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Reviews Written by
Mike London "MAC" (Oxford, UK)

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ロックマン5
ロックマン5

4.0 out of 5 stars A Brother Betrayed (or) More of the Same, 2 Dec. 2012
This review is from: ロックマン5 (Video Game)
Mega Man V
A Brother Betrayed (or) More of the Same

The fifth Mega Man game is a very solid, if not very distinguishable, entry in the classic Mega Man series. Of the last three games (MM4 thru MM6), this is pretty much neck and neck with MM4 in terms of quality. Good game, but it has that whole we've been here done that feeling that drags the whole enterprise down. It's yet another remake with the same gameplay of the first MEGA MAN.

The plotline of this one (like NES games really need plots, but I digress) is Proto Man has gone bad, set himself up as the new current megalomaniac trying to take over the world, and programmed eight robot masters to be evil (why is it always 8?) Maybe Rincewind has a right to fear that number (sorry, Terry Prachet Discworld reference). If the plot feels a little overfamiliar, that's because it's the same as MM IV. And just like MM IV, it turns out when you fight Proto Man that Dr Wiley was behind it all and you must fight him.

You played the other Mega Man games. You know the drill. Select a robot master, see what weapon can beat him by beating other roboatmasters, beat all 8, proceed to Proto Man.

Fortunately there aren't as many tired or rehashed ideas in Mega Man 5 as far as level design and bosses go, unlike Mega Man 6. The Robot Masters are fairly original, especially Gravity Man, Napalm Man, and Charge Man. Charge Man has a nice railroad themed level. Crystal Man is a little like Gemini Man from III. Still, the game's level design is pretty good for the NES. Gravity Man and Star Man have fun stages, and they're pretty innovative for Mega Man.

Another new feature of the game is each stage has one letter, which you must obtain to get the robotic bird Beat. You need Beat to beat Dr Wiley at the end, because if you don't it'll be really hard. The letters spell out MEGA MAN V, and they are part of the challenge of the game to get obtain them. Trust me, when you get to the end battle, you'll be thankful you took the time to collect those eight letters.

We also get a new an improved mega buster, even though when it is charging if you get hit you will lose the charge as well, which sucks royally. We also get a new weapon called the Super Arrow, which is pretty cool as well.

The challenge is up there. While not damn near impossible like the original MEGA MAN, MM5 has its fair share of challenging sections, but if you persist you will come to the end of the journey.

There are some flaws in the title. Capcom changed the Rush Coil, much to its detriment. Passwords don't save everything, which really sucks. The Super Arrow is an interesting idea but not very well implemented. The storyline is the same as IV.

The biggest damage this game has caused is how it confused a lot of people about Proto Man. They think he is evil, but is in fact a good guy. Naturally, Dr Wiley is behind this, and the storyline is just like MM IV.

Of the Fake Villain or Fake Bad Guy Trilogy, as I refer to Mega Man 4-6, this is pretty strong, and for oldschool platform fans there's a lot to recommend to Mega Man 5. The real problem with Mega Man 4-6 is that everything it does, the first trilogy does better, and the first three games are a lot fresher, before Capcom drove the series into the ground with endless sequels. MM5 is good, but only play it after you played the first three games.

This is my order of Mega Man NES titles from best to worst. II and III are the best, though I give a slight edge to II because this is the game that really redefined the Mega Man formula, but III is just as good. IV and V are about the same as well, though neither approach the sublime quality of the first three.

MEGA MAN II
MEGA MAN III
MEGA MAN
MEGA MAN V
MEGA MAN IV
MEGA MAN VI.


No Fences
No Fences

5.0 out of 5 stars Here's where Garth gets interesting, 1 Dec. 2012
This review is from: No Fences (Audio CD)
Garth Brooks best represents the turning point in country music, moving away from the outlaw country and more traditional acts to more middle-of-the-road, more pop-oriented country acts. In this manner, Garth can be a highly polarizing figure. Garth laid the foundation for so many acts that followed in terms of cross-marketing, to the point where both pop and country stations often lay some of the same songs. For some, Garth's overt commercial appeal may be somewhat off putting - after all, realistically, Garth [has as much to do with rock as he does with country] owes as much to KISS and other rock bands as he does to country.

If the 1989 "Garth Brooks" was a good, but unremarkable album, "No Fences" is where Garth Brooks comes into his own a full-fledged superstar. Although "No Fences" in several ways sounds like an extension of his debut - there's some honky tonk, tall tales, exceptional ballads, straight up country - "No Fences" is far more interesting both musically and lyrically than the debut.

With "No Fences", the pop/rock influences become widely apparent in Garth's music, especially the ballads, [using the folk/power ballad bombast in seamless unity] marrying the folk-rock and the bombastic conventions of the power ballad seamlessly. The music is much more dynamic as well. "The Thunder Rolls" is a chilling ballad, but feels more akin to the songwriting sensibilities of a rock act than traditional country.

Garth hasn't left behind the honky tonk behind though. On the up-tempo songs, "Two of a Kind, Working on a Full House", using a clever poker analogy, is both entertaining and traditional at the same time. "Victim of the Game" hearkens back to Gospel style music, and would have fit in wonderfully on "The Chase", probably Garth's most eclectic album.

The remainder of the album has some great moments - "Friends in Low Places" was one of Garth's biggest hits, "Wolves" is a great closer, and "Unanswered Prayers" is a meditation on life, similar thematically to "If Tomorrow Never Comes". "Wild Horses" shows Garth's rodeo obsession (an obsession that lead him to rework Aerosmith's "The Fever" on the 1995 "Fresh Horses"). "Same Old Story" is another heartbreaking ballad.

With "No Fences", Garth crossed over, and was becoming a commercial juggernaut due to his impeccable ability to spot fantastic melodies, great hooks, and material that would have mass-market appeal. For better or for worst, Garth would revolutionize country music, and largely that revolution began right here with "No Fences".

There are those fans who would argue Garth was the worst thing to happen to "real" country music. Regardless, there is no doubt Garth brought country (even if he did make country far more palatable to Top 40 listeners with pop/rock songwriting sensibilities) far outside normal country markets. And for that, country music as an industry owes him a great deal of gratitude, even if the outlaws may be far more interesting for more "off beat" listeners.


Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I only really listened to country exclusively for a very brief time in the early 1990s; I then went into rock in all its various, 1 Dec. 2012
This review is from: Garth Brooks (Audio CD)
I only really listened to country exclusively for a very brief time in the early 1990s; I then went into rock in all its various permutations and never looked back. Although I live in Oxford and have for years, I am from Oklahoma, Garth's home state. In fact, my home town is not that far away from Yukon, Oklahoma, his home town (though he has long abandoned Yukon for Tulsa). One of the main thoroughfares in the town is named Garth Brooks Boulevard (and has been since the late 1990s).

Like so many others during the early 1990s, we all knew Garth and listened to his albums religiously. I used to know some people who went to high school with Garth. One of his high school mates told me the first time they heard "Much Too Young Too Feel This Damn Old" they were astonished about the local boy made good.

We all know the story - on the strength of his early 1990s output, Garth positioned himself as the premier country star, with that rare cross-over appeal that launched him far beyond the stratosphere of normal country acts. By the late 1990s he had become the most successful country star commercially, moving over one hundred million albums, and then retired in 2001, got married to Trisha Yearwood, and has gone missing from the public eye for over a decade, with a few notable appearances here and there.

I believe that Garth's success came from his cross-market appeal. His albums have rock underpinnings, and he even indulged his rock-star fantasy with the (admittedly bizarre) "In the Life of Chris Gaines". Yes, he serves country music, but this isn't the raw honky tonk of George Jones and George Strait.

With his debut (his most unremarkable album), Garth hasn't really come into his own in terms of that perfect mixture of rock/country/pop he so successfully perfected on later albums. "Garth Brooks" is by far the most straight up traditional record Garth ever recorded. About half the album is neo-traditional country.

"Not Counting You", the only self-penned song here, is an uptempo honky tonk romp. "I've Got a Good Thing Going" details a relationship falling apart because the narrator's lover wants to leave California and go back home to Oklahoma (a song I can sometimes relate too). "Uptown Downtown Boy" (not present on the original release) is similar to "Friends in Low Places", with a country boy in a fish-out-of-water setting. Garth sings about a one-night liason with a café' owner in "Everytime It Rains". "Alabama Clay" is another good story song. "Nobody Gets Off In This Town" is a jazzy little number. "Cowboy Bill" is a tall tale in typical cowboy western style. "I Know One" is another ballad, a proclamation of love for a woman who has gone through several partners.

That leaves us with three songs. "Much Too Young", "If Tomorrow Never Comes", and "The Dance". For being only twenty seven at the time, Brooks sings "Much Too Young" with stunning conviction and a world-weariness far beyond his age, and his singing works perfectly with the song. "If Tomorrow Never Comes" and "The Dance" are both defining songs for Brooks, and both are harbingers of what was to come. Garth has said "The Dance" is his signature song, and he was so fortunate to get his signature song so early in his career. Both are genre-bending ballads.

While perhaps interesting for those who want to see where Garth came from, I wouldn't recommend "Garth Brooks" unless you were either very much a country fan or a huge Garth fan. The key tracks are available elsewhere, and if you are just getting into Garth, I'd go with one of his other records.

There's nothing here that would lead you to suspect just how big Garth Brooks would become, a juggernaut on par (in terms of sales) with Elvis and The Beatles. Garth here is pretty decent, but not remarkable (at least, not in 1989).


No Title Available

4 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't buy online,, 1 Dec. 2012
I have a soft spot for Jolly Ranchers, but since 2007-2008 these bulk bags have gone up exponentially. I remember buying these packages (in this case, they were 8 LB) for just under ten dollars at Wal-Mart. Then, in 2009-2010, Jolly Rancher reduced the size to 5LB for the same price. Then, from 2011 to 2012 they are now selling 3.75LB for the same price point! Essentially you've lost half the candy and are still paying the same prize.

As for as buying a 5LB bag for just under eighteen dollars, PLUS shipping, don't bother, that's outrageous! You can pick these up at Wal-mart or other major outlets for much cheaper . . . but still not as cheap as it was just a few years ago. Sigh.


Sanei Super Mario Plush Series Plush Doll 5" Bullet Bill/Killer S Plush
Sanei Super Mario Plush Series Plush Doll 5" Bullet Bill/Killer S Plush
Offered by em-store
Price: £12.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Soft and Cuddly - Everything Bullet Bill is Not!, 1 Dec. 2012
Bullet Bill has been plaguing Mario since 1985. Made of metal, shot out of a cannon, this guy is tough stuff. In the Mario Kart series, if you get a bullet bill you can plow down your other kart opponents in a race to the finish line.

The plush toy, is soft, squeezable, but still has that aerodynamic build that Bullet Bill is famous for. This is a toy with attitude. Works well as a projectile, but keep away from any pets. I will say this Bullet Bill is pretty durable - my dog started chewing on it for several minutes and it was not torn or even damaged. I hang it in my car.


Super Mario Plush - 5" Ghost Boo Soft Stuffed Plush Toy
Super Mario Plush - 5" Ghost Boo Soft Stuffed Plush Toy
Offered by PARAISO Japan eu
Price: £15.90

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the better plush Mario toys, 1 Dec. 2012
There are some pretty generic knock-offs of Mario out there in the wild, so you want to be careful. Beware of anything that says import - often these are bootleg products very cheaply made (case in point, Super Mario Brothers : Bowser Plush - 10"). However, I am relieved to say that this particular Boo is no such rip off.

He is soft and looks identical to the Boos of the Mario video games. You can stick his tongue back in his mouth, and when you squeeze his body his tongue pops back out. He is comparable in size to other similiar Mario plush toys. I've ran him through the wash a few times, and he has come through unscathed. Yes, this is an import, but the key difference here is I believe this is a legitimate Nintendo product, which makes all the difference in the world. They have excellent quality control.

For those looking for a good ghost plush toy, this is the one to get!


Super Mario Bowser Soft Plush Toy - 10" The Baddy
Super Mario Bowser Soft Plush Toy - 10" The Baddy

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Save your money, 1 Dec. 2012
My nephew is a big "Super Mario" fan. But who am I kidding, so am I! (Just look at my reviews, I've covered all the major Mario titles). Anyway, so I bought this one, Bowser Jr, and Boo for him.

While my nephew was happy, can't say I was that impressed. First, this is CLEARLY an import - all the writing on the tag is in Japanese. Not that there's anything wrong with imports, just want you to be aware.

Second, overall the toy is rather cheaply made and not very durable. The arm bands and the eyes are the worst - they are glued on. Like other reviewers noted, mine also references "Mario Party", this time "Mario Party 4". Pretty much a cheap knock-off and not much more.


Zombicide Season 3 orange cubes
Zombicide Season 3 orange cubes
Price: £17.87

3 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Save your money, 1 Dec. 2012
My nephew is a big "Super Mario" fan. But who am I kidding, so am I! (Just look at my reviews, I've covered all the major Mario titles). Anyway, so I bought this one, Bowser Jr, and Boo for him.

While my nephew was happy, can't say I was that impressed. First, this is CLEARLY an import - all the writing on the tag is in Japanese. Not that there's anything wrong with imports, just want you to be aware.

Second, overall the toy is rather cheaply made and not very durable. The arm bands and the eyes are the worst - they are glued on. Like other reviewers noted, mine also references "Mario Party", this time "Mario Party 4". Pretty much a cheap knock-off and not much more.


Super Mario Plush - 10" Bowser Soft Stuffed Plush Toy
Super Mario Plush - 10" Bowser Soft Stuffed Plush Toy
Offered by Well Stuffed Toys
Price: £29.98

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Save your money, 1 Dec. 2012
My nephew is a big "Super Mario" fan. But who am I kidding, so am I! (Just look at my reviews, I've covered all the major Mario titles). Anyway, so I bought this one, Bowser Jr, and Boo for him.

While my nephew was happy, can't say I was that impressed. First, this is CLEARLY an import - all the writing on the tag is in Japanese. Not that there's anything wrong with imports, just want you to be aware.

Second, overall the toy is rather cheaply made and not very durable. The arm bands and the eyes are the worst - they are glued on. Like other reviewers noted, mine also references "Mario Party", this time "Mario Party 4". Pretty much a cheap knock-off and not much more.


Mattel Monster High Venus Mcflytrap Doll
Mattel Monster High Venus Mcflytrap Doll

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the better Monster High toys, 1 Dec. 2012
One of the better Monster High dolls, "Venus McFlytrap" (an ode to Marty McFly?) is stylish, punk, and hip. She's dressed in a black shirt with red and green patterns, a slight jean jacket, black shorts and pink and black pants. Her hair is red and pink, she has a bag and a black brush, as well as a plant Chewlian. Like any good toy of this type, Venus is colourful and memorably to look at. Her arms and legs are fully bendable as well as her head rotatable.

Tying in the echo theme, she also has movable vines that act as necklaces and bracelets. Chewlian, her pet venus flytrap, is the only sore sport in that he is rather top heavy and does not stand up on its on very easily and falls over frequently.

For those buying this for their young kids, I would not recommend this toy for kids under five. This is more marketed as a tweens toy or a collectors' toy. While durable, these type of toys aren't really meant for the rough and tumble play of two to four year olds.


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