Review of Kirby Star Allies

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The only person more gluttonous than myself is Kirby. Nintendo’s pink puffball devours enemies akin to me scarfing down Easter Eggs. The only difference is that Kirby’s overeating is beneficial, as it allows him to mimic the powers of the foe he consumed. I on the other hand only suffer a trip to the loo, whenever chocolate overindulgence takes its toll. Sitting on the can, with indigestion, isn’t so bad though. Thanks to handhelds I can still game whilst in the restroom. Years ago I would play Kirby’s Dreamland on the Gameboy. Nowadays I repeat the stomachache ritual with Kirby Star Allies on the Nintendo Switch.

OVERVIEW

Kirby Star Allies begins with a hooded figure performing an occult ceremony, which causes dark hearts to rain down from the sky. Anyone who comes into contact with these black organs becomes evil… or eviler as is the case when King Dedede and Meta Knight get corrupted by their influence. Kirby, the adorable protector of Pop Star, sets off to free his rivals from the shackles of dark heart possession. Hampering his progress are three generals (Francisca, Flamberge, and Zan Partizanne) who command elemental magic. This wicked trio are stockpiling the hearts, with the aims of using them to resurrect their dark lord.

If you seek respite from hardcore games, which revel in violence and difficulty, Kirby Star Allies is a good choice. The cute graphics and cheerful soundtrack are the antithesis of something like Dark Souls. Its casual gameplay differentiates it from other platformers, such as Super Meat Boy, which punish those who lack superhuman reflexes. Even an inept player such as myself was able to best Star Allies within six hours. I attribute my success to Kirby’s floatation gifts that allow him to soar over pitfalls. By hurling hearts at an opponent, Kirby can also convert adversaries into loyal bodyguards. This significantly lowers the challenge, as your companions can do much of the work when it comes to combat.

VERDICT

My rating for Kirby Star Allies is a three and a half out of five. Although it is far from Kirby’s greatest adventure it is still a lot of fun to play. What most people will criticise Star Allies for is its longevity. Kirby games are known for being short, but even so it is disappointing that developer HAL Laboratory didn’t use the Switch’s beefier hardware to include some more content. Aside from the story mode you can tackle a couple of mini-games. Once the end credits roll a boss rush mode is unlocked. You’ll also get the option of playing through the story again with different characters.

I suspect the game would have been more enjoyable for me had I opted to play co-op with friends, rather than depend on AI partners. Alas, it is awkward to invite friends over for a multiplayer session when I am playing Kirby in the bathroom (curse that painful belly and those delicious Easter treats.) What I liked best about Kirby Star Allies is copying powers to defeat enemies and solve puzzles. There are close to thirty powers on offer and some of them can be combined. Kirby can pretend to be Link with the sword skill, masquerade as Ness with the ESP ability or role-play a woman courtesy of the cook and cleaning powers. I kid! I kid! Please don’t flame me too hard in the comments section 🙂

Review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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Mark Hamill turned up at my hometown the other day to open the “Sky Walk” bridge (just like me, the locals love a good pun). I decided to commemorate the event by watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi. As someone who enjoyed The Force Awakens and Rogue One, I have to say that this film is the weakest of Disney’s post Lucas efforts. Hopefully Solo will put the franchise back on track, although I am pessimistic on that prediction due to the film’s well-publicised production troubles. Replacing directors, partway through filming, sounds like a recipe for disaster. It certainly didn’t save Justice League from being a disappointment.

OVERVIEW

Following on from The Force Awakens’ conclusion, Rey has located Luke Skywalker on an isolated alien world. She hopes that the legendary Jedi will teach her the ways of the Force. Unfortunately for her, Luke has become a reclusive hermit who is opposed to mentoring new apprentices. Skywalker would rather spend his retirement alone drinking green milk, which he harvests by pinching a hideous extra terrestrial’s nipples. Believe me, the image is even more grotesque than my written description. Meanwhile the Resistance is on the run and begin the film pursued by a First Order fleet.

X-Wing ace Poe Dameron earns the good guys a reprieve by leading an attack that fells a First Order dreadnaught. The assault however comes at the cost of many casualties. In the battle’s aftermath, the surviving Resistance craft find themselves low on fuel and still hounded by their enemy’s armada. Perhaps they can flee if someone infiltrates the First Order flagship and hacks their computers, with the aplomb of a Cambridge Analytica Facebook App. Ex-Storm Trooper Finn volunteers to find a code breaker who is up to the task. He begins his search on a casino world, ably assisted by his new yandere girlfriend Rose.

VERDICT

I am awarding Star Wars: The Last Jedi a two and a half out of five. Despite the lengthy 152 minute running time I can’t say that the movie ever bored me. I was however underwhelmed by how the script squandered the potential set up by its predecessor. Director Rian Johnson inherited a story packed with juicy mysteries, but chose not to explore any of them. The question of Rey’s parentage was answered in a most anticlimactic manner. Meanwhile audiences hoping to learn of Snoke’s backstory will find nothing here. Just like Darth Maul, this villain looks sinister but doesn’t have much substance. I suppose the character’s origins will be left for novels and spin-offs to expand.

Just like The Force Awakens, this movie recycles material from the original trilogy. AT-AT Walkers on a snowy battlefield, a protagonist training under an eccentric master and heroes ending the movie on the ropes all harken back to Empire. One thing that really bugged me was Luke’s portrayal. I understand that people get grouchier with age, but Skywalker’s personality shift was too much. He’s completely apathetic to the plight of his friends and family, just because he discovered that his nephew is a bit emo. Let’s hope that J.J. Abrams can salvage this mess in Episode IX. Otherwise, I too may join the despondent ranks of Kylo Ren by moping about, dressing in black and listening to Simple Plan tunes.

Review of The Longest Five Minutes

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Let’s start off this review by clearing one thing up. The Longest Five Minutes takes considerably longer than 300 seconds to complete. I estimate that my playthrough, of this retro style RPG, lasted for around ten hours. That’s lengthier than the title suggests, but still shorter than your average JRPG. I’m not complaining though, because these days I just don’t have the time to finish a Witcher sized adventure. My long shifts are partially to blame and my age is a factor too. Once I hit my mid-thirties I lost the energy required to stay up all night playing games. Then again, my ex-girlfriends would argue that I never had much stamina for “night time activities” to begin with.

OVERVIEW

The Longest Five Minutes sees players assume the role of a hero named Flash Back. When the game begins Flash is in the midst of a five-minute tussle versus the tyrannical Demon King. How Flash got into this predicament is a mystery because he is suffering from amnesia (an ailment common amongst RPG heroes and anime characters alike.) In effect TLFM commences at the finale and gradually reveals how the story got to that point via memory fragments, which are essentially short levels chronicling Flash’s journey from his home village to the overlord’s castle. Joining him along for the ride are a bashful cleric, a Kung-Fu tomboy and a spoony mage who aspires to be a bard.

Gameplay wise The Longest Five Minutes feels like a 16-bit title, due to its turn based combat and pixel graphics. Ah, the 16-bit era. Those were the days! Final Fantasy was still fun, Sonic hadn’t lost his coolness and I could stay up past 10pm without feeling sleepy. What distinguishes TLFM from other RPGs is that the story is broken up into bite-sized chunks, which can be completed in a sitting. That’s great for busy folks, but may be less appealing for gamers who like to grind. Every stage is its own self-contained quest, were your party begin at an appropriate level and with suitable gear to best the challenge ahead. There’s no point in farming for gold/EXP because nothing carries over between stages.

VERDICT

My rating for The Longest Five Minutes is a three and a half out of five. It’s a game I would recommend to those seeking a casual JRPG experience. Perfect for anyone who needs a break from the constant game overs in Bloodborne (currently available to download off PSN for free.) The game doesn’t offer much, in the way of challenge, but I didn’t mind as the charming characters and exceptional soundtrack were enough to keep me invested. I dug the unique “reverse order” storytelling structure. The cut scenes are mostly humorous, as one would expect for an NIS America release, although it must be said that some of the endings on offer are surprisingly emotional.

Right now The Longest Five Minutes can be purchased on Vita, Switch and PC. I went with the Vita version, as the short levels make this RPG an ideal portable experience. Buyers who opt for the PC version can acquire the soundtrack, via DLC, which is a nice perk. Despite enjoying the game I think the £35 asking price is steep. The production values don’t justify that cost nor does the campaign’s length. Overall though, I enjoyed the game. The Longest Five Minutes looks like a game from my youth, but its streamline design makes it ideal to play on an adult’s busy schedule. Why does work consume so much time? The true “longest five minutes” is when I glance at my watch, counting down the end of my shift.

Review of My Hero Academia (Season 1)

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My Hero Academia is a bit like the reverse X-Men. Rather than being the minority, in this series, super powered mutants make up most of the population. Some folks use their special abilities to commit crime, whilst others opt instead to become costumed law enforcers. Teenage protagonist Izuku Midoriya (nicknamed Deku… because he is a scrub) has always dreamt of becoming a superhero. Unfortunately for him, he happens to be part of the twenty percent of people who never develop a superhuman skill. His hopes and dreams seem to be over, until one fateful day when he bumps into the nation’s mightiest hero.

OVERVIEW

One thing that I like about My Hero Academia is that Deku earns his power through courage and effort. He isn’t one of those anime dweebs who acquires an “I win button” by randomly stumbling upon a huge mech or cute kitty that gives away magical girl outfits. Deku inherits the abilities of a Superman clone (named All Might) through a tough apprenticeship that involves cleaning up a beach. Deku possesses far more willpower than myself. I would pass on super strength if ridding the seaside of litter were the cost. Plucking dirty syringes and used condoms from my local coastline isn’t worth the hassle.

All Might is looking for a worthy successor, who he can transfer his powers to, because injury has severely depleted his super hero work hours. On an average day, All Might can only fight crime for a period of 180 minutes. After that time limit elapses he morphs from The Rock into Pee-wee Herman. With his days numbered All Might accepts a mentorship role at an academy that tutors the next generation of Marvel rip-offs. Deku enrols at said U.A. High School after gaining a portion of All Might’s power, which he accomplishes by devouring a strand of the hero’s hair. I accidently ate a hair follicle once, which was served in the soup of a dodgy restaurant. Rather than boost my fortitude it gave me indigestion!

VERDICT

Like a motion picture from Marvel Studios, My Hero Academia suffers from villains that lack depth. The season finale however teases that the evildoers, who show up in the third arc, may get some development in future episodes. On the plus side Deku’s classmates make up for the weak antagonists. They are a colourful bunch, whose ranks include a gravity defying love interest, a hot-headed rival and a bespectacled speedster. Oh, and let’s not frog-et best girl Tsuyu Asui. She’s an amphibian who can leap high and literarily give out tongue-lashings with her elongated mouth organ.

I am awarding My Hero Academia (Season One) a four out of five. Unless the subpar DC movies have killed your passion for all things superhero, I can highly recommend this thirteen episode series. The action is good, there are some funny moments that will make you chortle and most important of all the characters have heart. Clearly I am not the only person who liked My Hero Academia. The series has since spawned a lengthier follow up and a third season is already in the works. That’s plenty of content to keep fans of capes and tights occupied, until the next instalment of One Punch Man comes out.

Review of Attack on Titan (Season Two)

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Carnivorous giants aren’t the only things that are huge. The gap in time between seasons one and two, of Attack on Titan, has been pretty big too. At long last however, the wait is finally over for British anime fans. Sony Pictures, who replace Manga Entertainment as the show’s UK distributor, has released a DVD set containing all twelve episodes. Things pretty much begin from where the last series left off. In case you don’t recall, season one’s finale revealed that the walls keeping danger at bay are in fact made up of Titans. It’s a secret that the clergy kept hidden from the military. Child molestation and Titans… priests sure do love their cover-ups.

OVERVIEW

Despite only containing a dozen episodes, a lot of entertainment is squeezed into these two discs. Not only do the Scouts have to battle against tall nudists, but this time round they also have to contend with King Kong. Um… I mean the Beast Titan. Unlike his mindless brethren, said ape possesses intellect and can even speak. He’s not the only threat though, as the colossal titan makes an appearance too (joined by his armoured buddy.) Eren, Mikasa and Armin have their hands full with that duo, so it falls upon the supporting cast to locate the wall breach where all these monstrosities are coming from. Giving the other characters screen time is nice, as I can only stand so many scenes of Eren wailing.

Without giving too much away, Reiner Braun and Bertolt Hoover play a “huge” role in this story arc. Pint sized blonde Krista Lenz and her faithful companion Ymir also feature prominently. Their backstories are revealed via flashbacks, which offer some clues on the origin of Titans. I was also pleased to see that Sasha “Potato Girl” Blouse got a moment to shine. Her gluttonous antics never fail to make me smile. On a more serious note she also got to show off her archery talents, in an episode where she protects an orphan from a Titan singlehandedly. Just when Hunger Games fatigue was starting to make me dislike babes with bows, Sasha shows why females who fire arrows are cool.

VERDICT

My rating for Attack on Titan (Season Two) is a five out of five. The series was well worth the wait. Wit Studio has managed to maintain the high benchmark set by the debut series four years ago. Back when season two aired I heard murmurs that the pacing was slow, but I couldn’t disagree more. Every episode had me captivated thanks to the surprising revelations and character development. Viewers who tune in just to watch gory deaths won’t be disappointed either. Many auxiliary warriors succumb to the titanic horde and ultimately meet their demise in a most gruesome manner. In their final moments, they must have felt like the Jelly Babies I devour.

Based on this impressive showing, I cannot wait for the summer season to arrive. No more pesky rainfall to worry about and Attack On Titan season three hits Japanese television. In the meantime fans can enjoy themselves with the upcoming video game, which is due out on all current gen systems imminently. I may also occupy myself by checking out the parody series Attack on Titan: Junior High. Let me know, in the comments section below, if that 2015 spin-off is any good. I very much doubt that Junior High can match the quality of season two. Just like Sasha Blouse, I would have to say that Attack on Titan season two is truly spud-tacular.

Review of Thor: Ragnarok

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When it comes to dysfunctional families the Norse gods of Marvel’s cinematic universe are tough to beat. Odin and Thor have a strained relationship, to put it mildly, and Loki doesn’t get on with the thunder deity either. The god of mischief lives up to his reputation by routinely betraying his brother. In Thor: Ragnarok we learn that Thor has a long lost sister named Hela. She is the goddess of death and has returned from exile with aspirations of claiming the vacant Asgardian throne. Hela’s thirst for conquest will put her at loggerheads with Thor, who seems to be blighted with unruly relatives.

OVERVIEW

Don’t let the movie’s title fool you, a substantial chunk of Thor: Ragnarok takes place outside of Asgard. After getting trounced by Hela, a hammerless Thor ends up marooned on the alien world of Sakaar. The planet’s ruler is a nutty chap named Grandmaster (who is played by Jeff Goldblum, who appears to have walked on set wearing his morning gown.) Grandmaster enslaves Thor and forces him to compete in mortal combat. In effect Thor is now a gladiator, who fights against other gladiators, in a gladiator arena… just like that Ridley Scott movie whose name I cannot recall.

Thor: Ragnarok boasts a star-studded lineup. Many of the big names are limited to brief appearances though. That’s what happens when 130 minutes has to be rationed out between such a big cast. Benedict Cumberbatch’s reprisal of Dr Strange is constrained to a cameo. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is relegated from nemesis to comic relief. If you came to watch a memorable performance from Karl Urban, I “dredd” to inform you that he is nothing more than Hela’s lackey. I didn’t mind that Mark Ruffalo barely featured in human form though. I found the chattier CGI Hulk to be more entertaining than his alter ego Bruce Banner.

VERDICT

My rating for this motion picture is a Thor out of five. Overall I would have to say that Ragnarok is a big improvement over its predecessor Thor: Dark World. If you enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy I imagine you will like Ragnarok too. Both films deliver on sci-fi spectacle, tons of action and lashings of humour. If anything, the script was a little too saturated with gags. Most of the jokes are hilarious, but there were some moments of slapstick that missed their mark. Another grievance I had, with the witticisms, is that on a couple of occasions the mood was ruined by an out of place quip.

I’ll conclude by saying that the ladies acquitted themselves well. Hela is just a generic Marvel villain, who looks like a blade wielding Maleficent. Cate Blanchett made the role work though, with an over the top portrayal that is cartoonishly evil. Tessa Thompson also did a good job as the booze swilling Valkyrie. As someone who loves blondes, I was disappointed to see that Valkyrie doesn’t resemble a traditional Scandinavian war maiden. Tessa did however match the boys when it came to fisticuffs. She’s actually tougher than some of the guys (Loki and Banner I am looking at you.) Okay, I take that back. Banner is a badass. Best not to upset him with insults. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.

Review of Mr Massagy

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How did you beautiful people spend Valentine’s Day? Did a secret admirer confess their feelings to you? Perhaps your significant other invited you to a romantic dinner. In my case, February fourteenth was a solitary experience spent at home. The only love I received came from the virtual women that dated me in Mr Massagy. Developed by Green Lava Studios, this comedic dating sim is currently available to buy on the PlayStation Network and on PC via Valve’s Steam service. Who needs a girlfriend when video games can fill the void in your heart for the price of some Valentine chocolate?

OVERVIEW

Mr Massagy sees players assume the role of a Casanova named Johnny. The aim of the game is to swoon the bachelorettes that you meet on an app named Linger. Getting dates on said Tinder knockoff isn’t too difficult. In most cases the babes will accept your advances, providing that you select a suitable profile pic and accrue enough stars (earned each time you go on a date.) The dates in Mr Massagy are quick affairs were you respond to questions pitched by your love interest. Make a good impression and your date will invite you back to her place for a sensual massage.

To simulate the abovementioned back rubbing players are advised to place the PS4 controller on their shoulders, relax and enjoy the soothing vibrations. Lesbian players may prefer to rest the controller elsewhere… if you catch my drift. What makes Mr Massagy stand out from other games in the genre is the unorthodox roster of ladies available to flirt with. Some of the more colourful characters include a werewolf, an extra-terrestrial, a bovine nudist and a phantom surfer. If you have a fetish for inanimate objects fear not, because it’s also possible to go out with a body pillow and a jar of mayonnaise!

VERDICT

My rating for Mr Massagy is a two out of five. It’s not a great game, but I must admit to having some fun with it. The manner that the romantic rendezvous play out made me chuckle on several occasions, as they are so weird. I also can’t say that I regret my purchase, because the software is available to download for less than a fiver. On the graphical side of things, I would have to say that the artwork lacks polish. I did however like the character designs and must commend the artist for imbuing each girl with tons of personality. They did an eggs-cellent job of showcasing how bashful the mayonnaise is for example.

If I had to recommend Mr Massagy to anyone it would be to achievement hunters, as it offers a platinum trophy that can be acquired in less than two hours. One interesting feature that Mr Massagy boasts is online leader boards. High score tables are not something you normally associate with dating sims. If you are so inclined its possible to compete for the honour of most three star dates or longest massage. At the time of writing there is someone who has clocked 12,679 minutes worth of massage time with the body pillow. Evidently, no matter how lonely I was during Valentines, there are people out there who are even more desperate for affection.