Review of Cat Quest

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Once again I played a video game were the objective is to save a damsel in distress. Thankfully what Cat Quest lacks in originality it makes up for in funny feline puns and awesome gameplay. Developed by Singapore outfit Gentlebros, Cat Quest is another example of a title making the successful leap from mobile devices to console. Players assume the role of a silent paw-tagonist who travels across an isle, inhabited by humanoid kitties, in search of his abducted sister. Over the course of this eight-hour adventure our hero will have to vanquish an evil knight named Drakoth and a trio of dragons who are terrorizing the land.

OVERVIEW

Drakoth has kidnapped an innocent girl. What a cat-astrophe! Oh well, fear not because the captured maiden has a sibling who won’t rest until his sis is saved. Playing through Cat Quest reminded me of classic Zelda. There aren’t any puzzles to test your brainpower, as a handy marker tells you exactly what to do, but the combat is pure 2D hack n slash. Another similarity the two titles share is that the game features a mute playable character, who is accompanied by a diminutive flying sidekick. Thankfully the fairy in Cat Quest is less annoying than Navi, although you may think otherwise if you dislike characters that spew out puns.

The combat in Cat Quest is fun, but far from purr-fect. Due to a lack of depth the battles get repetitive after a while, so I would recommend playing the game in short bursts. In most cases you’ll deal with foes by evading their initial attack, with a well-timed roll, which you can then follow up with a barrage of sword swipes. A handy red radius indicates exactly where and when an enemy is going to strike. Complimenting the physical damage you inflict are magic spells that can restore health, boost strength and burn anyone in the vicinity. Sorcery costs mana to activate, which you can easily replenish by landing melee hits.

VERDICT

My rating for Cat Quest is a three out of five. The game missed out on four stars by a “whisker.” Although the humour and cute graphics are nice I can’t award it a higher score due to the lack of variety. Both the main campaign and optional missions, which you procure from village bulletin boards, are nothing more than glorified fetch quests. Cat Quest also suffers from a lack of challenge. The hit and run strategy I outlined above works on everyone, be they lowly rodents or mighty bosses. Should you mess up and die it’s no big deal either. The only penalty for death is that you re-spawn at a nearby town.

On the plus side I liked how the loot you procure, from adventuring, can be used to customize the main character. Every piece of gear has its own modifiers that influence health, damage and defence. The way you go about purchasing new equipment feels like opening a loot box. Gold you earn can be spent at the smithy to open chests, which award random gear. Obtaining a duplicate is no biggie, because if you pick up a repeat said weapon/accessory will level up in power. Sweet! Okay, that’s enough typing for today. Thank you for reading the review. Until next time, I am meowt of here!

Review of KonoSuba (Season One)

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Hurrah! I am now a Crunchyroll subscriber. Many moons ago I visited the site and was told that the service was unavailable in my country. That restriction appears to have been lifted now, allowing me to take advantage of a their fourteen day trial. Just as well because watching stuff over there for free is nigh on impossible, unless you have the patience of a saint, due to the constant barrage of adverts. The anime that took my Crunchyroll virginity is KonoSuba – a funny fantasy show about a Japanese shut-in, who is resurrected in a mystical land, after perishing in rather embarrassing circumstances.

OVERVIEW

In the first episode, of this light novel adaptation, teenager Kazuma Sato is given a second lease on life and transported to a magical kingdom. He hopes that his knowledge of MMORPGs will serve him well in this new land, but due to his puny stats he is only able to make a minimum wage via construction jobs. Although a career in adventuring is more lucrative, Kazuma is unable to complete any of the quests posted at the local guild. The one time he attempted to vanquish five giant toads it didn’t go well and culminated in his travelling companion Aqua getting slimed worse than Peter Venkman of Ghostbusters fame.

Aqua, by the way, is the rude goddess who gave the departed Kazuma the option of ascending into heaven or reviving in a world that is presently being hounded by the nefarious Devil King. Due to an afterlife legal loophole, Kazuma was able to drag Aqua with him into a nation where sorcery and medieval weapons are the norm. If Aqua ever hopes to return home she’ll have to aid Kazuma in accomplishing his ultimate goal of defeating the aforementioned demon monarch. Despite being blessed with divine healing magic, Aqua isn’t much help. She is cowardly, useless in a fight and extremely selfish.

CHARACTERS

Thankfully for Kazuma’s sake he is able to band together with more friendly, albeit unusual, allies as the series progresses. Megumin is the first person to answer Kazuma’s call for party members. She is a young caster who commands destructive Explosion magic. The ability to fire off a nuclear blast may sound handy, but the problem is that Explosion is the only spell Megumin knows. Even worse, whenever Megumin activates her signature move she collapses in an exhausted stupor and is unable to do anything else for the rest of the day. What a useless witch. Getting tired after one explosion is “bang” out of order.

Darkness is the next and final person to join Kazuma’s four-man group. Clad in armour, she is a blonde crusader – although the sword she wields is just for show. Due to terrible accuracy, which rivals the aim of a Rambo baddie, Darkness is incapable of striking any assailant… or even stationary targets for that matter. On the plus side Darkness is a courageous protector who willingly soaks up all damage directed at her teammates. The role of tank suits Darkness to a T, as she is a masochist who loves nothing more than being on the receiving end of physical pain and verbal abuse.

VERDICT

My rating for KonoSuba is four stars. As someone who enjoyed Slayers, I really dug the show’s mix of comedy and fantasy. It was fun to see whom Kazuma would face next, in his adventures, as the villains come in all shapes and sizes. The lineup of antagonists includes a slighted Dullahan, a runaway arachnid fortress and even flying cabbages. Natsume Akatsuki, who penned the source material, has created an interesting universe that borrows ideas from MMOs. Just like in a video game, KonoSuba’s characters acquire skills by levelling up. The first talent that Kazuma learns is the steal ability, which he promptly uses to pilfer panties. I’ll have to try that next time I roll a rogue in DnD.

KonoSuba isn’t perfect though. The early episodes could be better and the series doesn’t really click until Kazuma’s team has been fully assembled. I also thought that the artwork was inconsistent. At times the visuals are okay and on other occasions they look rough. Studio Deen continue to live up to their reputation of delivering erratic illustrations. I’ll forgive the scenes where characters go off model though, as no one expects masterpiece drawings from a comedy. Overall I had a grand time with KonoSuba. The first season only spans for ten episodes, but thankfully a new series is already out and available to watch on Crunchyroll (the website… as far as I know bread does not stream cartoons.)

Review of Chaos;Child

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The award for Most Grammatically Challenged visual novel franchise must go to the Science Adventure series. What’s the deal with developer 5pb inappropriately inserting semi colons into all of their game titles? If you aren’t familiar with the company’s library of work, I am sure you at least recognize some of their anime adaptations – the most famous being time travel yarn Steins;Gate. Chaos;Child is the sequel to the lesser-known Chaos;Head. Thankfully you don’t need to be familiar with its predecessor to enjoy Chaos;Child. Probably for the best, as the original visual novel never came out in the west and the animated series based off said VN wasn’t all that great.

OVERVIEW

If you decide to purchase Chaos;Child, either on the PS4 or PlayStation Vita, I would not recommend eating a snack whilst reading it. The game features some grisly murders, starting off with the very first chapter. Chaos;Child’s opener shows how an online soothsayer comes to a premature end, during a live stream, when he decides to chow down on one of his arms. For some unknown reason the celebrity predictor had mistaken his appendage for a slice of cheese. The death is the handiwork of a serial killer who is copycatting the New Generation Madness – a series of murders, made to look like bizarre suicides, which occurred six years prior.

Players take the role of Takuru Miyashiro, a Shibuya student who leads his high school’s newspaper club. Takuru has taken it upon himself to investigate the above-mentioned killings, despite the disapproval of student council president Nono Kurusu. Nono is actually Takuru’s stepsister, but the two no longer cohabitate due to a falling out. A while back Takuru left home and moved into an RV, where he spends his days drinking Mountain Dew and reading magazines that a local hobo delivers to him. Helping out Takuru with the mystery are childhood friend Serika Onoe, club mate Shinji Ito and a twin tailed girl named Hinae Arimura (who is very perceptive at detecting lies.)

VERDICT

My rating for Chaos;Child is four stars. One of the better visual novels available on Sony’s handheld – marred only by a noticeable number of typographical errors that publisher PQube could have eradicated with a quick spellcheck. The game is great value, as it is effectively six stories in one. Which ending you unlock is determined during certain scenes, where the player has to elect whether Takuru should experience a positive or negative delusion. The hallucinations in question are humorous and help offset what is otherwise a grim tale that usually concludes on a bittersweet note. Out of all the finales, the least depressing one was the route that pairs Takuru with MMO junkie Hana Kazuki. She is a quiet girl who survives on a diet exclusively made up of squid and lollipops.

Compared to other visual novels on the market, Chaos;Child has some pretty impressive production values. Spicing up the standard text and still pictures are Japanese voice acting, some minimal animation and a few particle effects. Those little touches really help enhance an excellent script that is rich in quirky characters, supernatural elements and unexpected twists. Okay, that’s it for this review. Time to edit the draft before I post it online. Thank goodness that my articles are concise because I expect the proofreading will take a while. I wonder how many times this document is going to cause Microsoft Word’s grammar checker to pause, due to all those blasted semi colons!

Review of Plastic Memories

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What a coincidence. Last time I reviewed a movie featuring lifeguards who have plastic mammaries. Today I find myself writing about an anime called Plastic Memories. In the near future SAI Corp has developed androids that are indistinguishable from humans. These automatons, dubbed Giftias, are employed by companies and also purchased by civilians who desire companionship. Like an Xbox 360, these machines don’t last long before breaking down. Nine years is the life expectancy of a Giftia. After that the bot’s memory degrades, turning them into superhuman zombies. To prevent the hazard of artificial humanoids running amok, the Terminal Services department are hired to repossess Giftias whose warranty is on the cusp of elapsing.

OVERVIEW

Tsukasa Mizugaki’s college dreams were shattered when appendicitis prevented him from sitting his exams. Luckily for him, Tsukasa’s dad managed to procure a job at Terminal Services for his under qualified son. On his first day Tsukasa is paired up with a Giftia named Isla. Normally in these two man teams the Giftia does all the work and the human merely supervises. Despite her experience however Isla is a bit of a klutz, so it falls upon Tsukasa to do much of the heavy lifting during assignments. Tsukasa soon learns that his profession isn’t for the faint of heart. Giftia owners are usually resistant to losing custody of their mechanical chums… and who can blame them? Imagine buying a puppy, bonding with it and nine years later the pet shop demands that you return said pooch.

Isla’s co-workers are a colourful bunch. The section manager can’t stay within budget and has a strained relationship with his daughter. As a result veteran Kazuki Kuwanomi runs the operation. She reminds me of Evangelion’s Misato. Depending on the situation Kazuki can be a stern or compassionate mentor, and like Misato she is a bit of a drunkard when off the clock. Michiru Kinushima is the teenage rookie who is assigned to show Tsukasa the ropes. She berates Tsukasa when things go awry, but deep down cares for his wellbeing. Her partner Zack loves to expose Michiru’s tsundere tendencies. Yasutaka Hanada on the other hand is a flirt who often ditches work to go on dates. The only time he gets stuff done is when his teammate Sherry literally drags him into the office.

VERDICT

My rating for Plastic Memories is a four out of five. Whether viewers will enjoy or loathe the series will depend on their sense of humour. Some people will feel that the quirky jokes don’t mesh with Plastic Memories’ more dramatic moments. For me however it worked. It’s a bit like Clannad. Make me laugh along with the cast and I will get attached to the characters, which in turn makes the instances when tragedy strikes all the more impactful. Besides, without a little levity the show would be downright depressing. As an example episode one features an elderly lady who doesn’t want to be separated from her Giftia, which she treats like a granddaughter. Without the occasional gag, story lines like that one would leave me longing for amnesia to erase those heart wrenching plastic memories.

Don’t expect the comedy to shield you completely from feels though. After a few successful missions, romance begins to blossom between Tsukasa and Isla. Given that Isla’s existence is finite, you don’t have to be a soothsayer to predict how said love story pans out. First Planetarian and now Plastic Memories. Android waifus have a knack for making audiences weep. The narrative will make you value the importance of making every day count. It also taught me that distancing yourself from others, to avoid pain, is futile. Like they say, it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved. Rest in peace cherished Xbox 360. Our time was cut short by the dreaded red ring of death, but I will forever remember the fun times we had ogling Cortana’s cleavage.

Review of Baywatch

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If you yearn for summer weather, during these chilly months, fear not because a trip to the beach is just one DVD away courtesy of Baywatch. Whilst conducting research for this review (mostly Google image searches of Pamela Anderson) I was surprised to learn that the original Baywatch TV series ran for a very respectable eleven seasons. How does a show about lifeguards last for so long, whilst Hasselhoff’s awesome Knight Rider gets a paltry four seasons to its name? What a travesty of justice! Speaking of the Hoff and Pammy, both actors make brief cameo appearances in this movie. It’s a little sad seeing how the heartthrobs of my youth have now gotten so wrinkly.

OVERVIEW

Lieutenant Mitch Buchannon is the head lifeguard of the world’s most dangerous beach. Seriously. Although nothing of note ever happens at my local seaside, over at Baywatch Florida, Buchannon has amassed a record of five hundred coastal rescues! When the movie begins Mitch recruits three new trainees to his team. The trio of newbies include a former Olympic gold medallist named Matt Brody. You would imagine that enlisting the services of a speedy swimmer would be quite the coup, but unfortunately not as Brody isn’t a team player. This is evidenced by the time he cost his nation relay glory, due to excessive partying. He turned up to the event with a hangover and proceeded to pollute the pool with puke – earning him the nickname Vomit Comet.

In this adventure the Baywatch crew take on a foreign entrepreneur named Victoria Leeds, who is played by a former Miss World. After losing ownership of the family business to her brother, Leeds migrated to America where she proceeded to amass a fortune through drug trafficking. If you think that lifeguards battling a criminal syndicate is ridiculous worry not, because various onscreen characters express similar sentiments. Baywatch constantly pokes fun at itself. This is an action comedy that veers more towards humour than action. If anything the action is rather lacklustre. A film starring The Rock should feature good fight choreography – the few fisticuffs we get however are marred by shaky cam. The shaking will make you more seasick than riding on a Baywatch jet ski.

VERDICT

My rating for Baywatch is a three out of five. The movie isn’t great, as the scathing reviews penned by professional critics will attest to, but I would still class it as a fun romp – providing that you can turn off your brain throughout its two-hour duration. A guilty pleasure offering a blend of comedy and eye candy is how I would put it. The ratio of funny/lame jokes could be better, but I must admit to chuckling quite a few times. Highlights of note include the banter that Mitch and Matt share, along with the scenes mocking how the original series would use slow motion effects whenever CJ took a jog. I could however have done without the morgue sequence involving a dead man’s genitals. That gag was bollocks in more ways than one.

When it comes to fan service both genders are well catered to. Alexandra Daddario and Kelly Rohrbach bouncing about in swimsuits will go down well with the guys. Female viewers on the other hand can gawk at Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron’s chiselled torsos. If you are the rare breed of girl who prefers blubber to muscle Jon Bass has you covered, in the role of computer whizz Ronnie Greenbaum. Do women who lust after unattractive overweight blokes really exist though? If they do, and one of them happens to be reading this article, please leave your phone number in the comments section below. We should meet up for dinner and a movie some time 😉

Review of The Mummy (2017)

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Tom Cruise resembles the adversary he is pitted against in this movie. Both the titular Mummy and Cruise look great for their age. I wonder what the secret of his youthful complexion is? Perhaps it is exercise, as the protagonist spends a large portion of this film sprinting. What happened to the days when heroes battled against evil rather than flee from it? One of the many things that I didn’t like about The Mummy is that the lead runs away from his problems, and in the end only triumphs due to a power he didn’t earn. Oh well, at least the trials he faced did at least transform him from a selfish prick into someone who is willing to sacrifice himself for others.

OVERVIEW

Nick Morton is a US soldier who is currently based in the Middle East. His orders are to patrol the region and search for insurgents. Rather than dutifully follow his mission however, he uses the role as an excuse to raid local tombs for antiquities. His latest discovery is a crypt that houses the remains of an Egyptian princess. Whilst exploring the catacomb, for treasure, he inadvertently liberates said royal from her sarcophagus prison and ends up getting cursed to boot. To spare the world from a force more wicked than Scientology, Nick allies himself with a clandestine group of UK based monster hunters. Together they must prevent the female Mummy from completing a ritual that will summon the god of death.

Given that The Mummy is being used to launch Universal’s Dark Universe (think Marvel’s cinematic universe, only with monsters instead of superheroes) the film is rich with shoehorned references to other creatures. Prodigium, the group of monster slayers mentioned above, owns a warehouse whose inventory contains an assortment of vampire skulls for example. A chap named Dr Jekyll, who is played by a pudgy Russell Crowe, also happens to lead the organization. I presume that Crowe’s weight gain can be attributed to the fact that scenery is high in calories. He chews the scenery whenever onscreen. This performance will make you wonder how he ever won an Academy Award.

VERDICT

My rating for The Mummy is two stars. It feels like something designed by committee, were Universal execs drew up a checklist of things they should include to mimic Marvel’s success. As a result what we get isn’t a scary horror movie, but a film packed with action and humour. It’s a formula that worked for Brendan Fraser in 1999. This time however the whole thing falls flat. None of the gags are funny and the fight/chase scenes bored me. I also thought that Tom Cruise was disappointing. He is charismatic in real life, but didn’t show much of that here. Not good when you are meant to be portraying a likable rogue. Cruise also didn’t have much chemistry with onscreen love interest Annabelle Wallis, so I couldn’t buy the moments when Nick Morton risks his life for her sake.

Another complaint I have is with the villain. Princess Ahmanet, the Mummy, is just a generic baddie who was buried alive as punishment for an attempt to usurp the throne. Years later, when resurrected, she is driven by the cliché motivations of power and immortality. The Mummy starts off looking rather creepy, but as she drains the life force of others she morphs from a cadaver to sexy Sofia Boutella… who I would rather ogle than fear. Based on this showing, the future Dark Universe team up will resemble League of Extraordinary Gentlemen rather than the Avengers. Don’t spend a dime on this DVD. From what I hear, the cash would be better invested in WayForward’s Mummy Demastered – a rare example of a decent movie based console game.

Dragon Ball Z: Movie Collection One Review

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It’s time to review another movie combo pack from Manga Entertainment. Unlike the recent Beyond the Boundary set, I am pleased to report that this release’s content does not include a worthless recap film. Although Dead Zone and The World’s Strongest are not new movies (having premiered back in 1989 and 1990 respectively) this is the first occasion that UK fans have had to purchase either flick on Blu-Ray/DVD. Bundling both features together, rather than releasing them separately, is a nice gesture as neither film goes over the one-hour mark. Quality may trump quantity, but when it comes to anime paying full price for forty minutes of entertainment would be a bit of a swindle.

OVERVIEW

Dead Zone tells the tale of how Goku acquired the power of clairvoyance, after being involved in a car accident. Oh wait… I am getting confused with the Stephen King novel. In this movie the aforementioned Saiyan has to defeat a villain who has kidnapped his son. Said evildoer’s moniker is Garlic Junior, which is rather ironic. He resembles a Nosferatu and yet he is named after the vegetable people use to ward off vampires. Anyway, the rescue attempt won’t be easy as Garlic is more immortal than a Scottish swordsman – his reward for collecting all seven Dragon Balls at the start of the film. In order to defeat Garlic the spikey haired protagonist will have to band together with his nemesis Piccolo.

The World’s Strongest kicks off with Gohan and a humanoid swine searching for the titular Dragon Balls. Oolong, the perverted pig man, desires the mystical spheres so he can summon a pair of panties. Unfortunately for the horny hog, a scientist loyal to a genius named Dr Wheelo beats him to the punch. Said scientist uses the Dragon Balls to liberate his master from an icy tomb. Once freed, Wheelo arranges for Goku’s sensei Master Roshi to be abducted. Wheelo mistakenly believes that Roshi is the strongest human around and wishes to transfer his consciousness into Roshi’s body. Once again Goku ventures forth to rescue one of his acquaintances. Dragon Ball evidently relies on kidnap plots almost as much as it rehashes fighting tournaments.

VERDICT

My rating for Dragon Ball Z: Movie Collection One is a three out of five. From the limited selection of Dragon Ball films I have watched, I would have to rank Resurrection F above either of these two offerings. Long time fans of the series will however appreciate this nostalgic trip back to the franchise’s roots. Despite the age of the movies I didn’t think that the visuals looked all that dated. Although the animation is on par with what we have seen in the TV series, the artwork itself has received a slight clean up courtesy of a digital remaster. Out of the two movies I enjoyed Dead Zone slightly more. The World’s Strongest has a better story, thanks to its lengthier run time, whilst Dead Zone has the superior antagonist. Wheelo is just a Mother Brain wannabe with a robotic body.

One thing that I liked about the movies is that the action focuses on fisticuffs and energy blasts, rather than characters changing their hairstyles, as both stories are set prior to the time when Super Saiyan mode was unlocked. Goku even has to call upon the aid of his bow staff during one of the battles. Thanks to the concise running time neither movie suffers from excessive filler, which happens to be my chief complaint with the television show. Sadly the corny slapstick that DBZ is known for is still present here. If puerile jokes “piss” you off I can’t imagine that the scene were Gohan urinates on Krillin will be to your liking… pun intended.