Wednesday 27 December 2023

King of Monster Island

Everyone gets to be a kaiju!

In this cooperative board game up to five players can team up to defeat one of three boss monsters (with 2 difficulty modes each) who are trying to claim the volcanic island. There is actually a volcano piece that gives the board some height and is used to determine what the bad guy does by rolling their dice through it which is pretty neat! The standees for each player kaiju is great too, but there is no difference between them other than flavor. You also all start on 10 health and 0 fame.

Should any player start their turn on 0 health everyone loses and it is the same should the villain or his minions complete three crystal pylons that secure his power. To win, players just have to bring down the villains HP to 0. Easy for the first monster who only has 15, quite challenging for the biggest one on 35. This is in part because you can't hit the main enemy should he have any minions in the same area, they all take hits first - starting with the somewhat resilient shield ones.

Of the nine player dice you can roll up to six on your turn and each face of the d6 has a different symbol. Walk, hit, heal, gain energy (used to purchase special cards), build support (which summons supply ships), and gain fame which is a main feature of the game. Getting 1 fame lets you take a ridiculous ally card and each of these are unique - ninjas let you stab shield things easily while scientists constantly inject you with energy for example. The more fame you get, the more powerful your ally abilities become. This is also true for the bad guy who gains more skills as his fame increases.

The crux of it is that you can leave rolled die on the board so that your allies can use whatever you rolled on their turn, but that requires both a measure of strategy and luck. All up its a very fun game that is pretty easy to teach and fast to get going. Recommended!

Sunday 24 December 2023

Eternal Threads

Time travel is real, and as a designated time traveler you are tasked with returning to the past to save six people who died in a house fire.  In this game the traveling is not how you might imagine it as you aren't actually physically going into the past, you instead have a device that sees what happened in certain locations previously and can influence the decisions made by those six people over the course of a week.

While it certainly is an odd concept to get used to, the first person aspect coupled with the timeline view finder really works at telling the story of what happened here. Excellent writing and good characters get you invested in short order and in case you wanted to do the "really hard mode", you can try find the sequence of events that not only saves all six people but gives them their "best" lives. Once you get going this becomes a fun and not too difficult see-saw of actions and consequences. A surprisingly good one for me, recommended!

Saturday 23 December 2023

Kaleidoscope and The Black Demon

Shows where people screw themselves? Lol.


In this one season heist series stars Giancarlo Esposito as the mastermind who needs to assemble a team of crooks to rob a vault for a massive payday. Nice sets, good acting and interesting characters make this an interesting watch but then someone decided to make a gimmick where the episodes are all out of order, with some taking place after the heist despite the last episode being the heist. While we enjoyed it, we probably would have enjoyed it more if it was simply put in chronological order.

The Black Demon

In this horror(? more like unintentional comedy) movie, a magical megalodon terrorizes an offshore oil platform and all the fools silly enough to go near it. Yes, this is not your usual big CGI shark movie. For one it can make you trip balls with psychic attacks before eating you and two the kill count is pretty low as the movie tries its best to -not- use the shark as much as possible. Instead we have our protagonists, who are a handful of annoying characters, and the extras who all speak Spanish. This is fine if you speak Spanish but if you don't then don't count on this movie having any translation services for you (at least if you watch it on Amazon Prime).

I turned on the English subtitles (the only option) and got [speaks Spanish], [asks question in Spanish], [answers in Spanish], [laughs in Spanish]. Yeah, I made the last one up but there's a LOT of untranslated Spanish here. Anyway, this is a very silly movie and one I don't recommend.

Friday 22 December 2023

Warframe: Dagath

Blueprints for this headless horsewoman warframe are acquired from a room that must be added to your clan dojo called "Dagath's Hollow" and to build her you'll need a bunch of new things called vainthorns which only drop from the "locked" abyssal zone in Ceres, a place you might not even see unless you have the keys to access it. Each run through that zone needs you to use a key which you can buy from one of the "big 6" syndicates (Arbiters, Meridian, Suda, Perrin, Loka or Red Veil) for 5000 standing, and only if you are at rank 2 or above with them.

While the abyss mission itself is just a visually darker exterminate with eximus (strong guys) stronghold  activating about 2/3rds of the way through and an extra pick up and deliver a cursed lantern to extraction tacked on, you'll need to do this a decent number of times to get enough vainthorns to build her and even more if you want her pure slash whip-sword weapon.

Sounds like a pain to build her and it is, especially if you don't yet have a strong frame to grind out those components but she is very rewarding and a fun close combat frame to play as her abilities of spinning scythes (Yareli's only good move), adding viral, adding crits (+possible ghost form) and summoning a charge of ghost cavalry that absolutely wreck everything in a straight line all work very well together, with survivability coming directly from her passive that makes every 3rd health or energy orb 300% more effective. You'll want to be right in the thick of things to make the most of that. Dagath definitely gets my tick of approval.

Thursday 21 December 2023

Labyrinth (1986) and Green Lantern: Beware my Power

Teaching not to take things for granted.

Labyrinth (1986)

Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) is surprised when her wish for her baby brother to be taken away by the goblin prince Jareth (David Bowie) comes true, and sets upon a quest to get him back before time runs out. The creatures and sets from the Jim Henson company make this excellent fantasy story come alive and it helps that both leads are good. What unfortunately lets it down are the non-catchy MTV-style musical numbers. I can't help but feel that had those been cut or at least improved to the level of the ballroom scene that it would have improved the final result. All up still a good movie, but it has some bits that will probably let its audience zone out. Recommended!

Green Lantern: Beware my Power

When veteran John Stewart investigates a crashed spaceship he is chosen by a lantern ring to become a member of the Green Lantern Corps, which is explained to him by Justice League members when the ring takes him to visit them. They decide to get involved when the ring reveals its previous owner was their comrade Hal Jordan. Pretty nice art and animation in this one which includes numerous fight sequences and coupled with a plot that contains some surprises this is a rather decent animated movie. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that actual Green Lantern fans might not enjoy it though because of some plot decisions, but if you're just in for a superhero show then this ticks that box.

Wednesday 20 December 2023

Air (2023) and Circle (2015)

Two movies with simple titles.

Air (2023)

With the impending closure of its basketball shoe division, its up to Nike's talent scout Sonny (played by Matt Damon) to find a new spokesperson for their shoes and he decides to go against the rest of the board and bet everything on a young player named Michael Jordan. While it is a bit odd that Michael Jordan is mostly a placeholder character who you only see the back off or see in basketball clips the rest of the cast do a great job with the script with what is basically an underdog story. Excellent movie and while its a bit different from my usual viewing taste, it's one I can easily recommend.  

Circle (2015)

A large group of people awaken in a circular room, standing on circles that if they step off - they die (via cheap CGI lightning bolt). Soon they learn that every two minutes said lightning bolt will kill someone anyway, BUT they can vote who where majority vote wins (death) and ties result in revotes or multi-kills. Definitely a low budget movie and one my wife didn't like at all. I found it fascinating to watch people's reasoning to kill others, most of the time backfiring on them, and the ending was just very cool. That said, I'm guessing this one will only suit a particular audience (those like me) so if my other movie reviews have misled you so far, which means our tastes are different, then it's probably best to stay away.

Tuesday 19 December 2023

Blazing Sails Predecessor GigaBash

A trio of competitive games.

Blazing Sails

In this team vs team game (numbers are customizable) everyone is a pirate and the main objective usually is to simply be the crew of the last ship in the game. You can still hop off the boat to collect weapons and materials and fight enemies mano-e-mano flintlock vs paddle style like any other PvP FPS brawler but having the ship as your main life line/objective makes it a pretty enjoyable idea. While the graphics are of a simpler variety and the hand to hand combat a bit... floaty, the ship itself is great fun with many things to interact with. Actually it's a pretty fun sailing simulator. Just make sure your opponents don't manage to sneak aboard and pull the drain stopper below decks or you'll sink fast!


This 5 vs 5 MOBA sees teams of heroes fight along lanes to defeat enemy defense towers with the ultimate goal of eliminating the enemy core. AI controlled soldiers help each side to also provide another way to gain experience (by killing the opposing ones) to help level up your heroes before going in for the big finish. The controls are pretty easy, the graphics nice enough and there seems to be a lot of heroes to unlock and try out. But is this MOBA better than other MOBAs? Wrong person to ask I'm afraid as this is my first one and it's not my cup of tea.


This game lets you play as a titan, a towering giant monster who... can then bash other titans around? Yep. It's an eagle eye arena battler which lets you chuck buildings and vehicles at each other in addition to the wide array of other punches, stomps, and grapples you can perform. There's also a story mode you can solo or co-op play through which is somewhat entertaining but like the PvP game mode I think it would get very repetitive very quickly.

Monday 18 December 2023

Silverton Siege and 6 Days

When terrorists dig in and negotiators can only buy time.

Silverton Siege

When a bunch of anti-aparthied terrorists freedom fighters screw up their mission they end up retreating into a bank and hold the citizens within hostage. I am very surprised at the hesitancy for anyone to use their firearms but that's just not this sort of movie I guess. Instead, the plot meanders along while trying to garner emotional support for the protagonists while the police simply make mistake after mistake. Had they just gone hard with full on violence the movie would have been only 1/3rd of the current length and more people would have survived. Just saying. Not recommended.

6 Days

In this film the Iranian Embassy in the UK is stormed by terrorists who then make demands for a prisoner release in another country. Unlike Silverton Siege this plot doesn't try to make the terrorists the good guys and instead just focuses on the challenges of the negotiators and the spec ops team preparing to take them down. At least there are less stupid decisions plot wise but also feels slower that Silverton, despite being better. Is it good enough to recommend? Eh... not really. :P

Sunday 17 December 2023

Playing with Fire and Leave the World Behind

People winning stupid prizes.

Playing with Fire

Smoke jumpers are cool but this team (led by John Cena) are definintely just caricatures of them especially when they are forced to take care of a trio of naughty children. It's amazing that its the adults that are doing the overacting with child actors around, and while it looks like they enjoyed filming this comedy I'm not so sure I enjoyed watching it, especially as I wanted to drop the eldest child in a fire as the film went on (pretty sure she's an arsonist anyway). Not recommended.

Leave the World Behind

In this thriller a family led by their matriarch (played by Julia Roberts) goes on an impromptu vacation and shortly after arriving begin to experience some ominous stuff. Stuff!? Yeah I don't want to be more specific than that as that is the entire (and sole) hook to this film. Good acting, nice cinematography and a plot that keeps you guessing lead to a pretty interesting watch... until you get to the anticlimactic and unsatisfying end which sort of made the film feel incomplete. As such, also not recommended.

Thursday 14 December 2023

Gloomhaven: Unlocking the Sun

[Part of the Party Time journal

After that unfair mission failure, I voted to leave the city and let it rot to the poison while we returned to Vermling Bear island and this time wiped the floor with the opponents resulting in a cascade of gold for the party! Juris then suggested we try another crypt mission that was on our list for awhile which also turned out to be a walk in the park as it was a "reach the treasure room and kill all revealed enemies" one, so we were just cautious of opening extra doors. It helps both Jim and I have extra skeletons we can summon now.

Jim then was game to retry the Wishing Well, and while we did much better here I (the rat) still had to run the doll through to the well at the end as DL was a turn away from collapsing after a bad door open (that's really a thing in this game since all the revealed enemies get a turn after you open a door). That said, while I was dodging the spirits in the last room my compatriots actually cleared out ALL the other enemies, including those laser gun golems which was pretty cathartic! Lastly we visited a drake nest and slew 16 of the things for Hail (plus some flame demons that Jim disintegrated) putting all of us on level 7 now (though I think Juris might be level 8).

As an extra reward a Sunkeeper (paladin/cleric type) is now sitting on reserve for our crew since our good deeds haven't gone unnoticed!

Wednesday 13 December 2023

Cagaster of an Insect Cage and The Lost City

Shows about love?

Cagaster of an Insect Cage

In this one season anime, nothing makes sense. That's a great start isn't it? There's a virus that causes people to randomly transform into zombies giant man-eating dragonfly type bugs and we are told in the introduction that these critters are impervious to bullets, blades and tank shells with the only opportune time of slaying a person undergoing the change (so still mostly humanoid) to be in the first 20 minutes, via decapitation.

In the very next scene, we see a lone soldier take down a giant dragonfly with a sword and shotgun, and soon after learn there are entire tank brigades dedicated to fighting the bugs. What? Interesting take on having the protagonist being a potential child rapist too, but its ok because the 14 year old says "yes" at the end of the series. Love always wins! Yay? So um, yeah. Sorry for the spoiler but its not a great story and only OK art and action means I'm going to not recommend this one.

The Lost City (2022)

When a burnt out romance writer (Sandra Bullock) winds up being kidnapped it is up to her slow-witted cover model (Channing Tatum) to mount a rescue attempt. For an action adventure comedy this movie certainly hits all of those themes pretty well, and while the plot is mostly predictable it was still quite entertaining and ultimately much better than I was anticipating as I got invested in multiple characters right away, even the bad guy (there are some duds though)! Turned out to be a decent watch. Good choice wifey. :)

Tuesday 12 December 2023

The Super Mario Bros. Movie

Teaching kids to consume shrooms.

When two plumbers end up being transported to the magical Mushroom Kingdom, it falls upon them to save the princess! Oh wait, not in this movie as girls are very capable, so Mario has to go save his brother Luigi while helping the princess save her kingdom from the tyrannical turtle Bowser - who, in a great surprise to me, is much more musically gifted than I anticipated! Wahoo?

Obviously the film touches on as many Mario-isms as it can, because lets face it - this guy has been everywhere from underwater, to kart racing, to jumping barrels thrown by a gorilla. Great graphics and a funny plot with just some action sequences just extending into spectacle. As the tone is kid friendly it doesn't matter how much bloodless violence occurs as everyone will be ok anyway, even the dry bones. I was most impressed by the tiny little emotes the often nameless side characters have - those really made their scenes click. Still a tiny bit long for my liking but otherwise a decent kid friendly movie. Thumbs up!

Monday 11 December 2023

Obliterated Blue Eye Samurai

Two first season series with swinging cod.


After disarming a nuke, the special team led by Chad (Nick Zano) and Ava (Shelley Hennig) decide to party very hard to celebrate only to realize in the messy-after hours that they're still on the clock and have to do the job while tripping balls. My wife accurately described this R-rated action comedy series as being like Legends of Tomorrow but without the sci-fi theme and with a ton more full frontal nudity. There are middling action sequences peppered in the laughs but if you don't like the concept where a team of "professionals" consistently goof up (and if they didn't the thing would be over sooner) then this is probably not the series for you.

Blue Eye Samurai

During the Edo period in Japan where they closed their borders to foreigners and were even more xenophobic than usual, the bastard children sired by said foreigners are treated like trash and one such child is the protagonist of this very well animated revenge killing spree, though there are a fair few gaps between the killing parts during which again, there's a fair bit of adult content just in case the visceral combat sequences weren't enough. While the plot is decent I do find it funny how most of the good guys are a bit over powered. Guy without eyes can basically see, guy without hands can do whatever etc. Still, we really enjoyed this one and are looking forward to a season two.

Sunday 10 December 2023

The Division 2: Router Killer

Better known as Tom Clancy's The Division 2, this game had been in our Friday game nights for a few cycles having "replaced" Ghost Recon Wildlands as it is more RPG than the latter. In it you play agents of said Division trying to bring order back to a post-apocalyptic America - Washington DC specifically for starters with expansions to other cities.

There's lots of gear to collect, upgrade or sell and skills to learn that mostly relates to tech: drones, turrets, launchers, shields and the like. As it is an RPG you also get hilarious situations where a headshot from your level 7 sniper rifle isn't enough to kill a level 22 bad guy who randomly generated into existence because you wandered into a "higher level" area. For the most part it's ok though, until we discovered it is frying Jim's router.

That means not only is he losing connection from the game but also from the internet in general, for the entire household spanning a random duration which usually leans more towards hours of disconnect instead of minutes! It's pretty impressive that a game can do that, and based on google it's a pretty common problem experienced by people who play this! As such, we've uninstalled it now (no point in playing it if we can't play it together). Obviously with that turn of events I don't recommend this game.

While I'm on the topic of stuff that doesn't work, Surviving the Aftermath which was free from Epic a little bit back somehow has worse loading times than the Total War series. Given I could probably finish a light novel before the game even starts, I'm considering this one worthless too.

Saturday 9 December 2023

Apex and The Equalizer 3

Where action heroes get old.


In a future where entitle rich people go on group safaris to hunt down lone human prey, a group of hunters (whose leader is played by Neal McDonough) run into their ultimate challenge yet. An old retired ex-cop who wears sandals and a bright red jacket to hide in the forest played by Bruce Willis (and his body double half the time I'd imagine, when you only see his feet, shoulder or back). As for the rest, its a predictable plot with B- grade acting and poor effects. Not recommended.

The Equalizer 3

Robert (Denzel Washington) makes a silly blunder after one of his justice-murder sprees and luckily is taken in by a quiet town to recuperate. Obviously there is a criminal element that happens to be threatening the populace here too and so that our protagonist has something to "Equalize" but while the premise is ok, the bad guys are simply too low level and don't even pose a challenge once he decides to take action, leading to an anti-climactic ending which is a shame since the start was pretty good. The first two movies were much better.

Friday 8 December 2023

The Evil Within 2

After all the horrifying experiences from the first game, our protagonist decides to go back in to experience MORE HORROR!? Alas all those upgrades you worked hard on are gone (like his accuracy) and so you must build it up again but this time in a more "open world". Well, not so open - but there are some decently large areas where you can easily miss side quests and the like. You can also craft ALL forms of ammo this time (not just crossbow bolts) and the standard mooks are easier to deal with to. For one, you don't have to keep setting them on fire to make sure they stay dead like last time. :P

Can't see us if we're crouched! Lol

There are also far less insta-death mechanics this time around (or at least more spaced out) resulting in a less terrifying game as it progresses, as you'll be going carefully and slow at the start while not really giving a crap later on once you are loaded with weapons and ammo (but stealth kills are just so satisfying!). Obviously I enjoyed this one despite the game not seeming to know who the main villain should be. Is it better than the first game? Yes. Is it scarier than the first game? No. Do with that what you will.

Thursday 7 December 2023

Barbie and Renfield

Movies with affirmations.


When stereotypical barbie (Margot Robbie) starts having dark thoughts, she embarks on a quest from her idyllic Barbieland to find the troubled girl passing these feelings onto her. Expect a high volume of pink and some excellent set designs (in Barbieland) coupled with strange effects and a messy, empowering plot. It has some funny moments and some nice speeches that then compete with some musical numbers (props to Ryan Gosling) and oddly crazier goons in the real world. While it was interesting learning about the toy line I can't help but feel a bit disappointed based on how "good" it was meant to be. It's not bad, it's just ok and maybe that's "K"enough?


Dracula (Nicolas Cage) is a tough and evil task master and for centuries his familiar Renfield (Nicholas Hault) has been doing his dark bidding, but now finding himself in a self-help group for people in codependent relationships (he was looking for victims to feed his master) he finds himself wanting to change. This dark flick has some pretty funny segments as well as surprisingly good and gory/bloody action sequences that really tick the boxes for me. Bonus points that Nic Cage's Dracula is excellent for something that doesn't take itself too seriously. Recommended as I enjoyed this, certainly more than the Barbie movie. It's shorter too!

Wednesday 6 December 2023

Tandem: A Tale of Shadows and The Evil Within

Scares with janky controls.

Tandem: A Tale of Shadows

In Tandem you control both a little girl in top down view and a teddy bear in platforming view at the same time. I think they intentionally made the bear bad at jumping because most of the time he instead relies on the shadows cast by the little girl's lantern as he can walk on them. This makes for a somewhat painful experience as you need to often switch back and forth to get the shadows the bear needs at the right time so the pair can open doors for each other. To my earlier question I don't like this sort of puzzling so I opted out of this once I hit the spiders (so now you need to switch quickly so the girl can escape the creepy crawlies) but you might still enjoy it, if you enjoy puzzles.

The Evil Within

In this horror survival game, you are a detective attending a murder spree at a mental hospital who soon finds himself trapped in the shared mind space of the crazies there - or something to that extent. I've won it and I'm still not sure what the hell is going on! Besides that, being randomly teleported for what feels like a third of the game and some "sluggish" controls I actually quite enjoyed this one.

While most enemies are deformed human zombie things they are decently tough and enjoy playing dead (unless burned or beheaded). There are also a variety of actual monsters to hide or run away from, as well as traps - so many traps that you'll want to disable to get parts to make into crossbow bolts. Ammo is scarce and while you the player might be a crack shot you'll soon find the detective isn't unless you level up his accuracy. All up if you want a game that makes you feel uncomfortable the entire time then the Evil Within might be for you.

Monday 4 December 2023

Fear the Walking Dead and Alien: Covenant

Idiots and monsters.

Fear the Walking Dead

This eight season show was one of the first major spin-offs for the Walking Dead, touting to start the story at the very beginning of the zombie apocalypse while following a family trying to escape the insanity and forming a band of survivors that were usually at odds with each other. Yes, people have stupid moments but some of the naivety can be hand waved due to these folks having little experience in the apocalypse.

And then at season four they decided to drop all of that and just do time skips to catch up with the main series to explain how characters from there are ending up here. The main character focus shifts and it basically becomes the regular Walking Dead, just in a different part of the USA. Idiotic moments are much more difficult to ignore now since characters should have known better and plot armor becomes more and more apparent as less and less important characters perish despite plane crashes, nuclear strikes and other absurd things.  

While the quality certainly takes a hit it's still just around the level of the "bad" seasons of the main show so I guess if you are a fan then this one is worth looking into (odds are you've watched it already) but otherwise you aren't really missing much.

Alien: Covenant

This sci-fi sequel to Prometheus stars Michael Fassbender as a synthetic aboard a colonization vessel of two thousand plus people in cryosleep who are frequently put in danger by the twelve or so crew whose job is to simply get from point A to point B. Through a multitude of bad decisions things don't go well for them, keeping in line with the Alien franchise. At least in this one after people make bad calls they usually die, unlike in Fear (above) where the main cast keeps getting to live to make more bad decisions.

Outside of that the effects are pretty nice though, as are the stage settings and the creatures themselves. You don't really need to have watched Prometheus either to get the gist of what's going on. I guess I'll rate it a... meh?

Sunday 3 December 2023

The Flash (2023)

After the events of Justice League, the Flash (Ezra Miller) is left feeling like the "Janitor" of the team until he works out that he can travel back in time to try change the past and change his and more importantly his parent's fates. It's almost like someone read my review of the Justice League and took the "use cameos instead of an ensemble cast" to heart and for the most part it works, the only issue being that some of those cameos are more interesting / better acted than the protagonist.

While I enjoyed Ezra's goofiness and humor that might not be everyone's cup of tea, but a bigger problem here is the CGI quality which is odd since most superhero flicks have amazing budgets for this. It might just be that due to the excessive CGI required in the movie there are noticeable aspects especially when it comes to people. Especially when compared to say Star Wars that's doing magic for the human faces some people here would be closer to video game quality.

Lastly, this was clearly made with DC movie fans in mind as there are a lot of inclusions that a regular movie goer wouldn't catch or simply be puzzled over. That's great news for someone like me, but I suppose someone going in blind will just have to take everything at face value spectacle. All up, despite me expecting a bad movie this was actually fine. Not amazing, but still enthralling enough to keep us glued to the screen rather than doing anything else.