Saturday, December 31, 2016

Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School - Hope Arc (2016)


Danganronpa 3:  The End of Hope's Peak High School is an anime that serves as the finale in the story that began with the three Danganronpa games so far:  Trigger Happy Havoc, Goodbye Despair and Ultra Despair Girls.  It is split into three "Arcs", the Future Arc, Despair Arc and the Hope Arc.  There is only one episode within the Hope Arc and it serves as the closure to everything that has happened in the three games and anime so far.  It takes place after the last episode of Future arc where Mitarai is about to attempt to brainwash the world into hope.  The remaining members of Future Foundation are pinned down by Class 77 (aka the cast of Goodbye Despair and the Despair Arc) comes forward to save the day.  The confrontation with Mitarai and how he was stopped from broadcasting the video was anti-climactic but it also makes sense in terms of everything that has happened.  This takes only around half of the episode, with the remaining half being character reflections.


The final episode is an excellent closure to to the series and redeems the Remnants of Despair.  It concludes all of the major plot points.  By the end of it, you feel relieved and satisfied, since the story was a huge journey spanning over numerous hours but there were a lot of sacrifices along the way, with deaths of some likeable characters who had either given it their all to make it to this point, or were innocently killed.  Overall, Danganronpa 3:  The End of Hope's Peak High School - Hope Arc, and Danganronpa 3 in general, serves as an excellent conclusion to the story that began with Trigger Happy Havoc.  While at times the scenes were demented and gory in their own way, it told an engrossing story which by the end of everything, you genuinely cared about the characters.

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Terminator Genisys


Terminator Genisys is the fifth film in the Terminator series and is intended to be a reboot while also being a sequel.  How does it do this?  Well, the film's beginning is in the future where the resistance is leading a final attack against Skynet.  Afterwards, Kyle Reese is sent back in time to protect Sarah Connor against the Terminator that was sent back by Skynet.  Somehow, with reasons not clearly explained, the timeline changed and it becomes a reality where the future is not set and effectively wiped away all the events of the previous films.  It's a bit disappointing and lazy, and this is more evident when the film replays iconic scenes from Terminator and Terminator 2, wanting to play on the nostalgia but ends up feeling like a rip off.  The plot takes a nosedive being too convoluted although it has potential in its concept.  It also gives an explanation on why the good Terminator (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger again) looks so old, while on the surface it is plausible, it raises more problems than it solves.  The problem with Genisys is that not only is its plot convoluted but the events don't make much sense.  It fails to have any momentum and retreads a lot of old concepts.  The antagonist is not memorable after the initial reveal and the ending was anticlimactic.  While overall Terminator Genisys isn't a complete disaster, there's nothing remarkable about it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Book Review: No Game No Life Vol. 4


Review:  #628
Title:  No Game No Life Vol. 4
Series:  No Game No Life - 4th volume
Author:  Yuu Kamiya
Read Before:  no
Comments:  After conquering the Werebeasts, Sora and Shiro just wanted some downtime but ends up being approached a Plum, a Dhampir (i.e. vampire) to save her race, along with the Sirens (i.e. mermaids).  They are roped into another game with the promising outcome of acquiring two more races for their empire.  The first half of the book is more lighthearted, with plenty of jokes.  However, the sexual nature has been toned up to a high degree, which seemed unusual considering previous volumes managed to not cross the line.  If you can ignore that, then you’ll enjoy the humor.  The second half of the book has Sora and his ever growing group attempt the game and while you feel something is off, you have the confidence that Sora and Shiro will be able to come out on top.  Little did you suspect that the complexity of the plot would blow up to significant proportions?  Once the big revelations were let loose in the end of the book, it leaves you wanting more, and you come to realize that the plot ended up being quite elaborate and complex.  Sadly, the volume ends in a cliffhanger and it seemed to be the start of a multi-volume story arc, which is about the only negative as you don’t get to immediately see the resolutions.
Rating:  6.5/10

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Toy Review: Transformers Generations Titans Return Twinferno & Daburu


Review:  #353
Name:  Twinferno
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Autobot
Line:  Generations - Titans Return
Year of Release:  2016
Size Class:  Deluxe (Wave 3)
Mold Status:  new

DABURU:


Daburu is Twinferno's Titan Master and he is white and black with no additional paint applications so it can be hard to make out the details.


As per usual, the back is an exposed head for the larger robot.  Articulation is restricted to head and shoulders, with bendable knees and hips.


The headsculpt is an odd one, since it looks like a tiger wearing a monocle.  Apparently it is to homage White Leo.

DRAGON MODE:


Twinferno transforms into a twin-headed dragon that is actually a little bit reminiscent of RiD Megatron/Galvatron.


This is a fairly good dragon mode.  He has a pair of translucent black wings, twin-barrelled guns on his back, and a fairly thick tail.


In terms of size, he is a good height and bulky enough to satisfy you.  Above is a comparison against Age of Extinction Scorn.


The figure comes with a card that showcases a piece of artwork.


The head is actually quite poseable, with three joints for the neck, and a mouth that can open.


The arms are balljointed and the legs can be moved but are fairly static.


The torso is blocky and this ruins the dragon mode a little bit.  The robot legs can also be difficult to tab into the slots for dragon mode.


Daburu can interact with Twinferno in a few ways.  The first is that there is a cockpit in the chest that you can place Daburu in.


The other part that Daburu can man the gun on Twinferno's back.  Twinferno has to lie on his stomach for this though because he is too front-heavy and cannot remain standing while leaning forward.


If you wish, you can also just have Daburu man the gun separately as some sort of vehicle.


Despite the blocky outline, Twinferno looks fantastic and is a lot of fun in this mode.

TRANSFORMATION:


Converting Twinferno into robot mode isn't too hard and there are one or two neat elements.  The first is that the panels holding the heads fold down to form his torso and provide some excellent detailing.  The second is how the legs are formed, with various pieces combining together that is quite elegant.

ROBOT MODE:


Twinferno's robot mode is amazing and while the dragon mode is strong, the robot mode completely outshines it.


There's not much kibble and the way the dragon arms fold onto the sides of the torso is clever.  The wings on his back and also adjustable to personal preferences.


The headsculpt is blocky and looks fantastic with a painted blue visor.  It's a very classic looking head.


He's standard height in robot mode but stocky, especially in the lower legs.


He is very poseable but due to the joints doubling up for dragon mode, his elbows are the inward bending kind, and the dragon head hands don't have swivels to compensate.


Nevertheless, you can still pull off decent poses with what you are given.


The robot mode is a great update to the original toy, it looks exactly like it but with better proportions and updated articulation.


His weapons are a pair of guns (that can also combine as noted in dragon mode).


Officially, you peg a gun on each shoulder since dragon heads for hands are cool enough weapons already.  However, they're situated on the shoulders so that when you move them, the guns also aim at a different angle too.


On each of his hands, there is a 5mm slot so he can wield the guns as handheld weapons too.


He has big feet with long heelspurs so balancing is not an issue.  The colors are good with a nice mix of black, grey, white and red.


A stunning robot mode with limited flaws.

OVERALL:

Twinferno is another winner in the Titans Return line.  Wave 3 has churned out some of the best toys in years.  Twinferno doesn't feel cheap, has an involved yet simple enough transformation, and two great modes.  The dragon mode is fun while the robot mode is packed with poseability and character.  Twinferno is definitely recommended.

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Monday, December 26, 2016

Kirby: Planet Robobot (3DS)


Following in the same vein of Triple Deluxe, Kirby:  Planet Robobot brings more classic Kirby gameplay with a few twists.  It's a treat that we are getting another classic Kirby game instead of a spin-off.  The gimmick for this title is the Robobot Armor which is a mech suit for Kirby to suit up and control.  We are soon introduced to the armor and it is much more powerful.  While the armor cannot indefinitely float and fly around like Kirby can, the extra power is a worthwhile trade-off, especially when you can destroy environmental objects that were so deadly to Kirby before.  Perhaps more surprisingly, even when Kirby is controlling the Robobot Armor, it can still scan enemies and take on their abilities, which means that the amount of different movesets that this game has is much more than expected.


Planet Robobot is a 2D platform sidescroller with the trademark Kirby ability of inhaling enemies to obtain their abilities.  These abilities have a decently sized moveset with multiple button inputs for different moves, and it's always a pleasure to find new abilities to copy and try out.  New abilities include the Doctor and Poison abilities, bringing the number of available abilities to over 25 in the game.  Even when Kirby isn't using an ability, Kirby can inhale and spit out objects to damage enemies, plus Kirby can float around, puff out air as an attack and slide kick.  Continuing from Triple Deluxe, there are two planes such that Kirby can jump between the foreground and background at specific points in the levels.  Enemy placements plays around this element, since you might have enemies in the background attacking Kirby.


The 3D effect works well most of the time and it's used to great effect when there are environmental hazards but they only look like it'll hurt Kirby, however they actually allow Kirby to walk right through.  There are five normal levels in each world, plus one extra level if you collect all the CodeCubes in each level (with the exception of the last world with two extra levels instead), and a boss fight level.  As there are six worlds, this adds up to 43 levels in the game.  From the very first level, Planet Robobot is so much fun.  Experienced players will be able to settle in right away while newcomers will find that it's easy to pick up and understand the mechanics.  It is not a hard game at all and there are some light puzzles in each area if you want to collect everything.


The levels are good and the environments are varied, you will be travelling through casino themed worlds, urban areas, underwater and forests.  The bright colorful aesthetic will ensure that you are never bored at all.  Not only that but the game will often change the type of gameplay including a sidescrolling shoot 'em up and race-like stages.  Stickers are the collectibles here and there are so many of them to get.  Annoyingly, at the end of the level where it reveals what stickers you are getting, they are random with no guarantee that you will get a new one.  These stickers aren't as cool or nostalgic as the key chains from Triple Deluxe but you can use these stickers to customize your Robobot Armor.  Boss battles are frequent and it is nice that Planet Robobot does not reuse many bosses from previous games.


Due to the robot theme, each World's boss is usually robotic and their battles are fantastic.  The first World's boss was extremely fun with various stages in the battle which reduces the predictability and potential repetitive nature.  Kirby has a health bar so Kirby can take more than a few hits before you lose a life but this also means that the bosses also have a health bar.  Thankfully, bosses' health isn't so ridiculously large that it becomes a slog.  The plot is better and more robust than you would expect but still remains fairly thin and light on content.  Basically, Planet Popstar is being invaded, with a gigantic robotic thing latching its five drills onto the planet and it is up to Kirby to save the planet from being converted into a robotic wasteland.


There is a bit more backstory to the plot that you can read during pause menus than what is told during the main story levels.  The ending presents a lot more plot info that makes it engrossing and allowing you to feel that the characters aren't just an excuse for the platforming gameplay.  The final boss was great.  Naturally, you will get to fight as Kirby and also in the Robobot Armor.  Without spoiling too much, the final three fights were fantastic, different and extremely fun.  It actually introduces a new gameplay element which was surprising but the mechanics are so solid that you don't mind it, plus, it made the ending that much more epic.  The game as a whole is easy, you will usually die by accident and it is never frustrating.  The checkpoints are frequent and you'll probably rack up 80+ lives by the end of the game.


Unfortunately, Planet Robobot is also a bit short, you can finish your first playthrough in roughly 7 hours and that's with collecting all the CodeCubes through rerunning a few levels.  Never fear though, in true Kirby fashion, after finishing the game it'll unlock another mode called Meta Knightmare.  In this mode, you get to play as Meta Knight through all the levels again at a harder difficulty, even with changes in the boss fights and plot elements.  The Arena is also unlocked upon finishing your first playthrough and it allows Kirby to fight bosses in successive battles without constant healing items.  Lastly, there are two minigames.  The first minigame is Kirby 3D Rumble which is comprised of only three levels.  It plays like normal except that instead of a 2D sidescrolling design, you play on a 3D plane.


While playing on a 3D area in Kirby 3D Rumble sounds interesting, the controls are intuitive and easy.  You aim for highscores, getting bonus points by finishing the level fast, not taking damage, having a full combo or collecting all coins.  The second minigame is Team Kirby Clash and you can play this one with friends.  It's an action RPG where you fight boss after boss and level up.  You pick a copy ability first though.  While these minigames won't capture your attention, they'll give you 30 mins to an hour's interest.  Overall, Kirby:  Planet Robobot is a fantastic platforming game.  Kirby's design is so charming and with the excellent level designs, relaxing gameplay and some of the best music in a Kirby game, Planet Robobot is one of the best games available on the 3DS.

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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Chappie (2015)


Chappie retreads ideas and concepts that films has done in the past.  In South Africa, part of the police force has been replaced with droids which has limited artificial intelligence.  The creator of these droids, wishes to test out true artificial intelligence that can learn and think for itself, but prevented by the CEO of the company.  Of course, the creator, Deon, ends up testing it out behind the scenes anyway and it spirals out of control.  The sentient robot, named Chappie, ends up falling with a group of gangsters and playing an analogy that Chappie himself is like a baby that can be molded, becomes badly influenced.  The film ends up overreaching itself, trying to put forward these grand ideas about artificial intelligence, consciousness and the many facets of controls if artificial intelligence ever comes into being.  Yet, the film's pacing and scenes are slow and does not add much to the plot.  Each character has various traits that makes it harder for them to be likeable, such that when the climax of the film comes around, you'll probably end up cheering for the antagonist instead.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Book Review: The Isolator 2: The Igniter


Review:  #627
Title:  The Isolator 2:  The Igniter
Series:  The Isolator - 2nd volume
Author:  Reki Kawahara
Read Before:  no
Comments:  The Igniter is a better volume than the previous simply because Minoru ends up being less of a whiner and is more proactive.  Not only has he joined forces with other Black Eye users to capture the evil Ruby Eyes but he has become a lot more useful, identifying the villain of this volume and playing a key role in the Igniter’s takedown.  As is the author’s signature writing style, a lot of time is spent explaining how the powers work and it dives into molecular psychics.  This is interesting yet somehow it feels as if the series is still lacking soul, like it is trying to be serious but at the same time, is not lighthearted enough.  The villain’s motives are dubious and there are still a lot of high level plot points left unresolved.  You start to see the beginnings of the romance of the main characters.  The Igniter is an interesting read by seems to still lack imagination.
Rating:  6.5/10

Friday, December 23, 2016

Toy Review: Transformers Generations Titans Return Triggerhappy & Blowpipe


Review:  #352
Name:  Triggerhappy
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Decepticon
Line:  Generations - Titans Return
Year of Release:  2016
Size Class:  Deluxe (Wave 3)
Mold Status:  new

BLOWPIPE:


Triggerhappy's Titan Master is Blowpipe who is unfortunately lacking quite a bit in the paint department.  It's not that he doesn't have sculpted detailing, it's just that it doesn't stand out.


He wears the larger robot's head on his back in full view which is to be expected since Blowpipe is quite small so it would have been difficult and cost-prohibitive for some sort of mechanism to hide the face when not in use.


Blowpipe's face is well defined but again, hard to tell when it doesn't have any paint to highlight it.  He has the standard Titan Master articulation including balljointed head and shoulders, and jointed hips and knees molded in one piece.

JET MODE:


Triggerhappy transforms into a space jet with heaps of weaponry.  Not only does he has the double-barreled blasters on each side, he has guns underneath each wing.


This is one of the best jets you will find.  The rear is equally well formed with defined rear thrusters.


In terms of size, Triggerhappy is surprisingly bulky.  You can see he is much bigger than Deluxe Legends Slipstream (which is a retool of Generations Windblade).  He holds together really well.


Since Titans Return Deluxes don't carry comics anymore, he comes with a character card instead showcasing a piece of impressive artwork.


The vehicle is designed to interact with Titan Masters, more specifically Blowpipe.  The cockpit opens up for you to place Blowpipe in.


Another feature is that you can detach the guns and then combine them together to form a gun-sled for Blowpipe.


Triggerhappy has fold down front landing gear but it is a molded wheel, don't expect to roll him on a table.


Overall, this is a perfect jet.  Triggerhappy has no flaws in this mode, he looks absolutely stunning and the best space jet fighter we have ever seen.

TRANSFORMATION:


Triggerhappy comes in robot mode in packaging and converting him into jet mode for the first time without instructions is a bit tricky.  The clear surprise is the rotating torso which retains part of the cockpit for the robot chest, but places the front of the jet onto his back and the back of the jet to the front as his legs.  It's impressive engineering.  It is not complex either so he is fun to go back and forth between the modes.

ROBOT MODE:


Triggerhappy's robot mode is no slouch either, looking equally as striking as the jet mode.


He has a fair bit of kibble which can end up impeding some of his articulation.  The mode notable of which is the front of the jet on his back and the guns on either side of his arms.


This is in the official instructions and is kind of like a half-transformed robot, where you leave the guns folded over his hands, combine the gun together and peg it onto the sides of his shoulder, where you can then place Blowpipe.  It's awkward and impractical.


The headsculpt is fantastic.  The faceplate, helmet and the paint used really brings out the character.  It's also fits the proportion of the body.  This line's Deluxes can fall into the trap of having large heads for their size making them a bit of a bobble-head, this is not the case with Triggerhappy.


A quick comparison with Slipstream and Triggerhappy retains his bulkiness in robot mode, but is still very slim, particularly around the leg area.


Poseability is excellent but as mentioned earlier, the guns folded up on the sides of his arms tend to get in the way sometimes.


Thanks to transformation, his ankles are jointed which helps immensely during posing.


Triggerhappy has a multitude of weapon options, the first of which, and is the most obvious, is that you can flip the guns back over his arms for some impressive firepower.


The large guns can also double up as melee weapons too.


He comes with a pair of guns and Wave 3 of the Deluxes has yet again improved upon the Titan Master interactivity gimmick.  Instead of giving us a very hollow gun, they've designed it that you can split it into a pair of guns which look decent on their own, while when combined, provides enough space to peg in a Titan Master.


The guns can peg onto some slots on his shoulders.


On the inside of each of the longer guns is a peg where you can attach the smaller guns, although it looks fairly awkward like this.


You can have Triggerhappy wield the combined larger gun but again, it looks a bit awkward.


The most natural, and best looking configuration is still holding the guns separately, one in each hand.


The shade of blue used is very nice, and the light grey doesn't look too bad either.


A stellar robot mode that is once again one of the best robots we have had and is bordering on absolute perfection.

OVERALL:

The Titans Return toyline has given us a lot of amazing toys but Triggerhappy has got to take the cake.  He is amazing, with a gorgeous jet mode, a perfect robot mode, connected via a brilliant transformation scheme.  If you only get one toy in the whole line, Triggerhappy is absolutely the one to get, he is one of the best toys produced in recent years.

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