Happy Halloween folks, well yes this may be a bit early but I think that’s better than the alternative of being late. This year I tried to plan ahead a bit but things didn’t go to schedule so there’s only one game that suits the Halloween theme here. However the others do have Halloween themed levels I guess so it’s not 100% ill-fitting. Speaking of ill-fitting things, here are some remixes that are quite energetic and cheerful.
Hitsugi no Chaika (Anime):
Chaika is a fairly typical fantasy styled anime more on the light hearted side. That being said it is quite action packed and delivers plenty of drama. The characters are interesting to a degree even if the protag is fairly generic (I do like the fact that he’s established to be a lazy mercenary type figure so on the generic scale he ain’t too bad). The namesake of the series Chaika is not only an adorable character but one that actually grows and develops throughout the series. In fact she’s the most fleshed out character in the show and the supporting cast doesn’t get quite enough nourishment because of this (with the exceptions of Akari and Fredrika). The story itself is filled with mystery and while the twists aren’t all that amazing they seem somewhat naturally paced until we reach the last story arc where the whole things feels rushed. Even 3 or 4 more episodes could have fixed this and allowed for more of a dramatic build-up. It could’ve also helped with fleshing out more of the characters since there was obvious potential that was never really used properly. In terms of visuals it’s good and manages to keep a consistent style even if it’s been done before. The same could be said for the ost which is rather forgettable outside of one exception which should be down bellow.
Overall it was a good time that could’ve used more episodes to improve characterisations of the entire cast, and there’s not much else for me to complain about. Very much above the average.
The Martian (Movie):
The Martian is a sci-fi film about survival that you’ll probably hear being compared to Interstellar but I don’t think that is a fair comparison as both movies are very different even if they share some visual similarities. For starters The Martian is more grounded in reality even if it does stretch the suspension of disbelief with some of it’s more bullshit moments. However the movie makes these events feel possible which I think is a sign of good writing. The shit that the protagonist does to survive is pretty fucking cool either way and helps create a really likeable character that is both resourceful and witty. Matt Damon is fairly hit and miss, I mean the Bourne movies are like a tranquillizer to me for instance, but in this film he nails the role and pretty much carries the movie solo throughout. The supporting cast is also good and they provide a different angle on the whole thing. Visually the film is fairly impressive but not don’t expect anything too crazy in terms of spectacle. The soundtrack is mostly comprised of older songs that you’ll have to make your own mind about, in this way it’s kind of like guardians of the galaxy’s soundtrack (but not as good).
I think this film is worth your time, so see it if you get the chance or at the very least rent it out.
Sly 2: Band of Thieves (Vita):
GREASY SWEET! Sly 2 is a bit of mixed bag, it improves on the first game but at the same time the more open world direction means you’ll be seeing the same locales over and over again which can be an issue in some of the more tedious areas. Your move set does seem somewhat more diverse though and unlike sly 1 this feels like a stealth platformer with far more ways to actually deal with guards. Bentley and Murray add much needed variety to the gameplay even if they have far more mini-game like situations than needed (the hacking for instance). Since the game takes the open world route there are no more lives, and instead of levels you have missions which makes the game feel more like you’re pulling off a heist than going through level to level. I do like this feel more but I think the lack of linear stages does effect the level design negatively (which you’ll notice more if go for all the clue bottles and fine art).
I think the most fun I had with the game was some of Bentley’s sections involving the use of traps, and it’s really only a mechanic that is used twice throughout the game. However this type of multitasking and quick thinking suited the character while also providing some comedic edge. In fact I would say the writing for Bentley and Murray has improved dramatically and they quickly became a lot more endearing then previously. The villains are fairly hit and miss with Dimitri being the biggest hit which means they play their best cards early in that category. Same goes for soundtrack the best tune is fairly early in the game and while the rest of it is great it does pale in comparison. Visually the game seems improved from Sly 1 but since the Vita still did the cut-scenes all janky I can’t quite tell.
Sly 2 is worth your time just as just much as Sly 1 was, each game has a somewhat different direction and I think personal taste will decide which you enjoy more. The level design in 2 is somewhat of a step backwards but pretty much everything else is quite improved so it more than balances that out. Also be cautious as the A.I. placement can be fucking obnoxious at times and many enemies just kind of end up seeing you because reasons. Finally I’d like to add that the game did freeze on me once (if my memory is correct anyway) which could just be a problem with this port but it’s worth mentioning.
Akame ga kill (Anime):
This anime is rather disappointing and is a great example of how being dark and edgy can only get you so far unless you back it up with substance. Visually it’s decent and this shows in some of the action scenes. However the visual style feels inconsistent in terms of costumes and weapons, and the visuals do not help the tone of the show at all. Something about the colours for example just didn’t help with giving the story impact (not to say it’s all bad though). In terms of soundtrack it’s one I’ve already forgotten and while there may be one or two good tracks nothing stood out to me enough to be remembered.
The shows greatest strength is it’s characters or at least IT WOULD BE if they didn’t decide to keep killing them off because reasons. In fact most of the time I felt saddened by the loss of a potential for the character instead of actually feeling sad about the character themselves. While I do enjoy despair in my series I think overdoing it is just as much of problem as not doing it at all. For the audience to feel about the characters they need to be developed and while the ending does offer some of that, it overall ends up as an unsatisfying experience. For example the titular character Akame is one of the most boring and underdeveloped in the show. She’s sidelined throughout and this lack of screentime is not smart for someone you’re trying to establish as a main character. This series also rushes to its conclusion which is crazy since it already rushes itself to begin with. In fact this feels like a 50 episode story being condensed into 24 episodes and that is not a good thing. The pacing just outright sucks and adding in new characters when I don’t even properly know the old ones is fucking stupid. There’s almost no build-up as things just suddenly switch from light heartedness to violent gore in a matter of seconds and then switch back again. These two elements feel detached from each other as well, the humour isn’t the “laughing in the face of adversity kind” and the violence isn’t in anyway comedic, unless that stuff tickles your funny bone. It’s like if they spliced Kill Bill with Everybody Loves Raymond… okay not quite that horrendous but hopefully that gives you an idea of what this tonal difference is like.
Okay I am being rather harsh on the show, it certainly has some moving moments, awesome action scenes and a couple of really interesting characters and dynamics. For example the series antagonist is complex enough for me to both like and dislike her simultaneously. I think the reason I’m so harsh is just the potential this series had to be good and just how it never fully lives up to this potential. With that said you can still do worse than this and I do think it has an audience that will get a kick out of it.
Luigi’s Mansion 2 (3DS):
I freaking love this game, and while at first I wasn’t keen on the controls and the gameplay changes I warmed up to them fairly quickly. The original Luigi’s Mansion was a very atmospheric puzzle/adventure game that had a lot of focus on individual ghosts that made each encounter somewhat different. While Luigi’s Mansion 2 has decided to focus less on pure atmosphere and instead chooses a more arcade feel with an emphasis on re-playability. The game is now split up into missions across multiple mansions and since you can keep replaying missions the secrets in each one feel less obnoxious (I mean I missed so much shit in the first game on my first run that subsequent playthroughs led to many facepalms). The variety in gameplay and locations is increased significantly as each mission will often change up the location, for example in one mission everything gets overrun with plants making certain locations more difficult to traverse through. While the elemental medallions are gone Luigi’s vacuum and flashlight are far more versatile here and the added mechanics help in providing more secrets and puzzles.
However this game does lose a sense of freedom in this process especially when you realise that your time effects your score and that some of the collectible gems aren’t obtainable on certain missions. That being said this game does fill my need to explore and collect very nicely and in that regard it may have out-done the original game. Also the new control method is somewhat lacking but that is the result of the original 3DS having no second analogue. In future a game in this series could perhaps fix this and give us the mechanics of this game with the controls of the original (perhaps bring back the medallions and make both an adventure and a mission mode like in Pikmin 3?). Overall this game has plenty of great puzzle ideas and the ghost battling is thoroughly improved.
Visually Luigi’s Mansion 2 takes on a more light-hearted visual style and it’s one that works well with a portable system. It’s not close to being as powerful as the originals visual style but it stands well on it’s own and brings this game more in line with the rest of the mario brand. The game is a beauty in 3D and only in really hectic moments did I personally notice it under-perform and/or glitch. I’d also like to mention that Next Level Games excels with this type of franchise as they clearly have the ability to make bring out the most of cartoony characters like those in Punch-Out! and the Mario Universe. Luigi is brilliantly acted and animated, and so are the Toads like wholly hell they have so much personality this time in their movements. E.Gadd has the best writing though and he gets to shine a lot more this time with plenty of dialogue. This game has so much charm and even if I’m not big on the new ‘by the numbers’ ghosts I still enjoy them for their animations.
This game has a multiplayer mode but I honestly haven’t given it a fair shot yet. Probably because I ain’t got no one to play with, but also partially due to it being a more randomly generated dungeon experience and that can get dull pretty damn quick. I may try to convince some friends into playing it though. Before I end my gushing let me mention the music which for the most part is just one theme repeated in different instruments but these variations just sound so damn good. Do yourself a favour and listen to this stuff, or if you have a 3DS consider getting this game if you don’t have it already. I can highly recommend this one.
Super Mario Maker (Wii U):
I have a love hate thing going on with this game. For starters it’s a lot of fun creating levels, and you end up seeing some cool stuff that’s satisfying to beat from other players. I’m still finding out new things about the game and I’ve ended up creating many levels. There’s also some cool Easter eggs and throwbacks to Mario Paint which include the nightmarish fly swatting game from my childhood. And the new content created for this game is pretty sweet, including a pretty amazing soundtrack.
However Mario Maker has problems. For starters there’s the 10 stage cap put on new players which I guess was meant to stop garbage piling up but instead has encouraged people to capitalise on trends such as “Don’t Move” and music stages that appeal to those players who like wasting time and money. Why yes I bought this expensive game just have it play itself. FUCK THAT SHIT! Secondly there are no checkpoints, which is a huge oversight and makes otherwise good levels frustrating. I know personally since a lot of my levels are long and I would like to give the player the option not to be replaying the same sections over and over. Both of these things can be fixed with a content update though and I hope nintendo are smart enough to do this while also adding additional content over time. Other than that the faults of this game come more from the community itself. Pathetically easy levels and stupidly hard levels make up the bulk of content, alongside the overused gimmicks and a tone of trash. I’ve ended up at the point where I will star any level that is somewhat competent and enjoyable just in hopes that decent creators can keep making better stuff.
Finally we have the problem of Internet celebrities who pretty much soak up most of the attention due to their semi-celebrity status and honestly they wouldn’t be an annoyance at all if the level cap wasn’t determined by stars and was therefore a popularity contest (even if unintended to be so). Anyway this ended up being a rant but yeah Mario Maker is still a lot of fun at its core but it also shows that Nintendo hasn’t quite figured out this online community stuff. There’s hope for improvement though and it’s in your best interest to wait for that improvement… I think. Of course I do somewhat want to recommend this so that people can check out my stages and I can therefore upload more stages but I don’t think that’s a good reason to recommend the title.
Aaaaaaand there we are folks. Happy Halloween! I hope you all have a great week and please leave your feedback in the comments. Perhaps give some level codes or just ask me questions and share opinions it’s all good. I’ll be leaving you with a treat so I hope you enjoy it.