Archive | June, 2012

Pokemon Conquest: A review

24 Jun

So recently I hadn’t been investing in any video games, but with the new Pokemon games coming out (Pokemon Conquest, Pokemon Black 2 and Pokemon white 2) I heard my inner child throwing a tantrum. For now, I invested in Pokemon Conquest (as Black and White still aren’t in stores just yet.) but i’m not entirely sure if I like it or not.

I suppose that’s my own fault, going and buying a game on a whim before investing some thought into it. But I had thought Conquest would be similar to the Pokemon Ranger series where you are the Pokemon, saving the day in poke-world, but it’s not. In fact, if I had to compare it to any other game, I would have to say that it’s reminiscent of some of the old Yugio card game games, where the cards become chess pieces on a board and they are deigned specific ways they can move and attack to win.

In Pokemon Conquest, you are a warlord in Feudal Japan around the time of Nobunaga. The goal: take over Japan of course! Rather than your typical Pokemon, where you the trainer use Pokeballs to capture your Pokemon, you instead use the power of your mind to “link” with potential poke-partners. You start as the warlord to a kingdom called Aroura, where you are apparently the new-militant in town, and are immediately confronted by a neighboring Kingdom looking to kick you out of your own castle. As this is mainly the tutorial, you easily beat them with the help of one of your newly acquired subordinates. I haven’t beaten it yet, but find it oddly addictive. Gathering more troops, linking with new Pokemon and trying to find the gold “perfect links” , upping energy and ultimately taking over the world with more than a few grumbles is the main attraction in this game.

So for all you strategy addicts out there–this game is for you.

pokemon conquest

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The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan (Now with Jelly Babies!)

21 Jun

I can hardly believe that the third book in the Kane Chronicle Series by Rick Riordan is already out on shelves. In fact, if I hadn’t been creeping on Mr. Riordan’s Facebook page–I probably wouldn’t have known for a long while.  But as luck or fate or by some blessing of Thoth (the Egyptian god of Knowledge–had a bird head–keep up people.) I managed to scoop up yet another tantalizing read.

If you’re extremely confused–please see my previous two reviews on The Red Pyramid and Throne of Fire, the first two novels in Riordan’s latest literary adventure.

Once again we join our favorite narrators, Sadie and Carter Kane as they take turns speaking into a tape recorder about their latest adventures and mishaps involving the Egyptian Gods. Once more our story starts with a less-than-pleasant battle within the walls of a museam, only this time the Kanes have no need to break in. After the last novel, we have been told that the House of Life (Sort of like the Egyptian Magicians Union) has been divided by the death of the former Head Lector, Dejardins, the appointment of the new Head Lector, the Kane’s uncle Amos, and the differing opinions in the Gods. As such, the Kanes have (a few) allies, including the group in Texas who runs the Dallas museum. What are they after this time–you wonder? Of course this novel’s goal is the absolutely necessary defeat of Apophis–a giant, sun-swallowing, chaos-loving snake that wants to destroy the world as we know it.

Apparently, Apophis has been immensely busy destroying one specific ancient artifact as of late, written by a former magician, Setne.(He literally comes back to haunt them later in the story.)  The Kanes and their initiates know that as this pattern continues, this scroll must hold some secret to beating the baddie–so they insist on trying to protect it. We see our fuzzy baboon friend, Jaz the healer/ rock-thrower and Walt the boy cursed to die young from magic use (See also King Tut.) are still part of the Kane’s gang, along with penguin-loving Felix for this round with chaos. Unfortunately, as seems to be the opening pattern in the Kane Chronicles, the mission goes horribly awry, ending in the deaths of party-going magicians gathered outside and the last scroll they needed destroyed.

Instead, Sadie has a vision of a pointy-nosed man she dubs “Uncle Vinnie” who materializes from the wall just before the battle and tells her to save the golden box. (Sadie almost dies in the process and has a chat with her favorite hottie-god Anubis who urgently tries to tell her something.) The group manages to do as much, and with no other survivors, they retreat back to Brooklyn House full of guilt and regret. Once home, the siblings figure out that the box they saved is also known as a Shadow box, for the Sheut,(Shadow) another important part of the Egyptian soul. Again, we see Riordan focus his novel on a major portion of the Egyptian soul using it as the primary weapon and theme throughout the novel. Bast–their pet cat-goddess–doesn’t seem very eager to help the children decipher much about the Sheut and instead directs them to Thoth.

It is then that Carter is called away for an important scrying message from Zia (aka the girl who was formally a shabti (a statue made to look and act alive.) ) Apparently, the news isn’t good and brings more threats from rebel magicians out for the Kane’s blood. Only highlighting the blatant fighting among the House of Life.

This message eventually leads to the splitting up of the Kane Siblings to accomplish two separate missions but not before a little scene at the children’s school–a dance. Here Sadie is confronted by Anubis, warning her just before they are separated by a very huffy God of the Wind, still attempting to tell her something urgent before he is swept away again. In his place is now a formerly evil Russian magician who has come to warn the Kanes of the imminent peril they face when facing the rebels.

With more bad news on their plates, Sadie and the Russian hurry to meet up with Amos while Carter and Walt head to ask Thoth for more advise. Both parties meet with difficulties which continue throughout the novel. ( Including various fights with the Gods, including one with a Goddess which Sadie convinces Jelly Babies are deadly creatures to hunt.)

The Deadly Jelly Babies (see also The 4th Doctor)

 

The biggest problem in this novel for the main characters (aside from the ever approaching threat of a giant snake eating the sun and how to destroy him.) is love troubles. Walt, the boy who Sadie falls for, is destined to die at a young age and there is a constant depressing threat of his imminent death overhanging their relationship. Meanwhile, Carter deals with at first unrequited feelings, then double what he had bargained for with Zia. Both Sadie and Carter must face the difficult probability of losing the person they have fallen for, along with each other.

This novel proves once more successful, in introducing a real connection to the characters as well as pulling off a fairly seamless storyline. Again, I found myself constantly pulled back into the pages of the story, wanting to know more, wanting to put the puzzle pieces of their newest problem together to see how Sadie and Carter would save the day (literally) in this one. Going along with the theme of Shadows, or Sheut, this novel seems to deal with a few more darker problems than in the last two novels: namely death and the soul. In the last novel, death was touched upon more than once, but it grows much more person in this novel. Walt’s character is developed through Sadie and Carter’s eyes, making you feel personally connected to him as they watch him slowly withering. Also, Sadie and Carter’s mother (who died prior to The Red Pyramid but now rules alongside their underworld dad, Osiris.) is also sucked into this concept of death, initiating the idea of total oblivion and losing those that we most love–a dark and difficult thought subject. Riordan manages to balance this darkness with his own, lighthearted narration from the eyes of Carter and Sadie.

I look forward to reading the next edition in this series (though it is hinted in the first and last chapters of the novel that Sadie and Carter won’t be making any more recordings due to the circumstances that arise in the end.) I am hoping this is just a ruse for the next novel.

Until the next time everypony!

 

Rick Riordan’s Third novel in the Kane Chronicles Series

 

Once more,

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith A Novel Review

11 Jun

Four score and a few months ago, while awaiting the showing of The Hunger Games–I discovered what film I wanted next to see. While my girlfriends gawked excitedly at the preview for Titanic in 3D (and I grimaced, recognizing my old foe that caused my still deeply ingrained fear of sailing…) I found myself instead in awe of the trailer that followed it: Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. I felt my nerdiness rise to the surface to gasp asthmatically. No, that, was a movie worth seeing. Something old–made new. Not just with 3D slapped into it! An entirely unique concept.

It was later to my great joy that I was told that this movie that looked both absurd and would feed my inner nerd, was also a book. So that’s when I found myself tumbling toward the book store, eager to get my hands on a copy. It did not disappoint.

Created by the author who is known for, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, this dark fact-ion kept my pouring through the pages. I couldn’t put it down. Which was a pleasant surprise.

When I started reading the novel, I at first worried that it would be too factual to be interesting–but I was so wrong. This novel’s beauty lies in its well-researched narration of the life of one of our nation’s most infamous presidents, Abe Lincoln. What feels like common knowledge about this man: that he started off in a poor family, that his life was riddled with loss and passion, and that he stood as a symbol of freedom for all men regardless of color is painted in a close, very personal way that makes (a usually dull subject for me) history interesting.Where do the vampires come in–you ask? Well, where it makes sense of course.

Abe and our readers are introduced to the concept of those blood-sucking demons, vampires, from the very beginning. As history tells, a strange unidentified illness takes Abe’s mother from him when he is very young. Grahame-Smith is clever enough to take advantage of the plot holes that history has left him, and plugged in the only “logical” answer–vampires. A vampire gives Abe’s mother a “fool’s dose” of vampire blood, killing her painfully as vengeance for his father’s unpaid debt. Abe never seems able to forgive his father for this. Nor vampires of course. And thus begins our story.

The reader is guided through Abe’s difficult life in a very factual way, making some of the fiction difficult to separate from the fact. (Sometimes it’s not–and it’s just plain hilarious.) We encounter Abe’s view of Slavery throughout his life (and mind you, he is never fond of it.) But upon discovering that the slave trade is literally feeding the vampire population, Abe’s resolve to end slavery (and by extension vampires) is solidified.

I absolutely recommend picking this up if you like fact-ion. (And non sparkly-vampires.)

Look forward to seeing my review of the movie which premiers June 22nd!

“I must endure. I must be more than I am. I must not fail. I must not fail her.”