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RetroPokeFan's Corner (Reviews and other tat)

WarioWare Touched (Nintendo DS)
4/5
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WarioWare Touched was one of my childhood favourites when it came to the games I played on the DS as a kid so I was more than happy to see that this game managed to still hold up when I revisited it recently.

It's a really fun collection of microgames that makes as much use of the DS's capabilities as possible. One minute you're tapping on the touch screen to get rid of pesky flies and the other you're blowing into the microphone to knock out a boxer from Punch-Out.

It's random and wacky and full of that strange iconic charm that the WarioWare franchise is known for... and I love it just for that.
 
Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure (PlayStation 2)
3.5/5
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Disney characters and skateboarding sounds like one of the oddest combinations possible. Could you actually imagine Simba from the Lion King riding about on a skateboard and pulling off sick tricks?

Well somebody at Toys for Bob must have done that because here we are with Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure, a truly oddball skateboarding game which not only uses the Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4 engine but manages to cram three Disney franchises (Lion King, Toy Story and Tarzan) as well.

And yet, it somehow works with the incredibly fun levels (from the Elephant Graveyard to Clayton's Ship) and characters on offer. You can even make your own kid skater and revel in the glorious product placement going on in their world from sending Nokia ringtones to (and I kid you not) doing a McDonald's delivery because everyone is too lazy to get their food themselves.

Ooh, those lazy people.

Kinda sucks the Disney crew are relegated to their own levels though. Would have been cool to have had Woody messing around in the Lion King levels or Timon and Pumbaa making a visit to the Toy Story world.

And the music selection's not bad with some solid tunes but it can really repetitive after a while with only about 10 or so in the game.

Still though I did manage to have plenty of fun with this title and that's what matters the most. I could definitely see the little tykes enjoying this as their introduction to the world of skateboarding.

So well done Woody and friends, you've somehow managed to do the whole Disney skateboarding schtick better than how Mickey and pals fared over on GameCube.

Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure (GBA)
2/5

Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure was an odd curiosity on consoles combining the magical world of Disney with the skateboarding coolness of the Tony Hawk franchise and it somehow managed to work with it's enjoyable gameplay and fun levels.

This GBA version (coming to us from Vicarious Visions who also did some of the Tony Hawk GBA versions) unfortunately isn't anywhere close to being as fun as the main console version.

Whereas the GBA Tony Hawk games managed to bring the game down to the handheld format and keep the feel of the main versions, this on the other hand feels like an incredibly truncated version of the main game with less characters to play as and somewhat boring level design. There's a few fleeting moments of joy here and there but they're only small and very few and far between.

This just isn't a patch on the main console version or either the early GBA games with the Hawkman himself.
 
Once Upon a Studio (animated short, Disney, 2023)
4/5

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A perfect celebration and love letter to Disney's animated feature films and cartoon shorts featuring a massive array of characters from the well known to the obscure.

It's always fun to watch this and go "Hey look it's that character I remember and ooh over there, I think I saw that one once."

I love these kind of big crossovers especially when they're done the right way and not in a obnoxious "Look at all the shit we own!" sort of way (looking at you Space Jam: A New Legacy and Ralph Breaks the Internet) and this put a huge smile on my face.
 
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 (PlayStation 2)
3.5/5
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Tony Hawk was already riding high with the resounding success of the Pro Skater series and with the leap to newer consoles came the third one, easily one of the best entries in the series.

Naturally it's going to be quite hard to top a well-regarded sequel and while Pro Skater 4 does stumble in a few areas it manages to do some other things well - most notably with the biggest change in the series.

The previous three Pro Skaters had you trying to do as much tasks as possible within a time limit but in the fourth entry, that's ditched in favour of being able to go about the levels at your own pace and taking on missions from people hanging about progressively getting more difficult than before. It's definitely a welcome chance as previously it could be a little frustrating trying to reach that final goal only for the timer to reach zero and stop you dead in your tracks.

There's even more to do as well in the form of spine transfers which are a ton of fun to pull off and allows you to keep the combos going as well as skitching which lets you hold onto vehicles passing by.

Where the game falls down a little is in some of the levels and some of the goals. Pro Skater 4's levels aren't quite as good as 3's were.

There are still some great levels such as the iconic College level and even getting to visit London but the more lacklustre ones include the disappointing trip to the Zoo and the god bloody awful Ship Yard with it's terrible design and frustrating goals with ridiculously short time limits.

When Pro Skater 4 hits the mark it delivers but it just doesn't quite hit the same level of quality that the third Pro Skater did.
Good game, just not as good as Pro Skater 3.
 
Century 21 Slough (documentary, Century 21 Films, 2018)
5/5
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An incredible and heartfelt tribute to the Century 21 studios in Slough, the place where Gerry Anderson and his Supermarionation magic truly came to life.

It's so wonderful to see many of the original team members from Brian Johnson to Mary Turner get to say goodbye to the former film studio before it got demolished.

That final little segment with Lady Penelope and Parker could bring a tear to any fan's eye.
 
Super Monkey Ball Deluxe (PlayStation 2)
5/5

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Super Monkey Ball Deluxe is essentially both the first and second Monkey Ball games crammed onto a single disc for both the PS2 and Xbox and it's just as wonderfully delightful as you'd expect it to be crammed with all sorts of fiendish levels to tackle.

Nothing pumps up the heart more like seeing Aiai in his monkey ball just teetering ever so close towards that goal, especially with the much more trickier levels which'll have you on the edge.

Combine that with all of the fun party games and you have a cracking little title that's definitely worth a look (although you will have to put up with rather long load times with the PS2 release).
 
Tony Hawk's Underground 2 (PlayStation 2)
4.5/5
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Tony Hawk's Underground 2 is easily one of the most 2000's video games that I've ever come across and it wears that badge with total pride.

Whereas the first Underground focused on your own custom made skater trying to make it big in the skateboard industry, this one goes all Jackass on us with a big world tour, Bam Margera getting a heavier focus alongside Tony and missions that exist to essentially piss off certain parts of the world we visit.

It could all be utterly cringy if not pulled off correctly but honestly I think this game pulls it off pretty well. Sure there's a few bits here and there that had me rolling my eyes rather than laughing but the sheer mayhem that's on offer more than makes up for those off spots.

Gameplay especially shines more than ever too, probably being the most fun I've had with a Tony Hawk game since the third Pro Skater. It's really cool that you get to play as different skaters as well in the story mode - your own custom skater, the big pros and the hidden guests which this game is filled to the brim with.

You can even play as Shrek. Yes, the big green ogre himself so you know you're getting your money's worth.

And there's also the return of Classic Mode with the 2 minute timer and all the old goals you know and love - it's a mixture of the main levels from the Story Mode and a couple of revisits of prior levels from past games.

I wasn't sure what to make of this at first but I soon fell in absolute love with Underground 2 afterwards. It may not beat Pro Skater 3 as my favourite of the bunch but it's just utterly delightful stuff (and before the series really went downhill in quality afterwards).

And as for the GBA version, it's a 2.5/5 for being incredibly phoned in across the board and lacking any of the charm of the past GBA ports. Terrible mini-games as well which you're constantly forced into especially that bloody turret one you come across too often where nothing changes.
 
Pluto (anime series, Studio M2, 2023)
5/5
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Probably without a doubt my favourite anime series of this year.

This was a series that a lot of people were pretty hyped for, especially with the manga it's based on being well-loved and I can safely say that the folks at Studio M2 delivered on all fronts.

It's absolutely fantastic stuff - a mystery that will keep you guessing at every opportunity whilst also throwing in some action as well.

The English dub produced by Iyuno (who's certainly had a great 2023 between this, Pokémon and the Black Clover movie) for this is also an absolute masterpiece. So glad that Patrick Seitz got to voice direct this (he also did Monster, another of Naoki Urasawa's work) and the cast is just stacked with talent: Laura Stahl, Jamieson Price, Eric Bauza, Marc Thompson, Erica Schroeder, Mike Pollock, Fred Tatasciore, Richard Epcar, Mara Junot, Kirk Thornton, Christopher Sabat and even Keith David.

All of the performances are incredible stuff especially from Jason Vande Brake, Laura Stahl, Mike Pollock and Keith David. A dub to truly be proud of for easily my favourite anime of this year.
 
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Ratchet & Clank (PlayStation 2)
4/5

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A very decent first outing for the intrepid duo after Insomniac left Spyro behind (the poor dragon never really recovered until years later) to move onto other pastures, Ratchet & Clank is a very entertaining platformer with a cool variety of weapons to play around with and some fun humour sprinkled in as well.

It's not perfect as there is your usual signs of a series that's getting itself all warmed up and some of the checkpoints can be rather unforgiving in certain levels but if there's one thing it did make me eager for with how fun the game could be, it's definitely the next two games in the series which will no doubt make big improvements on the formula.
 
Super Scribblenauts (Nintendo DS)
4/5

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Super Scribblenauts is easily for some reason one of the most relaxing games I've played and also one of the most fun just because you can basically make up just about anything imaginable. Really keeps you guessing and thinking as well with some of the puzzles too.

Great stuff.
 
Pokémon - Indigo League (anime series, OLM, 1997-1999)
2.5/5

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So this is where it all started for Ash, Pikachu and the world of Pokémon in anime form.

To tell you the truth, I've never really been nostalgic for the original series or the Kanto games (asides from Pikachu and Eevee) as my main nostalgia era was Diamond and Pearl. It's definitely a fine enough way to start the series though.

Brock and Misty are solid companions, Team Rocket are pretty funny and there's some great episodes but at the same time I find the show to look pretty dated especially with some of the animation, most of the gym battles aren't particularly great and the Kanto league is just straight up terrible (and really set a precedent that most future leagues would follow).

While I really don't care for this era unlike many others, I still can somewhat appreciate the good things that it did do and what would be brought over to future series.

Favourite episode: Electric Shock Showdown (an important episode for both Pikachu and Ash and it delivers on all fronts.)
Worst episode: Friend and Foe Alike (the cavalcade of issues all piled up into one terrible end to the Kanto league for Ash. Yes, he probably wasn't going to win regardless but it really should have been better than this crap.)
 
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Worms Armageddon (PlayStation)
5/5

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Worms 2 made many great improvements over the original with the cartoony art-style that made our Worm friends easier to see and the faster paced gameplay. However it was only ever released for the PC meaning that console owners were left out on the wormy mayhem for the time being.

Then two years later in comes Armageddon, the game that was originally supposed to have been the end for the small pink warriors but instead would usher in an array of new entries to come over the years including World Party two years later which acted as a expansion pack for this game.

No doubt though that Armageddon is still the absolute peak of pure pinky mayhem with it's incredibly fun gameplay, missions and of course the superb multiplayer making for a perfect game to get friends around and blow the big ol' crap out of each other.

It all makes for a good time and easily the best entry in the Worms series to date.
 
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Megamind vs the Doom Syndicate (animated film, DreamWorks, 2024)
1/5

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So after a very long while of waiting we finally get our new Megamind adventure and in the end.... turns out that wait wasn't really worth it after all.

Megamind vs the Doom Syndicate feels very much like a return back to the old days of cheap direct to video sequels where the animation's taken a massive hit in quality (and throwing in a recap of the first film does not help in the slightest), most of the big celebrity names have been replaced with veteran/soundalike voice actors (some of them fine like Talon Warburton, others not so much which sadly includes Keith Ferguson returning from the video game as Mastermind himself) and the writing just isn't very good and the jokes painfully unfunny. Also most of the new characters are either dull or just incredibly annoying.

The new series may claim that Megamind Rules but if this poor sequel is of any indication Megamind Drools... and he drools very hard.
 
Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando (PlayStation 2)
5/5

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The first Ratchet and Clank was a very fun outing for the titular duo but then a year later comes the sequel Going Commando which improves on just about everything it possibly can.

The weapons are some of the most fun to mess around with and it's made even better thanks to the ability to upgrade them as the game goes on transforming them into weapons of mass destruction that could make even the fiercest of enemies cower like a whimpering dog. Your health system is much improved as well with a levelling up mechanic meaning that Ratchet's rocking more health than last time.

The arenas and space battles are a great addition to the series as well giving you the chance to face more battles and earn a lot more bolts. Even the controls are better with Ratchet being much more responsive and he can finally strafe as well for those little shoutout moments.

And once it's all done, you can do it all over again with Challenge Mode where the enemies get more tougher but the rewards even greater with more bolts and fiercer weapons.

With the fun levels and set-pieces combined, Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando makes for a superb sequel to the original game and one of the most essential games to have on the PS2. You really do owe it to yourself to check out this gem.
 
Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters (PSP)
2/5

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I remember enjoying this one a long while ago at a much younger age but after having gone back to two of the main PS2 games recently, I'm sorry to say that time has not been particularly kind to Size Matters in the slightest.

It still looks and sounds like Ratchet and Clank (although downscaled a bit to fit on a portable console) but it doesn't play particularly well mostly thanks to the weapons which aren't very good. They feel incredibly weak to use (even when they've been fully levelled up) and the enemies appear to be giant walking bullet sponges that can take you down in about 3 hits or so.

Most of the minigames aren't particularly fun either whether it's the awful racing sections with stiff movement and controls or the unusual Robot Wars/Battlebots part that Clank unexpectedly gets thrown in. All of which is topped off by the most bullshit bosses in the series to date (especially the last one) and a rather silly story even for the usual standards of the franchise.

There's a couple of cool moments especially when the title does deliver and you get to visit the inside of Clank's head but this really does pail in comparison to the PS2 games.

These sort of issues could have been improved on had they actually made a sequel of some sorts but nope instead we got Secret Agent Clank... and the whole world was worse off for it!
 
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (animated film, Disney, 1949)
4/5

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Easily the best of the Disney package film era (and also the last one) The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad is just tons of pure Disney fun.

The Wind in the Willows is pretty entertaining stuff filled with sheer slapstick goodness especially when Toad's about and even features Basil Rathbone as the Water Rat who's basically become Sherlock Holmes in this one but the real highlight is of course the Sleepy Hollow second half narrated by Bing Crosby complete with one of the most hair-raising, brilliantly animated and chilling climaxes in Disney history.

A great end to one of the more rougher periods for the studio's track record and it wasn't long before they were back on track again with Cinderella.
 
It's tomorrow now in Japan so it's time to say happy 15th anniversary to Yu-Gi-Oh 5D's. Still one of my favourite Yu-Gi-Oh series to date even if the middle half is kinda rough.

But I love a lot of the characters, the show looks great (especially Kenichi Hara's episodes), the Dark Signer arc is ace, I love the voice cast for it (Greg Abbey, Ted Lewis, Erica Schroeder, Christopher C. Adams, Cassandra Lee Morris/Eileen Stevens, Marc Thompson) and speaking of which I really should get back to watching the last couple of episodes someday.

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Pokémon - Adventures in the Orange Islands (anime series, OLM, 1999)
4/5

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While the recent Pokémon games were still in production, the Pokémon anime took a bit of a detour to fill time until the Johto games were ready to go and it was all via the anime exclusive Orange Islands - a place where Ash and Misty went once and a place that never came up ever since.

For me this is where things finally start to truly pick up for the series and it's also an interesting one too where they had to make up a bunch of new places and characters without having the games to rely on. This also features the debut of a new companion Tracey (voiced by the ever entertaining Ted Lewis in the dub) who replaces Brock for a brief period and I don't find him to be all that bad. Kinda sad though the most notable part of him afterwards was his long disappearances before Journeys finally gave him his long overdue return.

Most notably though is where Ash and Pikachu get their first big major win (though one the anime won't remember afterwards) where they face off against Drake (no, not that Drake) and it's a pretty fun way to cap things off.

Overall, Orange Islands is a neat little side season for the show and while it's long since been forgotten, it'll at least still be remembered by this fella right here.

Favourite episodes: Pikachu Re-Volts, Meowth Rules, Bound for Trouble, Enter the Dragonite
Worst episode (really there's not too many bad ones this season but regardless): Git Along, Little Pokémon
 
Dancing Stage/Dance Dance Revolution Disney Mix (PS1)
4/5
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Nothing much too say about the gameplay as it's your usual Dance Dance Revolution/Dancing Stage stuff but what easily makes this a nostalgic treat is some of the cracking Disney remixes alongside some other licensed stuff this game has for the music line-up (and of course some Konami originals).

Some of the catchiest stuff ever and you'll no doubt be breaking a sweat with some of the harder songs too.
 
The Weakest Link (PS1)
3/5
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Shockingly, one of the better game show to video game adaptations. The Weakest Link is pretty much on point when it comes to it's presentation and gameplay wise it's about what you'd expect from the show - answer a bunch of questions and hope to god you don't get voted off whilst Anne Robinson makes a bunch of witty comments.

It's very enjoyable when it comes to the multiplayer and even the silly comments from the contestants can be quite amusing at times (if for the wrong reasons).

Not the best game ever but certainly not the Weakest Link either.
 
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