Review

OVERWHELM Game Review

OVERWHELM Game Review
Gamer Heroes

 
 
00:00 / 6:44
 
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Kam from Gamer Heroes brings you  his review of OVERWHELM for the Nintendo Switch!  A full written version of the review can be found below:


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Developer: Ruari O’Sullivan| Publisher: Alliance| Platforms: Switch, PC (Steam)

In the interest of full disclosure, a copy of this game was provided by popagenda on behalf of the developer for review purposes. The version played for review was on the Nintendo Switch platform.

Every once in a while, a game comes along that makes you appreciate the medium a little bit more. I hadn’t really run across a game personally that nailed the experience of anxiety and hopelessness until I came across OVERWHELM. It’s tense, it’s hectic, it’s even downright scary at times. True to its name, I was unbelievably tense and worried the whole game, but I just kept coming back for more.

OVERWHELM is a side-scrolling action platformer with some horror elements thrown in. You play as a soldier sent into a heavily-infested series of caverns to combat something ominously referred to only as “the Hive.” The goal is pretty straight-forward from the get-go: collect the five crystals spread around the map, bring them back to the center, and get the hell out. It seems simple, but the game will make you fight and learn for every single bit of progress, only to have you start over again as you inevitably fail. Your entire skill set consists of a dashing punch move, an uppercut double-jump, a single-shot pistol with limited ammunition, and three lives to pull it off. Oh, and you die in one hit. Sounds easy, right?

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Working your way through the various areas in OVERWHELM for the first time is absolutely harrowing. You never know what’s around the corner and whether or not it’s already lined up an attack. Coupled with the incredible sound design that incorporates some deep bass synth tones, petrifying white noise, and the scariest of all, absolute silence, the developer delivers a truly unique horror experience. Nothing about this game is scary in a traditional horror sense (after all, the regular monsters are just small white bunches of pixels) but the emergent feeling of dread and horror created by the always real possibility of immediately losing your run had my heart pounding every time I picked up this game for a session.

Once you lose your first life, you start to be able to see less of the screen, as if you, the player, is getting tunnel vision from being too freaked out to think straight. That effect is only amplified on your last life, too. The tunnel vision obscures your remaining ammunition and the silence is broken with some of the most unsettling white noise I’ve heard in a while. Almost as if to call you out, the game also flashes “LAST CHANCE” boldly in the center of the screen before you go off to try and survive just a little bit longer. Eventually you make it to a crystal, all of which are guarded by bosses that aren’t terribly difficult, but force you to learn their attack patterns and how they work. Once you throw yourself at it enough to finally kill the boss and grab that crystal is really when the magic of this game begins to shine.

Because, as the game says, the hive grows stronger.

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I absolutely love this game’s twist on typical rogue-like elements. Once you finally beat the boss, you don’t get stronger or get a new power up, but the enemies do. It felt like the hive you’re there to destroy has finally acknowledged your presence and starts to fight back and adapt to you. I don’t want to go too much into it since it should absolutely be experienced, but I felt it absolutely worth mentioning since it felt really earned by the nature of how the world works. You do get the benefit of being able to immediately start a run outside the boss room of any boss you’ve beaten so far, which definitely saves you time, but you still start over from the beginning. Getting 3 or 4 crystals only to die to the last boss was genuinely soul-crushing, but still absolutely exhilarating the whole way through. Every victory felt earned and while I do take some minor issues with how your character handles while in the heat of the moment and the occasional sudden death from the unfortunate enemy placement, they made everything feel frantic and stressful.

OVERWHELM isn’t a very long game technically (I’ve seen some speedruns clocking in at about the 15 minute mark) but the amount of time and effort you’re putting forth helps it stay around a little longer. Plus, once you finish the game, you unlock the New Game+ option, which changes up the paths and makes things have more of a set path.

I also want to give a shout-out to the game’s accessibility and difficulty options, because I think they’re brilliant. The menu literally says “Overwhelm is never easy. It’s hard for some. Impossible for others. If you find it impossible, try this:” and directs you to the assist mode, which lets you have infinite lives, ammo, and aim assist, among other tweaks. Those seem like they could ruin the experience, but they absolutely don’t. It doesn’t take away from the tension of knowing the boss can kill you in one hit or the frustration of throwing yourself at a problem you can’t solve. The assists streamline the process, and allows for people to experience the game when they normally couldn’t.

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Are you the type of person that enjoys haunted houses and a steep challenge? If so, then I absolutely cannot recommend this game enough. It’s equal parts rewarding, punishing, and terrifying. The sound and visual design combines to allow for some unsettling effects that feel designed to get inside the head of the player. Even if you aren’t a thrill-seeker, I would definitely say to give it a try! The assist mode options allows the game to still keep the same challenge while allowing the spirit of the game to remain. I could go on and on about how cool this game is, so I’ll wrap it up here with this: play OVERWHELM.

Kam is one of the hosts of the Gamer Heroes podcast, head of content at GGKC, and a passable Dave Grohl look-a-like. Read more of his pretty okay words at his blog, or keep an eye on his regular attempts at humor on twitter @TheKamdyman.

Music:

  • District Four Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
    Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
  • Overwhelm soundtrack, courtesy of popagenda

Overwhelmingly Cool

This week, we dive into Kam’s thoughts on OVERWHELM, the current discourse on accessibility vs. difficulty, and how we’d like to see Borderlands 3 adapt to fit more into the modern games atmosphere.  Also we still find a way to squeeze Apex Legends into there somewhere. Feel free to give us some feedback by hitting up our socials!  Or even just forget we’re playing on your phone all day while your headphones are plugged in at work.  That’s cool too, we won’t mind.

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Devil May Cry V Review

In his first review, Kam from Gamer Heroes brings you the audio version of his review for Devil May Cry V!  A full written version of the review can be found below:


For some reason or another, I missed every other Devil May Cry game up to this point.  I had always heard that they’re incredibly difficult or that they’re nonsensical and ridiculous or I even just didn’t have the platform for the latest game.  Over time, my tastes (and financial situation) developed to where I was up for a challenge and embraced full-on batshit insanity and was feeling ready to jump into the next entry.  Once I saw the E3 2018 reveal, I felt an emotion that seemed a lot like love at first sight?  My point is, between my perception of what this series is and my infatuation with the announcement, my expectations were set pretty high.  I’m happy to report that it didn’t just meet expectations, but blew them away entirely.  Hell, I’d say this is the coolest video game I’ve ever played.

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Developer: Capcom | Publisher: Capcom | Platform: PC/PS4/XBO

First, let me tell you about how impressively stylish this game is. Think about any game you know of that has an impressive amount of style and coolness associated with it, Persona 5 is a good example. Anyone who fires it up for even 15 minutes or takes a look at some footage can tell just how incredibly cool that game looks and sounds, but at the end of the day, Persona 5, while still a great game, could be separated with the audio/visual style it has and still function on it’s own.  Devil May Cry V‘s style just can’t be removed from the game because it’s just such an integral part in making most of the systems work. Need a way to power up your sword strikes? Great, your sword’s handle is also a motorcycle throttle that sets it on fire when you rev it up. Want a way to charge your meter during a fight? Just pull out a book and recite some poetry while your demon pets fight for you. Enemy too far away? Just hop on your DEMON MOTORCYCLE and RUN THEM OVER. These things not only felt great to pull off, but kept pulling me back in when I absolutely had other games to play. It’s also worth touching on that this game is drop-dead gorgeous. The characters look beautiful and the enemies and environments don’t, but in, like a good way. The new RE Engine that Capcom has put together visually shines with this game and the recently released remake of Resident Evil 2, and has me very excited to see what happens when they push this tech to the limit.

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SERIOUSLY THIS GAME IS COOL AS HELL JUST LOOK AT THIS

Not only is the combat super stylish, but also incredibly rewarding. You’re given so many different cool toys to play with and figuring out the best way to take out this giant screaming demon thing was super fun and tense. The cool toys are great and encourage you to play differently depending on the character, but once you unlock the game’s third character, there’s almost no point to playing the others, since he can pretty much do anything. I never really felt the overwhelming sense of accomplishment and pride that comes with beating a big boss in something like Dark Souls, but I sure felt badass while doing it, and I think that’s intentional. The game definitely knows that’s what you’ll get out of this too; every final hit of an encounter has a downright filthy slow-mo effect that had me exclaiming something inappropriate more times than I can count. That’s not to say the game is without challenge (it’s worth noting that my time with the game was mostly spent on the game’s equivalent of Normal difficulty) as the bosses’ reward honestly requires that you become familiar with their patterns to find an opening. The normal mode is pretty forgiving, but each subsequent play-through unlocks more challenging difficulties, so there’s definitely quite a bit of replay value.

Story-wise, there’s really not a whole lot here to write home about. It’s incredibly corny, over-the-top bullshit that you would expect a game about demon invasions and cane-wielding poets to have, and it’s honestly great. With so many games lately that are incredibly deep, meaningful narratives, it’s refreshing to play a great game that doesn’t take itself seriously at all. Playing Devil May Cry V made me feel like I was watching martial arts movies with my friends; we didn’t care about the story, the story is just a vehicle to show you some dope action sequences. It’s a nice reminder that there’s room in this medium for games exploring what it truly means to be alive and fucking up demon bugs with your twin motorcycle hammers.

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YEAH HELL YEAH

In closing, should you play Devil May Cry V? Honestly, yeah, you really should. It’s a downright blast and just when you expect it to cross the line for how ridiculous it can be, it full-tilt sprints right over it and doesn’t even bother drawing a new one. I do take some minor issues with some things like giving one playable character too many tools, some random difficulty spikes, and the padded length of each play-through from having to focus on what every character is doing at a certain point in time, but I can easily forgive Capcom for that, because as an experience, I think Devil May Cry V is unrivaled. It’s engaging, gorgeous, and most importantly, almost every aspect of this game is just pure dumb fun. What’s not to love?

Kam is one of the hosts of the Gamer Heroes podcast, produced by the Heroes Podcast Network, head of content at GGKC, and a passable Dave Grohl look-a-like. Read more of his pretty okay words at his blog, or keep an eye on his regular attempts at humor on twitter @TheKamdyman.

Music:

  • District Four Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
    Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

North by Outlands – Review

North is an Indie video game by Outlands that was originally released in April of 2016 on Steam. On March 6th, 2018, it releases on Nintendo Switch. The Switch is quickly becoming the go-to platform for Indie console titles, so North is in good company. Now, North is a relatively short game. In fact, if you know what to do, you could probably finish it in 30-40 minutes but the game anticipates that it should take you about an hour. With that in mind, I am going to do my best to avoid spoilers in both written and visual mediums. It’s a linear story with very few variations and I would prefer not to ruin it for anyone who is looking to pick it up.

Outlands describes the game as:

In NORTH you play a man who applies for asylum in a city filled with strange creatures and strange customs.

Dealing with the issue of the contemporary refugee crisis while at the same time being deeply rooted in a classical cyberpunk atmosphere à la Blade Runner, NORTH features a dark synthpop soundtrack, a sprawling mega-city and weird monster-like inhabitants.

The gameplay is very straightforward and mostly consists of exploration and simple puzzles. The main difficulty is to understand what you have to do in order to get asylum. You’ve come from an foreign land in the south and find yourself lost and confused – a confusion you convey through letters to your sister back home. An important part of the gameplay, these letters help you understand your tasks while at the same time moving the narrative of the game forward.

NORTH is short (20-40 min) and comes with a full soundtrack (8 songs).

North hits some heavy notes and focuses on an intense topic that impacts millions of people around the world. As you complete the game, the overtones and concepts it relays become much more clear. The story really does all tie together in a fairly creepy and unfortunately real way. But let’s start with the basics.

North by Outlands - Mines

It is a first-person game. You do not have hands. You cannot see any part of yourself or anything you may be holding. While this cleans up the screen, I would have appreciated some kind of aiming cross-hair as interacting with certain objects was tedious when using the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. It is not immediately clear what you are supposed to do but that is the nature of the game. North doesn’t have a menu. You can’t pause or save. There’s no HUD nor indication of health, location, etc. aside from one specific life monitor when you are in the mines, as show in the image above. Instead, all you get when the game begins is what you see below:

North by Outlands - Opening

The graphics are relatively simple and look like they would have been great for a VR game. However, the loading between screens is a problem. It is very buggy. The beautiful soundtrack gets broken up on a regular basis when loading between screens which really takes you out of the moment and feel. With that said, the sound is truly beautiful and reminiscent of movies like Blade Runner and The Neverending Story, two of my personal favorites.

North by Outlands - First Floor City

Speaking of bugs though, I broke the game. You see, there’s a part when you have to go to work in the mines. The atmosphere is dangerous and you have to limit your time in there. My first couple of attempts led to my death and in dying, broke the flow of the game to where I was not able to complete the steps. The arrow markers that were supposed to lead my way to the mine locations I needed to work were no where to be found and I could not interact with the drink machines that were active prior to my death. I found myself stuck and decided to just close the game and relaunch it, starting over. Being that I was about half an hour in, this wasn’t the end of the world and now that I knew what to do, it was much easier to progress.

North by Outlands - Church

I did use some walk through from Steam because the whole Church conversion tied in with the street cameras was not immediately intuitive for me. I think that’s my chief complaint. The game relies a lot on you just figuring things out but since I essentially broke the game during my experimenting, I was also hesitant to do anything I wasn’t fairly confident in. Of course, there are the letters to fall back on. As mentioned earlier, you are sending letters to your sister and as you progress, they tell you vital information about upcoming tasks. Yes, it’s a little weird. Essentially, you perform an action and a letter becomes available to send your sister. In posting the letter, you get to read it and learn what… you… learned. It’s a little convoluted but it’s a solid mechanic that does help you along. So it works.

North by Outlands - Letters

In the end, it’s a short game that does have a solid message about the way many refugees are treated, the hoops we force them to jump through, and how we make them feel about their background and who they are.  There are some technical issues, specifically around loading between events and what happens if you die or do not convert correctly. Hopefully these things will be fixed with patches. I am playing pre-release, so I will cut them a little slack. Also, it’s a dirt cheap game, only $2.99 USD on Switch, making it easily one of the cheapest games on the platform and not a terrible way to spend an hour.

North by Outlands - Police Station

If you’ve played North by Outlands, please hit me up on Twitter @TheStarTrekDude and use the hashtag #northgame. I’d love to talk to you about it.

If you haven’t played and are going to snag it on Switch, also hit me up and let me know! It releases Tuesday, March 5th on the Nintendo Switch eShop.

North by Outlands – Review

Alien: Covenant Spoiler-free Review

The next installment in the Alien franchise is here. This time Ridley Scott is admitting upfront that it is, in fact, an Alien movie. With that said, if you have not seen Prometheus, I highly recommend watching it before seeing Alien: Covenant. Without spoiling too much from Prometheus, Michael Fassbender’s character David, is a very important part of Alien: Covenant and his motivations are directly tied into the events of Prometheus.

Now, moving on to Alien: Covenant, it’s an Alien movie…. kind of. I say “kind of” because it still sits firmly in the world that Prometheus created, focusing on the tone and overarching plot of that film. Sure, we have a new crew, a new mission, but at the end of the day, it’s the same shtick.

There is a lot to like about Alien: Covenant and if you love monster movies, it’ll be an enjoyable experience for you. With that said, if you are looking for a classic Alien movie that brings you back to Sigourney Weaver’s era, this is not going to fulfill your wishes.

Alien Coventant poster 2

The cast is fine. It features Katherine Waterston (Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them), Bill Crudup (Watchmen), and Danny McBride (Pineapple Express), with Michael Fassbender playing two different characters, David from Prometheus and Walter, the Covenant’s android. They all do a good job with what they are given but as usual, Fassbender steals the show, much as he did in Prometheus and much as he has done in the more recent X-Men films. Everyone else is just along for the ride, in some cases literally.

The story is pretty interesting and has a lot of solid horror movie moments that Prometheus definitely lacked. We spend a lot of time off the ship which, while similar to Prometheus, is still very different from the original Alien Quadrilogy movies. Ridley Scott clearly is trying to pave a path between Prometheus, a movie he was adamant was not an Alien movie, and the original Alien. So, I expect at least one if not two more films before we catch back up to Ripley.

Alien Coventant poster 3

The special effects are inconsistent at best. The ships and technology look amazing and are great updates to the original films while not directly copying Prometheus. The bridge set, the corridors, etc. are all finely detailed and just really well done. The aliens and major action sequences leave much to be desired. The aliens are inconsistent in size, amorphous in shape, and deal damage convenient to whatever needs to happen in a particular scene. When a green\blue screens are used it’s painfully obvious that the backgrounds are fake. With that said, scenes where Fassbender is interacting with himself are very well done and incredibly convincing.

Alien Coventant poster

Overall, it’s a decent Alien movie. You can see my specific rating below. It expands on the universe. The movie provides some very cool and dark explanations for events but at the same time does not stand up to the quality of the original two films when it comes to special effects, suspense, or action. Ridley Scott has tried twice to replace Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley and has clearly failed to do so both times.  That’s about as much detail as I can go into without spoiling the movie, so if you’d like to know more, I’ll provide an in-depth take in an upcoming ranking of the Alien franchise films.

Did you like the movie? Comment below!

Alien: Covenant Spoiler-free Review

SH S2E20: Doctor Strange Review

We focus on Marvel and the MCU this week as we review Doctor Strange which hit North American theaters this previous weekend. We will be discussing plot, characters, and surprises which means lots of SPOILERS! You have been warned. If you don’t want spoilers, please put this on pause and come back after you see the movie.

Toward the end of the cast we discuss a little DC and Blizzard news, as well.

Before we kick off the main discussion we want to announce some big brand changes here at The Grid Daily. Due to our love for podcasting and such, we are now the Heroes Podcast Network, producers of Screen Heroes. The Grid Daily name is being phased out so we can focus more on podcast and video content, with less reliance on written, blog-style content. We’re still the same people and Screen Heroes will continue to record live every Tuesday night at 8PM CST on Twitch!

In the meantime, please make sure you like, following, and subscribe to our various social media and Internet outlets, some of which have already changed to the Heroes Podcast Network branding. Check out all the links below!

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Doctor Strange Review Podcast Credits

Hosts
Derreck Mayer
Rachel Stewart
Ryan Couture

Executive Producer
Derreck Mayer

Editor
Derreck Mayer

Music
Michael Wallace (Flying Killer Robots)

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SH S2E20: Doctor Strange Review

Stranger Things: Spoiler-Free Review

Are you a fan of classic 80’s child adventure stories? I’m talking about Goonies, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Flight of the Navigator, Stand by Me, The Wizard, Explorers, and The Last Starfighter, just to name a few.

Well, you’re in good company. A set of twin writer/directors Matt and Ross Duffer, known as The Duffer Brothers also enjoyed those movies and have decided to grace us with a mixture of those ideas with large doses of practical and computer special effects. Welcome to the world of Stranger Things.

Synopsis

“When a young boy vanishes, a small town uncovers a mystery involving secret experiments, terrifying supernatural forces and one strange little girl.” To say the least, that description only scratches the barest surface, as this series defies genre. It’s a Sci-Fi/Mystery/Thriller/Action/Drama love note to that era of Flock of Seagulls haircuts.

As a Netflix Original Series, Stranger Things was bound to be at least decent. It’s sitting side by side other great shows, including Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. Upon first glance, the one thing I noticed was how well this show is put together. From the smallest detail, to the largest story arc, everything is dripping with 80’s. There are throwbacks via posters on the walls, t-shirts, and even the telephones and cars in use are very true to the year. The only thing that may have seemed out of place is the vernacular, the words they used. But, since I only spent a few years in the 80’s, I may be mixing fiction and reality. Which is bogus to the max, like totally.

stranger-things-poster

Review

Seriously, though, the writing, directing, audio, music choices, casting, acting, special effects, and everything else all coalesce into something that major Hollywood movies are currently having great difficulty in achieving, unity. Stranger Things acts as one story set in its own universe. There is no one piece where you can look and say, “that doesn’t belong” or “they should have done that better.”

The episodes are displayed as chapters in a book. If this were a book that I was currently reading, I would read it cover to cover continuously.

Stranger Things is rated PG-14, and I would not suggest it for anyone who is susceptible to nightmares or fear of the dark, as this will exacerbate those conditions. There is a fair amount of blood and violence, a lot of swearing, and just a smidgen of teenage sexual situations. This is one of those rare times where I will side with the ratings and say, maybe the younger kids should sit this one out.

StrangerThings

What do you think about Stranger Things? Have you already binge-watched it? Let us know in the comments!

Stranger Things: Spoiler-Free Review

SH S2E4: Ghostbusters (2016) Review

For our 30th episode, we review the new Ghostbusters (2016) movie with tons of spoilers! We talk casting, plot, writing, special effects, cameos, and more! Finding out what we liked about the Ghostbusters reboot plus what we didn’t. The film is in theaters now and stars Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Chris Hemsworth, directed by Paul Feig, from Columbia Pictures.

In its opening weekend, Ghostbusters (2016) pulled in a little over $46 million domestically with a $50 million 5-day haul, coming in second to The Secret Life of Pets. We talk about how the box office timing could hurt the film and whether or not its box office haul is due to the movie itself, competition, or the press leading up to the film’s release.

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Ghostbusters (2016) Review Podcast Credits

Hosts
Derreck Mayer
Rachel Stewart
Ryan Couture

Executive Producer
Derreck Mayer

Editor
Derreck Mayer

Music
Michael Wallace (Flying Killer Robots)

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SH S2E4: Ghostbusters (2016) Review

Finding Dory: Spoiler-Free Review

Finding Dory (2016)

Cast: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell

Directors: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane

Synopsis: Ellen DeGeneres reprises her role as the forgetful blue Tang fish with a friendly personality, as she remembers a key moment from her past and goes on a journey to find the things she’s lost along the way.

Review:

As with any Pixar movie, there was a short movie before the feature presentation, this time, it was Piper, a heartwarming story of a young sandpiper, learning to feed itself, but, also that some things which may seem scary at first could simply be hurdles to be overcome. It’s a sweet little clip, and, if you don’t care about the story, you should marvel at the details. Feathers, water, shells, and even sand are just barely on this side of the uncanny valley.

Ellen DeGeneres slips seamlessly into the role of Dory, just as the movie slips seamlessly back into our lives. It’s difficult to remember that Finding Nemo came out in 2003. We get a split-second recap of the first movie, just to remind anyone who didn’t want to admit to watching the first movie before entering the theater. During the recap, we get to see young Dory, which is probably the cutest thing ever, especially if you didn’t just watch Piper.

Finding Dory - Dory

When Dory is suddenly reminded of something she forgot, it starts a hide-and-seek/I Spy journey to her home, and her forgotten family. Her adopted family, Marlin and Nemo accompany her on this journey, with the help of an adventurous Turtle. Dory blunders her way into dangerous situations and blunders right out of them again. Some of the creatures they meet along the way consider fish to be food and not friends. Along with including nearly every character from the last movie, we get to meet a lot of new friends, including Hank, a suspicious camouflaging “Septopus” and Bailey a self-conscious beluga whale, who is next door neighbors with a near sighted whale shark.

This film served as great entertainment with its colorful cast and easy going feel. The plot is not as straight forward as you would expect from a kid’s movie, but, the twists and turns aren’t exactly sharp either. This is definitely a movie that will be enjoyed by children as well as the adults sitting next to them.

The one actor that gave this reviewer pause was Sigourney Weaver, who plays herself, or rather, her voice as the overhead announcer for the Monterey Bay Marine Life Aquarium, which has a “Rescue, Rehabilitate, and Release” motto.

As with any Pixar sequel, this one simply isn’t as good as the original, in this reviewer’s opinion. However, as stated earlier, with how seamlessly it segues into the first movie, you can hardly tell they are 13 years apart. Also, it’s worth it to sit through the credits for a humorous end-scene that tie the two movies together even tighter than before.

Finding Dory: Spoiler-Free Review

Pokémon Go: First Impressions from a Beta Tester

If you have been living under a rock, Pokémon Go is a new mobile game launching this year from Niantic, the studio behind the Android game “Ingress”.  It allows Pokémon fans to do something they have always wanted to do, be the “Ash Ketchum” of their own personal Pokémon journey.  This game is now in the beta testing phase and a slew of invites were sent out this week to bring in more testers.  I was one of those lucky enough to be chosen for the test , and now that I have had the game for a few days, I decided to do a short article to give my thoughts on the game as it currently exists.

Just to preface this, I will not be giving out any information as to actual game-play mechanics.  As a beta tester, I am subject to an NDA, and I will not be breaking that.  This article is just to give my impressions having played the game for a few days.  If leaks are what you want, there are plenty of places out there to get that information.

Pokemon Go

Capture Pokemon in their first augmented reality adventure.

To start with, the game is quite fun to look at.  The graphics are quite good for a mobile game.  I am playing the game on a Nexus 6P, and it looks great  on the 5.7 inch screen.  The AR (augmented reality) portion of the game works quite well, making it look like the Pokémon are actually in front of you.

Pokemon Go

Explore your real life surroundings to capture imaginary Pokemon.

The most surprising part of Pokémon Go, for me anyway, is that it makes you actually want to leave the house.  I am not generally an active person, but this game has succeeded in making me want to leave the house and explore.  Just yesterday, I went out to go try and add a few more species to my Pokédex, and I found myself walking further and further from my home, trying to hit that next Pokéstop or gym.  There aren’t many other beta testers in my area that I have seen, but I imagine once the game releases, it won’t be uncommon to run into other people playing, hanging around those landmarks in the game.

And it is there that I think this game will succeed.  Whether you are a fan of the original Red and Blue, or a newer fan who enjoys the 3DS games, you will find something to love in Pokémon Go.  I will release a full review, as well as a tips and tricks article, once the game is closer to release and the NDA is over.

 

Pokémon Go: First Impressions from a Beta Tester

Criminal Movie: A Review

Criminal Review

I’d like to start this review by saying the movie Criminal is complicated, to say the least. It almost feels like a few movies put together.
I really wanted to like it from the beginning.
That being the case, I’ve split this review into different parts;
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

The Good:
This movie has one of the most original premises I’ve seen in a while. Essentially, imagine an evil version of Billy Bob Thornton from Sling Blade wakes up with the memories of Jason Bourne. Would he still be evil? This premise kept me in my seat.
This movie has the largest assortment of actors who have been in comic book movies this side of an X-men sequel. Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Gal Gadot, and Gary Oldman. And, those are just the ones on the poster. Needless to say, their acting is superb, they totally embodied the characters that they portrayed.

 

The Bad:
Where should I start? Criminal starts with a LOT of jump cuts from city to city, person to person. It’s kind of a spy thriller so it makes sense, but, you really need to pay attention to what is going on.  One of the most interesting characters is killed off in the first half of the movie, which I thought was a poor choice, as far as story is concerned. The main character, played by Kevin Costner, is not a likable guy. He does some stuff at the beginning of the movie that almost had me walking out, almost. Throughout the movie, his character changes immensely, but, it’s still unnerving.
There is a little girl who accepts this character almost immediately, which is also unnerving, as she has no idea who he is, and her mother has absolutely no reason to trust him at all. These scenes could have been better explained, in my opinion.
Gal Gadot is not given nearly the screen time that she deserves and her character was handled poorly.

FIN02_Criminal_1Sht_Payoff_VF_s

The Ugly:
Shaky Cam, Shaky Cam everywhere. If you have trouble with this, be aware. Also, I was expecting Kevin Costner’s character to bust out some Kung Fu, or Krav Maga, but, the best we get is prison moves and brute force. Some of the more violent scenes are very graphic and can be disturbing to sensitive viewers.
In addition, there was a whole subplot about guys who could be Bond villains, computer programming, and nuclear missiles. These were wholly unnecessary in my opinion. Overall, this felt like most other recent Kevin Costner movies, such as The Postman and Waterworld, both of which I enjoy to this day, but, mainly when they are on cable. So, this movie may end up as a stocking stuffer from the bargain bin at your local Wally World.

TLDR;
If you enjoy movies with interesting plots, that are well-acted and feature some big names, Criminal is a good romp.
If you like action scenes and explosions, you will enjoy Criminal.
If you have trouble with shaky cam and you don’t enjoy hasty jump cuts, Criminal might be a movie to skip.

criminal-2016-ryan-reynolds1

Oh yeah, and Ryan Reynolds is in this movie. Who knew?

Criminal Movie: A Review

Miitomo: The Best of Social Media

Last Thursday Nintendo finally launched its new account and reward system, My Nintendo, that replaces Club Nintendo after a year hiatus. Along with this good news comes a fun little app called Miitomo. Inevitably, if you are friends with any Nintendo fans or the young at heart, you’ve likely seen an influx of Miis scattered across your social media that would rival your own Mii Plaza. I, unfortunately, will probably lose a few friends and followers by the time this particular hype train leaves the station, but I have no regrets. If you have not boarded that train, give the video above a watch to see what you’re in for and join me on this journey.

Miitomo is best described as a social media app that allows you to be the best version of yourself. You also get to post (Mii)fotos, satiate your desire to answer ALL THE QUIZZES, have a slightly repetitive time sink of a game, and be surrounded by friends who actually want to see it. For the icing on the cake, there are no ads and you get actual rewards for playing that include free games for the 3DS and useful perks for Miitomo itself. The launch video does a fantastic job of showing how to get started and some of the features. I have to admit that I am a terrible human being and take entirely too much enjoyment in making the Miis say awful things. It is truly an affliction and I just cannot help myself. Thankfully my friends have a tolerable sense of humor, or have somehow managed to exceed my own twisted thoughts. Personally, I blame Nintendo for doing such a fantastic job on text-to-speech and allowing some significant free speech (type ALL THE FOUR LETTER WORDS).

MIITOMO

Well, we do live in America.

Within about 30 minutes of answering questions and dressing my Mii up in silly things, I came to a solid theory. Miitomo seems to have drawn some of the best features of a game released two years ago called Tomodachi Life. The game itself is difficult to describe, but can be most related to a very weird voyeuristic version of The Sims. While it was repetitive and got stale quickly, the game had a unique quirky charm of being bat@#&! crazy with the most random dialogue and cut scenes. This app immediately reminded me of the good times I had in that bizarre game. I have come to the conclusion that Nintendo released Miitomo simply to record all of the weird things we say to keep their inevitable Tomodachi Life 2 fresh and exciting. I am likely very wrong, but on the slight chance that I am not, you heard the conspiracy here first, folks.

MIITOMO

This escalated quickly.

MIITOMO

#MiitomoStyle with Friends!

What about you, my fellow Nintenerds? Have you given Miitomo a shot yet? Need some random time waster in your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it and relish in any fun moments you’ve had in the game so far. Feel free to add Mii as a friend using the QR code!

MIITOMO

Go ahead, add Mii!

You can always contact me on Facebook and Instagram @crystalbatdesigns!

Miitomo: The Best of Social Media