Blu-Ray Review: Stray Cat Rock: The Collection

Stray Cat Rock_AV008As a slice of Japanese cinema of the early 1970’s, the five films that make up Arrow Video’s Stray Cat Rock Collection make for quite a quintuplet of quickly made flicks influenced by American biker films of the previous decade. Directed by Yasuharu Hasebe and Toshiya Fujita, the films feature the same cast members but are actually mostly unrelated other than in their thematic elements.

“Youth gone wild!” and “Crime Doesn’t Pay!” seem to be the orders of the day here as the series was created by Nikkatsu to compete with rival Toei’s popular Delinquent Boss films. So there’s male and female gangs, exploitative violence, not as much sex or nudity as you’d think (but it’s certainly there), a bit of slapstick, a random concert and more. While there’s plenty of seedy and salacious content, some of the trailers included advertise the films partially as comedies, which is amusing in and of itself. In other words, some viewers will need to approach this set with a wide open mind because what constitutes “comedy” here might seem a bit humorless or just plain strange outside of its home country. This is a good thing at the end of the day as expanding one’s cinematic horizons is a core reason to watch films you’ve never seen previously.

The overall tone of the films will probably seem scattershot to some viewers used to movies that stick to a certain predictable style from start to finish. For all the raging delinquency, drug use, wild dancing, sex and violence on display there’s also a lot of karmic retribution and negative actions leading to more and worse reactions for some characters. This makes the collection a really intriguing set of films that, warts and all make for some pretty cool “B” movie bliss. As usual, some excellent transfers and nice bonus material round out this Arrow Video release and make it a must for collectors. Continue reading

Review: Persona 4: Dancing All Night

P4_DAN_coverPlatform: PlayStation Vita

Developer: Atlus

Publisher: Atlus USA

# of Players: 1

ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

Official Site

MSRP: $39.99 (Standard Edition), $79.99 (Disco Fever Edition)

Score: B(80%)

Kanamin (24) 

Sure, the premise is supremely goofy and practically guaranteed to make some of the more obstinate old-school fans of the long running Shin Megami Tensei and Persona franchises get a bit cringe-y. But Persona 4: Dancing All Night manages to shake off most any negative vibes thanks to it not only being a pretty decent rhythm game, but a really well-made spin-off to the Persona 4: Golden (that’s also gotten a pretty darn good 2D fighter with an even better follow up). Keeping the surviving characters and situations from P4 intact and working them into the game’s plot was an inspired touch that’s hopefully going to sell those gamers who are only buying this for music and gameplay into picking up P4:G at some point if they’ve yet to.

On the other hand, if you go into P4: DAN with skeptical intent, don’t expect to be knocked off your feet by the game’s premise, how some characters act and the overall gameplay that may not be your cup of tea. Fully enjoying this one means throwing caution to the wind, diving in feet or face first and letting the music and atmosphere wash over you like a sudden summer rain shower. Continue reading

Summon Night 5: The PSP Takes Another Deep Breath Thanks To Gaijinworks

SN5-Cover-medIf you thought the PSP was deader than well, the Vita (ha and ha-ha, but *sob!* for Sony not knowing how to promote its otherwise fine handheld), consider yourself about to be surprised. Gaijinworks continues to kick out the quality and somewhat obscure games with Summon Night 5, a tactical RPG headed to PSN as a digital release for both the PSP and Vita and to a lucky handful of gamers who pre-ordered the limited release physical version.


As with Class of Heroes 2, those lucky folks with the physical version coming also get the digital version of the game as a bonus because Gaijinworks knows some of them won’t ever even crack the shrink wrap on their coveted LE and a few will even go right to eBay and resell their “prize” for boo-koo bucks to the highest bidder. Damn dirty capitalism has its upsides to those who know how to take advantage of it, I suppose. As Gaijinworks doesn’t do review codes (as far as I know), I’ll be ponying up some actual hard-earned loot to play this just like everyone else interested in it.


Me, I just want to finally play an actual Summon Night game in English. I missed the two Game Boy Advance spin-offs from a while back because they got a limited release and now fetch a pretty penny for complete copies. Nope, knowledge of the other four previous Summon Knight games (nor the upcoming sixth one headed to PS4 and Vita in Japan) is necessary in order to fully enjoy what’s here. But one would hope that gamers who don’t know a lick of Japanese can some day get their paws on some sort of collection. Of course that won’t happen unless Gaijinworks has a metric ton of money lying around and time to do all that porting and localizing.

Persona 4: Dancing All Night Hands-On: Should You Be Dancing? Yeah!

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Teddie (Custom)As a longtime fan of the Shin Megami Tensei series since the mid-1990’s, I’ll admit to getting a glorious case of the heebie-jeebies about Persona 4: Dancing All Night as soon as I heard it was in the works. However, as Persona 4 Arena and Persona 4 Arena Ultimax showed after I dragged myself kicking and screaming into both games and loving them, a little funky is a LOT of fun.

When the opportunity arose to check out a review code for P4: DAN, on went my finest disco wear with the hope that I didn’t look too foolish on that digital dance floor. Thankfully, the game doesn’t disappoint where it counts and even the most jaded non-music game fan of the franchise will want to slide somewhat electrically into their favorite game emporium on September 29, Vita in hand to snap this one up.

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Blu-Ray Review: Cemetery Without Crosses

Cemetery Without Crosses AV014Yet another stellar Arrow Video release through MVD Visual, Robert Hossein’s 1969 western Cemetery Without Crosses is a great, grim and gloomy slow-burner of a revenge tale that’s short on dialog but delivers its message almost flawlessly.

Hossein (who also stars in the film and co-wrote it with Claude DeSailly) makes his take on the spaghetti western a memorable one with some excellent set pieces and a mean set of twists that make the film worth repeat viewing. This is one of those films with no real “likable” characters to root for – you’re dropped into a little spot in their personal hell as an audience and get to see what happens as things play out. Par for the course, Arrow also delivers the goods when it comes to a quality HD transfer and some fine special features. Continue reading

Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax! – An October (Non) Surprise From Sega


You don’t have to be a fan of the Dengeki Bunko light novels or any of the anime associated with them to appreciate Sega’s upcoming PS3 and Vita exclusive Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax!, headed your way on October 6. Developers Ecole Software and French Bread have cooked up a great looking, fast paced 2D fighter with nice 3D backdrops and some wild “Climax Moves” that can decimate your opponents when pulled off.

The game’s roster includes characters from the following DB light novel series:

A Certain Magical Index
Accel World
Black Bullet
Shakugan no Shana
Sword Art Online
The Irregular at Magic High School

Plus assist characters from these DB series:

Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan
Boogiepop and Others
Ground Control to Psychoelectric Girl
Golden Time
Kino’s Travels
Spice and Wolf
The Devil is a Part-Timer!
The Pet Girl of Sakurasou

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The game will be available at retail in a limited launch edition that comes packed with a CD soundtrack. As far as I can tell, digital copies of the game won’t net players that freebie. So you may want to pre-order this one or take a chance that your local game shop has ordered a few extra copies so you don’t miss out on that bonus.


While I’m not the best fighting game player out there (understatement of the decade, folks), I do appreciate awesome art and animation when and wherever I see it. So this one on the list to check out in full review form.

Yakuza 5 Update: Still Waiting For A Date, Discount For The Early Birds


Y5_wallpaper_01_1920x10801If you got rid of your PS3 when you got your PS4, you may want it back for at least one more exclusive of note. General Director Toshihiro Nagoshi and Producer Masayoshi Yokoyama are back with two more in-depth “making of” videos for Sega’s upcoming western release of Yakuza 5. Despite its age (the Japanese version shipped back in 2012), the game looks quite spectacular on the aging PS3 hardware and is finally coming to North America later this year as a digital only PSN release.

While the game may be well-aged to some out there, according to the press release it’s looking to be the most feature-packed English version of any in the series:

Yakuza 5 features more mini-games than previous titles, a modified battle system as well as enhanced customizations and interactions in the signature hostess bars of the franchise. In addition to these features, Yakuza 5 also introduces “Another Drama” which is a series of side stories that focus on each protagonist in-depth and are separate from the main story of the game.


In addition, Sega is making a tempting offer to those who pre-order the game with a 15% discount off the $39.99 price plus the free Yakuza 5 XMB theme below:

You’d think Nagoshi and Yokoyama should be singing “We Built This City” at this point, but instead they just happily chat more about the game and what players can expect:

Y5_PreOrder_1_1440446637 Y5_PreOrder_3_1440446638 Y5_PreOrder_4_1440446639 Y5_PreOrder_5_1440446640 Y5_PreOrder_6_1440446641 Y5_PreOrder_7_1440446641

It’s great to see Sega keeping the Yakuza flame going despite the lengthy wait between releases. Hopefully fans will be on board with the digital-only version and snap it up once it’s released.

Dark Souls III Hands-On: Reliable And Improved, Yet Death’s Still Got The Edge




The nice list of changes and improvements to Dark Souls III may fool some players into believing the series has gone soft in its third installment. However, FromSoftware and the assorted AI enemies out for your digital scalp will be laughing at those who take this upcoming PC, PS4 and Xbox one game lightly. While the game adds new charge attack and block-breaking moves to the already fine repertoire, all that really means is expert Souls players will have some new skills to make shorter work of certain enemies and new players will need to learn this isn’t a straight-up hack and slash game at all. The demo shown at Bandai Namco’s NYC event was thrilling and a ton of deadly fun to play.
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3D Gunstar Heroes Out Now on Nintendo 3DS: “Blast Processing,” Indeed

Gunstar Heroes 3D (9) 


3D Gunstar Heroes logoFor those of you who’ve never played it, Gunstar Heroes is quite simply one of the best 16-bit games ever made, period. Japanese developer Treasure made itself a household name among gamers with this 1993 Sega Mega Drive/Genesis release that seemed to use every bit of processing power the console had and then some.

While the game has popped up in a few newer console ports over time, it seems that the 3DS just may have the “definitive” version thanks to Sega’s remaster team, M2. Here’s a fun extra credit read from the Sega Blog on how tricky it was to get the game up and running on the handheld in stereoscopic 3D. The plot is nuts if you try to make total sense of it, but you won’t be playing this for the story. It’s a total run ‘n gun with killer boss fights, a “board game” level that’s worth an entire game in itself under the right developer, and a great soundtrack that drives the action from beginning to end.

Anyway, if you have a 3DS, BUY THIS GAME. If you’re thinking about getting a 3DS, see that last sentence. Hopefully Sega has plans to get this on the Wii U as well as an HD version at some point as it’s a total no-brainer that this is a game that really benefits from a larger screen. We’ll see if that ever happens (it would be nice, Sega), but for now, this one’s a must-buy that still packs quite a few wallops.

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RymdResa: Retro Rockets In Random Space Hit Steam


RymdResa 8

Well, the eyes aren’t really lying at all. Morgondag’s stellar space rogue-like exploration game RymdResa is out now on Steam at a temporary 10% discount off its $11.99 price tag ($10.79). The game is a beautiful blend of retro visuals, languid pacing and slyly terrifying moments where your ship is about to run low on resources often at the wrong moment. Toss in a disembodied voice spouting seemingly random poetic musings along with a gorgeous ambient score and you get an instant classic with wide appeal.

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I’ll have a review up over the weekend, but if the demo I’ve been playing on and off between other things (a demo that’s been taking time away from other games and stuff, mind you) is any indication, this one’s a keeper or a sleeper. The good thing is the developer is getting their great little game onto a few other platforms (Xbox One, Wii U, iPad and Linux), so some of you out there using those will soon be able to experience the same cold space and give your zen-like reflexes a total workout.


Back with a review shortly.