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Category Archives: Review

Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files: An Anime Review

yu2Death is a difficult thing to deal with. Particularly if it is the premature death of a young person. Beyond the grief of the family and friends left behind is the question of  what is to happens next? Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files gives us one version of what could happen. 

In 1990, the manga version of Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files was released. The creator and artist behind the manga is Yoshihiro Togashi. The story took off and became gained popularity. Fans continued to show support as the manga was adapted into an anime in 1992. The show was successful enough to run till 1995. 

Sometimes all it takes is one selfless act to change the course of a life. Or to end it. When juvenile delinquent Yusuke saves a child’s life it costs him his own. Once in the underworld Yusuke’s actions are judged. His one selfless act puts his afterlife on a trajectory no one could have guessed. Now he must navigate the dangers of the afterlife. Along the way he meets new allies and some old friends. 

Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files was one of those great animes that I was able to watch as it had reruns America. My younger brother and I loved it. We watched every episode we could when they would air after school. It helped cement a bond between us and a lifelong love of anime that either of us have yet to quit.

The designs for the characters are interesting. They may seem a little dated to fans of more current animes. To be honest the style is very typical of characters from the 1990s. However the choice of hair and outfits does give the audience clues about the characters and their goals. The music is similar but fun. The scenery is well drawn and very different depending on where the characters are. 

The concept of the story is fascinating and evolves well. It is also just fun. The characters are relatable. Most of them are young and bold which makes for interesting decisions. They not only push the story but give the audience someone to root for. 

I would highly recommend Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files.
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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Digimon: Digital Monsters: An Anime Review

dmonWho hasn’t imagined having a really cool animal companion? Why stop there, though? What if you had an animal companion that was not only your friend but could also help you fight epic battles?  Oh, and they have a fantastical design because they are actually morphing creatures. I know that I would want in. 

Digimon: Digital Monsters was an anime that ran from 1999 to 2003. The creator of the series is Akiyoshi Hongo. The series first aired in Japan to much acclaim. When Digimon came to the United States, it was released by the 1990s powerhouse, Saban Entertainment. It was popular enough to have spin offs and games based on the series. 

A group of young teens are transported to a digital world. There, they are paired up with powerful morphing creatures. Together, they have to protect not only the digital world but also Earth from a growing evil. Through the series, the characters and the Digimons grow and become stronger. They find ways to be better through the bonds of their friendship. 

The character design is really interesting. All of the characters have very different outfit designs that match their personalities. The Digimon themselves also have very interesting designs. They are based on different animals or plants. The animators did a wonderful job on giving every character a different look that works well with the story line. The music also adds to the story. It has an overall happy feeling, as this show was geared more toward younger audiences, but also gave depth to different scenes. 

Digimon: Digital Monsters is an anime that I loved to watch as a kid. I would highly recommend it. The story lines were well written. The characters were multidimensional and multifaceted. It is a great anime for kids. I hope you will give it a try.

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

A Trip Through the SNES Classic: A Link to the Past

From what I’ve seen in fandom circles, A Link to the Past is one of the most beloved games in the Legend of Zelda series, right up there with the all-time classic, Ocarina of Time.  By weird chance, I actually own three copies of the game: one for the GBA Advance, one for the SNES, and the one that came included with the SNES Classic. Yet I’m only just playing it now.

No, I don’t know why either.

A Link to the Past starts off with a bang, in a way that its fellow Zelda games typically haven’t.  Other entries, like Twilight Princess, Wind Waker, and Skyward Sword, ease you into the adventure, as Link interacts with the people in his home village just before the Inciting Incident happens.  A Link to the Past begins with Link receiving a telepathic message from Princess Zelda, begging for help.  So your first job is to break into Hyrule Castle, just in time for Link to find his dying uncle, who also tried to help the princess.  You get his sword, infiltrate the dungeon, and rescue Zelda before she can be used as a human sacrifice for an evil wizard’s scheme.

Once Zelda is safe, Link receives his next objective: find the three pendants that will allow him to gain access to the hidden Master Sword.  Only then will he be able to defeat the evil wizard Agahnim and restore peace to the kingdom of Hyrule.

But, of course, it isn’t that easy.

A Link to the Past fascinates me as a newer Zelda fan because it’s clear from the get-go how much it influenced the rest of the series, particularly Ocarina of Time. The story beats feel familiar: Inciting Incident, Find the Three Sacred Plot Devices, Big Twist Where the Villain Gains the Upper Hand, and Find More Sacred Plot Devices to Defeat Him for Real This Time.  Other elements that feel familiar include certain locations throughout the kingdom of Hyrule and musical cues.  It felt weird visiting Death Mountain without running into any Gorons, but they didn’t show up until Ocarina.

Link also suffers the death of his uncle early in the game, so he has a more personal reason to be involved in the conflict than before.  (Well, in theory.  His little pixelated self didn’t seem too broken up by it.)  Likewise, future Zelda games gave Link more of a backstory, with family members, friends, and neighbors that care about him.

I started playing A Link to the Past earlier this year, right after Kingdom Hearts III, and I’ve been playing it on and off ever since.  It’s not the first time that I’ve played a Zelda game right after a Kingdom Hearts or Final Fantasy playthrough, and there’s always a learning curve that comes with it.  You can’t really level grind with Zelda the way that you would with a JRPG.  When playing any video game, I have a kneejerk tendency to hunt down every last enemy in a given area so that I can gain more experience points, which translates to better health, stats, etc.  But that doesn’t work with a non-JRPG.

Instead, A Link to the Past forced me to experiment and try new strategies when I died over and over again.  I’d experiment with using different weapons, or figure out ways to avoid enemies altogether.  In a way, I was still “gaining experience,” except that I was the one gaining it, not Link.  That’s not to say that either Zelda or Final Fantasy is superior to the other in terms of gameplay.  They’re just different.

One thing that I do find frustrating- and this is something that applies more to the Zelda series as a whole and not Link to the Past specifically- is saving the game and starting over after dying.  Every time you die during a boss fight, you have to start over at the beginning of the dungeon and navigate through some of the minor enemies just to get back to the fight.  I’d rather just jump right back into the fight and try again.

But, all in all, I’ve found A Link to the Past to be a game that lives up to the hype.  The story is exciting and the world is fun to explore.  And now it’s available on the Switch for Nintendo’s online service subscribers.  So if you haven’t played it yet, now’s your chance!

Review: Little Witch Academia (2017)

little witch

Sometimes you need an anime that is a little bit more innocent. One might even say that it has a more childlike vibe. Where the music, animation and the story is just a little bit lighter. 

Yoh Yoshinari created a manga called Little Witch Academia that became a fan favorite in 2013. This, like with so many other animes, was able to help the story be told through a different medium. Little Witch Academia has been able to evolve into an anime. The show made its debut in January of 2017. Megumi Han and Erica Mendez are the voice actresses that help bring the protagonist to life.  

When she was a little girl, Akko Kagari saw a witch named Shiny Chariot perform at a magical show. Chariot inspired her to become a witch herself so that she could do magic and bring others joy. Akko is accepted into a prestigious girls magic school called Luna Nova Academy. It won’t be easy, though. Akko is the only girl who doesn’t come from a magical family. Also, it turns out that magic is, well, difficult. However, with her new friends, her can do attitude, and inspiration from her role model, Akko is sure she can become a witch. 

The animation is really interesting for Little Witch Academia. It is a mix of a few styles that give the anime its own look. The character designs are well done, particularly how the animators have tweaked the uniforms for each student. The music is fun and helps to set the mood for different scenes. The sets, particularly for the Academy, are really beautifully animated. The overall look of the anime is really well done. It easily gives the viewers a peek into a world where magic lives in the midst of the “real world.”

I enjoyed Little Witch Academia. I think it has a fun and fanciful feel. It also shows the power of sticking to your dreams. This anime also tells a story about how one action inspires one child to become something more, and how it gives them the courage to continue through adversary. I would recommend it to everyone. 

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Review: Moonflight (Tabletop Game)

Developer: Man o’ Kent Games
Kickstarter launch: 9/18/2019

What is it?

Moonflight is a tabletop deck building game with an interesting twist. While you spend a good amount of the game building your deck, the winner comes down to the person who can unbuild their deck as well.

Moonflight takes place in a mythical fay land called Moonflight. Moonflight only exists under the waxing of the Hunter’s Moon. Players take on the role of the leaders of Moonflight, a Jack, and must have the most powerful deck by the end of the night.

What did I think?

Moonflight has all the amazing qualities of a deck building game. You gain resources in order to buy playable cards. You try to build the most powerful deck you possibly can. I also really enjoy the twist of unbuilding your deck, which adds an extra layer to strategizing. Not only do you have to build the most powerful deck, but you have to weed out the cards that aren’t useful to you in order to win.

There’s also the concept of “the Turn,” which helps in unbuilding your deck. Each card has 2 sides, the black side and the white side. You start the game by using the black side. Once your marketplace is dried up, “the Turn” happens, flipping each card to the white side and changing their abilities. While the black side has deck building abilities, the white side has deck unbuilding abilities.

Another aspect of this game that I love is the fact that you can play by yourself. Not everyone has the ability to play with friends all the time, but you can still get that itch to play a tabletop game. There are two options for solo play: Score More or AI Mode.

In Score Mode, you attempt to get the highest score you possibly can, which can hone your deck unbuilding skills. In AI Mode, you can choose AI player cards to play against. You take the turns for these AI players based on what the card tells you to do. This gives you a more competitive feel for the game, while still playing by yourself.

The artwork is absolutely stunning. It really gives you the feeling of being in a fay land. Considering I’m obsessed with faeries, I am obviously in love with this artwork. The prototype cards were sturdy and comfortable to hold. They reminded me of my favorite tarot deck, which was extremely pleasing.

The instructions were easy to understand and broken up into manageable parts. They have a section for the more experienced players, but most of the rule book is for non-experienced players. The terms are clearly defined and the rules are laid out in a way that really helps new players to understand the game.

Do I recommend it?

I do! Moonflight is a fun, fantastic, and fascinating deck building/unbuilding game that will keep you entertained. Consider supporting Man o’ Kent’s Kickstarter for this game, it will be live tomorrow, Wednesday, September 18th, 2019.

You can print and play Moonflight now here. You can also play via Tabletop Simulator here.

Review: The Order (2019)

the order 2Time spent at college is considered to be extremely exciting for so many people. It is a place to experience freedom, to make friends and to discover things about oneself. Some people have these experiences in societies that they pledge for and grow with. What if it was a secret society though? What if that society was a supernatural one?

In Netflix’s new series The Order this is a question that is explored. The Order premiered in March of 2019. The story for the show was created by  Dennis Heaton and Shelley Eriksen. The Order has a great cast, including: Jake Manley, Sarah Grey and Adam DiMarco, who are billed as the show’s stars. It has been cleared for a second season in 2020.

What if your mother had died under mysterious circumstances? How far would you go for answers and, maybe, even to avenge her? Those are some nagging questions that Jack Morton has as he starts his time at a prestigious university. Now Jack is juggling classes, secret societies, a super odd roommate, a bunch of mysterious deaths and things right out of folklore. Can Jack make it out alive while he tries to navigate through this complicated new world? Oh and to get the girl too, of course. 

The dark and humorous world of Belgrave University is accompanied by a well made soundtrack. As the audience and Jack stumble through the mysterious story lines that make up The Order, they are guided by music to set the mood. The sets are amazing. I don’t want to give much away, but the settings have clearly been well thought out. Even the classrooms and hallways make the viewer feel like they are back in school.

The characters themselves are well written. Not only that, but they are also incredibly interesting. I want to know more about almost everyone in this show. Their costumes give the viewer clear clues about the characters while still making you believe that they are also just still in college. The characters go from worrying about essays to the next bit of danger that they are stumbling into. 

I really enjoyed this first season of The Order. There were twists that I didn’t see coming. The ending was great. I am excited for the next season. 

I would highly recommend this show. I think it appeals to a wide range of audiences. It also has interesting takes on the supernatural elements.

the order

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Review: Stardew Valley (2016)

Developed by ConcernedApe
Published by Chucklefish
Released: February 26th, 2016
Avabile: Steam, XBox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, PSVita, IOS & Andriod

Let’s chat about Stardew Valley.

Years ago, I had gotten a GameBoy Advanced and found a game called Harvest Moon. I was obsessed with it. I would sit on the couch and play for hours, ignoring the world around me. I never thought I would find something like that again. I played other Harvest Moon games, but they weren’t the same. In comes Stardew Valley.

I was so excited when I saw it was coming out that I squealed and told everyone. I wanted everyone to hopefully experience the same wonder that I had playing Harvest Moon, I prayed that it would be amazing and was not disappointed. It blew away my expectations. 

Now that you know I love the game, let’s talk about the actual game.

You start off, unfortunately, with the passing of your grandfather, who hands you an envelope and tells you to open it when you are at your lowest. Next, you are seen working in a cubicle at Joja Corporation and obviously hating your job. You remember the note and open it. It’s telling you that you inherited a farm in Stardew Valley. Obviously, you drop everything and bounce. Peace, Joja.

You arrive in town and meet Robin, the carpenter, and Lewis, the mayor. They show you to your farm and tell you a few basics. 

There are 4 seasons and 28 days in each season. Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. You plant crops according to the season. You go fishing, cook delicious food, upgrade your house, get farm animals, and, obviously, earn money. 

What’s better is that you are surrounded by these amazing NPCs that have their own stories, hardships and personalities. You can date and even marry several of them, regardless of gender. You can make friends with everyone. 

Their stories unfold and you really get pulled in, wanting to help these NPCs in their struggles. It’s really touching and extremely well written.

Not to mention fighting monsters in the mine, the festivals, the secrets and so many achievements. Also, the addition of multiplayer means you can farm with up to 3 friends. 

With several different farm map options, no real ‘end’ to the game, and the ability to decorate and change your farm around as you wish, the fun can be endless. 

I feel like Stardew Valley has something for everyone. It’s only $14.99 and with no paid DLC, the game is a steal. I only have 13 farms and over 300 hours in the game to prove it.

On a more personal note, this game has also gotten me through really tough times, depressive episodes, and moments when I had no strength left. I could turn it on and disappear for a few hours and come out feeling better. It’s always had a calming effect on me. I’m eternally grateful for that.

Oh, and if nothing I said above is impressive, this game was made by 1 person. The entire game, all aspects. 1 person. Let that sink in.

Do you play? What’s your favorite farm type? Who’s the best spouse? Show me screenshots of your farm!