Announcement!

I’m in kind of a pickle at the moment. I really want to continue writing for this blog, but I haven’t really been playing video games or reading books, or really doing anything for the past long while. I haven’t completed Borderlands 2 or Pokémon White Version 2 yet, and those are really the only things I’ve been doing lately that would be worth reviewing.

So, in the interest of continuing to add new content to Organ Miner Reviews, I have decided to implement two new segments to the blog for when I hit a dry spell like this. The first will be entitled Organ Miner Thinks About Stuff. These segments will not be reviews of any kind, but will instead focus on my thoughts and opinions on upcoming and controversial entertainment. Pretentious as that may sound, it’s actually quite innocent. For example, my first Organ Miner Thinks About Stuff will be my opinion on Disney’s acquisition of LucasFilms and the announcement of Star Wars Episode VII.

The second new segment will be entitled From Back in the Day. That simply means I’ll be reviewing less current games, movies, etc., from older generations of entertainment. It will focus mostly on games. My first planned From Back in the Day will be about Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. For some reason, I’ve been thinking about that game a lot lately, and I want to put my thoughts on it into writing.

So, for all none of you that read my blog regularly, look forward to some new content in the near future. I hope you enjoy Organ Miner Thinks About Stuff and From Back in the Day.


Dude, I Don’t Even Know: Double Dragon Neon

One of my great achievements as a gamer is beating the original Double Dragon NES game without cheats or Game Genie, just three lives and my own mettle. What can I say? I was just in the zone. I was fighting for right with the might of the dragon (I think only seven people in the world will get that reference). I got past those stupid blocks in the final level. That douche with the machine gun couldn’t touch me. And the final boss was disappointingly easy. Funny story, I went back to the game the next day with a Game Genie code to give me nine lives instead of the usual three, and I couldn’t beat it.

Anyway, strange personal tangents aside, Double Dragon was a pioneer in the beat ’em up genre. It spawned a great sequel in Double Dragon II: The Revenge, and a  not-so-great sequel with cool music with Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones on the NES. After that, it got a crappy beat ’em up sequel and an even crappier fighting game on the SNES, plus Battletoads/Double Dragon, a decent crossover game for the SNES and Sega Genesis. It also spawned one of the most hilariously awesome/horrible cartoon shows and one of the most hilariously awesome/horrible movies that I have ever witnessed. After that… nothing. For a long time, we didn’t see hide nor hair of the Lee brothers. To my knowledge, there was only a Gameboy Advance remake of the original Double Dragon, which I only played once. After that, I was almost certain that the Double Dragon series was dead as Prince Imhotep.

And as it turns out, I was right! As from its long-buried sarcophagus arose the reanimated mummies of Billy and Jimmy Lee. And with them came a new game entitled Double Dragon Neon.

When I heard about a new Double Dragon game coming to the PSN, I got reasonably excited. Though it hadn’t been my favorite game series of all time, I remember always having at least one Double Dragon game in my household at any one time. So, it was exciting to finally get a new game to play. And when I did, there was only one thing that I could say.

“Uh… hm.”

On the title screen, you are greeted with a rather heavy and rocking remix of the original Double Dragon title screen. That’s pretty cool. Then you start the game and Marian is punched in the stomach and slung over the shoulder of a faceless baddy. At this point, I was getting a little worried. I was beginning to think that this was just another remake. But then, Billy and/or Jimmy emerges from the building and says, “Marian? Aw, man! Not again!”. So… It’s not a remake? And then we’re greeted with a rock remix of the Stage One theme from the original Double Dragon. So, that’s promising. So far, we’ve heard nothing but remixes.

The first thing you’re going to notice is probably the new look of the series. There are 3-D characters rather than sprites and, if the title didn’t give it away, everything is covered in neon lights. Now, for the most part, this is okay. Most of the characters look okay, if not a little bit weird. But then, Billy and Jimmy (you know, the people that you’re going to be looking at for the entirety of the game) look stupid! And I mean that both literally and figuratively.

They’re wearing basically the same outfits that they did in previous installments, but on the new, slightly disproportionate character models, it looks even sillier. Pair that with a slightly dimwitted looking face and a silly pompadour/mullet hair style (and look. Jimmy even complements it with some mutton chop sideburns. That’s a solid fashion statement right there), and you quickly wish that you were playing as somebody else.

The next thing that you’ll notice is that everybody moves really fucking slowly! Hey, Billy. You might walk a little faster if you didn’t walk sideways and do your ninja pose the entire time. This may seem like only a mild complaint, but honestly, this plodding pace can really get to you after awhile. There is a way to run, but it takes almost two seconds to execute and you can’t control yourself while you’re running, so it makes it practically useless. It’s not like say, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, another beat ’em up that I have recently played, where the character moves really slowly. But in Scott Pilgrim, you can start running on a whim and can move up and down while you do it. That, and you can improve your movement speed by leveling up and eating sushi, so it no longer becomes a problem. In Double Dragon Neon, it’s a problem through the entire course of the game, especially when some of the bosses can teleport on a whim and make you chase them around the battlefield.

The fighting system is kind of fucked up and, let’s face it, archaic. Just like most beat-’em-ups, your main goal is to progress to the right on the x axis to reach the boss and end of the level, but you can also move up and down on the y axis to line yourself up with an enemy to punch him or avoid an attack. And this, though it mostly works, has its problems. If you are not on the exact same plane of the battlefield as the enemy for which you are aiming, you’re hitting nothing but air, but guess what. The enemies can still hit you! Maybe I’m just imagining it, but it certainly feels like you have a larger hit box than the enemies.

Neon also falls victim to a couple other outdated beat-’em-up staples. Like the game reading your controller inputs to create psychic enemies that can dodge and counter pretty much whatever you do. And enemies attacking you from off-screen when you had no idea they were there. And enemies becoming invincible in the middle of your combo so that they can get a free hit on you, especially if they are using a weapon. And throwing in clunky platforming, a beat-’em-up mechanic that you be buried alive in a landfill somewhere, for no reason other than “The other games did it”. And all of these beat-’em-up clichés don’t belong in our console games today. They really hurt the gameplay and the overall enjoyment of the game as a whole.

That’s not to say that there are not any changes made to the formula. Double Dragon Neon, instead of allowing you to just spam the Spinning Cyclone and the Flying Knee, focuses more on ducking and rolling to dodge enemy attacks. When you successfully dodge an enemy attack with the L2 button with the right timing, you enter what’s called ‘Gleam’, where your attacks are doubly powerful for a few moments. This can be the difference between getting your ass kicked and doing some ass kicking of your own. It takes a little while to adapt to it, but once you do, it does make the game marginally more enjoyable. That would be more than marginal if the damn Gleam mechanic actually worked half the time. There were definitely moments where I would dodge an attack and get Gleam, and then just a moment later, I would dodge the same attack with the same timing, and I would not get Gleam.

I have to get off of this subject. Typing the word ‘Gleam’ so many times has made my fingers begin to necrotize.

Also included in Neon is a Special Move Bar located directly under your Life Bar. Pressing R2 activates your special move. And what’s kind of neat here is that there are multiple special moves that you can equip and level up, so pressing R2 will do something different depending on which special move you have equipped. Of course, I ended up simply using the first one you get as, in my opinion, it’s the best one. These special moves drain your Special Meter, and your Special Meter is refilled by attacking enemies.

There are also things in Neon called ‘Stances’, which are basically items that you equip and level up to raise your stats and do some other things like absorb health. This is kind of cool and allows the player to change the game slightly to fit his or her own playing style.

But, as nice as these Special Moves and Stances are, leveling them up is a huge pain in the ass. You level them up by picking them up over and over again. And, as you can probably divine for yourself, certain enemies drop certain items. That’s tedious enough as it is, but there’s more. You can only level them up so high before you have to visit what’s called a ‘Tapesmith’ and have him raise that item’s level cap, after which, you would need to farm for it again. But wait, that’s not all! You can’t visit the Tapesmith from the Level Select screen, oh no. That would just be far too convenient. Instead, you have to visit a stage in which a Tapesmith is present and progress through the stage until you reach him. This is a bullshit mechanic and there shouldn’t have been a single person that thought this was a good idea. But wait! That’s still not all! In order for the Tapesmith to upgrade your items, you need to give him Mythril, which can only be obtained by defeating a boss. And each time he upgrades an item, he requires a higher number of Mythril pieces to upgrade it again. This means that, not only do you have to farm enemies to get the item in the first place, but you have to farm bosses to get Mythril just to be allowed to farm enemies again! And considering how short the game is, you’re going to be fighting the same few bosses countless times just to fully upgrade one Stance or Special Move! Tedium, thy name is Double Dragon Neon.

Now, you may be wondering why it’s called a Tapesmith. Well, this is because your Special Moves and Stances come in the form of, for some reason, cassette tapes. Now, quick question. How many people out there that actually play video games even remember what a cassette tape is? This is where I begin to get confused about just what this game is trying to be.

At different points, it feels like it wants to be a comedy with its goofy voice acting and bosses and rocket pagodas and sing-along credit song. At others, it seems it wants us to take it seriously as a hardcore action game. Sometimes it feels like it wants to be a parody of the beat-’em-up genre. Other times, I feel like I need to leave the room because of just how much it wants to pay homage to it all night long. Sometimes, it seems to want to be a parody of itself, or maybe even the youth of today, by making Billy and Jimmy do air guitar at the end of each stage and using words like bro-op and bro-five. But, I think its main goal was to be a parody of the entire ’80s. But you see, when it tries so hard to be so many things, it kind of ends up as nothing.

And I think that’s what bugs me the most. I got nothing out of this game. Any enjoyment that I got from it was quickly counter-balanced by all of the stupid shit they threw at me. It had some comedic parts and some interesting mechanics, but it also had a stupid, simplistic story, outdated mechanics from old games, mind numbing tedium in its item improvement, and a complete inability to decide what it wanted to be. All of this makes me say that Double Dragon Neon should be played maybe once, because I can see how some people might enjoy it more than I, but I honestly don’t think it’s worth more than one playthrough.

Gameplay: 4/10: It loses a lot for using old mechanics and that whole, horrible Tapesmith thing.

Music: 8/10: I may not have mentioned it, but a lot of the heavy rock music, despite a few remixes here and there, is actually pretty good.

Graphics: 6/10: Despite a few ugly character models, they still come out a little above average, I think.

Story: 4/10: It’s far too simple and stupid. But it gets a point for being comedic and parodic.

Total: 5/10


Good News, Everyone!

I was looking through some of my statistics today, and I noticed that I had gotten a view from a link that appeared on IMDb. “That’s odd,” I thought. “I’ve never posted anything there. What could that possibly be?” Curious, I clicked on the link. And after a little bit of clicking, this is what I found:

 

 

For those that do not read my blog regularly, that is a screenshot of someone posting on an IMDb discussion board, word-for-word, my Battle Royale Vs. The Hunger Games post that I wrote back in April.

That’s right. I have been plagiarized!

And I am terribly excited about it!

That may sound awfully odd to many of you, being excited that some dipshit stole my writing and used it as his own. But I’m super-excited about it for several reasons:

  1. Somebody recognized my writing as something that was good enough to steal. And that is, in itself, kind of flattering. There are plenty of BR vs. THG comparisons out there, and this jerkoff chose mine to steal.
  2. If you read his first post in the thread, you will see that  Mr. El Voldemort there was livid because he believes that Suzanne Collins, the author of The Hunger Games, had blatantly ripped off Battle Royale. And if he had bothered to read my whole analysis, instead of just the first one or two paragraphs, he would see that I very much do not believe that. But he had posted this in response to someone defending THG as a defense of his own opinion. Oh, the irony!
  3. Speaking of irony, this anal polyp blatantly plagiarized my work in a thread (that he started, by the way) criticizing Suzanne Collins for blatantly plagiarizing someone else’s work. And I find immense entertainment in that fact.
  4. And here’s the best part. I would be furious right now, were it not for this point. But, it turns out, some people actually care! Now, the link that brought me to IMDb was not the above screenshot, but was in fact, this one:

Somebody by the name of dragos_f saw this genital wart’s post… and called him on it!  This person is my new hero! And I thank him from the bottom of my silly, organ mining heart. Not only did he tear this cancerous cock down in only three sentences, but he cited the source in plain view, giving me, a completely unknown review blogger with a heart of gold and chocolate, writing reviews for fun, a little bit of recognition. You, dragos_f, are a white knight of the internet. And once again, I thank you for kicking this shit stain in the metaphorical dick and standing up for the unknown bloggers everywhere.

And to all of you Sheikh Kamal El Voldemort assholes out there, remember, this is the internet. If you steal someone’s work, someone will find you out.


Final Fantasy: A Retrospective

I recently played Final Fantasy XIII-2. I had a good time playing it. It looked amazing, as Square Enix games tend to do. The storyline and gameplay were both better than Final Fantasy XIII. There were some things that pissed me off. Like, the story, though not bad, was a little complex and even nonsensical. And Mog got me so angry throughout the whole game. Seriously, Moogles do not literally say ‘Kupo’. Moogles say kupo like a cat says meow. Some of the sidequests and enemies were stupid and annoying and downright bad. But I still had fun collecting as much as I could, making my party members stronger, and I really loved the monster hunting/raising.

So, here’s my score for Final Fantasy XIII-2.

Gameplay: 7/10

Music: 6/10

Graphics: 10/10

Story: 7/10

Total: 7/10

Yeah, I know that review was horribly short, but I promise, I am not gypping you here. What I have planned here is something much bigger than myself and the review of one silly video game.

The Final Fantasy series as a whole holds a very special place in my heart. Along with the Mega Man series (to this day, my favorite franchise), I grew up with Final Fantasy more than any other series. Mario and Sonic may be two great series of games, and I played a lot of them. And they are almost definitely far more influential as far as video games go. But nothing got me into the experience of playing a video game like Final Fantasy. I remember my first time playing Final Fantasy III (VI) was also the first time that I ever felt truly immersed in a game’s environment, the first time I cared deeply for a video game character, and the first time that I was genuinely floored by a game’s plot. I realize that there were probably some massive, epic, and equally good RPGs that had been released before FFIII, but I was a bit too young for those at the time. FFIII came out at just the right time. At a time that I was ready to attempt a video game that would take more than a couple hours to successfully beat. And I never looked back. Mega Man may be my favorite franchise, but because of Final Fantasy, the RPG genre remains my favorite genre of video games.

And whatever you may think about the series’s quality, you cannot deny its influence. Think of it like The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. I hate The Rolling Stones, save for a few amazing songs, but I understand that without them, many of the bands that I do like wouldn’t exist. Just like without Final Fantasy, many of the video games that we enjoy today would not exist. The RPG genre, the fantasy genre, and in fact, the entire video game industry would likely not be anywhere near its current status were it not for this series.

I thought about all of this as I was gathering my thoughts for my Final Fantasy XIII-2 review, and I realized that I had a lot more to say about the whole series. I decided that I would much rather do a retrospective of the whole series so far and give my thoughts on how the games have evolved. And I decided that I wanted to do it as a countdown from my least to most favorite.

But first, a few bullet points:

  • This series and its influences are far bigger than any of us. I cannot give a detailed analysis of each game or tell you about the effort put into them by their creators. All I can do is offer an opinion. I can tell you what I like and what I think does work and what does not work. I only ask that you treat it as such. I am not trying to change anyone’s mind about their favorites or otherwise. There are multitudes of opinions and points that can be made for each and every one of them. So, if my opinion in this list does not quite gel with yours, that’s fine. Feel free to leave some feedback with your own opinions and points. I’m excited to hear them.
  • Speaking of feedback, a comment will not be approved for public viewing if it is not constructive in any way. This is a debate that I honestly enjoy if it is done intelligently and reasonably. A comment of, “You fucking suck you piece of shit!” doesn’t help anyone, whereas a comment reading, “I fucking disagree and here’s why!” is fine. Cursing is fine. I obviously like to curse. But the former comment just does not further any conversation while the latter at least keeps the debate open.
  • I will only cover games in the main series. So that means that sequels/spin-offs like X-2 and XIII-2 will not be included. This also means that Final Fantasy Tactics will not be included, or else I can tell you that it would take #1. Also, no Final Fantasy Adventure, Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, etc. 
  • I will also not be including either Final Fantasy XI or Final Fantasy XIV. I avoid MMOs like I avoid Justin Bieber chatrooms. Plus, I have heard nothing but horrible things about both of these games, and I have no desire to play either of them at all. So, feel free to include them in your own lists, but don’t yell at me because I didn’t. This leaves twelve games to be counted down.

So, without further ado, I bring you Organ Miner’s Final Fantasy Retrospective.

#12: 

I can already tell that I’m diving straight in to unpopular opinion, but I’m just going to say it. I hate FFIX. And this is the only one of the series that I can truly say that. But it’s true. There is very little that I honestly like about this game. A lot of the graphics are nice. Some monster designs are really cool like Soulcage and Maliris. And I like some of the soundtrack. But that’s it. The character design and character models are hideous with their grossly disproportionate heads and bodies. They don’t look like people at all, and they’re just ugly to look at. I could overlook this if any of the characters were likable. But no. Most of them are straight up boring and flat. I hear a lot of people say that they like Zidane because he enjoys life and he’s not some emo crybaby like Squall or Cloud. And that may be true, but Zidane only enjoys life because he’s an arrogant, womanizing douchebag. He’s a terrible person. What gets me is the fact that so many people love this one, and I simply can’t see it. The characters are uninspired, the story is uninspired, the villain is uninspired, Tetra Master, the card based mini-game is uninspired (and needlessly complex). Fuck it, the whole damn game is uninspired. There’s something to say about a game when its sidequests are more fun and interesting than its main storyline. I had more fun delivering mail to moogles and digging up treasure boxes all over the world with my chocobo than I did finding out Zidane’s origin. Not to mention, it has the worst method of learning abilities that I have ever seen. If you want to learn a good ability, you need to use a piece of crappy equipment? No. I can’t find the good in that.  One thing that I can say to FFIX’s credit is the fact that it is one of only three games in the series that has multiplayer (which is the only reason I played it more than once). But even that could not save it from the #12 spot.

#11: 

Complain as I might about FFIX, FFIII came really close to taking the #12 spot. But it has one thing, one innovation to keep it from being my least favorite game in the series. And that is the Job System. This was the first game to implement such as system, and I love a good Job System. It’s a big reason why I would place Final Fantasy Tactics as #1 if I had the option to do so. A good Job System is a great way to add a layer of customization to your game. Sadly, I think that’s the only good thing about this one. Aside from the Job System, there’s no real innovation and I found myself getting bored. Of course, that’s not going to stop me from getting it when the Ouya is released. I’m curious to see if they’ll improve and innovate.

#10: 

“But Organ Miner, if you have such a boner for Job Systems, why place FFV so low on your list?” you ask? Granted, the Job System is done remarkably well here. I love it. That and Gilgamesh. I really like Gilgamesh. But the rest is kind of crap. FFV suffers from all of the same problems that FFIII did with small improvements across the board. The big problem that I have though is that pretty much everything about FFV is worse than the game that came right before it. Graphically, FFIV is a bit better and its story is far superior. Aside from the Job System, FFV made no improvements to the series whatsoever. I didn’t like a single character (again, except for Gilgamesh), and FFV contains quite possibly the most standard and lackluster villain ever. The final boss was really cool, though.

#9: 

Okay, now we’re getting into the Final Fantasy games that I actually enjoy… Well, kind of. I really liked FFXII up to a point, and then I didn’t. It had some innovations and it did manage to update the outdated ATB battle system by making it feel like I was doing more than just waiting for my next turn (even though that’s still all I was doing). It also had the complex Gambit system, which is pretty neat and allowed you to develop your own  AI party strategies so you didn’t have to put in a bunch of commands all by yourself. The problem with the Gambit system though is that, if it’s manipulated enough, you can let the AI do everything for you. You don’t even need to play. I won’t knock it too much though, as you can choose not to do that. Graphically, the game was stunning and its art style was something that I hadn’t quite seen before. The story and characters were pretty bland, but not awful, I guess. No, I began to dislike it really late in the game with some really poor dungeon and enemy design choices. It really began to feel like a chore just to play the game. But I stuck with it and collected as much of the sidequest stuff as possible, but after the game did not give me the Sagittarius bow after I fulfilled all of the requirements to get the Sagittarius bow, I stopped collecting the optional stuff and just went to beat the game. It took 120 hours to ultimately be disappointed.

#8:

The one that started it all. I didn’t beat this one until it was released on the GBA as Final Fantasy: Dawn of Souls. And I thought that was done pretty well. While it was quite seriously a Dungeons and Dragons game, this was the game that practically launched the RPG genre. Games like Dragon Warrior perhaps set the groundwork and built the genre in the hangar, Final Fantasy is the game that made it take flight, and you have to give it some credit for that. The initial NES release is a bit annoying and difficult and honestly, not a whole lot of fun, when I finally saw the rest of the game with Dawn of Souls, I finally got to see the rest of the story, and got to see it without the burden of the poor translation that was all early Final Fantasy games. And the story is good! It’s a bit more complex than you might expect from an old game such as this. Plus, the way it ends actually kind of lives up to its title. Final Fantasy. It was kind of cool to see the title kind of make sense for once.

#7: 

“Blasphemy!” screams the masses. FFXIII is pretty consistently panned by most of the people who have played it. I am in the very small majority that doesn’t hate this game. Is it the greatest thing to happen to video games? No. Is it my favorite Final Fantasy game ever? Clearly not, seeing as I just rated it as #7, still in the lower half of the list, and I said its sequel was a better game. But dammit, I don’t think it was bad! There are some legitimate complaints out there: the linear dungeon design, the overemphasis on graphics, even the battle system, which I personally enjoyed, I can see why others might not. And those reasons are why it’s as low as it is. But there are some other complaints that need to be addressed here. A lot of people complain about the battle system because you can just hit Auto-Battle and have the characters do the work for you. But you can’t really complain about that because you don’t need to do it. How can you trash something if you have the option to turn it off? Others complain about the story, and I admit, not much of the story is conveyed through gameplay. But everything you need to know is contained within the Encyclopedia or Data Log section. If you take the time to read that stuff, you can find some pretty interesting shit. It’s a lot more thought-out than one might think. That can be considered a problem, sure. But for someone who enjoys reading and learning the history of these games, it becomes less of a problem and more of a discovery. Like this: My sister played the game and complained that the main villain just kind of appears out of nowhere simply to supply us with a villain. That would be a valid complaint. But I read the Data Log and learned all about him well before the characters had even heard of him. If you just take a little time out of your flashy battles to learn a little history, you find a pretty solid story. But like I said, this is nowhere near my favorite. Most of the characters, I simply didn’t like. But I could relate to and sympathize with Sazh and I thought that Lightning, despite having a silly name, was pretty cool. None of the music, save for the basic battle music, came out at me, which is disappointing, because the soundtracks tend to be some of my favorite parts about these games. All in all, I’m just sorry this poor game gets so much hate.

#6: 

This is where I admit that some of these choices in the middle rankings are a bit arbitrary. To be honest, FFI, FFII, and FFXIII are pretty much interchangeable here. I like them all pretty equally. From what I can remember, FFII was not the most memorable game in the world. But what I do remember clearly is the way that you improve your characters. They improve and level up depending on how you use them and what weapons they use. This gave the game a great deal of customization when it came to your characters, and that’s great. That little innovation alone was enough to give FFII a fairly high spot on the list. It gave it a replay value that nothing else could offer at the time. In FFI, you pick your character classes at the beginning, sure, but you’d better be damn sure about those choices, because you can’t change ’em. Here, if you don’t want someone to use a sword anymore, that’s okay. You just grind a bit and make them good with a bow. Any character could be any kind of fighter. And since I don’t remember disliking the story or the characters or anything, I feel comfortable rating this higher than FFV and FFIII, even if I like the Job System a little more when it comes to customization.

#5: 

Okay, here’s where I really expect some shit to come my way. Final Fantasy VII just barely makes the Top 5 for me. I can admit that, when it was new, I was taken in by it, too. But I played it a bit more recently, and I simply don’t think it holds up that well. It’s quite possibly the most overrated game of all damn time. Now, do not get me wrong here. It’s a good game. You know what, fuck it. It’s a great game! It did a lot of shit right, and I still think that its Materia-based magic system is one of the best there is. But I think a lot of people only like this game as much as they do simply because it was the first game of the series that they played. If they could just look at it objectively, they’d see that FFVII is not a perfect game. I’ll admit, there was a time that I truly thought that this was the pinnacle of gaming, that its only flaw was that it ended. Now that I’ve grown, matured and removed my nostalgia glasses, I see that, though great, FFVII is most definitely flawed. Its background graphics are beautiful, but its character models are not. Its translation is awful. Barrett is a hulking racial stereotype. Cloud and Vincent are whiny crybabies. I’ll admit, I think part of the reason I like it less as time goes on could be because to this day, I constantly hear people rave about how great it is, when it’s clearly not as great as they think. When you hear it so much, you begin to get bored of the whole subject. I also hate the fact that this game got more spin-offs than any other game in the series. Sure, Crisis Core was okay, but it was a story that didn’t need to be told. Dirge of Cerberus was trash. Vincent may have been a crybaby, but his backstory was interesting, but Dirge shat all over his character. And Advent Children was a piece of gold-plated shit. It looked pretty, but it was still just a piece of shit. And FFVII’s fans just won’t shut up about it. They praise Sephiroth as one of the greatest video game villains of all time, which is wrong on more than one level. He’s not even the villain. Jenova is. But I’m beginning to rant here. If you need a more detailed overview as to my feelings on this game, let me know privately. But the gist of it is, it’s a really good game with some definite flaws and horrible fans.

#4: 

This is one that I cannot fully explain. I truly love FFIV. And I’m not sure why. I mean, I love it, and I definitely have to rate it higher than VII, but as I’m thinking about it right now, I can’t think of any reasons why it’s technically or mechanically better. I like some of the complex relationships between the characters, and I believe that this was the first one to kill off an important character, a party member even. And this is a theme that they continued until, what FFVIII? That’s a big step. It’s got some cool monsters, which I always like and one of my top 3 favorite Final Fantasy final boss themes. But I can’t think of any characters besides Kain that I really like. There’s no customization in your party whatsoever. You can’t even decide which party members to bring to the end of the game. And it’s not like previous games or even FFV where there are only four playable characters. There are lots of them here, but you have to bring these predetermined five people? And yet, I love it. I enjoy it multitudes more than VII. Maybe there’s a bit of nostalgia here, seeing as this is the second one that I played, but it wasn’t that much later that I played VII. There has to be something here that I’m just missing, some reason why this one makes it so high on my list. As a game, I honestly don’t think it’s any better than VII, and yet, there’s no doubt in my mind when I rank it higher.

#3: 

FFX gets a lot of guff from gamers. Some of it is deserved, much of it is not. The story is good, but not as good as say, FFVII. Many of the characters are annoying or bland. The mini-games are a tedious pain in the ass. “Then why,” do you ask, “do you rate it so high on your list?”. For two simple reasons, my dear readers. The Sphere Grid and the battle system. For those that don’t know, the Sphere Grid is FFX’s system of leveling up and learning abilities. It’s a massive board, reminiscent of a board game, covered with stat bonuses and abilities with each characters at their own starting place. With the use of orbs that you find throughout the game, you can unlock these stat bonuses and abilities with each character. They each start out with their own predetermined role in battle, but with a little work, you can have any character do anything. It allows for a great deal of customization within your party and makes no character better than another (except for Wakka. He’s the best). Plus, they revamped the battle system, doing away with the outdated ATB system of almost every game before it. Battles flowed more smoothly and were a great deal more fast-paced without being too different from previous installments. To this day, I believe FFX has the best battle system of any of the franchise. And it boggles my mind that Square would go back to the damn ATB system in every installment after. I also want to address another area in which this game gets a lot of disapproval from the public. The main character, Tidus. People in general hate this guy (but love Zidane… go figure). This hatred stems mostly from FFX’s infamous Laughing Scene, and yes, the Laughing Scene is horrible. But Tidus is great as a character. He’s a crybaby (which is very different from an emo. Get it right all of you anti-Tidus people!) doing everything in his power to prove to his father and himself that he’s not a loser, and until a certain point in the game, I hated him too. Though he’s active and full of life, Tidus is also annoying and cocky. But by the end, he has grown and matured tremendously. In fact, I’d say that Tidus is probably the Final Fantasy character that grows the most. And that makes him a good character, goddammit! If you’re going to hate anyone from FFX, make it Yuna or Rikku.

#2: 

If there was any one area of this retrospective for which I would get any shit, it would be here. If there has been any Final Fantasy game that could be considered universally hated (besides XIII), it would be this one. Except, unlike FFXIII, I cannot figure it out at all. In my humble opinion, FFVIII improves upon its esteemed predecessor in almost every way. The only major flaws that I can find, even playing it more recently, are the Draw System and the translation. The Draw System wouldn’t even be a problem if you were allowed to Draw just one more spell per action and its something that I can easily overlook because of the rest of the game. And the translation, paired with a kind of complex story, makes the actual conveyance of the story a bit poor. I’ll admit, when I first played the game, I thought the story was kind of crap. And if I had left it at that, FFVIII would be considerably lower on the list. But after hacking through the terrible translation and figuring out a few things for myself, I found that the story is actually amazing! Dissenters also hate the Junction System, which blows my mind. They say, “Eh, you can just get so powerful that nothing can touch you. It makes it no fun!”. That is a 100% invalid argument, because you don’t have to make your characters that strong! That’s the genius of Junctioning. You can customize your party in any way that you want. Make them as powerful or as weak as you want. That’s the true heart of any real RPG. Getting to go through the story in a way of your choosing. Let’s take the character of Zell. His design suggests that he should be a physically powerful character, focusing on punching things in the head. But with the Juction System, he can be as powerful a mage as anybody, should you choose to do that. And that’s brilliant! People also hate Squall, calling him the epitome of emo, and I can kind of see that. But if you look at his history at all, you will notice that he has genuine psychological issues and a desperate fear of abandonment due to his past experiences. So, yeah he’s going to be introverted. You would, too! Squall make be a bit sulky, but the truth is, he’s probably one of the most relatable characters ever. Not to mention, the graphics are amazing (except for some character models, which are still fantastic by PS1 standards), the cinematics rival some games today, it has the best Final Fantasy mini-game to date with its card-based Triple Triad, the side-quests are all interesting and fun to discover, its soundtrack is still one of my favorites, the final string of boss fights is still jaw-droppingly cool and intense, and overall the execution of the game is brilliant. I want to say that the main reason that people spew bile so viciously at FFVIII, whether they will admit to it or not, is because it was too dissimilar to FFVII. Like I mentioned earlier, FFVII was the first game in the series for most of the American gaming community. So, when the tone, environment, and system were changed so drastically, many of these late bloomers did not want to adapt and that translated to straight hatred. And that’s truly sad, because I see this game as a near masterpiece.

#1: 

Am I being a bit hypocritical by rating the first Final Fantasy game that I ever played as my favorite? Especially after criticizing many FFVII fans for doing just that? Maybe, but dammit, this game is phenomenal! Also, let me say that I’ve changed my mind a million times over the years. FFVII was my favorite for a while. FFX was my favorite when it was new. And FFVIII took the #1 spot for a long time. But, FFVI would always find its way back into my mind, my heart, and my SNES. And now that I’ve grown and matured as a gamer and as a person, I feel like I can finally form an educated opinion based on not only my own personal preference, but on a more objective view of the series as a whole. And this one still comes out on top. I’ve beaten this game more than almost any other game in existence (save for maybe Mega Man III, which I’ve beaten probably 100 times), and almost every time, I’ve discovered something new, be it a new item or treasure chest, or an interesting bit of character development. And I’m still not sick of it. I recently started playing it again with my girlfriend and also started playing the GBA re-release. I’m doing these at the same time! There are a massive amount of playable characters, adding up to fourteen, I believe. And all of them, except for Mog, Umaro, and Gogo, have very interesting and fleshed-out stories and histories. The story is fantastic, regarded by many, myself included, as one of the greatest RPG stories of all time. The Magicite System of magic, though perhaps not the most innovative system ever, is perfectly executed and allows for at least a degree of the customization that I’ve been raving about so feverishly throughout this whole list. The soundtrack is still my favorite video game soundtrack of all time, with every song perfectly encapsulating the setting in which it is played. FFVI has the Opera Scene! The final boss fights are massive and incredibly symbolic. Kefka is probably one of the most detestable (and successful) villains ever. Everything is simply done right. However my opinion on the series may change in the future, I’m fairly certain that Final Fantasy VI will always end up on top and will remain one of my favorite games, not only in the Final Fantasy series, but of all time.

So there you have it. One more opinion in a sea of opinions. Though, even if nobody reads this, I still had a great time writing it. It was an interesting venture to finally put all of this down in writing. And I have to say, I even surprised myself at a couple points. And I do wish that I could do a more in-depth analysis of each one of these multitudinous games. And perhaps I will at some point in the future, but it won’t be here. It would take months or even years to complete such a venture. But, maybe when I am so inclined and free to take on something so massive, I can start a YouTube channel for it or something. But in the meantime, you have one humble gamer’s opinion, and I hope that will do.


So Much Orks!: Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine

I know about as much about Warhammer 40,000 as I do about particle physics, meaning that there are a couple very basic things that I know and understand, and even that is probably wrong. My youngest sibling and an old friend were into it for a couple years some time ago, so I managed to get a little snippet of Warhammer knowledge here and there just through osmosis. But it wasn’t nearly enough to get me at all excited when a Warhammer 40,000 video game was released, subtitled Space Marine. I had seen a little gameplay footage, and it looked kind of fun. Nothing spectacular, but I could see myself playing it one day if I managed to get it for really cheap.

Well, recently, I had a chance to get it for free. And I couldn’t pass that up. I’d play almost any game once if I could get it for free. And this one, I had actually kind of hoped to play at some point, if only to whittle away a few hours. And it did just that… Seriously, that’s all it did.

Yeah, there was nothing really bad about it, but at the same time, no part of the game really stood out at all. The graphics were about on-par with your average PS3 game. The music was inoffensive, but not really gripping either. The challenge was pretty static all the way through, with no action sequence killing me more than twice (on Normal Mode). It took about 6-8 hours to complete, which is about average for shooters, I think. The voice acting and dialogue were solid, but nothing to write home about. The story… well, that’s hard to talk about in one sentence, so I’ll save that for later.

Probably the best thing about Space Marine was its simple control scheme. You use the shoulder buttons for guns and grenades, you use the Square, Triangle, and Circle buttons for your melee. You use the X button to roll. It’s easy, it’s simple, and anyone with two functioning hands can get the hang of the game within the first couple minutes. It makes it a very accessible little video game that anyone can enjoy as long as they don’t mind a bit of violence.

At least it would have. This is where the story comes in. Like I mentioned at the beginning of the review, I know basically nothing about Warhammer and its lore. And playing through Space Marine really made me realize just how little I knew. I’m not even sure if the story is good or bad, because there are so many terms being thrown about that would only make sense to someone who has studied the lore. And at no point do they ever explain exactly what any of them mean, which left me having to infer just about everything. I know it makes sense that the characters wouldn’t suddenly stop and say, “You do know what the Inquisition is, right? Well either way, let me remind you. Two hundend quintillion years ago, the Inquisition did this thing with a robot and a fondue fork and that’s why we can’t have nice things…” (I think that’s it. I had to fill in a few blanks on my own). The characters know this stuff already, but if you don’t, you’re left in the dark. This makes the game very much not newbie friendly. It was built for people that know Warhammer a bit more intimately than I do, and that may alienate people that don’t necessarily want to go out and buy Warhammer books or spend hours on Wikipedia  just to find out what exactly is happening. I think it would have gone a long way to simply include an Encyclopedia section in the main menu that the players could peruse at their own leisure if only just to acquaint themselves with the lore. I think I would have gotten considerably more enjoyment out of the story had an Encyclopedia been included.

There were definitely a few more problems, too. Like I said, it’s nothing too bad or game-breaking, but there are definitely a few things that take away a couple points from Space Marine’s Gameplay score.

The AI isn’t great, mostly on the part of your friendly NPCs. There were certainly a few parts where one of my partners was directly responsible for my death. They tend to stay out in the open and just kind of walk around while they shoot, which isn’t inherently a problem, since they’re invincible, but when they do that, they tend to get in my line of fire or directly in my path as I try to roll away from an enemy’s grenade, causing me to explode and die painfully. They enemy AI wasn’t great either. There were multiple times when an enemy got stuck on an obstacle and since their AI dictates that they don’t use their weapons until they arrive at their destination, they just ran in place until I killed them with an axe. This wasn’t too common though, and I was able to get through the game without getting too annoyed by it.

One thing that really bugs me personally is the fact that they had some strange Checkpoint placement. Usually, it’s fine, but once in a while, they place a Checkpoint just a few seconds off from where they should. Like, you would get a Checkpoint, then a cutscene, then an action sequence. The problem with that is if you die during the action sequence, you have to watch the cutscene again. And you can’t skip the cutscene either, otherwise this wouldn’t be a problem. Why wouldn’t they put the Checkpoint after the cutscene?

I don’t know how much I use the word ‘repetitive’ on this blog, but if I were only allowed to use it just one more time, it would be to describe Space Marine. Throughout the first maybe two thirds of the game, you only do one thing: You go from one point to the next, fighting nothing but Orks along the way. Oh wait, that’s wrong. You fight some turrets once, and that turns out to be even more boring than the Orks. Holy hell, there are so many Orks! And there’s nothing else! At all! Fight some Orks, then you walk, you fight some Orks, then you walk, you fight some Orks, then you walk, you get a freaking jetpack and for one glorious moment, the monotony is broken ever so slightly, but all you do with the jetpack is go from one point to another killing Orks along the way, only now you have a jetpack which is taken from you after only a few short minutes, at which point you walk and fight some Orks. And it’s made even worse by the fact that every encounter goes on for far too long! Some of the action sequences included upwards of fifty and sixty enemies (I’m estimating a bit, but I know I’m not that far off)! As soon as you kill all of the Orks on the screen, another giant group of them just comes out of the damn walls! This is where Space Marine’s simple, accessible control scheme that I was praising earlier becomes just as much a detriment to your enjoyment of the game as it is a boon. You end up doing the same couple moves and firing the same guns at the same enemies over and over. And though it’s not too difficult, it does get rather boring.

And then, finally, two thirds of the way through the game, a new enemy appears! And for one brief, wondrous moment, all is right in the game-o-sphere. There are actually a couple parts where the Orks and these new enemies are fighting each other with you and your Ultramarines wedged firmly in the middle. These sections would turn out to be my very favorite parts of the whole game. They’re intense and new and you’re finally playing the game a little differently! It’s very refreshing. But guess what. There are only two or three of them. Then all of the Orks run away and for the rest of the game, you do nothing but fight the new enemies… Woo…

This bugs me for more than one reason. I may not know much about Warhammer, but I’m pretty sure there are more than two kinds of races that could have found their way into the game, if only to spice the action up a little. And there were quite a few to choose from, if I’m not mistaken, like the Tyranids, the Tau, Necrons, Chaos Space Marines, Eldar, Protoss, Zerg, the Nibblonians, the Reavers, the Daleks, the Zygons, the Sharks, the Jets, the Quakers, the Bakers, the Candlestick Makers, the Elder Gods, the Cylons, the entire Fox Network, the Vogons, the Hutts, the Head Crabs, the Muppets, and many more.

What was I doing? Oh yeah, the point is that there was nowhere near as much variety in the gameplay or the enemies as there could have been and should have been.

Though I think I just came up with the greatest crossover action game of all time!

Anyway, after the many hours of fighting through the same enemies over and over again and realizing that the developers probably should have ended the game about two hours ago, you finally come to the final encounter with the main antagonist. First, he sends twenty thousand more of the same enemies that you’ve been fighting this whole time while talking smack to you, but then, when all of the regular enemies are finally dead, you can ready yourself for a final struggle against the villain. Who knows? If this rather repetitive game culminates in a good final boss battle, you may even be able to rate it a point or two higher on your review blog! Wouldn’t that be something?

The final battle is about to begin and then… oh… you… you shoot him a few times with your pistol, do some quicktime events, and you win… Yeah, well that was an A+ final boss battle if I ever did see one!

And then, and this could just be me, the ending itself kind of felt like a big fuck you.

I know the last few paragraphs probably sounded like I was completely trashing the game, but that’s not entirely true. Like I said early on, Space Marine was a decent game. It didn’t do anything to stand out from any of its competitors, but I can tell you that I had a pretty consistent amount of fun all the way through the game with a few exceptions on both sides of the Fun Spectrum.

But with that being said, I’m never going to play it again. I’m fairly certain that I got just about as much out of Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine as I possibly can. To someone that cares for Warhammer and its universe, I can see how it may have some replay value. But with its repetitive gameplay, slightly poor AI, and perfectly average everything else, I can say that for me, it has none.

Gameplay: 4/10: Super-duper repetitive with no payoff at the end.

Music: 5/10: Nothing noteworthy.

Graphics: 7/10

Story: 5/10: Like I said, I can’t actually discern whether or not it’s good or bad, so I have to rate it average.

Total: 5/10: It’s an average little shooter.


A Freaking Skateboard?!?!: The Amazing Spider-Man

As you may or may not recall from my Avengers (2012) review, I’m not the most knowledgeable person ever when it comes to comic books. The most exposure I got to comics was through my older brother, who was a mild collector. He only followed a couple comics, and as a result, those were the only franchises to which I got any exposure. There were two big ones that I can remember. One was X-Men, which remains my all time favorite comic property. The other though, was Spider-Man. And he’s a close second.

I have no small amount of love for Spider-Man, even if I don’t know his every story arc. He certainly gets an honorable mention in the award ceremony of my childhood.

Even if I don’t know Peter Parker and Spider-Man intimately, with the amount of love that I have for them, chances are I know his origin story, having seen it in comic form, cartoon form, and movie form. In fact, I’m willing to bet that every single person that has even heard of Spider-Man knows his origin story. Everyone. So with that in mind, let me ask one simple question.

Is there any reason why we would need to hear it again?

Oh… Apparently so.

When I first heard that a new Spider-Man movie was in the works, I got cautiously excited. Even though Spider-Man 3 (2007) was a total disaster, Spider-Man still had a lot of great stories and villains that could be adapted easily to film. The past three movies had been building up Curt Connors/The Lizard as a character. Heck, maybe they could even find a way to un-ruin Venom (my favorite comic book character ever. So as you may imagine, I’m a little bitter about how Spider-Man 3 ended). And with a new cast and director, perhaps the franchise could be saved.

And then I heard that they were just doing the origin story again…

After hearing that, I had honestly, 100% lost interest in seeing The Amazing Spider-Man. I didn’t necessarily think the movie would be bad, but again, it was a story that everyone knows front to back, so really, why do I need to see it again? But then, my older brother wanted to see it for his birthday, and I wasn’t going to say no to that.

Sadly, I was not amazed by The Amazing Spider-Man. But let’s start with what I did like.

When the movie started, I was actually optimistic. I knew Emma Stone was going to be playing Gwen Stacy, and I think Ms. Stone is a respectable actress, despite some poor choices in roles. Plus, she’s very attractive without striking me as slutty or bitchy, like most famous Hollywood actresses. I also discovered as I watched that Sally Field was playing Aunt May, which I initially thought was awesome. Also, Denis Leary was in there, and I can’t help but like him, despite not actually being able to remember seeing him act in anything before. But the perfect casting decision came with the character of Uncle Ben being portrayed by Martin Sheen. That was a fantastic choice, and he plays the part exactly as I would imagine Uncle Ben to be. I also knew that The Lizard was going to be the main villain, which is cool, since he kind of got gypped in Sam Raimi’s films.

Not all of the casting was so spot-on however. Rhys Ifans plays an acceptable Curt Connors, but it’s nothing noteworthy. I certainly didn’t care for Andrew Garfield as the titular character and by the end, I hated him. And it also turns out that, though Sally Field is an exceptional actress, she couldn’t play Aunt May for shit.

A few of the action sequences were pretty cool, and the cinematics are definitely ahead of Raimi’s films. I was really glad to see Spider-Man using his web shooters more aggressively in this one. I feel like that was more Spider-Man’s style than the more martial way he fought in the Raimi trilogy.

There was also one really cool scene where Spider-Man is down in the sewer searching for The Lizard. You’ll know which one it is if you see it. This scene would turn out to be my favorite part of the whole movie and one of the few moments that I genuinely enjoyed.

So yeah, I begrudgingly admit that there are a couple things to like about this movie. But in this humble blogger’s opinion, despite a few good things, everything else is a mess.

Despite some very solid choices in the casting, the actual script was so poorly written that it’s hard to tell that these were actually really good casting choices. The dialogue is so corny and even downright bad that it made Sally Field, an Academy Award winner, look like that guy from Troll 2 (1990) acting-wise.

This guy.

There were so many terribly cheesy lines that I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and groan. It’s like the screenwriters really had no idea how a real human boy might talk. But, what really gets me is that, amid all of the turbo-cheese that was being spewed all over the place, the filmmakers decided to take out the most important corny sentence in all of the Spider-Man universe. You know, “With great power comes great responsibility”. Nope, nowhere to be seen (or heard, as it were). I wouldn’t have such a problem with it if the rest of the dialogue was at least believable. But since they relied so heavily upon really corny dialogue, why would they take out the line that basically makes Peter Parker decide to become Spider-Man? Sure, Uncle Ben says something similar, but it’s not as direct or poignant or effective.

Speaking of Uncle Ben, remember how I said Martin Sheen was the perfect choice for the role? Well, he still is. But too bad he’s only in the film for about a frame and a half! Peter’s aunt and uncle are barely in the movie. It spends so much more time on the relationship between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy that Aunt May and Uncle Ben hardly even get to appear. And that’s not the way it should be! Not in Spider-Man’s origin story! Uncle Ben should have more screentime than even a costumed Spider-Man, he’s that important to the origin! Yes, Gwen Stacy should be a big part of the movie, but not a bigger part than Uncle Ben. The way they did it, Ben’s whole part in the story comes out, in chronological order, to this: “Okay, Peter’s dad, I’ll take care of Peter”. “I don’t like Aunt May’s meatloaf”. “Be a good person, Peter”. “Oh, shit I’m dead”. And though his part was acted very well, that kind of makes the crime of minimizing his screentime worse.

What’s really fucked up though, is that after only a few scenes of Spider-Man chasing after guys that look like Uncle Ben’s killer, he seems to forget that Uncle Ben even existed. It’s like his death is completely brushed off and Peter becomes happy and flirty again, which completely obliterates any effect that Uncle Ben’s death had not only on Peter, but on the audience.

I have one or two big problems with The Lizard as well. One, whenever he was in Lizard form, he went out of his way to be nude. Just as a point of reference, here’s what The Lizard looks like in the comics:

It may not be the most impressive outfit ever, but my point is, he’s not naked. I’m not asking for any weird, purple pants, but I would’ve liked to see his iconic lab coat for more than a couple seconds. That’s more of a personal nitpick, though. Honestly, I think The Lizard in the film, from the neck down, actually looked pretty cool. Though why he has retractable claws is a mystery to me.

But then, you look at his head and it ruins everything cool about The Lizard. It’s like they tried to make his face a little more human, but in the process, they made him look more like the Goombas from the Super Mario Bros. movie (1993). What, do you think I’m kidding? Here, I’ll show you.

It’s kind of uncanny, isn’t it? The shape of the eyes, nose, and mouth are all nearly identical. Even the teeth are pretty similar. The Lizard just looked so stupid! How am I supposed to feel any menace from that? I couldn’t take him seriously for even a second.

There are honestly a great deal of little problems in the way that the story is told, the way that characters act, and even in some of the special effects that really hurt the movie, but for fear of having this review get too long, I’m not going to list them. If I talked in detail about everything in this film that I dislike, we’d be here forever. But there’s one more humongous problem that I’ve been saving for last.

You may have noticed that, thus far, I have mentioned the title character very little. That’s because I hate what they did to him so much, that it had to be saved for last.

They completely ruined the character of Peter Parker and by association, that of Spider-Man. Peter has always been one of the most relatable characters ever. An outcast, timid, and awkward nerd, tormented or ignored by his peers. He was also a scientific genius, which is a trait that both this movie and the Sam Raimi movies seem to forget. And when he became Spider-Man, he was snide and sarcastic, but was ultimately a good, moral person. In The Amazing Spider-Man, the only way that I can describe Peter is as a hipster-douche. It’s kind of hard to describe without seeing it. He kept doing things that Peter Parker would never do! He would never pick a fight with Flash just because he knew he had super powers or beat the shit out of a subway full of innocent civilians. Things like that. And when he became Spider-Man, his hipster-douchiness transferred over. Spider-Man might make a sarcastic comment about a villain’s costume or a carjacker’s lack of hand-eye coodination. You know, silly things like that. What he wouldn’t do, however, is shoot a guy in the nads with his web or scream, “CROTCH!” as he did a silly wrestling move where he shoves his junk into a guy’s face. Those kinds of things are idiotic, and even cruel. And that’s not Spider-Man.

Also, why the fuck is Peter Parker riding around on a goddamn skateboard? Maybe it’s just me, but I was so fucking bugged by this fact. They made him ride a skateboard!

But by far the biggest problem I had with this new Spider-Man was the fact that he kept revealing his fucking identity! Seriously, over the course of this one film, he willingly reveals his identity to three separate people (unless I’m forgetting one). Three! Only one of which made any sense to me. He didn’t reveal his identity to that many people in the three movies before this one. He tells Gwen Stacy after knowing her for only a couple days, and for the life of me, I cannot figure out why! Why would he fucking do that? Especially considering her dad is pretty much the guy in charge of catching him? What reason could he possibly have to trust her with something like that so soon? And he keeps taking off his mask! And running around unmasked! He puts on his mask only to have it taken off again a minute later. He does it so much, that there’s pretty much no point to wearing the mask in the first place. Logic to Peter Parker, a secret identity isn’t really secret if everyone knows your identity!

I honestly feel like I’m not conveying my full chagrin here. I highly dislike this movie. And I’m clearly not in the majority here. I’ve seen a couple reviews really praising this crap. All of the people that I saw the movie with, with the exception of my older brother, really enjoyed it. Someone even said that the argument could be made to call The Amazing Spider-Man the greatest superhero movie ever made. And I just don’t see it. I thought it was shit. In fact, I’m going to say something that I know will earn me some nasty looks. I liked this movie less than Spider-Man 3. And that’s really saying something.

Story: 3/10: It’s a story that’s been told a million times, but with less likable characters.

Acting: 4/10: Martin Sheen’s brief performance does bring the score up a bit, but the dialogue and overall poor delivery of said dialogue hurts it.

Cinematics: 6/10: There were one or two cool action sequences. Aside from that, there wasn’t anything that stood out as good.

Total: 4/10: As much as I personally want to rate it lower, I think this is fair.


A Horror Movie With Just a Dash Of Whedon: The Cabin in the Woods

I’m somewhat of a horror movie buff. At least, I was. In recent years, I’ve been considerably less inclined to see any movies, horror movies even less so. And that’s kind of sad, really. I have some vivid and very pleasant memories of going to see just about every horror movie that came out with my dad, from being awed by 28 Days Later (2002) to walking out of FeardotCom (2002) to seeing the remake of The Omen (2006) on the night that I graduated high school to laughing my ass off when Paris Hilton got impaled through the head with a pipe in House of Wax (2005). Hell, I pretty much grew up with the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise (Freddy Krueger is still my favorite slasher villain of all time). So, the horror genre will always have a very special place in my heart.

But lately, I’ve found it very difficult to get excited about new horror movies, partly because my dad and I live in different states now, but mostly because it’s become near impossible to find a new horror movie with even a drop of creativity to it. Everything that comes out only seems to be a remake or just drivel. When the best horror movie that you’ve seen in the last, let’s say five years, is Scream 4 (2011), there’s clearly a problem. Perhaps I’ll review Scream 4 at a later date. But anyway, it seems the well has run dry for this particular genre.

Recently, however, I went to visit my father, and during that time, we decided to see a couple movies. One was Lockout (2012), and you already know my thoughts on that pile of creative fecal matter. The other was, if you haven’t guessed by the title of this review, was The Cabin in the Woods.

I remember not hearing too much about this film before seeing it, only that Joss Whedon was involved in some way (he was one of the writers). But that was enough to get me curious enough to see it in theaters (in case you didn’t notice in my Avengers review, I think rather highly of Mr. Whedon).

“My silly ginger beard gets more action than any of you.” – Joss Whedon

Even had I not known that Joss Whedon was involved, my dad and I had looked up some reviews before deciding to go, and they were all around pretty good. Four and five stars and 8s and 9s pretty much across the board. After seeing that, there was pretty much no way that we were going to miss it.

The film starts out like pretty much any horror movie ever, complete with Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth playing the stereotypical jock character. There’s also a stoner, a slut, a virgin, and a black guy. You know, the makings of every great horror movie. They all decide to take a road trip out to a creepy cabin in the woods (hey, that’s the name of the movie!) where horrible things are destined to happen to them. Seeing this, I was already disappointed. Joss Whedon is usually pretty good about avoiding the clichés. But there was something different and interesting going on behind the horror fodder. Richard Jenkins (the father from Step Brothers (2008)), and Bradley Whitford (the villain from Billy Madison (1998)) are working in some kind of studio where they seem to be influencing the environment around our favorite victims.  That alone made it different enough for me to continue watching.

And it turns out, I made a good choice there. For the first long while, The Cabin in the Woods continues like your general horror flick with a couple gruesome and comical deaths, all while the people in the studio are abuzz with activity, keeping up with the action. It’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on back there until they come out and explain it, but it was fun trying to come up with my own theories.

It was a good time. It had been awhile since I had just sat down with the old man and enjoyed a cliché horror film.

But then, near the end of the movie, the whole thing decides to just go bat shit insane! They reveal the big plot twist and the movie just loses its fucking mind. And that’s when the movie goes from good to great. You can tell that, during this part, every single person involved in the production of the movie was just having a blast. And I had a blast as a result. It’s so much fun and filled with all sorts of violence and ridiculousness and ridiculous violence and explosions and Richard Jenkins. Ah, it was a breath of fresh, gore and satisfaction-filled air.

Sadly though, the ending is kind of ehhhh. I don’t know. When it came around, the movie just kind of lost all of the momentum that it had built up over the last ten or so minutes and left a sour taste in my metaphorical mouth (while the Sour Patch Kids left a sour taste in my literal mouth. Ba-dum chh… Nothing? Aw, you’re no fun). It wasn’t a horrible ending, and it didn’t retroactively ruin the rest of the film or anything like that. And I’m not even sure how they could have ended it in a more satisfying way. But still, I have to subtract a point there.

As for the technical stuff, there’s nothing truly noteworthy to say. The acting was satisfactory, with a couple notable performances, mostly by Richard Jenkins and the stoner guy. But none of it was bad.

“My male-pattern baldness gets more action than any of you.” – Joss Whedon impersonating Richard Jenkins

The same can be said for the effects. The make-up was good and the CG was passable. And the average CG did kind of give it a cartoony kind of charm, even if it wasn’t great.

All-in-all, The Cabin in the Woods is a pretty wonderful movie experience, even if its score isn’t the highest that I’ve ever given. While the acting and cinematics are maybe just a little above average with some standout points, the plot and the psychotic episode the film suffers at the end make it absolutely nothing but enjoyable. Give it a watch some time, I say.

Story: 8/10

Acting: 7/10

Cinematics6/10

Total: 7/10: In my head, this movie got a higher score, but the math don’t lie.

Note to Hollywood: More Richard Jenkins!