Monday, January 26, 2015

GadgetJax Reviews: Big Hero 6 by Walt Disney Animation Studios

Big Hero 6 is a really great movie. Yes, it is. I'm not trying to butterscotch up this movie as a joke, it really is quite good.

The premise is, as strange as it seems, not so simple. It's about a young boy named Hiro Hamada, who likes to compete in a special kind of sport that involves combat between small robots. Kind of like Pokémon, honestly. His older brother, Takeshi, creates a special kind of robot for healthcare named 'Baymax', and Baymax later inspires Hiro to create his own personalized robots that can benefit mankind, outside of the robot combat that he's so familiar with. I really can't say much about the story and the plot without spoiling it, so I'll leave it at that. It may seem straight-forward at first, but it really isn't the obvious "Good vs Bad" plot you would expect.

 For being an animated movie about robots, Big Hero 6 is actually quite emotional. There are many sudden tear-jerking moments, and the plot can get a bit difficult to follow if you are a younger viewer.
 This movie also has a lot of comedy. A lot of it. The best part about it is that the comedy is usually used for relief, allowing viewers to quickly get a bit of a chuckle after a tense moment.
 The animation quality is just as stunning as Frozen, which was really the only part of Frozen I enjoyed.(It's a long story, but anyone who hasn't heard my Frozen opinions can see them here: It mixes just right with the cartoony vibe of the movie and the serious tone of the plot, though it stays away from the realistic tone used in things like 'The Adventures Of Tintin'.

So, I finally found something to review that's perfect, right? No. I mean, I did do a review of Tangled back in the day that I gave a perfect score, but that was prior to me moving to my writing phase. I didn't really have a good concept of critical reviewing at the time, and now I've grown to realize that there is no such thing as a perfect game/movie/book. So, what are the biggest flaws in Big Hero 6?
 First off, the comedy can become grating in many spots. There are at least a total of 3 parts in the movie where an entire movie is dedicated to a slow-moving joke. It really throws off the pacing of the movie, and while the jokes are still quite funny in those parts, they do overstay their welcome.
 Oh, don't even get me started on the 'Supporting' characters. Y'know, pretty much everyone that isn't the hero, his robot, or the villain. Many of them have one-sided personalities that can get quite annoying, especially since this movie follows the obvious trope of a 'Five-Man Band' plus a robot.
 Lastly, the music. Unlike Frozen, Big Hero 6 doesn't really have a song that just 'sticks' to it. Yet, I personally like that choice, because I do NOT need a second 'Let It Go' in my life. Thankfully, the choice of outside group music is still good, especially a quick joke revolving around 'Eye Of The Tiger'.

Even with the decent amount of flaws it has, Big Hero 6 is still a great movie. It comes to home video pretty soon, so if you're around the library in the next month or so and you see a copy of it, pick it up. It's defenitely worth your time.

Friday, January 9, 2015

GadgetJax's Top 10: Favorite Video Games!

Around here, I'm usually known as 'The guy that only reviews things he doesn't like', and it isn't a lie. Like I've mentioned, I prefer to tackle things that I think are bad, because comedy is richest when it is derived from something that isn't pleasing.

However, instead of being the usual me, I want to step out of my comfort zone and do something different. Something that is, dare I say it, ENJOYABLE! (dun-dun-duuun) And, honestly. I don't think that I can find anything more enjoyable than Video Gaming.

I've never personally done a Top 10 here before, but like I said, that comfort zone is pretending to be on a coffee break today. He isn't here, so I can make this list however I like. So, my personal Top 10 Favorite Video Games I've ever played! Any rules for this list? Just one. I'm only list 1 game per franchise, so don't expect to see 2 or more 'Sonic' titles on here.

So, as 'The Black Eyed Peas' always say, "Let's get it started in here!" Top 10, go!!!

#10 Pac-Attack (SNES, GENESIS)

Pac-Attack is nothing more than a simple puzzle game. Think along the lines of something like 'Tetris' or 'Dr. Mario', and you should get the picture.
Tiles and Ghosts are falling down, and you direct them to the bottom of the screen. Once in a while, a Pac-Man will start falling, and it will eat any ghosts in his way. The game is simple, relaxing, and absolutely a blast to play with friends, thanks to the inclusion of a nifty 1 on 1 mode. Combine it with a catchy soundtrack, and I'd say that Pac-Attack is quite a pleasure.
My family has owned the game ever since the days of the original Sega Genesis, and I've played it ever since I was three. Any age should be able to find out how to play quickly, and even a grand-parent could learn it, earning this number 10 spot easily.

#9 Dance Dance Revolution Extreme (PS2, ARCADE)
Music games, you love 'em or hate 'em. Me? Love 'em. It is kind of hard to grasp them if you aren't talented in the rhythmic category, but DDR Extreme is still a blast.
All you have to do is hit notes as they rise to the top of the screen, while following the beat of music. The reason I chose DDR Extreme over any other DDR game for this list is because it has my personal favorite selection of songs to play to, including 'YMCA'.
The more curious thing about DDR Extreme is that even though the Arcade version was Japanese exclusive, many spots in the USA have cabinets for the game, including Six Flags Great America. If Six Flags can import DDR, you KNOW they have good taste. Don't question it.

#8 Cave Story (PC, Wii, 3DS,)

Many games can take a huge team to develop. Some games even require the work of several companies! How many people made Cave Story?
Just one man, named Daisuke 'Pixel' Amaya.
While the game does have a very simplistic art style, this can be forgiven easily thanks to pretty much everything else in the game. As the name implies, Cave Story has a very grand tale that contains many heart-warming moments, along with even a few plot twists that might jerk a tear out of you.
The gameplay is incredible, mixing up Metroid-Vania exploration with the brilliant projectile combat from the Mega Man and Contra franchises. The worlds are varied, the weapons are all unique, and that soundtrack.
Cave Story is brilliantly composed, with a varied amount of tracks that always mix up the tone of the game in just the right way. Some are catchy, some are dark, and others just feel so nice.
If you haven't played Cave Story yet, there is literally no reason not to. The original japanese game is a free download from the creator itself, and you can probably find a translation patch for it without much difficulty. The game has also seen several re-releases on WiiWare, Steam, and just a few years back, a 3D remake was released for the 3DS. All the versions are great, so pick up at least 1 of them!

#7 Gunstar Heroes (GENESIS)

Most of my descriptions for the other games on this list have all been because they mix solid gameplay with a very nice atmospheric feel.
Well, Gunstar Heroes takes those games and throws them into a First Class airplane sent to Norway, because this game is crazy!
Gunstar Heroes is a mess, in a good way. It was developed by Sega alongside Treasure, a company that is famous for many cult classics like Dynamite Headdy, Sin & Punishment, and even Alien Soldier.
This game is truly madness incarnate. The game starts up quickly, you choose a weapon and level, and then go. Enemies are all over the place, the soundtrack pumps up every moment of the game, and everything is just, WOW. Literally, the best word to describe this game is with the word 'wow'.
Oh, and the boss battles. If you want to play a game just for boss battles, play Gunstar Heroes. Right now, guys. The boss battles are awesome.
Couple everything I just mentioned with a fantastic 2 player mode, and I don't really think anyone can call this game 'bad'. It may not be my favorite game on this list, but is probably one of the most flawless of the bunch.

#6: Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (GameCube)

Mario is the Mickey Mouse of gaming, really. Pretty much every Mario title out there is great, and Paper Mario TTYD is my favorite.
I'm not really an RPG guy, but I can really say that Paper Mario TTYD does an excellent job of mixing story telling, unique art styles, and swell combat. Everything is user friendly, and isn't hard to learn at all.
Experience Grinding is nowhere to be found here, which really allows the user to control the pace of the game. Do you want to continue your quest, or do a side quest first to obtain a new item? The little choices like that help make the game feel fresh in spots that would normally feel mundane.
Paper Mario TTYD (I should stop calling it that) is almost like a children's pop-up book. Everything is so delicately crafted, and anyone that can still afford a copy of this game should defenitely play it. It is worth it in every way.

#5 Pokémon TCG 2: Here Comes Team Great Rocket! (GBC)

If it wasn't painfully obvious by the constant notes I leave at the end of my entries, then I'll say it again: I love the Pokémon Trading Card Game to death. So much so, that this game is the only entry in the list that was exclusive to Japan!
So, if this game is Japanese, how have I been able to play it? Simple. English Patch, works every time.
Onto the game itself, it's the Pokémon TCG, no duh.
Here Comes Team Great Rocket features Base Set, Jungle Expansion, and Fossil Expansion from the first game, and much more. The biggest addition to the game is the inclusion of Team Rocket, the set released after Fossil. In addition, many cards that were originally Japan exclusive, like the Vending Machine cards and promos from the Ivysaur vs Wartortle Deck Set are available, and it really helps make the battles feel varied, based on the kind of deck you choose to play.
Outside of the cards themselves, many of the players you fight against in the game have their own rules on how to play against them, such as Lightning Types doing more damage, or Special Energy not allowed. The little things like this help this game go from a simple TCG to a curious melting pot full of lots of creative ways to play.

#4 Little Big Planet 2 (PS3)

If my 6-year old self knew what LittleBigPlanet was, he probably would have fainted from happiness.
I love Level Editors. A lot. I've always wanted to make my own game, and thanks to Little Big Planet 2, I've been able to create so much.
Little Big Planet, as a franchise, isn't about the main campaign and the standard platforming it features. It's about that amazing Creator mode. I'm serious when I say that if you can think it, you can probably make it in LBP2 in one way or another. An battle tank? Sure. A jet-propelled sled? Probably. An entire castle to explore through? Go right ahead. I've been able to create a headset that fires blobs of glue that cement themselves into traversible platforms. Yeah.
There is nothing else like Little Big Planet 2 in terms of creativity scale. There is so much you can do in this game, if you know how to.
Do you know limitless this game is? I found a playable level that recreates the entirety of the first dungeon from the first Legend Of Zelda game.
There. Is. No. Comparison.

#3 Super Smash Brothers (2014) (Wii U, 3DS)

Nothing can even begin to descripe Super Smash Brothers, and it is honestly the greatest Nintendo franchise in existence.
Super Smash Brothers has a perfect blend. Unlike more complicated fighting games like Street Fighter and BlazBlue, Super Smash Brothers plays out more like a platformer game where you fight other players. The controls are really simple to pick up and learn, allowing for pretty much anyone to start winning within a round or so.
Because of the near-endless amount of customization, you can change the game from an ultra competitive 1 on 1 match, to a randomized 8-player brawl with randomly spawning items. On the more technical side, Wii U/3DS Smash excels over Melee and Brawl because of how much balance there is in the speed. Melee was too fast, Brawl was too slow, but this one is just right.
Oh, and the character roster? Probably the best of any video game ever made. You have your popular guys, like Mario, Link, Sonic, Pac-Man, Pikachu, but then there are the more obscure ones and fan favorites, like Mega Man, Robin, Ness, Shulk, Wii Fit Trainer, and more. The sheer amount of diversity in the choice of characters is so grand, that pretty much anyone could find someone that they can cling to.
The soundtrack may just be one of the most diverse ever written. In addition to several original compositions, the game features several remixes of songs from other games, of many vary genres.
Super Smash Brothers for Wii U and 3DS is kind of hard to really give a true opinion on, because you really have to go into the technical portions of the Smash chronology to really be able to make opinions about it. So, I will leave you with this:
Super Smash Brothers for Wii U and 3DS is my favorite Nintendo game ever made.

#2 Mega Man Battle Network 6 - Cybeast Falzar (GBA)
When I started getting older, I'd say about 10 years old, I went through a phase where I started noticing flaws in video games much easier. Many of what used to be my favorite games, like Mario Party 5, Sonic Adventure 2, and movie tie-in games. Yet, there was one game that I could just go and play any time, and I would feel nothing but happiness...
As I've said before on this blog (An obscure DS vs PSP post) and elsewhere, I really love Mega Man Battle Network 6, more specifically the Cybeast Falzar version. The gameplay is kind of like an RPG, but throws so many curveballs into the mix that the game ends up feeling like nothing else.
Battles are done on a 6x3 grid, and fights are played through in a complex formula revolving around 'Battle Chips', which are kind of like Pokémon cards to a certain extent.
Just like the Pokémon TCG, the huge amount of Battle Chips is what allows for complex design when building your strategy, and the game has a very futuristic art style and soundtrack that compliments each of the characters very well.
The story is very difficult to understand if you haven't played through 1-5, but it is quite an interesting conclusion to the series.
Mega Man Battle Network 6 is a greatly underrated game, and it's a shame that not many people have played it. Considering that Battle Network 1 and 2 have already come out as downloads for Wii U, it's just a matter of time before the eShop sees the release of this one. It's defenitely worth the price, as I've spent 100+ hours on this game already!

#1 Sonic The Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles (Genesis, PC, GameCube, Wii, PS2, PS3, Xbox, Xbox360, DS)

Sonic is a great platformer series. It combines complex platforming with incredible speed that can literally be found in no other game. On the top of that Sonic pyramid is Sonic 3 and Knuckles, which is my favorite game ever made.
Sonic The Hedgehog 3 was originally planned to be a complete title, but it had to be cut in half because of release date deadlines. The second half was later released as a sequel called 'Sonic & Knuckles', which featured a special bonus cartridge slot that you could connect many other games to. So, what would happen if you connected Sonic 3?
Boom, now you can play Sonic 3 & Knuckles.
Not only does it allow for the entirety of the game to be played in 1 straight save-enabled file, but it allows you to play as any of the 3 characters, along with many new soundtrack changes and slight variations to certain levels.
As for the game itself, It's brilliantly designed to the point of near-perfection. Every level is unique, and none of them are dull. Because of the endless supply of alternate routes in each level, the game allows for lots of creativity in the choice of traversing through each level.
Just like every other game I've listed, the soundtrack is great. However, what makes it so great? Well, a very special person helped compose it. A fellow you might know by the name of Michael Jackson.
I have already played through and Completed Sonic 3K at least 7 times, and I would be willing to do it again any day. In fact, I think I might do that right now.

If you happen to have a favorite video game, leave your thoughts below. The viewership is what helps this blog stay alive, so all opinions are appreciated!