Review of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

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I don’t usually double dip on video games, but for Link’s Awakening I decided to make an exception. It’s my favourite GameBoy title of all time after all. Come to think of it, it’s probably my fave Zelda game too; narrowly beating out the likes of Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker to the number one spot. In this remake of the 1993 classic, players have to help a marooned Link in escaping from Koholint Island. To leave the isle Link needs to awaken the mysterious Wind Fish, who slumbers within a giant egg situated atop Koholint’s tallest peak. Unfortunately for him the only alarm clock that can wake said fishy are eight mystical instruments, which are each stored in monster infested dungeons.

OVERVIEW

Zelda: Link’s Awakening is exactly what a remake should be. The game is virtually identical to the original, but has been beefed up with modern day visuals and several quality of life improvements. My favourite enhancement comes courtesy of the Switch hardware. Thanks to the system’s extra buttons, players no longer need to pause every few seconds to rearrange their inventory. I also appreciated the addition of extra warp points, which makes travelling across Koholint Island much quicker. Content wise this edition contains all the levels from the original GameBoy release, plus a bonus dungeon that was added to the GameBoy Colour re-release a few years later.

Difficulty wise I don’t think Zelda: Link’s Awakening is too tough. The puzzles will stump you for a bit, but are solvable with some thought. Should you get stuck inside a dungeon seek out the owl statutes, as they offer tips on how to overcome certain obstacles. On some occasions, when traipsing through the overworld, it isn’t always clear where Link should go to advance the story. Fear not though, as there are phone booths scattered across the island. You can visit these to ring up an old geezer who will point you in the right direction. Helpful, if perhaps a tad redundant in this modern age where we have been spoiled by free online guides that tell you how to complete any game.

One thing that disappointed me about Link’s Awakening was the Dungeon Creator, which Nintendo promoted in their trailer. When I first saw footage of this feature I got excited about the prospect of constructing Zelda levels. Sadly what we get is no Super Mario Maker. It’s pretty much a glorified sidequest, were you earn rewards by clearing stages assembled from premade chambers. You can’t even share your creations online with other players, which would have given the game some replay value. Pity, as Link’s Awakening is short by Zelda standards. You can complete the whole adventure in under ten hours. Modern gamers may expect more content, but you need to understand that back in the day squeezing a game of this size into an 8-bit cartridge was impressive.

VERDICT

My rating for Zelda: Link’s Awakening is four stars. The game isn’t quite as epic as I recalled, but was a lot of fun to revisit nonetheless. I dug the cute graphics, the funny characters Link meets and the emotional ending. Should you be one of those players who found Breath of the Wild’s open world to be intimidating I recommend giving Link’s Awakening a try. It’s a more linear experience that focuses on puzzle solving rather than exploration. Like I said earlier, this is a great remake. Developer GREZZO has ported a great game and polished it even further. The only change that I disliked was adding physics to the previously easy crane mini-game. Now, just like a real arcade machine, the claw sometimes drops your prize. How I raged when the Yoshi doll, Link was trying to win, escaped from my grasp.

Untitled Goose Game Review

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Geese love to torment humans. If you don’t believe me just do a quick search on Youtube and you’ll find countless videos of park goers fleeing in terror, after crossing paths with an irritable goose. The star of Untitled Goose Game is no exception to that rule. Players guide said goose, as he waddles through a tranquil English village on a mission to commit “fowl” play. The village is broken up into five areas, but when the game begins you only have access to one zone. In order to unlock entry into other parts of the village players will need to commit various pranks, which are listed on a digital notepad.

OVERVIEW

Untitled Goose Game is unlike anything I have played before. If I had to pick a genre for this title my answer would be “puzzle game mixed with some stealth elements.” The above mentioned pranks require some thought, as they depend on working out where and how to use objects the goose finds in the environment. The puzzles aren’t too difficult, but may stump some “bird brained” individuals. What I like about the game’s design is that some of the brainteasers can be solved in multiple ways. For example, one early puzzle demands that you soak a pesky gardener. This can be achieved by turning on some nearby sprinklers or alternatively the goose can snatch a valuable item and force the greenskeeper to chase after him into a lake.

The stealth portion of the game involves sneaking past certain villagers, who have no patience for a trouble making goose. Don’t expect Metal Gear Solid depth from the stealth parts though, even if getting into the pub does require that the goose conceal himself inside a cardboard box! For the most part you can usually progress just by walking slowly at the right moment or distracting a foe with a well timed honk. As someone who dislikes stealth games I was okay with Untitled Goose Game’s more casual approach to sneaking. I don’t believe it is possible to suffer a game over at all. Should the goose get caught he’ll just be shooed away from the vicinity and have any item he is carrying confiscated.

VERDICT

My rating for Untitled Goose Game is a three out of five. It’s funny to see how this indie game, that was put together by just four people, is presently outselling the latest Zelda release. It would seem that gamers cannot resist the temptation to cause mischief. The game’s appeal may also come from the graphics. When I first laid eyes upon the trailer I couldn’t help but be charmed by the children’s book style visuals. On the sonic side of things, we get limited sound and music. The audio we are treated to however does its job well. Pressing the honk button never gets old and I dug the piano tune that plays whenever the goose is pursued by one of his honking mad victims.

I can’t give Untitled Goose Game a higher score, as it can be completed in one or two hours. Even if the game isn’t a full price release, I was expecting a bit more content for the money I paid. All that said, once the main campaign is finished some bonus objectives get unlocked, which extend the playtime somewhat. If value for money is a concern, my recommendation would be to wait for the game to go on sale. Alternatively fun can be had just by checking out an online Let’s Play of the game. If you want a giggle hop over to Youtube and give an Untitled Goose Game video playthrough a “gander.”

The Death of Superman Review

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In the past I have commented that Superman is a boring hero, as he is overpowered. Now that I think about it though, perhaps I should reconsider that opinion. For a supposedly invincible character, Superman sure does like to die a lot. In recent times I have witnessed the Man of Steel perish in Batman vs Superman and the animated movie Superman: Doomsday. Completing the hat trick of demises is the film I am reviewing today – The Death of Superman. Sorry about the spoiler, but hey come on it’s in the friggin title! This straight to DVD feature is based on a nineties graphic novel. Back then news stations reported on Superman’s death in the comics. How naive we were back then. These days when a hero dies no one bats an eyelid, as it’s well known that DC and Marvel love to resurrect those who pass away.

OVERVIEW

A good chunk of this movie’s eighty minute running time is pure action. The antagonist of the piece is a rampaging monster, who the media christen Doomsday. Said alien has emerged from a crashed asteroid and is on a mission to kill anything that gets in his way. The Justice League intercept Doomsday early on, but are powerless to stop him. With the likes of Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Batman out for the count, only Superman stands between the murderous extraterrestrial and the city of Metropolis. It’s disappointing to see that the foe who takes down Superman isn’t one of his more recognizable villains. Doomsday is just a generic brute with a temper and his origins are not explored at all in this flick. The only purpose of his existence is to serve as proof for geeks who like to debate that the Hulk could beat Superman in a fight.

Before the action kicks off the movie tries its best to illustrate what a swell guy Superman is, in order to give his murder some emotional impact. The early scenes show Superman battling crime and posing for selfies with citizens who cannot help but to gush about his heroic deeds. We also get some romance between Superman and reporter Lois Lane. She has been dating coworker Clark Kent, unaware that he is the last son of Krypton. Their relationship is on the rocks, due to Clark’s secretive nature. His feelings for Lois are so strong however that he decides to come clean and reveal his true identity to her. Tragically this confession comes moments before he flies off to tussle with Doomsday. When the dust settles Lois will have lost Superman, much like how Supes loses his red underwear when donning a New 52 costume.

VERDICT

My rating for The Death of Superman is a three out of five. Like many of the other recent DC Universe Animated Original Movies I would describe it as entertaining. Worth a rental, if you are a superhero fan, but it pales in comparison to the DC cartoons of yesteryear. The movie’s biggest problem is that the story is wafer thin. Doomsday crashes on Earth and Superman goes off to fight him is pretty much the entire plot. That sufficed for the comic, as back then news that DC would kill off their most famous character was a major event. Decades later however anyone who is interested in watching this adaptation knows that Superman’s death won’t be permanent. Knowing that outcome really hurts the script’s drama. Even those unfamiliar with the source material won’t be left in suspense, as the finale teases Superman’s return.

Judging the movie by itself is a little unfair though. The Death of Superman only chronicles part of the comics’ storyline. I suspect I would enjoy the film more if I watched it back to back with its direct sequel Reign of the Supermen. Although the movie lacks substance it does a decent job of laying down the foundations for a more interesting tale, which covers four imposters who attempt to fill the crime fighting void left after Superman’s funeral. One of the pretenders in question is an armoured hero called Steel, who was once played by Shaquille O’Neal. Shame that he wasn’t around to assist with the battle versus Doomsday. No matter how mighty the aforementioned Superman slayer is, he would be no match for a practionair of Shaq Fu.

Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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Two of my favourite cartoons, from the eighties and nineties, join forces in one of the most unlikely crossovers I have ever seen. Based off a six issue comic book, Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pits the titular heroes against Ra’s al Ghul and the Shredder. Early on in the film it is established that the League of Assassins and Foot Clan have formed an alliance. Ra’s al Ghul’s assassins wish to destroy crime infested Gotham City, in order to rebuild it anew. To execute this objective they plan to turn Gotham’s citizens into wild beasts, by using the mutagen Shredder’s Foot Clan possesses. In exchange Shredder will be compensated with an immortality granting Lazarus Pit.

OVERVIEW

As the movie’s title suggests, the Dark Knight and the pizza loving ninjitsu reptiles clash when they first meet. The turtles have travelled to Gotham, a city where blimps are all the rage, with the aim of foiling Shredder’s scheme. Unfortunately for them they get mistaken for the Foot Clan, who stole a generator from Wayne Enterprises in the film’s opening scene. Batman battles with the wrongly accused Turtles, although they do eventually form a truce, once the misunderstanding is cleared up. Batman, aided by Batgirl and his son Robin, agree to work with the Turtles to take down their mutual enemies. Saving the city of Gotham won’t be easy though. Apart from tracking down the aforementioned villains, they will also have to contend with various rogues who have escaped from Arkham Prison.

It was fun to see the Ninja Turtles in action, after all these years. The last time I saw a TMNT cartoon was the excellent Turtles Forever movie, which aired a decade ago. What I like about this rendition of the characters is that they each have a distinct look. Back in the day viewers could only tell them apart by their weapon of choice and mask colour. Out of the quartet I would have to say that Michelangelo steals the show, as the script blesses him with the funniest lines. Aside from delivering quips the Turtles know how to kick arse. The fights between them and the Foot Clan are excellent, as was the martial arts duel that Batman has with Shredder. There is a ton of action in this 84 minute flick, with the best fights happening early on. I thought the final showdown was an example of quantity over quality. Not bad, but a little too wacky for my taste and at times the fights get undercut by goofy comedy.

VERDICT

My rating for Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is four stars. I would class this as an animated feature that will appeal to audiences of all ages. Adult viewers, who grew up with the old shows, will dig the various references and Easter Eggs. On the flip side, the gags and cartoony visuals should go down well with the younger crowd. Some people may dislike the movie’s art style, but I personally thought it had more charm than the darker/more bland looking DC Universe movies that have come out lately. At the very least I would say that the cartoony character designs don’t mean that this movie is exclusively for kids. Heck, I would caution against showing the film to the very young, as it can get quite violent at times. Some moments that come to mind include a decapitation and a whack that leaves someone with a bloody face.

One final thing that is worth mentioning is the solid voice acting. Troy Baker in particular deserves praise as he plays both Batman and the Joker. I wonder if he gets two pay cheques for that? Baker “kneads” the money, as he is the “breadwinner” in his family.

Review of Batman: Hush

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Batman: Hush is another straight to DVD animated film based off a popular DC Comics graphic novel. On this occasion a 2002/03 story, created by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee, was selected to make the jump from comic book page to the small screen. In this eighty-minute feature Batman is hounded by a trenchcoat wearing bloke, who conceals his face with bandages. Darkman? A mummy who likes to cosplay as a private eye? Nah, the villain goes by the alias Hush and he is manipulating Batman’s rogues gallery, from the shadows, to do his dirty work for him. Even worse, the titular bad guy knows that the Caped Crusader is billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne.

OVERVIEW

I wasn’t too impressed with Batman: Hush’s first act. Thankfully it gets better after that. The early scenes are just a series of fights pitting Batman against various foes. First up is musclehead Bane, who is holding a wealthy kid hostage. After that Batman travels to Metropolis, where he faces a brainwashed Superman. Don’t get too excited about that duel though, as the showdown is settled just as quickly as their clash in Dawn of Justice. Once the dust settles Batman tracks down Poison Ivy, who is the person responsible for pulling Superman’s strings. She bewitched him with a kryptonite laced kiss. Looks like Clark will be sleeping on the sofa tonight. I can’t imagine Lois will approve of that smooch.

For me the movie improved once the story started to focus on the mystery of Hush’s identity. The case coincides with Batman and Catwoman becoming an item. I think they make a cute couple. Selina Kyle brightens up the life of the normally gloomy Bruce Wayne, and her fighting skills allow her to join her man on his nighttime vigilante excursions. The two are able to coexist as Catwoman has abandoned her burgarling ways. Kleptomania still her runs in veins though. At breakfast time the former crook cannot resist stealing Bruce’s coffee. One thing that amused me was how Selina was surprised that Batman had deduced she was Catwoman. Since when do goggles and a spandex bodysuit make for an adequate disguise? Then again this is the same universe where spectacles keep Clark Kent’s superhero persona a secret.

VERDICT

My rating for Batman: Hush is a three out of five. Not the best release from the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line, but entertaining nonetheless. Worth a rental if you are someone who enjoys superhero cartoons. Heck, fans of the genre may be tempted to buy it outright given how cheap it currently retails for. Right now Amazon is selling the DVD for just five quid. I downloaded the film for even less than that, during an iTunes sale. One doesn’t need the wealth of Bruce Wayne to afford this flick.

Although I liked the movie, it should be noted that I am not familiar with the source material. I cannot therefore judge how well the film compares to the book. Based off a synopsis I read, Batman: Hush is a mostly faithful adaptation. As expected, there are some tweaks to condense the story into eighty minutes. The finale does however play out differently. For what it’s worth, I think the movie’s ending is decent. Less predictable and works better for a standalone piece. Comic afficandoes may disagree though. Back when I praised The Killing Joke cartoon readers remarked that the graphic novel was superior. The same may hold true here. If you disagree with my assessment explain why in the comments section. Keep it civil though. Anyone who wants to flame, just because my opinion doesn’t match theirs, should learn to… hush.

Sunshine Blogger Award Challenge

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Thank you to Richard “The Deviot” Hossan for nominating me to answer some questions, as part of the Sunshine Blogger Award Challenge. Although I don’t normally respond to tags, The Deviot deserves the effort. He has supported my blog for the longest time and even spreads my posts on Twitter. If you are looking for a site that covers video games I highly recommend Comma Eight Comma One. It’s packed with detailed reviews written by a Splatoon fanatic, who is knowledgeable on the subject. He’s been a gamer since the Commodore 64 days.

1.) When you’ve had one hour of sleep and need to do a full-time shift do you reach for: Coffee, tea, soda, or something else to stay awake and why?

Lack of sleep is something I contend with on a regular basis. Although I am a good boy who goes to bed early, I have a bad habit of waking up a few hours later and not being able to get any shut eye after that. From the beverages listed coffee gets my vote. I drink a lot of the stuff these days, as I do intermittent fasting. Black coffee is something I can gulp down, during the sixteen hours that I don’t eat, and it doesn’t count as breaking the fast.

2.) What is a video game/series you really wish had more attention than it does and why?

Back in 2015 I named Eiyuu Senki: The World Conquest my game of the year. Sadly no one played it, as the game came out for PS3 at a time when everyone had already migrated over to the PS4. I think it’s a strategy game that many Fire Emblem fans would enjoy, as it features combat that revolves around weapon weaknesses and the generals you recruit are all cute waifus. 

3.) Pair your favorite game with a proper wine or beer.

I am so not qualified to answer this. My knowledge of alcohol doesn’t extend beyond ordering whatever cider the pub I am visiting sells, on the rare occasions that my pals drag me out of the house. I guess I will pick playing Shephy (a ewe themed PC/Switch card game) with a bottle of Sheep Shagger Scotch Ale.

4.) Pick one game that came out “Before your time” that you think looks interesting and tell us why.

The selection of games that came out before my time isn’t that big. Despite what my immature ramblings may suggest, I am an old fart whose first experience with video games was the Atari 2600 console. From the list of notable releases that came out before I was born, I am going to pick Zork. The fantasy setting should appeal to my RPG tastes and I am curious to see what the progenitor of the text adventures I played on Amstrad was like.

5.) Pick one game that is outside of your comfort zone that you think you might be willing to check out.

I had to rack my brain to come up with an answer for this one. When it comes to games I have a clear idea of what I like/dislike. I seldom stray outside my comfort zone, because there isn’t any point trying a genre I usually loathe… especially when my backlog of unfinished games is so huge. For the sake of answering I will pick Euro Truck Simulator 2. Driving isn’t usually my thing, but I think Euro Truck Simulator could be relaxing. After a bad day at the office just chill, listen to a podcast in the background and enjoy the scenery as you cruise through the continent.

Okay, that’s all the questions done and dusted. Tradition demands that I ask some questions and make some nominations. Here are my plagiarised queries and victims

Questions

1. What is the worst film you’ve ever seen in theaters?
2. What is the best film you’ve ever seen in theaters?
3. What do you feel is the greatest compilation of collected works in your collection?
4. What is your favorite opening theme to a television show?
5. Have you ever been invested in a series only to be heartbroken when it was cancelled?

Nominations

AK
Dreager1
I Love Code
John Jr
Krystallina
Man in Black

If you don’t wish to take part, no worries. As someone who seldom accepts these challenges I understand. Okay, enough blogging. Back to playing my fourth run of Fire Emblem Three Houses!

Astra Lost in Space (Vol. 1) Review

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In the year 2063 interstellar travel is as common as driving a car. So much so that even students are permitted to go on unsupervised school trips to other worlds. Aries Spring has recently moved from the country to a new school in the city. One month after transfering she has been selected to join a group of fellow teens for a five day stay at Planet MCPA. The outing doesn’t start well for the pink haired ditz. First up, despite possessing a photographic memory, she forgets to pack her passport. Thankfully for her, mom reminds Aries about the travel document. Later, after reaching the spaceport, Aries has her luggage swiped by a thief. On this occasion Aries is helped by classmate Kanata Hoshijima, who uses his decathlete talents to catch the suitcase snatcher.

Those mishaps pale in comparison to what happens when the kids finally reach their destination. Shortly after landing, Aries and chums encounter a mysterious orb that teleports them into outer space! Had the group not been wearing spacesuits at the time they would have surely perished. Fortunately for them, they find themselves floating near an abandoned ship. Using their suits’ inbuilt thrusters they manage to reach the craft. Once inside they make a shocking discovery. The spaceship, whose designation is Astra, is situated 5012 light years from home! Although they have the means of flying back, the kids don’t have sufficient provisions to cover such a long journey. Their only hope of survival is to jump from planet to planet and scavenge for food, as they go along.

Volume one’s remaining chapters cover how the kids forage for subsistence at their first stop – Planet Vilavurs. Said world is rich in edible plants, but is also the home of flying alien maneaters. Aside from the aerial threat the Astra’s young crew also have to contend with poor teamwork. Kanata, who assumes the role of captain, is constantly butting heads with a tanned girl named Quitterie Raffaelli. She is the neglected daughter of a wealthy doctor and the manga’s resident tsundere. Quitterie isn’t a bad person but, as shown in flashbacks, she suffers from poor people skills. Her mood isn’t helped by the stress of being lost in space (danger Will Robinson) and the responsibility of protecting Funicia, the young sister her mother recently adopted.

Other folks who are not bonding well with the group include Ulgar Zweig and Yun-Hua Lu. The latter simply suffers from a combination of low esteem and shyness. Ulgar on the other hand is a lone wolf who will cooperate with others to survive, but otherwise has no interest in making friends. Not everyone onboard the Astra is an anti-social recluse though. Pretty boy Charce Lacroix is a charming lad who is knowledgeable in both flora and fauna. Those expertise come in handy later, when the group is searching for grub in Vilavurs’ forests. Another invaluable person is Quitterie’s childhood crush Zack Walker. He is the only one qualified to pilot the Astra and apart from that is a genius, as demonstrated when he whips up a gizmo that can scan food for toxins.

My rating for Astra Lost in Space (Volume One) is five stars. A very enjoyable sci-fi manga that is blessed with good artwork and a fun cast of characters. At first glance this may seem like a straightforward tale of kids trying to get back home. There is more to it than that though. At the end of this book it’s revealed that the Astra’s communication system has been sabotaged, which suggests there is a traitor in their midst. That is the first of many twists that occur, as the series progresses. I believe the manga is only five volumes long, so buyers need not worry about finding shelf space to store the entire collection. At the time of writing an anime adaptation is airing and is due to end soon. From the episodes I have seen it is faithful to the source material and only makes minor cuts to squeeze the entire story into one cour. The dub is handled by Funimation’s casting couch. I hope the recording is free of inappropriate DBZ dialogue!