Chaos Blogg 59: Risky

So yeah this year is moving pretty fast, I’ve been distracted by a bunch of stuff… mainly pokemon but still. This also means my video projects are delayed so sorry that they didn’t show up at all. Anyway I’ve got plenty of stuff here in this Chaos Blogg, including 3 really awesome games, some average to decent movies, and an anime that’s pretty good but requires quite a bit of previous anime viewing.

The Swapper (PSVita):

Let’s start things off with one of the best indie games I’ve played in a while. The Swapper is a game you can find on PC, Vita and a bunch of consoles including the Wii U. The Swapper is a sci-fi 2D puzzle platformer that deals with the idea of clones and swapping bodies both in terms of narrative and gameplay. The story is centred around the core mechanic of the game which isn’t as common as you’d think it would be. I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone but to give you an impression it’s one that aims to make it’s audience think somewhat and takes some unexpected turns. It’s very mysterious and certainly outdoes the likes of Prometheus (yes I still hate that movie). Although it does get borderline pretentious at some points. The visuals certainly add to this, as this game beautiful and does a fairly good job of distinguishing areas from each other (Also there’s a map and the game is pretty linear so if you get lost it’s 100% your incompetence). I adore most sci-fi aesthetics anyway so I doubt it would surprise anyone that I really enjoyed the visuals. Music wise it’s a mixed bag, some tracks stood out as really beautiful pieces but outside of those few that caught my attention it’s an unremarkable soundtrack that serves atmosphere and story purposes for the most part. It’s not terrible by any means but it leaves quite a bit to be desired.

The most important feature though is the gameplay and this is some of the best puzzle gameplay I’ve seen in a while. It’s no Portal but I felt it was a balanced challenge for the most part with no puzzle feeling too easy and only one puzzle ever feeling to hard. It was possible to be stumped for a few minutes but when those Eureaka moments come it feels amazing. Which isn’t a feeling that’s easy to create. There’s some anti-grav sections that are a tad annoying but they’re a minor complaint and simply change the pace a little. Also if you want to go after achievements you may want to look it up since they’re well hidden areas that only really experimental players are likely to find (maybe idiots with dumb luck as well?). So yeah excluding one annoying puzzle (I’m sure you’ll know which one when you get to it) this game is an absolute joy to play and it’s won me over on both aesthetic and gameplay. I highly recommend this one and I hope you enjoy it.

The Gambler (Movie): 

I’d like to start this by saying, I have not seen the original movie before and I didn’t even know this was a remake until I was already in my seat chugging down popcorn and quickly looking at some movie reviews while waiting for the screen to light up. My opinion on this movie is that it’s fairly average, and it’s highly likely to be unpopular with a lot of people that do see it. In fact if it wasn’t for a realisation I had at the very end of the film I never would have realised the characters true intentions and goals and simply assumed he was a fucking idiot. The protagonist is abrasive, pretentious and all around asshole but he does make for an interesting character, and there’s some interesting ideas here even though a few of them reek of decades long past. Also this movie is mostly talking so if you’re expecting a ton of action well it’s not really here but there are some rather suspenseful scenes that don’t rely on conversation and I felt most invested at these points. Especially the ending which was mostly visuals and music, along with some symbolism that was a bit on the nose but helped put the pieces together.

I don’t know about you but I haven’t thought about a movie like this for quite a long time, where the protagonist is a puzzle as opposed to the plot itself being mysterious. In that regards I think I enjoyed this experience, however it was an overall mediocre movie as I spent a lot of time groaning at the dialogue and the movie just dragged along in an almost repetitive fashion. I think the acting was decent for the most part, and that visuals certainly seemed more representative of older films or at least that’s how it felt to me and this includes costuming as well. There’s a strange clash of modern tech and older style trends but again that may have just been me. Music wise there’s a good soundtrack here but I’ve honestly forgotten most if not all of it, so while it’s unique enough compared to other movies it overall felt forgettable. My recommendation for this movie is to rent it if you are curious after all that I’ve talked about, I’m guessing it’ll only click with some people and to others it may just be pretentious garbage hence why I don’t recommend purchasing a movie ticket for this one. Assuming it’s even still in the cinemas at this point in time.

Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Directors Cut (PC):

I’m so happy that I got to finally play this game, as it never looked like it was heading in my direction. Back in the days of the DSi I constantly saw praise for this game online and it was often compared to Metroid which I was playing a lot of around that time (and had recently been tarnished). So you’d think I’d jump on the chance to play back then right? Well for starters back then I couldn’t afford a DSi, and as the 3DS eShop has shown me I wouldn’t even be able to purchase the game because it was never made available in Australia. Why? well I have no clue, as the game is available in Europe so I’m guessing it didn’t pass the classification board or something stupid. So even with the 3DS I was unable to access such a highly praised piece of DSiware, until this version was released on steam that is. Of course by now it’s been out for over 6 months on Steam but it went completely under my radar and even once I bought the game, it made it’s way to the backlog for a couple of months.

Shantae: Riskys Revenge is an amazing game, there’s no doubt in my mind that this game had earned its praise back in the day. In fact it fixes almost all the problems I had with the original GBC game. The hit boxes are functional and everything felt so much more responsive, I felt that when I go hit it was my fault and not the game being a dick. There’s now a map system which is mediocre but far more functional than the previous entry. There’s no more instant death when falling into pits or spikes, so there’s no need for lives system and the game has you relying on save points instead (a metroivania troupe). The dancing is heavily improved and simplified although the removal of the warp dances didn’t suit my taste. There’s also far less grinding and instead of regular items there are magic items which run off a magic bar and are viable to use more often. However to access most of these powers you need to collect Magic Jars which have pretty much replaced all the collectables from the previous games. It’s an interesting idea but it also means there is a shortage of Heart Containers for some reason. Hell they even poke fun at their own directional error (the whole east and west mix up) from the first game, which was nice a touch.

Top the improved gameplay off with an amazing visual style that made my jaw drop even though I was viewing it on my computer and some extremely beautiful music that makes the previous ost look lacking and you have what could easily be one of my favourite games. That is if it wasn’t so damn short. It took me under 9 hours to complete the game and while that may not seem so bad when you notice the lack of dances, dungeons and areas in general it feels more like the first half of a game as opposed to a complete experience. It feels like such a waste as other games which can be completed far faster on average like Super Metroid have a lot more content and power up variety. Hell you can spend ages in your first playthrough of Super Metroid and even then it’s highly likely you’ll miss something. Riskys Revenge though just feels like half a game and that’s so disappointing since it also ticks so many of the right boxes, but even the first game had more content. It’s like only receiving half of your burger/pizza it’s so delicious while it lasts but the experience is over too soon and you’re left wanting more.

Overall though I will still recommend this game, especially if it goes on sale, it’s got a lot of replayability and while it lasts it’s an amazing experience. I mean just listen to this soundtrack it’s outstanding. Oh and the whole forest and town sections having layers you can switch between is beautiful, it just adds to the visual appeal and I think that may be one thing I’ll miss if it has been removed in the sequel. Aaaand speaking of that sequel lets hope it’s longer than what was on offer here.

Jupiter Ascending (Movie):

Made by the creators of The Matrix movies this film goes to show that can certainly do nice visuals and aesthetics but also shows that they just take interesting stories and concepts and somehow manage to make them somewhat bland. The second Matrix movie has to be one of the most pointless things I’ve ever seen, and thank goodness this movie doesn’t reach that level. Not by any means bad Jupiter Ascending is a sci-fi fantasy movie that had some potential. The story has some really interesting elements involving space enterprises and space aristocracy. Of course these ideas have probably presented themselves before (I’m thinking hitch hikers guide to the galaxy) but perhaps without fantasy leanings. The plot itself though is rather drawn out and takes a while to get to the point, in fact there’s some action sequences that go on a bit too long. Good news though is that the characterisation and acting is at least decent and characters actually have some backstory. It’s visually amazing in 3D and I’m not sure how translates onto a 2D screen but I’m assuming the difference is negligible, either way it doesn’t quite make up for its mediocrity to be worth the cinema ticket. Soundtrack wise it’s not awful and it does have its moments but it is far too forgettable.

Honestly this movie just isn’t interesting enough for me to keep typing. I suggest checking it out on DVD/BluRay or whatever cheapest option you have but I don’t think it’ll be anyone’s priority. Maybe if you’re really curious you could check out the trailers and stuff to see if you like the visuals?

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Wii U):

Captain Toad is the best thing to come out of the recent Mario 3D series. You know those games that don’t control well and don’t understand the idea of cameras. Well this spin-off manages to do both of these things, of course you are moving at a slower pace most of the time but some levels show it’s not impossible to have had this type of control in 3D World as they have dashpads. When this game was first announced I was sceptical. While fun the captain toad mini-games in 3D world were a little bland and a little boring, it was hard to visualise this mini-game becoming something meaningful and charming. Yet somehow Nintendo did it, they turned a mini-game into a charming spin-off that has quite a bit of variety.

First of all this game is beautiful and another pleasant showing of HD Nintendo, it was pleasant on my eyes and that’s probably helped by the art style that feels like 3D World but slightly polished and for lack of a better word cuter. Heck this game even looks nice on the gamepad and I’d say it’s the perfect game to lie down and relax with. Also this game brings some elements back from older titles such as Super Mario Bros. 2 and Donkey Kong, which include turnips, shy guys and ladders. Also there’s finally a new antagonist to the series who very much seems reminiscent of SMB2 along several stages that carry a similar aesthetic. It’s a nice touch that throws back to older games while also being fresh. Music wise it’s nice, most of it is relaxing, some of it is intense and some of it is a little annoying which is a shame since the soundtrack is mostly the same as Mario 3D Worlds excellent soundtrack but they don’t really use/remix the best music pieces from that game.

Gameplay wise Captain Toads: Treasure Tracker is a puzzle-platformer, it’s not a particularly challenging one but if you’re going for all the optional objectives and gems then there are some challenging moments. There weren’t too many points where I felt like it was the games fault that I missed something, and I never felt frustrated until the game decided to change things up for its final bonus level which is a randomly generated maze of bullshit that brings back the clone chasing from 3D Land. Captain Toad is no where near fast enough for this type of gameplay and it becomes stale pretty quickly. Luckily the rest of the game sticks to it’s strengths and there’s no real reward for completing the maze of bullshit anyway. Of course while the core gameplay resembles that of the mini-game but with more depth, they’ve also added some extra types of gameplay to vary things up without frustrating the player. There are several stages that involve stealth elements, some repeated “Boss Fights”, a Pickaxe power up that acts like the Donkey Kong hammer, Double Cherries, and most notably rail shooter sections that involve turnips. Combine that with a somewhat wide variety of stage gimmicks and themes and you have a game that feels like it has a surprise around most corners, which is nice since this is a game under the Mario franchise and it’s not always like this. Of course if you’ve played 3D World you will see a lot of returning elements and that may be considered a negative but honestly I found those elements more enjoyable in this game then I did in 3D World. Enough rambling, Captain Toad is a game I highly recommend to Wii U owners. You could say it’s a bit too short for it’s price (but it feels complete) but I can easily recommend this over 3D World any day and this was an extremely unexpected gem.

Hanamonogatari (Anime):

I’m sure most of you not skipping over this have at least seen some Monogatari but I’d like to recap just in case. The Monogatari series is an anime with a somewhat quirky art style and a overarching story that actually has substantial character arcs. Unfortunately it also plagued with fan service which while not always a terrible thing, often enters weird territory. Thankfully the worst of it was in Nisemonogatari and since then the series has grown in quality and Hanamonogatari is a fine example of that. This entry focuses on Kanbaru a reoccurring side character that hadn’t taken a centre role since Bakemonogatari where she was introduced. This time she’s the protagonist and I’m glad to the see this series viewing things from other perspectives than Kyomi. We’re also introduced to a new character and the story focuses on the rivalry between the two. There’s far more depth to it than that but I think it’s best not spoil the specifics for those who have yet to see it. The story is perhaps the saddest in the series so far for me and I mean that in a positive way. Visually it’s still impressive, and the soundtrack is also up to standard. Overall if you are into anime then Monogatari is worth your time at some point, or at the very least worth a try because after a bump in the road this series has become a good place for interesting characters and dialogue, along with visual appeal.

Thanks again for checking out this blog, I’ve kind of dropped the ball on a couple of these but that’s just the way it is. Okay now while slowly slip into sleep, please enjoy these images and perhaps leave a comment. Note: There’ll be some videos this month so stay tuned.

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