Movie Review: 100 Foot Journey

Post by tarekjammal

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I’ve been waiting a few weeks now for a film to peak my interest at the theaters, but like all industries, Cinema has its low moments.

Having said that, this little film has crept up on people around the world.

The title sounds like the most boring novel you can ever read, so I easily brushed it aside in a “judge a book by its cover” manner. But when I saw the director’s name, my interest was tickled. Lasse Hallstrom isn’t a favorite of mine, and in fact he can be quite inconsistent with the quality of the films he makes. However, for every forgettable film, he’s delivered a “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”, a “The Cider House Rules” or a “Chocolat”. His better films aren’t known for their subtlety, and one can cause him of veering on cheesy territory, but if you’re in the mood for a visually rich and emotionally feel-good film, he seems to have a strong handle on things.

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Fortunately, his latest film falls into that category. A culinary tale that follows a restaurant owning family from India that due to unforeseen circumstances are forced to leave their home and eventually move to the countryside of France where they decide to open up an Indian restaurant. The catch, though, is that across the street already exists a Michelin Star rated French restaurant that put the previous establishment out of business. At the center of the story is Hasan, the chef of the family, who faces the challenge of both introducing Indian cuisine to an elitist french population, and impressing the owner of the restaurant across the street who could do wonders for his career.


[YouTube]

That’s the basic plot, but that’s not where the heart of the story lies. In fact, its through Hallstrom’s eye that we see this film decorated with lush visual imagery and some of the best food-porn sequences since, well, his last foodie film “Chocolat”. Word of warning, do not enter this film on an empty stomach otherwise you will hear some growling noises.

The performances are great, from both veterans like Helen Mirren and Om Puri, and new comer Manish Dayal who brings a charm missing from most “ethnic leading man” roles you find these days. The cinematography is top notch. The locations are fantastic. The direction is assured. The main problem lies with the pacing and storytelling. Some sequences linger longer than they should, while others go by too quick to register (a third act covering Hasan’s disillusionment could have been much stronger).

The film has its flaws and lacks any real depth, but the mood is so light and the characters so charming you’re willing to forgive it all. In the end, this is escapist cinema, where you can imagine a life where you get to leave Kuwait and run a restaurant in the french countryside while falling in love with a young french chef at the same time. Sure, the dream isn’t that realistic, but it’s definitely worth dreaming about.

Score:

Tickets to this movie were provided by Cinescape. Find out what other movies are currently playing and book tickets online on the Cinescape [Website]

Post by Tarek J


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What I’ve Been Playing: Valiant Hearts and Tomb Raider

Post by Patrick

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Valiant Hearts: The Great War

Valiant Hearts: The Great War is a game that was released late June by Ubisoft and it’s their third game that uses their in-house created game engine UbiArt Framework. The narrative revolves around a handful of characters that are connected in one way or another during the events of World War I. The gameplay reminds me of old-school point and click games. You start a level controlling one of the characters and you have to solve puzzles using items you find scattered in the environments. The art direction and music are incredibly well done, nothing seems out of place and the theme song is hauntingly beautiful. The atmosphere in the game is captivating. Every character has a diary that they write in and these entries gives you more insight into what they’re thinking. Every level also has collectibles, every collectible tells a story. Every level is also based on a real place and event that happened during World War I. Reading all this information is optional and Ubisoft did a good job by not flooding us with a wall of text and kept it at a decent length, enough to teach us something. Another interesting aspect of the game is that it doesn’t tell us the Germans are evil and the Allies are good. You’ll see both sides doing good and also terrible things.

Unlike Ubisofts previous game Child of Light, I can easily recommend this game to anyone.

Score:

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Tomb Raider Definitive Edition

I missed out on Tomb Raider on the PS3 and Xbox 360 so I was glad when I heard that the Definitive Edition was announced. Tomb Raider is a reboot of the franchise that was started way back in 1996. The game stars a 21-year old Lara Croft who gets stranded on a mysterious island within the Dragon’s Triangle off the coast of Japan. The game features a pretty big semi-open world that you can explore as you please. I say “semi” because some locations get blocked off after certain points and the only way to get back to them is through quick traveling. Some aspects of exploration reminds me of Metroidvania style games. You will find some areas are unreachable until you find an item that gives you access to the area. I really like the level of freedom the game developers give us. You’re not forced to play story missions. You’ll find side quests and hidden tombs (that have treasure) to explore.

The narrative of the game is a focal point and the story is interesting but some aspects of it don’t add up. For instance Lara Croft has never killed before this game takes place and the game developers made a huge deal about Lara’s “first kill”. The moment is intense but after you get through it, Lara turns into a killing machine. She’s able to take down trained soldiers with ease. I know this was probably done for the sake of the “game”, but I feel that if the developers wanted to make such a big deal out of one moment, they could have at least taken it a step further and eased Lara into killing more enemies instead of turning her into Rambo right after the first kill. With that said, I like that there are various ways to go about fighting enemies. You’re not forced to do it one way; you can use elements in the environment to kill, you can use stealth, guns or a bow and arrow. Each has their advantages and disadvantages.

The game also features some light role-playing elements. As you progress through the game, completing challenges that involve hunting, exploring or killing enemies you gain experience points that you can use to upgrade specific skills or abilities. You can also upgrade and customize your weapons by using material that you find throughout the game.

Overall so far this is a pretty enjoyable game and I’m curious to see where the story goes.

Score:


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Film Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Post by tarekjammal

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In 2011, something miraculous happened. After acclaimed director Tim Burton metaphorically shat over the entire Planet of the Apes franchise with the abomination that is his worst film, independent british filmmaker Rupert Wyatt (who was responsible for the under seen and underrated The Escapist) hit the reset button and delivered the best Apes film since the original.

No one would have guessed it, and in fact people were ridiculing the film before it was release, with a trailer showing a gorilla chase and eventually attack a helicopter, people thought they were in for a dumb hollywood blockbuster.


[YouTube]

But leaving the cinema 3 years ago, I was so utterly moved and impressed by the intelligence and emotion of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Through a fantastic mix of pacing, directing, scriptwriting, and arguably Andy Serkis’s best motion capture performance to date as Ceasar the Ape, the film established itself as a blockbuster that took its audience seriously.

And that’s a hard act to follow, but in short, the sequel to that film, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, almost gets there.

While Rise had you watching in awe at the visual effects, and the steady buildup of watching an ape defy your expectations scene after scene leading to a very clear and emotional climax, Dawn has the harder task of making a film with no real buildup, but rather establishing a different world altogether.

Think of this like “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”… an excellent film but one where not much has changed… a difficult middle film that is necessary though demands more patience from the audience.

Don’t let this deter you, the film is still excellent, it’s just more subtle about it.

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Newly brought on director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In) unveils his storytelling in an excellent manner. So much so, you actually forget just how impressive the visual effects are… the director reveals his characters with so much depth and intrigue that he let’s the visuals take a backseat. For the first 20 minutes, you forget that these aren’t real apes as you’re taking into their now established culture and tradition as an ape society. These first 20 minutes are the film’s most impressive as we learn about the character dynamics, and each ape is given a distinct look and personality to sympathize with.

Surely enough, though all looks well in the world, we eventually find out that the “simian flu” that began its spread at the end of the first film, has wiped out millions around the world, and we are shown a much different post apocalyptic San Francisco than last time. The way the information is relayed to the audience is clean and realistic, and the characters we meet on both sides are layered. Though the general story falls into formulaic hollywood storytelling, the filmmaking and characters themselves are what’s great here.

Gone are the boring James Franco and Freida Pinto, and in their place are Jason Clarke (arguably the best thing in Zero Dark Thirty) and Gary Oldman (greatest living actor imho). On the ape side, we have Andy Serkis further developing the complex and layered character of Caesar, but we have the addition of the fantastic Toby Kebell as his comrade/antagonist Koba (who is probably the most interesting character yet).

In short, the script lacks any real surprises and falls into formulaic blockbuster territory, but it’s made up for with fantastic performances, very confident and mature direction, and excellent musical score, and the best visual effects you’ll see all year.

Score:

Tickets to this movie were provided by Cinescape. Find out what other movies are currently playing and book tickets online on the Cinescape [Website]

Post by Tarek J


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Kuwaiti Short Film Review: The Truth About Flight

Post by tarekjammal

flight

So with the news the other day that many Kuwaiti short films were being featured on Telly, I had decided that this would be a great place to review those films.

However, before I get to those, Mark sent me 2 short films this week to review. First up is “The Truth About Flight” by Jacob Huss and Ali AlQames.


[YouTube]

So when I review local work, I try to overlook some technical aspects like cinematography or sound design because I’m aware of the limited resources we have here. At the same time we are truly lacking a film industry here so I’m not interested in shooting a film down if it’s bad, rather I hope to give some constructive criticism so that the industry can continue to grow and improve.

The Truth About Flight comes off like a film for children, and that’s not a bad thing at all. At least that’s how it felt in the beginning of the film. However when the film eventually used a rape joke, I realized that maybe this wasn’t intended for children after all. And there was my main issue. As a film for children, much can be overlooked if the message is about believing in yourself, etc. But when I realized that this was a film intended for adults, I wondered why it was being told in the manner of a children’s film? Did the directors think of their audience?

Again, I will overlook the technical issues with the film, because of our limitations, however storytelling doesn’t have limitations and this is where I can be a bit harsh. Generally, the film feels a bit juvenile, from it’s concept to it’s unsatisfying ending to its awkward rape joke.

HOWEVER

I do appreciate it when a local film uses dialogue, because writing and directing dialogue is incredibly tough (and much harder than it looks). So kudos for trying, and the dialogue is generaly not bad, with some interesting uses of language. The character of Dr. Bocaj is a very interesting character that delivers some fun dialogue throughout… In fact he’s clearly the best thing about the film.

The performances are also pretty good (if a bit theatrical, but I get that that’s what the script demands) with the main 2 leads delivering their lines quite well, especially the actor behind Dr. Bocaj who delivers his lines seamlessly.

All in all, it wasn’t painful to sit through and had some fun moments. I do wish for their next film the filmmakers focus more on their visual storytelling (framing, lighting, locations) as well as working on a more intriguing or meaningful story. Again, the dialogue is not bad and bound to get better, but these characters deserved a better film, and I hope they deliver it next time.

Posted by Tarek J


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Shovel Knight Review

Post by Patrick

Kickstarter Shovel Knight

I’ve been playing Shovel Knight since it was released last week and it’s an absolute blast to experience. Shovel Knight is a game by Yacht Club Games, a company started by the former director and a few other talents from WayForward; another fantastic developer behind some games like Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, Contra 4, Aliens Infestation and DuckTales: Remastered. Shovel Knight was a game that was funded on Kickstarter, their goal was $75,000, they made over $300,000. So there was a ton of hype behind this game. Shovel Knight was released on the 26th of June receiving praise from gamers and critics alike.

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The gameplay, music, level design are brilliant, varied and the pixel artwork is detailed and lovely. I’m also enjoying the games sense of humor, you’ll find a lot of characters throughout the game that you can interact with and some say some pretty random things. The controls are tight, which they need to be. The game features a lot of tricky platforming segments similar to that of classic Mega Man games. If you fall off a platform it wont be due to wonky controls, but the players fault. The levels are varied and you won’t play a stage that seems similar to a previous one. Every stage has a theme and a certain gimmick. The same goes for the boss fights. Every one The boss fights are intense and each boss has his own set of special abilities and moves, even if you memorize the pattern it’ll still be tricky to dodge every attack. The music in the game is great. Composed mainly by Jake Kaufman and guest starring Manami Matsumae who is the talent behind the classic Mega Man tunes. You can buy the soundtrack for the price you choose on Jake’s Bandcamp page.

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Aside from the main quest the game features some side quests and items you can collect if you want the extra challenge. In terms of difficulty, the stages have four checkpoints which is too many but they’re optional to use. If you don’t want to use checkpoints you can destroy each one for extra treasure which you can then use to buy more items or upgrade equipment. Every level has secrets with valuable items you can find. In towns you’ll come across a blacksmith, armor store and a few other shops where you can upgrade your shovel, equipment, health and magic. Across the world map you’ll also find extra stages where hidden treasures and challenges are located. The game also comes with built-in achievements labeled as “feats”. Once you beat the game you unlock New Game+ which features harder enemies, the checkpoints in stages are decreased to just two and there aren’t any health pickups.

All in all I highly recommend this game, I own it on the 3DS and I love the fact I can play it anywhere. If you’re on the fence about it, just go for it, it’s worth every penny. It’s also available on PC/Mac and the Wii U.


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Hyperkins’ Supaboy Review

Post by Patrick

Photo-Jun-03,-12-11-57-PM

I was born in the 1980′s so I grew up when gaming started to become popular with the rise of the NES, Gameboy, Sega Genesis and the SNES. Because of this I have a certain affection for this era. I love these consoles, the games and the experiences I had with them. When I read about Hyperkin’s Supaboy a few years ago I knew that it was something I would want to own at some point. The Supaboy is a portable SNES that you can play on the go or on your TV. This past month I was able to get my hands on one thanks to a friend of mine who was visiting from Japan. If you’re interested in the Supaboy you can find one on Amazon for $70. Super Nintendo and Super Famicom games sell for as little as $10.

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Let’s get some things out of the way first. The Supaboy isn’t a small. The screen wont blow you away. The device isn’t perfect.

Luckily the Supaboy isn’t heavy. You can play on it for long periods of time and it will still feel comfortable. The screen is kind of small. It’s something that you get used to while you play on the Supaboy. It’s also something you forget about once you connect the Supaboy to your TV. The Super Nintendo’s aspect ratio was 4:3 while the Supaboy can do 16:9 which means it’ll fit the entire screen of your HDTV. The Sprites aren’t stretched out and the games look pretty good.

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When I first booted up the Supaboy for the first time, the D-pad and buttons felt stiff. But after playing on it for a bit longer they started to feel better. The Supaboy comes with a rechargeable battery and the battery-life is about 4 to 5 hours. The problem with the Supaboy is that it doesn’t warn you when the battery is low. You will notice some warning signs though. The biggest warning sign is that the visuals on the screen start to flicker. When it comes to the screen itself, it isn’t of the highest quality but the games still look crisp and colorful.

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Now since my friend was coming from Japan I asked for some Super Famicom games. I always thought the boxart of Super Famicom games were superior to those on the Super Nintendo. I asked for my favorites: Super Metroid, StarFox, Super Castlevania and Panel de Pon (known as Tetris Attack outside of Japan).

The older model of the Supaboy had problems playing StarFox because of the Super FX chip that comes built into the cartridge. This newer model had no problems playing the game. The games all look pretty good on the Supaboy and especially great on my TV. They’ve aged well except for a few exceptions. For instance in the first level in StarFox some enemies kind of blend into the sky. While in Super Castlevania I ended up falling to my death in one stage because I thought I was jumping onto a platform, but it turned out to be part of the background.

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Now a problem came up while I was playing Super Metroid. This is a risk you take when you buy old cartridge games. Cartridge games come with a (replaceable) battery that help and keep your save files safe and the battery’s life-span last about ten years and then need replacing. It’s not a big deal for me since I’ve played Super Metroid more times than I can count.

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Is owning a Supaboy worth it? For $70 I think so. It plays North American, European and Japanese cartridges, it’s a portable SNES and it also looks great when you connect it to a TV. It comes with a rechargeable battery that lasts a decent amount. Keep in mind that you need to buy SNES controllers separately and you’ll need them when you connect the Supaboy to a television. This might be the nostalgia talking, but inserting a cartridge into a console always felt much more satisfying than putting a CD into one.

If you want something not portable, Hyperkins recently released the RetroN5 which has a slot for nearly every cartridge based console, from the Gameboy to the Sega Genesis.


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Kokuga

Post by Patrick

KOKUGA

Kokuga is a 3DS game developed by G.rev and directed by Hiroshi Iuchi. Hiroshi Iuchi is the man behind Gradius V, Radiant Silvergun and Ikaruga. Now if you know any of those games you have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Kokuga. If you don’t, then you’re in for a treat.

Kokuga was released in the 3DS eStore on June 27 last year with very little marketing and advertising behind it. I’m not sure how I ever came across it in the first place, I was looking for a game to download for my trip to Lebanon last week and found it in my Wishlist. Nintendo’s eStore does a couple of things well, but it also does a few things wrong. One being that unless you search for certain games, you will have an extremely difficult time finding them. This is something Nintendo sort of remedied on the Wii U, but the eStore on the 3DS still needs a bit of work.

The narrative in Kokuga isn’t important, two countries are at war and you’re put in a futuristic tank to fight for your nation. What makes this game different than the other bullet hell-shooters is that your tank is only capable of firing one shot at a time on screen. That means you can’t fire your second shot until the first one goes off screen (or hits an enemy). This makes things a bit more challenging and forces you to hone your marksmanship skills so that every shot counts. The game also includes a total of 20 attack and support cards that are distributed at random at the beginning of each stage. Five cards are chosen at the start of each level and you can select which to use at anytime by selecting it on 3DS’s touch screen. Once you use one card it’s replaced with another. Within these cards you will find attack cards that briefly upgrade your weapon. Some of these perks include the ability to rapid fire or the ability to place a napalm bomb. Within the support cards you’ll find cards that recover some of your health or give you a force field for a brief time.

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One aspect I really like about Kokuga is that the game gives you the freedom to play it as you choose. The image above shows the different routes you can take through the game. The game features three “final” boss levels, two of which you can unlock very early on in the game. If you want to spend more time with the game, you can choose to navigate through levels until you get to the third final level. Once you beat a level on normal you have the choice to play it on a harder difficulty. If you’re into getting high scores, the game is also built around that.

The game is a free-scrolling shooter. That means you can control your tank to move in any direction and play through the level at your own pace. This doesn’t make things any less challenging and you’ll constantly find yourself coming up against some tough enemies. There’s a good variety of enemies that offer different challenges. Some shoot missiles that hone in on you while other enemies can shoot a continuous laser beam if you enter their vicinity. The levels are designed well and are created in a way to keep you on your toes at all times. You can easily get cornered and die if you don’t pay attention to where you’re going. Bosses are also varied and imaginative. One boss fight I encountered early on in the game featured two mechs racing on either side of me, fencing me in with dangerous laser barriers, their weak points only showing when they fired their weapons at me.

So if you’re looking for something new to play on your 3DS you can’t go wrong with Kokuga which is available in the eStore for $14.

Score:


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Film Review: The Great Beauty

Post by tarekjammal

beauty1

So this Saturday is the last screening on the Cinemagic rooftop until October, and I wanted to end the season with a big and bold film, that was also relevant and modern, whilst delivering something new. Basically I wanted to end with a bang and so I decided to end the season with Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza).

Here is a film that is so unique and different than most of what we’re used to seeing at the movies. Although it went up against some very strong films at this year’s oscars (including Omar from Palestine and The Hunt from Denmark) I can see how this film ended up winning Best Foreign Film. Was it the best foreign film of the year? I don’t believe so, but it’s definitely the most unique and its audience will no doubt grow over time. I knew I was watching something special from the moment I saw the first couple of shots… it was captivating.

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The film opens with a quote:
“To travel is very useful, it makes the imagination work, the rest is just delusion and pain. Our journey is entirely imaginary, which is its strength.”

We follow Jep, an aging socialite who once wrote a famous novel in his twenties, only to retire into a comfortable life writing cultural columns and throwing parties in Rome. After an ethereal open with extravagant shots of the city we rush head on into the middle of an equally extravagant party on Jep’s terrace overlooking the colosseum. Talk about making a grand statement. After this night, his 65th birthday party, he walks through the ruins and city streets, encountering the various characters, reflecting on his life, his first love, and his general feelings regarding the meaning of his life thus far.

The film itself is told in a matter different than most, intercutting sprawling visuals with moments of philosophical conversations between Jep and the people he encounters.

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Visually, the film is a masterpiece. The cinematographer films the city that I’ve personally been to many times in a way that I’ve never seen before. The shots are grand, though the moments they surround are intimate.

The structure is also non-formulaic, feeling almost dreamlike in the way we go from one scene to the next.

If you’re a lover of cinema and are in the mood to experience something a little different, then you can do a lot worse than The Great Beauty. Its unsubtle title says it all, and by the films hypnotic end credits you will find yourself having returned to reality from a dreamlike journey into the very different world of Jep Gambardella.

Score:

The Great Beauty is playing at the Cinemagic Rooftop Screening for free on Saturday May 31st at 7:30 pm. Consequently, the film can be found on Netflix or you can buy a copy [Here]


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Sega 3D Classics

Post by Patrick

Shinobi MechaGodzilla

Keeping in line with yesterdays post on Sega, I thought I’d write about my thoughts on their games. I only owned a Super Nintendo as a kid so I missed out on some great Genesis games. I was able to experience them here and there, Ecco the Dolphin at a cousins house, Sonic the Hedgehog at a friends, Golden Axe at some other place, but I was never able to sit down and spend considerably time with them. There was always one game that grabbed my attention flipping through games magazines, Shinobi. I’m not sure if it was the awesome 16-bit character sprites or just the idea of playing a ninja, fighting other ninjas and killing monsters, but as a kid, it was a game I always wanted to play.

Well Sega’s made it pretty easy to do so. Shinobi III is available on PC, the iOS Appstore and the Nintendo 3DS eShop. I chose to play it on the 3DS because Sega’s been doing a great job at porting their Genesis games to the handheld as “3D Classics”. They haven’t released many games, but you’ll find a handful of classics ranging from Sonic the Hedgehog to Afterburner. I grabbed a copy of Shinobi III and Space Harrier. Space Harrier is a great third-person shooter game Sega made back in the 80’s that features sprawling fantasy inspired landscapes and a wide array of enemies to shoot down. It’s a game that I used to enjoy playing at the arcades. The nice thing about these ports is that Sega isn’t just throwing the games onto the eStore, but they’re taking time to make high quality ports that feature a great use of the handheld’s 3D. Other additions include two versions of some games, for instance in Sonic the Hedgehog you can switch between the Japanese and overseas versions which has an option for the spin dash move. The Verge has an interesting article detailing some of the finer points of these ports.

As for Shinobi III, it’s aged pretty well. The sprites look nice, the music is fantastic (the track above is a favorite of mine) and it plays smoothly. The game itself is pretty challenging, but thanks to the added ability to save anywhere, it makes the game less frustrating. The boss fights can get interesting too, for instance in one level you end up fighting what looks like a mech version of Godzilla (pictured above).

Hopefully Sega continues releasing their classic games to the 3DS eStore, I’ll probably try After Burner or Galaxy Force II next. And hopefully Nintendo will start releasing some of their SNES games onto the 3DS as well, it’d be pretty great to play Super Metroid on the go and in 3D.


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Dark Souls 2: Post Mortem

Post by Patrick

Dark Souls 2 Majula

I’m coming to the end of my journey with Dark Souls 2. It was fun, long (75+ hours) and immersive. It wasn’t without its flaws. Some enemies and locations could be cheap (looking at you maced equipped Drakekeepers, Black Gulch, and Shrine of Amana). The visuals were good in some parts, and bad in others (especially the lighting). But for the most part I thought Dark Souls 2 was a worthy sequel. This could easily be a 100+ hour game if you plan on really immersing yourself in it. Some of the NPC’s you find and interact with offer you side-quests. The majority of the armor you find look badass and there is a wide variety of weapons that are fantastic. I’m not sure there is another game that can be beaten with a weapon you find within the first hour of gameplay.

The equipment I used to beat the game:

Faraam Helm(+5), Faraam armor(+10), Alva Gauntlers(+7), Dark Leggings, Red Rust Shield, Mastodon Greatsword(+10)

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Lessons learnt:

Be versatile. But not too Versatile
I figured this out late in the game. I played as a knight and decided I didn’t want to waste my souls on INT/ATN stats, so I was mainly increasing my STR, ADP and END stats. I increased by DEX up to 25 and left it there. It was a mistake. Later on in the game you’ll encounter enemies and environments that punish players that are strictly using melee weapons. Luckily I was able to increase my DEX a bit more and use a heavy crossbow efficiently. On the other hand you don’t want to spread your stats too thin. Figure out what kind of play-style suits you early on and stick with it.

Specialize in a weapon
Every weapon in this game offers slightly different move-sets. Find one you’re comfortable with and stick with it. I found a longsword I liked early on and used it for about 30 hours before finding the Bastard Sword, which is a fantastic weapon. About 55-60 hours in I came across the Mastodon Greatsword which uses the same move-set as the Bastard sword but scaled better. The only disadvantage was that it’s heavier. Once you get used to how your weapon handles, it’s one less thing you have to worry about. I’ve only really used four weapons in this entire game. One longsword, two great-swords and a crossbow.

Ring of Life Protection
Find this ring. Use this ring. It’ll help a lot. I found two in the game. If you wear this ring and you die, you wont lose your souls and you wont turn hollow. Instead the ring breaks when you die but you can repair it for 3,000 souls.

Go online
The covenants you find in the game revolve around online play (except for two). Participate in them, it makes the game even better. The more you rank up in a covenant the better the reward you get. If you join the Bell Keepers covenant and are successful in defeating players who enter the bell tower you also get rewarded a titanite chunk. You can easily end up with 40+ titanite chunks in a very short time and not have to worry about spending your souls to purchase them. This makes reinforcing your equipment a cheaper process.

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One issue that I had with Dark Souls 2 is that I knew what to expect in terms of difficulty. When the first game was first released all I knew was that it was really challenging. I ended up restarting the game after trying to create a “balanced” character. When I got DS2 I knew right off the bat what kind of character I needed to create that suited my play style and what equipment I wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I died plenty of times in the game but I don’t think there was a boss or enemy that really caused me any real problems. This doesn’t really make the game less fun. I loved Dark Souls 2, more than the first. The characters you interact with really help flesh out the narrative. The world is interesting and vast. It’s been three years since the first Dark Souls game was released and I don’t think there’s been another game that can reproduce similar heart pounding moments present in both these games. The only other game series that might come close is Monster Hunter. It’s an exhilarating experience.


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