Omega Labyrinth Z Banned in the West

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Right now I am enjoying the Muv-Luv visual novels that recently got released on PlayStation Vita. The highly acclaimed trilogy came to the system courtesy of a successful 2015 Kickstarter campaign. Muv-Luv starts out as a high school harem rom-com, in the first title, before transitioning into a sci-fi mech adventure in the later sequels. If you are interested in downloading the games be sure to manually search for them in the PSN store. Sony’s inept European staff never bothered to list either VN on their New Release listings. Guess they really hate anything that publisher PQube brings out.

Case in point, earlier this week it was announced on PQube’s website that Omega Labyrinth Z won’t be getting a Western localization after all. A handful of prudish nations (including Australia the kings of censorship) refused to give the dungeon crawler an age rating, thus barring it from being sold in their retail outlets. The rest of the world was however expected to get the game at some point this year. Unfortunately for RPG fans Sony has scuppered those plans at the eleventh hour. A press release from PQube reveals that Sony has effectively banned the game in the US and EU…

“In the case of Omega Labyrinth Z, while PQube has worked with all relevant age rating bodies in their respective territories, PQube must respectfully comply with the wishes of the platform holder and have therefore withdrawn any future plans for Omega Labyrinth Z’s European and North American release.”

When I say Sony I mean their European and America branches, because the game came out last year in Japan without incident. Shame that said Asian version doesn’t carry English subtitles, because that would have allowed prospective buyers to import it. Thank you very much Sony Europe/America for policing what grown adults can buy. You are okay with profiting from games that revel in graphic murder (God of War) but heaven forbid that an eighteen year old gets to play something that features cute cartoon girls. Better not tell them that their Crunchyoll app already allows people to view ecchi content on their machine.

I feel bad for PQube because they must be out of pocket, after going through the expense of translating a game they can no longer sell. Meanwhile the folks at Sony have accelerated the death of their handheld with this decision. Banning games is not going to help the lifespan of a system that is starving for new releases. One thing that concerns me is the signal that Sony has sent out. Game publishers are hesitant to localize niche games because they aren’t big sellers. I suspect in future even fewer quirky titles from Japan will reach our shores. The risk is too great when the threat of a potential Sony ban hangs over their heads.

Review of Jurassic World

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Back, when I was a wee lad, I was obsessed with dinosaurs. I could even rattle off their scientific names, which is a wonder given that these days I cannot even pronounce the surnames of foreign footballers. My love of prehistoric creatures was replaced with robots however, once the Transformers cartoon came to my attention. I briefly rediscovered how cool dinos can be when I watched Denver the Last Dinosaur… um I mean the original Jurassic Park. Sadly, the sequel movies weren’t very good. Over two decades after Steven Spielberg wowed audiences with the first film, a wild Jurassic World has appeared. Can it revitalize the franchise? Read on to find out.

OVERVIEW

Our tale begins with two youngsters (Zach and Gray) preparing for a trip. Aside from their suitcases, the boys are carrying the (emotional) baggage of their parents getting divorced. Hopefully visiting the Jurassic World theme park will help to get their thoughts away from such depressing matters. If you ask me Disney Land would have made for a more fun vacation, but I guess they got free tickets because their aunt is the park manager. Auntie Claire won’t have much time to spent with her nephews though, as she is busy working on a new attraction. In order to keep attendances up, management have genetically engineered a lizard that is deadlier than a T-Rex. What could possibly go wrong?

In news that should surprise no one, the above-mentioned Indominus Rex escapes from its enclosure. Owen Grady, a raptor trainer played by Chris Pratt, is tasked with capturing the beast before it begins to chow down on tasty customers. Pratt cements his place as a creditable Hollywood action star with this performance. He kicks arse in the movie, but isn’t able to emulate the charisma seen in Guardians of the Galaxy. Part of the reason is that he doesn’t have funny sidekicks to banter with. Owen is instead paired up with redhead Claire, for a shoehorned romance that lacks chemistry. If you ask me, Owen had a closer relationship with the raptors. Who can blame him? No one likes gingers.

VERDICT

Overall, I think this movie does enough to save the series from extinction. I wasn’t ever bored, even if the two-hour running time was a little excessive. The hunt for a bloodthirsty dinosaur didn’t need to be padded out with a military subplot, which revolved around the creation of chimeras. One thing that I found daft was that Claire spends the entire film wearing high heels. Not the best choice of footwear for someone who is constantly running away from danger. I guess no matter what, life… um style finds a way. Midway during the film actress Bryce Dallas Howard unbuttons her blouse. I suspect the move was to get viewers to stare at her cleavage, rather than her ridiculous shoes.

My rating for Jurassic World is a three out of five. It lacks the magic and suspense of the original, but is entertaining to watch (which is more than I can say for the last two movies.) The dinosaur effects are decent and help to mask how bland the human characters are. I didn’t feel anything when people got gobbled up. On the flip side there were moments were I felt sympathy for the wildlife casualties. These included the passing of a mortally wounded Brontosaurus and the scene where a juvenile Triceratops is assaulted. Sniff, poor dinosaurs. When I finish this review I’m going to watch a cartoon to cheer up. How about The Land Before Time? It looks cute, so I am certain it is devoid of any heart-breaking tragedies.

Review of Solo: A Star Wars Story

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Lucasfilm’s output has increased dramatically ever since the Disney acquisition. There was a time when you would have to wait years for a new Lucasfilm release. Nowadays the studio churns out Star Wars flicks with the frequency that EA brings out a FIFA game. For the foreseeable future cinemagoers can expect to see a mainline Star Wars movie or a prequel spin-off on an annual basis. Rogue One was the first Star Wars prequel, under the Disney banner, to come out and following on its heels is Solo: A Star Wars Story. Over the course of 135 minutes this feature film chronicles how the titular smuggler met Chewbacca and how he got his mitts on the iconic Millennium Falcon.

OVERVIEW

Solo is an intergalactic heist adventure directed by Lord and Miller. Um, I mean directed by Ron Howard. The duo responsible for the hilarious Lego movies were axed from the project, as they allegedly didn’t stick to Jonathan Kasdan’s script. Shame, because the pair’s comedic flair could have bolstered several lines of cringey dialogue. Anyways, moving back on topic. Solo sees Han and Chewie team up with a veteran criminal named Tobias Beckett (played by Woody Harrelson.) The trio have been hired by the Crimson Dawn syndicate to steal some precious coaxium fuel. If the group can successfully pull off the robbery they shall be rich beyond their wildest dreams. Should they fail however, they shall be killed quicker than Captain Phasma in an action scene.

Joining the abovementioned rogues are Han’s childhood sweetheart Qi’ra, along with L3-37 and Lando Calrissian. L3-37 surprised me by being the film’s funniest character. She is a parody of modern day social justice warriors (so much so that feminist money grubber Anita Sarkeesian recently bashed the bot on Twitter.) Just like a rabid SJW, this mechanical lady trumpets the cause of racial equality – in this case rights for androids. Donald Glover meanwhile takes the award for best performance with his portrayal of Lando. Glover has more charisma than Lando has capes and that is saying a lot. In one scene viewers see that the future head of Cloud City needs an entire wardrobe just to store his collection of dashing capes.

VERDICT

My rating for Solo: A Star Wars Story is a three out of five. It’s better than the underwhelming trailer suggests, but lacks the magic and grandeur one expects from this franchise. The movie feels more like Firefly than Star Wars. All that said Solo was more fun to watch than the disappointing Last Jedi. I dug the action sequences, even if the drama is somewhat hamstrung by the story being a prequel. No matter how precarious things get, given the tale’s place in the Star Wars timeline, you know that at the very least Han, Chewie and Lando will escape unscathed. Alden Ehrenreich’s acting was a mixed bag. I never bought that he is Han Solo. He was however a likable enough protagonist and had good onscreen chemistry with his hairy sidekick Chewbacca.

I reckon that the movie would have benefitted from a trim on the cutting room floor. The straightforward plot didn’t need to exceed two hours in my opinion. For the most part the story is predictable, although there are a few neat twists in the final act. I was especially surprised by the identity of Crimson Dawn’s true mastermind. Fingers crossed that said villain will appear more prominently in a future prequel spin-off. Given its well-publicised production troubles Solo turned out more entertaining than it deserved to be. I wonder how this version of the film compares to the vision Lord and Miller had in mind. Sadly we shall never know as the directors were Lego… um let go.