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The Avengers Review

Posted by Agnes Oblige , in Reviews, Film/Shows May 08 2012 · 74 views

The Avengers – This is the film that Marvel Studios has been building towards since 2008, when they released Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk. Further leading into this film were the films Iron Man 2 (released in 2010), Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger (both released in 2011). In this film Nick Fury, the director of a company known as S.H.I.E.L.D. must assemble the title heroes from those films (as well as a few others, which we’ll get to later) to defend Earth against the super villain Loki, who returns from last year’s Thor.

The Characters – 9.5/10
The characters were one of my biggest worries heading into this film- because I already knew the sheer amount of them. You have seven super heroes, the main villain, three agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (that is a pain to type), and then several other background characters to keep track of.

You can easily keep track of them all.

There’s Nick Fury, the hardcore and brutally honest director of S.H.I.E.L.D., who gathers Tony Stark/Iron Man (played by Robert Downey Jr.), Bruce Banner/The Hulk (played by Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Ruffalo as Banner is easily the standout of the crowd – he plays Banner brilliantly, as a Doctor whose anger is always there boiling right beneath the surface, waiting to be unleashed. Downey is also pleasing to watch, as Stark easily interacts with Banner, Rogers, and Thor. Hawkeye as the confident, to-the-point assassin was also fun, although Thor, Black Widow and Captain America were rather average.

Then there’s Loki, the main villain of the film returning from last year’s Thor. He’s descended since then into a pure need for revenge and the need to satisfy what he feels is a most terrible injustice against him, and Tom Hiddleston pulls this off beautifully. Loki’s banter with Fury, Thor, Black Widow, and the rest of the Avengers one by one is hilarious to see, especially when it’s Iron Man’s turn: when Stark, without his armour, is asked if he’s going to appeal to Loki’s humanity, Stark says that no, he won’t, and proceeds to threaten Loki instead, provoking one of the most hilarious scenes in the film.

The chemistry between the characters is amazing too; almost every conversation between the Avengers or Loki slips in one or two clever remarks that are genuinely funny; and that was very refreshing. In terms of the characters, Avengers has gotten everything right.

The Plot and the Juicy Stuff: - 9.5/10
The plot is rather predictable, to be honest; the big bad villain (Loki) wants to rule/enslave/destroy the Earth, and the heroes (the Avengers) need to stop him and save the day at the eleventh hour. However, it’s the way that the film portrays it that makes me give it such a high score; imagine Transformers: Dark of the Moon with all of its high points, and then give it characters you can actually care about and give it humour that isn’t like, totally lame. Once you’ve done that, multiply it by three, and you might have Avengers.

From the get-go, the Avengers are fighting amongst themselves (albeit, not willingly). Loki takes over the mind of one in the opening scene, which was definitely a surprise, and that hero then fights Fury and others to help Loki escape; Black Widow is sent to retrieve Banner and only narrowly avoids unleashing The Hulk; Iron Man point-blank refuses to join and then joins in anyway, saving Captain America/stealing his thunder; and then when Thor enters, he immediately begins brawling Iron Man and then brawls with Captain America too, as Loki watches and laughs.

I don’t want to spoil the movie, so I’ll end this section off there, but I will say that the banter between each character makes every scene worth it, and at the very end you’re going to be in for a huge surprise that no Marvel fan will want to miss.

Special Effects and Action: - 9.5/10
The special effects of this movie are as good as (if not better than) those in Transformers, with trees and buildings being snapped and shattered when Thor and Hulk fall from the heavens and then the portal to another dimension that Loki uses to return to Earth.

The action itself is reminiscent (and better than) the Transformers films too; watching Captain America (and then Iron Man) take on Loki single handed early in the film was wicked to watch, and later on when Iron Man took on Thor, setting a forest ablaze, my jaw hit the floor. Let me tell you, there is nothing better than watching the Avengers duke it out with each other, beating themselves senseless while the guy they’re supposed to be fighting watches them and doesn’t even try to escape.

Overall – 9.5/10 (95%)
Even if you haven’t seen the other Marvel films (or haven’t seen all of them), I would recommend this movie; it does everything right in terms of a super hero film, and every character is given the screen time that they need and deserve. If you’re a Marvel fan, I shouldn’t have to tell you to see this film. It’s the best Marvel film there is, and I would argue that it’s even better than The Dark Knight.

If you see only one film in theatres this year, this has to be that film.


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The Hunger Games Review

Posted by Agnes Oblige , in Reviews, Film/Shows Mar 27 2012 · 42 views

The film was pretty good. I could've done with A LOT less shaky camera work during the action/fight scenes and more detail, but I also get that part of it was because the film had to be PG. - WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

Pros:
  • The added behind-the-scenes scenes featuring Seneca Crane and the subplot around him as he tried to keep President Snow and the viewers happy despite the actions of Katniss was amazing. Honestly, I'm going to go back and read the book and miss not having these scenes in there. I enjoyed them in and of themselves, but I also thought that they were a brilliant way to give viewers a break every now and then from the consistently shaky, dirty, foresty setting of The Hunger Games themselves.
  • Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen: I think she did a very good job of portraying Katniss. In addition, I really enjoyed watching Haymitch and Cinna too. Seneca Crane was, as stated before, also a fun character to see on the screen. Too bad they had to kill him off.
  • The District 11 uprising after Rue's death; although it's another thing they added that wasn't in the book (not that we would've known about it had it occured anyway), I think it shows just how close to the edge District 11 is, and will add more tension during the visit there that Katniss must make in Catching Fire.
  • The portrayal of the Capitol-Although not strictly what the books described, I think it was a good blend of super futuristic and modern technology, yet it still contrasted starkly against Districts 11 and 12.
Cons:
  • Primrose Everdeen; I felt like they made her far too frail and... wimpy, I suppose. I don't remember Prim ever being like that in the books, not even in The Hunger Games.
  • The lack of Thresh and Foxface- both were mentioned several times in the book, and I think it would've been neat if we'd seen shots of Foxface hidden in the background, following other tributes and perhaps a scene or two of Thresh doing whatever he was doing.
  • Peeta still has a certificate of ownership for both legs, despite the fact that the book clearly states he lost a leg. I'm not sure what could be done with this plot wise, but I guess it could always be said in Catching Fire that it had to be removed later on.
Final Score: 8.5/10.

The film did a masterful job of capturing the feel of the book and did admirably following the plot. In addition, the brand new subplot starring game maker Seneca Crane manages to add a lot to the movie. However, several character portrayals were not done how they should have been, or simply didn't receive enough screentime.

Despite my complaints, I think the score above says that you should all see this movie, especially if you have read the book already. This was one of the most anticipated films of 2012 for a reason, and it'll be remembered as one of the best.


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Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door Review

Posted by Agnes Oblige , in Reviews, Video Games Feb 27 2012 · 44 views

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

Year: 2004
Platform: Nintendo Gamecube
Series: Paper Mario
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Publisher: Nintendo


Storyline8.5/10
In this sequel to Paper Mario, Mario travels to a run-down town called Rogueport in the Mushroom Kingdom after Princess Peach tells him of a magic map she found. In possession of the map (for whatever reason, the Princess enclosed it with her letter), you discover that she... has been kidnapped. After meeting several wacky characters, you go on a quest to collect the Crystal Stars in order to open the Thousand Year Door underneath Rogueport; meanwhile, through both Mario and the Princess you learn more about the legend of the Thousand Year Door and the plans of the evil X-Nauts (the villains of the game).

Playing through the game, the story is gripping, mysterious, and exciting; the best moment being Chapter 3, where you must discover the identity of “X” and also solve the mysteries surrounding a fighting arena called the Glitz Pit. The score here would be higher, but unfortunately the storyline of the game can be summarized into “Princess is captured, and Mario goes to save her”. Honestly, if the Princess hadn’t been captured, it’s questionable whether Mario would’ve bothered to lift a finger to save the world at all.

Graphics8.5/10
Most of you probably won’t agree with this score, and that’s fine- I’ve had minimal experience with other consoles. I’m going on what I know.
For the Gamecube, the graphics aren’t the most spectacular; however, they are innovative, and they do look very nice indeed. The visual style also works into the game play in several ways, which is why this section gets a 8.5 instead of, say, a 7.5. If you use a partner to blow on certain areas, the scenery is blown off screen to reveal a hidden secret; your character can turn into a paper airplane or paper boat; you can slip through thin cracks between walls. Without the paper style visuals, these things just wouldn’t make sense. This would have a 9, but man, does that second chapter kill my eyes! Geez!

Game Play/Controls 9.5/10
The controls of this game are very smooth; especially the control stick. If you push it right, you go right; you push it left, you go left. No delays, and no super speed. The “A” and “B” buttons also respond smoothly. The “X” and “Y” buttons are put to good use, and the few times you use them, the shoulder buttons work good as well. However, the C Stick is very frustrating; it’s very hard to push in the right direction. Often I’ll wish to change my partner, but instead find myself in the item menu; I believe the D-Pad would’ve been better to use in this instance.

You have many abilities to work with, however; each of your partners has at least one special ability in the field that you can use to your advantage, and some (such as Yoshi) have two. There are also four different paper forms you can take on to navigate the environment, in addition to your standard jumps and hammer. In-game, everything works and feels great; whether it’s in the field exploring or fighting in battles. I just wish your jumps were a little higher and a little longer.

Music9.5/10
I’ll bet some of you are gonna be all over me for giving the music this score, but, simply put, I love the music in this game. There are better soundtracks out there, and it might not be orchestrated, but several of the tunes are very catchy; others fit the environment perfectly; and some songs are just awesome (such as the Rawk Hawk battle, which also happens to be in Chapter 3, my favourite chapter). There are a couple songs in the game I dislike and would have preferred maybe some tunes from the first Paper Mario, but overall everything is good in this category.

Overall9/10
In short, I love this game. If you are a fan of Mario, RPGs, or are interested in either, you should definitely check out this game; if you’re looking for a different experience from RPGs such as Final Fantasy, I recommend this game as well. This game is on the short (and easy) side of RPGS if you know what you’re doing, but that doesn’t really matter; you’ll have loads of fun while it lasts, and there are side quests that you can do afterward (along with a pit of 100 trials). I’d recommend trying out the first Paper Mario first, even though it doesn’t affect the plot; this game is better than the first (with better graphics, controls, and new features), so that way you won’t ruin the experience of the first game after playing the refined sequel first.

Buy this game and play it.


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The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword Review

Posted by Agnes Oblige , in Reviews, Video Games Feb 25 2012 · 43 views

Thanks to Toa Zehvor MT for sharing his opinions. More game reviews will be coming, so leave any requests you might have in the comments!

I will be posting a review I did on Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door in the next few days.

Been a while since I did a BZP video game review, so I figured I'd start with a game that I recently played(well, perhaps recently isn't the right word, it was a few months ago). Skyward Sword is easily the Wii's best game of 2011, but with such a short list of AAA games for the Wii in 2011, does it measure up against other consoles games? You can find out by reading below(or, more correctly, find out my opinion).

STORY: The story in Skyward Sword is, thank God, something original. Seems like it's been forever since we've had a console Zelda that's attempted something besides "Ganon captures Zelda, Link fights Ganon, Link saves Zelda," etc. This time, Zelda's not a princess that the player has very little connection with, but an old friend that you can legitimately connect with. The other characters in the game work incredibly well, and it's actually fairly reminiscent of another favorite game of mine, Okami. The world is scattered with a colorful cast that makes it actually feel like you're attempting to save a real place. No more barren wastelands with barely anyone inhabiting them like in Twilight Princess, the world of Skyward Sword is full of great characters. Even the villains showed up, with Ghirahim being quite possibly the most entertaining bad guy in the history of Zelda.

The actual plotline is done very well, and for the most part, makes sense. There's a couple of time shifting what the heck moments later on, but as long as you don't think too hard about it, it shouldn't be a problem. It's not Okami or Asura's Wrath quality, but it's very preferable to the predictable formula of "fight through a bunch of dungeons to get to Hyrule Castle to save Zelda." My main complaint is the ridiculous amount of fetch quests you are sent through early on in the game. There are quite a lot, and they take quite a bit of time.

Score: (9/10)

GAMEPLAY: The gameplay is an interesting mix of good and bad. I'll begin with the sword controls, one of the central focuses of the game. Being able to fully control where you sword is is nice, and there are some battles where it feels very natural, and then others where it feels like Nintendo had to adjust the speed of combat to the new controls. For example, there's one boss very late in the game where he'll hold a sword to block your attacks, and you have to beat on the sword until you make a hole in it. From then on, he'll begin shifting the sword's position, forcing you to strike in different ways to continue whittling the hole down until you cut the sword in half. The issue is that he basically stands still the entire time, refusing to attack, and looking ridiculous.

When combat is not being slown down, however, it's a blast. The sword controls work perfectly for the most part, and it feels like there's a whole different level of control being given to you with the sword's 1:1 movement. When they're being worked into a fight with multiple layers of strategy, such as using a powerup or two alongside the sword, there aren't many other battles in Zelda history that can compete with it. The fights where the game completely falls back on sword movement aren't bad either, but they're nowhere near as fun or as engaging. As for the difficulty, the enemies are never difficult, but that doesn't take away from how fun they are.

For everything else, however, the Wii motion plus sucks, and this is where Nintendo's decision completely boggles my mind. You'll use the Wii motion plus for everything from flying, to aiming your bow, to swimming, to using a vacuum cleaner, but the issue is that the controls are very insensitive and frequently become unaligned, which becomes very annoying in the middle of a fight. The sensor bar would have worked fine for most of these, and I'm stunned that Nintendo didn't use it for that. Oh well.

Exploration still plays a big role in the game, though, make no mistake about that. The puzzles are some of the highlights of the game, in my opinion, and, for the most part, they're neither too subtle nor too obvious(though there are a couple that I think could have been explained much better). If you're any sort of fan of puzzle solving, or really any sort of mental games, you'll enjoy the puzzles here. As for the other parts of exploration, they're fun too, although you'll never really be in doubt as to where to go, so it's a bit less noticeable that you're "exploring"(unless you go out of the way of the main quest to look around the areas that you're in).

The upgrade system that makes its way into this game is fun, too, though it doesn't keep every tool from becoming obsolete like has been claimed(sorry, slingshot). The upgrades they do give out aren't easy to come by, but they are very helpful, and this helps facilitate further exploration in areas below the clouds. Believe it or not, Nintendo actually managed to make "treasure hunting" a worthwhile sidequest just for this. I like it, I just wish that Nintendo had made catching bird feathers a bit easier. But it's a minor complaint for something that was implemented very well.

The biggest issue I have with the gameplay is when it completely falls flat on its face, which happens several times. In these instances, Skyward Sword drastically shifts the aspect of the gameplay, forcing you to protect something, or leaving you weaponless while being chased around by giant robots attempting to collect tears of light while not being spotted in poorly done Splinter Cell esque parts. Most of these instances aren't really fun, some of them are downright annoying, and it's another head-scratcher as to why Nintendo thought it would be a good idea to implement them.

The gameplay, when it's not slowed down tremendously or changed into something entirely different, is still worthy of the highest recommendation.

(9/10)

GRAPHICS: The graphics, meh, they're not bad. They sort of seem like a cross between the cartoonish Wind Waker and the realistic Twilight Princess. It works well, but it's not spectacular. Metroid Prime 3 easily remains the best looking Wii game, just to clear up the claims that this game has the best graphics on the Wii.

(8/10)

MUSIC: The music is what we've come to expect from Zelda. A couple of themes will get on your nerves here and there, but the music is spectacular for the most part.

(9.5/10)

REPLAY VALUE: Skyward Sword's definitely worth a replay, but only on hero mode, and only if you don't mind Fi's hand holding, which gets far more annoying the second time through(especially since there's no way to skip it). However, it's almost guaranteed you won't finish anywhere near everything there is to do the first time through, so give it a second go.

OVERALL: When Skyward Sword is good, it's really good. Its few mistakes, however, are VERY noticeable and quite annoying. If it wasn't for how bad some of these issues are, I would have no problem rating this game right alongside Ocarina as the greatest title in Zelda history. As it is...well...these problems are here, and they hold it back from being a completely amazing experience. It's a great game, no doubt about that, but the issues in game really make you wonder how awesome this could have been had some of these problems been fixed.

9/10: If you have a Wii and Wii motion plus, definitely get this game. If you like Zelda games, but don't have Wii motion plus, I would still advise you to get it. However, if you don't have Wii motion plus and Zelda's never been your favorite franchise, or you've never played Zelda before and you're not sure, I wouldn't advise shelling out the $30 for the plus and then $50 for the game. $80 is a lot for a single game, especially when there are cheaper games out there that have lot more content and lot less Fi.

It's great, but it's not quite the legendary Nintendo game Super Metroid/Ocarina/Metroid Prime caliber.


Again, thanks to Toa Zehvor MT. I myself have hated the demos of Skyward Sword and disagree with pretty much everything in this, but to each their own.


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Why Must It Be So Horrible

Posted by Agnes Oblige , in Life, My Little Pony, Reviews Jan 31 2012 · 33 views
and 1 more...
I have no good camera or picture taking devices, and as such the pictures of Evo and Rocka for the review aren't just bad quality, but they're massive, and I have to resize them all so that people's eyes won't explode. :(

Hopefully the reviews themselves will make up for the awful pictures when they come. Sigh.

In better news, I'm starting that story of how I became a brony. I'm still not sure where I'll put it since BZPower is a major focus in it, but I don't expect to be done it for awhile. Hopefully it will be good.


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A Review Of Raw-Jaw

Posted by Agnes Oblige , in Reviews Dec 25 2011 · 115 views

The Box – 4/5

The box has a green border, with a background of assorted different shades of green and blue. This allows our Raw-Jaw to immediately stand out from his surroundings in all of his red glory. Sadly, Raw-Jaw only comes with 52 pieces; back in 2008 a set with this many pieces was five dollars left, and that make iBrow sad.

On the back of the box there’s a short, four-image long synopsis of the Savage Planet storyline, which fails to use a 2.0 model for Furno. But that’s not important.
Also, at first glance it looks like Bara-Magna and the Ignika have come to haunt us, but upon closer inspection it’s just a ship flying into a decaying planet that already looks beyond saving.
Raw-Jaw himself is seen in a fifth image, preparing to eat our dieting hero Bulk 3.0.

The Build – 3.5/5

Building Raw-Jaw is more engaging than building a hero, that’s for sure. His entire head must be built from separate pieces, along with the back half of his body. You also get to put on a tail, some humongous and mostly awesome arms, and some pretty pathetically short hind legs. The build isn’t one you can do simply by looking at the box art, but it’s not much more.

The Pieces, the Look, and the Playability – 13.5/15

Piece-wise, Raw-Jaw is what I would call a goldmine of parts, especially for the cheap price of $10.77 (can’t beat those deals now, can you? They’re wicked, I tell you.). The helmet, red armour, silver fingers, gunmetal armour, limb pieces, black spikes, you name it. This guy is a must have just for the pieces- especially if you can catch him at $10.77.

As for the look, well, Raw-Jaw certainly pulls off gorilla well. Or “gorrillephant”, as it were. Since he has tusks, and gorillas never have those. However, I do have a few complaints. First of all, although his short hind legs do indeed help the gorilla look, the way the feet are moulded restricts his movement, making it difficult to pose. His tail and arms both have issues with the middle joints; while alright for posing, getting his arms into different positions can be difficult at times. His tusks also move with his lower jaw, and the lack of a set of lower teeth to match the upper ones seems off to me. However, the design of his special “ID” piece and his helmet are fantastic. I want more.

Colour-scheme wise, Raw-Jaw is one of the best sets out there, even besting the heroes. The black and gunmetal both work well with the Mata red, and the silver adds a little spice to the look. The only sets that might contend for his role are Waspix and one or two of the heros.

What I Think – 4/5

As a set to role play with, Raw-Jaw is one of the more frustrating sets out there- you’d be better off with any of the heroes, or a villain like Waspix. Posing can also be difficult, but good poses look really cool.

In my opinion, it’s in the pieces where Raw-Jaw really shines. As I said before, he’s a goldmine of parts; there are several pieces in Mata red and gunmetal that are either rare or simply not present in any other sets, the same thing going for his fingers. He also has several different lengths of limb pieces that work well. Although normally he’s quite expensive ($17.99 for a set this size usually? Ouch.), he’s still a better set to have than, say, Nitroblast.

Final Thoughts – 25/30 (83%)

The Pros
  • Goldmine of parts
  • Good colour scheme
  • Has some cool poses
  • That silver “neck” piece is amazing
  • Has gunmetal.
  • Seriously, this guy is great for parts.

The Cons
  • Hard to pose
  • Hind legs are too short and restricted by feet
  • Middle joints of arms and tail badly chosen
  • No bottom set of teeth = mysterious gap. How does this guy eat again?
  • ANOTHER set with Mata red.

Overall, the pros of Raw-Jaw far outweigh the cons. This guy is still alright to pose and play with, and like I cannot stress enough, he is an amazing source of parts. Buy him over Fangz and Scorpio. Maybe buy him over Waspix.

Just buy him. If you like Hero Factory at all, this guy is a must have.

No pictures because of a lack of both a camera in hand and a good environment. Plus, there's pictures in the official set review. :P
Not meant to be really official or anything, just my thoughts. Maybe I'll do this again. If so, next one up is either Stringer 3.0 or Waspix. You guys can choose, I guess.