Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 4

Ty 4

I’m really glad Ty the Tasmanian Tiger is still around. Even though the older 3D games were pretty average platformers, Ty is a fun character, and the games have had consistently great music. Calling this “Ty 4,” however, was probably a mistake. It’s not really a sequel and is clearly a big step down in production values. I feel bad for Krome Studios, because I’m sure they would love to do another full 3D game but no longer have the budget for it. While Ty 4 still looks good as a 2D game, the presentation is lacking overall. Much of the soundtrack is recycled, there’s absolutely no voice acting, and the character movement feels very amateurish. It kind of comes across as a fan-made game.

The spirit of Ty the Tasmanian Tiger is still there, though. The levels are refreshingly non-linear and full of secrets and side missions. It’s fun to see what’s traditionally been their 3D platformer setup condensed into a smaller 2D game. After a while, though, I began to question why I was needing to find so many collectibles. There didn’t seem to be any reward involved except for getting 100% and nabbing that final achievement. You can at least buy new boomerangs and costumes with the opals you accumulate, although the boomerangs given to you during the story tend to be the most useful.

The mention of boomerangs, however, brings about the game’s weakest aspect. Combat has never been the Ty franchise’s strong suit, despite the fact that every sequel has relied on it more and more. Ty 4 is no different. Hitting enemies with boomerangs is repetitive and boring. And when you factor in flying enemies and bad guys that throw projectiles back at you, it can veer on the annoying side. But if you were fine with that in the older games, you’ll be fine with it here. Ty 4 is, after all, meant for people who know this character. It’s not going to win over any new fans, unfortunately, but I hope people still give it a chance, because this series deserves better.

Real Rob – Season 1

Real Rob

This kind of felt like Curb Your Enthusiasm but with Rob Schneider, and… well, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by how it ultimately turned out. After the first episode, I was still optimistic he’d pull this off, though. Schneider is a good actor. He just needs someone to write better material for him. But if Real Rob is as “real” as it suggests, then Schneider just comes across as a rich asshole. He quickly devolves into an unlikable character on the show, and I couldn’t help but wonder if Real Rob was merely a chance for him to trot out his family. It stars his real life wife and daughter, the latter getting her name in the opening credits despite not being able to talk (and not appearing in every episode). His wife’s performance wasn’t very convincing, either. It was obvious this was her first time on screen. Yet I can almost hear Schneider saying, “You may not find me funny, but at least my wife is hot.”

Real Rob doesn’t paint a flattering picture of Schneider’s personal life. Granted, Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm could be a jerk, too, but it felt more justified there and was actually funny. I stopped laughing at Real Rob in Episode 2. That’s when they busted out the cliched vasectomy storyline. I mean, seriously… if you’re already doing a vasectomy story in the second episode, your show’s never going to last. And the delivery is so scattered. Episodes are randomly interrupted by scenes of Schneider doing stand-up. Is he still performing stand-up in real life? The show doesn’t ever acknowledge this. It feels out of place. But not as out of place as the cutaway talking head interviews. Then suddenly, it’s like we’re watching a reality TV show. But nothing else about the presentation suggests it’s supposed to be taken that way.

Don’t worry, if those segments bother you, the show abandons them near the end, anyway. But that late in the game, Real Rob has already resorted to cringe-worthy impressions and scenes of having diarrhea on the toilet, so who knows what they were going for. Any sympathy the show may have tried to convey in the beginning is completely lost, and what we’re left with is basically an Adam Sandler movie without the Sandler. What’s funny is that one of Real Rob’s storylines is about Schneider getting upset over the changes a TV network wants to make to a show he wrote. But if Real Rob is what happens when Schneider gets his way, then he should really go back to listening to the network.

The League – Season 7

The League

I’m ashamed to admit that The League was once one of my favorite shows. Season 4 in particular was great, when they actually started surpassing It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia as far as mean-spirited comedies are concerned. But then Season 5 happened, and the show has sucked ever since. Like, so much suck. At this point, I’m just glad the series is finally dead. I stopped liking most of these characters a long time ago. Pete had become an insufferable douchebag, and Taco’s EBDB shtick was relentlessly obnoxious. Season 7 also brought another set of Ruxin-less episodes and didn’t use Rafi that much, either. Those two were pretty much carrying the show lately, so leaving them both out kind of stung.

Ah, but then there’s the obligatory “Rafi and Dirty Randy episode,” and Season 7’s was, by far, the worst they’ve ever done. It actually started out promising with Sophia’s death and the possibility that Ruxin made it all up, but then we got a terrible animated short that confirmed Sophia was, in fact, dead, and that chupacabras are real, and that Rafi only works as a real person in a real world and not as an over-the-top cartoon. It’s like the The League completely forgot how to use Rafi’s character correctly. At least Season 7 had the balls to finally knock Pete down a few pegs and give Andre a few wins. Having Andre (happily) date Pete’s ex-wife made for some nice comeuppance.

Of course, this being The League and all, and considering how much the writers have been in love with Pete, he still came out on top in the end. Which really irked me, because the season/series finale was doing so many other things right. I laughed more times during the finale than I laughed over the course of the rest of the season. We got to see Ruxin’s hilarious son again, and I’m glad Shiva came back one last time, but it was Larry David’s cameo that really brought a smile to my face. Seeing him on The League made me wish this show had stayed good. But Season 7 (like the two seasons before it) felt like nobody cared anymore. The stories were lazy, the jokes unoriginal, and the characters grating. So good riddance, I guess, and rest in peace.

Dariusburst: Chronicle Saviours

DARIUSBURST Chronicle Saviours

Good Lord, this shoot ’em up has it all. I don’t think I’ve ever played a shooter that felt this complete. The hefty price tag is pretty much justified here, though I wouldn’t blame you if that’s a sticking point. Dariusburst is an expensive game. Steam has had a deluge of shoot ’em ups recently, which hasn’t helped its case, but when I think of older releases like Deathsmiles, which also sold for a premium, you’re getting a lot more with Dariusburst. Across its two modes—Arcade and CS—you’ll have access to more levels than you could ever hope to beat in one sitting.

As for the gameplay, it is quintessential shoot ’em up material. There are multiple ships to choose from. Collecting power-ups is actually useful. Your secondary attack is satisfying to use and refills quickly. Some enemy bullets can be stopped by your own bullets. And you can even reverse the direction of your ship to take out straggling enemies. That also lends to some interesting and intense boss fights where the boss will switch sides mid-battle. There are perhaps too many boss fights, though, with not enough time spent on the sections leading up to them. While the variety of bosses is quite good, it still causes the game to get a little repetitive and deflates the selling point of having thousands of levels.

I also much prefer CS Mode over Arcade Mode. CS Mode (or, unofficially, Story Mode) feels like a true “console” experience. It supports a more common resolution and doesn’t let you continue indefinitely. But it’s not overly punishing, because points you earn can be used to buy and upgrade custom ships, and there are branching level paths to work down if you get stuck in a particular section. Unfortunately, CS Mode does not support co-op. Only Arcade Mode has this feature. If you don’t have a dual monitor setup, though, Arcade Mode is severely letterboxed. As such, I just don’t see myself going into this part of the game often. But I’m more than happy sticking with CS Mode.

Jessica Jones – Season 1

Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones will undoubtedly be compared to Netflix’s other Marvel show, Daredevil, but it actually reminds me of Heroes more than anything (or at least, those brief moments when Heroes was sorta kinda good). It doesn’t pack the same gritty gut punch that Daredevil did. Its pace is slower, its tone brooding, and its story full of detours. I mean, seriously, Jessica’s quest to find the villain, Kilgrave, is frequently derailed by other people’s desires, to the point where you start to wonder if this Kilgrave guy is even much of a threat.

When Kilgrave is used correctly, however, he is a scary bad guy. But like Sylar from Heroes, Kilgrave works better as an offscreen threat. The first few episodes where we only see Kilgrave’s brainwashed victims are terrifying. Jessica Jones shows the dangers of mind control better than anything else I’ve seen, and some of the things Kilgrave makes people do are absolutely horrific. Alas, once we get to know the man and his motives, the show almost grinds to a halt. Fortunately, things pick up again in later episodes, and the show ends on a strong note. I just feel like the journey there could have been condensed.

One theme that was particularly interesting, though, was the exploration of the show’s secondary characters and how they were affected by the actions of the heroes and villains. Any other show would have simply shrugged off the death of a non-important character, but Jessica Jones continues to follow the consequences of this “collateral damage.” Hell, there’s even a support group for Kilgrave survivors! Things like that help keep the superhero stuff grounded. And I guess that’s ultimately what this show is: the realistic comic book story that Heroes failed to be.

Master of None – Season 1

Master of None

I guess the fad now is to give a stand-up comedian a television show where they play an alternate version of themselves wandering around LA or New York, trying to be more poignant than their stand-up act lets on. Master of None definitely feels like Louie and, to a lesser extent, Maron and Legit. I’m already liking Master of None more, though. While I don’t really care for Aziz Ansari’s stand-up routine, I do like him as an actor and, considering we’re almost the same age, find him more relatable. But even if he was ten years older, I would hope that Ansari’s enthusiastic personality would still be a thing. It’s much more enjoyable watching him react to a bad situation, because his delivery, even when he’s “sad,” is energetic and fun.

For instance, one of my favorite exchanges is when Ansari tells a story to H. Jon Benjamin’s character, whose response is, “That’s a pretty boring story. I wouldn’t tell that to anyone else.” And Ansari replies, “Yeah, I could feel it going south as I was saying it.” I feel like every other show would have turned that into a big argument or sticking point for the characters, but Ansari’s Dev self-deprecatingly shrugs it off and moves on. Unfortunately, there weren’t a lot of other laugh-out-loud moments in the series. Sure, most of it is at least amusing, but Ansari and team are clearly striving to wax philosophical and fight social injustices with this project. Which is fine. It doesn’t have to be hilarious. I just hope future seasons don’t turn into an all-out drama like Louie has become.

Can I back up for a minute, though, and say how great it is that H. Jon Benjamin has a recurring role? It’s always fun to see him outside of cartoon voice-overs. But the rest of Dev’s friends and co-workers aren’t nearly as endearing. His main band of friends in particular didn’t work for me. It wasn’t that they were dumb characters but that the actors’ performances felt forced, like every one of them had been miscast and was now stuck trying to make the best of it. I’m not sure it was a good idea to use Ansari’s real life parents as Dev’s parents, either. His father seemed to enjoy the role, but his mother always looked like she was reading cue cards. Regardless, despite the overall weak cast, it’s a fun show, and I really hope we see a second season next year.