Gotham Season Two Episode Two: Knock, Knock Review

The first episode of this season of Gotham was good, but not great. It was a passable introduction to the new season but it could have been handled a lot better, both in the writing and production departments. Fortunately, I’m happy to report that Knock, Knock is a lot better in terms of overall quality. If Damned If You Do was a simple warm up, this episode was an intense workout, challenging the viewer with both amazing writing and production values that launch this episode into the stratosphere. While it’s not the best episode of a show I’ve ever seen, it’s easily one of the best of the series. Let me go into just what made this episode so great, as well as showing you the little bad there is.

***SPOILERS START***

Galavan and the Maniax prove to be the most formidable foes Gordon has faced yet. Jim has lost a fight before, either being outsmarted or overpowered by a villain, it’s nothing new. But this time, the consequences are much more dire than they’ve ever been. You’d think he’d be much more used to tricks and traps but his enemies know exactly which buttons to press. At first, Gordon is victorious, preventing the Maniax from burning bus full of cheerleaders but it’s a small victory compared to the massive loss he suffers in this episode. He’s lured away from the police station by Barbara and beaten up badly. While this is happening, the Maniax massacre almost the entire police station including Commissioner Essen. It’s such a shocking moment, I was honestly left speechless during the entire the scene. Never has there been such a monumental change in the series. What’s even worse is when you realise that if Gordon hadn’t caused Loeb to step down, he would of been the Commissioner and he would have been killed by the Maniax. Essen could have survived. Gordon’s choices have never had such a profound impact.

***SPOILERS END***

Unfortunately, there’s a lack of personality change in Gordon after the previous episode. He’s the same as he’s ever been, it’s like he never killed a (sorta) innocent guy to get his job back at all. I found this particularly noticeable and it reduced how much I enjoyed the episode personally. At this rate, Gordon’s going to be the same character he was at the start of the series by the end of it. Nevertheless, the main arc of this episode was thrilling and overall, it was very well-written. Galavan and his collection of criminal prodigy’s have quickly established themselves as a huge threat to Gordon, everyone he knows and Gotham as a whole. Galavan’s master plan has yet to be unveiled and I’m really hoping it doesn’t turn out to be a disappointment.  The episode ends on an extremely high note with Harvey making a glorious return. It’s only been two episodes and I was already severely missing him.

Apart from Gordon and the Maniax however, the episode doesn’t really focus on anyone else except Bruce. Fortunately, his part in this episode is just as good as Gordon’s. Alfred destroys one of Thomas Wayne’s old computers after Bruce tries to unearth its secrets, greatly angering him. In a fit of rage, he fires Alfred in a heartbreaking scene. Of course, Bruce eventually hires him again. Alfred isn’t just his butler, he’s his closest friend and one of the few people he can trust in the forsaken fortress of villainy that is Gotham. They eventually come to an agreement, a pact. Alfred will train Bruce and make sure he’s ready for the dark secrets that reside on the destroyed computer, and meanwhile Alfred, or rather, Lucius will fix it. That’s right, after a brief appearance in a single season one episode, Lucius is now an integral part of Bruce’s story. The talk Alfred has with him is tense and interesting to watch and I was elated when he agreed to help. We’ll just have to wait and see to find out whether the writers treat him and his comic counterpart with respect in the coming episodes.

Finally, Nygma had a small, but important part in the episode. After the end of season one, Ed has developed a dual personality that could be considered his ‘bad side’. He asks Kristin Kringle out on a date and when he fails, his ‘bad side’ jumps on the opportunity, saying she’d like him if he was ‘more confident’. I’m glad they’re handling Nygma’s transformation into the Riddler more as a descent into madness than a plummet. He’s even pretty heroic at the end, saving Kringle during the police station massacre and getting injured in the process. Ed is one of my favourite characters on the show and I’m happy they haven’t just forgot about him and are handling his arc well.

Overall, Knock, Knock is several steps above the season’s opening episode. Not a single scene feels unnecessary. The villains are established as a major threat, Bruce and Alfred have an argument that leads to the introduction of Lucius to Bruce’s arc and Gordon is forced to face the effects of his decision. Granted, this episode isn’t perfect. Gordon’s decision in the previous episode seems to be all but forgotten and there was no Penguin at all which seems strange considering he now basically runs Gotham. Nevertheless, this episode feels like the grand return of the real Gotham, the Gotham that got me interested in the series so long ago. Let’s just hope it doesn’t go on a hiatus once again, and remains for a long time.

Verdict: A-

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Flash Friday: SuperHOTline Miami

Ever look at a scene in an action movie, say, Die Hard, where the main character is pulling off incredible, yet impossible stunts, somehow weaving in between each individual bullet being fired at them and think, “wouldn’t that make a great game?”. Well, there are already two games that manage to do that in their own unique ways: SuperHOT, and Hotline Miami. But what if you’re broke, penniless and you’re not able to afford these games? As shown through games like Portal: Flash Edition, it’s still possible for the concept to be executed in a minimalist style, and there’s a game that mashes together two of those aforementioned action-hero games. This game is: SuperHOTline Miami.

SuperHOTline Miami combines two well-known shooter games, SuperHOT and Hotline Miami, into a smooth blend of somehow fast-slow-paced action. It weaves together the top-down, extreme violence of Hotline Miami with the surreal time-warping of SuperHOT. Time only moves when you do(well, really slowly) meaning you have as much time as you need to strategize and figure out the best way to take down the enemies while making sure not to get hit. Although having access to permanent bullet-time sounds like a concept that would make the game too easy, that’s far from the truth. One hit is all it takes to end your life and send you back to the beginning of the level and attacking speeds time up greatly. This makes for an intense, fast-paced experience despite the sluggish look of the game.

Apart from using the arrow keys for movement, the game only has two other controls. Left click to attack, and right click to pick up/throw a weapon. On most of the levels, you’ll start unarmed. You can punch enemies to death and then pick up the weapons they drop. There are various weapons you can use to fulfil your kill quota. You have your simple simple pistol, a wide-range shotgun and a multiple-shot assault rifle. Enemies can also use these weapons, hence why they drop them upon death. Shotguns are dangerous at close-range, though it’s epic when you manage to dodge between the pellets fired from the weapon. Assault rifles can keep the pressure on you from afar and are dangerous at both long and close range.

Pressing right click while holding a weapon will have you discard it through throwing it in the direction your facing. If the thrown weapon hits an enemy, it will stun them, giving you a chance to get in close and dispatch them. However, I never really found much use for this feature. Enemies are often so closely grouped together that stunning an enemy will only stop a tiny amount of the firepower being sent your way. Just using the weapons is also a heck of a lot more reliable and it’s not like there’s a shortage of them. Weapons only disappear when they run out of ammo and every single enemy drops a weapon meaning there’s often more than you even need. One of the game’s Kongregate badges actually tasks you with beating the first level only using punches and weapon throwing. When it’s a challenge to use one of the game’s features to attain victory, it’s simply not that well-designed.

The game’s seven levels are fun to play through, but the game doesn’t have much in the way of replayability. It took me around half an hour to beat the game and after that, there’s not much else to do. An extra hard mode gives a bit of incentive to replay the game but the levels are the same so I didn’t really find myself wanting to replay it all that much. There are no achievements to speak of, but there are three Kongregate badges. Two of them can be unlocked just by beating the game but I don’t recommend going for the last one. It’s the aforementioned badge that asks you to beat the first level without firing a single bullet and it is so hard, that it took me another half an hour to earn.

In conclusion, SuperHOTline Miami is a decently-crafted combination of SuperHOT and Hotline Miami. The idea is executed well enough and the game is certainly fun to play through, though the game as a whole is overly short. Level design and the addition of several different weapons keeps the gameplay interesting but I wish you could watch a replay of you completing a level at normal speed like in SuperHOT. While SuperHOTline Miami is a great game, it feels like an idea that could be expanded upon a lot more. Nevertheless, it’s sure to satiate your thirst for action if you loved the two games it was based off and want a bit more of it.

Pros:

  • Free
  • Simple, easy to understand and satisfying gameplay
  • Skill-based
  • Multiple weapons
  • Unique mish-mash of game concepts
  • Extra, hard mode

Cons: 

  • Short
  • Throwing guns seems near pointless
  • Not much replayability
  • No gameplay replay

Masterpiece   Amazing   Worth your time   Average   Meh   Waste of time   Kill it with fire

 

 

Gotham Season Two Episode One: Damned If You Do Review

I know, I know. You thought I’d all but abandoned reviewing this series didn’t you? Well, although I took quite the break from this series, I’ve far from abandoned it. Personally, I felt it was taking a bit too much of a focus over my other, gaming content, the content I made this blog for. Nevertheless, I feel it’s time for this reviewing series to finally make a return. With Penguin now the King of Gotham, it seems like the criminal activity in Gotham is only going to increase, but now, it’ll hopefully be a lot more interesting. Whether Fish, Falcone and Maroni succeeded at being competent villains is a debate best saved for another day. The point is, it feels like Season Two of Gotham is going to be very different. The only question is whether it’s going to be different in a good or a bad way. In which direction does this episode point? Let’s find out!

In the first episode of this season, Gordon gets a lot of attention… well, he always gets a lot of attention but even more than usual. Right at the start, he gets fired(again) for simply pushing a fellow police officer. Don’t worry, it doesn’t last(of course). Gordon makes a smart decision to go to Penguin to ask for his fiftieth favour. Honestly, I’m surprised Penguin didn’t have Gordon shot dead once he became king of Gotham after what Jim did to him in the finale. Cobblepot, like the generous man he is, says that he’ll get Gordon his job back if he ‘persuades’ one of Gotham’s gang leaders to pay Penguin a debt he owed to Falcone. At first, he refuses, but after going to Bruce to apologise for not finding the killer of his parents(the shows seems to have forgot Bruce relieved him of his duties), he decides that getting his hands dirty will be worth it in the end if he manages to clean up Gotham after getting his position back.

So he goes to fulfil Penguin’s request. He beats him and his goons up, runs away with some weird, unnecessary face cam following him around and is eventually forced to shoot the gang leader to escape. With a little ‘persuasion’, Penguin gets Loeb to resign and give Essen the position of Commissioner; her first action being to give Gordon is job back. But was it really worth it? Gordon is obviously shaken that he broke his seemingly steadfast resolve to always do the right thing. Leslie learns about it and is just as distraught as him. At the start of the episode, she even ironically says that one of the reason she loves Gordon is his firmness to always do the right thing. I can’t say I didn’t see this coming. We all knew Gordon was never going to turn Gotham into a utopia without dipping in the dark though this part of the episode still manages to pack a punch nevertheless.

Unfortunately, the writers have decided that Barbara still needs to have a role in the series, and it’s not a minor role either. We see her in Arkham Asylum, manipulating the prisoners to get what she wants and establishing herself as queen of the compound in the most insufferable fashion… before being broken out. By who, you ask? Who would want Barbara? The answer is: Theo Galavan, a man who seems to be establishing himself as the villain of this season. We don’t see much of him directly until the end, but he pulls off an overly complicated breakout plan. Getting an insane man full of sleeping gas into the Asylum before breaking in and extracting the patients. Was half of this plan even necessary? Just break in, equip your soldiers with gas masks and let loose the gas, no problem. Anyway, he proves himself to be quite the threat, forming a dream team out of five of the prisoners. Jerome is also a member. While it’s nice to see some continuity, I personally thought the episode Jerome was in was kind of weak. Hopefully he’ll do a lot more in future episodes. Also, if we’re going mad with continuity here can we please have some more Scarecrow?

Finally, Bruce’s arc starts straight after the ending on the first season. Venturing into a secret passageway, Bruce is met with a heavily fortified door and a key code required to enter. Against Alfred’s wishes, he starts trying to figure out the code so he can discover what lies in the room beyond. Eventually losing his patience, Bruce starts trying to break in, and when Alfred finds out he’s willing to use explosives to uncover the truth, he relents and lends a hand as well as his expertise. Unfortunately, the truth isn’t what Bruce expected. It’s a simple note from his father telling him specifically not to seek the truth unless he feels a calling and is willing to abandon happiness. It’s an ironic and depressing, yet touching moment. All this time, Bruce believed his father was hiding some kind of dark, unfathomable secret, when in actuality, he was simply leaving a trail for Bruce to help him grow and giving him some fatherly advice. I’m glad Bruce’s arc is actually starting to lead somewhere now. I liked the inclusion of Reggie in the previous season, but his character was killed off somewhat anti-climatically and he now seems all but forgotten.

Overall, the first episode of this season was decent. We have some nice continuity, some development for Gordon and Bruce and an exciting new villain. However, the execution of this episode was sub-par to say the least. So much of it just felt unnecessary to me and Barbara really didn’t help this episode’s case. I can’t say I’m not interested to see where the series goes from here though. There are certainly going to be a lot of changes with the exit of Loeb, the promotion of Essen and the distinct lack of Harvey(why ;_;). Despite taking a large watching hiatus from the show, I’m now hooked once again, though the series’ glaring faults aren’t any less obvious. Let’s hope this new villain doesn’t prove to be a disappointment.

Verdict: C

Flash Friday: Karoshi Series

Why are we always avoiding harm in video games? Why are we always jumping over the spikes? Why are we always manoeuvring our way around enemies? Why don’t we throw our player character straight into that bottomless pit? Because some perky plumber taught us not to do that over two decades ago? The Karoshi series doesn’t believe that is the way of video games. Dying and losing a life can be just as hard as living and keeping a life. It all depends on game design. Today, I’ll be reviewing not one, old Internet classic, but two. Karoshi: Suicide Salaryman and Super Karoshi. While both games are impressive in their own right, they’re also way too short for me to compose a review of them on their own. Completing both games only takes about an hour though that by no means undermines the experience. What’s so great about this relatively simple looking platformer? Let’s take a look shall we!

In the Karoshi series, you play as your typical corporation employee called-you guessed it-Karoshi(it means ‘death by overwork’ in Japanese). Karoshi takes the platforming ideas  that have been ingrained in our minds since the release of Super Mario and completely flips them on their head. Instead of avoiding spikes and other traps while you make your way to the level’s exit, Karoshi has you actively seeking a way to harm yourself and end your life. It starts off simple at first. Jump, up a few platforms, throw yourself on some spikes, but eventually, it gets a lot more complex. Both games constantly force you to think outside the box to figure out a way to relieve Karoshi of his life. On one level, you need to reset the level to proceed. On another, you need to leave the level borders to get to some spikes. On another, you’re forced to visit the developer’s site in a smart and hilarious example of shameless self-promotion.

Of course, there’s also a handful of your standard puzzle levels that look complicated at first but end up being pretty straightforward. These puzzle levels are more plentiful in Suicide Salaryman than Super Karoshi and personally, I found them to be the least enjoyable parts of both games. There’s only so many times you can see Karoshi explode into a shower of blood before it gets old. Thankfully, there are still plenty of the more creative levels to counter this and they far outnumber the puzzle-based levels. The game gives you plenty of hints and it means them quite literally. Some are obvious at first while others require a lot more thinking to unearth the solution that you’ll be kicking yourself over later on.

Super Karoshi introduces a new mechanic in the form of Karoshi’s superhero alter-ego called, you guessed it, Super Karoshi. Super Karoshi cannot be killed through any means, can fly and can destroy crystal blocks, however, he loses his powers when he touches a kind of kryptonite. Utilising Super Karoshi, you can clear the way to some spikes or clear the way for some Karoshi clones. Sometimes, there will be more than one Karoshi on the level and you have to ensure that they all die. This isn’t easy however as you can only control one Karoshi while the others move about on their own. These puzzle levels are a lot more fun and not too taxing like some certain electricity-based puzzles in Suicide Salaryman.

Super Karoshi also adds an extra mode called ‘Endless Karoshi’. In this mode, the game goes through each of the levels in a random order, and you have to beat them as fast as possible to keep your blood meter up. Once your blood meter runs out, you lose. The game can screw you over with the RNG for which levels you get but it’s not too much of an issue. There’s no real reward for beating it, but it’s a neat little addition nonetheless and it’s exciting to see how long you can last. It adds a little bit of replayability to an otherwise short duology of games.

Overall, Karoshi is an instant classic. It’s memorable, unique and it never overstays its welcome. Although the puzzle levels are a bit underwhelming and uninteresting and some level solutions are way too vague, both Suicide Salaryman and Super Karoshi are great games in their own right. I’d say Super Karoshi is the better game as there are less puzzle levels and the weird solutions are a lot more humorous but both games are sure to leave an impression on you. And if you’re itching for more, there’s always Endless Karoshi mode and a number of other Karoshi games on the developer’s site(link below). Never have I played a game that makes suicide so damn fun.

Pros:

  • Great Concept
  • Creative Levels
  • Humour
  • Constantly surprises you
  • Free
  • Endless Karoshi Mode

Cons:

  • Short
  • I think you can cheat on some levels (?)
  • Some levels are way too unclear on what you need to do

Masterpiece   Amazing   Worth your time   Average   Meh   Waste of time   Kill it with fire

Play the first game here: http://www.kongregate.com/games/Venbrux/karoshi-suicide-salaryman

Play more Karoshi games on the developer’s site: http://venbrux.com/

The Mist-Season One Review

Let me confess something before we start this review. I’ve never seen or read Stephen King’s The Mist. I haven’t read any of his books or seen any of the movie adaptations. That probably makes me some kind of unholy demon to you considering the author’s popularity but I thought I’d get that out of the way know so you can better understand the rest of my review of The Mist. Due to how little I’d been exposed to the author’s work I was interested to check out this new TV show of the same name to hopefully gain an understanding of the love for King’s work. When it came out, critics and fans of the movie and/or book were quick to shoot it down and declare it as a horrible adaptation. A true disappointment. A complete and utter failure. Nevertheless, I decided to take a look at the show when I realised it was on Netflix and you know what? I liked it. Hell, I really liked it. Granted, it wasn’t the best show I’d ever seen. It wasn’t the next Stranger Things. In fact, the show contains tons of mistakes which I’ll get into later. But overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the show. And the ending of the first season only left me wanting more. I’m not asking you to agree with me, I’m asking you to simply hear me out as I go in depth about why I think the show isn’t nearly as bad as everyone seems to make out. Anyway, my introduction paragraph is getting a bit too lengthy, so on with it!

First of all, if you were a fan of either the book or the movie, I can completely understand why you wouldn’t like the show. I’ve heard the monsters were a huge part of both the book and the movie yet there are only two or three monster appearances in the entire first season. The mist is made out to be more of a psychological thing that plays with the characters’ minds and memories than a vessel for otherworldly creatures. However, I like this take on the mist. It showcases the worst parts of human nature while also acting as a way to tell us more about each of the characters without needing to resort to lengthy, dull exposition. Some of the moments where the characters are exposed to the mist are chilling and genuinely disturbing and I found myself holding my breath every time the character’s went into the seemingly living and breathing fog.

So, are the show’s characters good? Yes and no. Let me cover the yes part first. All the characters are likeable and interesting in their own ways. Even the characters that seem like total assholes at first turn out to really be quite nice. The story follows numerous groups of characters all across the town: Kevin, his daughter’s friend Adrian and two prisoners at the police station called Mia and Bryan seeking to get to the mall where Kevin’s family are sheltering; Kevin’s wife Eve, her daughter Alex and Alex’s presumed Jock rapist Jay in the mall; and Romanov the priest, sweet old nature lady Nathalie and Jay’s police cop father Connor in the church. All of them are good characters in my opinion and I thought the acting was relatively good all-round although most people seem to disagree. I do admit, Eve and Alex’s performances are definitely the most underwhelming and bad at some points. Another part I like about the Mist is that the seemingly pointless side characters turn out to be important and aren’t just introduced before evaporating into obscurity. This statement is particularly true about Vic, a bad-boy gamer who disappears fairly early on after a small arc only to re-emerge and prove almost as integral as the main characters in the last couple of episodes. Unfortunately, some of the characters’ personalities are completely butchered in the eighth episode which really enraged me. I’ll go into more detail below but if you haven’t seen past episode eight DO NOT read the below paragraphs.

*** SPOILERS START. DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN PAST EPISODE EIGHT OF THE MIST ***

In episode eight, a number of the characters go crazy for little to no reason, doing stuff their character would never do in the previous episode and the show acts like it makes perfect sense. This episode infuriated me so much that I almost began to hate the series like everyone else seems to. Nathalie and Connor lock a bunch of survivors in the church and set it on fire. Okay, Nathalie’s descent into madness makes the most amount of sense as she saw her husband die in front of her, saw a number of horrible things in the mist and was attacked by a crazy Christian who tried to beat her to ‘save her soul’. Despite the fact she was seemingly a sweet old lady an episode or two ago, at least she has a reason to go completely bonkers. Connor is a dick, but that doesn’t mean he lacks a moral compass. There’s still a part of him that believes he should protect the people and he would never, never let Nathalie slaughter all those people like that, no matter how faithful to her he is. Gus was a nice character for the majority of the show, constantly trying to keep the peace and prevent chaos from breaking out but suddenly he becomes willing to murder someone and place the blame on Alex with absolutely no regret just to protect his extra little stash of food. The character that really got me riled up however was Adrian, formerly my favourite character in the show.

One of the show’s biggest plot twists is that Adrian was actually the one who raped Alex, not Jay like everyone thinks. While I think this is a decent plot twist(though it was kind of predictable), there was no reason at all to make Adrian a complete psychopath. It felt like the writers were just taking an easy way out to me and condemning the entirety of Adrian’s character. Why didn’t they do the following instead? Keep the plot twist that he raped Alex, but make it so that he regrets the decision and is sorry for doing it. Before his complete change, and heck, even after his change, there are some lines that suggest he deeply regrets what he did(his “What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?” conversation comes to mind). Make it so that he tells Kevin but doesn’t try to fight back because he feels he deserves it. Have Kevin beat him to a pulp out of anger but without him going crazy. It would give them a great chance to explore the darker side of Kevin while still keeping Adrian a likeable character and executing a great plot twist. Adrian never once shows even a hint of being completely bonkers-except for that bathroom scene with the jock but that doesn’t mean he’s insane-before he goes crazy and I felt deeply wounded when the creators just stomped over his character like that. That, however, is the biggest complaint I have about the show.

*** SPOILERS END *** 

I’ll be honest, there are a lot of things wrong with The Mist. Some of the characters are butchered by the writers, the pacing is slow, especially for the first four episodes and from what I hear, it completely misses the point of the book/movie. However, I feel like the show never got a chance. Even before the first episode, people were preaching that it would be a bad adaptation and the impression I’ve got from a lot of people is that they haven’t got past the first few episodes. There are some genuinely great moments in the show. All the characters are likeable in their own ways and there are some intense and touching scenes. Even the side characters have a large role. The show’s take on what the mist is may be different, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad take on the mist. And in the end, for me at least, the payoff is worth it. Season One’s finale and ending is absolutely astounding. It was almost flawlessly executed and so magnificent that it almost made me forget about the missteps in Episode 8… almost. In the end, I’m excited for the next season, I want to see where the show goes from here, what happens to all the characters, to learn more about the mist itself. Just… give the show a chance. Even if you’ve seen the film or read the book, at least watch the first couple of episodes and you may find yourself as intrigued as I was.

Verdict: C

Feel free to share your opinion on ‘The Mist’ down below. I’m perfectly fine with whatever you have to say so long as you’re respectful of other opinions. 

Persona 4 Golden Review-The Ultimate Anti-Social Social Game

Game Name: Persona 4 Golden

Platform: PS Vita

Developer: Atlus

Publisher: NIS America

Price: £6.99 or $9

There are hundreds and hundred of role-playing games out there; heck, you could probably call every single game a role-playing game since you’re taking on the role of the game’s main character. Plenty of games do a great job of sucking you into the game’s world with memorable characters, locations and storylines, but one well-known, formerly niche game series is known for taking the idea of a ‘role-playing game’ to another level: Persona. The fourth game in the series, the aptly named Persona 4, is the series entry responsible for propelling the series into the mainstream. In fact, it proved so popular, that in 2013, an enhanced PS Vita port with tons of new content was released: Persona 4 Golden. I’ve been planning a review of this game for a while. Like many people, this was my first Persona game though I only recently bought it a few months ago to see what all the fuss was about only to be blown away by just how masterful a game it actually is. So now, several months after downloading it from the Playstation Store, I think I’m finally ready to write a review about it and give you an idea of just how good it is, while bringing up the few bad things about it of course. Anyway, let’s get on with the review and take a look at one of the most infamous JRPG’s of all time!

In Persona 4 Golden, you play the role of an exchange student come to live with his grizzled policeman uncle Dojima and young yet capable cousin Nanako. Eventually you make friends with Yosuke, Chie and Yukiko, fellow students at the local school. A bunch of stuff happens, someone gets murdered, blahblahblah. As you might of guessed, Persona 4 Golden’s intro is quite long-winded. Although I didn’t personally mind it that much, the THREE HOUR LONG introduction might be a bit of a turn-off for a lot of people. Eventually though, the game stops holding your hand and finally lets you know you’re in for one heck of a ride. You discover you can enter a kind of shadow world through television screens and summon a Persona, a representation of your inner self to fight the monstrous shadows inhabiting it. Soon, you find out that a killer is murdering people by throwing them into this strange world to die and only you and your friends can stop the killer and rescue his victims. You form the Inaba Investigation team and seek to put a stop to the murders, encountering new characters along the way.

The story is easily one of the best parts of Persona 4 Golden. There are numerous twists and turns in the plot and it never gets too convoluted or complicated to understand. However, there’s on problem I have with it: the multiple endings. While it’s cool that there’s several different endings each with different outcomes, it’s very vague on how to get those endings. Most people try to go for the true ending for their first playthrough however figuring out how to get it without accidentally making a wrong decision and sentencing your friends to a terrible fate is nigh impossible unless you research the method online. It’s not too much of an issue but it’s annoying and it’s still so complicated that I got the normal ending on accident while following an online walkthrough seemingly word for word.

Anyway, I got a little off-track there. As well as the story being top-notch, the characters are also some of the best I’ve seen in a video game. Personally, I grew to like Kanji, the sexually confused, surprisingly nice tough guy the most. However, almost the entire cast of characters, both the main characters and side characters, are so well-written that it’s hard to not get completely sucked into their personalities and the idyllic, peaceful little countryside town of Inaba. Voice acting is also just as good and I wasn’t surprised to see the likes of Troy Baker and Laura Bailey listed as some of the voice actors on Wikipedia. The best part of this, however, is that you can choose which characters you hang out with and learn more about. If there’s a character you don’t particularly like, you can just choose to ignore them completely and they’ll only really show up during the game’s many events. How does the game achieve this? Through a well-designed game mechanic called social links.

Persona 4 takes place over the course of almost an entire year(with a few timeskips here and there) and you’re in charge of what you do during almost every single one of those days. You can do a variety of activities to increase your social stats, go into the TV to grind and rescue the killer’s latest would-be victim but social links will take up the most of your time. They involve hanging out with the character you chose to spend time with and watching a cutscene with the occasional dialogue choice that can make the character happy which makes it easier to rank up their social link next time. Most times you hang out with them, your social link with them will rank up with Rank Ten being the maximum rank. Sometimes you’ll need to get a certain social stat(Courage, Diligence, Understanding, Expression and Knowledge) to be able to rank the character up further. As well as allowing you to see more of your favourite characters, these Social Links also provide various rewards which increase your power in a number of ways.

First and foremost, every social link provides bonus experience to personas you fuse that correspond with the tarot card the character is based off (Death, Emperor e.t.c). Oh yes, fusing is another important mechanic. In a place called the Velvet Room, you can combine two or more personas to make another, more powerful persona. These personas will receive a certain amount of bonus experience based on your Social Link Rank with the corresponding character. What are personas you ask? Well, they’re kind of like Pokemon, each with their own elemental types, moves and stats. There are quite a lot; over 150 in total, meaning there’s a ‘catch-em-all’ part to the game as well. Each party member starts with a single persona, however, only you, the main character, have the ability to change your persona for a tactical advantage. After most battles, you play a small card game called Shuffle Time which can give you bonus rewards including new personas. You can hold six personas at first but this amount only increases as the game goes on meaning you can form your own dream team of mythological monsters that reside in the depths of your soul.

Unfortunately, some social links are way better than others from a gameplay standpoint. Bonding with your party members will give them the ability to do team attacks with you, learn new moves to use in battle, ‘evolve’ their persona and even jump in front of a lethal attack for you to prevent you from being killed. Apart from the Fox who reduces the price of his SP restoring services for every rank in his social link, all the other social links simply provide the aforementioned fusion experience bonus and the ability to fuse the ultimate persona of that social link type. I feel like more could have been done to make the rest of the social links more worthwhile but nevertheless, it’s a great feature. Outside of this system, Persona 4 is your typical turn-based JRPG with a few quirks. Hitting an enemy with an element that they’re weak too will knock them down and give you an extra turn. Knock all of the enemies down and you can perform a devastating all-out attack. It’s cool and first but get used to seeing it a LOT as that’s how you’ll be winning 95% of your battles. As well as that, depending on who you have in your party, certain party members may perform a team attack together and while they’re flashy and pure eye-candy, they do so little damage that I never really found them useful.

Overall, Persona 4 is an absolute masterpiece of a game that’s sure to keep you hooked for a while. Just completing the game can take upwards of seventy hours if you don’t rush it, and trust me, you won’t want to rush it. Even after game completion, there’s plenty of replayability. Trophies/achievements, New Game+, multiple difficulties, multiple endings, an entire menu dedicated to bonus content; you won’t put it down any time soon. The writing is top-notch and so is the soundtrack, hell, the menu design alone has tons of work put into it. You can really tell the developers care about making the game the best it can be. There are still problems with it, and the turn-based combat can become tiring after a while but the positives far, far, outweigh the negatives. And the best part? You can get it from the Playstation Store for a mere £6.99. If you’re looking for a time sink combined with an excellent story, then Persona 4 Golden is surely what you’re looking for.

Pros:

  • Incredibly long story(around 70 hours)
  • Plenty of replayability in the form of achievements, a quiz show and the Persona compendium.
  • Cheap asking price currently
  • Great writing
  • Developed, multi-layered characters
  • Solid turn-based gameplay
  • Amazing soundtrack
  • Interesting fusion mechanic
  • Over 150 different poke-… I mean Personas
  • Well-animated cutscenes
  • Multiple endings
  • Quality voice acting
  • Bonus content

Cons:

  • Graphics aren’t great
  • Need to do research online to find out how to get the different endings
  • Normal battles can get repetitive
  • Game over can come very quickly and erase quite a bit of progress
  • Some attacks can instakill and it’s an instant game over if the main character/you dies.
  • THREE HOUR INTRODUCTION
  • Most social links don’t really give you anything other than an increased experience bonus for personas of that type.

Nitpicks:

  • Party members only level up in your party meaning you have to stick to the same party all the way through unless you want to be at a disadvantage.
  • Team moves are flashy but ultimately useless
  • Can’t date Kanji(or any other male characters)
  • Can be difficult to hit shadows from behind
  • Golden. Hands. Screw them.

Verdict: 9/10

Buy the game for PS Vita here: https://store.playstation.com/#!/en-gb/games/persona-4-golden/cid=EP1063-PCSB00245_00-PERSONA4GOLDEN01

Ranking All The Season Three Teen Titans Episodes From Worst To Best

After the first two seasons of Teen Titans, Season Three had a tough act to follow. Both Robin and Terra’s seasons had their fair share of bad episodes, but the arc episodes were considered to be outstanding in quality. Cyborg had claim to the next season and I wasn’t sure what to expect when I discovered this. I’m not sure whether I’ve mentioned this before, but Cyborg is my least favourite member of the Titans. I won’t go into detail here but he always seemed to be the typical super-strong member of the team in episodes that didn’t focus on him. Don’t get the wrong idea, I like him, just not as much as the other Titans. Anyway, back to the topic at hand I wasn’t sure whether I’d like Season Three as much as the previous seasons and it turned out that I was right… partly. While I personally consider Cyborg’s arc to be the weakest out of all five season arcs, the quality of the episodes in between were unparalleled in quality. You had the return of Mad Mod and Red X. Slade returning(kinda) despite many believing he was gone for good. Mumbo Jumbo got his own episode and Beast Boy finally got a really well-written and serious episode. While the arc episodes could have been better in my opinion, there’s still a lot to like about Season Three which meant that this was possibly the most difficult list for me to compile so far. As with the last two season rankings I did, I’m completely open to your opinion as long as you respect mine. Anyway, on with the show!

#13 Can I Keep Him?

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In the entirety of Season Three, Can I Keep Him? is the closest an episode comes to being just ‘meh’. Yet just because it’s last on this list doesn’t mean it’s bad, just the worst of the season. Starfire falls in love with one of the larvae left over from Killer Moth’s attack in Date With Destiny and wants to keep him as a pet. However, the other Titans aren’t as happy to have a new honorary Titan. There are some great jokes in this episode and Starfire is at her best; unfortunately, the rest of the episode isn’t all that interesting. There’s the return of what could possibly be the series dullest villain: Johnny Rancid. Killer Moth also returns and competes with Starfire for “Silkie’s” love. While the episode itself is good enough, it’s just not all that memorable and that’s why it gets the lowest spot on this list.

#12 Deception

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Again, I feel like I need to repeat what I said for Can I Keep Him?. Deception is by no means a bad or even ‘meh’ episode. I actually enjoyed it a lot. Watching Cyborg mingle with supposedly heartless villains like Jinx and his nemesis Gizmo was as intriguing as it was entertaining to watch.  For an arc episode, it was surprisingly lighthearted most of the way through apart from the fight at the end and the moments where Cyborg wished he still had his human body. Brother Blood still isn’t all that interesting of a villain though, in fact, this is probably his worst episode. On top of that, the other Titans are barely in it at all. The previous two seasons still managed to make sure we got a healthy dose of the other Titans during Robin’s and Terra’s arcs while still keeping a focus on the main Titans for those arcs. That, I think is one of the main weaknesses of not just this episode, but this season’s arc as a whole.

#11 Betrothed

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The other Starfire episode of this season also get’s pretty low on this list but is still a great episode. Starfire is forced into a marriage with an amorphous blob by her douchebag sister Blackfire to protect her home planet of Tamaran. Of course, the other Titans aren’t pleased as it means she’ll be leaving Earth forever to live on Tamaran. As such, they do some investigating which results in the discovery of a shocking secret. Yadayadayada, the plan is exposed and Starfire has an epic confrontation with her evil sister. What I really liked about this episode was how it showcased just how far Starfire had come since her last encounter with Blackfire back in Sisters. She’s done a lot of growing since then and you can really see it reflected in her character in this episode. One of these details I particularly liked was Starfire’s eye LAZORS which she gained when she went through puberty in Transformation. She’s not the tiny little pushover of a sister that Blackfire remembers any more. Apart from this fight though, Betrothed is an average episode at best which is why it sits at Number Eleven on this list.

#10 Bunny Raven… Or… How to Make a Titananimal Disappear

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Okay, I know a lot of people like this episode, and so do I. However, one of the best episodes of the series? In my opinion, no. It has a lot in common with Mad Mod’s episodes. Just by looking from the title you can tell you’re in for a crazy ride. There are so many references and jokes that you could probably find at least one in every single frame. However, I just don’t find Mumbo Jumbo as interesting a villain as Mad Mod. Granted, I still think he’s an excellently-written character but I just never liked his method as much as Mad Mod. Instead of misleading the Titans and one-upping them constantly with entertaining tricks, he just takes away their powers and leaves them virtually helpless. It just feels like a cheap way of doing things to me and if you disagree(which you probably will) then that’s completely fine! Mumbo still manages to be a comical character thanks to his boundless ego and the entirety of the episode is one big flashy light show. The only reason this episode is so low is because there are so many brilliant episodes in Season Three and thus, I had the most difficulty ordering them.

#9 Crash

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Crash is another one of those episodes that the fanbase seems pretty split about. Despite its seemingly low spot on the list, I adore this episode. It’s probably the only example of a comedic Beast Boy episode executed flawlessly. Beast Boy ends up accidentally uploading a virus into Cyborg’s cybernetics making him go crazy and causing him to think that almost everything in sight is some kind of delicious food. This joke goes on for almost the entirety of the episode but it almost never gets stale because of the creative ways they showcase its effects. As well as that, this episode gets extra points simply for the infamous waffles joke. Also, Gizmo is in this episode and he surprisingly isn’t as annoying as he usually is which is amazing because you’d think being in Beast Boy’s proximity would make him even more annoying. It’s a mostly lighthearted episode with some genius gags that make it one of the more memorable Teen Titans comedy episodes.

#8 Titans East: Part Two

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While Titans East Part Two isn’t a bad finale, it’s certainly underwhelming compared to the other Teen Titan’s season finales. For a start, the whole “Cyborg leaving the team” thing was pretty pointless. Cyborg says he’s leaving the team, even going so far as to be a straight-up asshole to Robin(who’s usually the asshole in most situations), they beat Brother Blood and then he’s suddenly happy to join again. He says that Titans East just need to listen to Bumblebee but she was being mind-controlled by Brother Blood for most of the episode, so what made him change his mind? Also, the fight between Cyborg and Brother Blood is completely one-sided and the way he defeats him makes as much sense as Cinderblock having the IQ of Einstein. “I hacked into his mind!”. Sure… Nevertheless, it’s still a thrilling episode; it’s just that compared to all the other episodes in Season Three and the other Season finales, it’s not all that outstanding.

#7 Titans East: Part One

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Yes, once again I’ve put the first part of the season finale above the second part. While the second part was just as action-packed, Brother Blood was less involved until the ending and the way Cyborg defeated him made no sense. I like Cyborg’s fight with Brother Blood in this episode a lot more. There’s still the problem of him getting owned by his villain way more than the other Titans got owned by their villains but the fight was just a lot more exciting to me. As well as that, the way Cyborg wins actually makes sense and is plain awesome. A rocket boot to the face followed by Cyborg powering on the tower’s defence systems was just too cool. Cyborg using technology to win makes a lot of sense as it’s his biggest advantage. On top of that, Titans East are actually quite entertaining to watch and aren’t just mindless drones like in Part Two. Therefore, Part One of Titans East is one up from Part Two for me.

#6 Wavelength

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I’ve noticed that every season seems to have one episode which seems to get overlooked when talking about superb Teen Titans episodes and Wavelength is definitely that episode for this season. I can’t remember another episode in the series where the Titans not only attack the season’s villain directly before the finale but also recruit the help of other superheroes to do it. Aqualad wasn’t all that interesting(I still have my dislike of him from Deep Six) but Bumblebee’s introduction is as smooth as smooth can be. Cyborg and Bumblebee’s fight is entertaining to watch and their begrudging alliance afterwards is even more so. Watching the other Titans assault different parts of the base is also tense and when the final confrontation with Blood happens, it’s epic despite the fact Cyborg gets completely owned. It’s a high-stakes mission and it certainly feels like it too. If I can give Brother Blood one thing, it’s that he was certainly more confrontational and involved with the Titans than the other seasons’ villains. This is by far my favourite episode of Season Three’s arc, even if others don’t tend to agree.

#5 The Beast Within

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One of Beast Boy’s few phenomenal episodes, The Beast Within shows us a new Beast Boy that isn’t all comedy relief. During a fight with a new, throwaway villain called Adonis, Beast Boy is covered in chemicals which seem to alter his biology and personality for the worse. This leads to him having a fallout with the other Titans which only gets worse when a new power he seems to have gained puts them all in danger. This episode is surprisingly dark for a Beast Boy episode yet it still proves to be his best episode in the entire series. Full of action and suspense, The Beast Within kept me hooked to the screen and the surprise twist at the end is one of the most well-executed of the series. I’d go as far as saying it almost gives Masks a run for its money. Also, this episode supports the Raven and Beast Boy ship so it’s impossible for me to dislike it.

#4 Spellbound

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Ah, another quality Raven-focused episode. No matter the writer, no matter the subject of the episode, Raven episodes always prove to be some of the best episodes of the season and the series as a whole. In this episode, Raven ends up making a new friend in the form of a great wizard trapped in a book due to a powerful curse. Over time, the Titan’s resident sorceress ends up spending more and more time in her room with her new friend until he starts teaching her some new magic so she can break the curse holding him in the book. However, not everything is as it seems. As someone who personally relates to Raven, this is one of the best episodes that explores her quiet personality and delves into her emotions. Heck, it does this just as well as it’s done in Nevermore where Cyborg and Beast Boy literally end up inside her mind. There’s only one small gripe I have with this episode. Why the hell does Robin never use that robinrang(?) sword ever again in the series? It’s so damn cool!

#3 Revolution

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After twenty-two episodes of absence, Mad Mod makes a return to the show in style! Unfortunately, this is the last time he appears in an episode save for a couple of cameos in a few Season Five episodes. Thankfully, he goes out with a bang, transforming the entirety of Jump City into Britain. The sheer abundance of British stereotypes in this episode from British Rock Star Beast Boy to the chimney sweepers to old women shopping for fish had me gasping for air. That’s not counting the ridiculous amount of references such as the Titans running over Abbey Road in the picture above, Monty Python, Clockwork Orange and more. Combined with the clever and witty jokes that the creators somehow managed to fit into the episode with everything else and you’ve got possibly the best comedic episode of Teen Titans in the series.

#2 X

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Want to hear a depressing fact? This episode and Masks were the only episodes to feature Red X as a pivotal character. In fact, the only other episode where he even appeared was Revved Up in Season Five. Just like Mad Mod, for such a beloved villain, he actually showed up very little. Though you can sort of understand why after this masterpiece of an episode. I think they realised that there was no way they could do better than this episode. They must of used up almost all of his cocky and sassy lines in this one episode in an attempt to outdo themselves and realised they’d used up their reserves. They must of depleted all the epic action scenes they thought up and choreographed for him. They must of realised they’d never be able to replicate the simultaneously loathing and respectful relationship between Robin and Red X. Just like Masks, Robin was forced to confront his moral standing once again and question his very foundations as a supposed hero. I honestly can’t say more about this episode. Just… go, go and watch it and you’ll understand.

#1 Haunted

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How could I not put this episode at number one. Not only is it the best episode of the entire season, but many people agree that it’s one of the best episodes overall along with The End. Possibly one of the series’ darkest episodes, Slade comes back from the dead to torture Robin and the rest of the Titans can’t seem to see him. Ron Perlman is an amazing voice actor all the time, but in this episode, he gives a truly chilling performance and cements Slade as one of the greatest villains of all time. As well as that, I just need to commend the awesome effects and animation in this episode, the lighting especially. Slade disappearing into the shadows every time lightning strikes is pure eye candy, the pounding rain on Robin’s clothes and (gelled) hair looks amazing and you can visibly see Robin start to tire during his fights with Slade. It’s clear every single member of the production team pulled out all the stops for this episode and it easily makes number one on this list despite the abundance of brilliant episodes in this season.

If we’re looking at Season Three as a whole, it’s certainly the best season of the show so far. While most of the main arc episodes were quite underwhelming compared to the previous two season’s arcs, the singular episodes were some of the best in the series so far, and there wasn’t a single bad one. The season managed to perfectly balance both its comedic and serious episodes and although Brother Blood proved to be the most disappointing villain so far, he was still nowhere near being a badly-written villain. Only two seasons remain and they’re going to have to do a lot to surpass this season.

Arcade Game Review: Transformers: Human Alliance-Also Known As Transformers: Human Bodyguards

Transformers is a franchise I’ve never really been interested in. I’ve never watched any of the cartoon series and I haven’t exactly heard good things about the Michael Bay movies which has kept me from checking them out. However, there were only a handful of light-gun games in the nearby arcade which I frequented on holiday and Transformers: Human Alliance was one of them. I’ll leave the discussion about the death of the light gun for another day. I wasn’t really expecting much from Human Alliance yet it managed to prove it was a competent distraction at the least. While not the most exciting or memorable arcade game I played while away, I still feel it deserves a review for how different it is from your typical light-gun arcade game in a number of ways. Also, I wanted an opportunity to brag about how I got third place on the singleplayer leaderboard. With that out of the way(don’t worry ladies, I’m single!), let’s move onto the review!

One of the first things I noticed about Transformers: Human Alliance was how easy the game is. No, that’s not a complaint like in my Panic Museum 2 review, it’s a compliment. The vast majority of arcade games are plagued with cheap moments on top of extremely punishing difficulty to make you put more credits in but this game is different. I wouldn’t consider myself a pro at on-rails shooters yet I managed to beat the entire game on a measly four credits… and the start button was broken meaning avoiding damage at some points was impossible. Heck, while waiting for a turn on the machine, I saw a kid of around seven years old beat the entire first level out of five levels on a single credit. As well as easy, the game is surprisingly forgiving. At the end of every level, depending on your friendship-which I’ll get into later-a certain amount of your health is restored. Wait a second, it RESTORES your health after a level. The vast majority of shooters rarely ever give you an opportunity to recover health and even when they do, it’s usually in the form of a medkit in an obscure pixel of the screen that’s visible for about a second.

But is the game fun? The answer is yes, and no. The shooting action is passable and fun with numerous enemy types. However, these enemy types only really show up once save for the final battle and aren’t all that different. There’s the obligatory small but numerous enemies but apart from that, I’m not even sure the enemies take different amounts of damage to kill. Some enemies jump at you giving you a split-second chance to stop them before they hit you and some fly but those are the only real differences I can think of. There’s alliance fire where the transformers work together with you to increase your firepower drastically but the instances of this are so few and far between I almost forgot to mention this feature entirely. As well as that, there’s a distinct lack of weapon types and the gameplay is rarely ever changed up. You may be thinking: “Panic Museum didn’t have any different weapon types!” and while you’re right, there were changes to the gameplay on almost every level which easily made up for this omission.

Occasionally, you will get one of two small minigames. One simply involves pressing the start button at the right time and the other involves hauling your light gun to one side as fast as possible and praying you don’t accidentally break it in the process. Again, they’re pretty easy. They break up the gameplay a bit, but they only really happen during boss fights at the end of a level. Speaking of the boss fights, they’re alright, but like the game, short. There is usually a Decepticon boss halfway through the level, such as Starscream and Skywarp, and a large boss at the end of the level. Both require you to do the same thing however: shooting certain points on the bosses body. It’s simple enough and satisfying, but nothing really brilliant.

The Transformers themselves will aid you in these battles but for a game named after them, the Transformers don’t really do much. In pretty much every single battle, they get owned unless you help them, and sometimes get owned no matter how good you do. Bumblebee is the worst. Halfway through the first level, you enter your first ‘Transformer-assisted’ battle with Bumblebee as you fight three normal and nameless Decepticon grunts. You’ve killed dozens of them getting to this point with just a gun yet Bumblebee, one of the most well-known Transformers can’t take three of them, one-on-one might I add, without your help. I know the gameplay would be redundant if the Transformers just did everything for you but I’m pretty sure a balance could be achieved where the Transformers help you out as much as you help them. How well you did in these battles affects your friendship rating with the level’s Transformer at the end of the level and as I said earlier, depending on how well you did, a certain amount of your health is restored. It’s a neat concept but when the Transformers are getting thrown around like ragdolls every two minutes, it feels more like a bodyguard rating than a friendship rating.

Overall, Humans: Transformers Protection is a decent enough light-gun arcade game. There are a few other minor problems that I noticed. The game is surprisingly short with only five levels with not much variety between them. As you can probably expect, the voice acting is terrible. If any of the original Transformers voice actors are providing some of the voices then it’s clear they want nothing to do with the game. The performances are cringeworthy all around though thankfully, the voices are often muffled by the extremely loud sound effects and the Michael Bay explosions. Nevertheless, I had fun with it, and I can respect the fair difficulty that is so rare in the vast majority of arcade shooters. Just don’t expect anything special.

Pros:

  • Great Graphics
  • Fun, frenetic gameplay
  • Several enemy types
  • Actually pretty fair in terms of difficulty
  • Several Transformers and Decepticons
  • Small minigames change up the gameplay

Cons:

  • Lack of weapon types
  • Cringeworthy voice acting
  • Transformers themselves do jack shit
  • A little short

Verdict: 3/5 

Difficulty: Easy

Cheapness: Very rare

Flash Friday: Medieval Cop 8-Deathwish(Spoilers for Previous Games)

Note: Like The Invidia Games, this entry in the series is made up of three parts. This is a review of all three parts and though I mostly treat it like one game, there will be occasions where I refer to individual parts.

Phew, it’s been a while. The last main series Medieval Cop game was released all the way back in… January, wow! Seven months, over half a year. It’s safe to say the series has been on quite the hiatus and despite having more time to think over what to write, I’m at a loss. I have plenty of material as well. DeathWish is possibly the longest Medieval Cop to date, being the only one excluding The Invidia Games that was split into three separate parts. The overarching story progresses at a much more rapid rate. Several characters get some massive development. You know what, let’s just get straight into it. Is Medieval Cop 8 a worthy entry in the series? That’s probably what you came here to find out so let’s get on with it!

So, after many, many months, the ending of Adam and Eva is finally resolved… Dregg actually died. Yep. Part One has Dregg begin in hell where he endeavours to complain to Satan about the living arrangements and hopefully escape. Part One chock full of humour; well, all the parts are, but Part One especially. From numerous bad but poignant jokes about hell to an excellently-executed Phoenix Wright reference, this part had me laughing the most. Eventually, it ends with another epic dimensional debate before leaving the game on a weird-ass cliffhanger. Part Two has Dregg enter the psyche of his co-workers to break Draziel’s mind control over them, and find out more about their past and true personality in the process. While this part is great from a character standpoint, it’s the most underwhelming for reasons I’ll get into later. Finally, Part Three has Dregg trapped in the Spirit Realm, forced to relive his past, in the form of a mystery he witnessed his father solving when he was young. This part has the largest chunk of Medieval Cop 8’s many story revelations and the ending is honestly mind-blowing while still leaving just as many questions as answers.

Now, I’ve summarised each part, I can talk about what makes all three parts good, and bad. First, let me get the bad out of the way. The three main problems that persist across all three games are the pointless puzzles that seem to be there simply to pad out the game, the timer that comes with these puzzles and… you guessed it: grammar and spelling errors! I’ll address the last one first since that’s the problem that is the most prevalent in GeminiGamer’s series. For some reason, the grammar and spelling errors in Medieval Cop’s eighth entry are the worst they’ve ever been. Maybe they’ve just become more noticeable because of the large gap between Medieval Cop 7 and 8 or because I’ve finally grown mad after writing and editing so many posts but there seemed to be a mistake almost every other text box. It sucks because it was steadily getting better since the first entry but it isn’t a massive issue unless you’re a certified grammar freak like me.

Now the other two problems have only come to fruition in the last two entries in the series. Similar to Adam and Eva, DeathWish throws a few puzzles into the mix to break up the gameplay. Adam and Eva’s puzzles were a fun distraction from the main story and didn’t disrupt the flow of the gameplay too much. However, in DeathWish, the puzzles are certainly quantity over quality. You can’t walk five feet without running headfirst into one whether it involves avoiding flames, timing a jump or just clicking on something a few dozen times. The game especially loves that last one. They’re particularly intrusive in Part Two but they’re not as noticeable in Part One and Part Three. The timer also makes a return for question-based puzzles which is an unwelcome addition as it doesn’t give you any time to actually think about the answer, making you panic and randomly select or guesstimate an answer.

I’ll admit, I’ve been really negative about the game so far, but to say I didn’t enjoy it would be a lie. I’ve wrote so many reviews for this series by this point that it’s much easier to focus on the bad stuff rather than the good stuff. All the pros of the previous game are here. Multi-layered characters, a great story, excellent humour and of course, there’s a dimensional debate thrown into the mix. Not only that, but many omnipresent questions have been answered just enough to leave you both satisfied and wanting for more at the same time. Characters such as Gru, Polly and Tira who got so little attention in previous games that they seemed almost throwaway finally get some spotlight and development. Did I mention Amber from the side-series Medieval Shorts makes several appearances? Finally, the ending is probably the best we’ve seen in the series so far with some awesome music to boot.

It’s understandable that the eighth part of this great series took so long to come out. We’re getting ever close to the finale of the series, well, the first season at least. With a new artist drawing some great character art for the game, the series is going through some changes before its grand payoff, yet it hasn’t changed a bit at heart. That’s part of what makes it so hard to right these reviews even after several months of preparation. There’s a limit to how many times I can praise. Nevertheless, I’m happy to see the series return after its short hiatus and it only looks to get better from here. My only hope for the next two episodes is a common, but important one. A hope that we all share at heart. Dregg better burn down that damn post office.

Pros:

  • Story only continues to get better.
  • Humour still brilliant.
  • More in-depth look at side-characters like Gru and Polly
  • Well-written characters
  • Epic ending
  • Great music
  • Story revelations and payoffs
  • Well-drawn characters
  • Free

Cons:

  • Has the most grammar and spelling errors I’ve seen in a Medieval Cop game yet
  • So. Many. Unneeded. Meaningless. Puzzles.
  • Timer during puzzles

Masterpiece   Amazing   Worth your time   Average   Meh   Waste of time   Kill it with fire

Play the first part here: http://www.kongregate.com/games/VasantJ/medieval-cop-8-deathwish-part-1

Support the developer’s Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/user/posts?u=2572101

Mario and Luigi: Dream Team Review-Luigi’s Pipe Dream

Game Name: Mario and Luigi: Dream Team

Platform: Nintendo 3DS(and 2DS)

Developers: AlphaDream and Good-Feel

Publisher: Nintendo

Price: £15.99 or $19.99 from the Nintendo eShop

It has been over six months since I started this blog and I’ve only just come to the realisation that I haven’t reviewed any Triple A games. Granted, my speciality and taste is more for that of the Indie genre rather than big budget releases but that’s not really an excuse. I want to make sure I cover a variety of games on this blog, both big budget, and small budget. So here we are with Mario and Luigi: Dream Team today. Having only recently completed it, I’m very much prepared to do this review and pack in as much detail as humanely possible. I’m not new to the series, having played the preceding game, Bowser’s Inside Story, a while ago but Dream Team brings plenty new to the table for me to cover as well as changes to the old. Whether those new additions and minute to massive changes are a good things, is what I intend to discover today. So, for the first time, let’s take a look at the Triple A 3DS RPG: Mario and Luigi: Dream Team.

If you’ve never played a Mario and Luigi game before then know that it’s not your typical turn-based RPG. Mario and Luigi will be the only party members you’ll ever have and, although they still take turns with each other and the enemy, they utilise teamwork a significant amount more than most turn-based RPG characters, both in and out of battle. In battle, they can use Bros. attacks which are incredibly powerful and flashy special moves that have both Bros work together to deal massive damage. Outside of battle, they move around together; and pressing A or B will cause the corresponding bro to jump. Later, they also gain several abilities which allow them to navigate around areas and access new ones that were previously out-of-reach. Eventually they’ll be able to do anything from spinning together to float over gaps, hit each other with hammers to make each other smaller or knock each other into the ground and forming a ball to bounce really high.

As you can probably guess from that last sentence, the Mario and Luigi series is the epitome of wackiness. One of the parts of the game that kept me most invested was the seemingly endless supply of charm that covers the game like the icing on a cake. Almost every main character(and even some minor ones) have their own way of speaking, their own dialect and their own accents. The writing is as high-quality as it could possibly be and added to the vibrant and creative character designs, each and every single character is memorable in their own way. Heck, Mario and Luigi don’t even have any dialogue and only speak in gibberish but their actions are so well-animated and charming that it’s easy to interpret what they’re thinking and their reactions to the situations the game presents.

The overarching story however, is nothing special, and honestly just seems to serve as an objective for you to work towards while adventuring over Pi’illo Island and meeting new characters. Some evil villain wants to steal a powerful artifact, get unlimited power, rule the world, yadayadayada. It’d be an issue if everything in between wasn’t just so damn good. Somehow the great writing is blown out of the water by the beautifully-composed soundtrack. Almost every track in the game is excellent and memorable, in particular, the boss battle theme: Never Let Up! Flawlessly, it combines the goofiness and zaniness of the Mario and Luigi world with the more serious, dramatic and villainous side of the series, making for an epic boss battle theme; easily one of my favourites of all time.

However, now comes the paragraph where I have to criticise a game I loved for the sake of a fair review. The gameplay. Don’t get me wrong, the turn-based aspects of the game are more than sound. Taking a more active approach by having you time your attacks when hitting enemies to deal more damage is a great idea, Bros. attacks are flashy and entertaining to perform but most important of all, it’s fun… at least for a while. You see, Dream Team is a very long game, taking me around forty hours to complete doing minimal side quests. While this is certainly a positive, it simultaneously harms the gameplay portions of this several-dozen-hour adventure. There are a number of areas in the game and in most of them, there are only four or five different types of enemies. Most of the time, you’ll only really fight two different enemy types at one time. Combine this with the fact that quite a few of the enemies in the game are buffed up versions of prior enemies and you may start to see why parts of the game can drag. Each enemy has their own set of attacks with their own ways to dodge them which keeps things interesting for a while. Some enemies such as the germs from Dr. Mario are particularly creative and fun to fight, but by the end of the game, normal fights were becoming so dull to me that I just started spamming Bros. attacks to get through them.

What doesn’t help this is that a lot of the bosses(especially in the real world) go down way too fast. Maybe I was just overlevelled from attacking every single enemy I came across but I was able to beat most of them in 5-10 minutes which was quite disappointing. Another new addition that makes up for this misstep is the Giant Luigi battles. In the Dream World, occasionally, you’ll have to fight a colossal boss by fusing hundreds of Dreamy Luigi’s together to make a massive Luigi before partaking in an epic kaiju-esque fight by using the touch screen. You can perform various movements and special abilites such as jumping and swinging your hammer by dragging your stylus across the screen. You also counter or avoid enemy attacks in the same way. It’s simple, but the fights just have so much flair that it’s not much of an issue. The giant Zeekeeper boss and giant Bowser boss fight are particularly epic and just plain kickass.

Like the previous instalment, Bowser’s Inside Story, Dream Team largely expands on the game’s world, in fact, adding an entirely new one. As the name suggests, Mario gains the ability to leap into Luigi’s dreams when he’s sleeping and enter the Dream World. The Dream World somehow manages to be even more colourful and vibrant than the real world though there is a distinct lack of inhabitants making it feel less lively. When in the Dream World, Mario is joined by Dreamy Luigi, the form Luigi takes in his dreams. Through Dreamy Luigi, you can utilise Luiginary Works which affect the environment and Dreamy Luigi in different ways making for some gloriously creative puzzles making use of ingeniously conceived mechanics. Many Dreamy Luigi’s can fuse together to make a tower, tornado and ball and Dreamy Luigi can possess different parts of the environment to help Mario progress. By rubbing Luigi’s real life nose, you can make him sneeze, by making Luigi’s arm press a button, you can cause the world to grow blisteringly hot or freezing cold, you can even speed up or slow the game or completely change gravity to get to new places. The puzzles were just challenging enough to make me think, but not overly frustrating either. Also, in battle, Dreamy Luigi will empower Mario increasing his health and massively increasing how many enemies can be hit at once making for some fun battles with mobs of enemies.

Another way the game spices up battles is with a neat little feature called Badges. Over the course of the game, you’ll obtain a number of badges. Combining two of them will yield a unique result and there’s a massive total of 36 different combinations and effects. You can store up to three-more if you upgrade your badge capacity-for use in a tight spot. Personally, I saved up all of mine for the boss fights, even if they do go down too fast. Unfortunately, with all these combinations, some badge combinations are blatantly better than others. No, that’s not my opinion, that’s a fact. One badge combination restores 30% of each bro’s HP. Okay, great. Another one restores 80% of each bro’s hp, revives any KO’d Bros and cures any bad status effects. Hmmmm… no idea which one I should use. The risk badge is especially bad as it has a chance to harm Mario and Luigi as well as the enemy. Despite this, they make a great addition to the game, although the mechanic certainly could of been executed better.

Finally, it’s time to talk about my biggest issue with the game. Mario and Luigi is quite a beginner-friendly game. Too goddamn beginner friendly. Even over a dozen hours into the game, you’re constantly assaulted by tutorials that want to make extra, extra, extra, extra sure you know what to do. How I wish I was kidding. Do you want to know how to jump? No. Are you sure you don’t want to know how to jump? No. I’m going to show you how to anyway but so slowly that it’s physically painful. What? *five minutes later* Did you get that? YES! Remember, press A to make Mario jump, and B to make Luigi jump. Even near the start of the game where tutorials are expected, it’s an absolute bore to slog through and I don’t think they completely stop until about thirty hours in  making the game drag even more than it already does in places. I KNOW HOW TO JUMP GODDAMNIT!!!!

Overall, Mario and Luigi is a very enjoyable game. Its excellently-composed soundtrack, unique premise and witty writing all go to show the amount of passion that fuelled the creation of this game. The game’s length isn’t anything to scoff at either. A forty hour main story on top of around 5-10 hours of extra content such as collectables and sidequests really makes the game seem like a grand adventure. Though it can drag a little too much sometimes(especially with the tutorials) and although the gameplay is rewarding and the mechanics one-of-a-kind, normal battles can become a bore by the halfway mark. Despite this, the level design is great and the dream world doesn’t feel like a gimmick at all. In fact, some of the game’s best moments take place in the dream world. This is a game that will surely satisfy fans of the turn-based RPG as well as those looking for a game with a story that will suck them into its pages and make them almost never want to leave.

Pros:

  • Great writing and humour with plenty of charm
  • Meticulous level and world design
  • Vibrant characters
  • Very long(40+ hours)
  • Extra collectibles, difficulty level and minigames add replayability
  • Unique gameplay
  • Amazing soundtrack
  • Giant Luigi Battles
  • Some creative enemy types such as the Dr. Mario germs
  • Creative Bros. attacks
  • Badges spice up the gameplay a bit

Cons:

  • Normal enemy battles can get really repetitive, real fast
  • Only a few enemy types in certain areas
  • Bombards you with relentless tutorials even 20+ hours in
  • A lot of the bosses go down too fast
  • Game can drag on too long for some people(best in short bursts)
  • Some badges are blatantly better than others

Verdict: 8/10

Buy the game here: http://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/mario-and-luigi-dream-team-3ds