. They head to the docks to fight Rita, but she quickly overpowers and restrains all of them, despite her incomplete Ranger suit. She figures that they have to know where the Zeo Crystal is, and she's right. She tortures Zack until Billy, who pinpointed its location earlier in the film, divulges the location. It's buried below a Krispy Kreme in town.
    Rita drops Billy into the water below, charging the rope with her magic until he's dead, and releases the other Rangers. They drag him up and attempt to revive him, but to no avail. They take him to the Command Center, and beg Zordon to do something, but he can't. Eventually, they realize something very powerful, that any of them would die to protect the other, the way Billy had. This unlocks the Morphing Grid finally, granting them the powers of the coins. Rather than choosing to come through himself, Zordon sends Billy back. This give the Rangers what they need to don their suits and take the fight to Rita.
    Repulsa sics an army of Putty Patrollers on the newly-Morphed team, but their training takes over and they beat through them. They summon up their Dinozords and set off for Angel Grove to take down Goldar, with the original MMPR The Movie theme-song pumping in the background.
They make quick work of the Putties, but Jason has to leave his Zord to rescue his father from his crashed vehicle. The Power Rangers regroup, confident that they can handle anything after the Putties, but Goldar is something else entirely. The individual Zords are no match for him, and the golden monster pushes the five into the pit he created while digging for the Zeo Crystal. The Rangers almost come to terms with their fate, but the Zords all link up to form the mighty Megazord. I'd go into more depth about this fight-scene, but it really needs to be seen to be appreciated. Suffice to say that you get to see the Megazord German Suplex Goldar!
Rita says that there will be more to come, more to try and claim the Zeo Crystal, but the Rangers just smack her into space, and she lands on the moon.
    All in all, this movie was better than we had any right to expect. It hits the sublime middleground between character and action that so many films fail to reach. The characters are generally about right, and the plot never missteps the way I've seen many films do over my time as a critic
I feel I should draw a few comparisons to another blockbuster reboot, Transformers. This movie does now what Transformers should have in the second film. It's got enough references to the original while incorporating enough musical cues and stings from the original series that the soundscape still feels connected to the original in theme. Brian Tyler does an excellent job on the music in this film, and it almost sounds like Ron Wasserman, or even John Williams composed it at times. The music forges its own identity while remaining true enough to the original that it's recognizable. This is something that we should have seen in Revenge of the Fallen, but didn't.
    Speaking of which, something the middle two Transformers movies lacked were decent characters. Fortunately, they don't skimp on character development. Nor do they stray too far from the originals, mostly. Jason takes command, Kim makes jokes, Zack is a cool dude, and Billy is still the oddball who speaks in such a manner that your brain goes numb like you took a bite of an Oragel creme donut. Trini is the only one who's really changed a lot, going from soft-spoken and wise to misfit outcast. Apparently she's questioning her sexuality too, but considering the looks she and Zack were exchanging, I have a feeling it won't be in question much longer.
A while ago people were making a big deal about the announcement that Billy was autistic. My reaction was "Breaking News! Power Rangers movie retains defining characteristic of lead character! In other news, Marvel has killed another beloved hero and replaced them with an evil clone working for Hydra!"
    Yeah, Billy Cranston being autistic has always been something of a given. His social awkwardness, his somewhat obsessive behavior, the near lack of a sense of humor, and the mind-numbing speech-pattern only a few people really understand kind of gave the game away. Sorry Wikipedia, you done jumped the gun on saying this movie was "(T)he first blockbuster film to feature LGBTQ and autistic superheroes." The 1995 movie beat you to the last one.
Alpha 5 is alright. I've said before that I like Bill Hader as a voice-actor, but they seem to have gone out of their way to give him extra lines in this movie that really shouldn't have been in the final product. It's nothing too too bad, but enough of the original Alpha would get on anyone's nerves too.
Now we come to Zordon. Bryan Cranston was perhaps the perfect choice for Zordon of Eltar, and the portrayal of the character in this movie is pitch perfect. Cunning, intelligent, loads of patience, and self-sacrificing to a fault. The scene where he resurrects Billy instead of himself had echoes of the In Space finale playing in my head, which tells me that director Dean Israelite and the writing team know what they're doing, and will handle it well.
    Finally, Rita Repulsa. Elizabeth Banks was the perfect choice for this role, hands down, and this movie does a lot more to show her as a viable threat than the show usually did. Rather than sit around her base on the moon sending monsters after the Rangers, she overpowers them herself and kills people. I like Crazy Rita a lot, and this character will fit in well once Lord Zedd shows up.
A few minor things to mention. I was a little disappointed that they didn't get Austin St. John to play Jason's father, since David Denman basically looks like a discount version of him. Amy Jo Johnson and Jason David Frank's cameos were cool, but JDF and AJ should have been either teachers at the school, or parents of one of the Power Rangers (Possibly Kimberly).
    On that note though, I'm glad they didn't go all-out the way the DC television series have been and have all the previous Power Rangers they could find play small roles in this movie, because that would have been going overboard.
    Finally, the designs. I like the suits generally, but the silver highlights could have been white, and the helmets all look a little strange. I hope this is something they fix in future, along with the design of the Megazord not really matching up with the individual Zords. I like the new Megazord, it looks a hell of a lot better than the toy versions did, but it still could be a bit more coherent in design. More color and flash, less generic metal.
    Now that I've gotten what I think of the movie out of the way, here are a few things that I would like to see out of the first of the six confirmed sequels.
    First off, bring in Tommy as-is. Give us our long-haired, green-bedecked native American charismatic ass-kicker who can stand toe to toe with Jason and either tie or win. Don't gender-swap him as has been rumored. Give his suit plenty of gold, and make sure to give him some kind of Morphing sequence. Re-create the fight between him and Jason, possibly within an MMA cage. Something else, make sure to give him an actual Dragon Dagger, and an actual Sword of Darkness. The Power Sword was cool, but Tommy's gear should remain as unchanged as possible while remaining coherent with the rest of the aesthetic. Something else to mention is that you'd better make the Dragonzord look cool, and you'd better tell Bandai to make the toy version compatible with the previously released Dinozords.
    The suits are mostly alright, the helmets could use a bit of a change to look more like the animals they're based on, or even just the original helmets. Tommy's helmet especially could use an overhaul to be a bit more unique. Without the teeth it doesn't really look all that threatening. Also make sure that the Dragon Shield is detachable, and tell Bandai to do the same for Tommy's Legacy and Action Hero figures.
    The only thing I would really change about the suits would be to change all of the silver on them to white to throw back to the original series a bit.
    Now, let's address the product placement. It's fine. It's barely there and they actually kind of make a joke out of it. It's fine. Just don't take too far, okay Lionsgate?
    The second movie is where Brian Tyler should kick right in with recreating musical cues from the original score. 5-4-1, Fight, We Need A Hero, Go Go Power Rangers, and especially Go Green Ranger, Go! If Tommy's going to be one of the primary antagonists, then his theme-song should be in the movie. If you can't get Ron Wasserman back to do the vocals, then make sure you get someone who has a similar kind of voice for vocals. Kevin Rudolph wouldn't be a bad choice, but this is something you need to work on until you find the right guy for the job.
    Going back to the characters, there was a romance sub-plot with Jason and Kimberly that was cut from the final version of the movie. I think this was a good choice, since it kind of throws a wrench into the plot-integral Tom/Kim romance later on. All I have to say is that unless Naomi Scott or whoever winds up playing Tommy dies somewhere along the line, you'd better not split these characters up. Hell, going into the season two, three, and Zeo adaptations, you'd better not replace any of the characters unless you absolutely have to. You're not working with Sentai footage at all, so you might as well go all out on the plot. I just hope that the Thunder Megazord is done justice.
    Anyways, even though I've been laying down all this fan-service I want to see, it's important to not go too heavy on it. I see that they're foreshadowing at least sixteen series into the future, but you have to know what to cut and what to leave. It will be perfectly fine if they skip straight to the Green With Evil arc for the second movie, as long as the second movie is littered with some decent character development. After that, they should slow down a bit and make at least one more movie before hitting the Green Candle arc. Once they hit Green Candle, I expect to see some hardcore action and visceral confrontation between Tommy and Lord Zedd.
    As much as I would caution against fan-service for the sake of it, I would love to see Bulk and Skull in the next movie. Just make sure they don't turn into Victor and Monty from Ninja Steel.
In the end, this was one hell of a movie and I definitely recommend it. Pick up the soundtrack after you see the film too, because Brian Tyler did a damn good job on the score. It'll have you on an emotional roller-coaster from start to finish. The characters are pretty great interpretations of the original, and the movie is at least as good as the Boom! Studios comics, if not better.

Image from

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Steins;Gate 0 (Nathan Green)

 Out of all the titles I was excited for this year, Steins;Gate 0 was pretty high up on the list. I remember watching the anime of Steins;Gate and adoring it so much that I went and played the game soon after. Steins;Gate 0 isn’t exactly a sequel or prequel to the first game, rather it expands upon the events that took place so that the true ending of the first title was even possible to begin with. It’s an interesting concept, which made me excited for what I was going to see it pull off. With that being said this review WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST GAME. I’ll try to keep Steins;Gate 0 spoilers to a minimum but the final part of this review will be potentially spoilerific due to the subject matter so if you haven’t played Steins;Gate 0 yet then stop reading when you reach the spoiler warning. Anyways, without further ado, let's time leap!

Graphics and Sound:
Now I usually do this section later but since Steins;Gate 0 is a visual novel, the majority of this review is going to be focusing on the story so I’m saving that till last.
The first Steins;Gate was game that looked great and sounded great. The art was unique, the soundtrack varied and memorable, and the voice acting spot on. Steins;Gate 0 unsurprisingly continues this with some excellent art (albeit in a different style to that of the first game), an excellent soundtrack, and great voice acting.

Art-wise the actual art-style has seen a significant change with characters looking closer to how they looked in the anime than then first game. Old art does show up from time to time though, and it can get a bit daunting seeing it mixed in with the new art. It’s not a huge issue, but it is awkward at times. (Editors note; Think back to the Morrigan sprite that Capcom kept re-using in all of the SNK vs Capcom games if you need a point of reference.)
The soundtrack contains a mix of happy go lucky tunes, more intense nerve racking tracks and some really beautiful tracks which usually accompany the more important moments in the game. My favorite track would probably have to be Hoshi No Kanaduru Uta. More specifically, the rendition of it which accompanies the end credits for one route. The vocals on that version really make it that bit better, especially since they were sung by the Voice-Actor for the character of Kagari. The soundtrack does a good job of both setting the tone of the scene and adding to the overall memorability of scenes. It does exactly what a good soundtrack in a visual novel should do, and it does it well.
For voice acting, the entire cast of the original Steins;Gate retain their original voice actors, and they all sound as good as ever. Line deliveries are enthusiastic and really do make the characters feel more alive. The new characters also sound good with some solid performances all around, my favorite being from Maho Hiyajo, whose VA perfectly reflects her character in her acting. Dr. Leskinen's voice actor is a bit goofy with his broken English thrown everywhere, but overall his performance is pretty darn good as well.

Being a visual novel, Steins;Gate 0 doesn’t really try to sell itself on gameplay. Overall it’s a pretty standard visual novel affair although it is less linear than the first game. All the visual novel basics are present along with the ability to both lock your save file to prevent yourself accidentally saving over it (a very welcome addition) and automatic quick saves which allow you to pick up at important events in the game if you aren’t liking the results of your decision. It’s a small but very welcome change and is something I wish more VNs had. Also present is the tips system which provides you with information on special objects, items etc that are mentioned in the game. A vast majority of these tips are quite useful and helped clear up some confusion I had surrounding some things but some are a bit on the silly side, so your mileage may vary. You’re also able to advance text and menus using the Vita's touchscreen, although you can disable this if you’d prefer otherwise.
The only slightly irritating thing about the game is that the only way to access the dialog archive in case you miss something is to pause the game and select it. A vast majority of visual novels have a button that allows you to quickly access the archive without needing to pause the game so this comes off as a bit clunky. It doesn’t help that the menus lag, and aside from the main menu, you aren’t given any visual or audio feedback upon selecting an item, which can be awkward. I also found myself having to reboot my Vita on one occasion, because Livearea had slowed to a crawl after leaving the game open for so long. Again, your millage may vary.

With Steins;Gate 0 being a visual novel, the story is the most important aspect, and for the most part Steins;Gate 0 does a good job at crafting a solid plot with a believable set of characters. However it isn’t perfect. I’ll touch on why later on. For now though lets look at the characters.

The entire cast of the original Steins;Gate makes a return with the obvious exception of Kurisu who is well… dead. We also see a variety of newcomers in the form of Maho Hiyajo and Dr Leskinen from an American University that Kurisu used to attend. Fubuki, Yuki and Kadee, who are close friends of Maiyurii, and finally Armadeus, an AI who takes on the form of Kurisu for most of the game. Out of all these new characters, I’d have to say my personal favorite would have to be Maho, one of Kurisu’s closest friends before she passed away. The story does a great job of portraying her as a likable well rounded character, and portrays her inner struggle and love hate relationship with Kurisu very well.
Story-wise, Steins;Gate 0 in and of itself takes place before the true ending of the original Steins;Gate, so if you have not played Steins;Gate, then play that before even thinking about touching Steins;Gate 0.
In essence, Steins;Gate's true ending involves our main character, Okabe receiving a video from himself twelve years in the future giving him the keys to discover the world line knows as steins gate, a world line where neither his childhood friend Maiyurii, or his lover Kurisu has to die. Now that’s all fine and dandy, but how the heck did that video even get sent in the first place? This is the basic premise behind Steins;Gate 0. It works on filling in the gaps present in the true ending of Steins;Gate and bring a bit more closure to everything. On top of that. Steins;Gate 0 goes more into depth around the concepts of AI, time travel and time manipulation, and the consequences of such technologies, which is something I absolutely love. The portrayal of these topics is very well done, and most importantly, thought provoking. There’s a lot more of them as well. While Steins;Gate 0 does have its fair share of slice of life bits, it is far darker in tone than the original Steins;Gate. This really works in its favor, with the story exploring more possibilities that really wouldn’t have been possible in the original game. There’s a constant feeling of danger as the group realizes the size of what they have gotten themselves into, and it makes for an incredibly gripping read. It isn’t as dark as say, Zero Escape but it doesn’t need to be. The story is also paced really well, which really helps a ton.
All this stands true for the vast majority of the game, and compared to the original the story had definitely improved on the problems the original had with pacing and tone. HOWEVER, Steins;Gate 0 isn’t perfect. While the vast majority of the story is excellent the remaining minority kinda crashes and burns. Let me explain, but first here’s your obligatory spoiler warning.
I’m going to be blunt, Steins;Gate 0's story feels a bit unfinished. I came away from the game feeling like I had missed something or that a chunk of the game was missing. Now I’m not talking about the obvious cliff hanger due to how Steins;Gate 0 carries directly into the true end of Steins;Gate. The problem is that the true ending to Steins;Gate 0 is so incredibly disconnected from the events of the other endings that it in fact drags the rest of the game down with it a bit. Up until then the other 5 endings had been pretty incredible and had dropped little mysteries and tid bits here and there that stuck with me and kept me hyped up for the true ending where I’d learn what was going on. Then I actually played the true ending. My hype turned to confusion which then turned to disbelief which then turned to disappointment.
The true ending, rather than serving as an epic conclusion to my twenty-hour journey, was more the closest thing the game could do to blowing its own foot off with a rocket launcher. It commits one of the cardinal sins of storytelling by NOT SOLVING ALL THE MYSTERIES IT SPENT TIME CREATING. Not only that but the extent that it does this to is enough to drag the rest of the game down with it. All those mysteries you had learned in the other endings? All that stuff that happened when Armadeus got deleted in Maho's ending? The mystery surrounding the song in Kagari's ending? Kagari's lost memories? I hope you weren’t expecting answers to any of those mysteries because the game NEVER EXPLAINS THEM. Yes, those technically happened in separate world lines, so from a story perspective it at least has an explanation as to why it doesn’t get explained. However that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.
It ALSO doesn’t excuse the true ending from not answering questions about mysteries and events that happened in its OWN DAMN WORLD LINE. Who was that guy who attacked Maho, Okabe and the Professor in the carpark? What was all that garbage text Armadeus Kurisu left to Maho as a message on @channel? Why was Yuki given plastic surgery and brain washed with Kagari's memories? Where even WAS Kagari in this world line? All these seemingly important events and mysteries that happen in the true ending's world line? NEVER. EXPLAINED. What the hell happened?!? Why put in mysteries to advance the plot and then never give the player closure on the damn things? It isn’t like the player is left enough hints to figure it out themselves so they’re just left scratching their head and wondering where the rest of the game went.
The true ending to Steins;Gate 0 is simply a train wreck. That isn’t to say it isn’t enjoyable, on the contrary, I still enjoyed reading through the true ending. However the unfinished feeling it leaves the player with upon finishing it along with how it unsuccessfully ties up a surprisingly large number of mysteries CAN and most likely WILL get on your nerves. It isn’t enough to ruin the whole game and make me feel like I wasted my money but it is enough to weigh on my mind for a few days while the game is still fresh in my mind.

Steins;Gate 0 is an interesting one. If it weren’t for all the loose plot threads and the train wreck of a final ending I’d have no trouble recommending it to anyone who had played the original Steins;Gate. However, it isn’t perfect and the flaws that it does have are in areas which are very likely to effect your potential millage. If there was ever a game fitting of a Your Millage May Vary badge it’s this one. The vast majority of the game is absolutely excellent, with a great story exploring the potential consequences of AI, time travel and a third world war coupled with excellent character development and great pacing but the overall penultimate ending to everything kinda causes the story to run itself smack into a solid steel wall because it wasn’t looking where it was going.
Granted the fact that the true ending ended the way it did was due to Steins;Gate 0’s placement on the overall timeline but I still feel that even taking that into account they could have done better than what we got. It isn’t a deal breaker but it does mean the satisfaction you get from finishing the game is a bit dampened.
Despite the shoddy true ending, Steins;Gate 0 is still well worth playing if you are a die hard fan of the original Steins;Gate. I have no doubt in my mind that you’ll love it if you loved the original. If you’re on the fence about Steins;Gate 0, then you really need to consider one thing, “Do I really care that much if the game ends with mysteries left unsolved?”. If the answer to that question is "No" then by all means go and play Steins;Gate 0, you’ll be in for a treat. However if unsolved mysteries are more of a big deal to you then I’d probably either wait for a price drop or give it a miss. For the most part though the experience Steins;Gate 0 gives you is well worth the price of admission.
For Steins;Gate fans, Steins;Gate 0 gets a Highly Recommended.
For those on the fence about it Steins;Gate 0 gets a Recommended, but wait for a sale first.
For those of you who haven’t played/seen Steins;Gate, Steins;Gate 0 gets a PLAY THE ORIGINAL FIRST YOU GOOF.
Seriously, if you haven’t played the original Steins;Gate yet and are interested in Steins;Gate 0 then PLAY THE FIRST GAME OR WATCH THE ANIME ADAPTION FIRST. I can’t force you, but you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you do otherwise.
Wow, the last review of 2016 from me (although by the time this goes up it will probably be 2017 already but I wrote this on December 31st so meh). At the time of writing I would have had my Vita for exactly one year now and what a year it has been. I can’t wait to see what is in store for the Vita in 2017 but I’m hoping to potentially get a review of Danganronpa V3, Mary Skelter and a few other games on the cards if everything goes well. In the meantime I’ll probably get to work on writing up a review for Danganronpa Another Episode Ultra Despair Girls since that’s the only Danganronpa game I have yet to cover so far. Either way I hope you have a safe and wonderful New Year and happy holidays.
This is BDVR writer Nathan Green signing off

PEGI: 16
OFLC: M (Unrestricted)

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Steins;Gate 0 was played and reviewed on PlayStation Vita (also on PlayStation 4) using a digital copy of the game purchased by the reviewer.
Steins;Gate 0 is developed by 5pb, and Nitroplus, and is published by PQube Games. All rights reserved to their respective owners.
This review is my own work. You are not allowed to duplicate, reproduce or republish on any other sites under any circumstances commercial or otherwise.