Monday, August 31, 2020

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (PS1)

Our personal experience with the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series began with Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 for the PS2, however it did get us interested in the idea of owning a skateboard. Years later when we acted upon this, we gained a sudden impulse to play every game in the series that we could get our hands on, in order of release, starting from the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater for the PS1. With the announcement of a remaster of the first two Pro Skater games for modern platforms, entitled Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2, I decided to try and revisit those two games for comparison, and possibly beyond. Going back to the original Pro Skater game was a fun experience, though it wasn’t without issue.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe

As we were catching up with every episode of Phineas and Ferb, we learned about a new film, Candance Against the Universe, and anticipated it even more once we finally finished the series. We didn’t keep up with all of the pre-release material, but we did watch a Comic-Con@Home panel about the film, which gave some great insight into the development and included the opening musical number as a preview. We would then later cave in and get a Disney+ subscription to access the film, which we then watched twice on its release day. While I thought the build-up was worth it, I wasn’t sure exactly how to feel about the seeming influence from Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh’s other project, Milo Murphy’s Law.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Phineas and Ferb: Quest for Cool Stuff (360)

Following the release of a video game based on Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, another one followed two years later titled Phineas and Ferb: Quest for Cool Stuff. Unlike Across the 2nd Dimension, however, while the game was available across all then-current Nintendo platforms (DS, 3DS, Wii, Wii U), it would also be made available for Xbox 360 rather than PS3, allowing Xbox players access to their own Phineas and Ferb console experience. As I am not a heavy Xbox player, I opted for the Xbox 360 version anyway when hunting down this game simply to have an excuse to use the system, and was fortunate enough to grab a physical copy from a used game store whose inventory was disappearing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. While short, Quest for Cool Stuff is executed well enough that its story feels like it could easily fit into the show’s 104 days.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension (PS3)

Note: The following review contains spoilers for the Phineas and Ferb game and movie Across the 2nd Dimension.

We have talked about High Impact Games before on this blog; made up of former Insomniac Games and Naughty Dog employees, their first three offerings were based in Ratchet & Clank (Size Matters, Secret AgentClank) and Jak and Daxter (The Lost Frontier), though their Ratchet & Clank games would later be officially confirmed as non-canon as of Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus. Following Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier and coinciding with the premiere of Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, a video game adaptation by High Impact Games known as Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension was developed for a number of platforms, including PlayStation 3. Though I acquired this game shortly before watching the movie it was based on, I decided to hold off until after watching the movie in order to avoid spoiling myself on the movie. Now that I have played it, I can say it was enjoyable and worth waiting until after the movie to play it, though I did have some small annoyances with it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension

Since its first official airing on Disney Channel in 2008, Phineas and Ferb has become one of Disney’s biggest animated television series, with 222 episodes across four seasons released over eight years. The franchise also proved popular enough to spawn a few video games and several albums collecting the show’s music, among other merchandise, along with a full-length TV movie, Across the 2nd Dimension, and an upcoming Disney+ movie, Candace Against the Universe. Since we had only recently gotten into Phineas and Ferb, we made it a point to watch Across the 2nd Dimension while catching up with the show. Aside from the necessity of watching it to make a later episode watchable, the movie is fortunately worth the investment.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Phineas and Ferb Ride Again

About a year after the release of Phineas and Ferb on DS, Disney Interactive Studios released a direct sequel, Phineas and Ferb Ride Again, developed by the same studio, Altron. Reviews were generally more positive and, nearly ten years later, it’s apparent that Altron had managed to improve the formula set by the previous game within such a short development window. However, there are still a few issues that were hard to gloss over.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Phineas and Ferb (Game)

To coincide with the second Season of Phineas and Ferb, Disney Interactive Studios released Phineas and Ferb, developed by Japanese developer Altron, in early 2009 for the Nintendo DS. While show creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh knew next to nothing about the game until it released, it launched to decent reviews. Years later, as part of our journey with Phineas and Ferb, we decided to check out some of the tie-in video games, including this one. There is some enjoyment in this game 11 years later, though some of its issues are very apparent.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

The Emoji Movie

From its official announcement, The Emoji Movie became the target of ridicule on the internet. This sentiment intensified throughout the marketing campaign until its 2017 release, when viewers and critics ripped it to shreds. Despite having a morbid curiosity about the film, we didn’t watch it at the time because we refused to pay money to see it. This changed when it finally aired for free on FX, but we still didn’t watch it until we found the right opportunity a few months later. Actually watching it did nothing to sway us from the general consensus of the film, as we felt absolutely nothing while watching it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Carrion (Switch)

Of the titles revealed during Devolver Digital’s Devolver Direct during E3 2019, Carrion stuck out. The concept of a reverse-horror game intrigued me and the gameplay that I saw explored that in an interesting way. Such was my interest that I pre-ordered a physical Switch copy through Limited Run Games on release day. To my surprise, however, pre-ordering this game also gave me a digital code, meaning that I wouldn’t actually need to wait a few months to play it, which enabled a quicker turnaround time for this review. Though the experience itself is pretty short, I fully enjoyed my time with this unique indie title.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Stubs - Kindergarten Cop - Controversial 30 Years Later?

Kindergarten Cop (1990) Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Penelope Ann Miller, Pamela Reed, Linda Hunt, Richard Tyson, Carroll Baker. Directed by Ivan Reitman. Screenplay by Murray Salem, Herschel Weingrod, Timothy Harris. Produced by Ivan Reitman, Brian Grazer Run time: 111 minutes. United States. Color. Action, Comedy.

A thirty-year-old comedy starring Arnold Schwarzenegger might not seem like a controversial film, but Kindergarten Cop has recently been in the news because a recent planned screening was canceled.  Originally scheduled to open the NW Film Center’s Cinema Unbound, a summer-drive-in movie series in Portland, the film was pulled after local author Lois Leveen criticized the movie on Twitter.

According to her, “What’s so funny about School-to-Prison pipeline? Kindergarten Cop-Out: Tell @nwfilmcenter there’s nothing fun in cops traumatizing kids. National reckoning on overpolicing is a weird time to revive ‘Kindergarten Cop.’ IRL, we are trying to end the school-to-prison pipeline. There’s nothing entertaining about the presence of police in schools, which feeds the ‘school-to-prison’ pipeline in which African American, Latinx and other kids of color are criminalized rather than educated. Five- and 6-year-olds are handcuffed and hauled off to jail routinely in this country. And this criminalizing of children increases dramatically when cops are assigned to work in schools.”

She went further, stating “It’s true Kindergarten Cop is only a movie. So are ‘Birth of a Nation’ and ‘Gone With the Wind,’ but we recognize films like those are not ‘good family fun. They are relics of how pop culture feeds racist assumptions... Because despite what the movie shows, in reality, schools don’t transform cops. Cops transform schools, and in an extremely detrimental way.”

Having just recently seen the film again, I have to wonder how far up her own ass is Ms. Leveen’s head. The comparisons to Birth of a Nation and Gone with the Wind are over-the-top clap trap. Those films have been criticized, rightly so, for their depiction of Blacks during and after slavery. Birth of a Nation glorified the origins of the Klu-Klux-Klan for God’s sake. Invoking that film, in connection with criticizing this film, is a disservice to her own cause.

I would almost have to think that Ms. Leveen has never seen the film or hasn’t in 30 years and has somehow twisted the film’s story to fit in with her modern take on the world. Yes, police overstepping their boundaries, especially against children, is horrible. Yes, no one wants to see a “school-to-prison pipeline”. And yes, Black Lives Matter. But none of that has anything to do with Kindergarten Cop.

I’m not saying that Kindergarten Cop is high art and above reproach, but Leveen’s criticism seems misguided at best.

The film opens with a cat-and-mouse chase through a mall. LAPD detective John Kimble (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is following Cullen Crisp (Richard Tyson), an infamous drug dealer. Crisp is on his way to meet Danny (Tom Kurlander), a junkie who wants to sell him information about his estranged wife and child. Even though Danny was told to come alone, he has brought with him Cindy (Alix Koromzay), another junkie.

LAPD Detective John Kimble (Arnold Schwarzenegger) arrests Cullen Crisp (Richard Tyson).

When Danny asks for money, Crisp tells him that he’ll take good care of him. But after learning that his wife and child are living in Astoria, Oregon, Crisp shoots and kills Danny. But Cindy is a witness to the murder from behind a box. Crisp dumps the gun in a trash bin and joins his mother, Eleanor Crisp (Carroll Baker), at a beauty salon. Finding Cindy kneeling over Danny’s body, Kimble handcuffs her to the body so she won’t run away. He then goes to the salon and arrests Crisp.

At headquarters, policewoman Phoebe O’Hara (Pamela Reed) interrogates Cindy, but she wants nothing to do with helping the police. After Cindy’s release, Kimble follows her to a drug den, chases everyone out, and promises to harass her until she helps him. Cindy relents and correctly identifies Crisp as the killer in a lineup and he is held over for trial without bail.

Crisp and Kimble talk when the former is in custody.

At the Los Angeles County Jail, Crisp boasts to Kimble that he will soon be free because a junkie’s testimony is worthless, but Kimble suggests that Crisp’s wife, who reportedly fled with $3 million of his drug money, will be happy to testify against him.

Later, Captain Salazar (Richard Portnow), over Kimble’s objections, sends him and Phoebe to Astoria to find Rachel Crisp and offer immunity in return for her testimony. It has been arranged that Phoebe will go undercover as a temporary kindergarten teacher at Astoria Elementary School, where Crisp’s son is a pupil. Since their only photograph of Rachel Crisp does not clearly show her face, they will have to uncover her new identity.

Once they land in Oregon, Phoebe gets stomach flu and is unable to appear at school the next morning as a result. Kimble decides to take her place and reports to the principal, Miss Schlowski (Linda Hunt), who was expecting Phoebe, not a huge, muscular man. Miss Schlowski warns that if she feels the children are in danger, she will alert the parents and they will take their kids out of school. When asked, Kimble tries to reassure Miss Schlowski that he has had teaching experience, but in reality the five-year-olds in his class drive him crazy.

Day One: Kimble loses his temper and makes the children cry.

His loud attempts to quiet them make most of the children cry, so Kimble runs to his rented car and brings back his pet ferret to calm them down. It becomes the class mascot. At the end of the school day, another teacher’s, Joyce’s (Penelope Ann Miller), little boy, Dominic Palmarie (Joseph Cousins and Christian Cousins), tells Kimble that he is the worst teacher ever, even worse than his stick ball coach. When Kimble asks if there is anyone he’s better than, Dominic informs him that he doesn’t know that many people.

Dominic Palmarie (Joseph Cousins or Christian Cousins), helps Kimble clean up after the first day. 

Exhausted, Kimble returns to his motel room and collapses after having cleaned up the mess the students have made.

The next day, young mothers linger at the school after bringing their children. Some are interested in Kimble, while others wonder what kind of man teaches kindergarten.

In class, Kimble pretends to play a game with the children by asking them what their father does and where are they now. The children give a variety of answers and Dominic says his father lives in France. Meanwhile, a child named Zach Sullivan (Justin Page) is withdrawn and resists saying anything despite Kimble’s attempts to draw him out.

After a fire alarm drill, Miss Schlowski chides Kimble for taking longer to evacuate his class than the other teachers.

That night, Phoebe feels better, and is hungry. She and Kimble go to a restaurant, where they run into Joyce and Dominic. Sensing romantic possibilities between Kimble and Joyce, Phoebe plays wingman for him, posing as his sister and speaks in Kimble’s Austrian accent. Over dinner, Kimble questions Joyce about other mothers, especially newcomers. Joyce believes many people come to small towns like Astoria to run away from something.

Phoebe (Pamela Reed) gives Kimble advice on how to handle the kids in his class.

Later that night, when Kimble complains to Phoebe that the children take advantage of him, she suggests that he show no fear.

The following day, Kimble gets “tough” and tells the kids he is the sheriff and they are “deputy trainees.” He orders them to march, leads them in physical exercise, and plays games that demand discipline. Thinking Zach is the boy he’s looking for, he places Zach in charge of the ferret. Miss Schlowski is impressed with the children’s improved behavior.

While the children take their afternoon naps, Kimble dozes off and dreams that Colin Crisp shoots him through the classroom window. He awakens as Joyce enters the room. She asks him over for dinner the next night at her house and he accepts.

Kimble finally manages to confront Mrs. Sullivan (Jayne Brook) the next day. She mistakenly believes he is asking about bruises on Zach’s legs, and confesses that her husband is in counseling and begs Kimble not to report him.

Meanwhile, back in Los Angeles, Colin Crisp’s mother arranges for a dealer to sell Cindy a bag of pure heroin that is certain to kill her.

Dominic shows Kimble his backyard hideout.

The following evening, while Joyce prepares dinner, Dominic shows Kimble his backyard hideout, where he has a “laser” he hopes to place on a nearby antenna tower to protect him and his mother from “bad people.” After dinner, Kimble asks Joyce why she and Dominic move so often, and she admits her husband is not in France, but in Los Angeles. After he tried to kidnap Dominic, she assumed a new identity and went into hiding.

The following day, Phoebe investigates Joyce’s finances and can find only a checking account with less than $1000. Kimble is convinced Joyce is hiding $3 million somewhere, but Phoebe thinks he suspects her because his growing feelings toward her frighten him.

That morning, Zach arrives late to class, and Kimble finds a large bruise on his back. He chases Mrs. Sullivan back to her car, where Mr. Sullivan (John Hammil) is waiting. Kimble confronts him, and when Sullivan takes a swing, Kimble knocks him down.

Miss Schlowski calls Kimble into her office. He’s pretty sure that she’s going to fire him, but instead she approves of him punching Sullivan, even asking him what it felt like to hit him. She also, surprisingly, praises his teaching skills.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Captain Salazar identifies Cindy’s body at the morgue. Without Cindy’s testimony, he will have to release Crisp from jail, so he tells his assistant to inform Kimble and Phoebe that Crisp will soon be coming to Astoria. If Crisp’s wife wants police protection, she will have to reveal the whereabouts of the $3 million she supposedly has.

Eleanor Crisp picks up her son outside the jail, telling him, “We’re gonna be a family again”, and they drive to Astoria.

At the school fair, Phoebe and Kimble confesses to Joyce that they are police and can offer her protection from Colin, but she must turn over the stolen money. Joyce claims there is no money. Her husband spread a lie about her having $3 million to give others an incentive to locate her, enabling him to kidnap Dominic.

Fearing that she’ll flee, Kimble goes to see Joyce, who is hysterical because Dominic is missing. He remembers what Dominic had told him, and Kimble leads Joyce to the antenna tower, where they find the boy stranded on a ladder while trying to plant his lasers.

After Kimble rescues Dominic, he confesses that he lost his own son because his ex-wife wanted him out of her life, but he does not want to lose her and Dominic. They kiss.

Unbeknownst to her, Miss Schlowski (Linda Hunt) takes Crisp to where his son is.

The next day, in an effort to provide assistance, Phoebe comes to Kimble’s class to discuss strangers. Meanwhile, Colin visits Miss Schlowski’s office, posing as a father who wants to enroll his son in kindergarten. She allows him to look in on a classroom, and he recognizes his son. But when he sees Kimble, Crisp excuses himself and hurries outside to tell his mother.

Later, Crisp sneaks back into the school and sets fire in the library. The fire alarm prompts Kimble and Phoebe to lead their classes into the smoky hallway. Dominic stuffs Kimble’s pet ferret under his shirt, but when Kimble helps a girl who had been knocked down in the hall, he loses track of Dominic.

In the confusion, Crisp grabs his son and spirits the child into an empty classroom. He tells Dominic he is the boy’s father, but Dominic does not recognize him. Kimble searches the hallways for Dominic, while outside, Phoebe realizes that Dominic is missing and tries to return to the building. Stopped by local firemen at the front door, Phoebe hurries to a side door with her gun drawn.

Seeing her, Eleanor drives her car into Phoebe, knocking her down and, with Phoebe incapacitated, grabs her gun. Inside, Kimble finds Crisp in the boy’s locker room. But the drug dealer holds a pistol to his son’s head and makes Kimble put down his gun. He plans to shoot Kimble and Joyce, but the ferret, who never bites, suddenly goes after Crisp. Dominic manages to escape, and Kimble picks up his gun and shoots Crisp. Though fatally hit, Crisp fires off a last shot that wounds Kimble in the leg.

Eleanor Crisp (Carroll Baker) wants her grandchild back.

Soon after, Eleanor Crisp arrives and shoots Kimble. She follows his blood trail into the shower and fires a couple of shots near him to get him to tell her where her grandson is. When Kimble won’t tell her, she’s about to shoot him when Phoebe knocks her out with a baseball bat.

Kimble and Joyce (Penelope Ann Miller) are reunited upon his return from the hospital.

After a few days in the hospital, Kimble returns to school and Miss Schlowski offers him a permanent teaching job. The kids are overjoyed to see him. Kimble and Joyce embrace and kiss to everyone’s delight.

Made on a budget of $26 million, Kindergarten Cop made about $202 million when it was first released, making it a hit by the standards of the day.

Thirty years later, the film holds up pretty well. There are still a lot of laughs in the film and you do find yourself worrying about Dominic, even if you have seen the film before, like me. This is not to say that the film is perfect. There are a couple of holes that have to exist for the film to work.

We’re told that Kimble has been following Crisp for years, so it seems odd that he wouldn’t have more intel on him, like who is wife is and what she looks like. There are such things as marriage certificates and even without the internet, people still found out what other people looked like. But if Kimble knew what she looked like then the whole plot of the movie has to be thrown out the window.

I’m also a little surprised that Kimble and Phoebe, knowing Crisp was in town, would let Joyce and Dominic return to school the next day. However, if that didn’t happen we wouldn’t have the final shootout at the school. You would expect that they would put her and Dominic in protective custody rather than use them as bait.

While the happy ending and the kiss between Joyce and Kimble promises a future for them together, did she not go visit him in the hospital? Wouldn't this big mushy kiss have happened there?

And there is Kimble’s pet ferret, who is the one that causes Crisp to misfire his gun. A real important plot point in the story and he’s apparently necessary to the film. However, he’s not discovered until Kimble and Phoebe have already flown from Los Angeles to Portland. I know comfort animals were a thing a few years ago but not 30. I’m not sure how a live animal would have gone undetected for that long on a plane.

So, while I think the writing has issues, there are still some pretty funny lines, including this exchange between Kimble and one of the students.

Detective John Kimble: I have a headache.

Lowell: It might be a tumor.

Detective John Kimble: It's not a tumor! It's not a tumor. At all!

That line is made funny by Schwarzenegger’s delivery, making it sound like too-mah, as in “It’s not a too-mah”, a line which was repeated in practically every story about the film’s recent controversy. Schwarzenegger has shown that he is surprisingly adept at playing comedy and his performance here is more nuanced than that in Twins, his breakthrough comedy hit.

The rest of the cast is good, though it wouldn’t be hard to imagine others playing in the supporting roles, including Penelope Ann Miller, Pamela Reed, Linda Hunt, Richard Tyson, and Carroll Baker. One of the film’s more memorable roles was that of Crisp as played by Richard Tyson; he has evil written all over him from the start.

Richard Tyson's Crisp is evil throughout the film.

So, let’s take a look at Leveen’s complaints about the movie. School to jail pipeline: no children get arrested. If anything, Kimble’s tactics are more in line with the scared straight program. The children receive discipline in the form of rules and behaviors to follow. Is he strict? Sort of, but there is no corporal punishment and in the end the children seem to love him as they learn to work with him while he learns to work with them.

African Americans, Latinx, and other kids of color are criminalized rather than educated: That’s not present in this film. This is mostly a white classroom but there are one or two black children and at least one Latinx depicted. There is no sense that they are treated any differently than the other children in the class and everyone seems to be depicted accepting of everyone else.

Cops traumatizing kids: If someone yelling at them was a new experience then perhaps, yes, the children might be traumatized by Kimble. But there is no indication of that happening. He gets their attention and they go from there. The real traumatization would come from the school burning down, which is not played for comedic effect in the film. And the one who sets the school on fire is the bad guy.

What about the shooting at the school, wouldn’t that traumatize the children? Perhaps if they’d seen it. The gunfight takes place while the children are outside because of the fire. They don’t see it nor do they hear it over the other noises. The only child in the room, and I’m not even sure he’s shown as being there, is Dominic. I believe he escapes out of the boy’s locker room before the shooting takes place. The only kids that might be traumatized are the two older students who are making out during the fire and are surprised by Kimble, who does have his weapon drawn when he bursts into the room they’re in.

And frankly, my dear, if Kindergarten Cop was half the movie Gone with the Wind was, that would be great. Instead, it is a fun film. Now it was and still is for that matter, rated PG-13, which means it wasn’t made for small children. If parents were to take them in to see it, any traumatizing would be on them.

The NW Film Center should be ashamed of itself for capitulating to Leveen’s misplaced complaints. While John Lewis was a great man and a worthy subject, and I’m not complaining about the documentary, I don’t think it evokes the same fun time at the drive-in. Leveen’s complaints are the type that ruined Saturday Mornings by complaining about the cartoons not being educational. Now, drive-ins can’t be fun places to go, either, I guess.

Kindergarten Cop is light fare and would be worth seeing, especially if you were wondering what the fuss was about. You know a good place to see it? A drive-in.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Ghost of Tsushima

Back when it was announced in 2017, Ghost of Tsushima caught my attention, due in part to it being a brand-new IP from Sly Cooper and Infamous developer Sucker Punch and for it being their own take on samurai-style gameplay. The more I learned about the game as it got closer to release, the more it intrigued me, such as how the game was heavily inspired by works such as Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo comic book series and the films of Akira Kurosawa of Rashōmon fame. Though the game was delayed on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, said delay was fortunately only by a few weeks, which incidentally made it the final first-party PS4 exclusive following the rather divisive (and that’s I will say on that) The Last of Us Part II released a few weeks prior. The game took a little longer for me to complete than anticipated due to Comic-Con@Home starting up shortly after it came out, though once I finally completed it I found the experience be wholly worthwhile.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins

Note: This review contains spoilers for Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins

Following the success of Toy Story 2, a spin-off TV series was produced by Disney and Pixar centering on the traditionally-animated fictional adventures of the ever-popular Buzz Lightyear, entitled Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. Buzz Lightyear of Star Command is a show I fondly remember watching in my youth, mainly for the interesting expansion on Buzz Lightyear lore and some very memorable characters (while the rest of my Star Command toy collection is sitting in storage, I still have a toy of energy vampire NOS-4-A2 sitting on my shelf to this day). As of this writing, I more recently discovered that the series was turning 20 years old, which instantly made me feel old despite still being in my late 20s. However, as I still own a DVD copy of the DTV movie Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins, I also immediately became curious as to how well it held up after not having seen it for nearly two decades. Not only does it hold up surprisingly well, it was also somehow even better than I remembered it being.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Second Look - Final Fantasy VII Remake

Note: This review contains spoilers for Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VII Remake and Compilation of Final Fantasy VII.

Back in April, when Final Fantasy VII Remake first came out, I played and enjoyed it in spite of my lack of context with the original game. However, as I thought about the story more, I realized that even though the game was billed as a jumping-on point, it still made several references to both the original Final Fantasy VII and the contents of Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. After I subsequently immersed myself in all the major titles, Final Fantasy VII, Advent Children, Dirge of Cerberus and Crisis Core, I decided to go back and replay Final Fantasy VII Remake with the full context in mind. This second playthrough gave me a different opinion on the story and changes, some for the better, and helped me better appreciate the improvements the game made over the 1997 original.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

Note: This review contains spoilers for Final Fantasy VII and Compilation of Final Fantasy VII

Before I actually played Final Fantasy VII, I had watched the Advent Children film and played Crisis Core when they first came out. The first time I played Crisis Core, just over a decade ago, I liked it in spite of a general lack of context. Of course, my memories of the game faded over time and after finally playing the original Final Fantasy VII, I decided to go through Compilation, which originally ended with this game. Now that I’ve finished my second playthrough, I remembered why I liked it in the first place, but now I also see more flaws, both in the story and gameplay.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII

Note: This review contains spoilers for Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII

As part of my journey through Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, the next stop after Advent Children was Dirge of Cerberus, a sequel/spinoff game that puts Vincent Valentine directly into the spotlight. Oddly enough, this also happened to be the only piece of Final Fantasy VII media I didn’t own, likely due to its negative reception, so I borrowed a copy to reduce the investment. Now that I’ve played it for myself, it seems that its bad reputation wasn’t unearned.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (+ Complete)

Note: This review contains spoilers for Final Fantasy VII and Compilation of Final Fantasy VII.

I’ll admit that against my better judgment, the original 2006 US DVD release of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children was the first piece of Final Fantasy VII media I really consumed. Not the best choice, I know, but it did still get me into the series, so I guess it wasn’t all bad. I would also view the Complete version when it released in 2009, but now that I’ve actually played Final Fantasy VII, I figured there was no better opportunity to revisit this first part of Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. Since I’ve re-watched both cuts, I thought it best to review both of them at once, with my raw thoughts written down immediately after each viewing. What I’ll say now is that it’s obvious why another cut was necessary.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Final Fantasy VII (PS1)

Note: This review contains spoilers for Final Fantasy VII.

As I mentioned in my review of Final Fantasy VII Remake, I’ve had an interesting history with Final Fantasy VII in that I went through more of Compilation of Final Fantasy VII before the actual game. While I thought I could experience the story through Remake, the ending finally gave me the motivation to play through the original game, which I accomplished with my PS1 copy. At this point, I can appreciate what Final Fantasy VII did and why it’s still celebrated today, but as someone who wasn’t there when it first launched, as I was only four years old, there are some flaws I couldn’t overlook.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie

One of the earliest Nickelodeon shows I have had experience with in childhood was Hey Arnold!, which details the school life of a wise-beyond-his-years, “football-headed” kid named Arnold living in an urban neighborhood. The show ran for five Seasons from 1996 to 2004, during which it had a theatrically-released film in 2002 entitled Hey Arnold! The Movie, which I will admit I had not actually seen for whatever reason. A second movie, Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie, was supposed to act as a finale for the series, however it was scrapped in part due to the 2002 movie’s failure at the box office, only for the project to get revived in 2015 following fan support and a move from the then-new network head to revive older popular properties. This allowed the movie to finally see the light of day in 2017 on Nickelodeon, providing proper closure to a cliffhanger from the show 15 years later regarding the whereabouts of Arnold’s missing parents. While I did record the movie out of interest when it aired, I didn’t end up actually watching it until recently. The movie does work as a proper finale to the series, though while it was great to see these characters again after so many years, I couldn’t help but feel it come off as impenetrable to a non-fan.