One Piece : Romance Dawn

I debated putting up a review for this, but our scope for reviews is labeled as book and media, and well, I needed to tell someone about how disappointed I am. Because I’m needy like that.

For those of you (likely quite a few of you) unfamiliar with what a ‘One Piece’ is, it’s an anime. In this case, it’s the latest installment in the relatively successful gaming franchise springing from that anime.

While I’ve drifted away from that particular interest since I was younger, I still enjoy a few shows and a whole lot of games. I’m just not a big fan of slapstick comedy, which a lot of stories engage in.

Anyway–

Let’s talk about Romance Dawn.

When I read the back of the package, I was excited. One of the labels boasted, “Experience the first One Piece RPG! Level-up your crew, improve their abilities, and craft new items and accessories!” It sounded like a pretty well-rounded game with lots of things to do.

The box is lying. 

Sure, those features are in the game. They’re just mind numbingly flat. I was tired of the crafting system in less than ten minutes. About every level or so, you get a blueprint to make one thing, you make it, whoo.

You spend points to level abilities. Behold, Zoro stabs people in a slightly modified pattern of sword swings. Is it not glorious? Are you not impressed? (Guh.)

But perhaps the most obnoxious feature is the way they guide you through the storyline. For people who’ve watched One Piece, the story is a bizarrely vague outline with no context. Most of the details that would accompany a half-decent narration are gone, and while there are a few cutscenes from the anime, they’re few and far between. This leaves the player to watch icons of the characters banter in dialogue that is often disembodied, causing yet more confusion. You may find gems to the effect of a sourceless,

“Hiya!”

“What did you kick me for?!”

Who? What? Where? What’s going on???

The gameplay is also incredibly linear. In this respect, it’s a lot like the straight line dungeons in Final Fantasy XIII, without any of the graphics, events, or interaction to keep it interesting. There’s no world exploring. Just dungeon map after dungeon map. No NPCs, just mindless button-pushing.

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That’s it. That’s the game.

I’m very, very close to giving up on this game entirely, because I got to the Baratie stage, and the developers saw fit to give players the gift of a ridiculously overpowered fourth boss. Everything else in this game has been a cakewalk. You go in with your party, you beat some mook down, profit.

Then they throw you at Krieg with one player and laugh while you die horribly. I did an internet search to see if I was doing something wrong. All suggested ‘strategies’ involve running for the hills and using a truly insane quantity of healing items, because while most battles in the game are turned based, Krieg ignores everything, poisons you, and then hits you over and over for a disgustingly excessive amount of damage before you can say, ‘bull’.

But really, there’s no reason for me to feel as frustrated as I am by this game, because there’s no point to it. After maybe fifteen minutes of gameplay, I felt like I was wasting my time performing some useless task. I’d rather play some village management game on my phone, it’s more rewarding and infinitely more interesting.

Also less repetitive attack yelling.

This game was such a major disappointment after all the other OP games I’ve played and enjoyed. The ones I’m still playing, because they haven’t gotten old.

1/…eh. I don’t even care.

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Sexy Evil Genius

It may seem like this review is horrifically late, but in reality it’s right on time for you to notice it. It was creatively timed, rather.

All right, I’ll say it—I’m sorry.

Recently, Eleanor and I had the opportunity to do some visiting in sunny South Florida, and on a time-honored jaunt to Target—because everything you will ever need can be found at Target—we took a peek at some bargain-priced DVDs and were surprised to find an absolute gem.

I’m talking, of course, about Sexy Evil Genius, and no, it’s not a slutty Halloween costume. For everyone who’s spent hours reminiscing about how great 90s TV was, the inclusion of Michelle Trachtenberg and Seth Green is a real treat.

For anyone who doesn’t, well, they’re a treat anyway. Shut up and let me fangirl.

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Sexy Evil Genius

Genre: Black Comedy, Mystery

Main Cast: Seth Green, Michelle Trachtenberg, Harold Perrinau, Katee Sackhoff, William Baldwin

Trailer:

Rating: 4/5

Don’t let the trailer fool you. The film plays out much more like a black comedy than a thriller or action flick, and therein lies its strength and ultimate value.

The cast works very well together, and the chemistry and hurt feelings are all very apparent from go. Past relationships are explored with all of the sensitivity and wry humor that we ourselves employ looking back upon our misspent youth.

Each failed relationship is brought to light, expounding on our expectations of Nikki—a manic pixie dream girl gone horribly realistic. And more than a little in love with My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult.

(No, seriously. The songs are a major plot device.)

There’s very little I can tell you without spoiling at least some of this film, but I’d definitely urge you to at least give it a shot. Nikki is every bit as clever and manipulative as her former lovers give her credit for, and even if you don’t come out on the other side just the tiniest bit in love with her, you’ll have to respect her.

That’s just the kind of woman Nikki is.

When I wasn’t busy laughing, I was muttering disbelieving expletives and shivering at the careful weaving done in an immersive and subtly impactful screenplay. It’s a great ensemble. It’s a great movie. Easily one of my favorites in recent memory.

There’s not a lot of action, and really, there doesn’t need to be.

The film plays with stereotypes—Green’s stifled workaholic, Trachtenberg’s bisexual goth, Perrinau’s hep jazz cat—but the focus is on the tiresome world behind each one. Their backgrounds are clearly all tired and gray, tainted with sorrows and failures. Their lives just aren’t as interesting as they seemed when Nikki was involved.

But when Nikki finally makes the scene, we discover, she may not have suffered quite so well in her madcap world. There’s always been something off about her, and it’s cutting and a girl can’t live forever by making scrapbooks out of other people’s lives.

The humor is real and easy to come to grips with, because while Nikki’s life seems to have done a spectacular series of tailspins into the foothills of one seriously grand kerfuffle, the heartache and the nostalgia dripping from every word and gesture is almost tangible.

I will definitely be watching this again.

And Now For Something Completely Different

All the Literatease have been wonderfully pleased with your views and responses. After this first week of reviews we’ve come to some conclusions:

1) Rating a read in cups of tea is just too twee for words. So we’re going to stop doing that.

2) Having a week-long theme of reads is strictly unnecessary. We were working on “revenge” the first time around, but there was nothing really connecting those posts. So we’re going to review books and other media as we stumble on them. Movies are up next week, then back to novels and so on, so there will be some semblance of order–just less jack-booted.

So thank you for your patience as we rumble along!

Until next time,

Eleanor

“A Bad Day for Sorry” by Sophie Littlefield

Miss Stella Hardesty is not a dominatrix, but she is in the business of making men feel awfully sorry. When she isn’t battling menopause, Miss Hardesty tends to find herself occupied with championing the abused women of rural Missouri—a class from which she only recently graduated with a well-placed wrench to Ollie Hardesty’s head.

Now, she does little jobs here and there, ensuring that women like her have, if not a supportive shoulder to cry on, then a few hot cigarette butts to burn the mean out of their men.

But Stella herself isn’t such a sweet lady. I entered the book expecting a much more compassionate character than the one I ended up reading about. Miss Littlefield spends perhaps a bit too much time attempting to prove exactly how capable Stella “the Hardass” Hardesty really is.

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The end result is a character that is, to me, entirely inaccessible. All of her self-hatred and doubt is reflected rather unfortunately on the characters around her—even Chrissy, a sweet if slow-witted girl whose child she is attempting to recover!

While the descriptions that Miss Littlefield provides are rich and honest in a very refreshing and involving way, they are also often completely off topic or inessential to the point at hand. (I really don’t think I needed to know quite so much about the sheriff’s sexy eyebrows. Or the brief history of everyone Stella has ever known to chew tobacco.)

At times, it comes off as a bit of humor that’s been too enthusiastically attempted. At other times, the digressions are downright frustrating. The search for Tucker is instated early on, but Miss Littlefield spends much more time describing Stella’s ever-raging battle with her own dismal self-confidence than she does engaging in the description of anything of merit.

On more than one occasion, there is lengthy discussion of her chosen beauty products, her tasteful shoes, the dangly little earrings she pairs with a ‘night out’ outfit, or that little spritz of White Diamonds she dashes on just before going out. But concerningly little mention of the kidnapped baby.

I caught myself stopping every now and then to ask, But what about the BABY, Stella? Which is not a good sign. I cared more about a baby that was described in less than two sentences than I did about a main character apparently uninterested in actually improving her surroundings rather than just taking her pound of flesh from every abusive idiot in her rural county.

In the end, A Bad Day for Sorry is a book that I really wanted to enjoy, but even the action billed in the prologue was a false start. What seemed like a book prepped for action and intrigue unusual for a small town turned into something just as slow-moving and lazy as the typical rural stereotype.

The action was inactive, the protagonist was mean, and I found myself unable to make it all the way through the book. I appreciated the buttmonkey more than the heroine, and I’m guessing that’s just not the intended message of the book. Oops.

Final Rating : 2.5 cups of tea. Bitter tea. And you’d better pour some Johnny Walker Black in it, because I really don’t think Stella would have anything else. Ever. She talks more about the booze than the baby. 

I really wanted to enjoy this book. Some of the narration stands out, and I felt for Chrissy because, well, who else was going to? If you don’t mind waiting ages for the action to finally make its way to the page, you might want to give it a try anyway.