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Jez Lawson "Jez" (Lancashire, England)

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Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMix (PS3)
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMix (PS3)
Offered by Gameseek
Price: £22.11

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poor game, but it nails the Disney vibe, 16 Dec. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I purchased the game to play Kingdom Hearts 2 on my PS3, having purchased it but never actually managing to get round to playing in on my PS2. I have not tried the Birth by Sleep or Re:Coded as being remade DS games I am assuming rightly or wrongly that the star turn is the Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Version. I have played the original Kingdom Hearts game and have a warm fuzzy nostalgic view of the experience, so was hoping to relive this with the sequel, which got pretty positive reviews at the time. The game starts badly with a tutorial that last nearly 7 hours, this is not just patronizing hand holding like in Ni No Kuni, this is removing all game elements and making you watch a terrible old school public services safety video . It is probably the worst opening to a game I have ever experienced and had I actually researched how long it was going to last I’d have likely quit before the game actually started. Would that have been a terrible mistake? A mistake yes, terrible no, Kingdom Hearts 2 just about gains a recommendation from me, with a large amount of small printed caveats that is.

The game mechanics themselves are poor, the combat is pretty repetitive, supposedly nuanced, but it really pushes subtlety to the brink, I tried lots of different techniques and set ups and always returned to mashing X, with an occasional dalliance with the Square and Circle buttons. I admit I am not a hardcode Devil May Cry / Bayonetta black belt in combo heavy combat, but I’m not sure that my lack of mad skilz is the problem. There are some terrible difficulty spikes as well, especially early in the game when you characters are weak, and one particularly hard bonus battle at the beginning of the final world left me cursing the combat system and contemplating a final rage quit / hissy fit, I somehow managed to hold it together and make it through though. The real issue here is that the game part of Kingdom Hearts is the combat, almost every objective is kill this, kill that, smack things quickly, smack lots of things, smack lots of things quickly, etc, there is very little in the way of variety. When variety is introduced with for example the Winnie the Pooh mini games and some Tron light cycle stuff, I quickly yearned to return to the repetitive combat as at least its objectives are clear and controls work. It is here that the game really shows its PS2 heritage (that along with those painful loading times), graphically this is very much a PS3 game but mechanically less so.

Finally before I hit the positives the RPG elements are all a bit rubbish, the skills progressions unlock at specific levels or after specific fights and are dumped into an abilities screen per character. You then go and apply the abilities limited by ability points that make you pick and choose. These abilities are all basically described but without a guide a lot of them are a bit vague and bar guard and some combo enhancers don’t make much difference to the fighting. Over the long run you get stronger and more do more damage, but it’s a slow process that with the enemies scaling at the same time doesn’t really make you feel more powerful as you progress. Also each level gains you a specific skill gain, so this maybe a gain in magical power, strength or defence, but not all three each time, making grinding for levels a chore, as you may not get the stat increase you need. I found magic to be borderline useless (bar healing and in one battle where the boss was immune to physical attacks) and each time my magic stat increased I felt like I was being taunted by the game.

So it’s all doom and gloom? Well, no actually, the Disney worlds are beautifully realised as are the characters. The character models, animation, sounds all really nail that Disney feel. The stories while a bit obvious and not even going to make Richard and Judy’s top 20 are true to the worlds in which they exist and really make this game. The worlds of Kingdom Hearts are everything the game has to offer. Admittedly most worlds are 2/3 well detailed rooms, with some thematically correct corridors, plus one additional room revealed in a later return journey in the 2nd half of the game, but the character shines through and they are a joy to discover each time. The player character models often change to match the worlds and although graphics do not a great game make, here they really are critical to the experience. It is what stopped me quitting and it just about alleviates what would otherwise be an exhausting slog. I am not a Final Fantasy aficionado so although the characters from that world look pretty, they didn’t really add much to my enjoyment of the game. They are often teased, as they strut about in hoodies like the bad youth of yester year, before dramatic reveals, which aren’t so dramatic if you don’t know who they are in the first place. I suspect you’ll get cheap thrills from them though if you have a love of the Final Fantasy games, and it would appear that anyone from those universes with an X in their name (especially at the beginning) is represented.

Finally the story is absolute garbage, I haven’t played Birth by Sleep which links KH and KH2, but I would not put any stock in it shedding light on the whole overarching story line. Each individual worlds story holds together ok, although why the bad guys are there is always tenuous (and Maleficent who is one of the main antagonists throughout the first half of the game simple vanishes for virtually the whole second half).

In summary, the gamey parts of KH2 are pretty poor (and not just symptomatic of their PS2 roots (the PS2 could and did do better than this)), but this game thrives on character and charm and this it has in abundance, the HD visual make over is really impressive and the Disney elements are incredibly close to their cinematic equivalents. This makes what would be an average at best game to quite a good game, high praise indeed I’m sure you’d agree. If you like Disney, can handle a 7 hour borefest intro and love mashing X, get that money spent now, if you love Disney then its worth putting up with the game for the experience, else go buy Ni No Kuni which is better in every way.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 7, 2016 9:42 PM GMT


Ni No Kuni - Essentials (PS3)
Ni No Kuni - Essentials (PS3)
Price: £16.12

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Ghibli RPG, as good as it sounds, 20 May 2015
Upfront admissions, I have a deep love for JRPG’s and am a big fan of studio Ghibli, and both these factors contribute greatly to my enjoyment of this game. Having declared my hand already it will be of no surprise that I found this to be an excellent experience that I would recommend to anyone with a passing interest in either the genre or the animation studio. The game however is not without its flaws. Firstly the first 10 hours operate as a My First RPG, keeping the player under tight control, placing a big star on the world map and saying go here. There is no deviation, no free thinking just a pure linear trek between stars. Also in the period the games mechanics are drip fed to you slowly, so very very very slowly. The combat starts badly with a single familiar (think pokemon) and some awkward fighting system that is a hybrid of Dark Chronicle and Dragon Quest VIII, both from the same developers. The mixture of real time movement, turn based move selections feels a worse option than sticking to the regular conventions of either method. I never fully warmed to the combat system, but its annoyances and restrictions recede over the course of the game. The Playstation appears to be of a similar opinion as well, as the AI companions never get to grips with what they are supposed to do, dying frequently and burning through action points at alarming rates until you fiddle with their settings. However once you become an expert in cancelling, kiting and have a full set of over levelled minions the quirks and failing are largely forgotten as barring boss fights combat becomes but a minor distraction. The other game systems are pretty good. The visibility of quest givers, and objectives on maps is a modern convention that is greatly appreciated. The wizards companion (the book that came with the expensive version) is on the disk but thankfully barely used. Boss fights are usually telegraphed giving you time to heal and set your party up (the 2 or 3 occasions they are sprung upon you drum home what a good move this is). One slight annoyance I found was that for optional boss fights you had no way of knowing how strong your opponent would be until you instigated a fight. All the game mechanics are good, although few if any are best in class.

The game does open up greatly once you are passed the 10 hour mark, granting you the ability to travel far and wide, and although the big “Come Hither” star never disappears, it becomes less compulsory to pay heed. The freedom when it does comes allows you to explore the real star of this game. The world in which the whole game is set is beautiful. The towns, characters, enemies, in fact everything visual in the game all shine with that Ghibli quality, coupled with great music I never once got bored of wandering around the world, and visiting new places was always a pleasure. The story also bears the hallmarks of a Ghibli production, with the Japanese sensibilities and ambiguous characters, which unlike Disney have no purely evil characters (or even good for that matter). The story turns a little dark towards the end, with themes of despair and sorrow, but the 12 rating is hard to understand, video games are treated harshly compared to movies or TV, agency I believe, but if this was a film, it’d barely warrant a PG rating (where as if Tom and Jerry was a game it’d be worth a 16 at least). I fully enjoyed the cut scenes, although some where blue-ray standard and some a bit more Mr Benn and they are noticeably less frequent in the middle section of the game. This variation in quality is also in evidence when the game switches from fully voiced to written text and back again, sometime within a single scene. It is not the only game to do this, and I understand the costs of voicing (in multiple languages) a 60 hour epic, but it is undeniably jarring and is hard to completely ignore. The sound and voice track is however never short of excellent.

In summary then, this is a fantastic example of the genre, and the Ghibli connection is a perfect fit and really makes the game. Neither the game elements or the animations are the very best from their respective studios but together they are a potent mix. If you have any interest either in RPG’s or in Ghibli you cannot fail to enjoy this product, and my fingers are very much crossed for a rumored sequel.


Frank [DVD]
Frank [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Fassbender
Price: £5.99

14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Never judge a film by its cover (or title, or main character), 8 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Frank [DVD] (DVD)
Imagine you see a film called Wolverine, and the title art work has a picture of Hugh Jackman with his finest lupine hairstyle resplendently shining out at you. Now image you watch the said film and in fact it’s all about Champion the wonder horse running around doing his thing while wearing a Wolverine face mask (a very accurate face mask, but definitely a face mask). You are now ready to approach this film. I had rented the film expecting it to be some kind of window into the life and times of Frank Sidebottom, based on very little research admittedly, given the fact that the front cover is emblazoned with a picture that looks a lot like Mr. Sidebottom (and I would argue he doesn’t have one of those faces that is easily mistaken) and the fact that the film is titled Frank. The signs were there early, lots of social media in first few minutes, which flashed alarms that this was not set in the late 80’s early 90’s, but maybe this was a modern retelling, for the kids of today who can’t handle period drama stuff. It was less easy to excuse Frank having an American accent and him playing avant-garde experimental music. Infact I watched the whole film and the only references to Frank Sidebottom are the cover, the title and of course the wholesale inclusion of his body, why these are included I cannot say, it’s not like he’s a global superstar and by using his iconography you will trap an massive audience into watching the film. I love Frank but I think niche is the word.

Trying to take the film as a fictional story of a band, I still don’t get it. The film relies on Frank coming across as some kind of artistic genius, and this never really rings true. The tunes are reminiscent of a college band trying to be cleverer than their cleverness allows. The story is random, lacks any real cohesive narrative and just makes little to no sense, it needed to be a true story, to make you go WOW really! but it is clearly not (Viking funeral ceremonies) which changes the tone of the "really" to incredulous . I had heard rumors it is loosely based on Captain Beefheart and Daniel Johnston, but am not completely sold. Having said all the above I did watch the film right until the end, and am still talking about it a couple of days later. If you like pretending to be Sigmund Freud you can probably find some deeper meaning about society, inner chi and all that stuff, but for laymen looking for entertainment there is nothing here for you, please move along.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 3, 2016 7:18 PM GMT


Pokemon X & Pokemon Y: The Official Kalos Region Pokedex & Postgame Adventure Guide
Pokemon X & Pokemon Y: The Official Kalos Region Pokedex & Postgame Adventure Guide
by The Pokemon Company
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not complete, 15 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Just beware this breaks from the tradition of previous Pokedex's and only contains details of Pokémon who can be caught in game. This means literarily no information on 100's of Pokemon. I have to use it in conjunction with the Black White Pokedex to see typing's, level up moves etc of thinks transferred via the Pokémon Bank (and with subtle alterations to some Pokémon you actually need to go to Bulbapedia or Serebii to confirm that nothing has changed). I understand how the ever expanding Pokémon world means each and every addition has more to cover, but it really impacts the books use to have partial info in it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 25, 2014 11:58 AM BST


Carcassonne
Carcassonne
Price: £3.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Not great for a novice absolutely no attempt in game to ..., 15 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Carcassonne (App)
Not great for a novice absolutely no attempt in game to teach you what is happening, how it is scoring you or anything what so ever. I admit it's not too difficult to go and find web based instructions for the game, but if like me you purchased the app to learn the basics before deciding whether to invest in the board game expect to have to do all the leg work yourself. In the app's defense it in no way claims to be a learning aid, but its rare modern software fails to cover the basics.


MARENJA Fashion- Maroon Leather and Wax Cord Braided Woven Bracelet with Retro Metal Moustache One Direction Infinity Sign and Angel Wings Yellow Pearl 18-25cm
MARENJA Fashion- Maroon Leather and Wax Cord Braided Woven Bracelet with Retro Metal Moustache One Direction Infinity Sign and Angel Wings Yellow Pearl 18-25cm

5.0 out of 5 stars Just needs matching Mullet of Impossible Greatness Broach to complete the set, 15 Aug. 2014
I have long thought it impossible to create an artifact that could encompass every side of the “Moustache”, however this piece of premiere jewelry has made me reassess everything. The moustache is so hard to encapsulate, it goes from Hitler to Mario, from the comedy patchiness of bumfluff, through the great luster of the spitfire pilots and on to the slightly disturbing white crinkles of the old ladies. The fashionable bangle however speaks to all owners of facial hair and it says I love all colours, creeds and sexualities of moustaches and I am proud to share this with the world.

It’s a bargain as well you can’t even buy a decent quality fake one from the joke shop for £3. Seriously you should buy one now, I’d advocate buying two, but two times infinity is still infinity apparently, probably due to some stupid European law.


Pokepark (Wii)
Pokepark (Wii)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £20.58

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for children, 31 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Pokepark (Wii) (Video Game)
Good games for children are few and far between, but this is one that should not be over looked. The game perfectly captures the pokemon in 3D and places them in a sumptuous world. The gameplay itself is very simple and repetitive, but for a novice gamer whom hasn't grown cynical and demanding (like myself) this is not an issue. The game drip feeds new pokemon, as tasks are completed and discovering new worlds and finding new creatures is enough to keep my 5 year old engaged. Some of the minigames do have some convoluted and slightly akward controls and some of the pokemon challenge the player to a quiz which demands some reading, but nothing show stopping as they are all passable with a little parental help and/or just trial and error. Unfortunately being a Nintendo franchise you'll likely never be able to pick this up cheap, but if you want something entertaining, with high production values that is suitable for a 4-7 year old, I'd recommend you give this a go.


The Octonauts and the Sea of Shade
The Octonauts and the Sea of Shade
by Meomi
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful picture book, 31 Oct. 2011
My son loves the TV series Octonauts, but to me it smacks of cheap computer animation and stilted fact-ion stories. The original Meomi books then came as a huge suprise to me. The illustrations are simply amazing, any page taken at random, has mountains of little visual flourishes, jokes for the adult reader and pictorial side stories. The main stories are subtley moralistic (not in an explicit way, but they plant some seeds for young children to question perceptions about others and how different does not necessarily mean bad or wrong). The stories are pure fiction unlike the natural world-lite stuff peddled by the TV show, which I guess could be disappointing for a devotee, but only a stone hearted documentry-o-centric person could fail to love these books. Buy it now!!!!!


Back to the Secret Garden [DVD]
Back to the Secret Garden [DVD]
Dvd ~ Joan Plowright
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £9.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dodgy DVD menu!, 31 Oct. 2011
The DVD failed to play on 2 seperate DVD players, continuously looping on the Copyright notice. It was playable on a computer as can directly access the DVD menu, but this is not great for keeping the children entertained. Due to low price did not return, but I would think twice about purchasing it if I were you, especially when you factor in the fact that the film is not a patch on the original.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 28, 2011 10:25 PM GMT


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