Movie Games: ELF (2003)

Welcome the second edition of Movie Games a series where we look at a film and then its video game counterparts to not only discuss a games quality but how accurate of an adaptation it is.

In this Christmas episode I will be deep diving into the the 2003 comedy film ELF starring Will Ferrell, this movie only had one videogame adaptation releasing on the Nintendo Gameboy Advance the same year as the film.

First a Recap of the movie and I wont be shy on spoilers so be wary!

On Christmas Eve a baby from an orphanage crawls into Santa’s Sack and is taken to the North Pole, an older Elf agrees to raise the baby and 30 years later the now adult and much taller Buddy is struggling to fit in with the elves, he finds out he is a human and decides to travel to New York City to find his real father Walter Hobbs.

Buddy passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then walked through the Lincoln Tunnel.

Upon arrival in New York Buddy is searching everywhere for his Father, causing havoc along the way, eating discarded gum, running around evolving doors and jumping across zebra crossings.

He finds his father in the Empire state building but is soon thrown out after Security is called by Walter Hobbs himself, the security sarcastically suggests Buddy goes back to Gimbels.

Taking the request literally Buddy goes into the department store and is mistaken for an employee of Santa’s Village here he meets the friendly but unenthusiastic Jovie, Buddy is so excited for Santa coming to visit the store that he stays behind over night to decorate the store. The next morning Santa comes to the store but its an imposter, Buddy rips off his beard and a fight ensues, Buddy is arrested but bailed out by Walter Hobbs who takes him to a doctor for a DNA test which proves a positive match!

Walter reluctantly takes his Son home to meet his wife Emily and his other son Michael, Walter doesn’t warm up to Buddy as quickly as Emily does and wants to throw him out onto the streets but Emily insists that Buddy stays with them until he recovers from his fantasies.

Buddy soon becomes a friend of Michael after he defeats his school bullies in an epic snowball fight, the two mess around the Gimbles department store and bump into Jovie, Michael encourages Buddy to ask her out and she says yes, after the date goes really well Buddy runs to his dads works to tell him that he is in love not knowing that world renowned author Miles Finch is there.

Finch who is short in stature is mistaken for an Elf by Buddy and his extremely offended walking out on his deal with Walter, Walter in a rage tells buddy to stay out of his life, buddy leaves and writes a goodbye letter to his family, while making his way back through New York City he spots Santa’s Sleigh crashed at Central Park, the Sleigh runs on Christmas Spirit but it had finally ran out and Santa asks Buddy to help him get it back.

Meanwhile Walter is now in another meeting with the CEO of the company after he finds Miles Finches notebook which is full of ideas, Michael bursts in and emotionally convinces Walter to choose family over work losing his job in the process, Walter and Michael find buddy in Central Park, the two makeup and help Buddy with his mission, Walter dresses as Santa to try and divert the Park Rangers while Michael takes Santa’s list and reads it on live TV convincing viewers of Santa’s existence.

Jovie remembers when Buddy told her “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear” and begins singing Santa Claus is coming to town, the New Yorkers all join in and even Walter gets in on the action finally giving the sleigh enough power to fly again. In the finale we see Buddy spending Christmas with his family and the following year visiting his Papa Elf in the North Pole along with his Wife Jovie and their baby Susie, a truly happy ending.

The GBA videogame is a 2D platformer and for the most part it controls fine but the game is really bare bones when it comes to its gameplay, this is as generic as 2D platformers can get.

I will give some props to the game for adding various goals into some stages such as collecting all of Christmas Lights and the letters to spell NEWYORK.

Other stages are designed as either top down platformers or minigames, the worst of these stages is easily jumping across the Icebergs, this stage had really bad issues with landing, in most cases you would hit the water when you had definitely landed on the iceberg but because it wasn’t centred the game took that as a miss, the stage is very long and at some points the platforms you need land on are moving which makes it even worse.

Jumping is very floaty in the game in all platforming levels, the iceberg was definitely the worst offender but some other simple platforming such as jumping over the polar bears also proved to be needlessly difficult at times.

The minigame stages are all fine but very generic and extremely easy, examples of what to expect are the usual repeat the button presses, link up the pipes and hit the targets, minigame staples that we see in almost any game.

I’m not going to criticise the game on being generic as that’s almost expected from this, what I will criticise however is how lazy this adaptation actually is they use screenshots from the movie with no dialogue text to give players any idea on what is going on and to top this off the levels are not even accurate to movie.

Small errors such as the snowball fight including elves instead of school bullies,a lack of Walter Hobbs and his family (minus one screenshot at the end of the game) levels with plots including collecting Christmas lights, helping Santa deliver presents and a very small number of movie screenshots which no context make me wonder if this was released either before the movie or developed by a team who had no idea of the plot, needless to say its a pretty lame game and an even worse movie adaptation.

The soundtrack is awful we are only given some very simple audio loops or really bad chiptunes of Christmas songs just another another way to rush development and give the game even less originality.

This Christmas watch the movie but do yourself a favour and skip the GBA game!


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Arthur Christmas (2011) Review

From the minds of Aardman animations comes Arthur Christmas a computer animated film about the Christmas family who have forgotten the meaning of Santa.

When one childs gift from Santa is forgotten the youngest family member Arthur takes it upon himself to try and deliver it before sunrise against the wishes of his father Santa Claus and his older brother and head of operations Steve.

He is joined on his journey to Cornwall with his Grand Santa, an old reindeer and wrapping Elf Briony.

The story is very well written with each character having different ideas on what Santa should be and how the story is written does eventually bring them all together in the end, in a perfect moment concluding the mission they realise that only Arthur embodies the true spirit of Santa, its a really beautiful moment and the highlight of the movie.

The characters truly drive this movie and without such an iconic British voice cast I don’t think the film would have been able to portray such realism and emotion in the Claus family.

Steve voiced by Hugh Laurie is next in line to become Santa, he has taken a more modern approach to the holiday by creating the S1 a present delivering Spaceship with GPS and hyper speed, Steve is serious about order and making sure that everything goes to plan, he is somewhat of an antagonist in the film as he is clearly seen as superior to the rest of the family even by Santa himself, Steve wants to be Santa but he doesn’t understand the magic and sees it more as a job. Steve doesn’t want to bring back the missing present because he thinks it isn’t possible or important since all of the other presents got delivered anyway.

Santa Claus is played by Veteran actor Jim Broadbent who was perfect for this role he has a very naturally jolly and gentle voice so just playing himself was the best option and that’s what they went with and it works really well. Santa in this doesn’t want to retire event though his old age is beginning to affect his ability to do the job properly, he is getting forgetful and lets Steve make decisions for him even though technically he is the boss, even agreeing that Steve always knows best when Arthur tells him about the forgotten child.

The best character in the entire movie is definitely Grand Santa he is played by Bill Nighy who won an Annie award for his performance. Grand Santa is the last of the Santa’s to use the traditional method of sleigh and reindeer to deliver presents, he dislikes Steve’s new modern tech and goes along with Arthur only to prove that the old method still works and that he is capable of being Santa after he was put in early retirement for nearly triggering World War 3 .

Arthur voiced by James Mc avoy is the glue that holds the family together, he works in the letters department replying to all of the letters written to Santa, Arthur was the first person to communicate with Gwen who asks for a bicycle, Gwen soon becomes the forgotten child and Arthur knows that if the present isn’t delivered she will no longer believe and will lose out on the magic of Christmas. Arthurs selfless act to deliver the present eventually does bring all of the characters together and fixes the holes in the Claus Family.

Other characters worth mentioning are Mrs Claus (Imelda Staunton) and Bryony Shelfley (Ashley Jenson) Mrs Claus is desperate for Santa to retire so they can spend their last years together and Bryony Shelfey is the Elf who originally finds the forgotten gift, she tags along with Arthur and Grand Santa to make sure it is delivered in time for Christmas morning.

For only their second attempt at a CGI film following on from Flushed Away visually the film still manages to capture all of the charm and simplicity of the character and set designs.

I think what makes the film so special is its portrayal of a family who has lost its connection due to work, in this movie Christmas has become a dividing point for the Claus family, there are arguments for how the job should be done that has managed to cause a massive drift apart between the family members and this is something that isn’t repaired until the finale thanks to Arthur.

In the real world work can take over many peoples lives and can cause neglect, stress and general anxiety and depressions for a lot of families, while this element is very light in this film it was still nice to see this being portrayed in a family film.

Arthur Christmas is one of my absolute favourite Christmas movies of all time it is tons of fun to watch and filled to the brim with classic Aardman British Humour, it has charming animations, an iconic cast and is overall a film to put on every year.

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A Christmas Story (1983) Review

A Christmas Story is far from a classic that I grew up with but over seas in the USA this is considered by many one of the most important and special holiday films by many people, the film is often played on a loop during Christmas Eve Television hours and to this day is still one of the most commercialised holiday films in the United States.

The film was based on an extract of the book “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash” by radio comedian Jean Shepard, Shepard became well known for telling slightly fictionalised story’s from his childhood during 1960’s radio programmes.

One of these programmes discussed a boy getting his tongue stuck to a flagpole this inspired Bob Clark to write and direct the film with a similar moment of a boy Flick getting his tongue stuck to a flagpole becoming one of its most memorable scenes.

The film took place during the late 1940’s and focused on a young boy named Ralphie who is desperately trying to convince his parents and even Santa to get him the brand new Red Ryder BB Gun but everyone tells him “You’ll shoot your eye out kid”.

I think the movie holds such an impact because it is really relatable and nostalgic to a lot of viewers, it can connect with kids who really want that one present and as adults we remember that childhood desperation of getting the gift we wanted, personally I remember day dreaming over the PS2, the Xbox 360 a Birdhouse Skateboard and a puppy, the Christmas day we got our first dog is one of the best memories I ever had, my parents never wanted a dog and put off the idea for years so when he turned up on Christmas Day we were all crying, years of begging paid off and I got my late Labrador Alfie and he was my Red Ryder BB Gun.

The casting for the film is really great but I think props need to be given to the cast who play Ralphie and his family they give a really heartfelt and realistic portrayal of a family which doesn’t rely on stereotypical character types but in fact feels like the average household who will be watching the film.

I think everyone can relate to Ralphie we have all wanted our dream present at one point and in ways we can relate to the parents as adults with the struggles of allowing a dangerous toy into their home and also having to balance the costs and stresses of the holidays while taking care of two young boys, the fussy eating from little brother Randy is also a very real issue for a lot of children and parents.

Some of my favourite scenes in the movie also relate back to moments in my life from being terrified of dodgy mall Santa’s and displaying crappy awards and prizes that I never really cared about but kept because its free and of course getting my tongue stuck on a pole which I recall being extremely painful btw and I do not recommend.

I’m finding it difficult to deep dive too much into this film because I never grew up with it and while it connects with me in someways it has never made it into my regular Christmas movie marathon, I suppose I have never really cared much for a Christmas Story even though I respect it for a lot of it’s qualities and its strange because there isn’t much I dislike about the film if I had to be pick something the day dream segments can be a little bit cringe worthy but again they are very memorable moments in the movie

A Christmas Story may not be one of my personals favourite holiday movies but for a lot of people this is an essential part of the holidays which shouldn’t be missed and if you get the chance why not give it a try to see if you feel the same, the film has left a cultural impact for a reason and is overall a very good film which is well worth a viewing even if it is only once.

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Kingdom Hearts: An ever expanding series

Well I figure that its finally time to start our journey with the Kingdom Hearts video game series. I figure tackling these games in chronological order makes the most sense as the plot gets fairly complicated. I am using the Kingdom hearts the Story so far disc for the PS4 and will cover each game in chronological order explaining the plots (so be aware, there will be spoilers!) and my brief thoughts on each game.

Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover (Movie)

For the Collection they comprised the plot of the Kingdom Hearts mobile games into a feature length CGI film called Kingdom Hearts Back Cover.

The film covers the orgin of the keyblades and the eye that you see throughout the series, the plot of the story is as follows

The Light of the World is guarded by seven warriors who reside in Day Break Town, they use weapons called Keyblades and they work for a leader known as the Master of Masters. He forsees a distant war that will drown the world in eternal darkness.

He gives his disciples unique roles and tells them to create unions with other Keyblade Wielders to help in the battle, not long after this he disappears and his apprentice Ira is left in Charge.

Ira discovers a small cat creature called a Chirithy which suggests that one of the disciples had given into the darkness, In the meantime the disciples are each trying to form alliances with each other, It is later revealed that Gula has a lost page from the book of prophecies written by the Master of Masters, this page confirms that there is a traitor among the disciples, because Gula had the page Aced strikes her down, thankfully Gula is saved from death by Ava, everyone wants to see the page and is turned away until it is later revealed that Gula intends to summon Kingdom Hearts so they can bring the Master back to Day Break Town

Ava tries to prevent this but Gula goes through with the summon and triggers Kingdom Hearts and triggers all of the events before Keyblade War, Ava decides to gather Keyblade warriors and go into hiding naming them the dandelions, Later on in the Keyblade graveyard Luxu is standing with the No Name and a mysterious black box engraved with the phrase “χ Super”, and intones his master’s mantra, “May my heart be my guiding key.

The entire movie has been uploaded to YouTube for your viewing pleasure and I have attached it here so enjoy

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep

Birth by Sleep is a prequel to the events of Kingdom Hearts, it follows three trainee Keyblade warriors who all dream of becoming masters.

Terra (Left) Ventus (Centre) Aqua (Right)

These friends each live in The Land of Departure where they are trained under the Keyblade master Eraqus for many years before Terra and Aqua are able to take the final test before the great master Xehanort to see if they have what it takes to become Keyblade masters. Ventus being too young to take the test instead stands by his friends encouraging them to pass.

The irony of this test is that while all three of these friends become closer while training to pass it, once the test is over it only manages to push them apart, Aqua passes the test but Terra who shows a slither of darkness fails. This darkness is what encourages Xehanort to take Terra on as his personal apprentice to embrace the Darkness. Ventus leaves the Land of Departure to find Terra after he leaves and Aqua now a Keyblade master is giving her first task to spy on Terra in case he turns evil and must return Ventus back to the Land of Departure for his own safety.

The game takes the approach of having five stories Terra, Ventus, Aqua, Final and Secret that all connect together instead of the traditional one singular story.

I have varying opinions on this gameplay style which I will go into after I quickly go over each characters journey

The Disney worlds each character visits are in no particular order

Enchanted Dominion – Sleeping Beauty

Dwarf Woodlands – Snow White

Castle of Dreams – Cinderella

Mysterious Tower – Home of Yen Sid (Wizard from Fantasia)

Radiant Garden (A city and home to Merlin the Wizard and other characters)

Disney Town (Town ruled by Queen Minnie and King Mickey) This is also the minigame world

Deep Space – Lilo and Stich (Before Experiment 626 lands on earth)

Olympus Coliseum – Hercules

Never Land – Peter Pan

Terra journeys with Xehanort with the intent of overcoming his darkness not realising that he is being manipulated to embrace it fully. I really liked his story because he works with the villains of the lands to help them with various schemes mostly playing into the plots of the films.

For example he helps maleficent steal the heart of Princess Aurora while she is sleeping but soon shows remorse, in fact he does end up turning against most of the villains in his story, but because of Xehanort’s influence he cannot escape his fate and ultimately in the end he loses and Xehanort takes over his body in fact this new form for Terra takes ends up being the final battle of the game if you dont count the secret episode.

One very important moment to Terra’s story is when he meets a young boy named Riku on Destiny Islands, he sees something within Riku and gives him his very own Keyblade.

Ventus’s story mainly focussed in him finding Terra and making friends, this is fine but I feel his gameplay is a lot better than his plot. He has some very unique gameplay compared to the other two because he is only character to learn glide (A power granted by Pan which allows you to fly) this makes getting his collectibles very easy but also allows him explore a little better.

He also has a very unique Castle of Dreams stage as he fully remains the size of a mouse and works with Jaq inside of Lady Tremains Manor.

The only really notible thing about his campaign is the reveal of Vantias a fully created embodiment of Ventus’s Darkness which was stripped from him by Xehanort before he was sent to live at the Land of Departure, Vanitas wants to take over Ventus and turn him dark and by the games finale he succeeds and his defeat leaves Ventus in an eternal sleep.

Aqua is the best character in the whole game for may reasons but for me its the fact that she is mage so focusses on magic it mixed up the gameplay for me as I usually just grind to high levels and beat the daylights out of enemies often overlooking the magic systems, I was surprised because I actually really enjoyed the magic system and after a little research I managed to use it to my advantage for powerful and satisfying attacks.

I like her because she has a sense of what’s right and believes in her friends even Terra after he turns Dark, she never gives up on her goals but also doesn’t stop Terra or Ventus when she gets the opportunity. She is technically the main character of the game in fact you play as her in the secret final episode where she wanders the Realm of Darkness seeking an exit back to her world.

Where Terra meets Riku it only makes sense for Aqua to meet her counterpart Kairi who gives her a flower in Radiant Gardens. She does also meet a younger Sora who is the spitting image of Ventus but she doesn’t realise his importance until the reveal in the secret finale.

In the true finale of the game Aqua meets a mysterious hooded man in the Realm of Darkness who tells her of a Hero who has travelled many worlds and slayed many foes. That person is Sora implying that she has been trapped in the Darkness for a very long time in fact I believe this conversation takes place after the events of KH2 and the Hooded man is Ansem the Wise a character we see in BBS briefly in flashbacks but his character and reason for being trapped in the Realm of Darkness is explained later on in the series.

In the world of light Xehanort has amnesia and has taken the form of Dark Terra but is recued by Ansem the Wise (before he is banshied to the Realm of Darkness) and Braig an apprentice of Ansem the Wise who fights Terra and Aqua during their stories.

At the end of the final chapter Aqua finds the Castle of Dreams in the Realm of Darkness and Stares at the castle in Horror before the game ends.

I only one real complaint with Birth Sleep and that is that it gets a little repetitive visiting the same handful of worlds over the three main campaigns but apart from that it was a lot of fun.

I also though the Collectible were great, I enjoyed finding Xehanorts reports which made a good read and the sticker albums were really cute and a nice little distraction from the main plot.

The majority of these games have at least one mini game world which is not fully necessary to complete, in this case its Disney Town, where you can race hovercrafts, play volley ball with fruit, access a giant pinball machine and play a cute ice cream themed music game. In each campaign one of these games has to be played but never all of them each time.

Disney Town also introduces players to Pete a regular villain in the series, at the end of this worlds story he is cast into another dimension by Queen Minnie but is contacted by Maleficent who offers to release him if he works with her. This plot plays into the future titles.

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep 0.2 a Fragmentary Passage

A Fragmentary Passage is often quoted as being a tech demo for Kingdom Hearts 3, it follows Aqua on a ten year journey through the Realm of Darkness as she is starting to let her inner darkness take over.

The game is very simple and extremely short as it is only there to fill in the gaps of Aqua’s story. After finding the Castle of Dreams in the Realm of Darkness Aqua soon discovers all of the other lands from Birth by Sleep, the gameplay has her committing to small tasks like fixing a bridge or defeating her mirror self but the story doesn’t really get interesting until she finds memories of Terra and Ventus.

These memories cause Aqua to see some hope that she has finally found them but also under fears that they too have fallen to the Darkness, after a few stages of chasing them she finally catches up and is able to communicate with Terra, Terra cannot see Ven, they have both partially been taken by Darkness but because Terra’s heart has ties to the darkness his memory can see and communicate with Aqua but for some reason he cannot see Ventus while Aqua can, I think this is because he is mostly Darkness while Aqua and Ventus as mostly made up of good energies, in fact we see that Terra is struggling when Master Xeanhort in his Dark Terra form tries to enter the Realm of Darkness through Terra, Terra only barely manages to fight him off.

After this encounter she meets King Mickey who came to the Realm of Darkness to rescue her, they both travel deeper into the Realm and eventually find the remains of Destiny Island, they find the door to Kingdom Hearts and intend to close it, we are unsure on whether he was successful as Aqua is sent further into the Realm of Darkness but this time feeling more hopeful.

Back in the Mysterious Tower Yen Sid tells Riku and Kairi that Riku is the cause of Aqua falling into the Darkness and didn’t tell Riku because he was concerned that either him or Sora would attempt a futile rescue.

Sora comes into the room later on and is told he failed his test of mastery as Xehanort nearly took over using Sora’s darkness. Because of this Sora, Donald and Goofy head into the Gummy Ship and head to the Olympus Coliseum to seek advice from Hercules who once lost his god like powers and earned them back, the game ends and this ties into Kingdom Hearts 3.

This was a fun little game, it was very short and dark but overall it was worth playing but I dont know if I would do it again, this wasn’t much compared to other games in the series but it was nice to see just how long Aqua has been lost for. from this point on we will be discussing Sora’s journey from the beginning to the end and its good to keep in mind that Aqua has been wandering the Realm of Darkness in search of her friends during the events of the rest of the series.

Kingdom Hearts

Kingdom Hearts is the first chapter in Sora’s journey, it takes place at the exact moment that Mickey meets Aqua in the realm of Darkness, in fact the plot of the game revolves around Donald and Goofy seeking out the Keyblade Master (According to the prophecy this is Sora).

At the same time that Goofy and Donald are sent to Traverse Town, Destiny Island the home to Sora, Riku, Kairi and some other kids is over taken by Darkness.

This is due to the games villain Ansem the Seeker of Darkness, He is the hooded figure that appears to Sora and also he sets up all of the events of the game including Maleficent stealing all seven hearts of the Disney Princesses, of course some of these she had already obtained in BBS so here she is only gathering those which remain.

Riku is taken away by this Dark Power created by Ansem thus leaving Sora to fight the Heartless, he try’s to find save Kairi before she falls through a mysterious door, Sora also falls through and wakes up in Traverse Town where he meets up with Donald and Goofy.

In Traverse Town Sora also meets with Leon (FF8), Yuffie (FF7) and Aeris (FF7) they have also lost their world to the darkness and after realising that Sora is the chosen one they choose to help him with basic uses of the Keyblade to help prepare him for fighting the darkness. Not long after this a small boss fight with a giant Heartless occurs and Sora, Donald and Goofy enter the gummi ship and begin exploring various worlds to find Sora’s friends and the king.

I feel this is a good time to quickly go over the Disney worlds represented in this game, in no particular order we have

Deep Jungle (Tarzan)

Wonderland (Alice and Wonderland)

Monstro (Pinocchio) Inside of the Whale

Olympus Colosseum (Hercules) An area specifically made up of Challenging boss fights and lots of enemies

Atlantica (Little Mermaid)

Halloween Town (Nightmare before Christmas)

Neverland (Peter Pan) On Hooks ship.

Hundred Acre Woods (Winnie the Pooh) The mini game world

Not a Disney world but worth mentioning that Radiant Garden returns with its original name Hollow Bastion.

All of these Disney worlds pretty much follow the story of the movie’s in which they are based on so there isn’t much to go over with them but some of them do stand out to me.

The first notably interesting world is Deep Jungle I really like that along side basic game play this world has some very unique ways of exploration, you can swing from vines and slide down tree trunks, once you beat the world a really fun sliding game is unlocked where you can collect fruits and slide throughout the world of Tarzan.

Monstro is unique because it takes a design that it very complicated and is practically a labyrinth, I can see why people would dislike this world but its one of my favourites because I love Pinocchio and its the first time we really see Riku has been manipulated to turn to the darkness and wants power this is very similar to Terra in BBS.

Atlantica and Halloween Town are worth bringing up because they both change up the design of the main trio, I always like this because it is a lot of fun to see different costumes, I almost wish there was a costume shop in the game so we could try out lots more.

I liked the mini game world here it was better than what BBS gave us but honestly the games were a little bit too simple and easy for my liking, at least it gave us a cute little side story and a very useful XP boosting prize for completing it.

In the game every world you finish closes a keyhole and what a lot of people do not realise is that this does include both Hundred Acre wood and Olympus Colosseum so make sure you do both of these to make the most out of the cutscenes.

There is a boss fight with Hades that is worth beating from a story telling narrative but the Hades Cup in the Colosseum is very challenging and will likely require some time grinding XP.

As you advance towards that final Keyhole in Hollow Bastion you have a handful of very challenging fights, the first against Riku is very memorable because he actually steals your Keyblade leaving you beat him a wooden sword, after this you get your weapon back but the fights continue to get tougher. There is another against Riku before you take on his new master Maleficent, she has two forms and the second is very tough I struggled to beat her at level 50 on standard mode so that should give you an idea on how tough this was.

It’s worth mentioning that the plot with Pete from BBS is not mentioned in this game but he does turn up in later titles.

After closing the final Keyhole its time for our three heroes to enter the End of World and get ready to fight Ansem the Seeker of Darkness.

I highly recommend level grinding XP as much as you can before this fight it has multiple rounds with no breaks in between and even on the standard difficulty it is brutal, I beat the game at level 78 and even then this fight was not a complete breeze.

After beating Ansem, Sora finds the Door to Kingdom Hearts and kills Ansem the Seeker of Darkness with the power of light. King Mickey appears along side Riku who now is back in control of his own body, they help close the door from the inside and lock it with their keyblades both knowing that they may never return and light is brought back to all of the kingdoms. Kairi finally appears at the end but is unfortunately taken back to Destiny Island once the worlds seperate and return to their regular states. but a determined Sora vows to reunite them again.

Sora, Donald and Goofy continue their journey to find the King once again before they are interrupted by Pluto carrying a letter from Mikey, they chase him down ready for their next adventure.

The Secret Ending takes place one year later, a mysterious keyblade wielder finds Riku who demands to know where Sora is. In the Finals Mix version of the game an additional secret ending shows the mysterious figure fighting the Oath Keeper in an epic battle, he finally spots Riku who asks of Sora’s where abouts.

Another Scene then shows this figure approaching Ansem the Wise in the Realm of Darkness in the same area where he met with Aqua previously.

I love this game so much but it isnt perfect, it does definitely feel like the first in the series which is too be expected but for the most part it is great. What I feel falls short here is actually the side content there are a lot of things to do in this game and some of these tasks are very repetetive and boring. Finding the Dalmatians is not too bad but when on top of that to get the best ending you also need to get all of the trinity marks, find and beat every mini game, interact with every character and collect ever single Ansem report it is a lot.

It wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t have to go back to worlds to collect the majority of these, the game doesn’t really guide you very well in what areas you might have missed something, the worlds don’t have a checklist so without a walkthrough its hard to know where to look.

The other complaint I have is the gummy ship segments they are very boring and repetitive but luckily you do get the ability to fast travel to worlds you have already visited later in the game so its not so bad.

Let me reiterate how much I adore this game, I have a lot of Nostalgia for it but it is hard to look past the few problems I feel it does have. I truly believe this is a must play game for anyone and is the KH game I recommend playing first if you’ve never played the series. It has a great story and gives a good example of what type of commitment is expected to fully enjoy the series.

Kingdom Hearts : Chain of Memories

Originally a Gameboy advance title, Chain of Memories was remade into a 3D action RPG for the PS2 and that is the version I am talking about here.

So this going to be short because I didn’t manage to finish this one, I couldn’t get used to the battle system and even on beginner mode I really struggled with it which is embarrassing to admit but I do need to be honest.

I know a little bit about how the game works so I will show that but from a plot summary I think I’m going to get some help with this one.

In the game you have a card deck which you build using different types such as magic, summons, attacks etc, then in the usual Kingdom Hearts style you can endlessly defeat enemies to gain XP but difference here is you need to attack in the order of your deck so for example ATTACK, ATTACK, FIRE MAGIC, GENIE SUMMON, SIMBA SUMMON, ATTACK, HEAL might be in that order in the deck so you will have to use those cards in that exact order. This means that during boss fights you might need to change the deck order about a bit, this is what I couldn’t understand, this is likely because I have only just managed to wrap my head around turn based RPG’s so I’m not exactly a strategic gamer.

When you level up you have to pick either health increase, card point increase (allows more cards in your deck) or sleights (Combining cards to do heavy hitting attacks).

And thats about all I got from this game, I really did not like the battle system, for me it was frustrating, it made me genuinely quite depressed and I really didn’t have the motivation to keep playing it.

I have seen the remaining cutscenes on YouTube but I wont try to write a plot summary myself and I cant guarantee it will be right as I didn’t fully experience the game. I will say though that for the games in this collection that are only cutscenes, I will be writing the summaries for myself as there is no gameplay involved at all !

This is a plot summary from Wikipedia, it seems accurate that it lines up well with the cutscenes I have seen so I will let you read this and we can move onto Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 days which I promise will have as good of an effort put into as I did the first Kingdom Hearts game.

Chain of Memories Plot Summary

Sora, Donald, Goofy, and Jiminy Cricket walk down a winding path in search of Riku and King Mickey. A man dressed in a black, hooded coat appears and directs Sora towards a massive fortress called Castle Oblivion.[10] Upon entering, the travelers realize that they have forgotten all their abilities.[16] The hooded man explains that the deeper they go into the castle, the more memories they will lose, but they will also uncover new memories in the process.[20] He creates a deck of cards made from Sora’s and his friends’ memories, and tells them that everything they encounter in this castle will be based on their memories.[6]

Sora ascends the castle, facing off against other hooded figures who form a group called “the Organization” along the way. As Sora loses his memories, he gradually appears to remember a girl named Naminé as an old friend of his, and learns from Organization member Larxene that she is being held prisoner in the castle.[21] He also clashes with a replica of Riku created and controlled by another Organization member, Vexen, and believed by both Sora and the replica himself to be the real Riku. Axel, an Organization double agent, releases Naminé and allows her to meet Sora in person. Sora discovers Naminé to be the one manipulating his memories, having been forced to do so by Marluxia, the lord of Castle Oblivion and the figure who lured Sora there, as part of his plan to overthrow the rest of the Organization with Larxene.[22] Sora climbs to the highest floor and defeats Marluxia, after which Naminé puts Sora and his friends into pod-like machines to help them regain the memories they have lost, even though they will forget the events that transpired in the castle.[23] Before they are put to sleep, Sora and Naminé promise to meet again as real friends once he reawakens, Sora firmly believing that his memories of her and the castle will remain in his heart despite being forgotten.[24]

In Reverse/Rebirth, which occurs congruently with the game’s main story, Riku is transported from the realm of darkness to Castle Oblivion’s deepest basement, and he fights figments of previous enemies to combat his inner darkness as he climbs upwards. Vexen fights Riku to obtain his data and creates his replica to counter Marluxia’s plan. Ansem, still possessing Riku’s body, tries to regain control of Riku, but Mickey’s power keeps Ansem at bay.[25] On the way, Riku battles and defeats Lexaeus, a member of Vexen’s circle, only to be dragged into the realm of darkness. However, he is saved by Mickey when Ansem nearly succeeds in taking Riku’s body as his own. With Marluxia eliminated by this time, another of Vexen’s allies, Zexion, attempts to dispose of Riku by drowning him in light. Riku is saved by Naminé disguised as Kairi, who helps him to control his darkness, allowing him to defeat Zexion. Riku later meets DiZ, an enigmatic individual interested in Riku who sends him to find Naminé.[26] Riku’s replica, who has since learned of his altered memories, seeks to justify his existence by killing Riku, only to be destroyed by him. Riku chooses to face Ansem upon learning from Naminé that Ansem lives in his heart, and defeats him after DiZ summons him for Riku to fight. Riku then sets out on a journey to utilize both his darkness and his light with Mickey as his companion.[27]

Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days

Unfortunately the Story so Far disc I used only has the cutscenes for this game as well as some text to help fill the players in with the plot, from what I understand this is often considered one of the weaker games in the series so maybe having just the cutscenes wasn’t such a bad thing. I am going to go over the major plot points and briefly cover my thoughts on the new characters and their relationships.

This game takes place at the same time as Chain of Memories, I know this because the plot of that game is talked about in a present tense with characters disappearing because they are working to stop Sora on his journey.

This is Roxas, he was chosen by Xemas the organisations leader to become the 13th member, his job as a Keyblade wielder is to go to various worlds and defeat the heartless to collect hearts, once the members collect enough of these hearts they should be able to create Kingdom Hearts.

The worlds in the game are the same as in both Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, obviously by not playing the game I cannot comment on what the gameplay was like but I must say revisiting these same Disney Worlds is feeling a little old now and I really hope the next game gives us something new !

Roxas is put under training by a Keyblade master called Axel, when Axel is later on sent to Castle oblivion for missions Roxas makes friends with the fourteenth organisation member a young girl named Xion and later on helps her recover her Keyblade after she loses the ability to summon it.

I really love the relationship these three have, the way the friendship was written comes across as very genuine and watching them can be heartwarming at times.

also I really want some of that Sea Salt Ice Cream it looks so good !

Roxas and Xion have a lot in common, they both do not remember their lives before becoming members of the organisation and both of them end up in comas during the game and have visions of Sora’s memories.

Xion keeps going into coma’s and seeing Sora’s memories, this triggers her to break into Castle Oblivion and find out more about herself, Axel tries to stop her but she soon discovers that she is an artificial replica of Roxas in case he ever becomes useless, Roxas was born when Sora sacrificed his heart to save Kairi meaning that he is Sora’s nobody a vessel of a person which is created when they fall to darkness. Xion was created to absorb those memories from Roxas and prevent Sora from ever getting them back.

Xion goes missing for a long time after she makes the discovery of her origins

Roxas and Axel finally discover Xion in Traverse Town where she refuses to go home with Roxas and puts her Keyblade to him, Axel comes out and fights Xion and defeats her they both disappear leaving Roxas alone.

The three friends remain distant after this awkward encounter and hardly speak to one another. Xion is restored and Axel does at one point try to be friends with Roxas but a distrust has grown between all three of them.

Sometime after these events Namine, Kairi’s nobody explains to Diz that Sora’s memories have stopped and if they are not returned he will never wake up from his slumber.

Roxas and Xion begin hanging out again but Axel is nowhere to be seen, Roxas begins having coma’s and becoming weaker when using the Keyblade a role reversal of what was happening to Xion previously, Xion also becomes stronger at the same time which confuses the two of them.

Axel later informs Xion that she is robbing Roxas of his powers making her the more useful vessel.

Xion is taken to Destiny Island by a much older Riku than we have seen previously, his eyes are covered for reasons unexplained and he tells Xion the harsh truth that Sora cannot wake up while she is alive and allows her time think about giving her self up to save Sora.

Meanwhile the organisation secretly sets up a fight to the death between Xion and Roxas but luckily Axel stops the fight and informs them of everything and the three become good friends again and all three consider leaving the organisation.

Xion ultimately decides to leave seeking more answers, Axel stood back and watched her leave the organisation which angers Roxas after being confronted Axel decides to tell Roxas of the truth behind Xion’s purpose and that she needs to be destroyed.

Axel is told that he has no choice but to bring Xion back otherwise he will be completely destroyed, Roxas asks that he atleast not hurt her.

In an unknown realm Riku meets up with King Mickey to inform the King of how the mission to wake Sora is going, Riku has been trying to overcome the influence of his darkness and is worried that one day the darkness might take over him again.

Roxas leaves the organisation in search of Xion, this hurts Axel who truly wants the two of them to remain the best of friends. Xion has gone to speak to Namine who informs her that she is an embodiment of Sora’s memories of Kairi, Xion accepts that these memories are not her own and decides to sacrifice herself to wake Sora.

Axel against his better judgement finds Xion and begs her not to sacrifice her self but she refuses causing the two of them to fight and again Axel winning. After he brings her body back and she wakes up again her heart is still set on her sacrifice so she goes to say goodbye to Roxas and there and then she fully accepts her fate and merges with Sora, her body dying so she can restore his memories of Kairi.

After Xion is gone Roxas goes to find Sora to get Xion back, he ends up fighting Riku who wants to protect Sora, this is an extended version of the fight we see in the secret ending of Kingdom Hearts.

Riku has to accept the darkness within him in order to defeat Roxas, unfortunately this also transforms Riku into Xehanort’s heartless form Ansem it seems a villainous thing to do but deep down we all know that Sora has to be awakened in the end no matter the cost.

Roxas is put into a virtual version of Twilight Town with no memories of his time with the organisation waiting for when he is ready to be merged with Sora, finally awakening him

A bitter sweet ending to say the least but it does make a lot more sense to the beginning of Kingdom Hearts 2 which really confused me when that game originally came out, That games next and I cannot wait !

Kingdom Hearts 2

Kingdom hearts 2 takes place one year after the events of Kingdom Hearts and actually begins with players taking control of Roxas (Sora’s nobody) in the Simulation of Twilight Town.

This part of the game has a very eerie vibe especially if you know the story before this game takes place, this whole section is very sweet in the sense that you get to see this small friendship group hang out and all have a great connection, it has a really good feel to it, I really enjoyed going on the train adventure, skateboarding around the town, doing chores to make money and just watching them bond over Sea Salt ice creams. It just makes it even sadder when you know that none of this is real and is a virtual reality.

After having visions of Sora in his sleep, Roxas seeks answers which leads him to the creepy abandoned mansion in Twilight Town, here he meets Namine (Kairi’s nobody) who informs him that he is a nobody, Roxas has no memories of anyone from 358/2 days so he doesn’t remember Namine, he even is confronted by Axel but he has forgotten him as well.

When the time finally comes to wake Sora, Roxas is confronted by a man names Diz who takes him to the sleeping pods of Sora, Donald and Goofy and its here that he forms with Sora and wakes him triggering the next chapter in Sora’s storyline.

After waking up Sora, Donald and Goofy continue the search for Riku and King Mickey, they meet the old friends of Roxas who don’t mention him or even make reference, its quite sad really because deep down I do wish Roxas was real but I understand why he existed and his purpose in the story as a whole.

After meeting Yen Sid, Sora and the gang are informed that they need to go on another mission, this time to try and stop the increase of nobodies and heartless and prevent the plans of Organisation 13. Here they also have their first run in with Pete who is now finally working for Maleficent after she freed him from the dimension he was banished too.

Pete’s role in this game is more of a henchman than a villain, he does Maleficents evil bidding and often turns up in the other words following Sora on his quest, he tends to work with the other villains in an attempt to prevent Sora from reaching his goal. It is cool to see Pete take different forms in certain worlds but apart from that I thought he was quite forgetful and it never felt like he needed to be in the game as I think it would have worked just as well without him.

Drive forms are new here and they are given to Sora by the three fairies of Sleeping Beauty, they allow him to temporarily gain new abilities while sacrificing some others, for example on form may increase strength while weakening magic, another might increase magic while weakening defence and so forth. There are six forms you can unlock in the game and all of these can be leveled up the more you use them. Honestly I hardly used these at all as I found this game to be the easiest so far, during my standard playthrough I only died once and I never really needed to grind for XP.

This is one of the first games where I didn’t really enjoy the side content, the coliseum was cool and I really liked that the missions had different rules, such as only Sora, or unlimited drives etc but the collectibles sucked here, the issue for me was with puzzle pieces a lot required glide and the only you can get that is to hope you unlock final form at the end of the game and to then get glide as an ability you needed to grind that final form to level 3. I understand that for some this is ok but personally I didn’t really see the benefit because even the “Secret ending” by finishing Jiminy’s journal is just a teaser and glorified trailer for Birth By Sleep, a game I have already and played through because I did these in Chronological order which was my choice but still for me this secret ending just wasn’t really worth working towards especially when the collectibles required so much effort to even collect.

Ok put your pitchforks down, I know I’m complaining about everyone’s favourite Kingdom Hearts game but this is is just my opinion and the rest of the game I really enjoyed so lets swiftly move onto the best part of this entry the worlds (which I only dislike a few of…sorry)

The Disney Worlds represented in Kingdom Hearts 2 are as follows

Land of Dragons (Mulan)

Beast’s Castle (Beauty and the Beast)

Olympus Coliseum (Hercules)

Disney Castle (The home of King Mickey)

Timeless River (Classic Disney Cartoons – Steamboat Willie era)

Halloween Town (Nightmare Before Christmas)

100 Acre Woods (Mini game world)

Atlantis (Music based world)

Agrabah (Aladdin)

Port Royal (Pirates of the Carribean)

Pride Rock (The Lion King)

Space Paranoids (Tron)

It is getting a little tiring revisiting areas we have seen over and over again but thankfully some major changes were made to the Olympus Coliseum, previously we could only slightly explore the outside with the main purpose of the world being the cups. In this game we get a full storyline taking place in the Underworld and as mentioned previously the Cups here are a lot more fun because they implement different rules.

I also really enjoyed that Halloween Town now adds Christmas Town, it really helps to mix up the scenery in what is a fairly dark area of the game, also the Christmas outfits are so cute !

Disney Castle was a part of the first game that I always wanted to explore so I was really happy when they added it here, it doesn’t really serve too many story purposes but it is a fun place to find secrets and later on in the game is a good area to gain some levels if you need them

Timeless River is amazing ! This world based on the old Disney shorts is incredible I love that they used the old original designs for Donald and Goofy and I also really like that while primarily based on Steamboat Willie there are levels inside of the world which are a homage to 1930’s style animation. My only complaint is Sora’s designs here I think they should have made him an animal because what they did to him is a bit too Playmobile for my liking.

The 100 Acre Woods is a much better designed in this game, Pooh has lost his memory and doesn’t remember any of his friends, Sora helps him by completing Mini games and here they are all really fun, my favourite was an on rails reaction based game where you had to race through various seasons and areas from the Winnie Pooh cartoons.

There are only two worlds in this game that I dislike, the Pirates of the Caribbean area isn’t very interesting, its good that they show many different areas but they all look very similar and it is quite boring, the voice acting here is also really bad I understand it may have been difficult to get the actual actors but someone who can imitate the voices would have been fine or they could have just used audio clips from the movies since Disney owns those properties.

I cant talk about Kingdom Hearts 2 without discussing the abysmal Atlantis segment, for whatever reason the developers wanted to add a music based world to the game where players have to press buttons in time to the music of the Little Mermaid and original songs. This is really bizarre compared to the rest of the game and its just nothing to get excited about, mini game worlds like the 100 acre wood are fun because they are a nice break from the action packed rest of the game but also follow the games narrative, there is always a serious problem to solve and you want to see it resolved.

The problem here is that there is no issue really apart from Ariel wants to be human but this area acts like the rest of the game isn’t happening, The heartless didn’t attack Atlantis this time and when King Triton asks Sora if there is still a threat he says no almost like this is trying to be a different game entirely, I don’t know a single person who likes this part of the game and now that I have played it I can see why.

After saving all the worlds, surviving an onslaught of nobodies only one member of Organisation 13 remains. Xemnas was surprisingly very easy for a final boss compared to the others we have faced so far. I beat him level 70 with very little issue. He has some pretty cool forms but compared to that Ansem fight in Kingdom Hearts this one just doesn’t compare. The part where you take over Riku while he is slowly killing Sora was different and really caught me off guard, trying to figure out how to save Sora nearly had me killed during the fight so I will give them props for that.

After finally killing Xemnas Sora and Riku unite closing Kingdom Hearts and are both returned to Destiny Islands where they meet Donald, Goofy and Kairi, Donald and Goofy return to the castle but Sora and crew take a well deserved break before receiving a letter from King Mickey which we don’t get to see ….yet

As I mentioned earlier the secret endings are both a teaser and a trailer for Birth By Sleep so we wont discuss those as they don’t hold any important plot details I haven’t already covered so far.

Kingdom Hearts 2 is a really great game and while I do prefer the original this is clearly a much better title, I didn’t like the collectibles in this one and Atlantis really sucks but apart from that this is a really good time and is a much better experience when you play this series in chronological order. I really appreciated that it added a lot of new worlds and revamped some of the older ones to mix it up a bit.

This is the best game in the series I have played so far so I really hope the next few games hold up just as well.

Kingdom Hearts Re-Coded

Another collection of cutscenes here, so I will try my best to explain the plot of the game

A mysterious message has appeared in one of Jiminy Crickets journals, the message reads “Their hurting will be mended when you return to end it”.

He takes the message to King Mickey who uses the journals to create a digital world and a digital version of Sora.

He guides this Sora on a journey to Destiny Islands to ask questions and find out who is hurting.

While on the islands he finds the secret place from the first KH, here he meets a mysterious figure in a black hood resembling Organisation 13. The figure seems to be giving Sora riddles as a means of guiding him towards something but he soon disappears

After a fight with a giant heartless Sora is blown away from Destiny Islands and ends up in Traverse town triggering the events with Pluto from the first game, however back on Destiny Islands a small scene with Riku and a hooded figure in gold garments is shown, which surprises everyone in the real world as this was never written in Jiminy’s journal as they never previously witnessed this moment.

After sealing the keyhole and helping Hewey, Dewey and Louie in Traverse Town, Sora continues to follow the hooded man to the next world, in the mean time back at the real world, Disney Castle is being over run with heartless.

After dealing with the heartless King Mickey and the gang continue to watch Sora in the digital world as he travels across the same kingdoms from KH1, in each world he helps solve the mystery of small problems and unlocks the keyholes. Each world he saves unlocks a new message in the journals.

Back in Disney Castle the digital version of Sora turns up shortly followed by the hooded figure who reveals themself to be the digital version of Riku, Riku explains that they are all now inside of the digital world and that his data body represents Jiminy’s journal.

After this revelation Sora is sent to continue his mission to clear all of the worlds and complete the journal .

After saving Cloud in Olympus Coliseum Pete from the real world turns up to cause trouble before quickly running off after declaring that he wants to take over the digital world.

After defeating Jafar in the cave of Wonders Maleficent finally shows up with Pete, she destroys Sora’s Key blade and kidnaps Riku taking him back to the Darkness, this leaves Sora no choice but to continue without a weapon until King Mickey can return to the real Disney Castle and program a new Key-blade into the digital world.

The final world that needs saving is Hollow Bastion and against King Mickeys orders Sora goes there to fight Pete with out use of the Keyblade, Donald and Goofy eventually turn up as well offering to help him in his battle.

Halfway through the fight Donald and Goofy are trapped by data bugs and through the power of heart and friendship he manages to summon the real Key-blade and with this new power Sora chases after to Pete and defeats him but unfortunately Pete has had an ace up his sleeve the whole time!

In a rather messed up turn of events Pete has managed to gain access to Riku’s data and has been mixing the Bugs into it. This has made Riku go back down his path of Darkness wanting to kill Sora, Sora of course defeats him for now and accesses Riku’s Datascape to deal with the problems from the inside.

After travelling through Riku’s memory’s and defeating the data bugs, Sora is faced against Data versions of Pete and Maleficent in Hollow Bastion, He defeats them and makes the brave decision to rescue the real Pete and Maleficent from the Datascape before completing the journal.

He finds them both about to be attacked by Sora’s Heartless, Sora encourages the evil duo to leave while he fights the monster himself, only Pete really wants to leave however they are both forced to disappear by the heartless anyway.

The real Pete and Maleficent were pulled out into the real world through a data rift, after they have been rescued King Mickey erases the journal and wiping the memories of everything in the datascape


A new door has opened in the Datascape, King Mickey goes back inside to help Data Sora get his memories back, he does this by leading him back to Castle Oblivion

He is taken to a room of memories by a member of Organisation 13, he is shown memories from the journal including places hes been and the people he has spoken too, Riku soon shows up and shows Sora a memory of Kairi to remind him of real world Sora’s journey in the first Kingdom Hearts game.

After this Sora encounters the hooded figure again who monologues about how nothing is real and that everything is packets of data and has no heart.

This is proven wrong when Sora feels sadness at not remembering the friends he meets, he begins to feel emotional which is a characteristic of the real world Sora.

Sora nearly gives up not wanting anymore pain due to forgetting everyone he meets but has his mind changed when King Mickey sends memories of Donald and Goofy to him reminding him of their close friendship.

Data Sora and King Mickey travel through one final door where they meet Data Namine, she reveals that it was her who put the bugs in the journal and added the mysterious messages, the bugs were a side effect of her trying to restore Sora’s memories.

She gives Data Sora all of real world Sora’s memories including those in which hides the deepest secrets within the recesses of his mind, memories he doesn’t want to remember and ones he is beginning to forget, this includes memories of people Sora never met but who are connected to him including Aqua, Ventus and Terra, she showed them this so that King Mickey could tell real world Sora who he needs to help.

This is also the meaning behind the “Thank Namine” message

After this revelation from Namine, King Mickey writes a letter to Sora explaining everything to him, preparing Sora, Riku and Kairi for the events that lie ahead and telling Sora about the adventures of Aqua, Ventus and Terra who he will need to save.

In the secret ending Yen Sid inform King Mickey of the return of Xehanort now that his two halves (Ansem and Xemnus) have been defeated, this gives him the idea of putting Riku and Sora through the Mark of Mastery exam to become true Keyblade masters.

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance

Due to revival of Xehanort, Sora and Riku are put through the Mark of Mastery exam to become full Keyblade Masters which would allow them to achieve complete power to prevent Xehanort’s return. The two are separated as part of the exam and sent to worlds previously affected by the heartless which need awakening from a Deep Sleep.

Surprisingly considering that these are worlds once affected by Heartless apart from two these are all new worlds that we haven’t seen in the franchise yet and one of these is even from a direct to video movie

In no particular order the worlds we can play in Dream Drop Distance are

Traverse town

Symphony of Sorcery (Fantasia)

La Cite de Cloches (Hunchback of Notre Dame)

The Grid (Tron)

Pranksters Paradise / Monstro (Pinocchio)

The Country of the Musketeers (The Three Musketeers)

For all of the new franchises this game uses the majority of the worlds feel very empty and they dont feel very alive, the only characters we see are the ones used for story telling, Tron makes sense as that worlds is meant to feel lonely but the Hunchback of Notre Dame could have really used some more NPC’s because between areas you are just running down empty streets and I think that by adding just a few background characters the worlds in the game would feel so much more alive.

The other Kingdom Hearts games don’t use lots of background characters but the ones they do use make those games feel more like you are in the movie than just running between scenes.

There are two worlds in the game that I really appreciate and enjoyed, the first was the Country of the Musketeers based on the direct to video movie “The Three Musketeers”.

I think it is a really great that they included this very underrated film to the Kingdom Hearts Franchise and this is actually a pretty fun level in the game, the use of Mickey, Donald and Goofy was nice as your usual two companions do not join you in your Mark of Mastery Exam, also the areas of this world are very cartoony as to fit in with the themes of movie and they are all very good, there is even a really unique boss fight with Captain Pete near the end.

Symphony of Sorcery based on the Fantasia shorts was a really surprising choice and I must say it is absolutely gorgeous and the areas change seasons and have different elemental obstacles such as the wind carrying you through autumn and sliding across the ice throughout winter. They even used the music from the Fantasia movie and it sounds really good in this game, its very relaxing and a nice change of pace to the action packed tracks we have gotten used too.

The gameplay has some major changes in this one and I really appreciated the new gameplay elements, first of all you get to play as both Sora and Riku who both play simultaneous campaigns throughout the same worlds, before each level you have to commit to a dive a short minigame where you are free falling and need to complete a goal such as collecting a set number of points, killing a number enemies or beating a mini boss before you can enter each world. These are genuinely really fun to keep replaying and trying to get better scores.

Dream creatures can be created from recipes or by combining spirit pieces and there is a nice collection that can be obtained, you can raise the creatures by petting them, playing some basic mini games and feeding them treats. Once you assign them to your party they will protect you and help with fighting the other Dream creature enemies that have bombarded the games worlds.

You can upgrade your dream buddies using ability link graphs by spending points you collect, I completed all of these for the spirits I did have and I didn’t really see too much difference in how they performed as I did most of the battle work myself.

There are no coliseum matches in this game but a new style of minigame was added where you can battle your various Dream creatures, this is a very similar system to Chain of memories where you can use a card deck to combine numbers for high damage or as good defense. I played a fair bit of this but I couldn’t get into too much as the gameplay style wasn’t all too enjoyable for me personally but considering I didn’t enjoy Chain of Memories this is not surprising.

After waking all of the sleeping worlds, Sora and Riku head to the The World that Never Was, Sora is greeted by a younger version of Xemnas who reveals that Sora has been lured into a trap.

Sora fights Xemnas and sucessfully defeats him however his heart is swallowed by Darkness and placed into Ventus’s armour from Birth by Sleep.

After these events it is revealed that Riku has been exploring Sora’s dreams as a Dream Eater and has actually been fighting the darkness that is within Sora’s heart.

At the end his story Riku fights Ansem and successfully defeats him only to be confronted by a younger Xehanort who is setting up Organisation 13 and wants Sora as the final member which would completely erase all of the events of KH 1 and the rest of the series.

Thankfully King Mickey freezes time to help Riku defeat young Xehanort, Riku is unsucessful in this but luckily Lea, Axels somebody recues Sora’s body and brings it to the Mysterious Tower.

Back here Riku decides to risk his own life by entering Sora’s Dreams again and fights Ventus Armour and wins releasing Sora’s Heart and finally waking him up.

Back at the tower both contenders are congratulated for their efforts but only Riku is crowned Keyblade master as Sora showed weakness towards the darkness, he is not too upset though and is happy for Riku and chooses to return to the sleeping worlds to see his Dream Companions again.

In the secret ending of the game Yen Sid is telling King Mickey of his plan to gather seven Keyblade warriors to help prevent Xehanort from using the Princesses of Heart to forge the X-blade.

He sends Riku to collect to someone and when he returns he is very confused as to why this person was chosen to be trained as a Keyblade warrior.

This person just so happens to be Kairi.

Dream Drop Distance really surprised me because I had never heard many good things said about it but I really enjoyed this one. Yes the worlds feel a little empty but apart from that the gameplay changes are a nice touch and the high focus on Riku was much appreciated.

Because I played these in chronological order I knew that Sora was going to fail his Mark of Mastery exam but I never expected him to show weakness to Darkness and have to Rescued by Riku which really goes to who how much Riku’s character has grown since his early debut’s in the series.

It was also really nice to see Kairi getting a more important role even if it was right at the end I am looking forward to seeing what they do with her in KH 3 as well as what they do with Sora’s journey now that he has shown connections with the darkness.

Kingdom Hearts 3

Not long after the events of Dream Drop Distance Master Xehanort is almost ready to start the second Key-blade war, Keyblade Masters Riku and King Mickey dive into the depths of Darkness to find and rescue Aqua, a challenge which is much harder than they anticipated even having a set of their own Key-blades destroyed in the process.

Kairi and Lea are training as Keyblade wielders hoping to gain enough skill and technique that they can defend their friends in the final battle.

Sora has perhaps been given the most important mission of all, he lost all of his strength and abilities when he succumb to darkness and now he needs to help save other worlds to regain his powers and re-obtain the power of awakening which he is to use on Venus finally releasing him from his eternal slumber.

The gummy ship segments from KH 1 and 2 return to this third main installment and I quite enjoyed them here, instead of the linear on rails segments which were quite boring before now we get full control of our ship and can explore space to our hearts desire, I will be honest there isn’t a whole lot to discover minus some treasure safes, warp locations and air shooting boss battles but it is a vast improvement to what he had before, I think with some secret areas, paths and more emphasis to explore this could have been great fun and I hope this idea is expanded upon in future entries.

The Disney World Represented in KH 3 are

Olympus (Hercules)

Toy Box (Toy Story)

Monstropolis (Monsters Inc)

The Kingdom of Corona (Tangled)

Arendelle (Frozen)

The Carribean

San Fransokyo (Big Hero 6)

100 Acre Wood (Mini Game World)

Most of the worlds are great and a few stand out to me as being my personal favourites, first of all Olympus is now a fully explorable world with a story and they got rid of the tournaments in exchange for this, it is way better than its ever been and genuinely a really cool place to explore as most of it is in clouds, the underworld doesn’t return but this is welcome as we did get to fully experience that in KH2 and we really did not need to see it a second time. It should also be noted that this is the first introduction to Maleficent and Pete’s quest to find a mysterious black box in the game, a mission that they try to complete in almost all of the worlds without much luck.

Toy Box is easily my favourite world in the entire game because it is really creative from start to finish, Andy’s Room while small is filled with Pixar Easter Eggs and imagery from the movies, you can then explore the outside neighbourhood before moving onto the best part a three story shopping mall with various shops to explore and mini bosses to defeat.

There is a even a massive boss fight which takes place in a vast toy set at the end mimicking those opening cinematics from the Toy Story Movies, this might just be the best world they have ever done and I think they are really going to struggle topping this.

The Caribbean has had some major improvements, they fixed the voice acting and now it sounds much better, it is still obvious that this is not the original voice cast but it is passable, we can now also drive a boat freely across the seas allowing us to discover multiple small islands each with secrets, some the islands are not even part of the story and if you want all of the collectables discovering them is a must.

There are only worlds that I wasn’t very fond of in the game, the first is Sanfransokyo I found this one way too short and not very interesting to explore, a lot of the buildings look the same which made the collectibles frustrating to track down, I will admit that the Day and Night cycles were unique but apart from that this one was just a little boring for me.

The worst part of the game has got to be the Hundred Acre Wood, they completely ruined it here by giving it a really short story with no threat whatsoever, they did the same mini game three times in a row with very little changes which is extremely lazy and pointless, they would have been better leaving this out, I get that they did add mini games to other worlds such as Toy Box, Corona and Arendelle but that is no excuse to do this area so dirty considering that it has much more importance in KH 1 + KH2

There are 90 Mickey shapes to find and photograph throughout the game, these are a reference to the Hidden Mickeys of the Disney Theme parks, another reference would be the special moves which represent certain rides including the tea cups, splash mountain, Buzz Lightyears Space Rangers Spin and so on

The best collectibles are the Classic Kingdom Games , there are 24 in the game to find and each one has a small mini game you can play in the style of an LCD game mirroring those from Tiger Electronics and other similar companies from back in the day, the games themselves are pretty forgettable and don’t offer too much replay value but they are pretty cool to collect and are harmless ways to pass time.

After Aqua is rescued Sora finally manages to wake up Ventus and after a quick battle with Venitus the seven guardians of Light (Sora, Riku, Kairi, Ventus, Lea, Mickey and Aqua) head to the Keyblade graveyard to take on the vessels of organisation 13 and Master Xehanort, at first they are unsuccessful and Darkness controlled by a possessed Terra takes over leaving all of our character without a heart, Sora is killed and sent to Limbo (referred to as the Final World in KH lore) where he is a given a second chance to rescue his friends and reverse time giving the heroes one last attempt to win.

Upon returning Sora makes sure that he doesnt let the Darkness takeover and the guardians manage to defeat 12 of the Organisation members leaving only Xehanort left.

Knowing that Light and Darkness need to clash to form the X blade and trigger Kingdom Hearts, Xehanort does the unspeakable to enrage Sora, he cold heartedly, murders Kairi, this enrages everyone but only Sora, Donald and Goofy go into the final battle, the fight has three stages and is genuinely very challenging which is a step up from KH 2.

After the lengthy Battle Xehanort is dying and once the guardians return to Sora it is revealed to Xehanort that Master Eraqus had merged hearts with Terra upon his death in Birth By Sleep, he shows Xehanort a memory of their childhood where he promised to always support Eraqus, this triggers Xehanort to give up the X-blade to Sora and he dies finally giving up his own Darkness.

With the Keyblade war finally over most of our heroes go home but Sora decides to return to Limbo and re-awaken Kairi after being warned that such use of his power by waking the dead, he himself could lose his heart. At the end of the game we see all of the guardians of light including Donald and Goofy on Destiny Island, they spot Sora and Kairi sat on the big tree before Kairi sheds a single tear and Sora’s body fades away.

This officially closes the Dark Seeker saga of Kingdom Hearts

In a post credits sequence we are shown a mysterious hooded figure guarding the Black box Maleficent and Pete were looking for throughout the game, this figure reveals himself to be Luxu and his new identity being non other than Xigbar a member of organisation 13 who survived the Keyblade war, we see Maleficent and Pete watching this from a distance before we cut to black.

The Secret ending of the game shows Sora waking up in the world from the game The World Ends with You, this perhaps this shows that he has been banished to another dimension or this is another way that KH is representing the Afterlife considering those games have a lot to do with Death?

Riku is next seen in the video game of Verum Rex (A minigame in the Toy Box world) we see that games protagonist watching Riku and a Mysterious hooded figure in Organisation garbs is spotted staring at the moon making a heart shape with his hands.

Kingdom Hearts 3 was pretty fantastic and easily one of my favourite games in the series, I love that we see more modern Disney films getting some love and Pixar too, I thought the collectibles were the best have ever had especially considering that some of them even give you fun little games to play and minus the the two worlds I didn’t like this was almost perfect.

With this being a conclusion of the Dark Seekers Saga which began with Birth By Sleep there was a lot of storylines to tie together and a big issue this has is a lot of cutscenes between the gameplay, it can be a lot to take in at times and upon a second or third playthrough I feel like it may be a bit much, the game is 30 hours long and over 10 hours of that is cinematics.

I have already talked about the two worlds I disliked so I wont do that again, my final complaint is that apart from the final boss the game is way too easy, I understand that this was made so that new players can start with this game but I really hope this simple gameplay is not going to be the standard with the series going forward otherwise I may just need to start playing on the proud difficulty setting.

Other than that I don’t understand why people dislike this game, I feel it has the same vibes as its predecessors and does a great job of concluding the storyline and introducing its new worlds and characters, I still prefer KH2 but this is definitely in my top 5 games in the series so far.

Kingdom Hearts 3: Remind DLC

For the first time ever we get KH DLC and Im going to completely honest here, I didn’t purchase or play this as its very expensive for what you actually get, however the plot points are important to the series, I have copied this plot sypnosis from the website

It is very well written and easy to understand without actually playing it, I might actually play this one day and if I do I will update this but for now here is the plot to the KH3 Remind DLC

The titular scenario centers around Sora’s rescue effort of Kairi. Assuming an incorporeal form, Sora travels back in time to the battle between the guardians of light and the Organization, traveling through the guardians’ hearts to reach Kairi.

After passing through the hearts of Ventus, Aqua, Terra, and Roxas, Sora enters his past self’s heart and tries to avert Kairi’s fate, but fails. However, Mickey reveals to Sora that Xehanort has hidden the crystal fragments of Kairi’s heart as a last resort.

Sora finds five fragments in Scala ad Caelum before his past self’s final battle with Xehanort, and then traces the remaining two through Riku and Mickey’s hearts during the guardians’ battle against Xehanort’s replicas, restoring Kairi.

After defeating Xehanort’s merged replicas, Sora and Kairi travel to the Final World to meet Chirithy, whom Sora persuades to return to the realm of light. Sora and Kairi then visit their friends’ worlds—reuniting Chirithy with its owner, Ventus, and restoring Naminé’s heart—before returning to the Destiny Islands, where Sora vanishes.

The “Limitcut Episode” is set one year after Sora’s disappearance; his allies have since lead an ongoing search for him, while Kairi has entered stasis after volunteering as Ansem the Wise’s test subject to help Sora. During a visit to Radiant Garden, Riku analyzes digital copies of Sora and the Organization’s members programmed into Cid Highwind’s computer, hoping to uncover clues to Sora’s whereabouts through their battles.

After the Organization’s copies are defeated and the analysis proves inconclusive, Riku is approached by the Fairy Godmother to meet Yen Sid, who suspects that they may be able to find Sora through the dreams of Riku, Kairi, and a nameless girl Sora encountered in the Final World.

The “Secret Episode” focuses on Sora, who has become trapped in the Final World since his disappearance. There, Sora encounters Yozora, whom he recognizes as a character from the video game Verum Rex in Toy Box, and whom he learned about from the nameless girl.

Yozora claims that he has been requested to save Sora, but questions his identity and battles him in Shibuya. If Sora wins, Yozora fades away before Sora returns to the Final World; if Sora loses, Yozora crystallizes him and goes to the Final World instead. Afterward, regardless of who wins, Yozora awakens in a car while a closing narration ensues in his and Sora’s voices, with the battle’s victor saying, “None of this makes sense to me.”

Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory

The first game to be considered a true spin off is this musical rhythm based game where we get to re-experience all of the most popular musical tracks from throughout the series.

The game focuses on Ansem the Wise exploring Kairi’s memories to see if there are any clues to Sora’s whereabouts, The game shows hints at Kairi’s childhood and shows us all of the events from the previous games but from Kairi’s perspective as she is narrating the stories in between the tracks.

The gameplay is really quite simple you need to press the action button to the beat of the music, sometimes you need to press multiple buttons at once and other times you need to glide across areas or flick the thumb sticks, this can be very difficult at times and I realised while playing that I don’t really have much rhythm as I really struggled even on standard mode but thankfully the secret ending only requires you to beat the game on any difficulty so this wasn’t an issue for me.

There are boss fights in the game and while they are a little longer than the standard stages they follow the same gameplay format.

From a gameplay perspective there isn’t really much more to cover, you can change teams in the game although I wouldn’t recommend this as each team starts at Lvl 1 so you may as well just sick with the Sora, Donald and Goofy Combo, also in some stages you are joined by various characters from your adventures they don’t too much different but they are a nice touch and very much appreciated.

After recounting all of the events in the series thus far, we are shown a new vision, Kairi is a child running for her life from heartless, she is found by Terra in his Xehanort form who saves her and sends her to live on Destiny Island giving her the mission to find the chosen one.

We then see Kairi in Limbo where she battles the spirit of Master Xehanort she isnt strong enough but luckily Sora partially manifests to assist her, the spirit is defeated but allows Xehanort to learn of Sora’s whereabouts.

When she wakes up back at the lab Kairi informs Riku of what she has learnt and tells Riku a clue she learnt in her sleep “that Sora may be in a reality not made of light or dark”.

Fairy godmother appears and tells Kairi and Riku that they are both 2 of 3 keys that can help Sora, the third is a mysterious girl who has taken the form of a star in Limbo.

After hearing Riku describe the city in his dreams, the mysterious girl informs him that it could be the City of Quadratum, The girl opens a gate allowing Riku to travel to the city, he goes leaving Kairi behind to continue her training, Master Yen Sid sends Donald and Goofy to gather allies for the continued battle to bring Sora back and Kairi chooses to study under Master Aqua.

I quite enjoyed this game, It’s not quite as epic as the other KH games but for a fun little game this can be quite addictive at times and I look forward to trying to get all of the remaining mission stars, plus we got see a tiny bit more of the current story as well, also it was a good opportunity to really appreciate all of the excellent music from the franchises history.

On April 10 2022 a release trailer for KH 4 was made available for fans, here is a link to that very trailer 🙂

And that’s it we have officially gone through Kingdom Hearts in it’s entirety and lets face it what a journey this was, it took me one year to get through these and I have no regrets. I grew up with Disney and as I grew older I always wanted a darker take on these stories, Kingdom Hearts was the first time Disney was made for a mostly adult audience and the use of other Final Fantasy and Square franchises surprisingly mixes really well with the Disney universe.

I have no idea what direction this franchise will go from this point on, we have seen the Keyblade war and have explored the life of Sora inside and out. I think a new franchise main is needed now, either Riku or someone new entirely, perhaps after we eventually get Sora back we may even want to do a fresh take with new heroes and a new franchise, perhaps a certain other animated studio? Perhaps one that can give us Egyptian lore, lost cities, fairy tale kingdoms and dragons?

Who knows where this series will take us next but for now we must wait for more adventures

Until then thankyou for joining me for this ever expanding series!


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Not So Christmas 2: Paddington (2014) Review

Time for something a little more cheery than a murderous barber!

Paddington is a live action comedy film based on the Paddington Bear Character who was originally created by Michael Bond.

The original stories involve Paddington being a polite young bear trying to live a life in London and learning lessons while always having the best manners, in the stories he is living as an adopted son to the Brown family who give him the name Paddington Brown as his bear name is too difficult to pronounce, the 2014 film adaptation uses this story as its premise and expands upon it.

The movie opens with a family of bears in Darkest Peru, they live on a diet consisting of only Marmalade after an explorer gave them some during a visit.

This explorer told the bears that they would always be welcome in London if they were to ever visit and this message is remembered by Aunt Lucy who sends Paddington to London after their rainforest home is destroyed and his uncle is killed.

While Paddington stows away to London, Aunt Lucy chooses to live in the home for retired bears as she is too old to go along on the trip.

Similarly to the original story’s in the movie Paddington is adopted at the train station by the Brown family however there are some major differences to the characters helping to give them more personality.

Without including Paddington there are 5 members of Brown household, Mr Brown an overprotective and anxious father, Mrs Brown a very caring and nurturing woman, Jonathan Brown a young boy with a love of science and space, Judith Brown a teenage girl with an attitude and is easily embarrassed, finally there is Mrs Bird an elderly relative who lives with the Browns as a housekeeper.

The three adult family members are really great in this, the two younger actors do a good job as well but they are not very memorable compared to Mrs Bird and the two parents of the Browns house.

Mrs Bird portrayed by Julie Walters is great in this and is played as a very caring but over protective nanny, she is a bit of a bad ass and doesn’t take crap off of anyone.

My favourite performance in the movie though was a tough choice between Hugh Bonneville as Mr Brown and Sally Hawkins as Mrs Brown but I think Sally takes the cake for me.

She really does a grand job of portraying the character and has quite the important role in the film as she is the one who really fights to keep helping Paddington to find the explorer who will give him a home, this gives her character a little bit more screen time than the rest, Mr Brown also has his own scene which is very funny but I did prefer the more serious scene we had with Mrs Brown in the antique shop.

Scarlet Johansson plays the role of the films villain and quite the nasty character she is too, she is obsessed with taxidermy animals and goes as far as murdering endangered species if she needs too, she wants to add Paddington to the collection for personal reasons (which I wont go into as it would ruin the films twist), during this scene we see a vison of a dead Paddington posing on a tree which is a quite a horrifying sight and probably what gave the film its PG 13 rating.

The film is very funny and uses innocent humour that is not played for huge laughs but its the perfect timing that makes the jokes work so well, the hard stare is a classic and re-used in the sequel but probably my personal favourite comedy moment is the flashback to when Mr Brown used to be a free spirit and cool biker and was changed into the worrying dad the literal second his first child was born, its pretty silly humour but it works very well in this.

I think to me Paddington feels like a holiday film because of how innocent and sweet the story is, it reminds me of Christmas movies not necessarily in its theme but how it feels, it definitely has a slightly magical and whimsical feel to it and I always seem to stick it on around this time of the year.

Paddington is a wonderful movie and my favourite adaptation of the original storybooks, I think for a adaptation this is a great example of how to do it correctly because a lot of the time adapting something to screen fails to capture the same vibes as the original, however Director Paul King and the cast did a phenomenal job of bringing the Marmalade loving bear to life and sticking so closely to the original source material with only a few new additions being added on.

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Book Review: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

I wasnt sure that I would be doing one more Christmas review this year but after recently diving back into the Charles Dickens library I thought I may as well do a quick book review in celebration of the holidays.

A Christmas Carol was written by Charles Dickens in 1843, it is a short story otherwise known as a novella, but regardless of the books length it has been adapted to screen many times and is Christmas classic known by all.

The story is about an angry elderly man who has a cold heart and not a drop of love within himself, he is cruel to his employee Bob Cratchet who he underpays and has little sympathy for, he refuses to donate to charities and says that he would rather the poor die instead of help them and generally is a very unlikable character.

Throughout the story Scrooge is visited by ghosts one is his old partner Jacob Marley and the others represent the past, present and future who take him through time to see his life flash before his eyes and showing him the error of his ways.

If you cut apart all of the film adaptations and stitched parts together you would get a page for page perfect adaptation of the book and there not a is single part of the book that hasn’t included in any of the on screen tellings of the story.

there are few things in the book that are not often shown, one is the spirits in the air after Marley visits, in the books this shows ghosts all sorts of people who have done wrong and now carry the chains of their sins.

The other is Ebenezer’s sister Fanny who is very rarely put to screen and in the book it is told that she dies young and is the mother of Ebenezer’s nephew Fred.

Funnily enough one of the only adaptations to correctly depict the Ghost of Christmas Past was the muppet version as in the story and that version the spirit is said to be a glowing light.

What really surprised me was that in the original Charles Dickens story there is no part where Scrooge goes to Hell, in fact the story seems a lot more straight to the point than any version that came after it and I think it works better that way, so many of the re-tellings added this part and now I see that it really wasn’t needed as Dickens wrote the story so well without it.

It’s not easy to review this because while the book is really well written and very educational the later adaptations are definitely more memorable, in fact there are so many adaptations of the story that it is quite insane, if that doesn’t go to show that this is one of the most important stories every written I don’t know what does.

A wikipedia link which lists all adaptions of the original story

I think I want to end this review by saying that I really enjoyed this book, I didn’t think that I would because I didn’t enjoy Oliver Twist another popular story from Dickens, back then I put it down to his writing style but I have to take that back because this story was wonderful. Perhaps I should check out his other stories in the future but for now I am very happy to say I will be reading this one every single year.

Merry Christmas and God Bless us Everyone !

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The Lord of the Rings – The Christmas Classics nobody ever expected

I want to start by saying that this is not a review, it is a discussion about what these movies mean to me, my history with them and why they remind of Christmas and are Holiday Classics for myself. I am only discussing the Peter Jackson Lord of Rings movies and not the books nor the animated version by Ralph Bakshi.

I don’t have photographs of my childhood with these films so I am using images from google, if anyone has an issue with an image I use please email me at my contact email address in the contact me section of this website and I will change it for another.

Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Fellowship of the Ring was released in December of 2001 and I was eight years old, my grandmother had come to visit the day after her and my Grandad went to the cinema to watch a film called The Lord of the Rings.

I remember asking her to tell me about it and she told me it was load of rubbish and was so boring and stupid that she fell asleep not long into the movie, this may be surprising but keep in mind that when she was younger she grew up with the books and while I haven’t read them myself yet I am sure they are quite different to the film adaptations.

After hearing about this boring movie eight year old me left the room to play and knowing myself it was probably Crash Bandicoot on the PS1 although I cant be too sure.

One year later on Christmas day 2002 I opened up one of my presents and it was that boring movie my grandmother told me about, I left it alone for a while as I was more interested in my new toys but on Christmas it has always been tradition for my family to watch a movie together and that year my mother wanted us to watch Lord of the Rings.

I quickly became obsessed with this movie and would play the tape almost daily, I’m not sure what really got me into the films but I do know that I had recently became interested in Wizardry thanks to Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone which was released in theatres around a year prior to when I was gifted Fellowship.

Gandalf the wizard became a favourite character of mine and even my friends, we all began quoting the famous “YOU SHALL NOT PASS” line while playing games in the garden and I we used to love re-watching his battle with the Balrog time and time again.

Another Scene I remember watching vigorously as a child was the fight with the Cave Troll, definitely one of the most intense parts of the movie and for an eight year old it was very memorable as a battle, again this may be due to Harry Potter which also had a troll fight, I dont like comparing the two but in my childhood this makes a lot of sense now that I look back almost 20 years later.

The movie ended on a fairly un-conclusive note so while young, I was still aware that there was more of the story to be told but at that age I was fairly distracted with school, video games and other hobbies so I never gave this much thought until the second movie ended up in my hands.

The Two Towers (2002)

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers released in theatres December 2002 I remember seeing posters for the movie but I was too young to be allowed to see the movie in the cinema, instead I would have to wait until the following Christmas before the tape was finally added to my collection.

I don’t remember the Christmas that I received this very well but I do have some very fond memories of this film and this is probably the video tape out of the entire trilogy which I played the most growing up.

It was the first interaction that the hobbits had with the creature Gollum here played by Andy Serkis who voiced the character and did live action work before the animation. Gollum is easily the best part of the film, he is very funny especially when he starts arguing with his other personality Sméagol.

I always wanted a Treebeard action figure when I was younger thanks to his scenes in the Two Towers, as a nine year old I was very jealous of Merry and Pippin getting to ride in his arms, I think he was a really lovable character and to this day he is still one of my favourite parts of the film.

I could never understand the whole Gandalf the Grey turned Gandalf the White when I was a child, It’s not that I didn’t like the character It was just a little bit too complicated for me to grasp back then, re-watching the film recently I must say it is really impressive how the cinematography, clever use of lighting and editing makes it seem like its Saruman before the big reveal.

The battle scene for Helms Deep was replayed so many times on the video tape that this section began to wear out before the rest of the video did, me and friends would often rewind this part and re-watch it, it is generally a very intense and fun battle scene, the fellowship only manages to get a 300 man army to take on 10’000 orcs so your really on the edge of your seat watching this.

There is also the competition between Legolas and Ghimli which adds some comedy to the scene and of course how can you forget Legolas riding the shield down the stairs while shooting orcs.

Again the film ends on a cliff hanger leaving me only desperate to get part three with me not realising that it would be the final chapter of this story.

The Return of the King (2003)

December 2003 saw the Return of the King hitting theatres but as per usual I wouldnt see the movie until a year later.

2004 was a tough year for my family, money was running low, savings were non existent and due to the stress of making enough money to feed the family my father had to take up a job abroad. One of the most difficult losses especially for my parents was the loss of our house, we couldn’t afford the upkeep so we were forced to move to an old flat in the city.

Its fair to say that I wasn’t expecting Lord of the Rings that year so I was very happy when it was gifted to me by my Auntie on Boxing Day when we did our usual Christmas greetings of the extended family.

Return of the King is easily in my opinion the best film in the trilogy, I have a lot of memories of this movie and they start from the very beginning, the movie opens with two brothers Sméagol and Deagol fishing on a boat, Deagol falls into the water and finds the One Ring, he refuses to give it to Sméagol for his birthday so he gets strangled to death and this starts the rings corruption of Sméagol and the creation of the Gollum.

I used to hate the scene with Denethor eating as it is really gross, I had a weak stomach when I was a kid so I used to close my eyes at this part, I suppose that’s why it always stuck with me.

The army of the undead was unbelievably cool for ten year old me, I used to love the big fight in this film, it had orcs, trolls, elephants and yes even the ghosts!, even Legolas and Ghimli’s competition was continued in the film and most prominently in this scene, it was tons of fun and both my favourite part of the movie and the videogame adaptation that was released.

There is a part of the film after Frodo leaves Sam he gets tricked into entering the cave of the Spider Shelob where he gets injected with a numbing liquid and wrapped in web, this part used to scare me and is really disturbing, when Sam removes the web from Frodo’s face he looks pale and dead and it isn’t revealed until later on that he is still alive.

For many fans the scene where Sam carried Frodo up Mount Doom is one of the most beautiful and memorable and if I ever review these films I will likely fully analyse this moment.

For me one of the most memorable parts of Return of the King was when Frodo refuses to drop the ring into Mount Doom, the entire trilogy had been building up to this moment so it is difficult to see Frodo be so corrupted that he doesn’t want to let go, of course Gollum jumps on top of an invisible Frodo and bits his finger off, this moment snaps Frodo out of his control and he pushes Gollum to his death in turn destroying the ring and saving Middle Earth.

The ending where Frodo, Bilbo and Gandalf go off on the boat I didn’t fully understand when I was younger, I assumed they were going on more adventures, and while this is kind of the case I now realise that they were going to the undying lands where they would settle down until the end of time.

And that’s it, that is all of my fondest childhood memories of Lord of the Rings, as I stated this was not a review but more of my experiences with the films growing up and why I watch them every Christmas, of course they are not Christmas movies but for me they do remind of the holiday and were some of the most memorable gifts I ever received, I know I skipped over a lot of moments in the films and if I ever review them I will do them full justice in a proper review but for now it was nice for me to look back at these epics and why they mean so much to me.

Happy Holidays everybody, I know my Christmas offerings have been less than usual this year, I may try to squeeze one more review out if I am feeling up for it but if not.

Have a great holiday season and I will see you all in 2021 !!

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The Santa Clause (1995) Review

The Santa Clause is a Disney Christmas movie starring Tim Allen as Scott Calvin a fairly unfortunate character who wants nothing more than for his son Charlie to retain the Christmas Spirit and believe in Santa very much to the dislike of his wife.

Later on in the film after a disappointing dinner at Denny’s and Charlie still unsure about the magic of Christmas, Scott accidently spooks Santa on his roof causing to him slip and fall to his death!

Scott begins to gain excessive amounts of weight and has uncontrollable facial hair growth, no matter what he does he cannot escape turning into the new Father Christmas.

Tim Allen actually looks really good as Father Christmas, all movie Santa’s pretty look the same but I think its the curved moustache that I like the most about this version.

The movie is pretty good but I don’t love it, some of the visual effects are outdated and are bad even for the time, the visuals of him going down the chimney were particularly unimpressive.

The elves being children is something I haven’t seen much in Santa movies, it definitely feels odd having these kids playing adult roles but it works well enough.

The thing I really don’t like about this movie is actually intentional, in the films defence this is not a criticism and is just something that I dislike. The mother character (Wendy Crewson) and her psychiatrist husband Neil (Judge Reinhold) really want Charlie to stop believing in Santa even though he is just eight years old. I really feel that eight is still very young and this intention while it was supposed to be for the child’s own good came across as really cruel.

Going back to the elves, the head elf of the North Pole is a character named Bernard, at first I did not like him as I thought he came across a little bit mean but I soon warmed up to him especially near the end of the film when his snappy and commanding attitude was shown more in the light of him really caring that Christmas is able to still happen and is as magical as can be even with a brand new, last minute Santa Claus.

The Santa Clause is a good Christmas movie, It is far from one of my favourites, I think the concept is really interesting, you don’t often see Father Christmas die and have the job passed onto someone else especially in a live action feature. I didn’t like a lot of characters in this film and I also found the visual effects somewhat cringeworthy but saying that this isn’t a Christmas Classic for others is untrue. The movie is often on lists of the best Christmas films of all time and many people have fond memories of watching this, It’s just not for me and at some point perhaps I will look at the sequels to see if I enjoy those more but for now this is one Christmas Movie I will happily sit through again but not as an annual Christmas Tradition.

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The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) Review

The Muppet Christmas Carol is a musical fantasy film starring everyone’s favourite puppet characters, Originally created by the late Jim Henson the Muppets were a huge success on Television and eventually starring in movies until Jim’s death in 1990.

This is a really good video playlist about Jim Hensons career it was made by Youtube Channel called Defunctland and is one of the best documentary series on Jim and his creations, I would highly recommend checking it out

After Jim’s passing his son Brian took the Muppets franchise under his wing and began work on the first movie that would be made after Jim Henson and this film just so happens to be a take on the Chales Dickens story A Christmas Carol.

The story is one of the most well known tales of all time but for those who may be living under a rock, A Christmas Carol is the story of a very angry and unkind man who is shown the error of his ways on one Christmas eve where three different ghosts show him his past, present and future in hopes of giving him a chance to redeem himself and avoid an eternity in Hell.

In this version of the classic story, Ebenezer Scrooge is played by academy award winner and cinema legend Micheal Cain, his performance in this is really good, in fact its my favourite performance of Scrooge in any media. The film is relatively silly as it should be, it is the Muppets after all.

The silliest moments come from Gonzo and Rizzo who are narrating the story while the movie is playing.

Another Great example of Muppet humour is the christmas party scene, it has Animal on the drums, Rolf on the Piano, Bad Jokes from Fozzy Bear and is genuinly one the most memorable parts of the film.

What makes Cain stand out so well is that he plays such a serious role when the rest of the movie is a Muppets film, his performance in this is so convincing that by the end of the film you even start to feel a little sorry for him, I really do think this is one of his best roles, the only slight issue is that he struggles to carry a tune during his song at the end of the movie and it would have been better if his singing was dubbed.

The rest of the cast is great, I felt the muppets chosen for the characters were really good, Kermit being Bob Cratchett is an obvious choice and Miss Piggy playing his wife Emily also makes sense, but we need to take time to appreciate the smaller roles, Dr Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker play the charity collectors which is seems an odd choice but it works surprisingly well but the best casting which was ingenious in my opinion was the role of Jacob Marley going to

Waldorf and Statler, I dont think anyone expected these guys to play such a large role in the film as they were mainly used for the odd funny remark in the TV show and the previous movies, they are great as Jacob Marley (now split into two brothers) and even sing a catchy musical number.

The music for the film was written and composed by Paul Williams and Miles Goodman, I have very mixed feelings on this I would argue that half of the music is phenomenal and some of the best Christmas themed music put to screen but the other half feels a little lackluster. Some highlights for me were “Scrooge”, “Marley and Marley”, It Feels Like Christmas” and even the “finale Song” was memorable but the rest is so forgettable, I couldn’t recall “One More Sleep til Christmas” or “Bless us All”, the movie had a lot of songs cut from it including songs by Beaker and Dr Honeydew, another by Sam the Eagle, these were not very good so I’m glad they weren’t kept in the film but the track “When Love is Gone” was cut from the film in releases after the theatre since it was deemed to sad and this is a shame because its a really beautiful lyrical piece that helps give more depth to Scrooge and his long lost love Belle’s character.

My favourite track is It Feels Like Christmas sang by the Ghost of Christmas Present, its a really bouncy and fun song about the meaning of Christmas but what makes it most impressive is the Puppet used for the Ghost, he was a life size Puppet made for the movie, a human actor controlled the puppet from the inside while a Puppeteer used robotics to control the eyes and mouth and did the voice acting in sync with the actors dancing and movements.

A Muppet Christmas Carol is a magical movie that is a yearly tradition for many especially Muppet fans like myself, It has a lot going for it with its impressive puppetry, charm that only these characters can bring the the screen and of course you cannot forget about Michael Cain who is just wonderful in this, this is one of the best telling’s of the classic Dickens tale but it’s not my favourite, it falls short is some places I found the commentary from Gonzo and Rizzo a little distracting at times and a few of the songs were forgettable but overall this is a still a really amazing film and it is one of the best in the Muppets library, a lot of love went into it and I have a lot of love for it and I’m sure you will too if you give it a try this Christmas.

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When Marnie Was There (2014) Review

71qlM5nIi8L._SX342_When Marnie was there is a drama film that was directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi.


Anna a introverted 12 year old girl is sent to live with fosters parents in an area with cleaner air after a recent asthma attack.


While exploring her new temporary home Anna comes across an old mansion which has been empty for years, when she goes home that night in a dream sequence she sees a blond girl in the window of the mansion.


The next night thinking nothing of the dream Anna visits a festival in the town but unfortunately falls out with a local girl prompting Anna to run away to the mansion where she sees the same blond girl from her dream. The two girls become fast friends and learn that they each have a lot in common and a lot of secrets that they must promise not to tell anyone about.


I didn’t really enjoy this one, I found the overall pace quite slow and the story I struggled to get into but that does not mean its a bad film. I really liked the bond between Anna and Marnie they both seem very similar and perfect friends and the reasoning for this is explained in the films ending.


I also love the nighttime animation in the film, I’m not really sure why but I think it was the use of how light glowed in the darkness, it had a quite a whimsical feeling to it and was beautiful to take in.

Unfortunately I cant say much else about this one, there were elements that I really liked by overall I didn’t enjoy it but that is just me I am sure that it has a lot of fans that would disagree.

Thankyou for joining me this Christmas in my experience with the Studio Ghibli movies, these films while not all masterpieces are really very special movies, you can tell a lot of heart and love went into all of them, some of these are my favourite animated films of all time and most of them I would recommend viewing

Merry Christmas to all of my readers, I am going to take a break now until January to spend time with family, I hope you continue to enjoy my content in the New Year and thank-you for reading my blog this year and all of the years prior.

Happy Holidays

I hope you enjoyed this review of  When Marnie Was There

If you would like to help support the website please use the donation button at the top of the page, your donations will help to improve the website by allowing me to afford products to review and to be able to execute any costly updates and changes, any amount in donations are welcome.

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