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Dragon's Crown - PlayStation Vita
Dragon's Crown - PlayStation Vita
Offered by drum_video_games
Price: $33.99
64 used & new from $24.66

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High fantasy beat-em-up heaven on the go, April 16, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Before I ever even ripped the cellophane wrap off of the package, I knew I was going to love Dragon's Crown. After all, it was made by one of my favorite game developers, the illustrious Vanillaware. It's evidently set in the same universe as Odin Sphere, one of my all-time favorite video games (and Vanillaware's magnum opus, if you ask me), albeit much, much later in its chronology. It's a beat-em-up with RPG ambitions. It's all guaranteed to be good right? I thought Dragon's Crown was going to be a fun, guilty pleasure diversion between more grand gaming undertakings. Well, I was wrong. Dragon's Crown isn't just "good," it's great, stupendous, marvelous, incredible, damn near PERFECT for its genre. I thought I'd really like DC, but I have been genuinely surprised at how much I love the game. Once again, VW has exceeded my expectations and given me a game I'll cherish for years to come.

* Note: I originally bought this game for the PS3 and loved it so much that I ended up buying the PS Vita version as well so I could play it on the go. I have no regrets.

Dragon's Crown's tale is a fairly big deviation from the deep, largely character driven tales of VW's past games. Set in the magical kingdom of Hydeland, the story revolves around you, the player, as one of six preset class archetypes, and your adventures as you fight for the kingdom of Hydeland and quest for the mystical Dragon's Crown, an artifact said to hold the power to control dragons. Coming from the more nuanced, character focused narratives of, say, Odin Sphere or Muramasa, DC's story may seem to be disappointingly simplistic and straightforward at first. However, it really does grow on you over time. There are plenty of likable characters that you'll encounter several times, and the story's events have a genuine feeling of impact and importance to them.

The whole tale is told via one central character you'll never ever see, a narrator. What a brilliant choice it was to have him! It's no stretch to say he elevates the story from decent to great, at least for me anyway. The way he delivers the lines, as well as the style in which he phrases the story's events definitely lends a MAJOR table top RPG vibe to the game, as if he's the DM and you're playing a game of D&D or GURPS with your friends. Being reminded of my table top RPG days was powerfully nostalgic for me, and it really made me love the story in this game. When I was young, I used to play beat-em-ups like Golden Axe, Knights of the Round/King of Dragons, and the Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara games. Even though those classics didn't have particularly deep stories, they did to me as they inspired my imagination to come up with back-stories, personalities for the characters, possible banter, etc. Those classics also made me feel empowered, as if my character really was a legendary hero in their universe. I haven't felt that from a game in years. I feel it from Dragon's Crown. Bravo to Vanillaware for that! I also have to give credit to them for creating a fascinating universe to play through. Even if the main tale isn't particularly ground-breaking, the world of DC is incredibly well realized from a story perspective. There are roughly 50 side-quests to undertake in the game, and doing so unlocks a new, gorgeous piece of art, as well as an awesome page's worth of lore to read connected with the art. These pieces of art and lore are incredibly engaging. I found myself completing all side quests just to read new info on the fascinating universe of DC.

Of course, I wouldn't be so caught up in the story of DC if the universe of the game wasn't so magical in its presentation, and it definitely is here. This game is so beautiful! Of course, this shouldn't come as any surprise to anyone familiar with VW. George Kamitani and the rest of VW's past works are filled to the brim with the kind of brilliant art design and execution that leaves your imagination afire and your heart captivated. Whereas Odin Sphere had a whimsical fairy tale look, and Muramasa opted for a mythological Japanese focus, Dragon's Crown is all about high fantasy. There's a sense of whimsy to it, but there are much more down-n-dirty and epic aspects overall. There's a huge variety to the locales you visit too. From traditionally Tolkien-esque fantasy towns, castles, forests, etc. to locales that feel more at home in ancient Greek and Roman mythological and historical settings, and even some inspired by Scriptures. Every place you visit just sucks you into the world of DC, making it breathe with life and magic. The characters are equally superb visually, both in design and animation quality. There's tons of variety as well, from the positively godlike physique of the dwarf, to the swift, slender build of the elf, all playable characters have a very distinct style and design (to the ire of some overly sensitive circles). Same goes for the enemy and boss designs which are, according to VW tradition, absolutely breathtaking. Same goes for the food dishes in the game that appear during campfire cooking segments. There are few developers who understand focus on art design does much more for a game visually and is far more timeless than trying to push the boundaries of ever-aging tech like VW does. They deserve applause for that.

Sound design is also quite fantastic. Just as with the visuals, everything is saturated with a fantastic fantasy motif. As I said earlier, the narrator does the majority of speaking in the game, and the actor who plays him did a fantastic job breathing life into the game's story. For $2 you can also purchase DLC that allows each main playable character to act as narrator, which is awesome. All of them do a great job as well. The real highlight with the sound, however, is the music. Hitoshi Sakimoto hit it out of the park. From the quieter moments, such as sitting at the tavern to level up and navigating the beautiful home town at Hydeland, to the intense events, such as fighting a massive red dragon across the halls of a long-abandoned capital city built into a mountainside, this game's soundtrack is simply wonderful. Overall, the sound design is superb.

The real meat-n-potatoes of the game, and the obvious focus during development, is the gameplay. George Kamitani stated prior to release that he wanted to take the classic beat-em-up genre to new heights, and I'd say he definitely succeeded here. There are six playable archetypes you can choose from. There's the Amazon, the Fighter, the Elf, the Wizard, the Sorceress, and my personal favorite, the Dwarf. All have immensely different play styles that make each one a very unique experience. The Dwarf is an incredibly strong brawler who has the unique ability to pick up and throw enemies to devastating effect, the Fighter is as straightforward as his name implies, and the Amazon favors tricky parries and a beserker style that rewards risk taking. On the other hand, the Elf is a much more strategic type class, with a strike and evade style that is deadly, and the Wizard and Sorceress classes are both magic users, with the former being more offensively capable and the latter being more of a supportive class. Each character offers a vastly different experience as you play. Not only are their move sets totally different, but each comes with a de facto difficulty setting, as some are more challenging to master than others. All are incredibly fun, especially when you can play with others in multiplayer. Fighting hoards of enemies, discovering secrets in the levels, as well as engaging awesome bosses, has never been more fun. It only gets better in multiplayer, both online and off.

There are also RPG elements that are brilliantly implemented. There's a skill point system tied to RPG elements and undertaking side quests that really engages you with the development of your character. New skills/abilities/passive traits open up at an excellent pace as you level up, so you always feel like your character is getting new, fresh moves to play with. Sometimes, leveling up skills does much more than just increase their damage, adding new excitement to seeing what will happen with skills you already liked. Of course, as is the main draw of most RPG-hybrid games like this, acquiring new and better loot is an addicting highlight. Add in other strategic elements such as item degradation, item management, an appraisal system for all loot, being able to find bones to resurrect into allies you can recruit, etc., and the result is a game that is as mentally engaging as it is viscerally satisfying. As always, VW's attempt to build onto an established action genre with new and exciting RPG elements is a smashing success.

There are some miscellaneous aspects of the game I have to praise VW for. First off, the online multiplayer in this game is, for the most part, superb. As I mentioned previously, you can find the bones of other "heroes" throughout the levels and, for a small fee, you can resurrect and recruit them to come along with you on your journeys if you select them to. These AI controlled characters are perfectly adequate, but if you have it connected to the net, other players will seamlessly jump in and replace NPC players. Some levels branch off to different paths with different bosses. Rather than a democratic system, you can pick whichever path you want and all the players that opted for the other path will still have their characters join you, only this time as NPCs. There are so many thoughtful design choices that went into the online multiplayer in this game, and it works very smoothly, for the most part. I also have to praise VW for the fact that they have continued to support this game immensely after launch. They have used patches to not only fix bugs and issues, but also to add, FOR FREE, the kind of substantial content most other companies would charge you money for as DLC. That. Is. Awesome. After a patch, DC has cross-play functionality, so if your friend only owns the Vita version and you only have PS3, you can still play together. The game allows you to upload your save file to a server so that you can continue your adventures on the go with the the PS Vita version, if you have it (I do, and this feature is great!).

Speaking of which, you may wonder which version of DC is the one to get, and that's a valid question. As it turns out, there is no clear winner. The game is equally great on either system, with each version having their own strengths. The PS3 version is best if you want to be able to enjoy the art design to its fullest detail, and it's better for multiplayer to have a bigger screen. On the other hand, the Vita version features excellent touch controls that easily outclass the PS3 version, which utilizes a very clunky, uncomfortable, pain in the @$$ cursor with the right analog stick. Being able to play a game like this on the go is also a major plus in the Vita version's favor. However, the smaller Vita screen does make it easy to lose track of what's happening and where your character is among all the mayhem. Like I said, I own both versions and I love them both equally for different reasons. Really, the only complaint I can think of for the game is that it's not cross-buy. If you want both versions, you've got to plunk down the cash for both, which can be seen as a negative. Personally, it doesn't bother me too much. At the end of the day, it's still a great game no matter which version you go with.

I knew I was going to enjoy Dragon's Crown, but I've been genuinely surprised at just how much I LOVE this game. I've played it for well over 50 hours. I have leveled my Dwarf beyond the old 99 limit and beating the three difficulties (the final patch increased the level cap to 255 as well as added a fourth difficulty), finished every story event and side-quest, unlocked every piece of art, and I have no intentions of stopping there. I fully intend on beating the game on at least normal difficulty with each character class. This may be the very first game I platinum. It is just so special. VW has truly blown my expectations out of the water and delivered much more than just a pretty beat-em-up diversion. They have delivered an entry that has revitalized a classic genre (one that had been growing stale and tired until now) and elevated it to new heights. They also happened to release one of the most beautiful games of its generation, with a thrilling new universe that delivers nostalgia and fresh excitement in equal measure. I really cannot praise this game enough. If you're a fan of classical, epic high fantasy, artistic games that leave you stunned by their design, action games that have intelligent RPG designs, or just addictive beat-em-ups to play alone or with friends, then Dragon's Crown is the game for you. Buy it, prepare yourself for a rousing adventure, and enjoy reveling in what it feels like to be a hero of legend.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 18, 2014 1:27 AM PDT


Dragon's Crown - Playstation 3
Dragon's Crown - Playstation 3
Offered by MOST WANTED
Price: $32.20
54 used & new from $24.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High fantasy beat-em-up heaven, April 15, 2014
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Before I ever even ripped the cellophane wrap off of the package, I knew I was going to love Dragon's Crown. After all, it was made by one of my favorite game developers, the illustrious Vanillaware. It's evidently set in the same universe as Odin Sphere, one of my all-time favorite video games (and Vanillaware's magnum opus, if you ask me), albeit much, much later in its chronology. It's a beat-em-up with RPG ambitions. It's all guaranteed to be good right? I thought Dragon's Crown was going to be a fun, guilty pleasure diversion between more grand gaming undertakings. Well, I was wrong. Dragon's Crown isn't just "good," it's great, stupendous, marvelous, incredible, damn near PERFECT for its genre. I thought I'd really like DC, but I have been genuinely surprised at how much I love the game. Once again, VW has exceeded my expectations and given me a game I'll cherish for years to come.

Dragon's Crown's tale is a fairly big deviation from the deep, largely character driven tales of VW's past games. Set in the magical kingdom of Hydeland, the story revolves around you, the player, as one of six preset class archetypes, and your adventures as you fight for the kingdom of Hydeland and quest for the mystical Dragon's Crown, an artifact said to hold the power to control dragons. Coming from the more nuanced, character focused narratives of, say, Odin Sphere or Muramasa, DC's story may seem to be disappointingly simplistic and straightforward at first. However, it really does grow on you over time. There are plenty of likable characters that you'll encounter several times, and the story's events have a genuine feeling of impact and importance to them.

The whole tale is told via one central character you'll never ever see, a narrator. What a brilliant choice it was to have him! It's no stretch to say he elevates the story from decent to great, at least for me anyway. The way he delivers the lines, as well as the style in which he phrases the story's events definitely lends a MAJOR table top RPG vibe to the game, as if he's the DM and you're playing a game of D&D or GURPS with your friends. Being reminded of my table top RPG days was powerfully nostalgic for me, and it really made me love the story in this game. When I was young, I used to play beat-em-ups like Golden Axe, Knights of the Round/King of Dragons, and the Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara games. Even though those classics didn't have particularly deep stories, they did to me as they inspired my imagination to come up with back-stories, personalities for the characters, possible banter, etc. Those classics also made me feel empowered, as if my character really was a legendary hero in their universe. I haven't felt that from a game in years. I feel it from Dragon's Crown. Bravo to Vanillaware for that! I also have to give credit to them for creating a fascinating universe to play through. Even if the main tale isn't particularly ground-breaking, the world of DC is incredibly well realized from a story perspective. There are roughly 50 side-quests to undertake in the game, and doing so unlocks a new, gorgeous piece of art, as well as an awesome page's worth of lore to read connected with the art. These pieces of art and lore are incredibly engaging. I found myself completing all side quests just to read new info on the fascinating universe of DC.

Of course, I wouldn't be so caught up in the story of DC if the universe of the game wasn't so magical in its presentation, and it definitely is here. This game is so beautiful! Of course, this shouldn't come as any surprise to anyone familiar with VW. George Kamitani and the rest of VW's past works are filled to the brim with the kind of brilliant art design and execution that leaves your imagination afire and your heart captivated. Whereas Odin Sphere had a whimsical fairy tale look, and Muramasa opted for a mythological Japanese focus, Dragon's Crown is all about high fantasy. There's a sense of whimsy to it, but there are much more down-n-dirty and epic aspects overall. There's a huge variety to the locales you visit too. From traditionally Tolkien-esque fantasy towns, castles, forests, etc. to locales that feel more at home in ancient Greek and Roman mythological and historical settings, and even some inspired by Scriptures. Every place you visit just sucks you into the world of DC, making it breathe with life and magic. The characters are equally superb visually, both in design and animation quality. There's tons of variety as well, from the positively godlike physique of the dwarf, to the swift, slender build of the elf, all playable characters have a very distinct style and design (to the ire of some overly sensitive circles). Same goes for the enemy and boss designs which are, according to VW tradition, absolutely breathtaking. Same goes for the food dishes in the game that appear during campfire cooking segments. There are few developers who understand focus on art design does much more for a game visually and is far more timeless than trying to push the boundaries of ever-aging tech like VW does. They deserve applause for that.

Sound design is also quite fantastic. Just as with the visuals, everything is saturated with a fantastic fantasy motif. As I said earlier, the narrator does the majority of speaking in the game, and the actor who plays him did a fantastic job breathing life into the game's story. For $2 you can also purchase DLC that allows each main playable character to act as narrator, which is awesome. All of them do a great job as well. The real highlight with the sound, however, is the music. Hitoshi Sakimoto hit it out of the park. From the quieter moments, such as sitting at the tavern to level up and navigating the beautiful home town at Hydeland, to the intense events, such as fighting a massive red dragon across the halls of a long-abandoned capital city built into a mountainside, this game's soundtrack is simply wonderful. Overall, the sound design is superb.

The real meat-n-potatoes of the game, and the obvious focus during development, is the gameplay. George Kamitani stated prior to release that he wanted to take the classic beat-em-up genre to new heights, and I'd say he definitely succeeded here. There are six playable archetypes you can choose from. There's the Amazon, the Fighter, the Elf, the Wizard, the Sorceress, and my personal favorite, the Dwarf. All have immensely different play styles that make each one a very unique experience. The Dwarf is an incredibly strong brawler who has the unique ability to pick up and throw enemies to devastating effect, the Fighter is as straightforward as his name implies, and the Amazon favors tricky parries and a beserker style that rewards risk taking. On the other hand, the Elf is a much more strategic type class, with a strike and evade style that is deadly, and the Wizard and Sorceress classes are both magic users, with the former being more offensively capable and the latter being more of a supportive class. Each character offers a vastly different experience as you play. Not only are their move sets totally different, but each comes with a de facto difficulty setting, as some are more challenging to master than others. All are incredibly fun, especially when you can play with others in multiplayer. Fighting hoards of enemies, discovering secrets in the levels, as well as engaging awesome bosses, has never been more fun. It only gets better in multiplayer, both online and off.

There are also RPG elements that are brilliantly implemented. There's a skill point system tied to RPG elements and undertaking side quests that really engages you with the development of your character. New skills/abilities/passive traits open up at an excellent pace as you level up, so you always feel like your character is getting new, fresh moves to play with. Sometimes, leveling up skills does much more than just increase their damage, adding new excitement to seeing what will happen with skills you already liked. Of course, as is the main draw of most RPG-hybrid games like this, acquiring new and better loot is an addicting highlight. Add in other strategic elements such as item degradation, item management, an appraisal system for all loot, being able to find bones to resurrect into allies you can recruit, etc., and the result is a game that is as mentally engaging as it is viscerally satisfying. As always, VW's attempt to build onto an established action genre with new and exciting RPG elements is a smashing success.

There are some miscellaneous aspects of the game I have to praise VW for. First off, the online multiplayer in this game is, for the most part, superb. As I mentioned previously, you can find the bones of other "heroes" throughout the levels and, for a small fee, you can resurrect and recruit them to come along with you on your journeys if you select them to. These AI controlled characters are perfectly adequate, but if you have it connected to the net, other players will seamlessly jump in and replace NPC players. Some levels branch off to different paths with different bosses. Rather than a democratic system, you can pick whichever path you want and all the players that opted for the other path will still have their characters join you, only this time as NPCs. There are so many thoughtful design choices that went into the online multiplayer in this game, and it works very smoothly, for the most part. I also have to praise VW for the fact that they have continued to support this game immensely after launch. They have used patches to not only fix bugs and issues, but also to add, FOR FREE, the kind of substantial content most other companies would charge you money for as DLC. That. Is. Awesome. After a patch, DC has cross-play functionality, so if your friend only owns the Vita version and you only have PS3, you can still play together. The game allows you to upload your save file to a server so that you can continue your adventures on the go with the the PS Vita version, if you have it (I do, and this feature is great!).

Speaking of which, you may wonder which version of DC is the one to get, and that's a valid question. As it turns out, there is no clear winner. The game is equally great on either system, with each version having their own strengths. The PS3 version is best if you want to be able to enjoy the art design to its fullest detail, and it's better for multiplayer to have a bigger screen. On the other hand, the Vita version features excellent touch controls that easily outclass the PS3 version, which utilizes a very clunky, uncomfortable, pain in the @$$ cursor with the right analog stick. Being able to play a game like this on the go is also a major plus in the Vita version's favor. However, the smaller Vita screen does make it easy to lose track of what's happening and where your character is among all the mayhem. Like I said, I own both versions and I love them both equally for different reasons. Really, the only complaint I can think of for the game is that it's not cross-buy. If you want both versions, you've got to plunk down the cash for both, which can be seen as a negative. Personally, it doesn't bother me too much. At the end of the day, it's still a great game no matter which version you go with.

I knew I was going to enjoy Dragon's Crown, but I've been genuinely surprised at just how much I LOVE this game. I've played it for well over 50 hours. I have leveled my Dwarf beyond the old 99 limit and beating the three difficulties (the final patch increased the level cap to 255 as well as added a fourth difficulty), finished every story event and side-quest, unlocked every piece of art, and I have no intentions of stopping there. I fully intend on beating the game on at least normal difficulty with each character class. This may be the very first game I platinum. It is just so special. VW has truly blown my expectations out of the water and delivered much more than just a pretty beat-em-up diversion. They have delivered an entry that has revitalized a classic genre (one that had been growing stale and tired until now) and elevated it to new heights. They also happened to release one of the most beautiful games of its generation, with a thrilling new universe that delivers nostalgia and fresh excitement in equal measure. I really cannot praise this game enough. If you're a fan of classical, epic high fantasy, artistic games that leave you stunned by their design, action games that have intelligent RPG designs, or just addictive beat-em-ups to play alone or with friends, then Dragon's Crown is the game for you. Buy it, prepare yourself for a rousing adventure, and enjoy reveling in what it feels like to be a hero of legend.


Thor: God of Thunder Volume 3: The Accursed (Marvel Now)
Thor: God of Thunder Volume 3: The Accursed (Marvel Now)
by Jason Aaron
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.80
58 used & new from $12.08

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jason Aaron is the best Thor writer since Walt Simonson!, April 2, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Yes, I said it, and no, it is not hyperbole folks. Thor has always been my favorite comic book character. Thematically, the Thor mythos is a perfect blend of norse mythology, epic fantasy, and superhero tale that seems almost catered to my tastes. That been said, I'm very well acquainted with the best writers in the history of the character. Lee, Straczynski, Langridge, and most importantly, Simonson. For the past year or so, I've now added a new name to the very top of the list right alongside good ol' Walt, and that name is Jason Aaron. After his incredibly awesome debut run featuring a spine-chilling and fantastic new villain, Gorr the God Butcher, he has returned to tackle a classic villain, and I was a little nervous. With his own original creations, sure, Aaron was great, but could he handle the classic Thor mythos with the same skill and impact? Oh yeah, you better believe he can. This volume has cemented my admiration and respect for Aaron.

This is the third volume of the "Thor: God of Thunder" series, under the Marvel NOW! initiative. It does feel less beefy than Aaron's first Thor volumes, The God Butcher and Godbomb, as it features two one-off issues to bridge the gaps between the preceding Gorr story and the Roxxon story that is currently on the stands. This in no way diminishes the quality of the volume, however, as every issue, whether part of a multiple-issues story, or just a one off side-story, are all fantastic.

The first issue, #12, features Thor returning to Earth and spending time there, interacting with the various human friends he has made over the years and performing the sorts of acts you'd expect a noble, honorable god like Thor would perform. It's not an action-packed issue, at all. It is a character study of a god, and it's a great change of pace. It's hard to explain, but this issue really humanizes Thor in a way only the very best stories can. It actually reminds me a lot of Superman for All Seasons, and I mean that in the best way. This sort of issue could easily become preachy and/or cheesy to the point of being unbearable, and it definitely strides that line very closely at times, but the fact that it is, for the most part, so poignant and affecting is a testament to Aaron's fantastic writing.

Issues # 13-17 features the return of Malekith the Accursed. This is the meat n' potatoes of the volume and once again, Aaron hit it out of the park. I don't want to spoil too much of the plot, but needless to say, this is a great adventure story. It is filled with very compelling characters, as Thor is joined in his quest this time in the form of the "League of Realms". This group, appointed by the "Congress of Worlds," is comprised of appointed warriors to represent each main race in the nine realms. It's an odd set-up, and could come across as a cheesy Thor-centric Avengers rip-off, but it really is an interesting idea. The amount of humor and intensity pulled out of such a motley crew working together to tackle a truly terrorizing villain is superb. Each character, whether it's the fancy dual-pitol wielding light elf Ivory Honeyshort, or the more taciturn dwarf Screwbeard, son of No-ears, son of Headwound (he likes to make things "go 'splode" lol), all have great, unique personalities that bounce off each other and Thor quite nicely. Lots of belly-laugh inducing humor in this one, as well as great tension. Aaron's characterization of Malekith is easily as fantastic a villain as Gorr was, but very distinctly unique. Malekith's psychotic sadism and sociopathic, seemingly-senseless plans are made even more unnerving by his lighthearted and eloquently refined manner. Of course, his handling of Thor is stupendous, second to none in my humble opinion. Again, I can't say it enough, Aaron did an amazing job. The story here is tense, full of gravitas as well as a more down-to-earth grittiness than his past work. Bravo!

Issue #18 ends the volume with a fantastic one-off story revolving around young viking Thor, back in the past and partying with a drunken dragon, and then kicking its ass. It doesn't get much better than that, does it? I'm partially kidding. It's a great, fun romp, but it's also pretty moving as well, heartbreaking even. I'll just leave it at that. I find the idea of young Thor to be brilliant, as he is a way to show major character development without erasing decades of comic history. I love that.

The art in this volume is definitely the aspect with the least amount of coherency. This volume features three different artists working the pen. Issue #12 is done by Nic Klein, and it's definitely the weakest of the bunch. That isn't to say Klein is BAD per se, but it is definitely shaky in parts. Some places, where Thor seems to have a deformed baby face with a five o'clock shadow, distract from the otherwise stupendous story-telling.

The art in issues #13-17 is done by Ron Garney. For the most part, he did a fantastic job. Upon opening the book, I was really sad to see Esad Ribic's gorgeous painterly art style from the previous Thor volumes was missing, especially when I saw his gorgeous covers in this collection. However, Garney actually comes fairly close to capturing Ribic's fantasy style and quality, at least relatively speaking. The art in these issues has a fairy-tale like beauty combined with a detailed and powerful sense of fantasy, with some nice comic book superhero boldness from time to time. It's vibrantly colorful too, which can be a strange contrast to the darkness of the story, but I like it. While it's not all perfect (the last half of issue 17 in particular is incredibly sloppy to the point of looking unfinished compared to the rest) but overall, Garney did great with the art in this book. I am impressed.

Issue #18's art was done by Das Pastoras. I was a bit worried about his inclusion in this book, as I always found his past work to be incredibly off-putting. Here though, he did a great job. The best way I can describe it is to have you imagine Maurice Sendak's art style with a graphic novel detail, and then ratchet the intensity to a level befitting a story where viking Thor fights a freaking DRAGON. Awesome.

I also appreciate the decreased pricing for this volume. While the five issue Malekith story is definitely less substantial than the eleven issues that Gorr received, this volume actually contains more issues than either of those volumes did. Volume 1 had five issues, Volume 2 had six, and this collection has seven issues in total. It's nice to see us fans getting more content for our money. Hopefully Volume 4 will have eight issues.

All-in-all, this is another homerun from Jason Aaron. The various artists that joined him on this run - Klein, Pastoras, and most especially Garney- all did a great job rising to the task of proving art for Aaron's brillaint writing. I'm just so floored by the aptitude of the writing here. The story moves along at an excellent pace, is brimming with a brilliant sense of cinematography, and is full of compelling, well-developed characters. Perhaps the most exciting thing to me about this collection of issues is that Aaron plugged in some truly Simonson-level foreshadowing that indicates that his vision for Thor's future will only get more epic and grand in scale from here on out. I can't wait! Esad Ribic has also returned to the series as full-time artist, so the future of Thor is looking brighter than ever. If you ever read this Jason, know that I truly feel your name deserves songs to be sung in its honor in Valhalla. So whether you're a major Thor fan, a big comic book fan in general, or even a newcomer to the character and want a good jumping off point, this (as well as God Butcher and Godbomb) is as good as any volume you'll find written in the last several decades. As a massive fan of the Thor character, this gets my highest recommendation. Thanks for reading my review. Hope you found it helpful. Toodles.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 15, 2014 5:52 PM PDT


30 Day Essentials for Marriage
30 Day Essentials for Marriage
by John Novak
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $10.76
61 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book that will enrich any marriage. "Essentials" indeed., March 26, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Four and a half years. Gosh, has it been that long since I married my beloved on that fateful day in September? It seems like only a week ago, and yet a lifetime at the same time. I love my wife. She's the reason I get out of bed in the morning. One of the first things we bought as a couple on our honeymoon was this book. I'll never forget running across this at a lovely little lodge store and buying it on the spot. It was a good choice.

It's a simple little tome. It opens with a forward by the author describing the purpose of the book. As it says, this book is written for every kind of couple, whether it's newlyweds trying to build a foundation, or long-established couples trying to keep their marriage from growing stale and routine. The advice is timeless, bonding, and pure. It's great.

As the cover states, there are 30 "days" or lessons, each taking up two pages. On one page you have the day, the lesson title, and the lesson itself. The other page has a beautiful picture as well as a suggested "action" to coincide with that day's theme. Reading the lessons out loud and then considering the "try this" tip together has made for some excellent jumping off points for fulfilling and meaningful discussions between my wife and I. We have had so many great dates thanks to this book. The book is small enough you can take it along with you and read it anywhere, whether at a restaurant, going for a walk, on a drive, at home with no distractions, it's great.

There is a huge range of subjects in this little volume. One thing I appreciate about the book is that it progressively tackles deeper subjects as the 30 days goes on. The early lessons are simple, tackling simple-but-essential subjects like having fun together, being close friends, developing communication, expressing appreciation, etc. The later days, however, have deeper, resonating (almost spiritual) themes like developing positive magnetism, subtle forms of communication, living in true harmony with each other, and expansive consciousness (i.e. altruistic thinking, and not just limited within your marriage). There are so many nice subjects in this book, and all are written with an easy-to-understand manner that is both approachable and thought-provoking. Jyotish Novak did a great job with this book.

I realize my marriage is quite young compared to those who have been together for decades, but I reckon pretty much any and every marriage would only reap benefits from the lessons in this book. Like I said earlier, I've been married for several years, and my wife and I always make sure to go through this book together at least once every year. It really has been excellent for helping us look back at our history together, check where we're both at in our present thinking/feelings/goals/values/etc, and readjust if necessary, making sure we strengthen our bond for the future. I cannot recommend this book enough. It'd be a perfect gift for any couple, whether they're engaged lovebirds soon to be wed (some friends getting married this weekend will be getting a copy from us for their wedding present), or a couple that's been together for a lifetime. This book is fantastic.

Thanks for reading this review. Hope you found it helpful. Toodles.


Nintendo 2DS Crimson Red With Pre-installed Pokémon X Game
Nintendo 2DS Crimson Red With Pre-installed Pokémon X Game
Offered by KimLyTech
Price: $139.99
46 used & new from $129.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great 3DS option for parents with small kids or gamers strapped for cash (Now with Pokemon!), March 26, 2014
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Nintendo's 3DS handheld has quickly become one of my all-time favorite gaming devices. We're only two and a half years into the console's lifespan, and we've already been treated to several masterpieces so good, they can easily compete with and defeat many home console releases in terms of quality and overall excellence. It has also been a hugely successful venture for Nintendo, but some people have still held off from buying one. Why? Maybe it's the price that has kept people away. Perhaps parents are afraid their children will break the hinges of the 3DS. Admittedly, one of the coolest features of the system, the 3-D effect, isn't for everyone, either due to preference or age. Well, whatever the case, Nintendo has come out with the 2DS to try and appeal to those people. Let's get one thing straight right off the bat: everything about the 2DS has the same high-quality and attention to detail that is to be expected of Nintendo products, but in my opinion, the 2DS pales in comparison to the 3DS XL in almost every way. You should only consider getting a 2DS in specific circumstances. I'll warn you right now, in order to be as informative as reasonably possible, this may be a long review. If you don't like long, detailed reviews, give this one a pass. You've been given fair warning.

Build Quality and Design: The 2DS' design is quite bold, to say the least. Abandoning the classical clamshell design that has been around for nearly a decade since the original DS (or even the Game Boy Advance SP, if you want to go way back, :P) was introduced is pretty gutsy. Here, we get more of a solid slate chuck design. It's a little shorter than the original 3DS folded out, and actually weighs a little less than the 3DS. On the one hand, his design makes the handheld really tough and a lot harder to break, which is great for kids. On the other hand, this design makes the system a lot clunkier to carry around, and really lessens its portability. Not being able to fold the system makes it much more of a dust magnet, and little incidental scratches on the screen over time are more of a likelihood. All that means is you have to be a bit more careful with where you store it and how you handle it. You can also buy really high-quality screen covers for dirt cheap that will protect the screens, so that isn't much of a problem. Instead of folding the system, there's a slider button on the bottom of the system to engage sleep mode. All buttons have a nice click to them, but are lacking any colorized highlights to label the buttons. Instead, it's just indentations showing which button is which, which gives the system a much cheaper feeling than the other 3DS models. The d-pad itself has a shape similar to the 3DS XL's, but is much, much spongier and the clicky nature has been lessened in comparison to the other 3DS model d-pads. Personally, I actually like it more, but whether others will find it to be a negative or positive change is really up to personal preference. Button placement is different as well. Instead of the buttons, d-pad, or circle pad being to the sides of the lower screen, they're much more central and playing the system feels like holding the Wii U's gamepad, which is surprisingly comfortable. The shoulder buttons also help with comfort as they are much bigger than the other 3DS models and wrap very nicely around the top rounded corners of the 2DS. They also have a nice concave groove to them, making holding the system superbly comfortable. My hands used to cramp up a lot with both the 3DS and the 3DSXL and I was forced to buy grips for both systems to be able to play for extended periods or else suffer from crippling pain in my hands, but not so with the 2DS. This is an incredibly comfortable system to hold, regardless of hand size, right out of the box. Overall, the build quality of the 2DS is excellent, despite the jarring nature of its design.

Sound: Unfortunately, one of the worst aspects of the hardware is the sound design. There's only one mono speaker on the left of the system and while the sound from it is just as loud as the other models, it's simply not detailed or distinct enough to match the other 3DS models (and their speakers aren't that amazing by themselves either, but their stereo set-up is much better than the 2DS single speaker by comparison). Trust me, you'll want to get a pair of stereo headphones to use with the system. Personally, most of the time I don't even play my 3DSXL without plugging in a nice headset or a decent set of speakers, so this isn't that big of deal to me. 3DS games are just much more enjoyable with headphones/earphones/earbuds/whatever regardless of which 3DS system you have, at least in my opinion. Still, some will probably be bothered by the mono speaker in the 2DS, so I must mention it. It sounds great with headphones though!

Screens: The screens on the 2DS are the same size as the original 3DS. Despite what I said a little earlier about the screens always being exposed being a small cause for concern, the 2DS' screens seem to be made of a tougher material than the original 3DS screens, which makes them more resistant to scratches by nature. They're also set into the system deeper, making it harder to brush the surface accidentally. The actual quality of the screens are very nice. Colors are vibrant and bright. The sharpness is very crisp and detailed. One of my biggest complaints about the 3DS is that when the 3D is all the way up, there can be really annoying "ghosting" of images in areas where brightness contrast is high. You don't have to worry about that at all on the 2DS, and that is a big positive in its favor. Overall, fantastic screen quality.

Battery Life: The 3D effect can be a major drain on the batteries of the 3DS(XL). Since it's gone here, battery life has been dramatically improved by default. This is a big boon in the 2DS' favor. Now, batteries last at least 7-9 hours per charge, as opposed to the 3DS' 3-5 or the 3DSXL's 4-6 (keep in mind, that's with the 3D all the way up). That's really nice and makes the system less of a hassle on trips. Granted, without 3-D on, the 3DS and XL do last longer, and all 3DS/2DS models last longer when you turn off power draining features like wifi or lower the brightness setting. That been said, I stand by my statement that the 2DS has great battery life by default, about as good as the 3DSXL with its 3-D turned off.

Backwards Compatibility: This is a bit of a mixed bag. While the colors and vibrancy are very nice, the screen size and pixel resolution leave a little bit to be desired. Playing in native resolution makes the screens so small you can't see very much and the bottom screen becomes super cramped. If you don't opt to use the native DS resolution, then you have to deal with the games taking up the whole screen as normal, but with a little bit of blurriness. Is it that big of a problem? Not really, no. Only the biggest sticklers will even notice any blur, let alone be bothered by it, and most will easily be able to enjoy any DS game on their 2DS.

Lack of 3-D, price, and included Pokemon X: What is the 3DS without its most distinguishing third-dimensional feature? The 2DS. Is that a problem? For me, it would be because I love the 3-D effect personally. For those who don't like the 3-D, or for the kiddies, it's perfect. The 3DS' stereoscopic effect is not supposed to be used by kids younger than seven or eight. Until now, those young'uns could only play their games with the 3D slider off, and parents had to pay full-price for a system which would have one of its most prominent features unused. What a waste. Now you can spend much less and get pretty much every other good aspect of the 3DS system, including its most important feature: an excellent library of games. This is an idea I can get behind. Aside from the 3-D effect, the 2DS has virtually every other feature the 3DS has. All software aspects, such as wifi connectivity, access to the eshop, and all on-system programs, are here. The 2DS also comes with a nice-sized SD card so you can download a good number of eshop games. This particular edition also comes with Pokémon X, arguably the most exciting and refreshing Pokemon game to be released in years, pre-installed into the system. It's a great game, to be sure.

HOWEVER, a note of caution is in order. The normal asking price for the 2DS by itself is $129.99, and a physical copy of Pokemon X is generally $40 as of this review. That been said, as long as this package is roughly $165.00 or less, then I'd say this is a pretty good deal. The big question is, should you get this package or just buy the normal 2DS and Pokemon X/Y separately? Since prices for these sorts of things fluctuate all the time, and especially so on Amazon, I'd say a little research will be in order to figure out which is the best value when you're shopping. While I always prefer physical games, I do have two major games (Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies which is a download only game, as well as A Link Between Worlds to be specific) installed digitally on my 3DSXL, and I'm surprised how nice it is to have them in that format. It's very convenient having a copy of a game that's always with you on the system, and it opens up the game slot for another game to take along with you. That's good for variety.

I have to admit, when I first glimpsed the announcement for the 2DS, I was incredulous. What was this clunky monstrosity before me? A 2DS?! Why remove the very thing that defines the 3DS? What's with that slate design? Has Nintendo lost their mind?! As time has gone by, however, I've warmed up to the idea, and got one (before this Pokemon X package was released) for certain occasions where I wouldn't be able to bring my 3DSXL. It has worked out well so far. Let me be clear, the 2DS is certainly not for everyone. If you have the funds, then I would invest it on the 3DSXL over the 2DS any day of the week. Ultimately, the 3DS XL is still the best version of Nintendo's current handheld brand. However, if you're the parent of a child who isn't old enough to use the 3DS' stereoscopic visual effect, a monetarily challenged gamer who wants to enjoy the incredible 3DS library, or someone who'd like a cheaper secondary 3DS-type system, then the 2DS is certainly a worthy investment. If you fall into anything resembling those categories, and you also have a love for the Pokemon series, then I heartily recommend this edition of the 2DS. I hope you found my review helpful. Thanks for reading. Toodles.


SterlingPro 8 Cup (1 liter, 34 oz) French Coffee Press-#1 With 2 BONUS Screen FREE(over $25 value)-Durable Coffee & Espresso Maker with Stainless Steel Plunger & Heat Resistant Glass--- Best shinning Chrome--Great Christmas & Birthday Gifts for Coffee Lover-Limited Quantity!!
SterlingPro 8 Cup (1 liter, 34 oz) French Coffee Press-#1 With 2 BONUS Screen FREE(over $25 value)-Durable Coffee & Espresso Maker with Stainless Steel Plunger & Heat Resistant Glass--- Best shinning Chrome--Great Christmas & Birthday Gifts for Coffee Lover-Limited Quantity!!
Offered by SterlingPro
Price: $65.00
2 used & new from $29.85

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A review from a tea drinker, March 25, 2014
I have two points I have to make for the sake of full disclosure before continuing with the review. First off, I received this French coffee press from SterlingPro in exchange for an honest review. Secondly, I don't particularly like coffee. I almost never drink coffee. I DO love drinking Tea. My wife and I both do. So when we received this coffee press, we were particularly excited to use it for brewing strong batches of tea.

We have used this press to make several batches of particularly strong and unique teas from Mountain Rose Herbs, our favorite company to buy tea mixes from. All of them were strong, fragrant, and perfectly filtered when made with this press. It's great. The dual filter system is super effective; there wasn't a single leftover leaf or piece of anything from the tea mix in any of the 20+ cups I have drunk from this press. It's great.

The press looks beautiful. The chrome frame and clean glass beaker looks real nice sitting on the counter-top alongside our other appliances. Clean-up is easy and simple. There's really no hassle at any stage of using this press. It's great.

Now, to be fair, I DID let some friends of mine who DO love coffee borrow the press and let me know how it works when brewing coffee so I could at least say one way or another in this review. They loved using the press and were seriously thinking about buying one for themselves. They said the brew was some of the best homemade coffee they'd had in a long time, describing it as smooth and rich. Like I said, I don't know a whole lot about coffee so I'm not entirely sure what those things mean, but I trust my friends when they said they loved the press.

So when you combine the experience my wife and I had brewing tea with this press and the experience my coffee drinking friends had brewing their drink of choice, I think it's safe to say this is a pretty great coffee press. It looks really nice, it's a great price contrasted with products with comparable build and quality, it is easy to clean, and most importantly, it makes a great brew of tea/coffee. I'd definitely be happy to spend the roughly thirty or so dollar asking price in the future should I ever need another, or as a gift. It gets an easy recommendation from me for sure. Hope you found this review helpful. Thanks for reading. Toodles.


Final Fantasy X|X-2 HD Remaster  Standard Edition - PlayStation 3
Final Fantasy X|X-2 HD Remaster Standard Edition - PlayStation 3
Price: $39.96
34 used & new from $38.50

78 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!" Now in glorious HD!, March 18, 2014
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
On the box, this collection is described as an "HD remaster." I cannot think of a better term for this package. This definitely had more work put into it than your run-of-the-mill PS3 HD port collection, and I don't just mean visually too. Overall, I'm pretty impressed by the amount of upgrades these games received. For those who are already familiar with the original Final Fantasy X and X-2 and want to hear about the enhancements/changes the games have in this package, skip the next two paragraphs. If you're new to the FFX/X-2 saga and want to know a little bit more about those games, then I'll try to sum them up in a concise manner.

*Quick reviews for Final Fantasy X and X-2*

Depending on who you ask, FFX is either the last great *traditional* single-player FF game, or the beginning of the end of the series. For my money, FFX is a classic. At the time of its release, the whole gaming community was caught up in its beautiful world and interesting characters. Thematically, FFX is a magical game, filled with beautiful locales and heaps of mystery. There's also a great deal of deep philosophical musings on all sorts of things ranging from religion to dreams to the very nature of existence. MOST of the characters are also likable. Auron is a real contender for coolest FF character ever. The visuals were seriously incredible back in the day, and its art design is still wonderful (this world really benefits from being in HD now), and the music is among Nobuo Uematsu's very best works, and that's saying A LOT. Mechanically, FFX was a pretty great JRPG. There were plenty of things to do, and almost all of them engaging. The battle system is incredibly deep, strategic, and rewarding to master. There's even an interesting, huge meta-game that incorporates the in-universe sport, Blitzball, with JRPG mechanics that are pretty interesting. Even though I don't think it matches up to its immediate predecessor, the virtually perfect Final Fantasy IX, FFX is still a fantastic classic very much worth playing.

FFX-2 is not quite so beloved as X, generally speaking. At the time of its release, the consensus among the FF community was a lot of confused and pissed off fans. It was the first sequel to any entry in the FF series, and it was such a dramatic departure in pretty much every way from FFX that nobody knew what to make of it. Gone was the sweeping orchestral music, replaced by lots of J-pop. Gone was the feeling of a FF adventure, replaced with an almost Charlie's Angels "BOW, PICHOW, KACHOW, let's strike a cheesy pose for no apparent reason" campy romp sort of way, starring Yuna, Rikku, and newcomer Paine (designed to be a female Squall) on their quest to find Tidus. It has been stated by the developers that it was made to appeal more to the large female demographic of X's fanbase, and I'm not sure if that succeeded. I have to admit, some of the game is so cheesy and embarrassing to be caught playing (The scene where Yuna gives another character a message complete with orgasmic sounds is borderline pornographic, and makes me cringe every time). X-2 IS a strange game, no doubt about it. What most haters of FFX-2 DON'T tell you is that, mechanically, X-2 is pretty awesome. The dressphere battle system is pretty great, utilizing a class-style focus in a very unique way. There's always something engaging to do in X-2, and getting to the mountain of side quests is easy and intuitive. The story also features some genuinely well-written parts as well, despite the overwhelming cheese majority. It's not as great as FFX is, but if you can get used to the strange thematic elements, then you may be surprised just how fun and engaging X-2 is as a JRPG.

*Review of this package as an HD remaster*

Obviously, the biggest change is in the title of the package: HD visuals. How does this collection do in that way? Surprisingly well. Despite the fact that the bones of the package here are from an early PS2 title, the visuals in these games look fantastic. Textures have been cleared up immensely, and the lighting and shadow effects have also received attention and look great. The game is in 16:9 widescreen and it all looks fantastic. Because of the transition to widescreen, the cutscenes and their assets have been remade completely and look gorgeous in HD (although you still can't skip them, which is sure to bother some). Perhaps best of all, almost all of the in-game character models have been remade from the ground-up and look right at home on the PS3 system. Auron has never looked more awesome than here. It may not be as huge of an upgrade as some modern full-on remakes and there are some graphical quirks remaining (i.e. hands going through sleeves, hair clipping into clothes if a character moves their head back, some hilarious lip syncing blunders, etc). Still, considering the fact that most HD collections amount to slapdash up-rezed ports and nothing more, this collection looks great. So bravo to Square-Enix for clearly going the extra mile to refresh this game visually. They did a great job.

From an audio perspective, there have been a few improvements as well. Voices are clearer and sound better (whether the voice acting was great or not in the first place is highly debated by fans). Now all aspects of Tidus and Yuna's imfamous forced laughter scene look and sound clearer than ever. Whether that's a blessing or a curse is up to you, lol. Roughly 60 tracks have also been remastered for this game and they sound better than ever. However, the audio enhancements in this package are clearly not as drastic of an upgrade as the visual elements are. Still, X/X-2 have never looked OR sounded better.

Another huge change from the originals comes in the form of additional content. Back in the day, FFX was rereleased with additional content in Japan. We never got that version in the US. Now we do. In addition to some new optional bosses, FFX also gives you the option to try out a revamp Sphere Grid that allows for more customization and challenge. X-2 has some new dresspheres as well as a "Creature Creator" that allows you to capture and train most enemies, including bosses from BOTH games, to use as party members in future battles. I wouldn't describe any of these additions as paradigm shifting, but they are pretty cool additions and it's nice to know we're getting the most updated, complete version of the games. Add in trophy sets for each game, and you get what is pretty much the definitive release of these games.

The package includes several new additions to the X universe's story. There's Final Fantasy X: Eternal Calm, which is a long epilogue cutscene following the events of FFX. It's not a particularly interesting plot,but it does bridge the gap between X and X-2 stories, and that's nice. There's also Final Fantasy X-2: The Last Mission, which is a short expansion of sorts that takes place three months after X-2's ending. I can't speak as to its quality, but I do know that it does change depending on the events that took place during a players' game of X-2, which is neat. Finally, there's a brand new audio drama set a year after X-2 entitled -Will-. I'm always a little hesitant to buy into these sorts of official/unofficial side stories, as they can be really bad at times, but still, I'll take what I can get. Clearly, the main draw of this package is the core X and X-2 games, but all this content at $40 is pretty cool if you ask me.

So there you have it. Overall, I'm very impressed by the work that went into this collection. It's definitely higher-quality than your average HD port. The visuals and audio have never sounded better in these games, and there's just so much content here on just one blu-ray disc, it's pretty awesome. All of this for $40 seems like a steal to me. If you've never played these JRPG classics before, then now is definitely the time to get into them, as they have never looked/sounded/played better than here. If you're like me and you sunk countless hours into the original all those years ago, I'd definitely recommend picking up this package again. I've been loving diving back into the world of FFX again. The enhancements to this version definitely makes it feel new again. These games, and particularly FFX, hearken back to a time when Final Fantasy games were universally hailed for their immersive worlds, great stories, interesting characters, brilliant music, and engaging JRPG mechanics. Now, they're better than ever. So buy it, prepare for a classic FF experience, and get lost in the magical, lovely world of Spira.
Comment Comments (16) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 5, 2014 7:10 AM PDT


Yoshi's New Island - Nintendo 3DS
Yoshi's New Island - Nintendo 3DS
Price: $34.98
63 used & new from $29.99

82 of 110 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not terrible, not a masterpiece, just alright/decent/OK and kind of a mixed bag. A solid 6 or 7 out of 10., March 14, 2014
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
*Sigh* Of course the irrational fanboys show up and knee-jerk downvote a review that is more than fair. I don't know what to tell ya folks. I'm just as torn up about this game not being the masterpiece I hope it'd be as you are. Look at both the critic and user scores on metacritic for this game for a moment; Yoshi's New Island is clearly a divisive entry. This was a REALLY hard game to score for me. Let's face facts, this isn't a perfect game, far from it. It's not as bad as the harshest critics say, but not as amazing as the wide-eyed fans praise it to be either. Never in my review do I say this game SUCKS, never. All I'm saying is that this is a game with major strengths, yes, but also major issues, as well as aspects that are mixed in quality, that put it in the balance of "average." 3-stars on Amazon means "It's OK." That's not a bad thing. I implore you, actually read my review beyond the score and the title before you give an unhelpful vote in a knee-jerk reaction. Most of the 2-3 star reviews on here have legitimate criticisms. Most of them are by lifelong Yoshi fans who actually know what we're talking about. Sheesh, none of us are putting you down for liking the game. We're just trying to help you figure out the best use for your precious cash. Someone left a comment telling me this review actually convinced them to GET the game, so read this review before you light your torches. Time to grow up, ladies and gentlemen.

*Original Review*

Friends, please lower your pitchforks and torches and give me a chance to explain. I am not a Nintendo hater. Quite the contrary, actually. My love for the original Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island is immense. Even after all these years, it's astounding how unequivocally perfect that game is in its design, execution, and creativity. In my opinion, it is one of, if not thee, best platformers ever made, and one of my all-time favorite video games. So you can imagine my excitement when Yoshi's NEW Island was announced, with Takashi Tezuka, one of the main directors from the original YI, heading development. YNI seemed poised and ready to deliver the kind of awesome experience that DKC Returns did for the DKC series. In anticipation for this release, I recently did a 100% playthrough of the original YI, and what a satisfying experience that was! It just cemented my love for that game. I am incredibly sad to say that Yoshi's NEW Island, however, is not the second coming of Yoshi glory you may have hoped for, but it's certainly not what I'd describe as a terrible game. I'll warn you right now, this will be a long review as I want to be fair to the game and to you, the reader. Let's get started...

First off, this is not a BAD game. There are some pretty big redeeming aspects to it that I think elevate this game to a level of 3-stars despite the major issues weighing it down. Here are the biggest ones...

- The classic Yoshi's Island gameplay mechanics. Really, this is the biggest reason I give this game 3-stars. As old as the original YI is at this point, it really does feature timeless, perfect gameplay mechanics. Yoshi's hover jump, ability to devour enemies and convert them to eggs, the ability to hurl said eggs in a huge variety of contexts and situations, the Super Mario cape, and the various Yoshi transformations all return and work as well as ever, for the most part. Even though YNI is lacking in some key areas, it certainly has stayed faithful to the core gameplay, ergo the game is fun to play. Overall, YNI is a sound game from a purely technical standpoint. It should be, seeing as how it is unwavering in its efforts to emulate the classic. It also introduces some new abilities, my favorite being the new SUPER MASSIVE egg that makes me cringe every time I see Yoshi pop it out that can decimate pretty much everything it makes contact with. Some of these new ideas are pretty fun, but the level design rarely utilizes them (more on that later).

- The level design. Just like the gameplay mechanics, the level design in YNI is certainly faithful to the spirit of the original. The way the levels are designed around the great gameplay is truly unique for a 2-D platformer, making for really fun, fluid platforming as well as exciting exploration. The characteristic YI collectibles like 20 hidden red coins also add a tremendous amount of fun and addictive replayability to the levels. Thankfully, the game DOES get harder as it progresses too. Early levels are almost insultingly easy, as you'd expect, but later levels do have a fair degree of challenge.

- The boss fights. The developers stayed very close to the classic formula of the original with regards to boss fights, and as such, they're super fun (notice a pattern with these positives? lol). There's not much else to say really. Kamek always shows up, turns what would be a harmless little enemy into a colossal beast, and it's super engaging to find a way to dispatch them. My only complaint about boss fights in this game is that they're over way too quickly.

- Good ol' Yoshi charm. I don't know what it is about Yoshi as a character and as a series, but it seems any game starring Yoshi has a very distinct brand of quirky charm you can't find anywhere else. It doesn't matter if it's a mediocre game, or a masterpiece, every Yoshi game has it, and this game does too. I wish I could explain it further, but that's as well as I can say it. Intangible Yoshi charm? Check.

And there you have it. Like I said, Yoshi's New Island isn't necessarily a BAD game. It does have some big strengths. However, there are a few aspects with mixed execution, as well as a couple HUGE problems that immediately jumped out at me and stayed like a thorn in my side. Sadly, they also do an effective job of dulling and obscuring the game's strengths. Here are the biggest problems:

- The story. I almost didn't even mention this. After all, the plot in any platformer is not that important. It's only meant to introduce the gameplay, and it does that here. What I DON'T like is how the game stomps all over and ruins the heartwarming ending of the original YI. Turns out, the stork delivered Mario and Luigi to the WRONG PARENTS at the end of YI. Who knew? Kamek shows up, babynapping shenanigans ensue, and the Yoshi clan band together once again to reunite Lil' Luigi with Baby Mario and stop Bowser from turning their home into his vacation spot........ No Nintendo... Just, no... I hate how they ruined YI's ending, immensely.

- The visuals. I love the coloring book aesthetic of the original YI. Not only is it a visual treat, but the bright colors and thick black outlines for all major features/characters actually made the gameplay better, as the expressive, stylized art style made it easy to focus on what was happening. YNI's visuals look more like Yoshi's Story mixed with an oil painting to me. It's an awesome idea on paper, but having it on the portable 3DS' screens makes everything feel more smeared and muddled. It can even be painful on the eyes trying to make out what's happening at times. A nice 3-D effect alleviates some of that, but not all the way. They also tried experimenting and added in visual elements that feel completely out of place, such as having the normal, colorful foreground clashing with a minimalistic, black and white Sumi-e painting for the background. It's just distracting. The animations are also not as good as the original, which is odd. Lastly, Yoshi's clown shoes just look stupid, I'm sorry. I realize this aspect is subjective. I'm sure others will love how this game looks, and indeed, sometimes it IS gorgeous. However, I think most will agree that, much like the rest of the game, it's a mixed bag.

- The sound design. Music in games is important to me. A bad soundtrack can really bring a game down and oh my god, the soundtrack in this game is atrocious! I can't possibly express how awful most of it it is. At least 85% of the tracks are just remixes of the first level's song. Seriously, what the heck happened here?! The original YI had tracks so memorable that I have never forgotten them, even after all these years (The Flower Garden, Underground, Athletic, Above Ground, every Boss them including the *epic* Final Boss theme, etc). The original YI had music that was uplifting, exciting, and so catchy, with wonderful instrumentation (especially for the SNES). Yoshi's NEW Island, on the other hand, has music that is boring, forgettable, and even downright annoying. Most of it is super slow, dull, and about as catchy as a slimy, dead fish. It's like a bunch of lullaby rejects. Even worse, most of them sound like cheap midi files emulating toddler toy instruments. Seriously, this is embarrassing ("Cruise the clouds" gave me cancer). It's no stretch to say the music of this game actually takes away some of the joy in the gameplay. How unfortunate. Other sound aspects, like Yoshi's frequent voice clips, as well as Baby Mario's classic crying, are sure to infuriate some, while others, myself included, will be indifferent to it. Still, that music man... my childhood weeps.

- Game length. This game is short. Six worlds fly by in less than five or six hours at best. Granted, you can keep playing for the sake of finding all collectibles, and because the level design and mechanics are mostly fun, this game does have some replayability in it. Still, I find the amount of content a bit disappointing.

- The new gameplay mechanics. The core classic YI gameplay mechanics are really wonderful, but some new ideas do not fare too well. I hate how some level designs and vehicle mechanics incorporate the 3DS gyroscopic controls. It doesn't work well and feels like an out-of-place gimmick. Other new ideas, like the giant Yoshi egg and egg-doser I mentioned earlier, are cool on their own, but the level design simply does not take advantage of these abilities, so you often won't use them. Despite the "NEW" in the title, YNI feels like the main focus was on delivering old YI gameplay. That's ironic.

I could go on, but the point is that Yoshi's New Island is a mixed bag. I rarely rate anything 3-stars on here, but Amazon's definition of 3-stars is "It's OK" and that's what this game is. It's nowhere near the quality of its legendary predecessor. In some ways it's better than Yoshi's Island DS, but in others it seems worse. Considering YNI was made by the same people as YIDS, I'm not sure what to make of that. For fans of the original YI, this game will feel like a glorified, expensive expansion pack with the same great gameplay overall but with some clumsy design and presentation issues. For those totally unacquainted with YI, you'll be presented with a Nintendo platformer about as equal in quality as New Super Mario Bros. 2, which is perfectly decent, but not nearly as good as the games it's trying to emulate. For me personally, this was kind of disappointing. Yoshi's Epic Yarn is now my last hope for a great Yoshi game in a while. Rather than keep playing YNI, I'll continue playing Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze and Persona 4 Golden for now. I wish I could give a solid recommendation one way or the other, but considering Yoshi's New Island is such a mixed bag, I really can't. I hope this review was helpful, at any rate. Thanks for reading. You can go ahead and get out your torches now.
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 6, 2014 2:41 PM PDT


Smart Weigh DVS250 Vanity Series High Precision Body Scale with Large LCD Display and Step-on Technology
Smart Weigh DVS250 Vanity Series High Precision Body Scale with Large LCD Display and Step-on Technology
Offered by MeasuRite
Price: $39.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very attractive scale with great functionality, March 12, 2014
In case you're wondering why my review isn't an "Amazon verified purchase," it's because MeasuPro contacted me directly, asking if I'd like to receive this scale in exchange for an honest review. This was excellent timing, because my old, beat up scale finally kicked the bucket recently. This review will not be effected by the fact I received it for free. As a matter of fact, I'd gladly spend money on this scale, as it is of excellent quality.

There's only so much one can review when considering a scale, as its functions are pretty limited, but this particular scale from Smart Weigh does have some excellent design and a few really nice features included.

First off, the scale is aesthetically pleasing to look at. When you see it in person for the first time it really does strike you as a modern piece of home tech. Surprisingly sleek, the scale is very attractive and streamlined. The black frames bordering the shiny clear glass looks great, and the backlit LCD display looks splendid and really ties the rest of the look together. This is a really beautiful scale that would look great no matter what your bathroom motif is.

Most importantly, the scale functions extremely well. Once the four triple AAA batteries are in (which Smart Weigh is kind enough to supply in the box), the scale does its primary job - telling you your weight and making you feel guilty - superbly well. It kind of amazes me how quickly the scale calibrates and reads your weight. It only takes a second or two, tops, to find your weight after stepping on the scale. It's super accurate too. I had to step on my old scale two or three times, waiting for it to calibrate each time in between, before it'd give me an accurate reading. Not so with the DVS250. It's super accurate and very quick. Being able to set the scale to pounds, kilos, or stones, is a nice choice. As I said earlier, the backlit LCD is great for convenient read-outs. Overall, a very well designed scale.

All-in-all, this is most definitely the nicest scale I have ever used, no joke. Its quick, easy use is super nice, its accuracy is dead-on (unfortunately), and its look is attractive to the eye and would fit in any bathroom environment. I highly recommend this scale to anybody who may be looking for a nice, modern scale to replace your old clunker at home. This is a great scale. Thanks for reading my review. I hope you found it helpful. Toodles.


amFilm Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 Tablet P5210 Premium Screen Protector Film HD Clear (Invisible) with Lifetime Warranty (2 Pack) [in Retail Packaging]
amFilm Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 Tablet P5210 Premium Screen Protector Film HD Clear (Invisible) with Lifetime Warranty (2 Pack) [in Retail Packaging]
Offered by TechMatte
Price: $8.95
5 used & new from $5.90

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fulfills all of my requirements for a screen protector, March 10, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
There isn't much you can say to review screen protectors like this. Really, all you have to ask are a few questions:

1.) Is installation easy?

2.) After istallation, is the screen protector bubble-free?

3.) Does the screen protector work properly, keeping your screen scratch/blemish free?

4.) Is the picture quality of the screen as good as if there weren't any protector on it?

The answer to each of these questions regarding the amFilm Galaxy Tab 3 screen protectors is a resounding YES! Of course, whether or not installation is easy/simple and bubble/dust/fuzzy-free upon finishing will also depend much upon how well the user follows directions and how much of a perfectionist they are. Me? I'm a perfectionist, so I worked at it for a long while in a bathroom where the shower had recently run, with tons of scotch tape. The end result is a screen protector you can't even tell is there, protecting the screen without interfering with picture quality at all. What a nice peace of mind that brings. The fact the package comes with two protectors is just the cherry on top. I highly recommend this protectors to anybody who has a Galaxy Tab 3 and an almost OCD-like fear of scratching up your screen.

Hope you found this short review helpful. Thanks for reading. Toodles.


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