Friday, November 26, 2010

Pandora Hearts Volume 1 Premium Collection Impression

A new take on the tale of Alice with one bloody B-Rabbit

Alice in Wonderland, Disney’s well known version, is fun and entertaining, full of interesting characters and settings. Recent interpretations such as the theatrical Alice with Johnny Depp and Tokyopop’s manga Alice in the Land of Hearts have taken the tale to new heights either rewriting it completely or picking up the tale after the original tale was over. Now anime fans get a taste of a new interpretation, one that’s enjoyable, recognizable and so very, very different. NIS America continues its splendid anime title release with Pandora Hearts volume 1 Premium Collection and the tale of Wonderland will never be the same. Let’s take a look at this new tale of hearts.

Oz Vessalius has it all. A rich privileged life as heir to the Vessalius estate, one of the four great dukedoms. As he turns fifteen, his Coming of Age Ceremony is interrupted by amazing events as he’s drawn into the Abyss, a dark dimension full of chains. Thrust into this new, odd world where these living weapons, chains, wish to devour him, he must make a contract with a special chain named Alice, the Bloody Black Rabbit, or B-Rabbit for short, to survive. Alice assisted in saving Oz at his ceremony from the mysterious group Baskerville. After forging the contract which allows Alice to access more of her full power, both Oz and Alice depart the Abyss and come into contact with the Pandora organization, specifically Sharon and Break. Much time has passed for Oz in the Abyss, what seemed only hours is years in the real world. What happened to Oz family, sister Ada and uncle Oscar? What about his best friend and servant Gilbert? Why was he drawn to the Abyss, what are chains and why are both Baskerville and Pandora looking to control them? Why can’t Alice remember her past, was she horrible to be called Bloody Black Rabbit? Many mysteries abound but Oz seems to take everything in stride as he works to help Alice recover her memories and uncover secrets along the way.

Wow, this is only the tip of the iceberg that is Pandora Hearts. The animation style is solid with an older, noble setting that seems to be in Europe with major houses ruling and dukedoms overseeing all. The character designs are well done with Alice in human and rabbit form being powerful while Oz shows his youthful innocence and dark side (used to torment Gil). The designs almost feel shojou with a pretty boy aspect to just about every character and the use of humorous expressions lightens the at time very dark mood. The settings feel alive with a great amount of detail that seems very much pulled from the pages of history. It’s a beautiful anime and twisted also with the Abyss settings that are, well off. The chains are also pulled from the pages of Wonderland and twisted to fit the story and setting. Pretty, pretty, pretty is the best way to describe this anime.

The story has ties to Wonderland but is wholly unique and new. Alice, B-Rabbit, is not the sole central figure. This falls on Oz who serves as a sort of white rabbit and Alice hybrid. It’s Oz who’s sucked into Abyss and is the target of the various groups in play. Due to his contract with Alice, B-Rabbit, she also becomes central but not sole central. There are many layers to this story, layers of interest from Pandora to the power of the chains and Key of the Abyss. There is a mystery about Gil, his appearance years ago, his relationship with Oz, the watch Oz finds and Alice. Alice is missing her memory and it seems to be key to events 100 years ago, events tied to Abyss and the Dukedoms. Sharon Rainsworth and her agenda is also hidden as she works for Pandora yet seems to do things her own way. Yes much mystery in this series. The fun of this series is seeing how it ties into the original Wonderland tale yet weaves a very unique path.

Listen, what Pandora Hearts offers is great animation with great voice work, albeit in Japanese (yup, English subtitles only). The story is unique and sometimes familiar but there is no denying it’s originality and action. Anyone who loves a new Alice tale will dig Pandora Hearts and anime fans looking for a new and unique purchase really can’t go wrong. The included art book is sexy, I mean really nice quality, hardbound so pretty to read and look at. This is the third title from NIS America and so far they’ve hit on three very unique titles that are all gorgeous and well packaged. Check out Pandora Hearts in what’s a crowded anime market.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Superman Batman Apocalypse Movie Impression

DC nails another feature this time detailing the arrival of Supergirl

Thank you DC for bringing back the voices that matter. The voices I’m referring to are Kevin Conroy as Batman and Tim Daly as Superman in the latest DC Comics animated feature Superman Batman: Apocalypse. While the animation may vary, having a stable and close to iconic group of voice actor’s helps fans identify and tie together these heroes whom we love. The banter, the way the actors work together, it’s just nice to see and it continues what has been an outstanding and somewhat surprising run of animated features from DC, ones that tie into various comic story treads. Past dandies include Superman/Batman: Public Enemies and Green Lantern: First Flight which have been good but Apocalypse takes it to such a sweet level … let’s take a look at what I’m blathering about.

A crash landing in Gotham harbor triggers a series of events that will see Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman go head-to-head with Darkseid. The question is what crash landed to cause such a monumental battle? Her name is Kara and she’s another surviving Kryptonian and Kal-El’s cousin. Kara holds untapped power, power Batman does not trust, that Wonder Woman wants to train and that Superman wants to embrace and believe in. If having the holy trinity of heroes interested in you wasn’t enough Kara has also drawn the attention of a more sinister, purely evil player in Darkseid. As Darkseid puts his plans into motion its Kara who’s front and center as the battle begins on Apocalypse and continues on Earth. What’s a girl to do with so much power, a new life and all shades of good and evil wanting to control you … shopping anyone?

Ok so cheesy ending to the synopsis but not too far off once you watch. That’s the key, you will need to watch if you’re a DC Comics fan, fan of Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman or just love what’s a well created piece of comic animation. The character design is mostly great. The ladies have a very anime vibe to them with nice curves, clean figures and larger ‘anime’ type eyes. Superman and Darkseid retain their closer comic and animated Justice League look while Batman goes in a taller, darker model. Its bats that seems a bit off in certain scenes as he does not have the heroic look of Superman and Wonder Woman all the time … hard to describe but he misses in a few scenes in his looks. Now this is nit picking at its finest as this feature really comes close to the feelings, the epic battles felt in Justice League and the voice work really, really makes this feature shine. The story moves along at a nice pace and manages to touch on enough key points without glossing over too much. Days, weeks and months pass but there is not feeling of drag or missing pieces in the story. Knowledge of DC Comics will help but is not 100% needed to enjoy Apocalypse.

So where does that leave the overall package? Solid voice work, great character design, quality animation and a story that paces itself between plot and action without missing a beat, well it’s a can’t miss feature. No quirky trouble in parallel worlds here, this is a great animated feature and one that’s I highly recommend. Hell, it even made me like Superman a little, a little.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 on PS3 Impression

How will a cloned Jedi impact the Star Wars universe?

Dash Rendar; Smuggler who manages to blend into the background of the Star Wars universe while being somehow involved in major events such as the battle of Hoth. Created for the N64 title Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, Dash worked his way into a multitude of projects but he’s accepted. So why is it gamers, Star Wars fans have an issue with the very cool, if not a bit unstable, Starkiller? The star of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 is a sympathetic figure, one with an intriguing past but what he has working against him is more established Star Wars lore. Dash could blend in as a b-list player while Starkiller is front and center in many major plot points (beginning of the Rebellion, cloned Jedi) that does not allow him any leeway. So for this sequel does Starkiller solidify his role in the lore, making himself an A-lister or does he fade further than even Dash could dream? Like TMZ delves into Hollywood let’s take a look into the second round of exploits for Mr. Starkiller.

Gameplay – Take control of a cloned (or not) Starkiller as the action picks up where the first The Force Unleashed left off. A cloned Starkiller escapes from Vader’s grasp seeking the loose memories that the cloning process has left him. The action is the same third person action with tons of light saber action, dual wielding this time, and force power mayhem. Starkiller has the same powers as last game with a few new additions like mind control (forced suicide is interesting). Gamers will traverse the galaxy looking for Juno Eclipse while encountering familiar faces and the action feels just like the first game. Power up Starkillers force abilities. Its solid third person action with a bit of leveling up decisions needed that feels like more of the same than an true sequel.

Graphics – The level of detail in each texture is amazing and shows off some pretty impressive graphics. The characters look good while Starkiller and Vader look movie ready. The laser and saber lighting really enhances the mood and force powers show a level of, well power. Where Unleashed 2 may feel very familiar in its gameplay its graphics take a step up with better texture and great use of lighting.

Sound – Star Wars has such an iconic sound from its score to laser fire and every piece of this is reflected in Unleashed 2. Vader sounds great as do most of the voice cast but it’s Starkiller who leaves the gamers to wonder. Is Starkiller really this messed up in the head that his emotions come and go in his voice, nailing certain lines while missing other or is it just bad voice acting. No worries either way as the game overall sounds great.

Design – The levels, the characters, everything is familiar and established. All the levels are pulled from or inspired by existing settings from throughout the Star Wars universe. The levels feel more like and extension of the first Unleashed than a truly unique sequel Gamers familiar with the first title will feel right at home with the design set forth in Unleashed 2 which is pretty standard.

Miscellaneous – Starkiller is the wild card. He’s what Luke could have been, should have been with a level of power rare in Jedi and Sith alike. Dash Rendar is more the rule than the exception as it’s rare for a character with such impact on the universe such as Starkiller to be created this late in the game, in the original trilogy timeframe. Yes, seeing how Starkiller and his interactions in the universe are handled is indeed the wildcard that will draw in true Star Wars fans to explore

Overall Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 looks good, plays solid and tells story Star Wars fans should enjoy and question. It’s more of the same from the original which is not a bad thing but may be tough to swallow for those shelling out $60+ bucks for a copy.

Hanako and the Terror of Allegory vol. 2 Impression

When allegories become real it’s up to Hanako to step in

Detective Daisuke Aso is back in action in volume 2 of Hanako and the Terror of Allegory from Tokyopop. The porn mag collecting unique detective takes on some unique cases but what happens when the allegories take notice of him, go beyond their usual routines to attack the one who can stop them? That’s what this volume will tell as the fun continues thanks to the creative mind of Sakae Esuno.

As Detective Daisuke Aso takes on his most recent string of allegory jobs he Hanako and Kanae are quickly wrapped up in cases that are much more real, more targeted against the snooping trio. Hanako shows off her computer skills in helping resolve these new cases that see Kanae again possessed by a wish granting allegory while a half-body Teke-Teke is on the prowl. A twisted, possessed, group of school girls show that beauty is not everything and almost causes a few detectives their lives. Nothing compares to the danger presented by the Kitou-Kokkuri which targets Aso and pushes him to the edge revealing what he truly is.

I love these stories. See, with Hanako readers won’t get this mind blowing art, not really super solid art but a unique style that fits the allegory tales it tells. From an art standpoint it’s the urban legends that need to shine and they do. Esuno brings these tales and creatures to life and they look as disturbing as they should. No, it’s not the art but these stories, how they are translated to real life and how Aso, Kanae and Hanako interact with them, how they defeat them. There is also the larger mystery of what is Aso and how his interaction with allegories puts him in danger, it’s quite cool indeed.

Overall I said this with a look at volume 1, but with Hanako and the Terror of Allegory manga fans get a manga not high on the art food chain but plenty high on story. It may be my fascination with the paranormal, with myths and legends, but this is one manga I really, really enjoy for its unique creative angles.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light Impression

Going back to the basics of RPG’s and Final Fantasy

Role-playing games 101 folks. Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light for Nintendo DS is the genre at its most simplistic. This is both good and bad but when it’s Square Enix behind the game then all is well … right? The Final Fantasy franchise has received a different type of life on the DS with redesigned characters that look and feel more kid friendly. The remakes for Final Fantasy III and IV, both by the same creators as 4 Heroes of Light, offered classic deep gameplay with new design and of course memorable characters and settings gamers know. The 4 Heroes of Light does a reboot with mixed results as these are all new characters and settings with a now very familiar design. The question is does it deliver? Older games with a new coat of paint have been rock solid for Square Enix so how does the new model in the classic game line holdup, let’s take a look.

Gameplay – As young Brandt turns 14 he must journey to see the King to be recognized as a man but upon arriving he finds a distraught king and missing princess. The journey begins for gamers and Brandt alike in typical RPG fashion. Young boy takes to dungeons and castles to battle monsters, rescue friends, destroy evil and save the land. Hours of dungeon crawling await with turn based battles using magic and melee attacks as well as items and potions. Four friends, party members, allow for gamers to take the class system of leveling up and really customize their battle group. This is RPG 101 with some limited co-op gameplay.

Graphics – Nothing to write home about. Final Fantasy III had a nice new look that has become the norm on DS for all Final Fantasy titles. 4 Heroes continues this look and feel with a mix of nice looking towns and monsters. Gamers expecting a big step up from prior FF entries will be disappointed.

Sound – Besides Cid, what ties all Final Fantasy games together? Music and it does the same with The 4 Heroes of Light. The tunes are classics, some new, some old and it helps bridge the gap for this new entry into the franchise. Beyond the soundtrack the audio sampling is very DS with not too much to compliment in eh way of battle sounds and item interactions.

Design – Being a cookie cutter RPG is not a bad thing but when you don’t allow gamers to target an enemy in a turn based battle, well that’s just odd. The dungeon and level designs and settings are nothing new for an RPG. The class system has been pulled off in a simpler manner with robust yet simple advancement trees to follow. The game is basic, a great entry point for gamers new to the genre.

Miscellaneous – A new chapter for Final Fantasy. While not every game tied to the franchise turns to gold there is hope for The 4 Heroes of Light as a franchise. It offers Square Enix the unique opportunity to not only do updates to older titles but rather revisits the genre, the settings and characters, craft them into a new generation of gamer and experiment with gameplay features. It’s good for gamers and good for Square Enix.

Overall there is nothing new in The 4 Heroes of Light. Gamers get a fairly standard RPG with storybook graphics, great music and so-so gameplay. It’s a great entry point for new and younger RPG gamers but with titles like Final Fantasy III and IV as well as the Dragon Quest titles out already there are other options to pick from with a solid and great track record. A good game yes, a great game not yet.

Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl Blu-ray Impression

Gory, over the top action that would make Tarantino proud

Twisted and a little sick. An endearing description of the action found in Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl on Blu-ray from FUNimation. While known for their anime release library, FUNimation has seen quite a few solid live action features put out on US shores, titles with a more historic setting, a serious tone … until now. The action and gore found in VG vs. FG is reminiscent of so many 80’s horror flicks. The special effects are cheesy at times while the acting is, well it’s acting but this is why we love this type of movie. While not for everyone there is most definitely an audience for this genre of gore and over the top action. Who are you and what do you like, let’s see.

Monami is just an average school girl nobody seems to take notice of even on Valentine ’s Day when all girls’ chocolates but hers are confiscated. She managers to deliver her chocolate to Mizushima with a bit of a secret. The filling is blood, her blood and Mizushima is about to be transformed into a vampire. Issue with this is his forced upon him girlfriend Keiko is not cool with this and tries to stir up trouble only to end up … well as Frankenstein girl. The action kicks into overdrive as a serial killing, psycho principal and his twisted nurse assistance reconstruct a few students and the fight is on. A grudge over a boy soon escalates into Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein girl and nobody is safe.

Ok so this is not an Academy Award winning plot. The story has many more funny and offensive points from the opening killing scenes to the African centric student group and the wrist cutting club. This feature does not worry about offending anyone but that’s just the beginning. The special effects are so ridiculous they are great and the action is very, very over the top. The actors ham it up from the very beginning and why not with this much blood spewing all over the screen and such a twisted group of individuals contained in one school.

Overall Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl is a guilty pleasure. It’s sick, gory, sadistic, bit perverted and just plain not right at times but it works for what it is. A film that knows it wants to be gross and over the top but at the same time fun and entertaining. Look at the cover, read the description, it is what it thought it is and so tasty to watch.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

10 Deaths Caused by Video Games

Proof that video games, like many things in life, can lead to death

Over on Criminal Justice Degrees Guide there is a very interesting article about deaths attributed to video games. Very interesting read given the legalities going on with gaming in recent days, weeks. At first it may seem odd to see this type of content on a legal site but as the world goes more digital it should not be surprising. Take a read now and see the 10 Deaths Caused by Video Games

Impression: Mass Effect Redemption Dark Horse comic

Mass Effect Redemption Dark Horse comic Impression

Another massive, popular gaming franchise gets the side-story treatment with Mass Effect: Redemption from Dark Horse comics. This collection bridges the gap from Mass Effect to Mass Effect 2 and with PlayStation 3 owners about to get a taste of the franchise it’s good to get all the story one can. So what’s the deal with Redemption and why should gamer care, let take a look.

The Story – Commander Shepard is dead … or is he? This is a question Dr. Liara T’Sonia looks to answer as she travels to the Terminus Systems and the lawless Omega station. Teaming up with Feron, Liara must deal with the militant Blue Sun, Cerberus and the Collectors all in a race to recover Shepards body and find out exactly what value the body of a hero holds.

The story is very straightforward even with the various factions involved. Liara gets her answers and the stage is set for Mass Effect 2. While it’s a good story it is needed more for those familiar with the franchise. Characters, settings and factions are explained in enough detail but for such a massive game it just feels a bit light. Liara is an annoying character and frustrating as she shows such strength and weakness at the same time. The action does pick up and the pacing is well done but it’s a link in the larger chain the is Commander Shepards story, one where he is pretty absent.

The Design & Art – The cover art is poster perfect but the internal art is, well it’s adequate. This is not art that will blow comic fans away but it’s not bad by any means either. Characters and settings retain the look established in Mass Effect and the level of detail is sufficient it’s just not top level, detailed art. A good looking comic that lets the story shine as the star.

Why Gamers Should Care – Mass Effect fans on Xbox 360 get to learn a bit about the story between the games already enjoyed while PS3 owners can get a taste of what’s to come. Gamers should care because Mass Effect has such a strong storytelling element getting more in comic form is just too sweet to pass on.

Overall Mass Effect: Redemption is a must have for true Mass Effect fans. It’s got decent art with a strong story that bridges the gap from one outstanding game to the next. Comics as well as anime are intertwined with the world of video games so don’t miss out when media such as Redemption presents itself.

Disney Epic Mickey Disneyland to Wasteland Trailer

Take a behind the scenes look at how Disneyland goes to Wasteland in the upcoming Epic Mickey for Nintendo Wii.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Space Invaders Infinity Gene on Xbox Live Impression

A stylistic new direction for a gaming legend

How? How does an iconic game get such a sweet makeover and slide under the radar? The answer could be the sheer number of games rolling out in the holiday season or it could be that Space Invaders has done well with its updates recently, but neither is an excuse. Space Invaders Infinity Gene on Xbox Live Arcade is all that made the original grand and addictive with a look, feel and stylistic update to engage today’s gamer. The core gameplay remains but what’s so special about this download, let’s take a look.

Gameplay – Any gamer worth their salt knows the left to right, right to left and shoot gameplay found in Space Invaders. This new version jacks up the visuals with enhanced music, adds in boss battles and new enemy types while retaining the original gameplay. The normal, expected gameplay is joined by Challenge, Bonus and Music mode. Bonus is just that, bonus content unlocked while music mode takes uploaded music and creates a graphical look that matches the beat of the music. Finally the Challenge mode is a series of standalone modes that challenge the gamer to meet certain objects. A new featured called evolution allows gamers to upgrade their ship and gameplay elements. This adds a bit more thinking on how to spend evolution points to further enhance the gaming experience. It’s Space Invaders that makes a nice series of improvements, nuff said.

Graphics – Keeping it simple is a good thing. The very linear, straight lines and designs, remains with added colors. No over the top, 3D visual facelift for Infinity Gene, just a fresh coat of paint on a classic that looks outstanding in HD. The black and white colors are joined by more color settings but it never overpowers the gamer and gets confusing. A game that be visually enjoyed by multiple generations of Space Invaders.

Sound – its old meets new as the original sounds and limited tunes get jazzed up a bit. This is not a soundtrack that will really jump out at gamers and after a few games will begin to blend into the background. Game is best served with some sweet MP3’s playing in the background.

Design – Nothing radical as the core design (left to right, right to left and shoot) remains with some updates. What’s fresh and a nice ‘way to go’ is that this old-school formula works really well with updated colors, enemies and enough gameplay tweaks to really engage a new generation of gamer. Being able to level up ones ship is a huge bonus and adds to the fresh feel of Infinity Gene.

Miscellaneous – What’s old is new yet again. Not all updates, remakes, re-boot’s work but this one does. Fans of the original, OG gamers and the young pups alike can dig this title while remembers old gaming memories and building new ones.

Overall for $10 gamers need to get Space Invaders Infinity Gene. It’s a great update to a very dated, classic title that works and works well. Nothing to turn off older gamers but everything to satisfy newer gamers.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Disney Epic Mickey Character Overview Trailer

Many of these characters have not been seen in decades but in Epic Mickey on Wii they are front and center with the mouse that rules the house.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Shinji Ikari Raising Project Volume 4

Evangelion answers the question of ‘what if’ seen at the end of the original series

Ah, Evangelion. An iconic series that frustrated fans with it’s odd ending only to satisfy with movies giving the deserved finale. While FUNimation is releasing the re-make/update to the famed anime Dark Horse is publishing a refreshing ‘what if’ scenario for the franchise. In Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Shinji Ikari Raising Project the series takes the normal life for Shinji seen in those controversial final episodes and says what if to this being more than a scene in an episode. What if Shinji, Rei and Asuka were childhood friends going to school with fairly normal parents (still alive). What if they had to deal with not Angels but crushes and embarrassing situations? Let’s take a closer look at volume 4 of the series and ask ourselves ‘what if I wanted to buy this book?’

As the trio of Shinji, Asuka and Rei continue to go to class and train together the hidden feelings Asuka has been hiding really begin to surface. Is Shinji more than a childhood friend? Why does his relationship with Rei frustrate her so? A day to exchange chocolates leads to awkwardness while a very familiar synchronization test takes place in the school swimming pool followed by a drunken cherry-blossom party that shows the lighter side of Shinji’s father while Dr. Kyoko Soryu makes an appearance surprising her daughter. All of this pales when compared to Asuka’s mistaking a kiss between Rei and Shinji and its results. Things are definitely heating up for Shinji and the Evangelion crew.

Notice something interesting? All of these interactions and encounters seem fairly ordinary, no Angels, no Eva’s … just normal life and this is what makes this series so refreshing. The art style is beautiful and reflects a polished, updated look for the franchise which keeps the main looks of the original, solid, character and setting designs. The story is the star as fans get a different side of these iconic characters, one that is not all doom and gloom. The exploration of feelings between the three pilots … students reeks of many a school age comedy in a flowery fragrant manner (read good folks, its good). The humor is great and the embarrassing situations and new personalities for characters rocks. This really is a world of normalcy, of happiness that’s populated by the characters fans of Evangelion came to know and love.

The Shinji Ikari Raising Project is rock solid. Its beautiful art mixed with characters that fans love in a brand new setting that just needs an anime adaptation. As Full Metal Panic FUMOFU was to the original Full Metal Panic so too is The Shinji Ikari Raising Project to the original Evangelion.

House of Five Leaves volume 1 Impression

A masterless samurai; a band of outlaws; House of Five Leaves is a worthy read from Viz

Don’t judge a book by its cover. Viz’s Sig Ikki line of manga has established itself for rock solid storytelling, stories that don’t fit what the average person may think about when thinking about manga. The art is not always the cutting edge, ‘oh-my-goodness’ awe inspiring flashy art seen in the more mainstream series but it works and such is the case with House of Five Leaves volume 1. This book from Natsume Ono is rock solid in many aspects and should not be passed on just because of how timid central figure Akitsu Masanosuke looks on the cover. That’s the charm of this tale, let’s take a look.

Akitsu Masanosuke is not a bad samurai … he’s just not very confident or fear inspiring. His appearance, his passive nature leads him to lost job after lost job. As he takes on a new job, bodyguard for Yaichi, Masa is plunged into a very different world. Yaichi is the head of a gang called Five Leaves and their main business is kidnapping for ransom. Even after discovering this fact Masa continues to be drawn into this world due to his need for money as well as the passive charisma of Yaichi and those within the Five Leaves.

So my comments about judging a book really emphasizes the unique style of the art in House of Five Leaves. There is a very refreshing simplicity to the art style which serves the story and setting very, very well. At times, as with the cover and chapter art, the lines seem like brush strokes, a style that gets a bit sharper with the main story but retains the set look and feel. This look and feel is of course feudal Japan where samurai are still needed and hired. Masa as a character is timid but it’s his failings that make his interaction with Yaichi so engaging. Yaichi is that mysterious, carefree personality that just has a way with people and as he guides the Five Leaves so too does he guide Masa without his knowledge. The same interest Yaichi takes in Masa I found myself taking in House of Five Leaves. It’s not a violent book even with kidnapping and it’s not action packed, even though Masa shows off mad skills at one point, but it’s a book about relationships, about a man who is more than he seems and a group that’s engaging and fun to follow.

House of Five Leaves won’t blow readers away with its art but its style serves to guide an excellent and engaging story that manga fans should most definite take a look at. The older manga audience that is, not really a book the younger kids will dig.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I-play's Pigeon Squadron Impression

Dropping these bombs is tons of fun on iPhone

Easy to learn, addictive and fun. The secret formula to popular and profit driving games on iPhone. With a very large library of titles to choose from, iPhone owners may need a little guidance on games worth the duckets. I-play’s Pigeon Squadron is safely in this group of games worth said duckets but why? What makes this bird bomb dropping romp worth iPhone owner’s hard earned case? Let’s take a look.

Gameplay – Assume the role of an elite member of the paramilitary pilot pigeon squadron and take flight as its bombs away on people, cars, pets and more. A variety of missions and pigeon types vary gameplay but the core mechanic is dropping pigeon bombs on targets while turning and tiling the iPhone to turn, speed up and slow down. Great use of the motion in iPhone mixes with addictive gameplay that nails the simple and addictive angle of a good game on the go.

Graphics – Bright and vivid in its colors with a fairly flat top down view. The targets vary as do the environments and the cartoony look never gets old through 40+ missions. The visuals match the funny and addictive gameplay.

Miscellaneous – The fact the iPhone is an iPod seems to go over many developers’ heads so the simple ability to use ones music library in-game makes the gameplay move at an even faster pace.

Overall Pigeon Squadron is how a game should be made for iPhone. It’s pleasing to look at with straightforward and well developed controls and the concept is funny and addictive. Plenty of missions and pigeon types keep the game from becoming stale and for the price it’s a great purchase. Highly recommended for iPhone users looking for a fun gaming experience.