Tabletop Simulator (Video Game Reviews #9)

Tabletop Simulator is pretty self-explanatory. It is just a game with tabletop games provided. Some include: Chinese checkers, chess, Jenga, Dark Souls the Board Game, and more.
Console: PC (Steam)
Genre: Board game/Simulation
Developer: Berserk Games

Music -: There was really only one track that played in this game and it was the opening sequence song. It felt like a looping annoyance. It played in the main menu of the game and I hated it. This is most likely a preference of mine, but, I felt that the song was rather annoying.
Optimization -: Tabletop Simulator was too finicky about the internet connection. I am a college student and the Wi-Fi on my campus is only okay. That being said, the game crashed and disconnected WAY too often. It should be important to note that my computer is a potato but even taking this into account, the game will still crash too much. If one person crashes in a server, everyone crashes.
Creativity +: I do have to say that the game is creative. It is unique to have board games available for people to play online.
Art -: The art was not superb in any form of the word. When a player would be playing a game, chess for instance, there would be weird backgrounds behind the game. One example was a street. I was playing chess once and the background was just a curb on a sidewalk. I think the background images would have been better if they were just backgrounds you would see in a house or something. A curb does not make sense for playing a board game. Who would play chess out on the street anyway?
Graphics +: I thought the graphics were fine, however, they were not that special. I have to give the creators credit though because this is an indie game and it looks pretty good.
Gameplay +: The gameplay works well enough. I never had any instances of anything regarding gameplay affecting my experiences.
Replay Value -: This game is only replay-able if you have no other option as far as playing board games with someone. What I mean is, if you like board games and all your friends live in different states, then it could be replay-able. Otherwise, you’re better off playing a real board game.
Control -: Oh boy, the controls. I really did not like the controls at all. I never felt like I was in control of the game and it always felt like it would be better if I were playing a real life board game instead of this game. For example, there is an option to play with a deck of cards. Handling the cards was such a hassle and it did not have the same feeling that handling cards in real life has. I think the controls are what kills me about this game. I got really frustrated with the controls 90% of the time.
Satisfaction of Winning +: If you get satisfied with winning in board games, then you will be satisfied with winning in this game.
Sound Quality +: The sound quality was fine and every sound effect was clear.
Sound Effects +: I felt that the sound effects were fine. Nothing stood out too much but nothing was too annoying either.
Camera -: The camera was easily fixable but it was so annoying to have to fix it all the time.
Glitches +: There were never any game breaking glitches.

Quality Score: 7/10

Entertainment Score: 7/10

I think this game has good aspects and bad aspects. For example, the controls in this game are horrendous but I felt that it was pretty creative to make a video game about board games. Because of this game, I was able to pay board games with people who lived in different states than me. With that being said, this game should only be played if you absolutely have no other means of playing board games besides online. Otherwise, this game is pretty mediocre. If the controls are problematic in a game, it is difficult to recommend it.


Eclipse (Movie Reviews #10)

Eclipse is the third part of the Twilight movie series. It continues the story after New Moon, with Edward’s request to marry Bella not answered. Throughout Eclipse, however, the question remains on the table. Now that Bella and Edward are together, Victoria’s hunt for Bella continues. To jog your memory from Twilight, Victoria and James were in a relationship, however, after James attacked Bella, Edward and the gang killed James. So, Victoria is trying to kill Bella to make Edward feel what she felt.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Action
Time: 2 hours 4 minutes
Series: Twilight #3
Based on: Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer
Director: David Slade
Production Company: Summit Entertainment

Plot +: The plot, I have to say, was one of the better ones of the series as far as movies go. I felt that the plot made sense to the actual overarching plot of the series as a whole. In other words, Eclipse actually continued the story of the romance between a vampire and a human. New Moon seemed to derive from the plot of the series and did not feel like it fit in well.
Story +: I liked how in Eclipse, we actually got to see the back stories of some of the characters. I’m not going to say that the back stories are completely unique or enjoyable but it was still nice to hear them nonetheless.
Characters -: I don’t enjoy most of the characters in the Twilight series anyway but in this movie, even the ones that I do enjoy became annoying. Bella and Edward are as annoying as usual but Jacob becomes even more annoying during this film. He is so obsessed with Bella and needs to have her in his life at all costs. He doesn’t take any hints and it gets on not only Bella’s skin but also the audience’s. Bella and Edward are the same old same old. They desperately love each other but are so weird and strange together.
Dialogue +: The dialogue was honestly better this time around. This is most likely due to the fact that a lot of the focus was on other characters.
Music +: The music in Twilight movies is usually tolerable. It had a rock feel to it and it fit the setting well.
Special Effects +: The special effects have improved dramatically since the last movie. They still do have their quirks sometimes, but they aren’t horrible.
Suspense +: The action actually leads you to have some suspenseful moments that were executed well.
Acting -: While the acting has improved, it still isn’t the best. The delivery is still awkward and there are still annoying pauses.
Errors +: I don’t recall any errors.
Camera -: There were a lot of unnecessary face shots throughout. This actually helped the acting be even more uncomfortable.
Length +: The length made sense to the plot.
Sound Quality +: The sound quality was fine. I never recalled a moment where I could not hear what the actors/actresses were saying.
Plot Consistency +: As improved from the previous installment, Eclipse actually stays true to the plot throughout.
Re-watch Ability +: I could actually see reasons to re-watch this movie. I would recommend this movie over all the other ones in the series.
Series Consistency +: I think this movie relates to the plot of Twilight better.

Quality Score: 8.5/10

Entertainment Score: 7/10

I think Eclipse might be my favorite Twilight movie. Like I have said before, this movie does not make sense unless you watch New Moon and Twilight. Even though this is my favorite movie of the series, that is not saying much. I would only recommend this movie for those who enjoy the franchise.

New Moon (Movie Reviews #9)

New Moon is the second movie adaptation in the Twilight book franchise. Thus, it follows the plot of the book by the same name. The movie starts with Bella’s birthday where you soon realize how much Bella hates that she is getting older. At a birthday party thrown by Alice, an incident involving Bella and Jaspar occurs, bringing Edward to reconsider his relationship with her. Through various circumstances, Edward and his family decide to leave town. Unfortunately, Bella could not follow along. Because of her obsession with her vampire “hottie”, she delves into a depression; that is, until she goes to hang with Jacob. They spend a lot of time together and because of this, the audience starts to realize what chemistry they really have. Bella even says that she feels happy around him. However, after doing some dangerous stunts, she starts to hallucinate little Edwards warning her of her actions’ consequences. Because she is desperate to see Edward, Bella continues to do these dangerous stunts until one of her actions prompts the real Edward to think she’s dead. Then, he goes to the Volturi, basically the Vampire Council, to commit suicide since “his only reason for existence” is supposedly dead. To prevent Edward from killing himself, Bella has to go to the Vulturi in Italy to save him.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Action
Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Series: Twilight
Based on: New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
Director: Chris Wietz
Production Company: Summit Entertainment

Plot +: In this part of the Twilight saga, Bella and Edward are split. I actually like that and hoped that the main plot line would continue without Edward because of the fact that Edward is quite possibly the most annoying character in the series, in my opinion.
Story +: I actually really liked the majority of the story elements in this movie. For example, Jacob and Bella’s growing relationship is warm and inviting and enjoyable to witness.
Characters -: I will admit one thing: I do like most of the other outside characters like: Jacob, Alice, and Emmett. However, I can only give the characters a negative point because of the characterization on Bella and Edward, the two main characters. I also did not particularly like either of them and thought that their actions and thoughts were quite annoying. They are lifeless and are so awkward around each other that it doesn’t make any sense why they’re together in the first place.
Dialogue +: I don’t remember having any instances of bad dialogue. The dialogue throughout the Twilight movies is usually fine.
Music +: The Twilight movies have a theme of having pretty good punk-rock music throughout. The setting is a small town full of teens; thus, punk-rock music fits the setting and characters well.
Special Effects -: I did think that the special effects on the wolves were good at one point, upon further review, I realized the special effects weren’t very good. The later Twilight movies get the special effects down better than this one.
Suspense -: The romance genre does not initially use suspense, but the paranormal romance genre allows for suspense. This movie didn’t take up the opportunity at any point.
Acting -: The Twilight movies have a tendency to have poor acting quality. The delivery amongst all actors is dry and there are unnecessary, uncomfortable pauses.
Errors +: I do not recall any errors.
Camera -: A lot of the camera involved unnecessary zooming in and moving. I can see what Wietz was trying to do with this. He was most likely trying to experiment with different camera techniques. However, the experimentation was not ideal and detracted from the viewing experience.
Length -: I thought the length was fine, but I do have to say that the entire end of the movie was not enjoyable for me. Like I said before, I really enjoyed Jacob and Bella’s aesthetic and thought they worked out well together as a couple. The movie should have been cut before Bella and Edward met up in the end.
Humor -: Because of the awkward acting, usually due to most of the actors’ discomfort, no lines actually had humorous quality.
Sound Quality +: The sound quality was fine. For example, there was never an issue where the dialogue was difficult to hear.
Plot Consistency +: The plot stayed fairly consistent. Although the plot was easy to stay consistent due to the simplicity of it.
Re-watch Ability -: I would not say that the movie is worth a re-watch due to the fact that there are so many problems with it that can detract from the overall watching experience. Such an example of this is the awkward acting.
Creativity -: The movie is based on a book, so it is not very creative. I never read the books so I do not know if the movie tried anything new.
Sets +: The sets were nice and conveyed the atmosphere of the movie well.
Series Consistency -: The series’ story was actually not consistent with the series because Edward left for a significant amount of time. The whole point of the series is a romance between Bella and Edward, so, if Edward leaves, it detracts from the actual consistency of the plot.
Quality Score: 5/10

Entertainment Score: 6/10

This movie is a part of a series, so, you need to watch the first Twilight, Twilight, in order to fully understand New Moon. However, I must say that even though these movies are based on books of the same titles, you can still understand the story line without reading the books. Let’s be honest though, it’s not like the story is extremely complex to begin with. All in all, I would only recommend this movie if you’ve seen the first movie and liked it enough to keep watching the series or you like the series in general.

My Neighbor Totoro (Movie Reviews #8)

Well, this movie was certainly interesting. Even though I had already watched My Neighbor Totoro before and thought it was strange to say the least, I thought a second viewing would change my viewpoint. Upon watching it a second time, however, I realized it was just as odd as I remembered. There really is no clear story line to follow, but I will try my best to sum up what I can. The movie starts with a family of three: a father, and 2 daughters: Mei and Satsuki. The eldest daughter, Satsuki, was developed to be naturally mature while still having child-like qualities, which I really appreciated. Her younger sister, Mei, acts like her age of four but is not too annoying. The family dynamic of the three is honestly what made me want to keep watching. There is clear love among the trio and it almost spreads through your TV screen while you are watching. The mother of the family is unfortunately in the hospital and throughout the story, her condition keeping her there is as much a mystery to you as it is to the main protagonists. I would mention the “spirits” of the forest because they are a part of this movie, a pretty big part too, but I feel like the movie honestly did not need them. Plus I don’t really think that I could explain them anyway.
Rating: G
Genre: Family/Animated
Time: 1 hour 38 minutes
Director: Hayao Miyasaki
Production Company: Studio Ghibli


Plot +: I feel that the plot was fine. At the end of the day, it is a basic animated family plot with people trying to live their lives normally.
Story +: I liked the story elements. The character chemistry was constructed very well. I also really liked the family dynamic and the various character interactions. I do have to say that there were some elements of the story that seemed meaningless. For instance, I felt that the spirits were not necessary and were downright confusing. However, that is my opinion and I am not going to count that as a negative.
Characters +: Even though Satsuki and Mei were quite loud in the beginning of the movie, they were not intended to be annoying. They were just being developed as rowdy kids. Later on, you see what kind characters they really are and you fall in love with them.
Dialogue +: All the dialogue was well constructed and I really think the English version was made well. Even though the English version was constructed well, I am unsure how the Japanese version holds up due to the fact that I did not watch the Japanese version of the movie.
Lip Sync +: The lip sync was fantastic.
Music +: The music was good, but not great. It will not be very memorable, but it was not bad at all. I did think it was lazy that there were only 2 songs.
Animation +: Studio Ghibli is renowned for their animation quality and My Neighbor Totoro is no exception.
Voice Acting +: The voices suited the characters quite well.
Errors +: I did notice a single error, but it was so minor that I’ll let it pass.
Length +: The length was perfect.
Humor -: There weren’t any instances of humor, so, I can’t have this be a positive aspect.
Sound Quality +: The sound quality was superb.
Re-watch Ability +: I would only re-watch this movie for the family dynamic and the characters. I would NOT re-watch this movie for the actual meat of the plot or anything.
Creativity +: If there is one thing to say about this movie is that it is creative.
Setting +: I really liked the farmland-esque Japan setting.

Quality Score: 9/10

Entertainment Score: 8.5/10

I really think this movie is not suitable for most people. There is no clear foundation for anyone to truly understand what is going on throughout the movie. Even though the scores are very high for this movie, they are just numbers. A VERY important aspect to any movie was just skimmed over and I think that should not be taken lightly, especially when you may have to purchase a DVD or Blu-ray in order to watch this movie.  I would only recommend My Neighbor Totoro for the characters and the family dynamic. Otherwise, I would skip it.

Guitar Hero 5 (Video Game Reviews #8)

This is the 5th installment in the main Guitar Hero franchise where you become the rock star to your favorite bands. The gameplay consists of you being able to play a collection of songs with various instruments including: guitar, bass, drums, etc.
Console: Wii, Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Xbox 360
Series: Guitar Hero
Rating: T
Genre: Music/Rhythm
Publisher: Activision
Glitches +: I do not recall any glitches that ruined the gameplay experience.
Camera +: The camera was set in a position so you could see your guitar strings. It was never an issue.
Sound Effects +: The sound effect that I remember most is the sound that plays when you miss a note or make a mistake. It was this twangy guitar strum sound that guitars make when you strum incorrectly or miss a note. I felt that this sound effect was very effective. The sound made you not want to make any mistakes and actually added to the gameplay by making you want to get better.
Sound Quality +: The sound quality was fine throughout. I never had any issues with not being able to hear the songs well.
Animation -: I felt that the animation was a little scary looking. Guitar Hero 5 is an older title, so, the animation will only be so good. With that being said, the game is not special in its animation and nothing will stand out to you.
Side Stuff +: There are some side options, besides the career path, for you as a player. They were generally fine, like the online mode where you can download other players’ songs that they created. However, I do have to say that if you play this game now, the online option is pointless considering that no one will be playing the game anymore. Other options include quick play. This is my preferred mode of play because you can play any song you want at any difficulty. You are also able to change anything at any point.
Difficulty +: I feel that Guitar Hero games have mastered easing players into the game without a terrible difficulty arc. You can start as a beginner and keep it at that level for as long as you want without any penalties. You are also able to go to any difficulty you want at any given point. Guitar Hero 5 is no exception to this. I never felt that I was forced into an unfair difficulty mode and this aided the gameplay. It is also beneficial to note that you are able to finish the main story mode on any difficulty you choose. This is a GREAT designer choice.
Satisfaction of Winning -: For some reason, I never felt satisfied with my scores. When you play a song, you are able to get the percentage of the notes hit at the end of the performance. I am not sure why but it did not feel satisfactory to score a higher percentage of notes hit after consecutive plays.
Control +: The controls were fluid and responsive. There were times that I thought I had hit the buttons at the right time and the game told me I did not, but it could just be my guitar.
Replay Value -: Once you get to the expert setting and have played all the songs you like, there is not much reason to play this game again. There is a setting where you can make your own songs with your Miis in the Wii version, but this setting seems pointless now due to the fact that the Wii is a dead console.
Gameplay +:
The Guitar Hero franchise is known for its great music simulation. This game is a prime example of this. The gameplay is standard of any Guitar Hero game, you pick a song and have five different colored buttons in which you need to hit at the correct time. On the screen, markers for what button to push will slide down. If you miss too many times, you may end up getting kicked off the stage.
Graphics +: I played the Wii title and the graphics were not amazing. For the time that it came out though, the graphics are actually pretty decent.
Art +: I thought the art was fine but it was not too special.
Creativity -: Considering that it is the fifth installment in the main franchise, it’s not that unique or creative. There were some elements to this game that seemed pretty creative, but, they don’t really seem to be useful now (The Mii setting where you can make your own music in the Wii version).
Framerate +: Although the animation was a little choppy, the framerate was fine.
Music -: This section is all my personal opinion. I honestly did not like a lot of the tracks that were available on this game. There were some good ones like “Kryptonite” and “In My Place”, but I only really liked a few songs out of many. I do have to say, though, that there is plenty of variety in the music selection. I think that is what they were going for.
Lip Sync +: The lip sync was fine throughout. I was actually surprised at how good the lip sync was considering the animation was not very solid.

Quality Score: 7.5/10

Entertainment Score: 8/10

I personally do not think that Guitar Hero 5 is a good representation of Guitar Hero games. There are better song collections on other games in the franchise, so, I would recommend playing another game in the franchise. Even though this game got a pretty good score, I probably would not play it again unless I’m feeling a certain mood.

The Horse Diaries 1: Elska (Book Reviews #7)

The story starts with an Icelandic horse, Elska, being born. The continuation of the story is just following Elska throughout her many adventures. She gets to experience the rettir, an annual roundup that occurs in September. The reader gets to experience what life as a horse is like: racing neighboring horses, doing errands, and helping farm the land. Throughout the story, the reader witnesses how much a horse can connect with the human world.
Author: Catherine Hapka
Genre: Animal/Adventure
Page Numbers: 100
Chapters: 10
Series: Horse Diaries

Plot +: The idea of reading a story through the eyes of a horse is very intuitive. I really enjoyed the fact that Hapka focused on a horse in a different culture, such as an Icelandic horse. If she focused on a horse in a stereotypical American setting, the readers would not have been able to experience a different culture like that of Iceland.
Story -: The story is slightly boring and there is little substance. Even though it was pretty intuitive to have a plot out of the eyes of a horse, the story is quite boring and nothing really exciting happens in it.
Suspense -: There is one point where suspense could have been used, but was not effectively implemented. Otherwise, there were no instances of suspense.
Cliffhanger +: There was one point where a cliffhanger was used; it was generally effective.
Setting +: The story is set in Iceland and it was very interesting. Hapka used effective visuals, which allow the readers to imagine a land no one really talks about.
Characters -: The characters had very little characterization. Even Elska had little development, which is bad due to the fact that she’s the main protagonist.
Well Written -: The sentences were not varied and it was too simple. I understand that this book is meant for kids, but the sentences do not all have to be simple. You can still have an easy read with sentence variety.
Plot Consistency +: The plot is always about her having adventures, so, it stayed consistent.
Reread Ability -: Just because this book is a quick read, doesn’t mean it is worth reading again. Horse Diaries 1: Elska is just too boring to be worth a read.
Creativity -: I would say that being in the perspective of a horse is creative, except that it has been done a lot of times before, so, it isn’t.
Proofreading +: There was one instance where the punctuation was not correct, but otherwise it was basically fine
Length -: The book was way too short. However, I do have to say that the concept of Horse Diaries 1: Elska did not really seem to be intended to be longer in length. There just is not enough substance for there to be a longer book.
Humor -: No trace of humor, which is definitely not good for a children’s book. Humor should be implemented to children’s books especially for the sole reason to draw their attention more.

Quality Score: 6/10

Entertainment Score: 5/10

I didn’t really like this book. It was far too simple and the story was not developed enough. Each flaw caused more and more entertainment to falter. My main issue is the fact that the book is so short. If it were longer, it would be a lot better, hypothetically. I would not recommend this book to anyone.

The Emperor’s New Groove (Movie Reviews #7)

Kuzko is an emperor to a Mesoamerican civilization and is clearly portrayed as a stereotypical ruler. He is selfish and heartless, even calling a peasant, Pacha, to his throne to discuss his location for a summer beach house, coincidentally in the village of Pacha’s family. Because Kuzko is so evil, he fires his right-hand woman, Yzma for little reason. As a revenge plan, Yzma and her right-hand man, Krunk, try to poison him; however, they end up turning him into a llama. Through various circumstances, Kuzko as a llama ends up with Pacha at his village when he was returning home. Now that Kuzko is far from home, the story continues with Pacha and Kuzko trying to make it back to Kuzko’s empire while Kuzko learns what love really is.
Rating: G
Time: 1h 20m
Genre: Family/Animated Adventure
Production Company: Disney
Director: Mark Dindal

Plot +: I thought the plot was actually pretty different. Considering that there were two basic plot lines working together throughout this movie, I thought that was pretty different for a Disney movie.
Story +: I thought the story element of Yzma and Krunk chasing down Pacha and Kuzko was actually pretty entertaining.
Characters +: I liked all of the characters and enjoyed watching them go on their adventures. Even characters that only had a few lines were entertaining.
Dialogue +: The dialogue was well thought out.
Lip Sync +: The lip sync was perfect as far as I can remember. Considering that this is a Disney movie, this should be expected.
Music +: The music was nice, but I can’t really imagine remembering the songs.
Animation +: It’s Disney. Come on.
Voice Acting +: The voice acting is perfect and I really felt like I was in the movie. The voice acting matched all the characters exactly.
Errors +: There was only one minor animation error in the beginning, but otherwise, I don’t recall any errors.
Length +: I thought the length was perfect.
Humor +: I have seen this movie multiple times and I remember from the previous viewing that I thought the humor wasn’t enjoyable. Upon seeing it again, however, I realize how enjoyable the humor is. The humor is entertaining for kids and adults alike. I also have to express that the movie breaks the fourth wall (not constantly), which I love.
Sound Quality +: The sound quality was fine throughout.
Plot Consistency +: The plot line is for Kuzko to return home, but there is also a major part of him turning back into a human. It still stays consistent.
Re-watch Ability +: There is nothing wrong with this movie, so I don’t see the reason as to not watch it over and over again.
Creativity -: The plot is solid and fine but the inner message within the plot is pretty cliché.
Setting +: The setting is beautiful to witness and enjoyable throughout.

Quality Score: 9.5/10

Entertainment Score: 8.5/10

I really think this movie is underrated. If you haven’t seen The Emperor’s New Groove yet, please watch it now. It is suitable children and adults alike. Nothing in this movie is overly Disney and there aren’t even any romances to drown out the plot.