Sunday, October 25, 2020

Toy Review: Transformers Cyberverse Shockwave & Solar Shot (Spark Armor Battle Class)

Review:  #600
Name:  Shockwave & Solar Shot
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Decepticon
Line:  Cyberverse
Year of Release:  2019
Size Class:  Spark Armor Battle Class (Wave 2)
Mold Status:  new


Shockwave transforms into a walking tank but this is a pretty poor one.  This is because the turret and cannon is tiny, and is situated too far back.

This is effectively the robot mode on all fours and it shows.  The front legs are the robot arms, and the back legs are the robot feet.

He's part of the Battle Class subline, which is approximately the size of a Legends figure.

One good thing with reusing the robot limbs for the tank limbs is how articulated this mode can be.  The turret can also rotate from side to side.

This is not a good tank mode, it is barely passable and is laughable, really.


Getting Shockwave into robot mode is extremely simple.  Straighten the back and front legs to allow him to stand up.  Detach the turret on top to peg onto either arm, and then fold the front down to form the chest.


Robot mode is where Shockwave shines the brightest and this is a decent representation of the character.

He has his iconic laser arm complete with the plastic hose.  The hose only pegs to his shoulder, but this attachment can actually peg onto either arm, and both arms have a proper fist.

The biggest negative here is the head, it's not so much the sculpting (as it's decent, even with the "angry" eye) but that his head is fixed, it cannot move at all.

He is slightly taller than a typical Legends figure in robot mode.

Barring the fixed head, articulation is good.  He has joints for his shoulders, elbows, hips and knees.

The hose doesn't get in the way at all and he doesn't have any kibble either.

As mentioned earlier, the laser gun is an attachment that pegs onto the fist so you can leave it off and have a Shockwave with two normal hands if you want.

There are some lighter purple accents that looks great as a highlight.  This is a solid robot mode.


As part of the Spark Armor gimmick, Shockwave comes with Solar Shot, which transforms into a satellite.

The solar panels as well as the dish in the front are both made of softer more flexible plastic.

This piece is pretty much an accessory, and is a bit smaller than a Legends figure.

A quick comparison with Shockwave's tank mode.  It's easy to imagine that the satellite's aerial firepower is a complement to the tank's ground based firepower.

This is not a bad alternate mode, even if it doesn't have the challenge of hiding robot bits.


The satellite splits into four pieces and this provides the Spark Armor additions to Shockwave's robot mode.  It splits into a weapon, the solar panels which form the backpack, a head and torso armor piece, and a second gun.


The armored up robot mode keeps the core Shockwave elements, and then doubles down on it.  Shockwave now gains a second gun arm and a more menacing silhouette.

There is quite a bit of backpack now.  The solar panels are a feature, but the torso piece that adds the helmet has a big chunk sticking out the back.  All the Spark Armor Battle Class figures have this flaw, which is disappointing.

The armor gives the original head a helmet, so you can see Shockwave's face through the visor.  It's one of the better integrating helmet of the line.

Shockwave sells for nearly Deluxe price but when bulked up, since nothing is added to his legs, he remains the same height.

None of the armor pieces restrict any movement either, his articulation remains the same as the core robot mode.

Of note is attached to his gun arm is another gun, of which the hose then attached to the back.

While he may be bigger and clunkier, he looks more powerful too and is a neat upgrade to the normal Shockwave design that we've come to expect.


Shockwave may have a weak tank mode, but the robot mode as well as the Spark Armor gimmick more than makes up for it.  The armor adds a ton of play value, and it makes the robot look power, despite only really adding a few additional pieces.


For other Transformers reviews, have a look at this page.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Senran Kagura: Estival Versus (Vita)

Senran Kagura:  Estival Versus is a hack n slash brawler game for the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4.  It has a high focus on fan service and jiggle physics.  While it is a sequel to Shinovi Versus and Bon Appetit, there isn’t that much of a need to have played those games before this one.  The bulk of the content lies in the story mode that has nearly equal amounts of story and gameplay.  You will have a few cutscenes before the mission commences and then another story cutscene after.  Unfortunately, the game is punctuated by constant loading screens.  There is always a loading screen between each of the short cutscenes and even in the middle of a middle of each battle as it loads in the boss.  This is distracting and quite disappointing.

In the story, all the members of each of the four shinobi schools have been warped to another dimension.  Coincidentally, it is a beautiful beach and this is an excuse for the characters to relax and wear swimsuits.  However, a more serious main arc comes into play where Ryobi and Ryona see their dead sister.  It turns out that this world allows the dead shinobi to come back to life for the limited amount of time the festival is on.  The four schools participate in the Kagura Millennium Festival and must battle each other.  In the end, the story has a ton of fluff and is simply an excuse for as many fan service scenes as possible.  The story is all over the place with random and wacky things that happen.

As the main story explores various characters’ reasons for not wanting to leave this alternate reality, it expands on their backstories from Shinovi Versus.  A few of them are haunted by tragic events that affected their cherished family members, while others are more rational and realize that this could be a trap and wants to leave.  Apparently, the reality is currently suspended in time and no matter how long they stay here, they’ll go back right after they had warped.

Estival Versus is a hack n slash and can become repetitive by the end of the game.  The square button is used for a light attack while triangle is for a heavy attack.  You can chain together these two types of attacks into a combo.  In addition, characters can block and counter an enemy’s attack if you block at just the right time.  Once you knock an enemy away you can instantly leap towards them to continue your combo at the press of a button.

All characters can transform into their true shinobi forms where they gain stat buffs.  They also gain the ability to use ninja arts once a bar is full; these are effectively the same as ultimate attacks as they are flash and do a lot of damage.  A new addition is combined attacks if you have a NPC ally with you.

During each mission, you are typically pit against a large number of enemies.  When fighting against other characters, the attacks you do will slowly damage their clothing and enough damage will strip them completely.  The game has re-balanced all of the characters’ fighting styles.  The recovery delay after a combo is really annoying, especially for slow characters.  Coupled with a shorter attack range than expected means you’ll be hitting thin air rather than the enemy.  The enemy never seems to have these same kinds of problems though.  They are able to instantly launch attacks with no recovery frames, stun lock you and shoot off attack after attack.  It can get extremely annoying when three bosses are doing this at the same time against you.

There is a lack of staggering of enemies when they power up.  This means that you cannot just mash your way through a combo.  It can be annoying when the powered up bosses use ranged attacks and you’re using a close ranged fighter, so you are unable to get close to pummel them.  This tends to drag out the fights.  It’s actually really frustrating that you cannot lock them into a combo as they will spam their own invincible frame moves and due to the animation delay, the combat does not feel that smooth or reactive.

The final boss exacerbates every single flaw the game has; as a result, it feels extremely cheap and unfair.  The final boss is constantly barraging you with attacks, never staggers, cannot be combo’d, cannot be launched and has high health.  It is a cheap mess of a battle.  It doesn’t help that the game’s camera is not the best and can be hard to keep track of your character or the enemy with.  Each mission takes around five to ten minutes to clear so they are not long at all.  There are collectibles in the form of hidden “festival platforms” that you destroy to unlock more things in the game.  These unlocks include additional missions in the Shinobi Girl’s Heart mode.  The game reuses a lot of assets from Shinovi Versus.  Most notably the same stages, which is disappointing.  It still adds in new content and still looks decent.

The main story mode takes around seven to ten hours, after which there is the Shinobi Girl’s Heart mode.  This mode has side stories involving all the characters.  Each character has five missions which are easier and shorter than the story missions.  Each character set takes around twenty to thirty minutes to complete.  Playing through all the missions in this mode can become tedious.  Yes, it is a lot of content but it is all the same style of missions, thus it becomes extremely repetitive.  Then there are the unskippable credits after every set, which means watching then 27 times after every girl’s five missions, this is a bit overkill.

Impressively, there is a free chunky update to the game.  The update provides new playable characters, additional Shinobi Girl’s Heart story missions, collectibles and stages, which is quite the meaty addition.  While the single player mode will take around 20-30 hours to unlock everything, there is also a multiplayer mode if you wish to battle it out against real players.  There is a “Dressing Room” mode where you can select any of the characters and then change their costumes, pose them, and put on accessories.  It has a lot of customization option but sadly lacks a photo mode where you can pose them in an environment with other characters.

Overall, Senran Kagura:  Estival Versus, despite its flaws, is still a fun game.  While the fan service is a big part of the game, at the same time, it is a lot of mindless fun.  The combat can do with some improvements as it felt like there was a lot of redundant features and nerfing of move sets.  It has plenty of content that will take you up to thirty hours to complete.


For other game reviews, have a look at this page.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Jumanji (1995)

Jumanji is a fantasy adventure film.  The setup to the plot takes a bit longer that you would expect.  A mysterious board game, hinted at being more horrible and scary that you can imagine, is buried deep, only to be dug out a hundred years later.  The game itself is called Jumanji and once you participate, you must be there until it finishes (which is actually quite a significant flaw).  The twist here is that on every turn, after your dice roll, it reveals a passage and that passage turns into reality.  The things that come out from the board game such as killer plants, a stampede of animals, quicksand and other dangerous events stay until the game finishes.  Naturally, the pair of children who rediscovers the game struggles with these obstacles.  Despite the interesting premise the pacing of the film is not that great.  In between all the action are heaps of dead moments which just aren't that engaging.  The physical props used hold up though and are fantastic.  It does build to a nice climax packing in a lot of meaning but the ending is wonky in that it undoes a portion of history.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Toy Review: Transformers BotBots Spoiled Rottens (8-pack #2) (Series 2)

Review:  #599
Name:  Spoiled Rottens
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  N/A
Line:  BotBots
Year of Release:  2019
Size Class:  BotBot (Series 2)
Mold Status:  N/A


As part of the Series 2 line of 8-packs, the Spoiled Rottens set comes in packaging that shows off seven of the figures, with a remaining "mystery" BotBot.

The mystery bot is within the capsule that has an easy way of popping out, which means it is susceptible to be stolen in-store, which can be annoying.

There's no bio but there is a nice piece of artwork with the various BotBots of the group.


There are four different variations of the pack, and the theme of the set is around spoiled food.  The #2 pack comes with:
- Big Cantuna
- Bottocorrect
- Brock Head
- Nope Soap
- Ollie Bite
- Outtacontrol
- Rebugnant
- Sour Wing

This is a pretty strong set with the majority being great molds, especially if you haven't had them already before.


Spoiled Rottens is a good solid set.  There are some really inventive and unique figures in here, with Big Cantuna being the standout.


For other Transformers reviews, have a look at this page.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Senran Kagura Shinovi Master (2018)

Senran Kagura Shinovi Master is a 12 episode anime that is based upon the game series. The aesthetics has changed compared to the previous season, as well as when comparing to the games, so it can feel a bit off at first. Similarly to the Estival Versus OVA, this anime bares it all. Gone are the teasing and strategic censoring, instead, it seems to take every opportunity to show off the characters. It becomes oversaturated by the time the third episode comes around, but it does seem to dial it down a bit towards the end of the season.

The opening episode is fairly bland as it sets the current status quo. The four schools, while not in harmony, seem to be functioning well and have a friendship rivalry going on. Asuka and Yumi are great friends, while Homura’s team is continually struggling to make enough money to buy food. It can feel a tad bit too normal but by the end of the episode, we get a feel on the direction the anime is aiming. This is because we are introduced to two powerful new characters with the intent to eliminate the four schools.

As the mystery deepens regarding the two newcomers, they invite everyone to the Shinovi Masters. This is a tournament in which the winner gets to take on the ultimate youma (i.e. monster). Asuka had already faced against some youma within the city and she suffers a massive existential crisis that robs her of her ideals and dampens her normal cheerful self. This attitude continues for the rest of the season and it can get annoying when she is acting so down and unlike her normal self for so long. Unfortunately, several characters end up out of action for a large portion of the anime.

There is a nice reference to the Peach Beach Splash game in one episode. Actually, it adapts the scenario and has the characters shooting each other in swimsuits, using water that if it hits the target, will render the part transparent (aka clothing damage). These types of episodes, and scenes, form the basis of massive mood whiplash where one moment it is dark and serious, then in the next it throws in fan service.

The youma and eventually the true villains come to the forefront in the second half of the anime. While it managed to avoid it in the first half, like the first Senran Kagura anime, it starts to rely more and more on flashbacks. These flashbacks expand upon the history of the motivations of the villains, as well as the past of Yumi. The scale of the conflict is revealed towards the end that flips the characters’ understand of the relationship between shinobi and youma. They make a big deal out of it but the impact to the viewer is definitely nowhere near as strong or shocking.  While Asuka used to be the face of the franchise, it has slowly shifted to Yumi and it is no exception here. Yumi takes on a larger and larger focus as the anime goes on.

The battle scenes are an improvement, although they are still not the best. At least it is more than static images and it has some fluidity to the characters’ movements. If you have played the games, it is a nice bonus to be able to recognize some of their moves. Sadly, there are a lot of scenes where the animation suddenly and noticeably dips in quality. It generally looks great when characters are in close ups, however once it pans out to show several characters onscreen at once, it loses a lot of the details and subsequently, the proportions are off.

Overall Senran Kagura Shinovi Master is so so. It’s biggest attraction is the uncensored fan service (and the franchise is more well known for its fan service than anything). The story stalls too much in the second half to the point of it being too easy to not care very much on what happens. It’s unfortunate because the opening premise shows a lot of promise with a darker, more intriguing tale surrounding shinobi fighting a rising tide of youma within modern day cities.


For other anime reviews, have a look at this page.
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