Review: Sly 4: Thieves in Time

I have changed my mind.  I put the Sly Cooper franchise in my Top Favorite Video Game Franchises list, fairly close to the top.  I was wrong.  If I hate half the games in the series, this franchise doesn’t deserve to be in that list.  On that note, I HATED Sly 4: Thieves In Time… though not nearly as much as I hated Sly 3.

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Review: Monster Tale

I liked Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion.  While it definitely had a bit too much backtracking and it felt too short in general, I still felt it was a solid game with absolutely beautiful visuals.  Knowing all this, I did some research into the developers of the game, DreamRift.  I found that they only worked on one other game, known as Monster Tale.  After hunting the game down and playing it myself, I found out that the game has much more than just the developer in common with Power of Illusion.

Monster Tale tells the story of Ellie, a little girl who one day somehow finds herself transported to the Monster World.  While there, she meets and befriends a small monster which she names Chomp.  She also finds out that she’s not the first human to enter Monster World.  There have been other children and, due to some convoluted circumstances, those children are now the tyrannical rulers of the realm.  Now it’s up to Ellie and Chomp to give the power back to the natural inhabitants of Monster World.

The graphics for this game are simply gorgeous.  The backgrounds for each area felt very thematic and were just a treat to look at.  The sprites and character designs were also very good too.  This game is definitely meant to be more cartoony than anything else.  The gameplay also felt solid.  Each punch and laser blast simply felt good.  I also liked the mechanic that Ellie and Chomp are both constantly learning new moves to the end of the game.  Each progressive move does feel more powerful and useful outside of solving puzzles.  This game would be perfect if it weren’t for the backtracking and difficulty curve.

The backtracking in this game is some of the worst I’ve ever seen.  The following scenario happens more times than I can count in the game:  You get to a new area, explore it, find a door you can only open with a certain ability, be forced to go back to a previous area to get that ability (which you couldn’t get before for whatever reason), actually GET that ability and practice it a few times, then trek ALL the way back to where you were before just to open the door and probably be greeted not far down the line with ANOTHER door and have to repeat the process ALL OVER AGAIN.  This is just a constant thing that happens in the game.  It makes the game feel frustrating, boring, and more than a little repetitive.  I beat the game in about 7 to 8 hours total.  Without the backtracking, this game would be about 3 to 4 hours max.

The difficulty curve is very steep.  The boss fights, once you finally get to them, take a good long while to figure out and beat. I died multiple times with each boss aside from the first one of the game.  It only gets tougher through the game, which sounds natural, but it does get to pure rage inducing levels of hard.  I thought I was leveled up with my characters generally well, but maybe I just didn’t level up enough (which seems to be my constant curse in games nowadays).

Despite all that, I still thought this was a decent game.  The gameplay (including all the cool moves you and your monster buddy get to do) just felt “right” and it was very pretty to look at.  The backtracking is a very big issue, though, as is the difficulty curve.  Still, if you like platformers in the vein of Mega Man (which this did feel like for me), I do recommend it.  It has a pretty nasty bite but this monster is worth having by your side.

My Top 11 Favorite Hero Songs

 I’ve talked before about villain songs.  At least 90% of the time, my favorite song in any musical is the song sung by the baddie of the piece.  However, I have been issued a challenge by Laura, aka the woman I’m engaged to.  In return, I issued her a challenge as well.  It’s the heroes versus the villains today as Laura looks at some songs from our favorite villains and I hop on the opposite side of that train.

Honestly, villain songs are easy.  Either the villain is being deceptive to the heroes or is trying to boost their own ego, talking about how evil they are or the evil things they do/will do.  But what makes a song a “hero” song?  I had trouble even defining the term “hero song” before I realized something.  Hero songs are kind of the same as villain songs, without the deception side.  Usually, a hero song is when the hero is trying to build themselves up to do something great.  It’s about when a hero is trying to get others to believe in them, or even trying to get themselves to believe in themselves.  It’s all about trying to seem like you know what you’re doing even when you’re not sure you do.  And with that, let’s look at my top 11 favorite hero songs!

11)  I Just Can’t Wait to be King – Lion King

While definitely one of the more… naive songs on this list, I Just Can’t Wait to be King is a fun one.  Simba and Nala talk about how great it will be when they are finally in charge.  Sure, it’s all a distraction for Zazu, but this still is a hero song.  Simba just wants to be as great and powerful as his father.  He’s trying to say how awesome he’ll be when he’s king.  We all know how THAT turns out, but this song still catchy as hell.  It definitely sounds like a roar of triumph.

10)  Together Again – Young Frankenstein The Musical

Together Again is sung as Igor and Frederick meet for the first time.  No, it doesn’t make sense.  That’s kind of the point.   The two talk about how it feels natural that they’ve met and they will make the best duo the world has ever seen.  The song is just pure fun and is probably my favorite song in the entire musical.  You really get a sense of comradery from the two even as they just met.  You can tell that they will do great things together, even if those “great” things may not be for the best of humanity.  If there’s one thing that this song does wrong is it seems to “end” about 3 times and still somehow continue.  Still, it’s a song that you’ll have fun listening to for the first time or over and over again.

9)  Make a Man Out of You – Mulan

LET’S GET DOWN TO BUSINESS. TO DEFEAT. THE HUNS.  HUAH!  This is the best song from Mulan, bar none.  Not to mention, it’s just empowering.  It shows us the many trials and obstacles the soldiers go through as they’re training and it shows how the soldiers improve.  It kind of gives the message that, with a little hard work, anyone can be a badass.  It’s the kind of song I would listen to at the gym… if I actually went to the gym, that is.

8)  Poor Jack – Nightmare Before Christmas

Sure, this song starts off sad as Jack wallows in self pity at his failure to take over Christmas.  That’s not what makes this a hero song.  The hero portion is in the second half.  Jack realizes that he can’t change who he is and he is the absolute best at what he does.  It’s just awesome to watch Jack get the wind back in his sails and realize that he is, indeed, the Pumpkin King.  He also realizes that he just screwed up and he’s the only one that can set things right.  Here’s hoping Jack can save that kidnapped Sandy Claws.

7)  Prince Ali – Aladdin

Yes, another Disney one.  What can I say?  Disney’s good at their craft.  Anyway, Aladdin is, without a doubt, my favorite Disney movie.  While this song isn’t outright sung by Aladdin, there’s no doubt that this is a hero song.  It talks about how wonderful he is and brags about all the good things he’s done.  Granted, it’s all a ruse and none of it is actually true.  Still, this song is just too much fun not to include.  To end this little segment, I’ll just say that I agree with the Sultan.  “Splendid!  Absolutely marvelous!”

6)  Let It Go – Frozen

I promise that this is the last Disney song on the list.  Yes, I know it’s been overplayed recently.  Yes, everyone and their grandmothers love to sing it.  I don’t care.  This song is just too good and the visuals are just too fantastic.  It’s empowering, inspiring, and just downright catchy.  It’s all about Elsa really letting loose with her powers, embracing the power within herself and letting it out for the world (or at least the mountain side) to see.  Honestly, I can’t hear someone say “let it go” or any variation there-of without thinking of this song now.  I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

5)  A Man’s Gotta Do – Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog

Dr. Horrible is a villain.  That’s the whole point of his character.  Captain Hammer is his douche-y archenemy hero.  Strange, then, that they get a heroic duet together.  Seriously, I find this song to be a heroic moment for both characters.  The Doc is just trying to do what he considers right and he feels like it’s important to stand up and do something.  Captain Hammer (corporate tool) is making his heroic entrance into the movie.  It just feels like a good duet as they are both doing what they think is right.  It’s not the most conventional of hero songs, but it is one of my favorites.

4)  I Believe – Book of Mormon

Elder Price may not be the ultimate hero of Book of Mormon, but he does have the ultimate hero song.  You may argue that Man Up is more of a hero song.  However, I find Man Up is better thought of as an “end of Act 1” song, which it is.  I Believe has all the makings of a hero song.  It has Elder Price starting off doubting himself and his faith, then goes into reaffirming his beliefs.  Sure, it’s meant to be a parody of sorts on religion, but this song is sung with such conviction.  Elder Price starts firmly putting his faith in his God and, thus, puts faith in himself as he goes up against General Butt Fucking Naked (which the play to get that joke).  Does it work out?  Seriously, you should watch the play… Well, as long as you’re not easily offended.

3)  Defying Gravity – Wicked

Idina Menzel is in this list twice.  And I just realized that all of my top 4 are Broadway songs.  Huh.  Anyway, Defying Gravity is the most well known song from Wicked for a reason.  It has power.  The lyrics are powerful, the message is powerful, and by GOD, Idina’s voice is POWERFUL.  Elphaba realizes that she’s got to fight against the wizard and, even if she has to do it alone, she will fight with all her might.  If this song doesn’t give you chills, I’m not sure we can be friends.  When listening to this song, I swear you’ll believe a witch can fly.

2)  Who I’d Be – Shrek the Musical

Shrek isn’t one of my favorite movies.  Heck, when I found out that it was turned into a musical, I mostly went into it thinking it would be terrible. I was wrong.  Who I’d Be is the most beautiful song from this play.  It’s all about Shrek talking about the life he’d want to live if he weren’t an ogre.  He’d want to go out adventuring, see the world, be the hero of his own story.  Alas, he knows this is just wishful thinking, because, as he says, “an ogre always stays in the dark and all alone.”  Still, while he sings this song, you can’t help but want to see him find that glory he longs for so much.

1)  Who Am I – Les Miserables

While Who I’d Be is about someone dreaming to be something more, Who Am I is about someone facing their inner demons and BECOMING something more.  Jean Valjean argues with himself, trying to choose whether to save an innocent man’s life at the price of his own.  Who Am I is about a man choosing to do the right thing even at the expense of his own freedom.  THAT, my friends, is a true hero.  Colm Wilkinson, while at times having a thick accent, is one of the best Broadway singers I have ever heard.  Who am I?  I’m huge fan of this song.

And that’s my list!  I know that there are differing opinions out there, so, please leave some of your favorite hero songs in the comments!  I’m eager to read them.  Now, I’m off to suddenly break into song somewhere.