Moon Hunters Review – A Question of Time

If I had to answer whether Moon Hunters: A Myth Weaving Game by Kitfox Games (which I backed on Kickstarter) is worth your time on a yes/no basis, then I’d unhappily choose “no”, as it’s a very close thing. It might be the game for you, and I didn’t suffer playing it, but you usually have better uses for your time, especially when you consider just how much time this game asks of you. Time is what this is all about. Time and content: I’ve played this game a number of times, with all classes but support, more than once with most, and beat the end-game boss a number of times. Each playthrough of the game is quite short, ranging from 30 to 90 minutes, depending on how well you’re doing and the size of the maps.

Moon Hunters: A Myth Weaving Game

The game is designed to be played multiple times, except where it is not. You only get to visit 5-6 locations in each playthrough, which provides a reason to play again, and again. Right? Well, except I rarely encounter new options, even 5 hours into the game, and less as I reached 7 hours. Not every location or every setup will appear in each playthrough, and not in every playthrough will you have one of the traits needed to make use of it, so you’d think they’d let you play through every locale the map generates each time, or most of them, and you’d still have reasons to play again for a new map, and to try a different combination of options, so why don’t they?

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Sword Art Online – Books 5-12 and Adaptation Thoughts

Sword Art Online Phantom Bullet / Gun Gale OnlineSword Art Online was probably the most popular anime to air during 2012. It had and has many fans, and many detractors. I for one liked it a whole lot. I liked it enough that after it ended, still in the throes of desiring to know what happened next, I’ve actually gone ahead and read all of the Sword Art Online novels. Well, from the 5th novel onward, so I didn’t revisit material which the series had covered. My opinion of the series might be coloured by it, but hey, I strive to give information for you to make your own minds as well.

I’m going to try and avoid spoiling the novels by Reki Kawahara and their content in-depth, but will touch more about plot-structure, themes, and how I felt about the books/arcs in general – so broad brushstroke/theme spoilers, not so much particulars. Furthermore, the second season is going to begin airing this weekend, so I will give some thoughts on what I think the upcoming adaptation will cover.

It’s Still a Light Novel Series:

I wrote a post about how Light Novels aren’t the best-written literature out there, and especially how that is relevant when one adapts the light novels to anime. Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei, which I wrote a post about the first 11 novels of, is the perfect example of endless internal monologues which replace characterization and action, a lot of non-action, and purple prose that is so overbearing and ubiquitous as to drown everything out. As one could see, a focus on non-action and internal monologues doesn’t translate well to the visual medium – either you kill the pacing by delivering these things, or you’re left with an indecipherable world due to the lack of explanations, or actions that support said things.

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King of Thorn – When the Sleeping Witch Awakens

King of Thorn / Ibara no Oh anime filmKing of Thorn (Ibara no Oh in Japanese) is a well-produced movie. It in many respects didn’t remind me of anime (series), but of western films. The plot in particular, which is a death-game meeting a mindscape film.

At a pretty early stage, I saw resemblance to the 2009 film Pandorum, and also to 1997’s Cube. Later on they actually reveal some of those similarities, at least to Cube aren’t superficial, when Alice speaks of how the whole way the event had been orchestrated was so specific people would survive, so Kasumi could make it out – the dangerous criminal, the leader-cop, the nurse who takes care of the helpless oracle (the child), and of course, cannon fodder, along with someone who possesses internal knowledge to get them started on their journey.

(This is a “Things I Like” post. It’s slightly more “reviewy” than usual, touching on the themes and production, rather than exploring them in-depth. The 2nd half of this piece tries to explain the ending, the “mystery”, and also elaborate on character-motivations. Full-film spoilers ahead.)

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LUFTRAUSERS – The Most Important Button is the One You Don’t Press

LUFTRAUSERS is a shoot’em up, or an aerial dogfighting game, where you get to make a plane out of 3 parts (weapon, body, engine) making up 125 combinations, each with a different audio track (I assume they have 3 layers/parts, for each bit) – I personally like the nuke body (where you blow up when you die, but take extra damage from collisions) the best.

LUFTRAUSERS video game review

This game is elegant, there are a total of four buttons you can click: Right, left, up (accelerate) and “Shoot”. Nothing else. Actually, the game has 6 buttons. Right, left, pressing on accelerate, not-pressing on accelerate, pressing to shoot, and not-pressing to shoot. While it seems weird for me to note these, as we don’t talk of “not shooting” as a button in most games, there the choice is often what to shoot, or how else to circumvent an enemy (Stealth games).

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Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei – Books 1-11 and Adaptation Thoughts

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei / The Irregular At Magic High School - Shiba Tatsuya, Shiba MiyukiMahouka Koukou no Rettousei, known as “The Irregular at Magic High School” in English is a series of light novels written by Tsutomu Satō, and is the high profile (shounen action) adaptation of the season, poised to receive the most hype, and perhaps garner the same sort of attention as its peers in the last couple of years – Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) in 2013, and Sword Art Online in 2012. The first 11 books cover the first year in highschool, of the two main characters, so we’ll discuss that. Book 12 is the first book of their second year.

I’ve actually had numerous friends suggest this series to me over the past year or two, especially as I’ve been a big fan of Sword Art Online. Well,with it airing this season (tomorrow, actually), I thought it’d be a good opportunity to sit down and read it (though I dunno why, I prefer coming to material new, why consume it twice?). I wasn’t as enthused as my friends had led me to believe I’d be, and the series shares and exemplifies the woes I write of in my piece about LNs’ writing style, but I actually think the adaptation might be better than the book-series, and more fun, so don’t rule it out.

I’m going to try and avoid spoiling or describing the series in-depth, that’s never been of much interest to me, and I doubt it’d be very useful to you, as you can simply read the books or watch the series. I’m going to discuss the themes of the series, arc by arc, and things which stood out to me. I will also discuss some thoughts on the upcoming adaptations, which are only guesses and predictions, naturally.

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Ari Folman’s The Congress – A Thematic Jumble of Sights and Sounds

Ari Folman's The Congress - 2013 filmDirector Ari Folman is well known in Israel these days for his film Waltz with Bashir, which isn’t done by Rotoscope, in case you’re wondering. A couple of weeks ago I’ve watched his newest film, The Congress, at a local sci-fi and fnatasy convention, surrounded by other convention goers. The film was different, and interesting on many levels. One thing I didn’t feel it manage to do well is add up to a consistent creation, on an artistic level, or on any thematic level – discussing its theme, the main question it raises, or its messages. However, considering the film is split into two different moods as part of its concept, I guess it’s not all that surprising.
The Congress is very loosely based on Stanisław Lem‘s novel, Futurological Congress.

The first half of the film deals with actress Robin Wright, and is filmed “normally”, with her being faced with her fading career and being given an ultimatum – sell over her digitized avatar to the studios who will be able to make film without her involvement, with the catch of being unable to ever act again – the other side of the ultimatum is that she simply will get no more contracts – so either way, they’re shutting her away from movie-making, but the difference is whether she’ll get to choose which roles to play in, or won’t. In case you wonder, she sells her rights over.

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Accel World – Villains of the Sci-Fi Premise!

Accel World is an anime based on the Light Novels by Kawahara Reki, the author of Sword Art Online, in fact, I’ve decided to watch this show after watching Sword Art Online and loving it as much as I did. Unlike Sword Art Online, I hadn’t read the books, and as such this review would be based only on the anime, and perhaps a couple of points would be drawn from SAO and other media, as usual. I also want to note that the seed of the idea I’ll use in this post, of the show’s protagonists as villains had been planted by this post on Kotaku, reviewing the show.

Accel World Anime PosterLet’s begin with the show’s premise, or the world it’s taking place at, and how it develops it: In 2046, people can access a virtual network known as the Neurolinker via their cellphone terminals. A perpetual victim of bullying, middle school student Haruyuki spends his time absorbed in games in a corner of his local network. One day he is approached by the most famous girl in his school, Kuroyukihime (Black Snow Princess). She gives him a strange program called Brain Burst that has the power to “accelerate the world.” (Source: ANN).

I usually post this later, but since the first half of this post will be dedicated to the show’s premise, including the very next paragraph, then this is going to come earlier than usual today: This is a Things I Like post, it’s not a review, but more a discussion of the show and of ideas that have risen in my mind as I’ve watched it. There will be a large amount of spoilers in this post.

Now let’s expand that a bit, with what the show actually shows you during its early episodes – Brain Burst allows you to enter a digital world where your mind is accelerated a thousand times the normal rate, every second of real-world time is a full 16 minutes of in-game time. A real world-minute is experienced subjectively as over 16 hours in the accelerated world, which is relevant later on in the show. You can use the accelerated world in order to pause and think about what is going on, have more time to study, dodge incoming blows and many other cool things. The catch? You begin with 100 points, each time you accelerate takes up a point, so sooner or later you’re going to run out. How do you earn more points? You fight with people in duels – you challenge someone whom has no option to turn the duel down, and 10 points transfer from the loser to the victor. Earn enough points, and you can turn in points for a “level up”, which can increase your stats and give you cool powers (Note, it seems one can also choose to voluntarily transfer points to another).

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