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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[EXPRESSO] Burning Fight (Arcade Classic Archives Neo Geo) NSWITCH DDL | Streets Of Mid

I’m a simple man, i see some Arcade Classics Archives games on sale on the Switch eShop, i usually buy them, especially if it’s early Neo Geo beat em up i’ve never even seen mentioned before.

With 3 bucks less to my wallet, i realized why exactly.

I mean, it was the age of the beat em up, and while it’s not often fair to just call them knock-offs…. Burning Fight really can’t be called anything else than a “knock-off” of Final Fight, Streets Of Rage, heck even Double Dragon, and one that embodies the definition of “one of those”, since it’s so predictable and derivative to have even the special health-draining moves feel like “legally distinct” imitations of Capcom’s other big series about punching people.

The only distinctive feature is that you can enter some of the shops/facilities and smash some furniture to find health and point pickups, but even these diversions last 4 seconds tops, though there’s some attempts at doing something new with some stages where you move on a conveyer belt while thugs throw explosive at you from the background, but it’s very small stuff.

This is as straightforward, simple and generic as a beat ‘em up could be in that era.

Originality aside, the problem with Burning Fight is that it’s indeed a cheap, brazen and almost sub-par knock off, not unplayable or anything, but the kind it inevitably just makes you wish you were playing the older titles on SNES and Genesis it’s clearly aping, since they’re better in every regard.

So ironically the only way i can justify bothering with this one it’s if you’re a beat em up buff that has already played all the popular ones and are searching for a fix, something that “will do”, and not really anything else.


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.

[EXPRESSO] Babylon (2022) | The Jazz Orgies Of Caligula

Didn’t Square Enix and Platinum Games already did th- nope, this isn’t that kind of “Babylon” (which will die at the end of this February, btw, look forward for a review of that).

This is a spanking brand new – well, kinda, it came out at the very end of last year and we’re getting it here just now – movie from Damien Chazelle (La La Land, Whiplash), about the transitional period of cinema during the late ’20s, when the industry moved from silent to sounds films, and the movie depicts the rise and fall of actors, producers and cinematic figures during this time, gleefully showing – with a scope befitting the title – the grandeur and decadence that preceed the “fall” of the old ways cinema had been made, imagined and immortalized.

Excess is the keyword and Babylon revels in it, christen its offspring, before flinging it to the jester dwarf man jousting an inflatable cock as to entertain the coked up orgy attendees, like we’re watching 1920’s cinema-themed scenes from Tinto Brass’ Caligula, though regardless in the first 10 minutes you see golden showers and a bountiful anal evacuation from the costipated party elephant.

You are not gonna hear me complain about the obvious debauched exploitation style direction and contents Damien Chazelle went for, we had more clean or fantastical retellings of period pieces about cinema& its making-of, so we definitely can have a comedy-drama like this that – while also having a cornucopia of big name actors – embraces the medium and its many excesses in a unfiltered fashion, and is able to deliver a lot of laughs, excellent cinematography, incredibly entertaining over-the-top scenes, but also some hearfelt exchanges and touch upon heavy themes.

And never feel tiresome despite the mammoth sized 3 hours runtime.

Loved it!

Taking the post-Christmas break now instead of never

Since i couldn’t take the break post-12 Days Of Dino Dicember as usual (due to some releases i wanted to cover before they could be “forgotten” or whatever), i’m… taking it now before the chance slips aways entirely.

From today until (and including) the 20th of January , the blog will take a complete break, with even EXPRESSO going on a hiatus in the meantime.

[EXPRESSO] The Fabelmans (2022) | Cut n Spliced

Spielberg is back after last year’s excellent remake of West Side Story with The Fablemans, a romanticized semi-biographic retelling of his upbringing, especially the Arizona period of his childhood, following Sammy Fabelman, a boy that grew in a post-WWII jewish family and developed a deep love for cinema thanks to his mother.

He then further seeks refuge in cinema and making it after learning a shocking family secret, finding in the seventh art a way to process the uncomfortable truth he stumbled upon, alongside the many challenges he faces growing up, also due to his specific religious upbringing.

To state the obvious and to corroborate what Spielberg already explained in a very small pre-movie introduction, it is and indeed feels like the director’s most personal film yet about family and cinema, this kind of insight could have been autogenerated more than written.

What’s more important is that you easily kinda forget this is a semi-fictional story about Spielberg’s own childhoood and how his love for cinema blossomed, because you quickly become invested in the troubles of the Fablemans as a whole, the characters are that good indeed, the cast (which also includes David Lynch in a fantastic small role) it’s amazing, the themes are dealt with maturity, realism, the drama and comedy perfectly balance out each other, etc

I could use some more trite expressions, but i prefer to just go straight to the point with this one: it’s really, really good, exactly what you’d expect (in the positive sense) from the celebrated director, just Spielberg knockin it out of the park again, proving – if proof was needed to begin with – that he has more than “still got it” and that 2021’s West Side Story wasn’t a fluke.

Just go see it, even in a law abiding fashion.

12 Days Of Dino Dicember #24: The Last Dinosaur (1977)

What, no japanese rubber monstersaurus this time? Of course no, you silly billys.

I left this one for last, because it’s not just a japanese giant monster movie.

It’s a Japanese AND American coproduction, and it’s actually just one of the many movies to come out of the Rankin Bass and Tsuburaya Productions collaboration, including The Ivory Ape and The Bermuda Depths, just to cite the adventure/monster movie stuff or adiacent ones.

But this time you might already had an inkling of familiarity with the giant t-rex body suit shown in the poster, especially if you were already familiar with another piece of Tsuburaya Productions’ prolific output, as boy it does look like the evil t-rex mastermind from Attack Of The Super Monsters, and hence from the anime-live action series Dinosaur War Izenborg.

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12 Days Of Dino Dicember #23: Land Of The Lost (2009)

FIY, i didn’t know this movie’s history beforehand, i figured we could use a mainstream released feature with actors people might have actually have seen before, you know, in theathers and all, it wasn’t an obscure product from a country that no longer exists and it was “2YK survivor”.

So i just slotted into the list, only to later find out i basically enlisted “comedy Hitler” for this Dino Dicember, as this thing was widely hated back in 2009, with the deadly combo of being both a box office bomb and receiving overwhelming amounts of negative reviews from the press.

And also won 7 Razzies, which – as said before – i don’t really acknowledge, but by all accounts it had everything going against it, as it was regarded as an awful, awful sketch comedy, and made people extra salty because it was technically one of those “parody movie adaptations/remakes” of an older, beloved TV series, in this case Sid and Marty Krofft’s Land Of The Lost from 1974.

Which i never saw since i’m technically a Millennial and whatnot.

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12 Days Of Dino Dicember #22: Tyranno’s Claw (1994)

Time for something very obscure and very fun, with some history behind it, too, because when i think old monster movies from Korea, my mind goes immediatly to good old Pulgasari/Bulgasari.

And guess what, i’m gonna give myself a pat on the back, and you might too, since in 1994 the director of D-War: Dragon Wars and Yonggary (the 1999 movie, itself a remake of 1967’s Yongary, Monster From The Deep), Shim Hyung-rae, caught wind of the international dinosaur-mania, so he concocted one of the most peculiar and strange kaiju films ever committed to celluloid, Tyranno’s Claw, far from the obvious Jurassic Park mockbuster the year of release might suggest.

Even though there IS a “goat scene” …. this is something else indeed.

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