Chaos Blogg 48: Slightly disappointing sequels 

there I think that should suit the tone nicely. Now these things aren’t terrible in fact many of them are still good, just not as good as they could have been or have made out to be. I hope enjoy the content today, and here’s some music.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Movie):

Marvel movies have been doing well in maintaining quality as of late (ignoring Ghost Rider), after the couple of missteps in Iron Man 2 and Thor, Captain America and the Avengers were a nice a comeback to quality. With Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 both being improvements over their predecessors (and No I don’t mean the first Iron man movie) Captain America 2 had bigger shoes to fill. The first movie was a rather heart warming origin story set in the second world war. Judging from the reviews I was fairly confident winter soldier would be an even better experience and well while I didn’t expect it to reach the lofty heights of the Avengers I really didn’t think people would have overrated it this much. Of course it’s probably a matter of preferences but I found this movie somewhat lacking. I think it’s because the tone of the movie feels perhaps a bit too serious for the actual events within. Sure we’re dealing with more of an espionage scenario but at the same time there are mechanical wings, cyborgs, Indiana Jones villains, and a fucking 1980s(?) computer with a human consciousness on board. The music for instance feels far too serious for these events, and this film is very much lacking the humour quality present in almost all the other films (we get maybe a couple of jokes and that’s it, in fact the delivery of most of these jokes falls kind of flat). It’s a very visually engaging movie for sure, and the second half was really enjoyable even if it reminded me of star wars in some ways (not a bad thing but not something would want your audience to catch onto too easily). However the plot is weak, and thanks to the internet it’s even weaker as all major plot-twists have become FUCKING MEMES (at least to people who go into these movies without any comic book knowledge). Sure it’s a rather huge game changer for the series of movies but it also feels kind of stupid since some of the antagonists are so obvious (um extra scene really highlights this with the fucking campy ass germans with the fucking monocles how did you NOT notice those guys?) and the computer oh god the computer. That scene with the computer completely fucked up my sense of disbelief. In a world of gods, aliens and super villains you’d think that would be the least of my worries, but to suddenly say this universe had the tech to store human consciousness in the 1980s(?) pushed my logic too far. Why hadn’t we heard about this before? Surely Stark or Banner would have done this by now then? was ‘magic’ used? How the fuck did they figure out how to do this? Perhaps I’m looking too much into but that scene hurt my head. The Falcon is a pretty cool character and most of the cast does a decent job but I don’t feel connected to them as much this time around. It may have something to do with the abuse of death and revival “does anyone in this movie die?”, or maybe the scene with peggy (that’s her name right?) where she looks so not convincingly old, or maybe because the first half was pretty much “the good guys are the bad guys”. Not that the overall product is terrible but I’m just having such a hard time wrapping my head around why people love it when I myself see this as a step backward from even the first Captain America. One thing I will say though is that helps set up the foundations for the next movies although whether that’s positive or not depends on those movies and personal preference. I recommend this movie but set the bar kind of low or at least lower than the reviews set it.

Professor Layton and The Last Spectre (DS):

I fucked up on this one. The Last Spectre has been in my backlog almost completed since 2011. Suffice to say most of this review is going off my memories alone and as such I’m very much open to any actual corrections if I get any facts wrong. First off lets start with sound, as far as these games go this is your standard Layton Soundtrack. The main theme is one you have to wait for to get good which makes me often skip it on the title screen, it’s a wonderfully soundtrack though. This game is also incredibly beautiful, and while it doesn’t have the best environments from my perspective it’s hard to deny the quality of the art and the overall wonderfully feeling this game gives you. The gameplay itself is your standard Layton puzzle solving with puzzles involving logic, math and moving blocks *shudder*. These puzzles are pretty hard and in that respect you might be better off learning the ropes from the more forgiving Layton vs. Wright (oh the irony). Apart from a few puzzles and the block puzzles I remember enjoying the puzzling aspect quite a bit. In fact I’m finding myself with cravings for these types of Puzzles as of late so going back to this game helped me get my fix. Layton is also an adventure in some aspects so you’ll be tapping the screen looking for coin and other hidden goodies. There’s also minigames that open up over time and these carry their own charm and challenges, they’re also important if you want all the puzzles. Unique to this game is the London Life feature, which functions like a Layton styled animal crossing and is styled to look like Earthbound. It was a fun little distraction but really nothing that should be a priority. The only real thing that holds this game back is the story itself, or more so the fact that the mystery was rather lacking. I found myself predicting the conclusion very easily for the most part except for some of the specific details. However as an origin for Luke this story works fine and it even gets somewhat emotional at the end, so in that respect the story isn’t terrible just too predictable. Also I find American Luke kind of jarring after being so used to the European cockney Luke voice. I could pass it off in my head as time changing his voice but voices don’t really get higher, in fact the common understanding is that they get deeper with age. Overall I can recommend this game but it loses points on story and you’re better off playing the first trilogy. Oh almost forgot, the villain is kind of lame.

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren (Anime):

Now you might remember that last year I highly enjoy Chuunibyou and it made it’s way into last years top 10. When I heard about the second season I was pretty happy, since the first had a nice story I thought this would be a continuation. However this sequel has no reason to really exist and doesn’t progress the series in anyway substantially. Instead it chooses to give a message of “go at your own pace” which is a fine message to give people but overall it’s not good for a story and certainly wasn’t worth an entire 12 episodes. Firstly this anime is rather good looking with some top notch visuals, the music isn’t bad either and the characters are still somewhat charming. However the only plot lines worth caring about are those of the side characters who go through character development and actually change a bit throughout the season. It feels like the main protagonists are dragging this down ironically enough, their interesting story arcs seem to be over and constantly going back to focus on them just shows how unnecessary this anime is. Sure they face minor challenges and the like but everything goes back to the status quo at the end of the day like some god damn sitcom. Sophia steals the show which makes sense since she’s a brand new character who actually has to go through some change towards the end of the series. There’s potential for some quality drama here, to go along with the decent comedy but it’s never really capitalised on which brings up the question why bother with these protagonists? If you’re not going to do anything interesting with them why not switch the focus completely and have them as the side characters this time. Changing the main character could have kept things fresh and give us an actual story. Overall this series is a waste of time unless you want some light hearted comedy that looks really pretty. So in many ways I can still recommend it but it pales compared to the first.

D-Frag! (Anime):

D-Frag is a comedy anime and probably one of the better ones I’ve seen in my time. Although I wouldn’t say it’s close to the best, it provides an enjoyable time without giving any impression that it might attempt a thrilling narrative. It’s also not as fan-service-y as other shows in this genre at least by comparison. In fact this may be the only thing on this blog that didn’t disappoint me in some capacity. None of the characters were too bland, and it felt like it was focusing on the jokes and characters rather than spending time creating unneeded drama or overextended exposition. There’s conflict and character progression but it felt like it simply focused on keeping things fun. Though this isn’t Nichijou quality, it has fine music and visuals, and decent characters. It’s filled with troupes of course but it didn’t feel like I was simply just exploring things I had seen before. If you want a comedy anime then I can recommend this, it’s short and nowhere near as garbage as some of the rotten stinkers you can find in this genre. In fact it may even feel a little unique in some ways and the protagonist doesn’t feel bland as is the norm for the genre.

They Bleed Pixels (PC):

I can’t quite remember who gave me this game, but I thank them for this experience nonetheless. They Bleed Pixels is a game of uneven difficulty, and this is probably the biggest issue I had with the game. Most levels were fun, challenging experiences as I hunted down my enemies, slaughtered them with the combat system and searched for collectible pages of a book. However for at least 4 levels the game was a painful task of trial and error, with some brutal challenges that felt more cheap than fun. Now this is about 30% of the game that suffers from this and it’s not 100% evenly distributed with the first of these levels being only 4 levels in. Perhaps the controls are too tight or maybe too floaty it’s hard for me to pin down why but these levels felt like I was being punished for not being pixel perfect. That may have been the objective but the rest of the game seemed to find the perfect balance. Maybe it was dickish enemy or spike placement but towards the end I felt like the levels of cruelty were a bit too high and not very rewarding. In fact I assumed at one point I had to perform some almost impossible wall jumps which I didn’t have to do at all. The fact I had so easily accepted the idea proves just how much the game was dicking me around. What did I like though? Well I liked the soundtrack, it felt somewhat unique but suited the dark gloomy tone. One track sounded like the suspense theme from Ace Attorney though. The visuals are also charming for the most part, although I feel the lack of detail in the actual levels was a bit of a downer. It was probably to try and focus on the gameplay (irony is that the visuals sometimes impede gameplay since spike surfaces blend with the outlines at times) more but this game could have looked a lot a better. The bonus levels you unlock are a fun change of pace in sound, visuals and even gameplay mechanics. There’s also unlock-able art which is pretty beautiful though it doesn’t feel like the best reward. The fact the bonus levels overshadow some of the actual levels is a bit of a problem and reminds me of Resident Evil 5 where the DLC trumped most of the game. What makes the gameplay unique is the combat system which works on one button and has quite a bit of diversity and the check point system which is dependent on the player collecting blood and forming the checkpoint themselves once the bar is full. With the full bar you can get a higher core so there’s an element of risk and reward. However because the checkpoints depend on the player stopping all movement the game uses other methods to control where you place checkpoints. Which includes placement of hazards and enemies that at times are more of a cheap hindrance than an actual challenge, like the damn ice surfaces. The checkpoint idea was pretty clever though and this certainly has the foundations of a fantastic game. The majority of the levels are well designed bordering between the lines of punishment and fun. The backgrounds are beautiful and the stages being themed is a nice touch. It’s still a good game and one I can recommend if you see at the steam sale. Just prepare for a few hours of swearing and raging.

Witch Craft Works (Anime):

I decided to speed run this anime in a couple of days and to my surprise it wasn’t terrible. It’s no masterpiece but it had potential to be a good comedy/romance with action to boot. The story centres around generic protagonist and the ‘princess’ of the school who turns out to be a witch and his bodyguard. The interactions between these two is the romance element, while the various villains that try to attack them represent the comedy element. The plot is all over the place and it’s rather wacky yet rather standard for anime. However in the later half the story tries to take itself too seriously, and gets rather convoluted without answering any of the key questions or mysteries raised throughout. These details are hinted at and it seems this sloppy storytelling is the result of this being an ‘anime only’ ending meaning that the source material wasn’t complete when this adaptation was made. This anime is visually appealing with some impressive action, and it’s soundtrack is pretty decent with a really catchy ending theme (note I should have watched this for the last blog now that I think about it). I felt the protagonists were developed to a reasonable degree even if they were bland at times, however none of the quirky cast is given time to develop and shine, and when they are given time it’s often an irrelevant comedy skit scene that’s not really funny and often jarring (like what the fuck does this have to do with anything? why should we care?). It’s far from terrible but it’s not something I can easily recommend since it doesn’t really have enough time to excel at anything and has a very sloppy plot and ending. Also the main antagonist felt random, shoehorned in and wasn’t a very well written character. So much potential but it needed more time.

I hope you all made it through this rather negative addition of the Chaos Blogg. We’re getting ever closer to the big milestone, so I hope you all stay tuned. In the meantime enjoy these two pictures. Also comments are encouraged.

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