Last Window: The Secret of Cape West (DS) Review

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Released in 2010 by CiNG as the sequel to their previous title Hotel Dusk, Last Window is the latest game I finished on my 3DS. Unfortunately for Western audiences, the game only was released in Japan and Europe, but luckily does have an English translation available for import. I bought mine through Amazon for an admittingly high price, but now that I’ve completed it, I can safely say it was well worth the cost.

With that said, I’m gonna cover my thoughts on four main aspects: Story, graphics, sound and gameplay.

Story:

While you don’t HAVE to play Hotel Dusk to enjoy this game, you won’t really get the full experience if you don’t. There are references to a few characters and events from Hotel Dusk that will leave you confused otherwise. That said, the story/mystery in this game kept me hooked throughout. In it, you’re Kyle Hyde, an ex-detective-turned-salesman who through a series of events uncovers a few mysteries surrounding his home – an apartment building called Cape West. With the help of a batch of quirky new characters, you try to find out the truth behind the building’s past.

If you think I’m being vague here, it’s because I am. There are a few twists and turns in the story that would spoil the plot if I mentioned them here. If you have or plan to play Hotel Dusk, this story lends itself to not only exploring themes from that game’s plot, but also capping off Hyde’s adventures in a satisfying way.

Graphics:

Whether you’ve played Hotel Dusk or not, the graphics here are pretty standard. You explore 3D environments and interact with 3D objects. When talking, Kyle and the other characters are presented like pencil sketch drawings that animate depending on their reactions. It makes for a stylized presentation, especially in brief cutscenes. In Last Window, there is also an opening 3D cutscene to set up the story. I’m not sure if it was because of DS compression or my 3DS running the game, but this particular cutscene was a bit blocky and blurry. There were also a couple graphical glitches in the 3D rooms, but they didn’t take away from the game for me.

Sound:

The music in this game, while not all unforgettable, set the mood at the appropriate times. I enjoyed some of the main themes, such as one that plays when Kyle’s on the phone or another when he visits the building’s cafe. There is an in-game jukebox where you can hear the tunes as they’re unlocked within the game. The sound effects are also top-notch and realistic, such as creaking doors and footsteps. Since the game doesn’t have voiceovers, the music and sounds coincide well with the facial expressions and dialogue of each character.

Gameplay:

The game is broken up into 10 chapters in all. In each, you gather clues throughout the hotel and speak with characters to either solve a dilemma they’re having or gain information. Essentially, this is a point-and-click game mixed with text-heavy information gathering.

When exploring the building and rooms, you have the option to click on just about everything. Some things will only yield a comment from Kyle and others can be picked up to use later either as evidence to show to a character or as part of a puzzle to solve. Yes, there are puzzles in this game as well, ranging from easy to moderately difficult.

Most of the chapters and game is spent going between the various characters, each with their own unique personality. When speaking to them, questions will be brought up. If the question is yellow, it’s strictly for information. If it’s white, it’s a question that Kyle can ask several people. And if it’s red, it’s interrogation time. Mess up on these and you can earn yourself a game over. There is also a new option where rather than press on something a person says, you can choose to ignore it. This option can be used as a safe measure when you aren’t sure pressing is a good idea.

This game is VERY text-heavy, so if you happen to have played Hotel Dusk or even the Ace Attorney series and got annoyed by the large amount of dialogue, chances are Last Window won’t change your mind. To that end, the developers even included a full-length novel that opens up chapter by chapter as you play through the game. This novel details the game’s events and includes a secret case file at the end of each chapter. The case files can be used to help you if you get stuck, but not opening these may give you a reward at the game’s end. As with Hotel Dusk, you do have an in-game notebook to take notes if you get stuck on any puzzles, or just if you wanna doodle for fun.

To sum up: If you’re a fan of Hotel Dusk, you will enjoy this game. If you want to play this game and have not played Hotel Dusk, you may still enjoy it, but prepare to be a little confused by some of the references. And finally, if you’ve played text-heavy games in the past and disliked them, this game is not for you. For me, I felt this was a worthy sequel to Hotel Dusk and enjoyed it thoroughly. The story’s intriguing, the gameplay’s just as fun as I remembered, the characters were likable and the game’s quality overall was great.

My rating for Last Window: The Secret of Cape West is a solid 9/10. While I wish there could have been more games with Kyle Hyde (R.I.P. CiNG), this one made for a fitting send-off.

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Book-to-Film Adaptions

Let me preface this by saying for every film adaption of a book I haven’t read I’ve seen, there have been a fair share of those I’ve seen based on books I have read. This post mostly has to do with the former thanks to some thoughts I had upon seeing the movie adaption of “Beautiful Creatures” this weekend.

It’s no secret that for every movie that tries to follow the book(s) to the letter, there are plenty that put their own spin on things. As many reviews will tell you, “Beautiful Creatures” is yet another one of those movies, much to the displeasure of fans of the books. Honestly, for me, it was an enjoyable flick to watch with a friend (also a non-reader) on a Friday night. Nothing I’d see again anytime soon, but enjoyable enough as a film on its own merits.

I ran into a similar situation a few years ago when “Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant” came out in theaters. Once again, same situation: I went with friends, us this time not even knowing it was based on a book, and spent the time watching what was a decent film that evening. In both cases, while not the greatest movies I’ve seen, both were watchable and not complete time/money wasters. But the same thing occurred: Fans of the “Cirque du Freak” series weren’t satisfied.

It’s the same thing every time a book or series is developed for film. It’s nothing new at this point. People who are fans of books that make the transition to film pretty much know nowadays that not everything’s gonna be perfect. Yet there will always be those who complain because of this fact. Stuff like Lord of the Rings, the Harry Potter series, and even Twilight, no matter how close they seem to get to the original material are always nitpicked.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that I count myself lucky that I don’t read the books before the film. For me, if the film can get me interested IN the books, then that’s a much bigger accomplishment than it being a close adaption of the book. Or, heck, if a movie is part of an ongoing series of films, then it may be enough to keep me coming back.

While in hindsight I’ve heard some not great things in regards to the Beautiful Creatures series (such as it being Twilight with witches – sorry, but no thanks), after walking out of the movie I was left with some sense of curiosity towards the series. So, to the readers out there who chastise people for liking a movie that’s not a near perfect adaption: We’re not all readers. Let us non-readers enjoy the movie for what we see it as: JUST a movie. It may just steer us towards those books you love so much.

A Happy Birthday to an Amazing Man

Normally, I would save this post for Valentine’s Day/my birthday as a little love note, but today, someone very special to me is celebrating his birthday. Today, my wonderful boyfriend Richard turns 22, so out of sheer mushiness, I dedicate and direct this blog post entirely to him.

Richard,

From the day we met and the birthdays that have come and gone, we’ve been through each other’s highs and lows, have experienced and re-experienced many things together, and have never wavered on how much we love and care for each other.

Every day since meeting you, I’ve been grateful to have you in my life. Sure, compared to our friends and family, we might not have known each other overly long, but I feel deeply like I’ve known you all my life. The connection we’ve made in these four years has been as strong to me as even the longest, loyalest marriage would be.

When I feel down, you help perk me up. When you feel down, I offer all the comfort I can give. We’ve had so many good moments together that easily outweigh the bad ones. With you, I feel comfortable, secure and loved. You are my best friend and lover, and that will never change for me, no matter how far the distance.

There are so many things I love about you and you know it: Your beautiful blue eyes, often mischievous smile, your sexy body and kissable lips. But of course, there will always be more to you than just that: Your goofy, fun-loving sense of humor, your always-growing intelligence, your kind thoughtfulness, and your devotion to our relationship. All these things are only a few of many things I love about you.

So, today, we will celebrate not just your 22 years on this earth, but also the continuation of our ever-growing relationship. I know this isn’t much, but I felt you deserved a little recognition on your special day. I love you very, very, very much, Richard, and even though we’re separated by distance and a computer screen, I hope to make your birthday feel as enjoyable as the rest. ❤

Me and Richard

“Be Kind Rewind” – A Movie Review

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So, as of today, I’ve finally seen “Be Kind Rewind.” And I have to say… I was underwhelmed.

For those who don’t know this movie, it follows Mike (played by Mos Def) and Jerry (played by Jack Black), who through shenanigans on Jerry’s part accidentally erase every VHS tape in Mr. Fletcher’s (played by Danny Glover) video store. To try to keep the store afloat, they attempt to remake or, as Jerry puts it, “swede” the films themselves.

Going into this movie, I was expecting a lot of comedy mostly from the absurd premise. Unfortunately, the movie lacked a lot of humor for me. I found most of it was derived from offhand jokes and the movie remakes themselves. The main plot point that involves the tapes being erased is solved rather early, which made me feel like it was a cheap, illogical way to kick things off. This isn’t helped by the fact that the movie throughout felt weakly scripted, and some scenes tended to drag as a result.

The main leads felt weak to me as well. Mos Def carries himself through his scenes as the straight man to Jack Black, but he tends to speak in an almost mumbling/sighing matter. It took me out of his character most of the movie. Jack Black himself plays essentially one of those annoying characters he plays in many of his movies. It just felt like the usual Jack Black hamminess. A few minor characters, probably because of the script, came off really jerkish to me as well.

On the plus side, there’s a female character named Alma who’s introduced as a new actor/teammate for the films, and she’s portrayed decently. She’s more intelligent than you’re lead to believe initially. And Danny Glover’s Mr. Fletcher easily kept me the most invested. He’s an older man who’s been in the VHS business for a long time, but ends up seeing the benefits to updating with the times to DVD. His character was really likable and charming.

I did like a few other things in this movie. The scenes where famous movies were remade were entertaining and full of charm. There is acknowledgement of the existence of VHS in a DVD world and how it’s been affected over the last couple decades. The remakes themselves being victim of copyright, which is portrayed realistically in all its unfortunate ways, but this paves the way for original material to be made by the characters and give the VHS store an ambiguous “last” hurrah.

Overall, this film was decent, but it ultimately suffers from a weak script. In turn, that kinda screws with the characters and pacing, in my opinion. However, the movie does have quite a few charming, heartfelt moments. You really get a sense of how this film tries to be a love letter to films and the film-making process.

My rating for this movie: 5/10. A decent film at best, but definitely not recommended for those who expect lots of humor and those who despise Jack Black.

My Top 10 “Hottest” Animated Guys

A few days ago, Doug Walker (most famously known for the Nostalgia Critic) posted a list of his personal favorite attractive animated women. After viewing this video, my boyfriend issued me a challenge to write up a list of my own, but with men. So, long story short, these are my picks for animated “hotties.”

 

10. Jafar from “Aladdin”

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I’ll get this out of the way: Jafar is a douche. But what do you expect from a villain as powerful as him? While not the most attractive Disney villain out there, Jafar has this smugness about him that I really like. He’s powerful and he knows it, and he’s always got a scheme cooked up. Plus, his evil laugh is one of the best I’ve ever heard. He might look like he was beat with an ugly stick, but he’s easily the most attractive Disney villain to me.

9. Frozone from “The Incredibles”

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Even though he’s a supporting character, Frozone is one of my favorites from The Incredibles. For starters, he has a sleek design, which works perfectly with the ice powers he has. He’s the kind of down to earth guy that, while he enjoys doing the superhero thing, enjoys having a bit of normalcy (at least more than Mr. Incredible). And to top it all off, he’s voiced by Samuel L. Jackson, who has one of the most recognizable (and in my opinion attractive) voices out there.

8. Martin Mystery from… “Martin Mystery”

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Many people won’t know this guy, but I first discovered him on a kids channel called YTV, essentially the Nickelodeon of Canadian programming. While Tuxedo Mask from Sailor Moon was the first anime guy I ever saw, Martin was the first I ever found remotely attractive. He has boyish good looks and a lot of energy and spunk. He’s not the brightest character in the show, but he’s extremely loyal to his friends and sister and has a fun sense of humor as well.

7. Milo from “Atlantis: The Lost Empire”

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Milo has all the qualities about nerdy guys that I love. He’s a little bit awkward, which is adorable. He’s intelligent and knowledgeable, which is always a plus. And he’s also got a good sense of humor as well. Another thing I loved about the character was his drive and determination to find Atlantis. Couple all these qualities with the great voice of Michael J. Fox, and you have one of my favorite nerdy guys in animation.

6. Batman from “Batman: The Animated Series”

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Where do I start with this Batman? For one, he’s cool and smart, like any Batman should be. He has the great, ear-catching voice of Kevin Conroy, which gives the character a lot of weight in both humorous and dramatic situations. And of course, it’s Batman! One of the coolest superheroes ever put on-screen, from his great gadgets to his many layers as a person. For me, though, this Batman was also who got me into comic book heroes. While he’s not my favorite superhero (we’ll get to that), he definitely left an impact.

5. Sideshow Bob from “The Simpsons”

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I know, I know, this is a weird choice, especially coming ahead of Batman. But the thing is, I’m a huge Simpsons fan. Compared to the Batman show, I grew up with the Simpsons through most of my childhood. Sideshow Bob to me was one of the most attractive characters to appear in that show. I love his obsession and devotion to trying to kill Bart and how many plans he’ll try to accomplish that. I love how despite having been a clown, he’s always been sophisticated with his tastes in literature and music. And combining Kelsey Grammar’s great voice with singing AND evil laughter? A match made in heaven.

4. Neuro from “Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro”

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If you’ve read my first blog post, you’ll know that this is a recent one. I only saw the show last month, but Neuro left such an impression that I couldn’t leave him off the list. While Bob is obsessed with killng Bart, he always gets caught in the end. Neuro’s obsession with feeding off of mysteries always ends in triumph. He never, ever gives up until he gets what he wants. Physically, his human form is pretty attractive, sort of like a demonic mixed version of Miles Edgeworth and Phoenix Wright from the Ace Attorney series. While he doesn’t understand humans, he’s the kinda of demon who’s presence and voice commands attention, and his demonic powers are truly awesome.

3. Wolverine from “X-Men: Evolution”

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I’ll be honest, I never grew up with the original 90’s X-Men cartoon. But I did come across this one later in life and enjoyed it immensely. This is the guy Batman lead me to: A surly, burly Canadian mutant with a no-nonsense attitude. Wolverine already ranks high on my favorite superheroes list, but between this show and the first live-action film, I came to see him as attractive too. Aside from the quick traits I just listed, I think another aspect is the mystery behind him. While he may not always be a team player, he’s definitely my favorite X-Men guy of the bunch.

2. Aladdin from… “Aladdin”

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This one goes back into my childhood. Of all the Disney men I saw throughout my life, Aladdin was easily the most interesting. He wasn’t just another rich prince looking for a princess, but instead a humble street boy just trying to get by. He knows how to handle himself in a fight for the most part and has this sense of discovery and adventure about him. Of course, physically he’s both handsome and cute, jumping between trying to act suave and being a little awkward at times. While he pretty much has self-esteem issues, he’s the kind of guy whose heart’s in the right place. If my #1 pick never existed, Aladdin would’ve easily nabbed the top spot of this list.

1. Flynn Rider from “Tangled”

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I’m just gonna say it: Flynn reminds me of a mix between Aladdin and the Prince of Persia. As a thief, he’s both nimble and has a quick wit. He has a great snarky, sarcastic sense of humor that I love, but can also be a bit goofy too, especially when it involves his own vanity. Physically, I like his look a lot. He’s slim, scruffy and has a very expressive face. The thing that puts Flynn at the top of my list is that unlike Aladdin, he gradually learns to put his heart in the right place. When he starts out, he’s vain, egotistical and materialistic. But after spending time with Rapunzel, he grows out of his materialism and learns to value others instead. Both Aladdin and Flynn kinda suffer from self-esteem issues, in that Aladdin makes himself a prince to appeal to Jasmine and Flynn hides behind this cocksure thief facade to be cool. I guess I feel Flynn’s flaws are more prominent, so when he does change his ways it’s more dynamic. He has it all to me: Great look, hilarious sense of humor, bouts of slightly nerdy awkwardness, a cool attitude throughout, and the willingness to grow as a person. That is why he’s my choice for “hottest” animated guy.