The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass (2007) Review

The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass is the first entry to be released on the Nintendo DS handheld videogame system. It is the fourteenth entry in the series and a sequel to GameCubes Wind Waker.

After the events of the Wind Waker Hyrule is flooded and Link and Tetra are crossing the ocean on their boat, they come across the Ghost Ship and climb aboard looking for treasure. On board Tetra screams as she is stolen and turned to stone, the ship vanishes leaving Link floating in the Sea before he is washed ashore on an island and rescued by a fairy called Ceila.

He finds a ghostly hourglass which holds the sands of time and speaks with an old man named Oshus who sends him on a quest with the help of Captain Linebeck to travel the new ocean, defeat the phantom Bellum and rescue Tetra so they can continue in their adventures.

The gameplay is very similar to the average top down Zelda game with hidden temples needing to be completed, each filled with a numerous amount of puzzles and a boss fight, these are each found on islands which you can sail towards on your boat.

Exploring the Sea in this is slightly lacking when compared to its predecessor due to the fact that while you can technically explore freely you can not physically move the boat but instead you draw a path which is then followed via an on rails segment, you can still jump obstacles and shoot down enemies so there is some entertainment value to these changes.

Speaking of gameplay changes I think the ambition to have the game completely controlled via the touch screen needs to be discussed because I have mixed feelings on this.

The use of touchscreen controls definitely had its advantages when it came to combat, simply tapping or swiping enemies worked really well when combined with using the screen for general movement as well.

My issues with this unfortunately came with swapping between items and drawing symbols.

Symbols are used throughout the game for various purposes, the main function is teleportation between the different areas of the Great Sea and finally for accessing certain parts of temples.

I had a lot of difficulty with getting some of these to work meaning that I had to do multiple attempts, the issue I think lies with how they are drawn, I found that I would draw the symbol perfectly and have no luck but if I drew the same symbol in a slightly different way it would work better.

This issue was so bad that at one point that I literally had to go to google to see if I had missed something but no it was just not drawing the image correctly even though it looked exactly the same as what I was meant to draw!

As for swapping items this worked fine enough but I do wish there was a way to apply some to buttons as near the end game it is necessary to swap items in a shorter space of time.

What caught me by surprise was that the game really focussed on the main story and held back on the side content. This worked so much more in its favour when compared to Wind Waker, this time around a longer campaign with a few memorable side quests was a much more enjoyable experience when compared to the repetitiveness of what we got before.

My favourite side quest involved finding a mermaid for a fisherman which would then end with us being awarded the fishing rod.

Other really interesting side content involved secret puzzles, near the end game a maze island is unlocked which gives you time limits to get through mazes which are full of puzzles and obstacles.

The puzzle on the whale shaped island was really unique having to sketch the islands layout based on clues before finally discovering how to open the doors to the Golden Frog King who teaches us about Golden Frog fast travel points.

Mini games are a staple of the series and here we get the obvious target games and bow and arrow ranges but these games now play an important role in how we explore the open sea.

Fishing allows us to catch fish which we can then take to the fisherman to be rated earning us prizes, I loved this as you needed to physically reel in the rod and pull on the touch screen to make sure you didn’t lose your catch.

The other new mechanic is how we use the salvage arm, here we can use a mechanical device to reach the bottom of the Ocean floor and can pull up lost treasure chests, this will result in either parts for your ship or treasures that you can sell for Rupees.

Customising your ship was a pretty cool new mechanic of the game, it wasn’t anything substantially amazing but allowing us to customize our ship did help me make my game unique to myself.

The use of 3D cell shading helps to maintain the cartoony and more family friendly look of the Wind Waker while also helping to enhance the graphic capabilities of the Nintendo DS considering that it was substantially more limited compared to graphically superior GameCube.

There is a large variety of different layouts and colour choices for the different temples but for me my favourite visuals were definitely the boss designs, each fight was unique and visually memorable my favourite was Gleeok the two headed Dragon followed by Bellum in the end game.

The soundtrack takes heavy inspiration from the Wind Waker it still uses the happier melodies help to maintain the less serious direction this chapter in the series was taking, a lot of the music here is somewhat cheerful but can get a little more intense during temples and boss fights but compared to other entries it always maintains its innocence and sense of wonder and even the re-used tracks from Wind Waker such as Outset Island sound fantastic even with the DS’s barriers when it came to its audio outputs.

Phantom Hourglass is a game I feel is often forgotten about by Zelda fans, Growing up I don’t ever recall anyone owning it and everyone played the Wind Waker.

This was my first ever playthrough of the game and I was left really surprised by it, when I first started playing the touch screen controls definitely took some time to get used too but ultimately worked in the games favour minus the issue with drawing symbols I mentioned earlier.

The plot focussing on the ghost ship was unexpected and introducing a new villain instead of resurrecting Ganondorf again was a really great way of making this game feel unique as an entry to the series.

I loved the introduction to touch screen interactivity with the fishing and salvage arm, it made success feel much more satisfying and rewarding

The visuals and audio are both equally as charming and both used the DS to the best of its capabilities giving us some truly fantastic and memorable musical tracks and creative lands to explore.

Overall Phantom Hourglass is to me what I wanted Wind wWker to be because this game really focussed on that main questline and took on a design approach similar to other 2D games in the series, the few side content that was there was lots of fun but didn’t take much focus away from the main goal, it definitely had its problems but for a game as ambitious as this was its really hard to not recommend it, it followed on from a beloved entry in the series that today is often considered to be a fan favourite and while this one has somewhat been lost the sea of Zelda games not only is it worth playing but I would argue that in a sense and only by a small margin I think this one may just be a little bit better. 7.6/10

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Ape Escape (1999) Review

Ape Escape is the first game in one of Sony’s most memorable but somewhat forgotten franchise, the game was Developed by Japan Studios as an exclusive for the PS1, it was the first game to ever make the Dual Shock Analog controller mandatory for play. A PSP remake came out in 2005 but was criticised for not being as good as the original with less manageable controls.

Specter a popular primate in a monkey themed amusement park gets his paws on a Peak Point helmet created by a scientist at the themepark, however due to it being a prototype it not only gives Specter human intelligence but also makes him extremely evil with a plot to take over the world.

Specter soon gives all of the monkeys at the park Peak Point Helmets and releases them to take over the Professors laboratory, at the time he and his assistant Katie are testing out a new time machine when our games hero Spike and his best friend Buzz turn up at the lab and end up being sent throughout various time periods with the monkeys!

Buzz is mind controlled to Join Specter leaving Spike alone to travel to the different time zones, capture all of the monkeys, defeat Specter and prevent any damages to the worlds historical timeline.

The gameplay here is definitely unique, in a sense the game itself if a 3D platforming collectathon where players need to collect a set number of items before proceeding to the next level.

There are only two items to find in the game, one of these are the Specter Coins which will unlock minigames for multiplayer purposes and the other is the monkeys themselves.

Capturing the monkeys while simple enough can get rather tricky later on in the game, the apes helmets all have a siren which glows a different colour representing their difficulty to capture blue is calm, amber is alert and red is high alert.

Sometimes the Monkeys also carry guns and will shoot Spike taking some real damage to your health (Cookies or Biscuits).

The gadgets you unlock throughout the game really help to make the capturing process go a lot smoother, there are 9 in the game and each is unlocked at different points throughout the campaign.

The Gadgets in no particular order are:

Net – a basic net used for capturing monkeys on land

Water Net – a device which allows Spike to swim fast underwater but can also be used to capture swimming monkeys

Sky Flyer – allows Spike to reach great heights and hover temporarily

Stun Club – used for stunning monkeys and turning wheels

Slingback Shooter – a slingshot with 3 ammo types, regular, explosive and homing

Super Hoop – Spike can run really fast with this helping to get past timed obstacles and attack enemies from behind.

Magic Punch – another stunning item but his one is more powerful and can destroy some walls.

RC Car – a remote controlled car which can get in to smaller spaces to chase out monkeys and help solve puzzles.

Monkey Radar – will pin point Spike in the direction of monkeys, the sonar gets more aggressive the closer to a monkey he gets.

Catching the monkeys is really satisfying and very addictive, I found myself wanting to keep coming back to the game to try and find as many as I could, as I previously stated some monkeys are hidden behind tricky puzzles but they can also be hidden behind armoured machinery such as flying saucers and giant mechs, these are difficult to defeat without taking much damage but soon became my favourite monkeys to get as they added more additional challenge where the rest of the game was a bit easier to relax too.

The games controls are actually quite innovative for the time, there is some effort made to evoke realism in the gameplay, its nothing revolutionary but the efforts made to have players use the other analog stick to physically pull back the elastic of the sling shot or spin the propeller of the sky flyer and super hoop was a risky choice by the developers considering that this differed from traditional and more simplified controls, it definitely took a little time to get used to but after a while I grew to really enjoy these choices and hope to see them used in more games I check out in the future.

The three minigames you unlock by collecting the Specter Coins are a nice reward to players for going the extra mile the ski game was my favourite and the galaxy game was a fun homage to space shooters of the past but the boxing game I couldn’t even land a hit in, I’m not sure if it was genuinely hard to control or I just sucked but either way it didn’t effect the main campaign or my enjoyment with Ape Escape.

Visually the game is packed full of colour which really helps to enhance the visuals, it takes on a cartoony look and does not put too much emphasis on textures, it still stands out though due to its brighter colours something that a lot of family friendly games of the era would use, a great example of another game which utilizes more colours would be Croc Legend of the Gobbo’s or Spyro the Dragon.

The soundtrack is an abosolute thrill ride with non stop pumping tracks to put you in a energetic and entusiastic mood to go and catch those monkeys !, I loved all of the music in the game but my favourite was always the opening title music.

Ape Escape is an absolute blast and a game I really wish I had growing up. Child me would have loved this one and while I did have so much fun doing this one as an adult back then I found the games I did have extremely difficult and could have done with something a little milder such as this.

What is there to say apart from Ape Escape is a one of a kind game which delivers in all categories from its gameplay, replay value, graphics and soundtrack. It offers reason to collect everything with the minigames and a secret final boss even after finishing everything I just want to start it all over again. Its innovative, made with love and as just about as charming as we could ask for needless to say I would be banana’s to award it any less than a clean 10/10

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Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) Review

New Nightmare was a Spinoff of the original Elm Street Series, it was written and directed by Wes Craven, the film is has no ties to the original timeline and portrays Freddy Krueger much closer to how Wes Craven originally wanted him to be, here he is much scarier and less comical, he even has some new makeup to better resemble his original vision.

In the film the original cast and crews from the series reunite but as their real life selves, the movies main protagonist is of course Heather Langenkamp who played original Heroine Nancy Thompson.

Heather who now is married and has a son named Dylan is invited to a Television interview to discuss the Elm Street franchise on the 10th anniversary of the first movie. She is suffering Freddy Nightmares which are followed by Earth Quakes in the real world. During filming the Northridge Earthquake partly destroyed Los Angeles and the news footage you see in the movie is real Earth Quake aftermath and if it wasn’t for this movie that footage very well may have been lost to time if it wasn’t archived.

Tuesday Knight (Kristen in Part 4) and Jsu Garcia also known as Nick Corri (Rod in the original) are both spotted attending the funeral of Heathers husband but this is only a small cameo and other returning cast members with major roles in New Nightmare include series veterans Jon Saxon (Nancy’s father Original and Part 3) and of course Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger) here Robert plays Freddy but he also plays himself .

With such an iconic cast reuniting for the film it is no surprise that everyone’s performance in on key and an immense effort was put in by everybody under the watchful eye of series creator and director Wes Craven he even plays himself in this movie and explains to Nancy that Freddy is an evil entity who he trapped by creating the original Elm Street franchise, this entity has now escaped into the real world and wants to Kill Heather as her being the first heroine of the series is the only person who can destroy him.

Freddy is the scariest he has ever been in his portrayal here and if you read my official ranking of the original timeline then you know how important having the right blend of scary and silly is what Freddy needs, while I really admire this dark and scarier Freddy I’m glad his character had some re-writes before the 1984 classic was released. Freddy is definitely scary in this but a little bit too scary for my liking he isn’t exactly that memorable and becomes fairly boring in this one due to a lack of creativity in his kills. The best moment was definitely the call back to Tina’s death in the original where she is dragged onto the ceiling and sliced open, here we actually see Freddy visibly kill the victim its a very cool call back and was much appreciated.

Englund and Saxon are played as Friends and Mentors to the younger Heather in this, its a very sweet portrayal and had me hoping that this was in reference to a real life friendship, Englund was originally going to have a Freddy nightmare of his own where he was trapped in a giant spiders web but this was cut due to it not fitting in with the films more serious script, personally I think this would have been a great addition and could have been really scary, also I think seeing Freddy go after the person who played him would have been really interesting, maybe we could have even had a fight scene between movie Freddy and entity Freddy?

The sets are very good in this but special props definitely go to the finale, Heather is sent into a fiery hell from the mouth of a giant Freddy rock scape, here this whole segment is fantastic with its call backs to Freddy being sent to hell after dying in part 6 and of course Hansel and Gretel a story read to Dylan earlier on in the film. We finally get to see some of Freddy’s powers here too with his stretchy arm and his snake like tongue.

I think this is what the franchise really needed after it failed so hard in its last few films, as a character Freddy had lost his way and become somewhat of a joke, this obviously had an impact on Craven who finally wanted to have the Freddy he originally wrote, I’m glad this wasn’t the final version of Freddy we got but it was interesting to see how he was originally intended, I really like this movie and I think it holds a very important role in the franchise due to the fact that this is what we could have gotten, it was also great to see the original cast reuniting but I think it would have been great to see the others too, Johnny Depp said he would have come back for this movie but never got asked.

This isn’t a film I will watch every Halloween but it definitely wont be skipped during my next Elm Street marathon

And in case you are curious if this was put in my official rankings I would say its better than 5 but not as good as the original

Happy Halloween, check your candy and stay safe

see you creeps in November!

Ranking the original Elm Street Movies

Its that time of year again and this year we will be ranking my favourite Horror franchise of all time a Nightmare on Elm Street, a series of films based around a serial killer called Freddy Krueger who hunts his victims in their dreams, the idea came from Wes Craven and at the time it was very unique and made Freddy one of the most threatening villains where he could attack people from behind the grave when they are asleep. This helped to give him very creative kills but also made him stand out compared to the competition with Jason, Chuckie, Leather Face and others.

Needless to say I am very excited to revisit this franchise, it’s what got me into the horror genre and is still my favourite to this day so without any more delay lets get ranking from worst to best

This is only my opinion and is in no way fact and may not follow the traditional opinion of this franchises qualities.

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)

This movie was the biggest Fuck You to the studio, the fans and original creator Wes Craven so lets talk about it.

After Nightmare 5 released to the lowest financial gross of the series the decision was made to finally kill off Freddy Krueger and end the series.

In the film we are given a new protagonist Doctor Lisa Zane who is helping children in a foster home in Springfield Ohio, it is later revealed that this woman is Krueger’s daughter a revelation that didn’t need to exist but at least it kind of gives Freddy a reason for going after the teenagers under her care.

There is no explanation as to where Alice from Nightmare 4 and 5 had gone, we never find out why Krueger stopped hunting her but this wouldn’t be the first unexplained moment from the series.

The reason this film is so insulting to Freddy Fans is because not only do we get silly Freddy but it is turned up so high that this may as well be a parody, Freddy isn’t just goofy in this he goes completely looney Tunes!

We get fourth wall breaks, Freddy directly interacts with the audience on multiple occasions even doing the whole “shhh” thing while sneaking on one of his victims.

The one liners are awful too especially during the video game dream, this dream especially is a great example to see how much they did not care about this series anymore, Freddy can get away with being a little silly at times, but playing video games is ridiculous if you showed clips from this scene without any concept it would be more convincing as a commercial for the NES game than actually part of what should have been an epic final showdown for this character.

Overall the performances in this are pretty mediocre from everyone but unfortunately this time Robert Englund is just bad as the character, this movie sucks and never should have been approved, famously Wes Craven couldn’t finish watching this one and that should tell you everything you need to know!

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)

The Dream Master was in my opinion the first movie where this franchise went off the rails, choices were made to keep the funny Freddy from Nightmare 3 but turn up the silliness and focus less on scares with more creative kills that don’t really follow any of the logic we had seen before this one.

After the events of Nightmare 3 we first see the surviving Dream Warriors who are still working together to protect the Dream Realm from the return of Freddy.

Some events later and Freddy is brought back by a dog who pees fire and our Dream Warriors are all dead leaving the new protagonist Alice a master of dreams to defeat Freddy and save her friends.

So I want to point out that at this point in the franchise there wasn’t any reason for Freddy to kill his victims because with the Dream warriors out of the picture there are no living relatives of the people who killed him while he was alive.

I don’t particularly think it matters that much but the three previous movies definitely felt more like a compelling trilogy due to Freddy having a particular need for revenge with his kills.

Chose this photo I found over an image from the movie as this is such a cool cast photo shoot!

The Acting in this is so bad from almost everyone in the new cast (Not the Dream Warriors), I don’t know why but almost all the line delivery in this comes across as monotone and not with much effort, of course Robert Englund is fantastic and I will give props to Toy Newkirk who played Sheila as she was the only supporting cast member that I thought did a good job with her acting, it was nothing special but it was one of the only performances that I can say I liked.

The kills and dream sequences in this are really good and some of the best in the franchise, stand out kills definitely go to Joey who gets trapped under his water bed and drowns and by far the best kill up to this point in the franchise goes to Debbie who slowly becomes a giant cockroach bursting from her skin before being stuck in a bug trapping fluid and crushed to death! It is flipping awesome

There are actually some really great effects in this movie and with the dream world having less rules we do get some more memorable Freddy moments, one liners and very creative dreams but I do feel that at times this movie went a little too silly like when Freddy orders Pizza and its meatballs are the heads of his victims or the stupid karate fight where Freddy is invisible because they ran out of money and had to quickly make a kill scene out of bed sheets and cheap decorations

Minus that awful scene I think the biggest problem with this movie is that Freddy is not scary at all, he is comic relief in this and has completely lost his scare factor, I like fun Freddy and I think that’s how he should be but he still needs to be scary otherwise the franchise just becomes a comedy in a similar manner to Bride of Chucky but where it works well for Chucky, for Freddy it is just really disappointing and has a big impact on what could have a great film.

Bad Acting, boring characters and a non-scary Freddy definitely affects my ranking with this one but it had some great kills and some really good effects, this is actually a fan favourite and is the highest grossing movie in the Elm Street Franchise so maybe its just me but I’m not too keen on this one.

A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

Probably the most controversial movie in the original series this second film sees Freddy leaving the Dream World and possessing High Schooler Jesse Walsh and killing victims in the real world instead.

So with this having much less Dreaming than the others films the kills here are pretty lame and in a sense a lot less scary, I couldn’t take Freddy seriously in this especially during the pool party scene where he massacres plenty of victims twice his size.

One great kill though is definitely the gym teacher, they did still let Freddy keep his dream like powers so he can use telekinesis to control inanimate objects, he uses this to his full potential during this kill and its very memorable with a lot of balls flying everywhere and towel whipping.

The film is known to be a homage to gay culture and I’m all for this with the gay body language and mannerisms of the protagonist and plenty of other homoerotic hints and directorial choices, its great to see something celebrate this at a time when it wasn’t fully accepted in society.

The cast are pretty great in this from Male Scream Queen Jesse and his perfect chemistry with on screen girlfriend Lisa and no one is really that annoying in this one, the first movie Nancy was way too whiny but this was an issue clearly picked up before casting was made here.

The effects are really good considering how quickly they had to make this movie, two in particular stand out being the bird puppet that attacks the Walsh family in a homage to Alfred Hitchcocks the Birds and Freddy bursting out of Jesse’s Skin is just fantastic although the cheap rubber skin costume he leaves behind always gives me a chuckle.

Nightmare 2 is really not a bad a movie at all its a lot of fun but its really hard to look past this being anything more than a standard slasher film without the full creativity of the Dream Kills, not being in the real world is what made Freddy stand out among his competition and its just a shame they lost that vision a little bit here.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child

Dream Child was the least successful film in the franchise resulting in only one final movie being made in the original Freddy Series after this one. The film was a critical and financial failure but over the years has garnered a bit more love from fans.

In the film a now pregnant Alice from Nightmare 4 has just graduated from High School and is looking forward to her future with her boyfriend Dan. Unfortunately Krueger has taken over the dreams of her unborn child and Alice’s last remaining friends hoping to be reborn into the real world.

The casting performances here are so much better that in the fourth movie although that isn’t exactly a hard sell. Here the actors portrayals are again nothing too special or particularly memorable but a little more effort and love was put in by the actors and actresses giving us a little more fun and a realism which made the movie more entertaining and easier to watch.

I really like that this film had a higher focus on Amanda Kruger (Freddy’s Mother) and made her an important ally to his defeat this time around.

This was an extension to a back story we had seen in Nightmare 3 and gave us some more insight on why Freddy was so evil.

While this film only has a small handful of death scenes they are all excellent and have some pretty good effects, all of them push the dream limits to the max and are extremely memorable, my favourite involved Freddy quite literally forcing someone to eat themselves to death in a scene which was pretty gross but had all of the Freddy Comedy, creativity and horror that this franchise offers.

The Dream sequences also have some really good sets, by far the best and most creative sequence was the Comic Book, here we get a black and white set with some really cheesy costumes and one liners similar to Superhero comic books of another time, the Kill here is also really creative and one of Freddy’s best.

My only real complaints with this movie is the very low body count and some of the inconsistencies with the lore such as baby Freddy being born disfigured when we all know that he was burned alive by the original Elm Street parents hence why his face is burned and scarred (I know this is a dream but its never questioned not even by his mother Amanda)

I don’t understand why this film gets so much hate because I really don’t think its that bad, at this point the franchise was definitely hanging on by a thread from a story perspective and you could tell the studio was running out of ideas, but this is still a good watch for entertainment and you wont be bored by the casting or the kills, this film had some of Freddy’s most memorable moments but was far from being the franchises peak.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

The one that started it all and what a great start to this franchise, the movie actually opens with a brief shot of Freddy building his knife glove before he was killed by the Elm street parents a fiery death which is explained to the main character Nancy later on in the film.

With this being the first movie in the franchise the plot is fairly bare bones, Freddy is hunting down the children of the parents who murdered him as revenge, the main characters in this movie are Nancy, Glen, Tina and Rod

The performances are not too memorable especially from the main characters, Nancy played by Heather Langenkamp is really quite annoying and whiny in her portrayal, the other three do ok jobs but no one really stands out, this was Johnny Depp’s first role on screen and he hadn’t quite discovered his full acting talents at this point but with it being his first role it is definitely one of his most important.

Robert Englund plays Freddy and he’s just great in this, the first movie has a more serious Freddy with genuine disturbing imagery and scary moments. There are a lot of gross out moments with his humour in this with special effects involving bugs, maggots and plenty of green blood so it does have silly moments but nothing compared to how off the rails the franchise went later on down the line.

Freddy is creepy in this especially when you cant see him on screen, the dream sequences are all made to scare with none of them being out of wack.

The kills are all memorable but some of the most basic in the franchise compared to what would come next, Tina being dragged across the ceiling was always a great effect and of course Glen being dragged into his mattress with litres of blood being sprayed all across his bedroom is fairly iconic these days and remembered fondly by horror fans.

Nancy’s parents play a pretty important role in this movie trying to get Nancy help through sleep therapy’s and eventually with her father almost capturing Freddy near the end of the film.

Unfortunately I think both of these characters could have been written a little bit better, both are very stubborn and don’t believe Nancy when she tells them that Freddy Krueger is the killer, they don’t even believe her when she pulls his hat out of a dream in the clinic, a hat she never walked in with and that has his name written inside of it. Maybe they just didn’t want to believe in Freddy especially since they played such a big role in his original murder and are just scared to hear his name again? What do you guys think? this part of the movie has just always bugged me!

A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of the most iconic horror movies of all time, it started Johnny Depps career, he next when onto Edward Scissorhands which helped to Sky Rocket the actor to fame, this was the introduction to Freddy and the movie is now protected in the American Film Institute.

A great start for this franchise and one of the better Elm Street movies, I watch this every Halloween and will continue to do so but even though this is the one I choose to re-watch the most I wouldn’t say it’s my absolute favorite in the franchise.

Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors (1987)

And here we are at nightmare 3 a fan favourite of the series and honestly it is my favourite too.

The film follows new lead Kristen a teenage girl who has the ability to bring people into her dreams, this is the sister power to Nancy Thompson who was able to bring people and items from her dreams into the real world.

After a Freddy Nightmare that ends with a false suicide attempt she is sent to a psychiatric hospital for suicidal children. The New Psychiatrist is none other than Nancy Thompson who knows the truth of who haunts their dreams and wants to train them to find their Dream Powers and kick Freddy’s Ass!

I think this is a good point to say that this is where the franchise really began to find its feet and become less serious and more fun while still remaining generally creepy and unnerving, the franchise would later go off the rails but this for me was its sweet spot.

The Dreams in this one really start to get creative with how they were portrayed, in previous films the dreams would mostly take place in Elm Street but here we get to see punk inspired alleyways and a Hellscape inspired take on the classic boiler room set, Dreams that can add more creativity and have a lot more lee way allowing the franchise its creative freedoms.

Other creative choices such as stop motion, puppets and clay animation was used numerous times to help really expand Freddy’s capabilities, the snake was my favourite effect but Puppet Freddy was definitely another highlight.

The kills in this one are some of the most memorable and best in the franchise, “Welcome to Prime Time Bitch” a line improvised by Freddy actor Robert Englund before he smashes Jennifer’s head into the tv screen is easily Freddy’s best known one liner and of course the gruesome death of Philip who is quite literally controlled and forced to fall from an abandoned tower block.

A hilarious moment I have to mention is the wizard master, the costume is just so awful and cringe worthy, the line he says “In the name of Lowrek, Prince of Elves, demon, begone!” doesnt help but it is hilariously goofy and I love it

Some more Freddy Lore was added into this movie thanks to the ghost of his mother Amanda Krueger explaining to secondary protagonist Dr Neil Gordon that Freddy is the bastard child of 100 psychopaths after she was accidently locked in with inmates and got raped repeatably and left bearing a child.

We also find out that Freddy absorbs the powers of his victims as there souls become trapped within his flesh.

It is really hard to see this as nothing more than a perfect Freddy movie because of what it brings to franchise but takes it down a less serious route without completely losing those scares. I love the return of Nancy Thomson and her father and of course the outlandish sets, new lore, amazing lovable characters and just brilliant effects really help this one to not only be the best in the series but also the movie that I feel really made Freddy Krueger find his place as a horror icon.

I am ashamed to say that while this is my favourite horror franchise it got painful to get through near the end, Freddy is such an iconic character and will always be my favourite but compared to other franchises this one was the shortest for films and how long he remained relevant, which a shame because it never had to be that way but too many changes and a lack of direction very quickly killed off this horror icon.

My final opinion of the 6 Elm Street movies is that you should only really go out of your way to watch the original film and Dream Warriors, both of these films tell Nancy’s story and overall would have been great finale for Freddy before his franchise lost its way.

Wes Craven would later go onto make his New Nightmare, a great spin off film where he finally got to create the Freddy Character he originally envisioned and as dark as he originally intended

October 31st we will finally be talking about that one so please look forward to that!

In the meantime check out my official Friday the 13th Rankings and my official Child’s Play Rankings

Oh and BTW the official Freddy vs Jason crossover will be added into both the Elm Street List and the Friday the 13th List but in due time as I need to re-watch the entire Jason franchise to figure out exactly where it will fit in.

Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein is one of the most well known stories and novels of all time, it was written by author Mary Shelley and released in 1818. This horror story has since gone on to inspire countless adaptations and references/homages in pop culture.

In the book Victor Frankenstein is found freezing to death in the Artic Circle by Captain Robert Walton, the story is told through letters Walton sends to his sister explaining to her the bizarre story Frankenstein told him of how he wound up in the Artic Circle in the first place.

Walton and his crew had previously spotted a Giant Man on a snow sled, Frankenstein is also pursuing this being but in the hopes of putting a stop to his destruction and tells his story of madness, obsession and chaos as a warning to Walton to not let his obsessions take over his conscience.

Now we all know the story of Frankenstein but the book did have some differences to the 1931 movie that I am most familiar with.

There is a lot more back story to Victors obsessions, his mother died due to a Scarlet Fever she caught from his adopted sister Elizabeth who would later become his wife. After his mothers death Victor becomes obsessed with the idea of reanimating corpses and creating life, reading books and studying everything he can find in his university library.

I feel a connection to the death of his mother was the trigger point for him to make his monster, my theory is that he originally wanted to bring his mother back but when too much time had passed he became adamant to prove to himself that his studies would pay off and he could create man.

Life and Death are two massive themes in the book, you cannot have one without the other and this tragic story is a testament to that when the Monster kills his one true love Elizabeth and last living Female companion, his mothers death inspired him to bring life to a monster that only gave Death in return, it is a vicious cycle and one that Victor lives to regret.

Speaking of the Monster in the book Victor was terrified of it the moment it woke up and runs away, the Monster runs away too, later killing Victors brother another example of how our actions have consequences.

The Monster is described as followed

https://www.monstrous.com/monster/frankenstein-monster/frankenstein-description/

8-foot-tall (2.4 m), hideously ugly creation, with translucent yellowish skin pulled so taut over the body that it “barely disguised the workings of the vessels and muscles underneath”; watery, glowing eyes, flowing black hair, black lips, and prominent white teeth.

The description may not seem all too unexpected but we should pay attention to the Yellow Skin, I find this interesting because in most media the monster is depicted as Green, it makes me question why this is since it clearly was not the intentions of writer Mary Shelley.

The Monster can actually speak in the original story and very well, during his monologue we learn that he spent months watching a family in the woods, from watching them he taught himself skills such as speech, poetry and reading. The Monster does eventually introduce himself to the family but it doesn’t go well and results in them leaving the home and this deeply pains the Monster eventually causing him to seek revenge on his creator but also realising that he may also be the only person who can help him.

This is all spoken to us through the monologue of the Monster to Victor Frankenstein, the Creature explains how he tried to rescue a child who was drowning only to be shot at by the boys father. Moments like this cause the creature to hate humanity, he eventually finds Victor and asks him to create him a Female Monster who can love him.

Its hard to not sympathise with the Monster because he never asked to be created, he was born through a man obsessive behaviours and cruelly made to live in a hideous body that humans fear, the Monster tried to be like man but mankind would never accept him because he is different and now all he wants is another creature like him so that he doesn’t feel so isolated, alone and misunderstood.

Victor does begin to create this Monster before backing out and destroying it after he realises how dangerous having two of them could be. This triggers the Monster to kill the whole of Victors Family including his Wife Elizabeth and his best friend Henry, Victors father also dies but from what I understood this was due to poor health and not a murder.

During the story’s climax the monster does eventually kill Victor on Walton’s boat and in a moment of sadness realises that killing his creator did not bring him satisfaction, he was still depressed and miserable so vows to take his own life as he sails into the ocean on an ice raft closing this sad and traumatic tale of Life and Death.

Frankenstein is one of the darkest and saddest stories I have ever read, it packs so many different themes and emotions into its text that you really feel sorry for both Frankenstein and the Monster although I think to be fair the Monster definitely deserves just a little more sympathy.

This truly is a tragic story with a good morale that just because we can do something it doesn’t necessarily mean that we should do it.

Every traumatic event in this story was triggered by the creation of the Monster, it was Victor Frankenstein’s greatest achievement but also his greatest mistake and one that would not only cost him his own life but the lives of his loved ones and eventually the Monster itself. The Suicide really was the final tragedy because with the Monster dying its existence would only become a folktale with Victor and his Monster soon being forgotten to time.

I think that just about covers it, Frankenstein is a great book and one that I highly recommend picking up and reading not only to truly appreciate the true horror of this story but its over 200 year legacy in literature as a whole.

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Psycho (1960) Review

Psycho is a horror/psychological thriller directed by Sir Alfred Hitchcock, the film is a loose adaptation of the 1959 novel Psycho written by author Robert Bloch. The original novel was actually inspired by the Serial Killings of Ed Gein who would also be the inspiration for Leatherface and Hannibal Lecter

The film had some big stars to its name including acting Legends the late Janet Leigh and the late Anthony Perkins who play the films main leads Embezzler Marion Crane and Motel owner Norman Bates.

The films plot revolves around Marion Crane a bank worker who steal $40,000 from a client and goes on the run where she eventually ends up at the Bates Motel, a run down and failing Motel ran by its owner Norman Bates a seemingly friendly person but no one knows that he is being emotionally controlled by his manipulative and psychologically abusive elderly mother who has a murderous side to her personality.

Anthony Perkins was made for this role, I don’t know if anyone else could give off such a convincing performance especially considering he had to play two personalities in one role, we have seen this done in other films but there is something about Norman Bates which feels very real and not in any way silly or over the top. Perkins plays both his Norman and Mother personalities as two different sides to the character with one being overly friendly and the other unhinged and dangerous while managing to maintain a creepiness factor throughout all of his screen time.

Janet Leigh and the supporting cast all deserve credit too because everyone was brilliant in this, out of the entire movie what made me the most nervous wasn’t Norman Bates but Marion Crane on the run, there are so many moments where she almost gets caught and it did leave me on the edge of my seat, two parts specifically where when she was at the traffic light and sees her boss from the bank crossing the road and the other was when she was buying a car with a shot of a police officer watching her from the background. In the scene she is extremely nervous and trying to buy a car as quickly as possible so she can get away from the situation but the car sales man doing his job keeps trying to sell her other vehicles giving the officer more time to come over and see what is going on.

A lot of the best moments in the movie are thanks to Hitchcock’s direction and camera angles, not only does he help to make those scenes with Marion on the run a lot more intense but it’s the way he films the mother so we never see her face that helps to keep the big twist at the end really jaw dropping but it actually makes the character a lot scarier.

The famous shower scene is a great example where we only see the figure behind the curtain before it opens and Marion Crane is murdered, I should say that they originally tried fake blood for this scene but it didn’t look right in Black and White so chocolate syrup was used instead.

This was really the first major twist of the movie because Marion Crane was in all of the advertising and really was the secondary main character of the film, her dying so early on would have shocked audiences back in 1960 this was another reason why the film was put in black and white because Hitchcock wasn’t sure audiences were ready to see a stabbing in colour yet.

The scene is not overly gory and the choice to end the shot with the blood going down the shower drain was really impactful without showing us the grizzly details, I wish more films today would make choices like this as a lot of modern horror is in competition for gory kills and jump scares.

The scariest and in my opinion best directed scene in the movie is actually the big reveal when Lila Crane finally finds Mrs Bates in the basement, she turns her around to confront her and is met with a skeleton, she screams, the iconic music comes on and Norman Bates dressed in his mothers clothes bursts through the door knife in hand screaming.

This twist was huge back then and was such a worry from the studios that they actually made Hitchcock extend it so that we see Bates being incarcerated which is then followed by a dull scene with a psychiatrist explaining why Norman is the way he is.

I loved the entire movie but this one scene at the end, it is so unnecessary and really drags on taking away from the perfect flow the rest of the movie had. Until his death Hitchcock always spoke of how much he despised this scene.

The Studios never wanted to fund this movie and eventually Hitchcock did manage to get a measly budget of around $800,000 which given inflation is only around $8,000,000 today.

Because of this serious budget cuts had to be made such as filming the movie in Black and White and using crew members from his Alfred Hitchcock presents Television series who were more affordable than bigger stars at the time.

Hitchcock agreed to take no earnings for the film giving up his usual $250,000 fee until its release where he would take 60% of its overall gross, this was a way to put Hitchcock off the idea of making the movie but this plan seriously backfired in the studios face because the film went on to make $50,000,000 meaning that Hitchcock walked away a very rich man and made more money than the studios themselves.

Alfred Hitchcocks Psycho is a Masterpiece of the Horror Genre and one of the greatest movies of all time, its one of Hitchcocks most celebrated works and has been forever protected in the American Film Institute.

There isn’t really much to say other than if you haven’t seen this you should definitely go and watch it, it was the inspiration for a lot of horror icons and future franchises to come, this is one movie that I will be watching every October.

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The Thing from Another World (1951) Review

The Thing from Another World is a science fiction / Horror movie directed by Christian Nyby.

The film was the the first adaptation of the short story Who Goes There which is about an alien creature who can shapeshift into different bodies, it uses this ability to murder exhibitionists in Antarctica by morphing into the bodies of the crew and killing them from behind false faces.

This adaptation was filmed in Black and White and in a sense is the most controversial due to general confusion about the films creation and artistic changes that had to be made due to the lack of technology at the time the film was made, the biggest change is the creature itself, the shapeshifting at the time was difficult to portray on film especially with such a small budget so instead a standard alien creature became the films threat, a controversial choice but at least it allows this version to stand out on its own.

The first and most well known debate is who actually directed the film, while Christian Nyby is officially posted as the films director, interviews with the cast years later revelated that Howard Hawkes directed the movie and gave Nyby the credit so that he could obtain his directors guild membership. Nyby denies Hawkes intervention and all but one cast member agreed that Hawkes did indeed direct the movie. What makes this so mysterious is that Hawkes denied directing the movie up until his death in 1977 leaving this as one of the biggest debates and mysteries in film history.

The casting in the film was great and its hard to pick out particular performances as everyone on screen were a lot of fun to watch and gave realistic performances. The Crew all have a really good connection in this and are genuinely very likable bouncing off of each others personalities, there are also disagreements though with some wanting to execute the creature while others want it studied.

Margaret Spencer who plays Nikki was memorable for her performance as the love interest of the Captain and how she uses her romantic advantages to help encourage him to make the best decisions and get what she wants.

The creature was played by James Arness and if you watch the movie you will notice that the creature is never shown close to the camera, this does make him more scary as he is hidden in the shadows but this choice was actually made due to the director being dissatisfied with the Makeup quality, famously a headpiece inspired by Frankenstein was also put onto Arness due to this.

For a low budget movie The Thing from Another World is really impressive in what it manages to pull off, the film was rated X even considering the lack of any blood or gore but the location and casting choices really helped to make this one memorable, the creature mostly communicates in grunts and moans, he generally punches and chokes his victims and due to his supernatural strength he definitely had the advantage over the captain and his crew. These choices are very 1950’s sci-fi and I love them, it reminds me very much of another classic from the 50’s The Creature from the Black Lagoon that film also had a creature who attacked and grunted in similar ways to this movie and both are very great films I highly recommend checking out this Halloween if you get the chance.

What a great find this movie was, I have always enjoyed the John Carpenter version but I never knew there was an original adaptation before that one and I was left pleasantly surprised with this, I saw this on the BBC I Player app so you may still find it there but I’m not sure if it is only available for a limited time, either way you really should check out this movie especially if you want to explore older Sci-fi and Horror classics.

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Until Dawn (2015) Review

Until Dawn is the first of many choose your own adventure games from Supermassive Games, the game relies on player choices determining who will survive this horror story on the mountains of the Wendigo. The game takes inspiration from the Butterfly Effect a chaos theory where different choices and events will lead to vastly differentiating outcomes.

The game is considered an interactive drama series where players take control of eight playable characters and make decisions which will in turn effect their survival chances and relationships with other characters in the story.

After a horrible prank gone wrong two twin sisters Hannah and Beth go missing during a snow storm on the mountains and are presumed dead after search and rescues teams fail to find them.

One year later the teenage pranksters return to the mountain in remembrance of the girls but soon realise that something dark and sinister is afoot, they are not alone on this mountain and they start to wonder what really happened to their friends who perished on that terrible night!.

The game takes place primarily in four locations the Lodge, the Sanitorium, an old Hotel and the Mines and where each character ends up depends on player choices.

In my personal opinion none of the games locations are all too memorable, nothing about them really stands out although I would make the argument that this does work much more in the games favor than it may seem.

The areas of the game are basic but are all very dark helping to build upon the atmosphere and increase the players fear levels, throughout the entire journey you will be on the edge of your seat not sure if your next decision will end kindly, the Wendigo’s are absolutely terrifying and give you very little chance to escape if they manage to catch you, a shot with a gun will help you knock them back temporarily but the most common and difficult way to survive is to keep absolutely still.

The Wendigo’s are blind and track players by sound, a very clever mechanic in the game uses the dual shock controllers motion sensors to enhance realism during segments where you mustn’t move, players literally need to keep the controller as still as possible and one slight movement can easily lead to death so be careful.

The game is full to the brim with quick time events, I normally hate these in games but they work quite well in this, you don’t get much warning when they appear and if you miss them it can end very badly.

Throughout the adventure there are plenty of collectibles to find most of these are clues to discovering the three in game mysteries, those being what happened to the twins, who is the psychopath and the history of the mountain. You need to find all of the twins clues to save Josh at the end of the game so I would recommend trying to get everything.

Totems are also hidden across the mountain, finding these will show you clues on possible outcomes later on in the game, it can really help you make decisions depending on whether you want to save or kill certain characters.

There are many different way to finish the game, you can choose who lives and who dies leading the multiple outcomes, I had two issues with the game and both were a problem with its replay value, don’t get me wrong the game has plenty of reasons to replay but not being able to skip over cutscenes a second or third time around will get you sick of the story pretty fast and the biggest problem of all is that there is only one ending.

The end of the game is a helicopter shot of your survivors followed by police interviews in the credits, nothing else gets added here and the reason that is a problem is because apart from trophies if there is no additional cutscene or reward why would we want to replay this over and over again?

The game is fun but it is also very slow paced and is a bit of a drag to replay at times, I did this four times in a row to try and get all the trophies and after that I had no intention to put my self through it again and I completely understand that this is a different type of game to what I’m used too but I cant lie about how it made me feel after multiple playthroughs.

Visually the game is terrifying and graphically it holds up really well for a mid life span PS4 game, the dark atmosphere really helps to give you an uneasy feeling from beginning to end and the designers put a lot of effort into graphics helping to again build on realism with the excellent and powdery snow effects, and the slimy and meaty skin of the Wendigos.

The games soundtrack composed by Jason Graves and while very basic it works well for the game, they used an orchestra but remained very quiet only getting louder the closer characters got to a threat, the quietness makes the game feel empty and does help to put players more on edge and when the music does get louder due to it being unexpected it really set me into a panic not quite knowing what was around the corner.

Until Dawn is a game that I have wanted to play for a very long time but have waiting for the right opportunity, thankfully with this being part of the PS Plus game catalogue I finally got the chance and I really enjoyed it, I liked most of the characters and wanted to see them all succeed and the story is so well written, the twist of who the psychopath was really caught me off guard and I had even found all of the clues. The game controlled fine and was a lot of fun my only issue was with my distaste for choices with the replay value but overall I can highly recommend this one to fans of horror and gamers alike 7/10

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Kena: Bridge of Spirits (2021) Review

Kena: Bridge of Spirits is an action-adventure game from Ember Lab Studios, it was released in 2021 for the PS4, PS5 and PC

In the game you play as a young spirit guide Kena, she has the important job of helping deceased persons cross from the natural world and into the spirit realm, some of these spirits have become corrupt and have infested the land with demons and toxic elements, throughout her adventure Kena will have to work closely with the creatures called Rot to help free these tormented souls and save both worlds.

The gameplay while simple in its design is very fun, its a 3D platformer at heart with a good mixture of action oriented combat with adventurous terrains and worlds to explore, with the game having a high focus on spirits there is an emphasis on supernatural elements and magic which helps to spice up the gameplay.

Regular combat isn’t anything too special only offering basic light and heavy attacks with the staff but its the Rot, Bombs and Arrows which really bring additional challenge and for me made the combat some of the best parts of my personal journey with Kena.

The Bow of course gave us distanced combat and was useful for hitting further away enemies and those who fly, it could also be used to whip across gaps using special flowers.

The Bombs were particularly cool because not only did they give us a powerful damage attack but they have the ability to interact with certain stones creating timed platforming segments to help progress through areas and find hidden secrets.

The Rot were the best part of the game because not only are they extremely adorable and can be decorated with the sweetest little hats but they also have the ability to help you solve puzzles by carrying items, removing corruption and growing plants, they can also enhance your staff, bow and bomb abilities later on in the game giving them even more uses.

These creatures are only one of the many hidden collectibles in the game, they can be found in many different places but specifically prefer to hide underneath rocks and logs and tucked away inside of small spaces like drawers and plant pots.

Unfortunately with all of the collectibles in the game apart from trophies there isn’t much benefit to finding them with the exception of Rot and the meditations spots (permanently increases Kenas health), The hats while cute don’t offer any upgrades to abilities and the flower shrines only give you more money which can be used to purchase the hats, Spirit Mail sometimes does lead to more rot and do normally come with some cursed chests offering some combat challenges.

The Visuals are just out of this world and easily some of the best we have seen on PS5 so far, the landscape takes high inspiration from the Japanese countryside which fits the narrative of the game really well, on top of this crisp details on everything really enhances the experience, I love the bright colours of the human world making this game stand out even though it shares similar visual designs with other games of the genre, the spirit world uses more darker colours with less detail and again it helps to differentiate the worlds of the game making sure players know where they are at all times.

The soundtrack was composed by Jason Gallaty and is just beautiful, the team travelled to Bali to record traditional Gamelan music for the soundtrack, Gamelan uses bamboo flutes, Xylophones and a Rebab (Bowed instrument) the music is very calming but is adaptable to suit the games more action oriented sections. It is rare that I do not have spotify, an audio book or Youtube on in the background while gaming but this was an exception with a soundtrack so mesmerizing I wanted to let every second of it massage my brain with its artistic melodies.

I loved Kena, its visuals and outstanding soundtrack really helped to enhance my experience, the land was fantastic to explore and I loved all of the different combat sections and boss fights. My only issues with the game is that some of the collectibles dont offer enough to feel worth going out of your way for and finally the lack of a waypoint marker for the map made getting around a little difficult, I had to keep checking the map to see where I was and what direction I was facing, there is an update coming soon so maybe this will be added but overall if you have a Playstation or a good PC I highly recommend this one and will award it a well deserved 9.8/10

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Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time (2020) Review

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is not officially the fourth game in the series but is considered a soft reboot for the remainder of the franchise after Crash Bandicoot Warped with all games coming after that now considered non canon to the official storyline. It was developed by Toys for Bob and Published by Activision. The game was released in 2020 for the PS4 and Xbox One with Nintendo Switch, PC, PS5 and Xbox Series S/X versions being available from 2021 onwards.

After their defeat in Crash Warped, Uka Uka attempts to free himself, Dr Neo Cortex and N.Tropy from the past by opening a rift in time and space. Cortex and N.Tropy manage to escape leaving an unconscious Uka Uka behind.

The two remaining villains soon discover that the rift connects all universes together and they both hire N.Gin and N.Brio to create an army to help them both conquer the multiverse.

Aku Aku soon discovers this great danger and supports Crash and Coco Bandicoot in collecting the quantum masks to help them seal the rifts and prevent the plans of their arch enemies.

As with previous games in the series, the gameplay follows the third person 3D Platforming gameplay from the predecessors by having the camera situated behind the players character and seeing the stage from that perspective instead from the side angle, the traditional time trial challenges return to the game these help players work towards the 106 percent completion but are very challenging and require almost perfect runs.

New additions to the gameplay really help to make this game not only feel more modern but help it to stand out compared to what we were given with the N.Sane Trilogy.

The biggest change in this game is definitely the Quantum Masks which give Crash and Coco additional powers to help them proceed through through specifically designed level segments.

There are 3 masks in the game which swap between stages, Lani Loli allows the ability to phase between specific objects and terrains.

Akano gives the ability to spin for longer periods of time as well as have an additional spin while jumping to help clear long gaps.

Kapuna-Wa is the first female mask to appear in the series, she allows Crash and Coco to slow the pace of time making passing through limited timed segments much easier to bypass, this ability also allows them to jump on the Nitro crates (normally insta-kill) giving them a few seconds to get away before they explode.

Ika Ika allows players to apply a gravitational pull which will allow the ability to walk on ceilings as well as temporarily float over dangerous terrains, although if not turned off quick enough a death from above by being sucked into rift is inevitable.

Players can swap between playing as either Crash or Coco at anytime throughout the game, both characters play the same so the only real difference is who you control, additional costumes unlocked by collecting Gems are awarded for completing specific tasks such as only using up to 3 lives in a stage, collecting certain numbers of Wumpa fruits, breaking all the creates and finding the hidden gem of each level.

Other additional characters who have their own levels and storylines are Tawna, Dingodile and Cortex, each of these play differently and offer a variation to the gameplay.

Tawna uses a whip to hit enemies from a distance as well as cross otherwise impossible gaps, Dingodile uses a vacuum which he can use to defeat enemies and grab TNT crates before launching them and finally Cortex has a transfiguration gun which he can shoot at enemies to change their DNA to evolve them into different platforms (Stone, Bouncy and transparent)

The final new addition to this game is the N.Verted stages, these are the same are the normal stages but mirrored horizontally with interchanging art styles to make them more challenging and a real treat for players looking at replay value, these also count towards the gems so are necessary for 106 completion but have no real affect on the games story minus some of the secret endings you can unlock.

The game is visually cartoony and it works wonders for the art style, like previous games the story isn’t taken that seriously and the use of bright vibrant colours along with artistic choices such as squash and stretch not only helps the characters and cutscenes come to life but the consistent use of the techniques throughout the games stages really makes this a fantastic game to look at and play.

The N.Verted versions of each stage each have a unique visual style and sometimes even affects the pace of levels to add additional challenge, my favourite visual choice is definitely the paint effect where the entire stage is a white canvas but colour is added everytime you spin its very cool and is one of the most creative and unique directorial choices of the entire series so far.

This is surprisingly the most difficult game in the series, even with the modern setting allowing unlimited lives the challenge is brutal, Its hard to pin point why this is but personally I would argue that it could be the powers you use, these small segments are extremely difficult to pull off without precise timings and concentration, the game definitely isn’t for casual play but is not unfairly hard and is very rewarding to finish, those who reach completion should be particularly proud as only few have managed to platinum the game.

The soundtrack is once again absolutely amazing, it carries the upbeat and energetic creativity of the original trilogy, each track fits perfectly into each level and it even uses new versions of older tracks specifically in the VHS retro stages you can unlock by reaching certain point in stages without dying.

Before wrapping things up I need to discuss what I consider to be the biggest issue with the game, aiming for completion is one of the most infuriating things you can ever do and this is due to ridiculously unfair box and gem locations and a need to replay levels multiple times. Each stage holds 6 gems, 3 for collecting Wumpa Fruit, one for breaking all the boxes, another for beating the stage with 3 or less deaths and finally finding the hidden gem, you even need to do the same requirements on each of the N.Verted versions of each level, There are also four hidden coloured gems to find with a final total of more than 400 in the game, on top of this you also have to get the flashback tapes and beat those, collect all of the platinum time trial relics and beat every stage in a perfect run without dying and breaking every box.

For me the worst offender is the fact that after finishing the alternative character stages they throw you back into the second halves of stages you have already played and the box count still needs you to perfect those stages again as well, its pointless replaying of stages when it doesn’t need to be there and just seems to expand the playtime of what otherwise is a fairly short game without any of the of the completion stuff which overall only unlocks secret endings that you could just watch on Youtube.

Crash Bandicoot 4 is easily the best game in the series if you only play the game casually but it is easily the worst for its completion requirements, this is my only real complaint though and if you can look past it then you have a game that is honestly really impressive considering what Toys for Bob had to live up too, rebooting Crash 4 was a big ask and they nailed it by giving us a hilarious adventure with perfect controls, visually entertaining cartoony graphics, gameplay which expands upon its predecessors and another absolute banger of a soundtrack. I loved the new playable characters and the fact that Coco was really included in the storyline, I had a really great time playing this one and I cannot wait for Crash 5 if that ever happens 8.8/10

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