Resident Evil 4 (2005 - Gamecube)

I plan to write a full review of this game later, so I'm only going to say a few things about it right now. First of all, no it's not quite the #2 greatest game of all time like Nintendo Power magazine said it was (but I wasn't really expecting it to be). It has its share of ups and downs. It has more of an action slant than most Survival Horror games, but you still don't want to jump in with all guns blazing because on my first attempt I reached a boss I couldn't beat because I was far too low on ammo and health refills, so I had to start over.

The good news is that the game is difficult and has a good variety of challenges and boss fights. It also makes excellent use of its "3D space", meaning there is mild exploration that usually results in finding some useful stuff. No endless wandering down streets and hallways like in Silent Hill 2. However, I'm not particularly fond of the "quick time events", and I was actually quite shocked to see this game had them as I thought part of the reason FMV games died out is because no one liked them. I appreciate the attempt at making cutscenes more "interactive", but this also has the negative effect of forcing you to sit through cutscenes multiple times if you mess up, and not be able to skip those scenes on a replay.

Still, it's a solid challenge, and it's nice to play a Survival Horror game without those "tank" controls so common to the genre. The game's atmosphere starts out creepy and mysterious, but the more the mystery unravels, the less scary it gets, especially when a dwarf character in a Napoleon getup is introduced. It should be noted that I've only beaten it on the Normal setting. I felt the Hard mode is what made Resident Evil 0 go from being average to excellent, so I'll write a full review after I finish Hard.
Rating: 3.5/5 (tentative)

Short Circuit (1986 - DVD)

Short Circuit is a very strange movie. Its tone completely changes about halfway through. At first, it seems like it might be taking itself at least somewhat seriously, with the idea of "what defines life?" being proposed by a talking robot that seems to have come to life. However, considering that this robot is armed to the teeth with highly-destructive lasers, I couldn't help but find Steve Guttenberg's suggestion to just let it roam around ridiculous, and the "evil" army's stance that it should be stopped sympathetic. However, the more "intelligent" the robot (Johnny 5) gets, the more slapstick the movie becomes. By the midpoint, the army is so bungling and incompetent, they can't be taken seriously anymore. With the first half being so low on humor, the second half's humor almost seems out-of-place. Take, for example, a scene where Johnny 5's woman friend's abusive boyfriend shows up at her house with a shotgun. The farcical way in which the robot resolves this situation is almost alarming.

Roger Ebert gave Short Circuit 1.5 stars, but I don't think it's that bad. It's watchable, has some funny lines of dialogue, and Johnny 5 is cute and entertaining, but it's left me wondering if Short Circuit's popularity has more to do with the second movie because everyone seems to score that one higher and, get this, if I image search "Short Circuit" on the internet, most of the pictures that come up are from the second film.
Rating: 2.5/5

Dragon Ball: The Saga of Goku (1986 - DVD)

I felt an obligation to watch this show sometime in my life because of the huge influence its art style had on NES games. This is the original Dragon Ball series where Goku is a little kid and it explains his origins - how he met characters like Bulma, Oolong the shape-changing pig, and Yamcha, and went on a quest to find the seven Dragon Balls to have a wish granted. It's a lot more focused on story and humor than the mostly action-oriented, and more popular "Z" series. In fact, Goku more often finds other ways of winning the day without fighting. While the show is a bit juvenile and has some bathroom humor I could have lived without, it can be surprisingly funny at times. It also has the novelty of there being nothing else like it. The animation is a bit subpar, although the backgrounds are pretty and the artwork itself isn't bad.

The story follows an arc from episode to episode, and the nice thing about it is that although it was left open for continuation, it's basically complete. Unlike some American cartoons that attempt this sort of thing and never come full circle (like The Pirates of Dark Water, where they never got close to finding all the treasures). It also has some really memorable moments. I can imagine Goku's transformation near the end being a major "Holy Crap!" moment for kids watching it when it first aired. And what actually gets wished for from the Eternal Dragon is one of the funniest things I've seen all year.
Rating: 3.5/5



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