Posts Tagged ‘Review’

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Movies You’ve Never Heard Of: Dog Soldiers

June 16, 2010

Walking into the garden late one day
Sometime last year around mid May
I saw my next door neighbor walking down the road
And suddenly next to my abode
He did the mash?
Sadly, no. He lent me a movie.

A group of British Soldiers are dropped into the Scottish Highlands for a routine training exercise. They make it well known during the landing that they’re missing an extremely important football game, and are in earnest to finish the exercise as quickly as possible so they can return home. The exercise refuses to be finished easily, however, and decides to make their lives difficult.

Seeing a distress flare in the distance, they go investigate and happen upon a destroyed Special Forces camp. Alongside the gory vegetation, they find many cases of unorthodox equipment, but no bodies. The Sergeant asks the radio man to call in and ask for an airlift. To their surprise, a wounded survivor springs up, repeatedly screaming that “there was only supposed to be ONE!”

There’s quite a bit of interesting trivia regarding this film on IMDB. Most if it is quite bodacious and excellent, but some of it just makes me face-palm at the sheer lameness of the error. For example: Scotland isn’t big enough for the area they’re in to exist.

One of the actors apparently knew this, but for some reason, didn’t say anything.

One thing that I was rather pleased with was the lack of CGI present. Apparently, the people involved in the filming thought it was overused at the time (as if, look at it now) and had most things done with animatronics, costumes, and makeup.

I, for one, like it that way. CGI is a nice thing to have, but when acting itself is forsaken and replaced with it, I can’t help but feel cheated. Good things/tools should be used sparingly, or they quickly lose their value.

OK, so after that shitty trailer you know that the film doesn’t take itself too seriously, meaning even all of you non-horror fans can probably still watch it and have a good time.

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The Clown Dances

May 13, 2010

At the edge of my vision
Since the time the city crumbled
Since the time this city of Inganock broke
In this Fantastic City that none speak of
The Clown dances.

10 years ago the city of Inganock started to change. Ever since, things began to distort and mutate, until scarcely anything was left as it once was. Few people still look human, and those that do have mutated internally to compensate. Gii is an ex-medical student who, after severe mental mutations, can see people’s health as a string of code. Injuries, illnesses and diseases are represented by faults or errors in said code, which Gii can correct without too much effort. Every day he goes out and searches for patients, commonly forsaking payment and treating people in the poorer districts of Inganock.

Walking home one day, Gii sees a Behemoth making off with a young girl. Noticing that the Fantastic Mutant is under the influence of a new drug, Gii decides to step in. Knowing fully well that Behemoths are known for their ferocity and strength, Gii tries to reason with the man, but only succeeds in having most of his torso crushed before being rescued by a friend. The young girl refuses to disclose any information of herself, aside from her name, so Gii invites her to stay with him until he can find out where in Inganock it is she came from.

Sekien no Inganock -What a Beautiful People- (what a beautiful grammar) is a magnificent steampunk/fantasy tale. The company that produced it, Liar-Soft, also seems to have made other novels in the same kind of setting, but sadly it doesn’t seem like any of them are translated into English. Now I cannot emphasis this enough, but Sekien no Inganock has been one of the best reads of my life, paper and visual novels alike. It would have easily swept up first place, but there was one thing that, in my eyes, bogged it down. The story makes frequent use of certain phrases and scenes, and even though it has relevance to the plot, the consistent repetition is not something I approve of. This is just me being picky, though, and I’m sure there are plenty of people that wouldn’t even give it a second thought.

Be warned that this visual novel IS rated 18+, so all you kiddies who can’t handle the occasional sex scene should go watch a Disney movie or something.

The art is quite beautiful, and although I don’t really like the look of a couple of the sprites, there’s no denying that they’re wonderfully drawn and colored. The backgrounds are dark and fantastical, and normally give off a steampunk vibe that makes them fit perfectly. As you may be able to see in the above screenshot, there are two different types of sprites. There are the bigger mug shots, which are usually used by principle character, and then there are the smaller full body shots. The smaller sprites are normally used for reoccurring minor characters, but are also used when representing major characters that are, say, walking. There are plenty of event CG this time around, and unlike the sprites, there is not a single one I can complain about.

Now here is a unique little addition to visual novels as I know them. The Inner Voices system is a mini game of sorts, which allow you to hear the inner thoughts of many of the presently known characters, as well as sometimes those you haven’t met yet. It isn’t limited to characters alone, however, as the arm and the mask actually tell you things about the city itself. It was really kind of neat to learn random details about Inganock that, although they didn’t always directly apply to the core of the plot, just seemed to make the place more round and dynamic. More than anything, the IV scenes prevent any characters within them from being static or flat, which doesn’t matter too much because I didn’t consider any of them flat or static in the first place.

The voice acting in Sekien no Inganock is rather strange. It’s not that it is bad, far from it, but they only added voice acting to certain dialogue. After having voices for half a chapter, it feels odd when all of a sudden the characters just stop. Kind of leaves you hanging. Whenever there is voice acting, though, it’s pretty decent. In retrospect, they should have pulled the voices from the sexual intercourse and added them elsewhere. Not like they’re saying an awful lot.

The soundtrack is pretty sweet, though with only 13 tracks (excluding the OP and ED) you’re obviously going to hear the same song a couple times over. Below is my (and apparently most people’s) favorite tune. The first scene in which this song plays had me basking in the epic.

I’m now almost positive that learning Japanese would be the worst thing that could ever happen to me, because if I knew it I would NOT. STOP. READING. There are too many awesome-looking books out there that require moon rune knowledge to read, so I think I’ll pass on studying Nihongo for now. That, coupled with the fact that I’ve successfully failed at studying it for the last year, ensures my safety.

I gave this a 9/10 because there’s no option for 9.999 on VNDB. Such a shame. Good read, decent length, and definitely a favorite. Make sure to rest your eyes every once in a while, as reading on a monitor for long amounts of time kind of kills them.

This novel is not free to download. Do what you gotta do.

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What Do You Think About The Planetarium?

April 6, 2010

That beautiful twinkling of eternity that will never fade, no matter when.
All the stars in the all sky are waiting for you.
What do you think about the planetarium?

Humanity has (as usual) left the world demolished after a third world war. The protagonist is what is known as a Junker, a scavenger who travels from ruin to ruin in hopes of finding pre-war goods. Making his way to a city that has been abandoned almost 30 years, he is surprised to find a robot on the top floor of what he originally thinks is a camouflaged military facility.

The robot believes him to be a customer, and treats him as such. Though he quickly gets annoyed at her constant chattering, he soon learns that the building is but a simple department store, the top floor being a planetarium. After witnessing a failed attempt at an astronomical presentation, the protagonist decides to stay and attempt to repair the projector, a machine that hasn’t been touched in 30 years.

Planetarian ~The Reverie of a Little Planet~ (unofficial English translation title) is the 4th release of Key, commonly known as “that-Japanese-company-that-produces-visual-novels-that-are-supposed-to-make-you-cry.” It differs slightly from their other titles, as there are no choices for the reader to make as they go through the story, nor is it 18+. It’s also significantly shorter, which is really a shame because it is quite good. I hate to admit it, but this is also the first time I’ve been all “SO MOE~!!!”, though only slightly.

Click to enlarge.

There aren’t many event CG, but seeing as the game is fairly short it doesn’t matter. The sprites are wonderful, by the way, and more than make up for the lack of CG. This is one of the first times I’ve taken a huge notice to the sprites while I read, perhaps because of how well it matches the text.

The music in Planetarian is just as excellent as the story, and fits it perfectly. There are a total of 8 songs, but I think a couple of them were based off the same thing as I can hear similar melodies. Great scenes are turned even better by the matching music, and the later mentioned manly tears could very well have been caused by said deadly duo. Below is my personal favorite, which evoked the same feeling of awe in me as that of the protagonist in the scene it was played.

I have not yet cried after reading something, but by the end of Planetarian I was pretty close. I would describe it as more of a ‘manly eye watering/tears’ sort of thing, though. Please refer to Figure A. if you are confused.

Figure A.

I gave this a 9/10 simply because it was too short. It’s the most horrible reason I can think of, but I was just left so IMPACTED I really would have liked it to be longer.

Sadly it is not free, so I am unable/unwilling to post a download link. You know what to do.

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Jouka no Monshou

April 3, 2010

Jouka no Monshou is a short “fanfiction” Visual Novel written by Gen Urobuchi, whom some of you may recognize as the author of Saya no Uta. It takes place in the world of Equilibrium, a science fiction film made in 2002 by Kurt Wimmer.

Starts off with a pretty standard “humans fucked over everything” post-apocalyptic World War 3 setting, where the survivors decide they’ve gone through enough shit and create a society where emotions are sent off to the Gulag camps via drugs. The icing(s) on the cake are the dual wielding Gun Fu Clerics that totally kick ass. Why are ALL clerics not this bad ass, you ask? Because most of them live in DnD, not The Matrix.

So you have a society dominated by emotion oppressing drugs, what kind of things could POSSIBLY happen to the protagonist which would jeopardize his normal way of life? Bingo: lack of said drugs. Do to certain circumstances the protagonist is left without his fix, and has to cope with the situation.

It was a fairly good read for something so short; I’ll check out the movie later tonight.

Download here

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Welcome to Bullet Hell

March 25, 2009

Introducing quite possibly one of the most recockulous series of games in history: in the left corner, the right corner, and pretty much the entire screen, we have the enemy projectiles of the Touhou Project games. These danmaku (or bullet hell/curtain) shooters feature traditional 2 dimension vertical-scrolling shoot ’em up gameplay, as well as the classic “bomb” screen clearing attacks.

There are currently 11 Touhou games, with a 12th scheduled for release this August. The first 5 were released for the PC98, and sadly I am rather uninterested in getting them to work for windows. However, there are emulators for those interested in playing them. Currently the one and only game from the series I have tried has been Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, and the bulk of the rest of this post will be a review for it. scarletdevil Developed by Team Shanghai Alice, whose sole member is a man known as ZUN, Embodiment of Scarlet Devil was released in August of 2002 and was the first Touhou game released for Windows. Featuring 2 playable characters with different “story lines” and attacks, 6 stages, 4 difficulties, and an extra stage for those able to clear any difficulty above normal without continues, the game is anything but short. I, for one, am having trouble clearing even easy mode, let alone normal, hard, and lunatic. What’s more is how the extra stage alone is supposed to be more difficult than playing through the entire game in the hardest difficulty, which spells out a bleak future for one such as myself.

3rd Stage Boss on "Easy" Mode

3rd Stage Boss on "Easy" Mode

Whenever you run into a boss, and sometimes a mid-boss, there will be a short dialect between the character you have chosen to play as and the opponent. Although half the time these conversations don’t really make sense, it adds an element of completion and self satisfaction knowing that you just kicked the crap out of someone after having a pleasantly random conversation that always ends up in them getting angry at you for rather pathetic reasons.

These speeches, coupled with the short prologue that comes in the game’s main folder, serve as the story for the game. It doesn’t necessarily make a perfect plot line, nor is it an award winning tale, but it gives the two playable characters a reason to go through the stages of the game.

I agree entirely!

Couldn't it be Kobe beef instead? >:

Although ZUN’s art style may not be as extravagant as others, it certainly gets the job done. Initially I was a little skeptical about the chubby-like drawn caricatures, but as time went on and I saw more and more of them, I began to like them as they were. Sure they may not be a top-of-the-line super famous manga artists drawings, but they flow nicely with the game and don’t seem too out of place. I’ll be seeing more of them in the future, I’ll bet.

Now ZUN here makes his own music as well, and I personally think it makes up for most (if not all) of the weaknesses the game could have in other areas. Each stage has an individually composed piece that fits extremely nicely with the setting, as well as a boss theme for that particular stage that matches nicely with either the bosses personality or appearance. After listening to all the music from the game time and time again, I eventually gave up trying to choose a song to upload for your enjoyment. However, worry not: Touhou music is quite popular, and there are mp3 streams and other ways for you to acquire or listen to it if you so desire.

reimfin1

Anyway, I think it’s about time to wrap up. All in all I would recommend this game to anyone with free time and those in search of a challenge, but not to those that get frustrated easily or those who are looking for an easy game to play. Although I’m not entirely sure how long it will take me to beat the game, I’ll make sure to post in celebration once I finally beat easy mode without continues.

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OMGWTFOTL

March 17, 2009

For those interested in beginning their Visual Novel experience, I introduce OMGWTFOTL: a short, and free, Visual Novel made by Hanpamania-soft.

ogfl

It ends rather quickly, but is extremely random and bound to get a laugh or two out of you. The game could perhaps just barely achieve a “mature” rating, and that alone from extreme entropy.

ogfl21

With the right mindset, though, you shouldn’t have much difficulty. Be scarred…in a good way.
Download here