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Netflix’s Witcher: A Review

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Well done high fantasy is such a wonderful story to enjoy. The mixing of myth, history and modern forms of storytelling can be difficult to get right. However when it is mixed properly it is truly fantastic.  

Witcher began its story in novel form. Written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski and translated by Danusia Stok the first novel in the series was a hit. Since then the series has grown, much to the delight of fans. The story continued to evolve in the form of video games. This different format brought new fans to The Witcher franchise. With multiple books and games there were many who wanted to see the story evolve even further. In 2019 Netflix released a dramatized version of the series to stream on it’s platform. 

Geralt is a witcher. After being mutated by magic at a young age now he travels to kill monsters for coin. His world is one of magic and uncertainty. Wars between men, elves and other things are waging. As Geralt travels he finds possible comrades. He also ends up on crazy adventures, the effects of which ripple through the kingdoms for years. In the Netflix series viewers also get to see many different stories play out that will connect to Geralt.

These stories give us rich characters. Some are just beginning their journeys while others are at the end of theirs. These characters are interesting all on their own. They not only enrich the story but make it more fun, no matter what side they are on. 

The story is interestingly told in the series. From all the source material to choose from a rich tale is woven for fans. The characters are just as multifaceted. The soundtrack is amazing, yes particularly that one song. The one that is still stuck in our heads. The costumes and prosthetic pieces are magical in and of themselves. The sets are phenomenal. 

So much work went into bringing this story to life.  The writing is a love letter to high fantasy itself. One of the shining accomplishments is how the female characters are treated. They are so richly created. They are so diverse and real. Truly the work put into the characters of this show are what I wish every fantasy show would be bold enough to do. 

Yes I highly recommend Witcher. This lowly bard will sing its praises to all who want to talk about it. If you haven’t seen the show yet do yourself a favor and watch it now. 

Always keep sparkling!!!

Be Someone’s Superhero: Feb. 29th 2020!

We’re happy to announce our 4th annual Be Someone’s Superhero fundraiser! This 12-hour gaming marathon will benefit The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, through Extra-Life.

During this event, many of our members will stream on the Real Women of Gaming Twitch channel, passing the baton to each other as we try to help the kids!

Here are the details:

If you want more updates and details regarding this event, check out the Facebook event here. You can also use the hashtag #BeSomeonesSuperhero on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay connected.

Happy 2020: A time of reflection

Good Morning.

As I write this, I am sipping my coffee at nearly 7 am New Year’s Eve morning. Not a typical time for me to be awake, but today I find myself reflecting. 

The end of a decade comes tonight. For half of that decade, I’ve been a mother. For almost a decade now, a wife. For over a decade, I’ve loved my husband and been loved by an incredible human who still amazes me. Near a decade, Vanri has been my best friend and so much more, my person. For decades Aiks has been my friend and guardian angel through some of the best and worst times. These are all blessings.

For most of the last decade, I have had the distinct pleasure of growing Real Women of Gaming. I saw us start as a Facebook page,  evolve to YouTube, then streaming. Grow into charity events, conventions. I’ve watched us help others, with tears of pride in my eyes. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the most amazing humans on the planet. They are my family and I wish I could impart to you how truly stunning each one of them is. How truly honored I feel at calling each of them, my family. These brilliant, courageous, beautiful human beings. 

In the nearly 7 years we’ve existed, I have learned so many lessons. Most about me, the rest about people in general. I’ve seen people come and go. I’ve made personal strides, gone on crusades (I’ll have my masquerade ball, damn it!), and made many, many mistakes. I’ve fallen, stood up only to be knocked back down, and I’ve had several hands help me stand again.

Tomorrow will be a new year, a new decade. Reflection is due at a time like this. Looking back at the years, we’ve worked, we’ve laughed and we’ve cried. It’s time to step forward into a new light. To take all the work that has been done by so many people and roll it forward. Not alone; never alone. To bask in the beauty not only of what we have accomplished, but also in what we have yet to achieve. And we will achieve it. 

I’d like to say that we are stepping into 2020 ready to kick ass and take names, but that’s not happening. We are holding out our hands, pulling up a chair and inviting you to come to sit at our table. We are playing games without judgment or prejudice; we are enjoying all that these amazing masterpieces have to offer while accepting you, and us, for who we all truly are. 

We are sending out our love and acceptance to all of you. You are all included at our table. We aim to show you the passion, sweat, and tears of some of the most wonderful creators on the planet. Epic human beings who’ve made these masterpieces in the little spare time they have while working full-time jobs and going to conventions on weekends for something they love. To show us their heart, sometimes wrapped in a box with game pieces and cards, massive tales of adventure and characters you’ll fall in love with.

So as we prepare to step into 2020, which will be the most incredible year, we offer our hand to you. We’ve done so much but I promise you, you haven’t seen anything yet.

Happy 2020. May all of your hits be a critical success. 

With Love,
Crymson Pleasure &
Real Women of Gaming

Games Created by Women: Conquests of Camelot

conquest for camelotCamelot. Merely saying the name brings fond memories and images of magic for many people. Camelot has been the standard for all things that are good in the world. 

In 1990, a new game hit the not-so-ye-olde streets. Conquests of Camelot is a historical role-playing adventure. Christy Marx gave her talents as both the writer and the director of the game. Conquests of Camelot is an adventure that can be played on the players PC system. It is an interesting game that transports the players back to the famed land of Camelot.

 

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Christy Marx

 

Camelot is a complex series of stories that is made up of myths. During the Anglo-Saxon time, the land that would become England is in turmoil. A wizard, a young warrior and his band of knights are trying to bring order to a lawless place. The player is able to help them perform tasks to do so. Slightly darker than the children’s version of the legends of Camelot, this game is able to present players with an interesting take as they game. 

Conquest of Camelot is a suggestion for fans of role playing games. The graphics may seem a little dated to players who are used to newer games. It is a game that has helped the gaming industry to get to the point that it is today. Players who particularly love modern RPGs might enjoy giving Conquest of Camelot a try. The story was written by a great writer and, honestly, if you like role playing games, does it ever get better then Camelot?

Conquest of Camelot was a trailblazing game. It is an interesting PC game for it’s time. It successfully weaves mythology with modern storytelling through gaming. 

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Triggers: Mental Health & Gaming

I love Horror. I don’t think that’s a shock to anyone. I’ve avoided a lot of horror games for various reasons, mainly because I’m a bit high strung and anxious. Reason for that? I live with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (c-PTSD), it comes with anxiety.

When I started my stream with The Blair Witch game, everything was fine. I was a bit anxious because I was going in a little bit blind. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything important. I explored and got confused, but as I roamed the woods the main character loses sight of his dog and begins to have a PTSD episode.

Most people won’t think anything of it. It’s just a stressed moment for a video game character. However, to me, it’s much more than that. I was unaware that he had PTSD and if I were aware I wouldn’t have started playing it. I confirmed with the chat that he did indeed have PTSD and apologized to everyone and switched the game. Had it not been for Vanri sitting in voice chat with me (to help ease my anxiety) suggesting that I stop playing, I may have tried to force my way through the game.

That would have been a terrible idea. My anxiety was high from watching him have this episode and as I continued on to look for the dog, it was getting worse. The visual effects were wonderful because his panic attack looks and sounded like mine. If I had continued further I probably would have been triggered into a panic attack or worse. So I jumped over to State of Decay 2 for the rest of my stream. 

The next night I decided to try Alien: Isolation. I was trying to get back into horror games and I’ve heard amazing things. About 2 hours in, I was overwhelmed by the atmospheric noise. I could feel a panic attack rising and I had to stop playing. Was there anything wrong with the game? No! The problem lies with my mental illness. I stopped playing the game and went back to State of Decay 2

You see, I like to think that I can do anything, but I have limitations. We found one when I played through Layers of Fear, an amazing game that I will always recommend. The subject matter was a lot more closely related to my own trauma than I realized. I wasn’t even aware that my attitude had changed toward everyone around me, but they pointed out that I was extremely agitated and my anxiety was high until I finished playing the game. So from that point forward, we had to look for specific elements in my horror games. If it wasn’t a first-person game, Vanri would play the game first to make sure that there wasn’t anything triggering in the storyline.

I assumed that it was the only thing I had to worry about, but to be honest, I didn’t even check to see if that was present in Blair Witch. Now, watching let’s plays or streams of these games are fine, but playing them is different. It’s the difference between watching and experiencing. It’s more immersive. I’d watched Layers of Fear on YouTube and Vanri’s playthroughs of it. I knew the story, but experiencing it was hard. I am lucky it didn’t bring up anything worse, like flashbacks. 

So a little extra medication this week and a hard lesson learned. There is a reason I don’t play horror games in which I can’t fight back. I’m not invincible and I have very real limitations. I need to research these games more before I jump right into them because I don’t want to trigger myself, whether I’m on stream or not. I have to make sure that there isn’t abuse, the characters don’t have PTSD or other mental disorders that could trigger mine, there isn’t abundant (though very well done) noise triggering anxiety.

More than that, I need to be okay with stepping away. I need to be okay with setting down the controller (figuratively) and putting myself first, putting my mental state first. To drop the tough act every now and then to ensure better mental wellness for myself and those around me. At the end of the day, that is my responsibility. I never know if something could trigger me, but how I handle those situations speaks volumes about the progress I’ve made and my self-awareness. I’m also thankful to have such amazing support that helps me make these decisions.

Again, and I cannot stress this enough, I am not upset at any of these games. It is not their fault that I was triggered. I am 100% responsible for my mental health in this regard. I view it the same way as a food allergy. Ask before you eat, just in case. Does this have nuts in it? Does this have abuse in it? 

So from now on, I will look into my horror games more. If everything seems okay, then I will play it, but if I am triggered I will allow myself to step back and stop playing. My community and viewers will understand and at the end of the day, I am more important. 

Are there any amazing games out there that have triggered you or things you should watch out for? Better yet, have a horror game to recommend that is void of my triggers? Let me know in the comments, but for now, back to Prey!

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!

Game On Expo 2019: Fun and Games!

While I am an avid gamer, I haven’t had the chance to go to a lot of gaming conventions in my life. I’ve been to PAX South twice and on, August 11th, I had the opportunity to go to Game On Expo here in Phoenix, Arizona. Thanks to Real Women of Gaming, I got to get a media pass for this 3-day event. I was unable to attend all three days, but luckily that didn’t stop me from seeing a lot of great things at this Expo. This is the first expo where I didn’t go with friends, but instead with my niece, nephew, and a friend of theirs. Three kids in an expo hall by myself? Was I nuts? Turns out they behaved really well. And it gave me a different perspective of the event.

This is Game On Expo’s 5th year, so they are still establishing themselves and building their own community. And I have to say, they are doing a great job. Everyone we talked to was incredibly nice and the crowd was fairly polite. I was pleasantly surprised to see quite a number of parents with their kids there. Much more so than at bigger conventions. I think this has to do with the sheer amount of games they had available for people to play while they were there.

The theme this year was Mario and they had voice actors from some of the games available for photos and signatures. There was the voice of Mario, Charles Martinet, plus Jen Taylor and Kenny James. There were Pokemon voice actors Tara Sands, Eric Stuart, Rachel Lillis, Megan Hollingshead and Veronica Taylor. There was also Mary Gibbs, the voice of Boo from Monsters, Inc, Hellena Taylor, the voice of Bayonetta, Tim Kitrow from NBA Jams and E-Sports personality Chris Tang.

There was a section for old-school arcade games! There was Ms. Pac-Man, Paperboy, Pinball, Tekken and so many more! I have to tell you that I’ve never laughed harder at a kid playing a video game as I did at two of those that were with me when they tried to play Paperboy. They kept getting hit by cars, people, and even RC cars and they were like, “this is so hard!” Like kids, arcade games were supposed to be hard! They wanted us to sit there and spend more quarters!

Then there was a section for older consoles. They had Ataris, Nintendos, N64s, Segas and more! They were available to be played by anyone when they weren’t being used for the Retro World Championships.

Of course, we can’t forget about having an e-sports area with the ability to play Fortnite, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Mortal Kombat 11 and others. There were tournaments for these games as well, but mostly I saw a lot of families having a great time playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. I know we went and played it a few different times. I have to say, my 10-year-old nephew is better at it than I am. I had to go old-school and smash buttons because I had no idea what I was doing. I did randomly do some great combos, but mostly he kicked my butt 2 outta 3 rounds!

There was a small Virtual Reality booth that had two set-ups for people to try. They were only usable by those over age 12, so only my niece got to try it. It was really amusing to see her trying to move around in the game while sitting in a chair with that giant headset on. While we were watching her, some guy came up and played Beat Saber on expert! He was really good too; it was fun to watch.

There were rows upon rows of merchants at Game On Expo. There were merchants I expected to see like The Army recruiters and local businesses looking for extra exposure, even though they have nothing to do with games. This particular expo also had tons of merchants selling used games for every console you can imagine. And then there was also the jewelry, cosplay props, art, knitted plushes, bookmarks, decorations and other handcrafted items.

Smitty Tut Designs was one cosplay prop purveyor that I had to stop and stare at. This is a husband and wife duo where he makes metal shields, pendants, swords, etc in the garage and she sells it all. The items were beautifully crafted and when I went home to look at their website, I was even more blown away.

Another booth I was blown away by was Amber Skies. She is a cosplayer that also does art and her dad was the one that was there when we first stopped at the booth. The kinds and I thought the artwork was beautiful, but the best part was her father showing us her cosplay books. He was so proud and loved helping her get it all together. I was amazed to hear she did a Nebula cosplay (from Guardians of the Galaxy) and that Marvel saw it and asked her to do another. She got to do a whole photo shoot and meet some of the cast. Every geeks dream!

I totally cannot forget to mention Rocket A Go-Go and Stormy the owner. She was the first booth we stopped at that Sunday and she was so welcoming and excited to be there. She had a booth that promoted multiple businesses – Electric Bat Arcade, Yucca Taproom, Rocket A Go-Go and That Rocket Gal. She told me about the awesome artists she supported and was selling for. They had handmade geek purses, custom sunglasses, accessories and jewelry for sale. I bought my sister an adorable Star Wars clutch for Christmas this year – of course, I wasn’t able to actually wait that long and gave it to her when I took the kids home!

One of my other favorite booths was the Non-Profit Cosplay for Charity booth – Umbrella Corporation: Arizona Hive. They raise money for the Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA. Having cats myself, I always like to help less fortunate animals when I can. We got some cool syringe pens and a zombie cupcake pin for donating. Plus these props they had were really creepy and awesome.

I may not have a lot of experience with expos and conventions, but this one was fun. It was way more family oriented than the big ones and I think that having cons like that is important for the younger generation. The kids pooped out early and we didn’t make it to the Kid’s Fortnite Dance-Off or the Puzzle competition, but I think they would have been a lot of fun. They did have a blast playing tons of video games, some that I hadn’t even heard of, and looking at all the great cosplays. I would definitely recommend Game On Expo to anyone who likes to shop geek culture, meet great people, play video games and meet actors from their favorite games.

If you want a full list of guests, vendors, etc you can find that on their website.

Review: FAR: Lone Sails (2017)

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FAR: Lone Sails
2017

FAR: Lone Sails is an exploration adventure game by Swiss developer Okomotive. Available on PC, Xbox One and PS4. Where you traverse a dried-out seabed littered with the remains of a decaying civilization. Keep your unique vessel going, overcome numerous obstacles and withstand the hazardous weather conditions. How far can you make it? What will you find?

Now that that’s been said, I’ve beaten this game 5 times in 3 days and got 100% steam achievements. That’s something I rarely do. It isn’t a long game so beating it several times will only take a few hours. However, this game is full of magic.

Let me explain. In this game, you have an androgynous character traveling a grayscale landscape with red being the only other color. The art style is beautiful. As you side scroll in your large land vehicle, the scene is ever-changing. 

You start in a small house/workshop after taking a moment to honor the passing of, what I assume is your father or mentor. After leaving the building behind you walk until you come across a massive vehicle. It reminds me of many things, reminiscent of movies about a dystopian future, you do everything you can to keep your vehicle operating. 

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Stopping to gather items for fuel, solving puzzles to upgrade the vehicle, outrunning disasters. All while a quiet story is told in the background. A story without words, which can be the best story there is. As I travel, my mind races to try to fill in the blanks. Wondering if it’s a comment on our current society and where we are headed or it’s just a simple story to be interpreted how we wish. This was magic to me. 

As I stated, I played the game over and over, hoping to grasp more and get all 14 achievements on steam. Each playthrough I noticed something different, something I was surprised I hadn’t noticed before. Honestly, these discoveries excited me and now that I’ve achieved everything I may slowly go through one more time to see if I’ve missed anything else.

This is definitely a comfort game for me and I could see myself booting it up after a long/bad day. It’s stunning, well worth the price and time. I can’t wait to see what else this developer has to offer.

TL;DR: Great Game, Must Play

Quick Start: City of Heroes – Homecoming

Image result for city of heroes homecoming

Lords, ladies, lads and lasses, I am Vinni the Troll and I have good news for you.

The capes are back. City of Heroes shut down roughly 7 years ago and it has been resurrected by a devoted fan base. How much will this cost you? Nothing. How can you get into the game? With three easy steps: 

  1. Head to the City of Heroes: Homecoming forums and create an account.
  2. Login to the forums and then go to the Game Account thread and create a game account. If you have trouble try a different name. This will NOT be your global handle, so don’t worry about that yet.
  3. Download the Tequila (pc) or Island Rum (mac) launcher and install the game

That’s it.

What can I play as?

You can create a hero or a villain, playing in either Paragon City or The Rogue Isles. You can choose to play through the tutorial, or skip it altogether. You’ll have access to all the archetypes, even the epics: Peacebringer, Warshade, Arachnos Soldier, and Widow.

How do I change my Global Handle?

Once in the game you can change your global handle (your first toon’s name) from the main menu.

I’m not starting with much, am I?

If you miss the prestige sprints, jump pack, Nemesis Staff, Black Wand, etc. look for the P2W Vendor. They are in the tutorials and starting zones and will give you what you desire for free (despite their name). They even have boosters for experience and the origin starter powers.

That’s it for my helpful 2 merits. See you on the flip side.

Review: Detective Pikachu (the movie)

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Is Pokémon: Detective Pikachu the very best video game movie, like no one ever was?

Well, the competition wasn’t exactly fierce.  But, yes.  Yes, it is. While I’m no longer the huge fan of Pokémon that I used to be, I had a good time watching this movie.

It’s interesting, based on the different reviews that I’ve read and watched, how many people don’t seem to realize that this “video game movie” is based on a specific video game in the Pokémon franchise: Detective Pikachu for the Nintendo 3DS.  I played and reviewed the game in anticipation for the movie’s release and really enjoyed it.  The film is a loose adaptation that follows the premise and some of the major story beats, but mostly does its own thing.

Tim Goodman, a young man who once dreamed of becoming a Pokémon trainer, travels to Ryme City after hearing that his father was killed in a car accident.  When he gets to the apartment, he discovers his father’s partner: a talking Pikachu that nobody else can understand.  Pikachu claims that Tim’s father, a renown detective, is still alive somewhere, and proposes that they team up to solve the mystery of what happened to him.  After a few mishaps, Tim reluctantly agrees.

A lot of reviewers have praised the film for bringing the world of Pokémon to life, and I’m going to join the chorus.  Wow.  I’m also not alone in saying that I would have been satisfied with a film that showed long, extended shots of this world and absolutely nothing else.

Detective Pikachu takes the game’s concept of Pokémon as partners and combines it with the more familiar world of the main series and the anime.  It’s established that kids like Tim do traditionally leave home and go on adventures to capture Pokémon.  Tournaments exist.  The Kanto region is mentioned.  However, none of the usual rules exist in Ryme City, which is specifically designed to be a place where battles are banned.  Pokémon and humans live side-by-side, as they do in the 3DS game.  It’s a treat to see all of the different Pokémon fitting in this live-action world in ways that you might expect to see them if they existed.

There are fun shout-outs to different parts of the franchise.  I know I missed a lot of them, having been out of the loop for so long, but there was still plenty for this Gen 1 fan to love.

Although this film did a wonderful job of realizing the world of Pokémon, it wasn’t perfect.  It started out strong, but I had some issues with the pacing of certain scenes.  Right as Tim meets Detective Pikachu for the first time, some Aipom attack the apartment and a chase ensues.  Immediately following said chase, Tim goes back to questioning why he can understand Pikachu.  And Pikachu, as voiced by Ryan Reynolds, makes nonstop quips throughout the scene. It all happens so fast that it’s hard to follow at times.  It wasn’t until the underground battle with Charizard when I really started to become invested again.

Speaking of which, that live-action battle was thrilling.  All of the action scenes were fun to watch and kept me interested in what was happening. And while many reviewers have stated that they found the story twists to be a bit too obvious, there were a few moments that caught me off guard.

And now I’m going to get a little controversial and admit that I didn’t find Ryan Reynolds to be as funny as I anticipated.  I thought he fit the role of Detective Pikachu better than his video game counterpart (Kaiji Tang), and I definitely laughed during the movie- just not as hard as I thought I would.  The character that got most of the best jokes was Psyduck.

But Reynolds did have some great chemistry with Justice Smith, who plays Tim Goodman.  And just as I predicted, I liked Smith’s version of Tim much better than the protagonist of the 3DS game.  He and Pikachu have some very heartwarming scenes together, as well as funny moments.

If you love everything about Pokémon, you should love this movie.  If you hate everything about Pokémon, then this movie’s not really for you.  Detective Pikachu embraces the source material instead of poking fun at it.  It’s not a perfect film, but it is fun, and I hope there will be sequels.  I’d rate it 7 out of 10 Pokéballs.