Casual Movie Review: The Incredibles 2

This is possibly the first movie from Pixar (excluding Cars 2, but we don’t talk about that) that I watched, and walked away feeling conflicted. After being bought out by Disney, I can’t say I had zero doubts that Pixar would have complete creative freedom taken away. But with how good Zootopia, Monster University and Coco turned out to be I hoped the studio would continue with their habit of producing brilliant, heart-warming movies. Continue reading “Casual Movie Review: The Incredibles 2”

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Casual Movie Review: A Quiet Place

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I’m honestly surprised how good this movie turned out to be. I was initially on the fence about watching it, despite being a huge fan of Emily Blunt. The posters and what little I saw of the trailer screamed horror, and I’m best described as faint-hearted. However, after watching several interviews and finding out it was directed and co-written by her husband, I decided to take the plunge. I’m always interested when a real-life couple portrays a movie one. Call it morbid curiosity, but I want to see if the chemistry carries over. Continue reading “Casual Movie Review: A Quiet Place”

Revisiting Terraria

I only got into PC gaming after I turned seventeen. It was around the time I graduated from my country’s equivalent of high school, gaining a brief taste of freedom after studying for most of my life. My three month break before college was spent working to fund what I had desperately wanted for years – a proper gaming desktop. Continue reading “Revisiting Terraria”

Why You Need to Play Butterfly Soup

For all the money big-time publishers’ pump into their triple-A games the final product can often come out lacking what indie titles have in spades. There’s a simple charm to games made dutifully and lovingly by one man teams or small studios, and it shows. What they lack in budget and polish is made up with heart and creativity. I’m aware not all indie games end up this way – like Ark: Survival Evolved or the countless early access titles which never get off the ground – but I believe it holds true for the majority. Continue reading “Why You Need to Play Butterfly Soup”

Why I never finished: Gravity Rush

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I really hoped to finish this game. Even writing this now, I can’t help but feel bad. Despite everything good about Gravity Rush – the bad parts eventually became too difficult to ignore and became the deciding factor in forcing me to stop playing.

Like most games I never finish, Gravity Rush is not a bad game. It has something of a cult status due to its charm, and was obviously popular enough to get a sequel. The story it tries to tell is pretty interesting, and the protagonist, named Kat, is bursting with personality.

This game feels experimental, and it shows. The clunky controls, a repetitive and largely uninspired battle system, drags down what could have been a good game and made it mediocre.

Gravity Rush tells its story through a series of chapters. Every chapter begins with events playing out in a comic style panel. This was a really nice touch and I found it quite charming. While cynics may see it as cheap replacement for animated cut scenes, I think this style of presentation suits Gravity Rush to a tee. In addition, character dialogues are witty, and the reliance on character interaction keep things interesting. There was never a dull moment with Kat.

It’s unfortunate that the bad aspects of the game overshadow the good. One example which encapsulates my experience would be this:

I would be flying Kat around the city when she suddenly flies straight into the building. The camera would shift erratically,  forcing me to go through a series of manoeuvres to get her back on track – inducing a headache in the process. This problem also occurs during battle, where the player is expected to tightly manoeuvre around the battlefield. This can get extremely annoying if the enemy constantly dodges, forcing the player to stop upside down in mid-air and try again, hoping the enemy would stay still.

I’m a person who gets motion sickness if the FOV isn’t wide enough, or if the camera moves too fast, so the horrible camera and poor controls were a deal breaker for me. Seeing Kat spin uncontrollably in the air, or attack a constantly moving opponent can make me nauseous enough that it breaks the immersion.

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The main character,  Kat

There are also things I love about this game. The main character is one of the more interesting protagonists I’ve come across. Kat is the right combination of funny and sassy, unafraid to deliver her personal brand of biting sarcasm to idiots around her. Despite being a shifter – a term used in the game to describe those with the power to control gravity – I feel Kat is the most relatable even among the entire cast.

While the game’s controls are annoying and makes playing it difficult, one thing Gravity Rush nailed was how the player controlled gravity. What I enjoyed most in the game was having Kat fly over the city, an unforgettable experience bolstered by the ecstatic rush of being free and seeing buildings rush by in a blur.

Kat doesn’t lose health falling from extreme heights, and it merely inconveniences her. The quick travel mechanic in the game was something I rarely used, preferring to fly Kat to her destination instead of taking something as mundane as a train, or airship.

Overall, I might have finished the game if I wasn’t prone to bouts of motion sickness. But as it stands, torturing myself to finish ten more chapters doesn’t seem appealing, especially when I could be playing something else.

PS Vita Ports: Risk Of Rain

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I’m always looking for games to add to my small, but darling library of vita games. It’s a sad fact that Sony has abandoned the handheld console outside of Japan. Despite that, I wouldn’t give up my vita for anything in the world. While it doesn’t have a strong library as say, the 3DS, it still has its share of great games which need to be played.

Another really good thing about the vita is that it has a decent library of indie titles. It’s more expensive than buying them for your PC, but that’s the price of portability.

Risk of rain is one such title that I’ve been going crazy over lately. I bought it when it first came out and didn’t play much of it, only unlocking a handful of what the game had to offer. I started playing it much more regularly this year and have finished the game several times over since then.

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Risk of rain isn’t a very demanding title. It runs great on my computer and fairly smoothly on the vita.

Something I’ve noticed is that the vita version feels significantly smaller, each generated level is easy to find your way around and you stumble along a generous amount of items on the way. It’s not that the game is easier, it just feels like the spawned items could be found with little effort.

During each different playthrough, I also felt it was easy to get more than ten drones within a small timeframe if you had enough coins. It wasn’t as easy for me on the pc version, which had me scouring the maps endlessly for the exact same thing. I guess they had to make concessions for the port since the vita is limited by its hardware.

In terms of content, the PC and vita versions are the mostly same. Same achievements, skills, items, nothing is cut from the original game. The only thing missing that affected me was the option that allowed me to zoom in.

One downside to this port, however, is the occasional frame rate drops. Risk of rain requires the player to hoard whatever items they can get their hands on and with different items come different effects.

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Some effects are very flashy, which by itself isn’t a big problem. The problem comes when you find yourself surrounded by enemies with large bosses spawning left and right.

The longer you play, the more difficult the game will be. Monsters that spawn after the half hour mark often feel like damage sponges. You can kill one and four more would pop up in their place, each more aggressive and tanky than before.

There were several times the game began stuttering when there were too many enemies on screen. It didn’t have a big effect on me but I found it annoying since it broke the immersion being a badass character slaughtering everything in their path.

There were times where an item’s effect would make the fps drop horribly, though it wouldn’t remain that way for long.

The ‘Happiest mask’ was one such item. I loved this item since it would spawn a ghost for each killed enemy which is a big help when dealing with a swarm of monsters while using a character who doesn’t have Area of Effect damage.

But whenever I killed a large amount of enemies, causing their ghosts to spawn, the game would inevitably lag for several seconds. Enough to make me annoyed but not enough to cause me grief.

Conclusion

I would recommend this port to those who liked the game on PC and want to have it on the go, but if you had to pick between the vita port and the PC version, I would highly recommend the PC one instead since it gives players a better experience overall.

Why you should read: The World God Only Knows

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Rarely do I finish a manga and feel wholly satisfied. I don’t know if it’s the norm for long running serializations, like for example Katekyo Hitman Reborn, but their eventual endings tend to range from mediocre to downright dissatisfying. This is especially unfortunate because some manga start off strong only to die off with a whimper. The manga I mentioned above, Katekyo, was one such manga.

The past week has seen me binge reading different series, some long and some short. One manga called Wolf guy started off brilliantly but ended in a way that left me annoyed. That annoyance was what led me to reread one of my favorite series – The World God Only Knows.

This manga is so. damn. satisfying. From the storytelling to the execution to the ending, it’s like the universe just knew what I needed. I believe this is my second time reading it but it didn’t matter because I couldn’t recall much of the major plot points, I felt like I was like discovering it for the first time.

Story

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The advantage of a being a popular, serialized manga is having the ability to flesh out the story as they see fit. While it might be unfair, a system that punishes its losers as much as it rewards its winners, I can’t help but be grateful for it because it gave us The World God Only Knows.

The story is mostly shown from the POV of our main protagonist, a hardcore enthusiast that specializes in gal games (video games that involve interactions with anime-styled pretty girls) who mistakenly accepts a devil’s contract to find and capture runaway devils. How? By conquering the hearts of the girls these devils hide in.

I wouldn’t blame people for immediately closing their browser after reading that summary. If I didn’t like the harem genre I doubt I’d have even read this manga.

But looks can be deceiving. The World God Only Knows is amazing in that although it uses typical anime tropes and clichés, it puts a fresh spin on it and creates omething special. Here’s a quote by Carlo Santos of Anime News Network on the anime adaptation:

“By most expectations, anything involving ditzy demon girls and gaming-obsessed geekboys and a rotating lineup of high school beauties should have been the stuff of critical derision. Yet the show’s sharp sense of humor, honest emotions, and polished production values prove that working with familiar clichés doesn’t have to result in a clichéd product. With the right prodding and poking, any anime series can indeed become greater than the sum of its parts.”

If the anime can be described as such, I can assure you that manga is twice as amazing. While the story does get slightly convoluted towards the end, I didn’t find it to be that bad overall. The important thing, to me at least, is that it still made sense and tied in to the plot. The mangaka also manages to avoid plot holes and finishes up the story in a spectacularly satisfying manner.

As you can tell already, I’d be sing praises for The World God Only Knows for as long as it takes to get you to read it.

Characters

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The main character is certainly one of the most enjoyable I’ve ever come across in a sea of uninteresting harem MCs.

Keima Katsuragi, also known as the ‘God Of Conquests’ in gaming circles, is one heck of a guy. Unlike your average harem protagonist, he actually puts in the work to get girls to fall for him. Girls don’t throw themselves at him just because he does something nice. Ignoring the fact he romances girls to exorcise the runaway spirits, it’s actually interesting to see him working his way into their hearts with his own brand of affection.

His personality might not be the best, but he doesn’t do things half-assed. Be it school work or devil hunting Keima puts forth his hundred percent if it’s something he needs to do. His analytic nature comes in handy when dealing with threats, and he’s not afraid to get out of his comfort zone (albeit with prodding) to get what he wants. It’s a nice change of pace to have a main character who isn’t ditzy or indecisive. Under the snark and gal games addiction, Keima is a catch, and the girls know it.

Speaking of. Each girl Keima ‘conquers’ has her own arc, and while some come and go, several have bigger and more important roles that tie in to the later part of the story. Another aspect that I thought was well done is the fact that even after their arcs, the manga doesn’t completely forget about them. One may say it’s because of plot, but I still thought it was a good attention for detail.

In addition, each arc is well-written and of varying lengths; some short and others, long. They explore each girl’s personality, and the ones who tie into the later story receive great development, like Tenri, one of Keima’s childhood friends.

Conclusion 

Even if you dislike the romcom/harem genre, I’d highly recommend to give this manga a try. This is an example of a harem done right.

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