Asterix & Obelix XXL: Romastered PS4 [REVIEW] | For Toutatis!

Oddly, this was the last of the Asterix XXL series to get the remaster treament, the first being XXL 2 in 2018, then we had the brand new XXL 3 in 2019, then the “romastered” version of the first game in 2020, the one we’re talking about today, to celebrate the release of a new Asterix & Obelix movie in theathers.

One of the live-action ones, but still, it’s new Asterix & Obelix material!

Originally developed for PS2, Gamecube and PC (with a GBA version that’s basically another game entirely) by defunct french studio Etranges Libellules and published by Atari Europe, this remaster was instead published by Microids (which pretty much took the place Infogrames had back then) and developed by the quite non-defunct (at the time of writing, anyway) french Osome Studios.

The plot sees the titular duo wander off of their little Gaul village to the ol’ boar hunt only to come back and find out Ceasar (yes, Julius Caius Ceasar from Caligula, exactly) has somehow managed to storm the village, capturing most people and sending them off to various distant ends of the Roman empire in order to have locked out sight and mind, hopefully for good.

But with the help of a fired roman spy, you find out that most of the imprisoned gauls most likely managed to get a piece of the map indicating their location, as Ceasar took the extra step – just in case – of ripping the map in pieces and scattering them in various locations.

Good enough as an excuse in terms of videogame logic to have Asterix & Obelix travel to various places like Egypt, Normandy, Greece and Helvetia, freeing their fellow gaul citizens and getting more pieces of the map along the way.

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Pinocchi-O-Rama #1: A Tree Of Palme/Palme No Ki (2002)

While it’s not completely unknown, i’d say A Tree Of Palme it’s quite obscure, definitely forgotten, overlooked and rarely discussed, despite being created, written and directed by respected anime veteran Takashi Nakamura, who also previously worked as a key animator for Nausicaa And The Valley Of The Wind, joined the acclaimed anime anthology of Robot Carnival in 1987, and just the next year would be animation director for a little movie called AKIRA.

It was also laboriosly made over the span of 6 years, and you can just tell by the cinematography that indeed A Tree Of Palme was treated as a big project that Nakamura wanted to cultivate as well as possible without compromises to his vision.

The story concerns the titular Palme, a puppet created by a man for his sickly wife, and upon her death the puppet becomes paralyzed by sorrow, until he accidentally stumbles upon a misterious woman (whom Palme mistakes for the man’s dead wife, Xian) being pursued, and she entrusts the puppet to deliver a certain special item to a sacred place called Tama.

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Pinocchi-O-Rama: the 2022 “Pinocchio frenzy” and celebrating the 140th Anniversary of Collodi’s classic

No review today, sorry, but we’re doing something a bit special.

If you remember, last year was surprisingly full of Pinocchio adaptations, from the resurfacing of Guillermo Del Toro’s project, that cheap russian retelling/reworking with the infamous Paulie Shorie english dub (called Pinocchio – A True Story, FIY), and Disney continuining with their crusade of shitty live-action remakes of their classic animated films.

And italian audiences were also treated with a live-action Pinocchio movie in 2019, directed by acclaimed italian director Matteo Garrone (Dogman, The Tale Of Tales), and starring beloved italian actor Roberto Benigni, which already was world famous for playing the titular character in the 2002 Pinocchio movie.

If you’re like me, as in italian and pretty much hailing from Tuscany, living nearby Florence, hence more than familiar with the original book by Luigi Collodi, you’d be wondering why now, as it seemed random to see a resurgence of Pinocchio adaptations out of the blue. I mean, the book was already in the public domain in the U.S. since 1940, so i wondered if there was some anniversary relating some of the more famous adaptations…. but nothing that made sense.

As in, the original book was first published (in full, after it was published in a weekly children’s magazine starting 1881, then stopped and eventually resumed with the second part) in 1883, so the following year would mark the 140th anniversary, notable but not the kind of number that publisher choose to publicize some new edition of a popular book.

Doesn’t have quite that ring, but somehow 2022 was the “Year Of Pinocchio” regardless, so irked by this i’m gonna do “sumethin about it” and actually spotlight a noteworthy or overlooked Pinocchio adaptation or “heavily inspired by ” work each month of 2023, with special reviews, starting with a post/review at the very end of January.

There will be no precise release windows for each piece, just each a month for the entirety of 2023.

12 Days Of Dino Dicember #17: Dinosaurus! (1960)

Among the many dinosaurs films ailing from the 50 and ownards, Dinosaurus! comes to mind as a classic cheesefest full of b-movies cliches, incredibly outdated values and characters that would fly only in that decade, sometimes for other reasons besides being offensive.

Never mind it being from the ’60s, or the fact that Steve McQueen was intended to play the lead character (after his success as the lead teen in 1958’s The Blob, also produced by Jack Harris, and also directed by Irvin Yeaworth), but opted out to star in The Magnificent Seven, never mind, because this is such a cornucopia of old timey laughable b-movie trash that it was eventually featured on Rifftrax. It was just a match made in cheap dinosaur heaven.

Such a perfect film to lampoon and ridicule that i’m surprised it took them until 2018, and now it’s fully free on their Youtube channel, so you have no excuse now.

But for us, we’re gonna try and review it in his “riff-less” original release, it’s the season of giving after all, so let us partake in some fermented dinosaur cheese of yore.

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Bleach: Soul Resurreccion/Ignition PS3 [REVIEW] | Hollow Warriors

Yep, going to try and get that “SEO synch energy” going… or so i planned, only to forget, but regardless, it’s still worth pointing out that somehow Bleach is back, with the anime getting new episodes to continue where they stopped years ago, the manga resurrected itself on its 20th anniversay with an one-shot chapter to set up either a new arc or a “Boruto” style follow-up series about Ichigo’s kid, so i guess it’s time to talk about this forgotten Bleach game.

You might argue that this isn’t a “proper” musou but i feel it deserves to be called at least a “musou-like”, and one that nowadays it’s hard to own in any legal sense, as it was released exclusively on PS3 in 2011 and there still remains, most likely due to being an anime licensed videogame, or being co-developed by Racjin and Sony’s Japan Studio.

One that nowadays it’s hard to find and commands some “interesting prices”, FIY.

So yeah, Soul Resurreccion (or Soul Ignition, if you wanna use its japanese title) is the closest thing we have to a “Bleach musou”, and as most avid Shonen Jump readers could guess, it’s mostly based on the Hueco Mundo section in the Arrancar story arc of the Bleach manga-anime, which makes sense since there’s nothing but sand, monsters and bigger monsters in this desert world, so let’s mostly adapt that part of the arc, since it’s very videogamey anyway, with the various encounters against the Espada and then the final confrontation again the big bad Aizen.

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[EXPRESSO] Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio (2022) | Splintered Spectacular

Years in the making, but Guillermo Del Toro’s take on beloved italian literary children classic Pinocchio is here, available worlwide on Netflix, after a very brief debut in some select theathers.

It takes many liberties from the book but does so in a way that makes it a more interesting adaptation of the story, and the changes (also needed cause of the tale being retold/reinterpretated squillions of times) do compliment that, like it now taking place in fascist WWII Italy, Jiminy Cricket being an actual character with agency and some background to him, Geppetto being more important of a character, with a new tragic backstory involving its dead, unwooden, real son.

It embraces the darker tone and themes of the original work, like, completely, far more than 2019’s Matteo Garrone take, for one, as in to committs to retain the savage nature of many events, Pinocchio’s ability of being far worse than “rambuctious”, and the often terrifying imagery, while also showing a lot of creativity in both reworking or adding new characters and lore to expand the story, give some surprises and changes to make the story interesting and different from previous adaptations, without completely transforming into something that isn’t Pinocchio anymore.

After all, this is Del Toro’s vision and if i wanted the original Pinocchio experience, i’d just read the book (which i still recommend doing, if you haven’t, btw) again.

I’d say more but i would just spoil some of the original material, so i will just bite me tongue.

the stopmotion animation it’s excellent, absolutely impeccable work, the songs are nice enough, plenty but quite brief (never overstaying their welcome, and overall i’d say this is easily one of the best adaptations of Pinocchio, like ever, and somehow able of actually living up to expectations.

Simply excellent.

A review of Pokemon Scarlet/Violet is coming later this month, actually + EXPRESSO review of Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio

While i did make some first impressions/ramble on both Pokemon Arceus and the Diamond/Pearl remake, i figured this time i HAD to make a proper full lenght review of the first 9th gen Pokemon title, especially since it’s a mainline release. And since i did actually preordered the damn thing this time around, and i kinda wish i didn’t. Kinda.

Seriously, while the game has already been discussed and fairly criticized enough for the obvious reason (it runs and looks like ASS, let’s be brutally honest about it), and while the undeniable fact of Violet/Scarlet selling 10 millions in 3 days it’s kinda depressing and makes it clear once again how “boycotts in videogames” are useless for many reasons and most often feel moot since we’re talking about franchises that do incredible numbers by name recognizition alone… we do gotta talk about Violet Scarlet’s issues proper.

Especially since the fact of it being Pokemon means for many the plethora of issues are mostly handwaved or pre-forgiven, when we’re pretty much in a Cyberpunk 2077 situation, yet we didn’t and we’ll never see the same backlash, despite derserving it and the criticisms being pretty similar in origin and nature.

So i’ll do what i can to “balance the scales”, and talk in length about the many problems and strenghts of Scarlet/Violet, a game i’m currently enjoying despite everything, but one i’m also feeling quite disappointed, since it was clearly something that Game Freak should have been made able to cook in the “development oven” for at least 1 more year.

To misquote Strong Bad “this goose isn’t cooked”.

Seriously worried this will be become another costant issue plaguing Pokemon releases, because sure as shit Nintendo isn’t gonna make Game Freak take more time, but crack on with the “AAA pretty much biannual” style of releases.

On another tangent, while i did find some theathers that showed Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio almost a week before it’s Netflix release date… it was literally like 5 days, as much as i prefer watching movies in theathers i also can use to save me some cash, and i still have a Netflix subscription, so the EXPRESSO review for that it’s gonna be a little later than it could have been, but regardless, it’s coming soon.

[EXPRESSO] Disney’s Strange World (2022) | The Ventures

Apparently Disney’s latest animated film (no, it’s not a Pixar joint) is bombing in theathers, and i do wonder why exactly, especially in its home market where people celebrate “turkey day”.

Probably the choice to market it a little too late to generate some online buzz, and as much it’s funny to point out how many “first gay character in a Disney movie that can be easily edited out for China” Disney seems to possess and parade about… in this case the discussion distracts from the fact this one it’s pretty good.

Strange World is a surprisingly good throwback to adventure films of yore, pulp adventure comics, and of course the old literary classics involving discovering new worlds with bizarre or extinct animals and fauna, especially Verne’s Journey At The Center Of The Earth.

The movie starts with a Davy Crockett-esque tale of Jaeger Clade bouts of ventures alongside his son Searcher, then we see Jaeger continue alone his voyage to find out what lies behind the enormous mountains that surround their village, while his son decides to remain to study a rare plant they found while exploring.

25 years later Searcher has basically created a new utopia as his botanical discovery led to them farming the plant (named Pando) and using it as an energy source/fuel that powers everything.

He lives with his wife and his son Ethan, but as the Pando plants begin to suffer from a sort of disease, he’s forced to journey into the inner depth to find out why, but it accidentally leds to them discovering an entire new world full of bizzare creatures, alien flora and living “isles”.

Likeable characters, fun interactions, lots of adventure and action in a world that does amaze and inspire in its oddities, and solid themes of enviromental coexistence.

[EXPRESSO] The Cuphead Show (Season Three) 2022 | Devilicious

I’m gonna be brutal and make it extra clear (in case you didn’t read the reviews of the two previous season/slices/cours): i’m kinda glad this is the end and i hope there’s not more of this to come.

Unsurprisingly so, the whole cliffhanger with Mugman dragged to literal hell by the Devil and Cuphead finding a way to rescue his brother is immediatly dealt with in the first episode, though at least it’s a longer opener to better make the Devil… basically Squidward. Even more than before.

After that we’re back to the usual episodic fair, but there are still some notable moments that also elicit some legit laughs even for the older audiences, and guess what, once again it’s due to the Devil being such a big pile of luciferian ham.

Just in time for some delightfully long christmas themed shenanigans, with a 30 minutes Devil-centric Christmas special that also happens to be the best episode, hands down.

Actually, to be fair, this season does involve the Devil more into the various episodes, might as well since his presence stopped being special, and he still the best character by far (alongside Porkrind and King Dice, of course).

As much i really forced myself through all of The Cuphead Show more for completition sake after season one, i can’t deny this show can still whip up some intriguing visuals and show off some nice editing and composition, alongside some decent jokes, not too bad for something that it’s aimed at kids and just isn’t interested in the amazing opportunity brought by its license…. to do anything that resembles the Cuphead “inspiration materials” aside from the looks.

It’s a Netflix style adaptation of a popular franchise/brand alright, but keeping all THAT in mind… it’s alright, it’s inoffensive. It sure is content.

[EXPRESSO] Nikke: Goddess Of Victory iOS | Anime Asses Frontline

Time to try my hand at another anime gacha with anime girls using rifles or being rifles or the usual military themed shit, because it scratches many itches, especially if your game lives by the profitable (and Houshou Marine-approved) “i don’t want to be happy, i want to be horny” motto.

Especially anime asses wrapped in spandex, because that was how i found about this game pre-release, by v-tubers laughing their butts off… due to incredible jiggle physics.

And yes, this is one of these that doesn’t even try to hide it, or to be also cute, no no, Nikke Goddess Of Victory is incredibly horny from the get-go (it’s from the Destiny Child developers, after all), so i guess points for brazen honesty.

Yeah, the premise is that you’re the ever-so-common amnesiac rookie commander ordering around anime girls with guns in a war against machines. So basically a worse Girls Frontline that wants to have it serious but also alternates between shock value scenes and abudant anime asses. It’s trash, but the dialogues can be somewhat engaging at times, the game looks pretty good, has nice UI, a good soundtrack, even a good english VA and some nicely animated cutscenes.

Gameplay its where things are a little different than the usual, as it’s… a on-rail shooter , basically a touch version of Time Crisis without the “rails” part, with 5 characters team, rpg elements like skills to activate and chain, alongside the usual modern on-rail shooter stuff.

This choice of gameplay also makes it easier to flash the player with pantyshots and latex wrapped anime dumparoos jiggling due to recoil, but it’s fun enough to be played in short bursts, the bosses thankfully provide some challenge not found in the normal stages, and the free-to-play trappings aren’t that awful.