Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories: Cards are Difficult Man

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Hello everyone, and welcome back to another video game review.  As the image above alludes to, I’m reviewing:

Image result for Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories

As I continue on through my playthrough Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5+2.5 ReMIX in order of the playable games available (not including the two games that are included, but are movie only (358/2 days and Re:coded).  By the way, if you haven’t played this game yet, beware, because there are

and you have been warned.  So, let’s get started.

First off, like Kingdom Hearts I, it has been a very long time since I’ve played both parts of this game.  Yes, I did say both parts.  ‘Cause you see, this game gives us two different game modes.  The first mode sees you play through your memories as Sora, exploring each of the previous game worlds (minus Deep Jungle and The End of the World), and relieving the events of those worlds for the player, but ending up making Sora forget it all.  The storyline itself is full of very heavy theme involving memory and loss.  One could very well dissect this story and apply it to the real world with brain disorders.  But, that’s a topic for another time.

Once you defeat Sora’s story, you then unlock Reverse/Rebirth, which lets you play through as Riku, who is fighting the darkness that Ansem unleashed inside his heart.  Riku’s story is much simpler, by just going through the various worlds and fighting the various bosses to move on until we make it to the more relevant parts of his story.  In the end, Riku defeats Ansem, and we get the setup for Riku’s side of KHII.  Also, before I forget.  Why does Riku keep on having to point out that people smell different? Are we supposed to think that Riku is part dog? Or does it have something to do with him getting overwhelmed by the darkness in the first game, and that being able to distinguish people by their smells is just a side effect of that? I’d really like to know that one.

This game has a very…unique view on battling by implementing a card deck with different cards (three types: Keyblades in red; magic in blue; items in green); and it’s up to the player to strategize by using combinations of the different card types, as well as sleights that you can learn by leveling up or find in treasure chests throughout the worlds.  Each player can fight as they see fit with the cards that they end up finding, but even then, combat can be hard at times.  In Sora’s story especially, there were a couple of bosses that I would come back the next day to beat just because I wasn’t using the right strategy.  In Riku’s story, however, things are different.  Riku’s deck is set in each world, and it’s up to the player to use his deck in the best way possible with Riku’s dark side, which has all the sleights.  I found Riku’s side both easier and harder to deal with than Sora’s.  Easier, because there wasn’t the constant shuffling around of the deck to make it stronger (or having to take out all the fire-based cards to prevent Axel healing himself with every strike); but it was also harder because there are a couple of worlds where you only have 10 attack cards, and you have to maximize strategy rather than brute force through it.  As I told Beth at one point, I died…to myself.  Long story there that I don’t think I can adequately explain.

However, despite the wonky combat, I urge you to not skip this game.  This game is VITAL in bridging the gap between I and II (how did Sora get in that pod?), it introduces us to Twilight Town; and it gives us the first major introduction to Organization XIII, which, as a whole, is the big bad in II.  As much as I struggled on some of the Organization members in battle, and frustrated as to deck building; this game will make you strategize, but also give you a deeper appreciation for the story.

Now, I’m onwards to Kingdom Hearts II, and one step closer to getting ready for Kingdom Hearts III, whenever they FINALLY release the stinking game.

It’s been TWELVE years Square Enix! Enough with the waiting!! I am the Baumeister, and I have been, obediently yours.

Reviewing the Pages: The Shadow Fabric

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A dark fantasy novel of demons, devices, and deceit.
 
Leo remembers little of his past. Desperate for a new life, he snatches up the first job to come along. On his second day, he witnesses a murder, and the Shadow Fabric – a malevolent force that controls the darkness – takes the body and vanishes with it.
 
Determined to get answers, Leo has no idea where to turn. Revelations come in the most unlikely places, and secrets of witchcraft and ancient artefacts unfold. In particular, a device used in the 17th century to extract evil from witches proves key to his discoveries. With these truths long hidden from humankind, his memory unravels. Not only haunted by the past, a sinister presence within the darkness threatens Leo’s existence and he soon doubts everything and everyone…including himself.
 
The relentless and destructive power of the Shadow Fabric compels Leo to fight not only this growing darkness, but also the entity beneath the Fabric’s surface. While these supernatural horrors rage and his world crumbles, Leo must confront his past before he can embrace his future. But the future may not exist.
 
Bringing witchcraft and demon fiction into the 21st century
THE SHADOW FABRIC is a British horror novel revealing the unknown history of the witch, the paranormal, and demons. With a slice of occult horror and an insight into the true cause of the Great Fire of London, the story opens up history and spreads it raw.

The evil contained in this book is relentless. Seriously, just when you think that something good has happened, it snatches it away. With fury too. This read takes you through a journey through a somewhat-unreliable narrator, and the all-too-mysterious Shadow Fabric and the revolving world within. I’m pretty sure that there are mysteries that are still left unsolved, even with everything that get explained.

All the characters are distinct, and though each one of them have their own motivation (which may or may not be their own), it certainly is a fun thing to read such a varied cast of characters. There are some moments where I didn’t want to know about a thing for the 50th time, but that’s just because it had been repeated so many times that my brain went “enough already!”

For those of you who like supernatural horror, and want something to keep you on your toes, then you should check this one out.

Well, this one certainly kept me on my intellectual toes anyway.  Trying to figure out where all the information about the Fabric, or the Witchblade, or anything else in general was going to lead me kept my brain moving.  Which is a good thing.  I feel like I still don’t have all of the pieces of the puzzle, and with all the people that were handing out puzzle pieces now dead, I’m just as lost as Leo was for most of the book.

And this book makes sure that you stay lost.  And in despair too.  Just when you think that something good is finally happening to our characters, the rug gets pulled out from underneath us and we fall back down into that hole of despair again.  There are some things that concern me about the ending of the tale, primarily when it came down to the stitching.  Yes, he was holding a shadowleaf, but, how could the effect of the pure white leaf do any good when he was wearing a glove? Maybe he did take it off and I just missed that line.  I’m not sure.  Or maybe it’s just the fact that the white leaf was counteracting the effect of the black leaf? Maybe that’s it.  Either way, left me a bit puzzled.  Also, I don’t know if there is a sequel in the works, or it just continues on in short form, but the ending left me wanting much, much more.

Seriously, check this read out.  I promise, it’ll make you think more about light and the darkness it battles in a slightly different way.

Reading List #4

Hello everyone, and welcome back to another edition of my reading list! Now, I skipped over one book in the process of going through my last read, and I’m ok with that.  As much as I do like sticking to lists and following a set plan from time to time, there are just some times where I’m like “alright, I can skip that one”.  And it’s not like the book isn’t on my reading list as it is, I just didn’t have the book to read it.  I’m sure it’ll show up on here again.  And speaking of, here is a very long list of books to come.  This should take me to that magical 50 books read this year.  Wish me luck!

Reminder: all covers come from Goodreads.

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Reviewing the Pages: Relic

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Just days before a massive exhibition opens at the popular New York Museum of Natural History, visitors are being savagely murdered in the museum’s dark hallways and secret rooms. Autopsies indicate that the killer cannot be human…

But the museum’s directors plan to go ahead with a big bash to celebrate the new exhibition, in spite of the murders.

Museum researcher Margo Green must find out who-or what-is doing the killing. But can she do it in time to stop the massacre?

Oh how I missed Pendergast. I don’t know how I picked up this book to start with, but once I finished it the first time, I really wanted to read more about our mysterious Southern gentlemen with the FBI. But I never picked the series back up. Now, after re-reading the introductory novel to Pendergast, I realized quickly that I really should. Pendergast is an enigma, and I want to know about him.

This story gives us a fascinating look into ideas on evolution, and whether they are working theories or not, is a different story altogether, but I still enjoyed the tale. I’m one for reading books that help expand my brain with wide amounts of knowledge. Usually, it comes in the form of scientific information, like evolution, or paleobiology, or astrobotany. Maybe that’s why I like The Martian so much…it taught me a lot of plausible ideas. Which is where this book comes in…that there are still things that we as human beings have not explored. Things like bridging the gap in the evolutionary record. Science changes and adapts in every way, and I hope that, like this “little” discovery in this book shows, one day just might change the world.

This book is also a really good mystery, because while it gives you some information outright, the bulk of the information; the story that is getting woven here gets slowly revealed with each new revelation that the characters make. And I like that. Even with reading this book again, it gives me great pleasure in following along with the mystery. If you enjoy reading books heavily steeped in mystery with deep tendrils of science fiction, that I urge you to check this book out. And maybe, you’ll just might find yourself wanting to follow along with Agent Pendergast on his next adventure.

Alright.  Big spoilers here.  The ending is a very nice setup to getting us into the next book.  So the creature has been vanquished, and our heroes are celebrating their success, not only in taking down the creature, but their individual successes in life.  Which is good for them.  Bad for the rest of the world.  While they realize that the creature had a humanoid-like facial structure, the latecomer to the party holds the actual key as to what happened.  Which is dangerous.  Especially for someone like Kawakita.  I didn’t like his character.  Not because he’s poorly written or anything like that, but because he’s a character type that I don’t find appealing. The highly-motivated, almost world-conquering personality that won’t stop until he gets exactly what he wants using any means necessary.

There is so much more that I want to learn about Agent Pendergast.  We get that he’s Southern, to the point where he was raised almost in a more traditional Southern manner.  He’s very particular about how he dresses (to the point where he shows disdain for having to use his jacket for a trap).  He also seems to have a problem with people being nasty, especially towards him.  I love how the authors describe D’Agosta after a couple of Pendergast’s verbal lashings.

While I listed above that this is science fiction and mystery, there is also a great deal of horror involved in it as well.  It take you for a wonderful, brain-pleasing ride that, at the very end, will leave you wanting more. Just, keep all body parts and organs inside the ride at all times.

Kingdom Hearts Final Mix: Faded Nostalgia

Hello everyone, and welcome back to another video game review! This time:

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Oh, and before I begin:

for whoever wants to play this series, but hasn’t done so yet.  I won’t spoil too many plot points, but I’m not going to shy away from giving information either.

Now, there’s a bit of history to this game for me.  Back in 2004, I was a bit of a loner in school.  Didn’t have many friends my age (all of my friends were either a year older or younger). Which, in a class of 29, doesn’t make a lot of sense (then again, that’s maybe where my feeling like nobody likes me comes in).  Anyway, the summer after my sophomore year in high school (Grade 10 for my international readers), I went to a summer camp.  Called the Summer High School Institute, it was for like minded students who were, for the most part, eager to learn and continue their education.  I made many friendships in that three week camp, some lasting on to this day.  But, one friend, Luke, let me play Kingdom Hearts for a spell.  And man, let me tell you.  I fell in love with the game.  And ever since, I’ve enjoyed the entire series, and have been just as frustrated as the rest of you on the release of Kingdom Hearts III.

Now.  I still love this game.  But, after not playing it through for a while, and then picking it back up here and there, I realize that there are some things that are wrong with some aspects of the game.  Jumping, for one.  I don’t know how often it is that I wanted to make a jump, only for Sora to float over the spot I wanted to land on and make me miss my jump entirely.  Which infuriated me to no end.  I’m glad that they fixed that in later games, because it was a little ridiculous.

Another thing that I was like “I don’t like this anymore”, is the camera.  There were times, like on Geppetto’s ship inside of Monstro, for example, where I had an issue of getting the camera to stay where it was so I could make a jump.  I don’t know if having the option to have a fixed or manually operated camera was an option in the original release or if it came with the Final Mix (and the subsequent re-releases), but I was rather annoyed by it at times.  I do like the ability to control my camera, but I don’t want it to do its own thing.

However, let’s not let the negatives damper what is a wonderful game mixing Square Enix properties with those from Disney.  I enjoyed diving into the different worlds like Wonderland, Agrabah, Halloween Town and Hollow Bastion all over again.  Each world is unique, and for some of the later worlds, have their own unique feel to them.  The combat is simple, yet customizable through the various keychains and abilities that you gain throughout the game.  Not only that, but you can swap out companions throughout the various worlds.  So you can play with Jack Skellington, Peter Pan, Tarzan, Aladdin, Ariel and Beast on their own respective worlds, as long as you don’t mind getting rid of Donald (cause c’mon, Donald isn’t exactly all that good of a AI character).

If you like Japanese RPGs with a little bit of action to it, then you’ll enjoy this game.  Oh, and you’ll be singing “Simple and Clean” for days afterwards.  Here, let me plant that earworm for you.

That’s all I’ve got for you today folks.  Tune back in next time for another review, whether it be book or video game.  Until next time, I am the Baumeister, and I have been, obediently yours.

Reviewing the Pages: The Infernal Aether

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London, 1865.

Betrayed by his closest friend and rapidly drinking through his inheritance, Augustus Merriwether Potts returns to London in the hope of finding his fortune. Instead, he meets a mysterious stranger who thrusts him into a terrifying underworld of demons, ghosts and clockwork men. Fighting back against these new and unusual threats, Augustus and his friends come face-to-face with a creature which has been manipulating them and all humanity: a demon known as Andras, the God of Lies.

Andras has a plan: to recreate the Earth in his own hellish image using the power of the Aether, a terrifying otherworld populated by creatures from beyond humanity’s worst nightmares. With the world’s governments in thrall to the demons, Augustus and his friends find themselves in the front line of this battle to save the world against all the odds.

This read can be a bit confusing at times, and there are some things that make the reader pause, but all in all, this is a wonderful read. I really enjoyed the setting, and for my first time diving into a steampunkesque setting, I rather enjoyed it. I say esque, because I didn’t really get that vibe while reading. It’s much more subtle; giving way instead to more of the supernatural with the talk of demons and the Aether. But I have to say, I was enthralled with the read, and I do wish to pick up the second story in this series really soon. For those who are into the darker side of fantasy; with demons galavanting about in a historical time period, then you should check this out.

Ok.  Maybe the above review seems a little harsh.  I did rather enjoy this read.

I enjoyed the setting, and I rather enjoyed getting to know the characters, even if they do have some all-to-real human flaws to them.  And their humanity is what actually prevails here in the end.  Against a forthcoming demonic threat, being human is their greatest weapon.  And yes, that does sound silly.  But it is true.

There are some things that I didn’t like about this book, and that’s mainly just how easy certain things rapidly become.  Like Augustus using and wielding the sword he is given.  Like, wouldn’t he struggle with it more with his first non-duel fight? Or how quick that N’yotsu (a name that gives me fits over and over trying to spell correctly) accepts that he’s a demon and runs away.

Now, I know that a lot of people see the steampunk in this novel, but I didn’t necessarily find it.  Maybe it’s because I’m not as familiar with the intricacies of what exactly makes up steampunk.  But, don’t get me wrong.  It’s in there.  The flying airships are a testament to that after all.  But, don’t let my lack of steampunk knowledge keep you from reading this.  I did enjoy the story, and I really want to read the second book after reading the blurb.  Trust me, you’ll enjoy it.

Reviewing the Pages: The Graveyard Apartment

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A terrifying tale of a young family who move into an apartment building next to a graveyard and the horrors that are unleashed upon them.

One of the most popular writers working in Japan today, Mariko Koike is a recognized master of detective fiction and horror writing. Known in particular for her hybrid works that blend these styles with elements of romance, The Graveyard Apartment is arguably Koike’s masterpiece. Originally published in Japan in 1986, Koike’s novel is the suspenseful tale of a young family that believes it has found the perfect home to grow in to, only to realize that the apartment’s idyllic setting harbors the specter of evil and that longer they stay, the more trapped they become.

This tale of a young married couple who are harboring a dark secret is packed with dread and terror, as they and their daughter move into a brand new apartment building built next to a graveyard. As strange and terrifying occurrences begin to pile up, people in the building begin to move out one by one, until the young family is left alone with someone… or something… lurking in the basement. The psychological horror builds moment after moment, scene after scene, culminating with a conclusion that will make you think twice before ever going into a basement again.

I saw this book somewhere, whether it was on Goodreads or through a website that did book lists, and were like “this is a horror book that you should read”. And I decided to go pick it up. Cause an apartment building in the middle of a graveyard is sure to leave us full of laughter and joy. Which, this book doesn’t have. At all. Sure, there are some snarky moments given by Teppei, but for the most part, there seemed to be too many aside and thoughts that should have been said. Which, may be the Japanese way. I’m not entirely sure.

Now, there are some minor cultural hiccups, like the mentioning of the Golden Week, and a couple other customs that us Westerners don’t come across in our daily life. But that’s perfect. I most certainly enjoyed the small peek into Japanese life that we got in this book, especially with the time period that it was happening in (which was 30 years ago. Makes me feel old just thinking about it).

As far as the horror, I felt like I was reading a horror movie. I think I’ve said that before in a review, but it really felt that way here. I also felt like there wasn’t a real motivation for the ghosts. I’m not entirely sure if there was an explanation given, other than some of the larger story points.

However, if you are a fan of ghost stories, and want to experience a different setting than one in your native home land, than you should check this read out.

Ok.  As I said above, this reminds me of a horror movie.  Well, I was specifically thinking of Annabelle, but with ghosts instead of a creepy possessed doll.

Anyway, I really missed out on the motivation here.  Sure, our setting primarily takes place in an apartment complex that was built on a Buddhist graveyard, and that the spirits were not happy that there were living people living in their final resting spot.  That’s about it.  I would have much rather had this attack happen because of Reiko finally getting enough energy to start haunting the holy heck out of the family.

I did appreciate this read, just wasn’t so keen on the lack of the motivation of the haunting and the general portrayal of the characters, especially the brothers.  Yes, I know brothers can fight and get jealous of each other, but it just didn’t seem to work for me here.  However, I do urge you to check this read out, and enjoy it.