Comics, Movies, Video Games, and More

"Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."

~Ephesians 5:16

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon Review

It's amazing to think that Luigi's Mansion came out over a decade ago. It was a rather interesting launch title when you think about it. It wasn't a Mario game and it actually had him kidnapped. There were no worlds or jumping, you were confined to a dark and gloomy mansion. It was a horror comedy that worked. Luigi was recognized as his own character, it's actually almost sad that in these ten years he hasn't gotten a game to himself. In the Mario platformers he had been reduced to almost not appearing. (Or worst, looking like a total fool in Galaxy.) A sequel has always been talked about, I'm almost shocked it didn't get a Wii re-release. I'm thankful it actually got a sequel as opposed to it getting remade for the 3DS like Ocarina of Time. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon isn't a cash-in by any means, it's a very solid sequel that is surprisingly long and challenging. It may trade horror for gameplay, but you'll be engaged the whole time.

The story is actually pretty good, not that the first one wasn't, but here the plot gets really grand as you play. King Boo shatters the 'Dark Moon,' which causes the friendly ghosts to go haywire. Professor E. Gadd calls in Luigi, since he's a professional. Despite not being the most brave person, the green-hatted hero embarks on a journey through five mansions to find the shattered pieces of the Dark Moon. In all adds up to one epic final showdown with the King of Boos himself. Obviously it's not heavy on the cutscenes, but I do appreciate how big it got later on. King Boo might be the most underrated Nintendo villain, which is sad since he's pure evil, funny, and has a great design. Easily superior to Bowser villain wise, it's a shame Nintendo won't use more of him in bigger things. But, let's talk about the core of the game.

There are quite a few references to the first game, but obviously you don't need to play it to understand the sequel. (It does however help you have a deeper appreciation for it.) Luigi gets equipped with the Poltergust 5000 early on, an upgrade to the 3000 from the first game. It works like a charm with the flashlight, nothing beats the satisfaction of sucking in a ghost. The game is very similar gameplay wise as the first one. The major difference is that there's more than one mansion to explore, five to be exact. All of them are unique, we have the standard one, a snowy one, a desert one, a greenhouse one, and the grand final one. It definitely adds more game time to the play-through. Speaking of that, Dark Moon is impressively long, it will take you over 10 hours to complete it the first time around. So the complaint saying the first was too short is fixed here. The boss fights are very challenging, the idea of Possessor Ghosts is very good. Dark Moon will challenge even the most veteran of Mario players.

The final battle was pretty awesome to say the least. The cutscene presiding it was even more epic however. King Boo is not only an evil villain, he's a twisted villain, he'll mock you and laugh in your face. One of his lines are "And now I'm going to paint the town red!" That's pretty dark for a Mario game. We also see he wants to become 'supreme ruler of the world.' You can see just how grand the story becomes. Besides the Boo leader, highlights include Professor E. Gadd and the title hero himself. E. Gadd is a blast to watch with his laugh and humor, it's a shame he hasn't appeared in a canon game since the first Luigi's Mansion. Luigi is his usual cowardly self, which is funny and annoying at the same time. The ending was very nice to see, we've almost never seen Mario and Luigi act so brotherly to each other. The soundtrack is solid. Admittedly it wasn't as great as I had expected, but it still fits the atmosphere of each mansion well enough.

Overall, Dark Moon is a high quality sequel to one of the premiere Gamecube games. It has a good length, the story is egaging, the characters are funny, and it has a fantastic antagonist. The dog missions might drive you a little insane, but you will in the end like that annoying ghost pup. This game also shows us Luigi's house for the first time. While it lacks the free roaming that made the first game unique, the mission based system does give the player more of a set purpose each time. Then again, that could take away the exploration people loved of the first one. Either way, it's a solid game to pick up and is definitely worth the $40.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ultraman Manga: Chapter Nine Review

The Ultraman Manga takes an interesting turn in this chapter. Previously we saw a guy named Moroboshi appear. What's so important about that you ask? Moroboshi refers to Dan Morosobi, the human disguise of Ultrman 7. His being here raises quite a few questions. Besides that the previous chapter was generally just taking it easy. This time the public sees Ultraman for the first time in years. While technically kind of a filler chapter, it was still a pretty good read with a very interesting ending.

Here we have the two officers from last time that were told off from Moroboshi. They run ino a very big car accident. This accident is so big that Shinjiro himself has to jump in. Meanwhile back at Science Patrol base Moroboshi reveals he's not too big of a fan of Shinjiro. This chapter can be summed up pretty fast. Shin saves someone from an about-to-explode-truck and we find out Moroboahi is an arrogant hotshot whom doesn't like Shin. The important thing is that the public sees Shin as Ultraman for the first time. It's easy to forget he isn't giant, hence the very humorous scene when Officer Kurata said "Cosplaying?" Shin still has yet to leave an impression on me. His reluctance earlier in the chapter didn't help matters. But, by the end he seems to actually like being Ultraman, so maybe from here I can start calling him a solid protagonist.

The artwork is very strong. There are some very memorable shots, such as when Shin faces the two officers, fantastic panel. The ending with Moroboshi was quite interesting. Alien Z-Ton is still the best character in the whole thing, loved his appearance here. Moroboahi on the other hand is being portrayed either as someone very cool or very unlikable, it's up to the reader to decide.

Overall, Chapter Nine of the Ultraman manga isn't the most exciting plot wise, but still has some interesting developments. No sign of any villains, but that's how mangas work, they're usually very heavy with character development. Either way, this series is still going strong.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Wreck-It Ralph Review

Wreck-It Ralph was the surprise hit of 2012. People were expecting good things from a Disney Animated film, but nothing of this caliber. Some have even called it the best film of 2012! I didn't catch it in the theater sadly, but now I've made it. It comes with no surprise that I'm a pretty big gamer, I've been one for years and years. I claim I'm a Mario and Nintendo fan, which is true, but my first console was actually the original Playstation. I soon got the Game Boy Color (remember when color was a big deal?) with Super Mario Bros. Deluxe. While I've never played the classics like Super Mario World or Sonic and Knuckles on their original consoles, I have played all of them through the many ports. And of course one can't watch this movie without having played Pac Man. I saw Brave recently, the movie which won the Golden Globe award for best animated picture. I'm tempted to say the Oscars were rigged in that department, Wreck-It Ralph is easily the superior movie. It's a really well done film with great characters, visuals, and twists.

The story is rather different, since it takes place inside the arcade games. Ralph is the bad guy of the game Fix-it Felix Jr. The problem? He's tired of the title character getting all the glory and living in the dump. So he sets out to find a medal, because when he gets it he will be treated with respect and given a place in the penthouse. However, his mission leads him to the game Heroes Duty, where he'll have to fight his way through killer bugs. The journey to achievement brings him to the game Sugar Rush, where he meets a girl named Vanellope, who happens to be a glitch...or is she? Twists and turns accumulate to one heck of a final battle.

The film early on establishes its unique atmosphere, having the classic animation of sailor Mickey in 8-bit form. Then we're treated to the Fix-it Felix arcade system. (Which is right next to Pac Man!) This story is so unique that it actually takes us within the arcade from the characters' point of view. They live solely in the game, it's interesting to see the system and how characters react. One of the best scenes is near the beginning, with Ralph at a support group for bad guys. I don't how Disney did it, but they managed to have a lot of familiar faces here. In the meeting we have Bower and Dr. Eggman in the same room! (Who didn't get a good laugh from Bowser's cup of coffee?) Not to mention Bison and Clyde. (Orange Ghost from Pac Man.) It is so clever how they used the center in the game where the Ghosts emerge as their meeting base. (Then you see the rest of them leaving it like they are actually part of the system.)

The movie soon introduces us to Game Central Station. It's basically a Grand Central Terminal for all the gaming characters. (Sonic gets a nice on-the-screen appearance reminding everyone to never die in other games.) It's a really cool place for longtime gamers to see. (Look out for Frogger!) There are plenty of cameos in the film only gamers will appreciate. When Ralph is looking in a treasure chest he pulls out a Super Mushroom and Metal Gear's !. (Complete with sound effect.) Let's talk characters. Ralph's story of not wanting to be the bad guy anymore was handled extremely well. We root for him as he enters the penthouse because they're having the 30th anniversary party without him. (The bartender in there looks strangely like Nintendo's mascot.) Along the way we run into Vanellope, a nine year old girl who happens to be a 'glitch.' When the first trailer came out, it gave the indication that she would be an annoying side character. It's actually quite the opposite. Her story of being a 'glitch' (which is smartly incorporated for gamers to get) is touching and in the end we root for her. (Who didn't get that warm feeling inside when she gave Ralph the 'you're my hero' cookie?) Then we have Fix-it Felix Jr. (Whom is basically Mario.) He's a pretty likable video game protagonist. However, a highlight was Sergeant Calhoun, the protagonist of Hero Duty, She's basically Lara Croft or Samus Aran, a tough as-nails-female fighter. It was pretty neat how she was 'programmed' with the saddest backstory. We also have King Candy, the ruler of Sugar Rush. The plot twist with him was really surprising. I will say that his dialogue with Ralph about Vanellope was very convincing, great stuff there.

All this an alien bugs! Hero's Duty is basically Starship Troopers confined into a single game. Aside from the main antagonist, these Cy-Bugs are the villains. (One of them even latches onto Ralph's face like a Facehugger.) It's pretty cool how their goal is to just consume and will keep on consuming unless a beacon calls them back. (Now it makes sense why computer-controlled creatures are so wild in those first person arcade shooters.) The visuals are really fun to look at. I must commend how 'video game like' it was, such as the way citizens in the Fix-it game move. Sugar Rush is such a 'treat' (pun intended) to view. Remember the board game Candy Land? Picture than in beautiful CGI. It's clever how the snack 'devil dogs' are used as actual guard dogs, and Oreos as royal subjects. Early on Bison mentions if Ralph is going 'Turbo.' (Which I thought was a reference to Street Fighter's many re-releases.) Nope, it turns out 'Turbo' was actually a a character within the video game TurboTime that got jealous of another game. The backstory is excellent. The soundtrack went well enough with the film, with the end title 'When Can I See You Again' by Owl City being a highlight. It didn't have as many catchy tunes as I would have liked, but it's solid enough.

Overall, Wreck-It Ralph is one of the greatest animated movies in recent times. The story is handled well with many likable characters. Ralph's story is understandable from the start, as is Vanellope's. The two of them form a bond that is fleshed out well and of course very heartwarming. Have I mentioned that Sonic, Bowser, Bison, Dr. Eggman, and even Pac Man appear? The concept was amazing from the beginning and was fantastic to see, which is sure to get a few laughs from the viewers. Mario is mentioned in a pretty awesome way, but doesn't get to appear. (Which was quite sad, but at least we'll see him in the sequel.) Brave got the award for best animated picture, but really this film deserved it. The story is handled better with no unnecessary silliness that plagued Brave. Everyone should give Wreck-It Ralph a go, especially gamers whom have played them all from Pac Man to Mass Effect.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Monsuno Review

Monsuno is an anime that aired back in February of 2012 on Nicktoons. Much like Pokemon or Digimon, it deals with humans whom use monstrous creatures for battling, saving the world, and all that stuff. I was looking forward to it after seeing some previews. I love monsters, and I use to enjoy Pokemon back in the day when it was actually good. So I went ahead and gave Monsuno a try. I know it's been over a year, but I finally got around to finishing it. It's a fun show with some of the most unique creature designs I've ever seen. Some of the things it fails in though is story telling and villains. Indeed, Monsuno has a great concept, but some of it is wasted on some pretty questionable things. But first, let's talk about the story.

The story follows five characters. Chase Suno is the main guy, then we have Bren, Jinja, Beyal, and Dax. So what's the driving source behind the story? Chase is after his father, whom has seemingly gone missing. So they spend over 15 episodes looking for him. The actual story of them attempting to find the dad is pretty average. It's not thoroughly engaging, but it would do. Of course, Jeredy, (the dad) is pretty annoying when we're first introduced to him. We learn that he's been in contact with Dax the whole time, but didn't want his son to know. Why? It was never fully explained. Now regarding the main characters. Chase is pretty much your average main character. There's not much wrong with him, he's basically like Ash Ketchum. Sadly the series is pretty much devoid of character development, all of them are pretty much the same by the time Episode 26 airs. I will admit that I wasn't too fond of them when they were first introduced 26 episodes ago, mainly due to the extremely sub-par voice acting. But they do grow on you. Beyal is by far the most interesting one. He was a much needed addition to the team, with his smart monk way of doing things. Dax is another interesting one. He's the hotshot of the group. However, he does have some of the more interesting scenes. One of my favorite quotes from him is "We all have a past to deal with." Him telling Jinja that she doesn't want to about his past makes for an interesting plot point for the viewer.

While the heroes grow on you, the villains are quite the opposite. Early on the evil organization known as S.T.O.R.M. is established. They're pretty much the usual type of sinister organization. I do like however they went with a woman as the leader, Charlemagne. Sadly the writing doesn't do wonders for her. She's given no development throughout the entire 26 episodes. With better writing she could have gone places, but in the end she's just a generic leader of an evil organization. The other main villain Dr. Klipse. This guy is just awful, he makes Charlemagne seem compelling. He is one of the cheesiest villains I've ever seen in an anime. Every time he laughs the viewers laugh because it's just so ridiculous. Are we supposed to to take him seriously? An antagonist that pops up later is One-Eyed Jack. This guy is by far the most interesting and best villain. For once we had a guy with interesting backstory and is kind of a maniac. Also his voice actor did a really good job. Sadly he was absent during the final battle. What I find ironic is that his plan is to 'liberate' all Monsuno, yet he and his comrades carry their own. Besides that hypocrisy, One-Eyed Jack was a highlight. Another villain pops up in the form of Digby Droog. When he first appears he fools the viewer into thinking he's a cool good guy. Soon we learn otherwise. He's an interesting character, but was heavily under-utilized. If he comes back in Combat Chaos, then I can forgive it. We also have a double agent called Medea. She was pretty cheesy in the beginning. However, while I'm not sure if it was her exotic look or interesting voice, she grows on the viewer. Sadly she was strangely missing from the final battle.

Now, if it's one thing this show does succeed in, it's the monsters, or rather Monsuno. The designs are so incredibly unique, props to the designer. They even match how unique some Ultraman monsters look. The main one owned by Chase is Lock, whom is basically a polar bear with blue spikes. He's the Gomora or Pikachu of the show, extremely loyal and gives 110% in every battle. There's also a very interesting subplot of him going against Chase because their bond wasn't that strong. Some actual character development between the two happens. But yes, Lock is a great monsuno. I wish however more of them got some backstory. The only ones that really had were Lock and Quickforce. The rest just appear as tools or 'pets' as Medea calls them. Still, Quickforce had probably the most interesting. It was a crazy and unstable Monsuno that Bren got under control. Sadly the roars are all kinda generic monster sounds. I think the only one that has a unique roar is Airswitch. Probably the best thing about Monsuno are the fights. Unlike in Pokemon where the fights...weren't fights, here they're pretty intense. Tackling, punching, slashing, the battles really shine. And every episode has at least one. I do have to question the use of Babbeon however. Jeredy said "Use it when you need it most" like he's a legendary and powerful monster. He never looks that impressive in his few appearances.

There are some other characters that pop up later on. We have the crazy Carnage-like Dom Pyro. Somehow the show successfully captures this guy's insane personality. In his second appearance he is presumably crushed by debris. But at the end, he's shown to be alive and grabs a rat. (What happens is off screen, but still pretty hardcore ) But he doesn't appear after that, not even in the final episode. Again, if Combat Chaos brings back all these loose ends, it can be forgiven. We also have Dawnmaster, one of the more interesting characters. His emergence in the second-to-final-episode was plain awesome. I hope the show uses him more in Season 2. Then there's Jon Ace. He leaves S.T.O.R.M. and joins up with Chase and friends later. It makes his 'sacrifice' in Episode 13 very good. Of course, nothing can stay dead in a Nicktoons show, so he was brought back. But in a very cool way. He was transformed into a Monsuno/human hybrid by an explosion. A pretty interesting plot point that is used effectively. The final episode is very climatic, with Charlemagne, Dr. Klipse, and Chase having a three way battle. It's the perfect kind of final showdown. Strangely however, we don't know what happens to the two villains afterward. Did they escape? Were they thrown in jail? The theme song is great, very catchy. As for the show's soundtrack, it's pretty standard. There are however occasional 'epic' tunes with some great choir. If Combat Chaos can use these more with a better soundtrack, we'll have a real winner.

I may have sounded a little harsh, but really Monsuno is a fun monster anime. The main characters grow on you as it progresses. The creatures and fights are FANTASTIC. The villains aside from One-Eyed Jack and Medea are pretty sub par. Well, Charlemagne is OKAY, but Dr. Klipse...I really hope someone offs him in Combat Chaos. The story could be a bit tedious. Not that it's slow, but searching for Jeredy becomes quickly annoying. At least with him found, Season 2 can concentrate on a more engaging story. Monsuno is an anime with great concept. The main characters are there, the monsters are there, and the fights are most certainly there, it's the villains and story that need to arrive. Hopefully Combat will improve upon all of the first season's faults.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ultraman Manga: Chapter Eight Review

The Ultraman Manga continues with its solid story development. The previous chapter was light on the action, but that was fine since Chapter Six was heavy on it. In Seven Alien Z-Ton explained the situation of Earth being inhabited by numerous aliens. On the final page he revealed that he wants Shinjiro to be the new Ultraman. This chapter doesn't establish anything truly new, aside from a murder mystery. It's a pretty strong chapter, but lacks the punch the previous few had.

Shinjiro appears to be reluctant on becoming the new Ultraman. Z-Ton explains to him that the world needs to know there is a hero protecting them. Meanwhile there's a mysterious and gruesome murder mystery brewing.  How is all this connected? We'll find out soon I'm sure. This chapter could be said to be a breather from all the major developments. Here we see Shin back in school, which we haven't seen since Chapter Two. Sadly ever since beating up a bully, he's being treated as an outcast. This doesn't help his already depressed-for-no-reason personality. Still, this chapter does bring in some solid character development. He isn't quite a solid protagonist yet, but he's getting there. What's interesting is that in the beginning a kind of murder mystery is established. Who is killing people? It's an interesting thing keeping the chapter from being filler. It should also be noted that a guy calling himself Moroboshi appears. I'm not sure how he relates to Ultra7, (Dan Moroboshi is Seven's human name.) now we have another interesting plot point. The art is pretty good throughout. A highlight is the page showcasing a grisly murder. The blood with the face in it was a very nice touch.

Overall, not a bad chapter of Ultraman. Slightly disappointing since technically not too much happened. Shin is at least growing on me as a character. With him donning the armor on the final page, I look forward to seeing what happens in Chapter Nine.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ultraman Manga: Chapter Seven Review

Volume Two of the Ultraman Manga starts here. The previous chapter was by far the best and most important. We learned that the Alien menace was actually a resurrected Bemular. That was probably one of the most shocking twists I've ever read. This manga literally grabbed this weak kaiju from the very first episode and placed him here with dialogue and a new look. The other interesting thing? The final few pages introduced another familiar character...Alien Z-Ton. Now the manga was really going with its plot. This chapter serves as a much needed explanation of a few things. It's severely short, (17 pages) but has probably the best dialogue yet.

Shinjiro goes to see his father, whom is still unconscious. Soon Ito brings him to the Alien Z-Ton that goes by the name of AI-DE. Ever wonder why aliens haven't attacked for 40 years? We learn that here. Now Shin is called to be the next Ultraman. First off, I love the call-backs to that final episode of the Original Series. The references really help deepen the story. In just a few pages, this Alien Z-Ton has already become of the best characters of the series yet. Sadly Shin doesn't really deepen as a character here, this is just him being shocked and asking questions. He hasn't left average territory yet. This chapter is also the shortest, being just 17 pages. Thankfully there's enough satisfying content, which is really thanks to Z-Ton's dialogue and imposing stature. The art really does this guy justice. Now the manga is asking the reader a question. Is this alien really good? Or fooling everyone? Ito seems to trust him. It's stuff like that which adds to the mystery element of the story. The main thing established here is that there are aliens living among the humans, and that Bemular has somehow resurrected himself into a new form. Good stuff, though hopefully we'll see some monsters in their more kaiju-like designs soon. (Not that I don't like the aliens of course.)

Overall, despite being really short, Chapter 7 of the Ultraman Manga gives the reader some very interesting info. We get a few answers, which leads to more questions. Alien Z-Ton was definitely the highlight, I hope he becomes a regular in the story. If the ending is any indication, we're still in the prologue stage, for it looks like Shinjiro is about to finally become Ultraman. I'll be looking forward to seeing how things play out in Chapter 8.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

S.H. Monsterarts Destoroyah Review

The S.H. Monsterarts Destoroyah is finally upon us. People whom had paid using EMS as their shipping should have received it earlier, and if not, tomorrow afternoon. Talking personally for a second, this was my most anticipated figure ever. Why? Destoroyah is my favorite Godzilla antagonist, I grew up with the 1995 movie. Now, let's talk about the character in question. Destoroyah, (kown in the dub as 'Destroyer') was the final monster Godzilla fought in the Heisei series. Godzilla vs. Destoroyah was a grand movie, having a very climatic fight and...G died. Destoroyah is famous first of all for his amazing design. He looks like a demon straight out of Hell. Combine that with his rather sadistic way of doing things, he became a fan favorite instantly. It has been argued countless times, but this demonic monster may just be the most powerful of Godzilla's adversaries. G never truly even defeated him! So here we have the Monsterart, completing the Vs. Destoroah set. We had the critically acclaimed Burning Godzilla, then came little Junior, and finally this guy. While Ghidorah will go down as the most anticipated figure of this line yet, at least there has been no disappointment with Destoroyah. It's pretty much everything you want with less risk of things breaking.

Firstly, it's important to mention that thing is massive. The Heisei monsters were complete opposites from the Show era's. In this era they were rather bulky and immobile, Destoroyah is an example. He's extremely slow, but insanely strong. The figure captures that wonderfully. If you pair him up with Ghidorah, it's quite the difference. (Of course Ghidorah is still the tallest because of the articulated heads.) Because Destoroyah obviously wouldn't be able to walk around much in his film, he was naturally given wings. They look really nice on the figure. Ghidorah still wins with having the most magnificent looking wings. (However, if we're talking which are more prone to break, that's a different story.) The face is done well, the horn on top looks fantastic. Minor complaint is the eyes, they look way too dark. The Bandai Vinyls has the eyes colored yellow, which I think is better since the dark red contrasts with the burgundy on the face. Everything else is superb.

WATCH OUT! When you open the box, (very nice box by the way) you'll have to manually insert the tail yourself, like with the Ultra Act Gomora. Only thing is that you have to be really careful when holding the figure and inserting. I made the mistsake of inserting and without a proper grasp. What followed was pretty much the entitre figure coming apart. (It was put back together after the great annoyance had subsided.) But yeah, be extra careful when inserting that tail, which is also beautifully sculpted. With such a massive figure, articulation wouldn't be as plentiful as some of the past figures. You can pose Destoroyah in a few different ways, some unique if you want to be adventurous. While there isn't too much articulation, I do like how the little claws can be moved, a very nice touch. Now for the accessories...wait a second, there aren't any. A problem with Burning Godzilla was the sad lack of accessories. Two little maser tanks doesn't quite cut it. Destoroyah has none! Where's his oxygen ray? It's pretty much a crime that it wasn't included.

Despite a lack of accessories, the S.H. Monsterarts Destoroyah is a fine figure, and easily the best Destoroyah out there. He scales perfectly with Burning Godzilla. Although if you were to pair him with SpaceGodzilla, the size difference is so severe it's sad. But in the end, the bigger they are the more bang you get for your buck. This Monsterart doesn't have any big flaws, it's a great figure to have. $130 may seem a bit much, but again, despite a lack of accessories, (where is that beam) I'd say it's worth it, especially for fans of the character.