Capsule Reviews 2: A Few More Games? Okay, Let’s Go

More bite-sized review bits? Sure, why not?

Onechanbara Z2 gals 

Onechanbara ZII Chaos (PS4, $49.99) – Budget game developer Tamsoft gets its sexy ladies onto the PS4 in a game that’s going to be loved and hated by gamers for a few reasons. While it has a super smooth 60fps frame rate, the cheesy music rocks somewhat firecely and the action is nearly non-stop (and supremely gory), it’s easy to see the easily ticked off whiny westerners losing their minds over the skimpy costumes and all-out fan service on display. Bikini, schoolgirl outfit and other fantasy femme tropes get trotted out (and that optional Banana Split pack bonus costume is too racy to show here), but the ladies are far from the helpless princess stereotype at all. Aya, Saki and the rest of the crew have been zombie killing for about a decade since their introduction on the PlayStation 2 and later Xbox 360 and Wii Onechanbara titles, so this one’s just their best looking adventure to date. While the game seems a tad on the short side, the reply value comes from unlocking outfits and having at stages again so you can better your score jut like arcade games of old. Then again, every Onechanbara game is pretty much the same: kill plenty of zombies before they kill your gal of choice and have a BIG grin on your face while doing so. Score: B (80%) 

Continue reading

Advertisements

Capsule Reviews 1: Some Games You May Have Missed (Me Yak About)

Well, 2015 zipped by too quickly (he typed, knowing that the year isn’t quite over but hey, everyone else seems to be doing year-end articles) and I while didn’t get to write as many reviews as I’d have liked to, I took a ton of notes on things so I could sit down and catch up a some point. The best laid plans of mice and men (and Bemis!) often go wildly astray, so instead of long form full reviews, I’m going to do a bunch of capsule commentary on games, films and books over the next few days just so you have a little something to read when you pop by. Anyway, some quickie game impressions to get started: 

Tales of Zestiria Cast 

Tales of Zestiria (PS4/PS3/PC, $59.99/$49.99 respectively) – Namco’s Tales Studio pulls out all the stops in this latest installment in the long running JRPG franchise (15 Tales to date!) with a game that’s part throwback and homage to the first Tales (of Phantasia) back on the Super Famicom while bringing in an all-new cast, storyline and for the first time, an open world map to explore. Although PS4 owners get the better visual end of the deal on console, the PC version should more than please those fans who pick it up looking for something to play and show off to friends. The game is consistently entertaining from the fast-paced combat to the usual humor found in character interaction and dialog choices. Yes, the use of classic literary references, myth and other tropes is piled on thicker than your mom ever spread mayonnaise, but it works well enough to keep the game fun. I’m actually still playing this one because there’s an extraordinary amount of things to do, stuff to collect and some 93 hours in, I’m close to the endgame but will probably dive in again at some point to revisit a few save files. There are enough divergent paths and interesting encounters (make friends with the Normin you meet!) to keep this one in the play stack for a while. Score: A- (90%)
 
Continue reading

The QFX VP-113 Gets It Done With A Retro Touch

VP-113

Thanks to a friend sending me a few PAL format DVD’s earlier this year and my old laptop’s universal media player dying with the old laptop, I needed an inexpensive player of decent quality I could keep next to the console setup that wouldn’t take up a load of room and was a multi-tasker of some sort. While poking around at a few options (there’s a nice Samsung player under $30 that was my initial choice), I stumbled across the QFX VP-113, a budget DVD player that only caught my eye because it not only played DVD, VCD, SVCD, CD, CD-R, and CD-RW formats, it also had a built-in karaoke function, a USB stick reader and much to my surprise, played “games” of some sort. What sort of games, I had zero idea. But the price was right (under $35 where I found it) and my curious collector side was curious about those GAMES. Because, you know that’s what I like (and like writing about). Continue reading

A Double Shot of Retro Pop Box For Your Wednesday

RPB November Stuff (5)

Due to my dopey old laptop giving up the ghost around the time last month’s Retro Pop Box arrived and me running about doing the headless chicken thing for a bit, I’m just getting around to posting the goodies in that box now. Amusingly enough, this month’s box popped up in the mail as I was getting ready to write this post, so you get two (*smooch!*), TWO mints in one! Or something like that. Anyway, November’s RPG looked like this once opened:

RPB November Stuff (6)

And inside were the following 70’s themed items:

 

The RPB exclusive T-shirt made me grin and yes, it’s gotten some comments thanks to that funky retro design. That Silly String (which I’m saving for the proper occasion) came with a card detailing the product’s creation and rather cool usefulness as a means for soldiers to locate booby trap tripwires in war zones (and making me wonder how much the military is paying per can or if the stuff has to be shipped out by families who want their loved ones coming home safe). That Evel Knievel First Aid Kit made me laugh out loud because while it’s not vintage, I immediately imagined the stunt king of the 70’s packing one of these in every pocket of his star-spangled jumpsuit with a spare inside his helmet each time he made one of those death-defying jumps on ABC back in the day.

I hadn’t seen a Mood Ring in some years, so having one handy is quite nice (Current mood: Happy!). I’ll need to wear that CULT LEADER button with the Retro Pop Box logo one day when I’m out and about just so when someone asks about one, I can tie in the other without worrying about them getting the wrong idea. Yes, I’d say my cult is RPB and they NEED TO JOIN. NOW. (without an “or else!” on the end of that demand. We’re a nice bunch of nostalgia-heads. As for that Brady Bunch lanyard, my brain is flicking through its Rolodex to see if I recall anyone named Marcia because this would be a groovy gift for her. Hey, better a colorful lanyard than a football to the nose, right? Yeah, I thought so.

As for December’s RPB, read on for more on that one… Continue reading

Blu-Ray Reviews: A Handful of Arrows for the Holidays

Ho, and Ho-Ho. It’s been quite a year here, but that’s not why I’m here babbling on my keyboard. You need some more movies to watch, I’m sitting on a stack of them that needed to get written up and this post is my way of attempting to get you to spend some of that disposable income you’re trying to hoard in that mattress. Anyway, I see your quiver is half empty there, Robin Hood. Here are six Arrow Video Blu-Rays of note to nab either direct from MVD Entertainment or your favorite video selling emporium. Lock up the kids for most of these because it’s the birds and the bees plus some bloody good and badness going on below.

Requiescant_AV022Requiescant (MSRP: $39.95): Carlo Lizzani’s 1967 spaghetti western (also known as Kill & Pray) gets a ton of mileage from its religiously-raised orphan turned dead-shot gunfighter (Lou Castel), but it’s also working a political agenda that’s somewhat fitting in this current climate of careless Trumpeting. Kicking off with a massacre of border-bound Mexicans (one of whom survives to become Castel’s priest/gunman), the movie switches gears to a rescue mission that doesn’t go exactly as planned before it drops back into weightier territory.

While mostly bloodless and only slightly comical, the film lets Castel carry the picture despite the presence of director Pier Paolo Pasolini in what’s an extended cameo as a revolutionary leader of sorts. He’s got a memorably manly visage, but Castel’s more innocent good looks and his ways with a firearm are going to keep your eyes on him throughout the film. You can choose from Italian or English versions of the film (both impeccable 2K restorations) with two interviews and a trailer rounding out the special features. Like Arrows other westerns released in the US in the past, this one’s a cult classic that comes highly recommended. Continue reading

Review: Earth Defense Force 2 – Invaders From Planet Space

EDF 2 VitaPlatform: PlayStation Vita

Developer: SANDLOT

Publisher: Xseed Games

MSRP: $29.99

# of Players: 1 – 4

ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

Official Site

Score: A- (90%)

As a longtime Earth Defense Force fan (since 2003’s Simple 2000 Series Vol. 31: The Chikyuu Boueigun, or Monster Attack in the UK), finally getting the chance to see the best game in the series finally arrive stateside and in its best incarnation to date is a great thing indeed. Granted, Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders From Planet Space may not convince some skeptics of how much of a must-buy title it is because at first glance it’s going to seem like less of a game than it actually turns out to be. But those of you who know the series who have yet to play this entry will be pleased to know that not only does it deliver the goods, it still holds up today as a stellar (and incredibly lengthy) game that packs in more action for $29.99 than bigger budgeted AAA titles that cost double the price. Continue reading

#TBT – Giant Cabbage Patch Sighting @ Toys “R” Us

30604_Package_2 30605_Package_2
 

They’re baaaaaaack! In case you didn’t know it, Cabbage Patch Kids are back in stores and getting doll collectors spending a few chunks of their cabbage this holiday season. If you were passing by or through a Toys “R” Us recently and almost got stampeded by a bunch of mom-looking moms, it’s because of the limited edition Cabbage Patch Kids 18 inch Big Kid – Sofia Lorraine Performer and Cabbage Patch Kids 18 inch Big Kid – Violet Anne Class President, both exclusive to the retailer.

These two big babies retail for $99.99 each and come with enough stuff in their respective boxes to earn their own room in your home. Granted, unlike actual kids, this pair isn’t going to grow older, leave for college, get great careers and support you in your golden years. But as both dolls are limited to 1000 pieces each, one day they maybe helping you fund a little vacation. Get yours NOW in time for Christmas at a Toys “R” Us and make sure to follow the Kids below on facebook if you’re a fan and aren’t already:

https://www.facebook.com/Cabbage-Patch-Kids-347051282049527/timeline/

HIDEit: Get Your Gear In Order But Good

HIDEit_BA1 

I have to go fishing through my spam folder at least once a month because it sometimes catches email that demands to be read and passed on. Case in point: the one I got from HIDEit Mounts a company that makes a number of really awesome storage solutions for gamers, computer owners or anyone else who has to deal with assorted tech with wires that tend to tangle. I actually laughed out loud as I was reading the email and looking at the photos attached because yes, I suffer from the horrible affliction of owning a ton of consoles (at least 25!) and having all those wires dangling in front of, behind, and to the side of my jury-rigged entertainment center. Yeah, it’s pretty bad, folks. Actually, I only keep six systems around my 32″ HDTV at a time while the rest take naps in assorted storage bins until I need to dig the up for research


 

As you can see (or can’t see because they’re so well hidden) HIDEit makes simple but highly functional wall mounts for current gaming consoles, small form factor PC’s and Macs, cable boxes and more. They also have controller mounts and even an optional theft deterrent solution in case you want that extra security. If you’ve got sturdy walls and a TV mounted on one or more of them, you’re an easy HIDEit customer in the making.

HIDEit_BA2The great thing is installation won’t take a year of carpentry classes or calling up that creepy-looking “handyman” who slid a misspelled flyer under your door as you were opening it to take out the trash last week. Each mount comes complete with hardware = all you need is a good drill and appropriate bits or a good screwdriver. A level and elbow grease are also beneficial for best results, so some of you scrawny-armed types may need an extra strong arm to shift stuff around. Prices range from $11.99 to $59.99 and I’d bet you a hot nickel that your holiday gift list includes at least ONE person (not including YOU) who needs one or more of these mounts.

Okay, you’re up to speed on the HIDEit front, correct? Good. Me, I could use a bunch of them, but I’m in the process of entirely redoing my game cave so I’m still in the “being in awe because I have a ton of games and systems in such a small space and don’t know where to begin” stage. But now that I see what HIDEit can accomplish, it’s a product on my list of things to get once I get myself in gear to tackle a pretty massive project.

TMNT Half Shell Heroes in: The Elevator Mystery, Solved

HSH_header_chara3

So, I’m riding down in the elevator here about a week or so ago and to my right are a pair of women of indeterminate age with a boy of about seven or eight years old who just so happened to be wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirt. By the way, one never guesses how old a lady is because that usually leads to a spike heel to the eardrum or other soft bits. Especially if you get her age right on the first try. But I digress. The women were talking about holiday gifts for their family members and when asked what he wanted, the kid let out a simple “Turtles! I want turtles!”

Now, as some of us adults tend to be fairly one dimensional thinkers when it comes to what people say (specifically what those ankle-nibbling wee people just below waist level or lower say), let’s just say the response the little nipper got was less than positive. In other words, they thought he wanted some actual turtles (which aren’t easy to take care of) and weren’t thinking enough along his interest level (or looking down at his colorful shirt). Moms can be weird sometimes like that, right? Continue reading

Review: Electronic Super Joy (Wii U)

ESJ Boxart1Platform: Wii U

Developer: Michael Todd

Publisher: Michael Todd Games

MSRP: $9.99

# of Players: 1

ESRB Rating: Shut Up & Dance!

Official Site

Score: A (95%)

ESJ screenshot+(3) 

Prepare to dance a lot and die even more in Michael Todd’s excellent retro platformer, Electronic Super Joy, out now for the Wii U. The game is both a throwback and a keeper, one that will test your skills while making your brain bubble and fingers tingle long after you’ve put down that controller. The game is a pixel-packed near-perfect hard as hell and absolutely hilarious as it hits you on the head with assorted wacky text as you’re trying to concentrate on completing a level. The game works on a pure “shut up and PLAY!” level where the music (by EnV) and simple visual style hook you in and you find yourself learning the basics for a few quick stages before all hell breaks loose. Continue reading