Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Toy Review: Transformers Robots in Disguise (2015) Heatseeker (Legion)


Review:  #413
Name:  Heatseeker
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Decepticon
Line:  Robots in Disguise (2015)
Year of Release:  2017
Size Class:  Legion (Wave 12)
Mold Status:  new

VEHICLE MODE:


Heatseeker transforms into a grey SUV with four rolling wheels, purple headlights and red windows.


The back feels unfinished due to the unpainted window and the transformation joints, however, at least it is not an empty gap.


The RiD insignia for the game is on the left side.  Above is a size comparison against Legion Drift.


While simple, this is a strong robot mode.

TRANSFORMATION:

Heatseeker's transformation takes a lot of inspiration from Legion Strongarm.  The front splits to form his arms and shoulderpads, while the back unfolds to form his legs.  It has nothing that we haven't seen before.

ROBOT MODE:


Heatseeker's robot mode looks bulky and menacing, with the big shoulderpads and the thick lower legs, he has a great silhouette.


Due to the simple transformation and small size, there isn't many pieces of kibble to speak of.  The major one being the side windows behind his shoulders.


The headsculpt is quite unique in that he has an eye piece.


He is average size in this mode, he wins out by being bulkier than normal though.


Due to transformation, his poseability is great with knees as well as hips, elbows and shoulders.


The grey plastic used isn't exactly the best shade but otherwise, the various silver and red highlights help show off the sculpting.


A strong robot mode that despite the small size, packs a lot of punch.

OVERALL:

Heatseeker is another winner in the Legion size class of the Robots in Disguise (2015) line.  While the transformation is simple, it is solid and it works here.  The robot mode looks great and is packed with articulation.  For the inexpensive price, Heatseeker is well worth it.

--------------------------------------------------

For other Transformers reviews, have a look at this page.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Disney Universe (PS3)


Disney Universe is a 3D platformer using various Disney properties as backdrops.  It is designed to be accessible to the younger audiences and thus, does not contain many complexities but also as a result, it is a relaxing and enjoyable game to play.  The game uses a fixed camera and areas are fairly small making this a no-issue.  Your character can double jump, do basic combos for combat and interact with certain environmental objects.  Combat uses one button and you can button mash.  However, your controllable character dies easily within a few hits.  There is a HP bar beneath your character which is hard to notice at first but enemies do various damage so even if you are at full health, you may die from one hit, but if you've three health bars left, you may survive three hits.  Making this worse are inconsistent hit boxes, so even if you thought that you were far enough to be safe, you'll get hit and die.

That being said, dying has no significant penalty since you'll respawn.  You have unlimited lives, the only negatives are that you lose some gold and it lowers your ranking at the end of the level.  The slow death animations are probably the most annoying thing about dying.  Characters only wear costumes based on Disney properties, they aren't the characters themselves which can be off-putting at first, but is pretty cool in the end.  There are a total of 45 costumes (excluding DLC), although being costumes, this also means that every character plays exactly the same, making it more tedious.  The game only contains six worlds, each with three locations and within each location are three levels.

The levels are fairly small, comprised of explorable areas that contains basic problem solving puzzles.  However, there is a hint system that displays arrows on where you need to go next and what you need to do which takes all the challenge out of it but makes the game not frustrating.  If you wish, you may turn off these hint arrows.  You will be playing in levels inspired by Pirates of the Caribbean, WALL-E and The Lion King.  It can be nostalgic seeing familiar items and environments.  Each level also contains collectables which aren't too hard to find.  Eventually though, the game feels by the numbers.  The level designs aren't bad, it's just that it reuses a lot of its mechanics with different skins.  You'll find parts to complete machinery, throw bombs to clear obstacles and find items to reveal hidden paths.

A neat thing is that the game has local co-op multiplayer of up to 4 players.  The story is basic.  The opening cutscenes state that the player is entering a virtual rendition of classic Disney worlds, which were created for the player to enjoy and experience.  We're introduced to VIC, the Virtual Information Cube, but is suddenly taken over by the villain, Hex, who has sent its minions to attack the player and set traps.  The player must then travel through the worlds to save the characters.  However, both the characters fade into the background and pretty much just give hints during loading screens.

There are humorous scenes at the beginning of every location and while there was barely any story after the opening cutscene, the ending was funny.  Perhaps most surprisingly are the boss battles which are quite exciting.  The only negative with these are that they often have one-hit kills which can be hard to avoid the first few times.  The graphics are passable; the colorful aesthetics helps a lot in making it look pretty.  The music is great albeit can be repetitive and a bit too upbeat.  Overall, Disney Universe is an enjoyable platformer.  While it lacks many of the complexities that would keep players entertained, it's relaxing and easy fun makes it a nice game to the player.

------------------------------------------------

For other game reviews, have a look at this page.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Book Review: The World God Only Knows Vol. 4


Review:  #698
Title:  The World God Only Knows Vol. 4
Series:  The World God Only Knows - 4th volume
Author:  Tamiki Wakaki
Read Before:  no
Comments:  The fourth volume covers the Chihiro arc, who, up until now, was only a supporting side character.  It’s ironic that she is depicted as the more normal and generic of characters, with no unique traits.  Yet, this is what makes her one of the most interesting encounters as Keima is stumped at how to approach her.  The encounters don’t seem as rushed but there is still quite a leap required at the end when Keima wins Chihiro’s heart.  There are a few chapters of random events in between the girls, some of which are funny, some of which are just plain odd.  It ends with the start of the next heroine and once again, the author changes it up a bit, now being a student teacher.
Rating:  6/10

Friday, October 27, 2017

Lion (2016)


Lion is based on the true story of Saroo Brierley, who was lost as a 5 year old in India, adopted to Australia and then as an adult, began his search for his blood family.  It is a compelling story and it was surprising that the first half of the film took place in India, and all characters speaking Hindi or Bengali (there are subtitles).  The film does an excellent job of bonding the viewers with Saroo and his family.  As their family struggles to earn enough to keep living, it is heart wrenching when Saroo is eventually transported over 1500 km away from home as a 5 year old, unable to find his way home as he has no idea where he is, and no one knows which city he came from.  Eventually, he is adopted to Australia and begins a new life, time skipping to when he is an adult, having grown up privileged, he painstakingly searches for his family via Google Earth, with only his vague memories of landmarks to aid him.  It feels like a monumental task that borders on the impossible and when he finally succeeds you can't help but feel happy.  The film's ending has the biggest emotional impact when Saroo reunites with his mother and sister, finds out the fate of his brother.  A bigger emotional punch happens when photos of the real Saroo is shown and the footage of his real meeting.  You come to realize that the events in this film actually happened (noting that it's accurate to a certain degree) and that is is amazing, a happy story that is true.  Overall, while Lion has slow pacing in various scenes, the emotional story is excellent and the ending makes it all worthwhile.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Toy Review: Transformers Robots in Disguise (2015) Soundwave (Warrior)


Review:  #412
Name:  Soundwave
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Decepticon
Line:  Robots in Disguise (2015)
Year of Release:  2017
Size Class:  Warrior (Wave 10)
Mold Status:  new

VEHICLE MODE:


Soundwave transforms into an armored truck, taking a little bit of inspiration from his War for Cybertron self.


The robot arms and hands are very visible but otherwise, this vehicle mode is pretty unique and strong.


Above is a comparison against DoTM Jolt.  Soundwave is approximately Deluxe sized, but like the rest of the line, he is hollow and feels light in comparison.


The cannon can be stored inside the vehicle mode between the robot thighs.  Other than the rolling wheels, there are no other play value to speak of.


Nevertheless, this is a good vehicle mode.

TRANSFORMATION:

As expected, the transformation is simple.  The legs unfold from the back, the arms from the sides and the front of the vehicle collapses (somewhat confusingly the first time around) to form the robot torso.

ROBOT MODE:


The robot mode takes inspiration from both War for Cybertron and the Prime incarnations of the character.


For a bulky looking robot, you can see the cost saving measures with the various hollow areas, which can cause Soundwave to feel flimsy and insubstantial in hand.


The headsculpt is heavily inspired by the Prime version and thanks to the lightpiping, it looks awesome.


Soundwave has a bulky stature, more in line with his G1 self after the skinny Prime version.


His main weapon is a cannon/gun.


It can peg onto his shoulder for a more classic Soundwave look but means he lacks a handheld weapon.


Obviously, you can choose to let him hold it in his hand but now you're faced with the lack of a shoulder weapon, you can't really win...


Articulation is good with various balljoints and swivels.  He has a large adjustable footprint which makes balancing easy.


Note that some of the blue used on his has a slightly metallic paint/tinge to it, such as his cannon.  It looks nice, although the base blue plastic used isn't bad either.


A great robot mode that manages to merge various incarnations of the character into a unique take.

OVERALL:

A lot of people dislike the Robots in Disguise (2015) line for its high price and lack of meaningful quality.  However, it has bought us some interesting ideas and the engineering, while simplistic, works well.  Soundwave is another one of the highlights in the line.  He has two great modes, and both looks fantastic and plays well.

--------------------------------------------

For other Transformers reviews, have a look at this page.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Book Review: The World God Only Knows Vol. 3


Review:  #697
Title:  The World God Only Knows Vol. 3
Series:  The World God Only Knows - 3rd volume
Author:  Tamiki Wakaki
Read Before:  no
Comments:  In the third volume, the quick pacing continues with two complete story arcs.  The first arc is about a martial artist who does not want to show her feminine side.  Keima has the unfortunate task of trying to win her heart and there are some funny comments when they go on a date.  We also get to see how the souls affect their hosts in terms of giving them additional “powers”.  The second arc introduces a new demon, a more competent one (apparently) than Elsie.  It changes the formula a bit in that Keima isn’t trying to win the heart of a girl, rather, they have to capture a powered up soul that doesn’t have a host body.  It still finishes up quickly and abruptly with not enough time to really digest and get to know the characters.
Rating:  6/10

Monday, October 23, 2017

Tales of the Abyss (3DS)


Tales of the Abyss on the 3DS is a port of the PS2 game, with no extras except for the 3D effect.  The 3D effect itself is fairly weak but is still immersive once you've played it for a while.  There are several traditionally animated cutscenes which are played in 2D, and thanks to the fantastic art style, even though it's a PS2 port, the game looks really good.  The only thing letting it down is the low resolution of the 3DS screen which means that character models are heavily pixilated and hard to make out any sort of detail when the camera is zoomed out.  The game is voiced in English and the majority of the dialogue is voiced.  However, Skits, which are short optional scenes shown using character portraits, are not voiced.  It isn't so bad except for the fact that they were voiced in the Japanese version and thus you cannot manually advance the dialogue, you have to wait in silence until the dialogue automatically advances.  The battle system is called the Flex Range Linear Motion Battle System.  You control one character while the AI controls the other three.  You can perform physical attacks, Artes (which are placed in a shortcut which involves a direction of the circle pad plus a button, and you can assign four to the touchscreen, for a total of eight) and block.

A unique feature in this game is Field of Change areas which appear as highlighted circles on the battlefield.  If you use an attack corresponding to its element within them, it'll change your attack into a more powerful version.  You can freely run around the battlefield and change targets in this fast-paced action oriented battle system.  Each character can go into Overlimit which prevents staggering, reduces damage and allows the use of Mystic Artes (the ultimate attack for the character).  It is a solid battle system overall and doesn't get boring even in the late stages of the game.  There's a bit of customizing going into each character, as you can equip Chambers to Artes for additional effects such as increased knockback and heavier damage.  Then there are Capacity Cores which gives additional boosts to certain stats when that character levels up.  While the game is linear, there are various points in the story where it gives you the freedom to explore the world.  There is a world map, as well as typical towns and dungeons.  The game has a fixed camera in dungeons and towns, while on the work map, you can freely rotate the camera using the shoulder buttons.

There are no random encounters as the monsters are on the screen, or spawn near you on the world map, giving you a chance to not engage them.  It's a bit more annoying on the world map though as enemies spawn frequently and more likely than not, they run faster than you so you cannot avoid them.  Most of the dungeons are short but filled with typical annoying JRPG "puzzles" involving switches and backtracking.  As each dungeon is separated in various screens/areas, it's good that not all monsters respawn when you return to an area.  As a result of the relatively short dungeons, you will be moving through multiple towns and dungeons in quick succession from the very beginning of the game.  Despite that, the story is extremely slow to start, and takes a long while before it actually becomes good.  You control Luke, who himself is unlikable at the start since he is rude to everyone thanks to his sheltered life up until now.  He starts changing over the course of the story but still isn't too likeable as you will find him annoying for different reasons.  Eventually, an even more stubborn character shows up, but otherwise, the rest of the cast are strong.

The chemistry between the party members is fantastic and is one of the game's strongest points.  It is littered with funny dialogue although sometimes there will be a serious scene followed by a cheesy or funny one, which can clash against each other.  The plot begins with Luke, who one day while training with his Master Van, is warped with a mysterious woman named Tear outside of the castle he lived in.  He ends up travelling around the world in order to return to his home and of course, gathers up a party and ends up saving the world.  The world is special in that there is something called the Score, which is a sort of prophecy but in much more detail.  It is a religion but the difference is that what is written in the Score actually happens and people live their lives according to it.  It explores the theme of predetermined fate and trying to escape from it.  As mentioned, the beginning is slow but it picks up pace after the first 10-20 hours.  This is because the game infodumps a lot of specific terms and concepts about this particular world that takes a bit of time to fully sink in.  Afterwards, while there are still detours to the main plot like all JRPGs, it tells an engaging story and you grow to like the characters.

Thanks to the character development, there are many scenes where it takes a turn to the emotional.  These are the best moments of the game, and as the characters come to understand greater things, so too are their scenes more memorable.  The ending was typical and it doesn't try to throw in any massive twists, but it works well.  Most of the story is told via cutscenes using the in-game engine, but there will often be animated cutscenes, which, to be honest, looks worse than the rendered scenes as the animated cutscenes are blurry due to the low resolution of the screen.  Couple all this with decent music such as the world map theme, and catchy battle themes and you have a solid game.  The game is long, if you use a walkthrough, then it is beatable within 40 hours.  However, play it blind and it'll take you 50-70 hours.  Afterwards, there is a New Game Plus with a new dungeon, a few new moves and the Grade Shop which provides bonuses to gameplay.  Overall, Tales of the Abyss is a hidden striker.  It seems to bide its time and hooks you when you least expect it.  Persist through the beginnings and while nothing in the game is revolutionary, it does everything well from the battle system to the story, that it's a satisfying game to complete.

-----------------------------------------------------

For other game reviews, have a look at this page.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Toy Review: Transformers Generations Titans Return Windblade & Scorchfire


Review:  #411
Name:  Windblade
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Autobot
Line:  Generations - Titans Return
Year of Release:  2017
Size Class:  Deluxe (Wave 5)
Mold Status:  heavy remold of Titans Return Highbrow

SCORCHFIRE:


Windblade's Titan Master is Scorchfire, a predominantly black robot with a painted white face.


Windblade's head can be seen on its back.


Articulation is limited to balljointed shoulders and head.

JET MODE:


Another Generations line, and surprisingly, yet another Windblade toy.  This time around, she transforms into the familiar black and red VTOL jet.


It is a much bulkier jet this time around with the rear being the robot legs (as per normal) but doesn't quite fit the contour of the jet.  The robot hands are also visible.


Above is a comparison against Generations Armada Starscream and you can see that Windblade is a bit bigger, although she is a lot lighter too.


With a comparison against the previous two Windblade toys (being Generations and RiD), Titans Return has a lot more red which actually makes it better.  The jet mode is also a lot more stable.


As part of the line, a card is included with the figure.


The cockpit opens up to allow Scorchfire to sit in there.


The robot weapons can attach underneath each wing.


You can also combine the weapons together to form a rail gun for Scorchfire.


The VTOL fans can be tilted at an angle as you so desire.


A solid jet mode.  While a bit bulky the fact that it does not feel flimsy while still retaining aerodynamic makes it better than the other two Windblade figures.

TRANSFORMATION:

Disappointingly simple at first.  Only because the simplicity grows on you and makes the figure a lot more fun and stable.  The back unfolds to form the robot legs, the arms lift up from the sides, and the cockpit folds onto the back to reveal the head, and then finally you collapse the torso together.

ROBOT MODE:


Windblade's robot mode will take some getting used to but it (hopefully) will eventually grow on you.


She carries a huge chunk of kibble on her back, being the cockpit.  Despite its large size, as it is hollow, it doesn't impede much of her balance.


The headsculpt is quite nice but of course, is ruined by the large block back of the head due to the Titan Master gimmick.


While still retaining a clear female silhouette, this is the bulkiest Windblade that we've gotten.  Height-wise, she is pretty on par with most Deluxe figures.


The biggest negative is the thick thighs.  You might have been confused when it is said that Windblade is a heavy remold of Highbrow (and thus by extension, Scourge), well, the only shared parts and engineering are the thighs and the collapsing torso, everything else is new.


Poseability is good but the hips are on ratchets, and the spacing between the "clicks" are too far apart so one click means she can't stand at attention anymore while no clicks means her legs are too close together.


Otherwise she has swivels and balljoints in all the appropriate areas.  The sculpting on the torso is also quite nice with well defined armored plates.


Her weapons are a pair of swords, cast in transparent yellow with silver paint, it looks fantastic.


She can hold the swords in both hands but you have to be careful as she has open-thumbed fists, you can stress and tear them off if you tried to rush forcing the swords into her hands.


What makes these weapons so great is that they are slightly longer than your typical sword, making Windblade look that much more dangerous and wicked.


You can combine the swords together to form a larger one, it's not official but still looks great.


When not in use, they can store on her back.


A strong robot mode that eventually grows on you, yes, even the thunder thighs.

OVERALL:

Windblade is a case of where simplicity works.  Both modes are simple, and the transformation is simple, however, this meant a really solid figure that fun to play.  The twin swords are heaps of fun (and much less finnicky than the sword and scabbard combo of previous figures).  The only negatives are the huge chunk of kibble and thick thighs.  Otherwise, Windblade is worth a purchase.

-------------------------------------------

For other Transformers reviews, have a look at this page.

Blogger Widget