26 November 2014

Superfrog HD

Game score: 55%
Platform: Steam, PC
Steam link:

Ask any true Amiga fan about Superfrog and they'll know it. It's a legend of its own, one of the most famous game of the classic computer system and one that was enjoyed the most. A true Amiga platformer, one of the games that marked its time. Team 17 recently decided to remake its own classic and the result is... Superfrog HD, almost exactly the same game but in high definition. The key word is almost.

Our hero is a frog. Actually, he's a prince that's been turned into a frog by an evil witch. As if that was not enough, the witch also took away his princess. One unlucky prince, eh? Fortunately, he found a magic potion that gave him super powers and now he's ready to rescue his beloved princess and lift the curse! Quite a story, isn't it? Actually, who cares. A good game does not necessarily need a good story to be fun. All it needs is a good gameplay. 

Unfortunately, Superfrog HD lacks that as well, for the most part. Unlike the original 1993 game, this one is way too easy and can be completed in less than two hours. Maybe even quicker if you know your way. Navigating the levels is not like in Mario games, it's not a typical left to right scroller. Superfrog can go up and down, left and right... You can move in any given direction and jump long distances (you are a frog after all), pick up power-ups that make the game even easier and advance through its 24 levels in a quick pace. The levels themselves are well designed and themed (a forest, a castle, a circus, ancient Egypt, ice caverns and an interstellar base) but they are just too easy. The controls are also a bit weird - even though you only have 4 direction keys, a jump and fire button, they somehow managed to screw up... I guess it's the reaction time. I swear I clicked JUMP on time, but Superfrog still walked into fire and died. Not once, not twice, but a hundred times. I tend to be really precise when it comes to platform games and this one fails at that.

All you need to do to complete the level is to reach the exit. However, it is much more fun to explore and try to collect as many bonus points (fruit, coins and treasures) as possible while searching for many secret passageways that lead to even more bonus points. Enemies that can hurt you vary from slow moving worms that you can either stomp or shoot to a bit more challenging full size monsters that can only be shot or jumped over. The power ups that can be used are limited to only 2 things: wings that can make you fall slower and... something that looks like small frog head that you can fire for a short distance and eliminate critters.

A good thing is that you can actually unlock the original levels as you play. You will certainly appreciate those because they are a lot harder to complete and offer much more challenge. They are not hard to unlock, all you need is to win on a slot machine mini game that appears after each completed level. The original levels are taken directly from the 1993 version and even though they look and feel the same as the HD levels, they are harder since they use a lot more critters that can damage you and position spikes at strategic points so you have to be a lot more careful with your jumping and walking.

Steam version has 12 achievements to collect and that's quite a bonus in my opinion. They will make you explore the levels more thoroughly and see the whole game. Alas, they are also not so hard to get and only 2 of them will actually make you replay the levels you have already completed before.

To sum it up: Superfrog HD has everything the original had, but it lacks... magic!

11 November 2014

Interstellar (2014)

If you don't want to read it all:
Score: 9/10
Verdict: An epic tale of survival, an instant classic. You cannot afford not to watch this movie


A spoiler-free look at the latest blockbuster.

Do you remember my Gravity review? In it, I said I couldn't understand all the hype that surrounded the film - it's not that it isn't any good, it's just not as good as you might expect it to be. That's not the case with Interstellar - I went to the cinema with sky high expectations and got out very satisfied! It's a well written, well performed and simply beautiful film that deals with some things that... you may want to read about first, in case you aren't familiar with them; namely physics in general, wormholes, black holes, theory of relativity and gravity itself. Did I scare you away? :)

Interstellar tells a story of survival. In the near future, Earth is turning into a desert and all the remaining resources are focused on making food for the survivors. All the resources, including humans. There are no armies, no media, education is minimal and everyone is... trying to farm. But the crops are dying as well and there's less and less of oxygen. And no plan for survival, none at all. Matthew McConaughey plays Coop, an ex-pilot, an engineer and a farmer (what else) who's doing his best to survive with his two children and a father in law. As you can imagine (and since this is not a story of farming in the desert), humans never give up and will try to survive in the universe, so... Well, no spoilers.

Although it's almost 3 hours long, I wanted more of Interstellar by the time the credits started rolling. Talk about relativity, eh? It's fun, it's dramatic, you never knew what may be coming next. I am not an expert on physics (although I am rather well educated in the field) but I couldn't see any major errors with what was presented. I am trying to say that Interstellar is not a fantasy, as I am sure some people would like to describe it as. Most of the phenomenons present in the film are theoretical at this time, but are very accurate with what we currently know about them. And that is awesome! Presenting all this "nerd stuff" to the general public in a form of a blockbuster... well done Mr. Nolan! Of course, some things have to be a bit... adjusted for the purpose of the movie, but hey - it's ok, it's allowed in the film making. Right?

The cast is perfect, with the already mentioned Matthew McConaughey in the main role. Anne Hathaway plays Brand, a female scientist and a daughter of Professor Brand, played by Michael Caine. Matt Damon is Dr. Mann, while John Lithgow plays Coop's father in law. Coop's daughter Murph is played by three different actresses.

The only problem I can think of is... well, to fully understand it, Interstellar should be seen more than once. Definitely more than once. But can you afford to watch a 3 hour long movie twice? Or three times? I'd say it depends on if it deserves to be seen and this one does.

Originally, I wanted to make this review a one-liner, but I got carried away. Still, here's that one line: GO WATCH THIS MOVIE!

10 November 2014

The Babadook (2014)

If you don't want to read it all:
Score: 7/10
Verdict: It's got a great story, but is not scary at all

Again, I am aware of the fact: it's really hard to make a good horror movie in the 21st century. It's almost impossible to scare the people nowadays, almost as hard as making them laugh so I really appreciate all who dare to try. So I do my best to watch as many horrors as I can, as a token of appreciation for... trying. I've heard of The Babadook from a trailer I saw on TV, which is a bit weird because I don't remember the last time I saw a horror movie trailer on TV. And I don't really watch nor like trailers in general since they never show the real thing. Then I found out it was funded by a Kickstarter campaign, so I really had to see this one.

So... The Babadook. Mister Babadook. The story is actually really good (if you can connect all the dots and realize what it is really about, which I am not going to say here) and it's a shame the movie itself fails to show its full potential. Even the acting is great, the characters are well portrayed and you can understand them pretty well almost right from the start. It's a story of a single mother and her 6 year old son who has big problems socializing with the world in general. He is obsessed with monsters and sees them everywhere, having a hard time fitting into school and making friends. Because of his constant fear, he is often awake at night and wakes up early in the morning, giving his mother a really hard time because she is constantly tired and lacking sleep. One day he brings a "children's" book called Mister Babadook for her to read for him and the book turns out to be... well, anything but children's. Soon, all he could talk about was Mr. Babadook which makes her try to destroy the book. Try.

Again, the story is REALLY good, but the movie's obvious lack of funds and a definite lack of imagination when it comes to scaring people (after all, this IS a horror movie and as such it MUST have scary scenes) makes it so much less enjoyable than it should be. Another problem with it is a somewhat slow start - it takes almost an hour for anything even remotely scary to happen. But if you don't mind the mild horror elements in it and if you like a good story that makes you think - you will like The Babadook. It seems as if the makers of this motion picture could not decide whether to make it a thriller or a horror, so they ended up somewhere in the middle. And that's the worst thing they could do.

As you can see, I am not even decided if I like The Babadook or not. And it seems like I am repeating myself. Well, watch it yourself and decide for yourself :)

04 November 2014


I will write just about season 4 of this show, as it is more of a new show. The first 3 seasons were covering something completely different and it was definitely concluded in the last season's final episode. There's no more Brody, it no longer takes place in USA and Carrie has completely taken over the main role. She's in Pakistan, she's station chief and she's doing what's she does best!

You could call this a reboot, it's that different. There's a lot of familiar characters (Mandy Patikin as Saul Berenson, Rupert Friend as Peter Quinn and my new favorite Nazanin Boniadi as Fara Sherazi) so there's little need for introduction. Carrie seems very strong now, she's put her past behind her and she's either completely cured of her condition(s) or she's handling them really well, but it's definitely out of focus as well.

So... dealing with Pakistan. The CIA operation in Pakistan is handling terrorist network with drone attacks and espionage. Things go bad after one particular drone attack that kills a lot of civilians at a wedding. As things unfold, Carrie and her operatives uncover a big conspiracy, but are unable to get the details. I am writing this after episode 6 and the big things seems to be getting even bigger and CIA is constantly a few steps behind the conspirators. Season 4 seemed really slow at start, there was more focus on Quinn's ghosts of the past and his dealings with his own conscience than the real action, but it's heating up nicely in the last 2 episodes. This is a spoiler-free review, so no details about anything in here.

This review is meant to be sure, so lets sum it up. This is a NEW Homeland. It might take you some time to accept it, but when you do - you will like it. It's a serious and dramatic TV show and as such, it's not suitable for everyone. I just hope Nazanin Boniadi gets more screen time :)