Kirby Reviews Shantae and the Pirate's Curse (3DS eShop)

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Guess who’s back, back, back, back again, again, again, Shantae’s back! That’s right, our energetic purple-haired heroine is back so get ready to fall in love with her bubbly self for the third time! Shantae made her debut on the Game Boy Color in 2002 and was not heard from until eight years later in Shantae: Risky’s Revenge. Now, after numerous delays, WayForward, best known for quality titles such as the Mighty Switch Force series and Ducktales Remastered, have released Pirate’s Curse, a game that, frankly, has exceeded my expectations in every way.

Without giving away too many details, our heroine is awakened by a loud ruckus. Fearing that her beloved Scuttle Town is under yet another pirate attack, she immediately heads out to save the day. Instead, she bumps into the mayor, who informs her that he has sold Scuttle Town in a moment of weakness to Ammo Baron. As if things could not get any worse, her arch nemesis, Risky Boots, returns and warns her of the Pirate Master, who has cursed Risky’s crew and transformed them into evil cacklebats. Risky also informs Shantae that the Pirate Master has taken her gear and has them locked up in various Dens of Evil. In an unexpected twist, Shantae, now a human with no genie powers, and Risky, now a captain with no crew, hesitantly join forces to stop the Pirate Master at all costs. 

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Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is a 2D platformer in a Metroidvania mold. While there is a heavy emphasis on platforming, there are other gameplay elements in play as well. In one section of the game, you will utilize stealth to escape a desert dungeon. In another area, you will be automatically running while pressing the jump button to avoid enemies and obstacles. I was constantly surprised and impressed by each area and what it has to offer.

Shantae’s weapon of choice is her hair, which she whips at enemies to cause massive damage. As you progress, you will find more of Risky’s gear, which she will let you borrow. For example, you will gain access to Risky’s pistol, which helps you shoot hard-to-reach switches as well as cause minor damage to enemies. Later on, you will find Risky’s pirate hat which acts as a parachute and allows you to cross large gaps and reach distant platforms. There are other items but I will leave it to you to find out what they are.  You will be able to upgrade Shantae’s hair-whip attack, the amount of damage dealt, as well as a couple of her pirate gear. WayForward have always exceptionally implemented controls and this game is no exception. Controls are extremely responsive, tight, and accurate.

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Unlike the previous Shantae titles where you travel across a single world, Shantae now sails on Risky’s boat from island to island. Each island has a unique environment, a dungeon, and distinctive challenges. As you progress, the dungeons and their accompanying puzzles will become more challenging and thus require deeper thought and some backtracking to get things done. There are a wide variety of enemies to fight on each island. Each enemy type you encounter has a different attack pattern and deal varying amounts of damage. Enemies also drop gems that could be used to buy items such as auto-potions that will automatically refill your heart meter if you fall in battle, as well as items that could briefly increase your power, heal you, to name a few.  Bosses are GIGANTIC! Unfortunately though, their size does not match their difficulty as you will likely beat most, if not all of them, on your first try.

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There is a fair bit of backtracking in the game. As you progress and find more of Risky’s gear and learn new abilities, you will need to revisit previous islands to defeat the cacklebats and find heart squids, with every four heart squids giving you an extra heart. You will occasionally need to revisit other islands to talk to NPCs or complete tasks for them in order to progress the story.

The game is oozing with charm and personality. Characters returning from previous installments such as Sky, Squid Baron, and Rottytops are still as delightful and funny as ever. In fact, Shantae herself has many funny and memorable moments. I don’t laugh easily but I found myself laughing out loud very often. Even the  NPCs are wacky and memorable. Trust me when I say that this game will keep you smiling throughout the 7-10 hours that you will spend with it.

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I don’t usually mention the 3D in my reviews because 3D always gives me a headache and it makes me feel cross-eyed. With Pirate’s Curse, I was able to play with the 3D turned all the way up and not suffer from any of these issues. WayForward have done a superb job with the 3D, and it is obvious that a lot of thought and consideration went into which items would appear in the fore and background. The game looks absolutely gorgeous, with colorful and vibrant detailed environments and fluent character animations. The visuals are complimented by the soundtrack, which is composed by Jake Kaufman, the musical genius behind the Shovel Knight soundtrack. The upbeat soundtrack is a mix of new tunes as well as remixes of tunes from previous Shantae games and is a natural fit in Shantae’s Arabian world.

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If you own a 3DS, then Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is a MUST purchase. It does not matter whether you have played the previous Shantae games or not because once you beat this game, you will want to play the previous two. This game is perfect in every sense – charming and memorable characters, quality platforming, beautiful graphics, out-of-this world soundtrack and much more. Trust me when I say that this is the best $19.99 you will spend on a game in a long, long time. Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is currently available on the North American 3DS eShop for $19.99.

10/10

POZ Review: Forever Came Calling - What Matters Most

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by Ali Killian, edited by Erik van Rheenen

Forever Came Calling’s sophomore full-length is a shining example of what music should be: truly emotive. A balance of cleanly executed instrumentals and striking narrative makes What Matters Most addictive. This is one of those albums that occupies the CD player in your car for six months, because hearing it never gets old.
 
Though formed in 2006, many still view Forever Came Calling as the new band on the block. 2012’s Contender showed that the rookies could throw down with the vets, but, like any band, they had to prove they’re more than a one-hit-album wonder. The story-like lyricism and pure power of What Matters Most not only proves the California quartet’s newcomer worth, but also lets the rest of the pop-punk community know FCC is a force to be reckoned with.
 
What Matters Most rolls on out with controlled explosions of pop-punk punch and carefully highlighted instruments at all the right times. Quick guitars typically lead the pack with the percussion and bass closely behind, each waiting for their time to shine. As the album progresses, aggressive tracks such as opener “August Is Home” and “Mapping With a Sense of Direction” begin to give way — however slightly — to more melodic offerings such as “Defenseless.” The band manages to make each song feel full but not overwhelming, a balance some heavy-handed pop-punk groups overlook. Take “Rather Be Dead Than Cool” — the rhythm slides nicely between a weighty guitar riff in a way reminiscent of Against Me!’s “Thrash Unreal,” a classic fan-favorite.

Read More

TV’s Top 10 Villains: The Biggest Baddies Currently on Air

10. Snow Queen (Once Upon a Time)

Is it getting chilly in here? Royals with the power to produce ice don’t always sing hit Idina Menzel songs. The Snow Queen (Elizabeth Mitchell) first stepped her frosty heels into Storybrooke in season 4 of the ABC fairytale drama, but she’s already made a lasting impression. Using her powers to freeze to turn the town against her niece Elsa (Georgina Haig), the queen (or her alter-ego Sarah Fisher) has already racked up a list of enemies.

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This is a story that also includes positive female friendship, positive male-female friendship, laugh-out-loud moments of awkward interactions with boys, and really heart-warming scenes. There are some really tough parts to read, as Gabi’s family does suffer a major blow, but those are tempered with moments that make you cheer for Gabi, too. The diary format for Gabi, A Girl in Pieces was the absolute right choice for telling the story because it allowed both immediacy and distance from events (Gabi has to reflect on what happens after the fact, when she’s writing, rather than in the immediacy as it’s happening) and because it is exceedingly rare to see a “year in the life” diary of a character of color. Gabi owns every bit of this story.

Gabi is an empowered teen girl from the start, but it’s not something she entirely realized. It’s through this year she comes to discover that about herself — and those moments of getting it are rich for the reader.

Gabi, A Girl in Pieces has garnered five starred reviews so far from the trade journals, but I have seen virtually no discussion of this book and I think that may be because this is from a smaller press. But this is a book with huge teen appeal that I hope people pick up, give a chance, and then talk about. Quintero’s writing style and story telling reminded me a lot of Amy Spalding. Fans of Sara Zarr, Susan Vaught, or Siobhan Vivian’s novels will do well with this book, too. Readers looking for serious books that are infused with good moments of humor and honesty, as well as depictions of awkward teen relationships, dynamic families, the challenges of pursuing your own interests while also respecting and being part of a host of cultural traditions, and great female leads will find a lot to enjoy here.

— from my review of Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

Devastating DOOM:
IRN - “Sewer Disease” Review + Stream

Fucking SEWER DISEASE…. Can you possibly go wrong? With a title like this, what do you think is about to crawl into your ears? SLUDGE. Walls of disgusting Sabbath worship gone all fucking wrong. Total sonic gangrene. Total revolting musical slime and hatred. IRN had already blown our…

http://www.cvltnation.com/slithering-death-irn-sewer-disease-review-stream/

#Doom, #Featured, #Music, #Reviews, #Sludge

Review: The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings by Edgar Allan Poe

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Having only encountered Poe’s poetry in school I figured it was about time to read some of his short stories.  What better that to read his maddening work in October? So I cherry picked a few from a collection of his work I thrifted. The Tell-Tale Heart was my favorite of the four I read, you become invested in the narrator’s story in a very short space, which really showcases Poe’s brilliantly imagined, concise prose.

A true master of the short horror story, he builds a suspenseful and mysterious foundation quickly and then before you know it the story is over and you can’t help but think, "how the hell did he come up with all this stuff?" The Black Cat was also thrilling in this way.  I wasn’t as taken with The Cask of Amontillado or The Masque of the Red Death but they were interesting enough! I also revisited a few poems  from the collection, Annabel Lee still being my favorite. I really enjoyed the chilling imagery in The City in the Sea and The Sleeper's romantic air was also compelling… the opening lines being my favorite, which I'll end my rambles with. 3/5 stars. 

At midnight in the month of June, 
I stand beneath the mystic moon. 
An opiate vapour, dewy, dim, 
Exahles from out her golden rim, 
And, softly dripping, drop by drop,
Upon the quiet mountain top
Steals drowsily and musically, 
Into the universal valley. 

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Hey Guys, it’s Britta with a spankin’ new review of The Weeping Lady. My way of interacting with the fandom :-).

Topics include: The Wonder that is Caroline, Why Crane Needs to Experience Abbie being in Danger More, Crickets that sound whenever Katrina does anything, bringing Reenactment to the fandom, and probably too much more.

I mention:

NikkiBehariePosts.tumblr.com - in agreement with your post about how Abbie always seems okay with what happens to her.

AskCraneandMills.tumblr.com

Welcome2SleepyHollow.tumblr.com

AfterbuzzTV Sleepy Hollow Podcast

Hugs and love :-D

Here Comes The Devil (2012) - Review

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An opening scene that includes two lesbians doing it while listening to heavy metal, a machete finger chop, a suitcase full of severed fingers and a serial killer ripping his clothes off while barking like a demonic wolf and running and convulsing into the desert is the definition of a strong first impression.

http://video-daze.com/2014/10/23/here-comes-the-devil-2012/

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