Tag Archives: Dolls

Alice: Madness Returns

In this game of twisted returns to Wonderland, American McGee’s Alice returns with a vengeance. Featured on Windows, PS3, and Xbox 360, this game may leave you feeling a bit queasy and reeling. I haven’ played the original before, but this game got me pumped up enough for it. And you can buy the first one and play it on your game system via PS3 online or Xbox Live! All is wonderful in Wonderland…

This game takes place after the events of the first. The Red Queen is defeated and Alice feels she can return to a sense of normality. Or so she thought… Blaming

Now that’s what I wanna see (I loved her different dresses).

herself for the death of her family and sister Elizabeth in the house fire, Alice is sent to an insane asylum. After fighting back against her demons, she’s released, only to find herself slipping in and out of Wonderland.

Flying fanciful free… to your death.

But this isn’t the Wonderland I know and love. This Wonderland is deranged. There are dolls roaming everywhere, black liquid acid, everyone has been deformed and crippled! Steampunk has taken over! Alice must find what is going on and stop the Infernal Train that is haunting her dreams as well as her waking life. To save Wonderland, she must save herself… and vice versa.

This game had me off me tits for most of it. I had little semblances of what was real and where I was in space and time. The characters were familiar and yet bastardized at the same time. Up was down, down was left, right was wrong, and all that old shite. (You see the English mannerisms coming in, don’t you?) Alice has become snarky and meaner in her teen years, and it all goes to show that Alice had to grow up sometime. (She still loves her stuffed rabbit though…)

Oh, all the tools at your disposal…

The gameplay… was average. You jump and glide from platform to platform, hoping to don’t burst into butterflies, with that horrid far-off scream. You battle enemies, some easy, some impossible without the Hysteria feature that kicks in at low health. Whatever anyone says, the Infernal Ruin (the train mud dumps) are nearly impossible to beat, even on normal. I can’t imagine Nightmare mode… Most of the time you know the ways to get around, and every once in a while there’s an alternate route to take (thus, replay value). But for those really stressful times that come up in the game, I don’t really feel like going back and replaying stress. It’s not good for you, you know?

Off with her silly little head…

I think the game designers need to make Alice 3, and really vamp up the graphics. For an Xbox 360 game that was 10 years coming, it was rather lackluster. Alice’s hair is flying all over the place (actually cool) but glitches that weren’t even meant to be in Wonderland abounded frequently. If I have to play that game again and constantly fall into oblivion because there’s a glitch, I may become mad myself.

The voice acting was fine but not a lot of work was put into the cutscenes. You find out all this information in a right hurry, and it doesn’t seem to come to you where you can add up the dots. The picture cutout scenes were quite cool, but the in between mini games with the Japanese 2-D jumping and the doll’s head pinball, that has to go.

Get some of that sick depravity.

Overall, I loved the feel of this game. It was creepy, unsettling, and really focused in on my fear of dolls. Nothing feels childlike in this game and you feel that every second is your last with constant death and restarting. To analyze madness in such a way with the characters and the feeling of 19th century London, Alice Liddell really has things stacked against her. To question what is sane and insane was cool, the gameplay left something to be desired (got a bit repetitive towards the end), but, for an Alice in Wonderland fanatic, this game is just what I ordered. I own different copies of the story, different artwork, I’ve seen a dozen films, and this game combines my love of Alice and the gang with horror. What could be better? (Maybe better gameplay…) A solid 6.1 out of 10.

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Darker Than Black: Badder Than Badass

Thinking back to the days in which I spent less than a week watching Darker than Black, I only have fond memories. As it was with Basilisk (another anime I’ve reviewed about individuals with unique powers) so it was with Darker than Black. The idea of the Contractors and their Payments is really what sold me on the show. In a “post-apocalyptic world” in which the stars have forsaken us in place of demigods on Earth, a world of humans and the mythic becomes meshed into one. With its ridiculous beginning with two normal humans chasing down a Contractor. In an instant, with the breaking of some fingers, the Contractor goes flying off into the sky with his ability to defy gravity and control it to his will. Tell me that isn’t something badass-worthy.

Basic plot of the show: So this mysterious gate appears in Tokyo that appears to hold some mystical powers that alters the face of the earth. In South America, a team of changed human beings prepare to take out what is known as Heaven’s Gate, its twin in Tokyo known as Hell’s Gate. In a gigantic explosion with no known explanation, Heaven’s Gate is destroyed and the pasts of those involved become altered. It is up to Hei (Jason Liebrecht) to discover his past in

Hie and his ladies.

connection to the other Contractors around him.

It is these other Contractors that hold the key to exactly what it means to live in this new world of powers and new discoveries. The art of astrology has become relevant again as the Japanese government uses it in order to keep tabs on the Contractors of Japan. With the denotations of mere letters and numbers, the true names of the Contractors are not known, leaving the government at the mercy of the superhuman beings. Hie and his team consisting of Yin (Brina Palencia) a lifeless doll and tracking system, Huang (John Swasey) the team organizer, and Mao (Kent Williams) a former Contractor, now cat, travel the streets of Tokyo, performing missions given by The Syndicate. Through these missions, Hie and the others begin to discover their role in the Gates and what has been going on the last 10 years.

Yin, one of the more interesting characters.

The structure of the show is quite interesting. Although a continuous plot for Hie is not really put into effect until the last 10 episodes or so, the suggestion of a tying plot is frequently referenced to. Most of the beginning of the show flows between the Japanese government and its agents and a private investigator, intermingling Hie and his teams story. On the government side, Misaki Kirihara (Kate Oxley) is the head of an investigation team within the Public Security Bureau. Although she holds importance over the others, her subordinates Yusuke Saito (Chris Sabat) and Yukata Kano (Todd Haberkorn) provide support and comic relief in their roles. But the true comedy of the show comes from Gai Kurasawa (Brandon Potter) and Kiko Kayanuma (Brittney Karbowski). These two own their own private detective agency that comically coincides with just exactly what’s happening with Hie and the Contractors. Whether it’s looking for a cat or collecting stories on the true stars, Brandon Potter relentlessly blunders through as Gai and leaves a hilarious path of turmoil in his path.

And credit needs to be given to the Contractors of the show. November 11 (Troy Baker) is a ridiculously cool Contractor in league with MI6 and the British Intelligence Agency. With his ability to create ice from water spontaneously, November 11 comes across as a suave Bond character with the help from Troy

What a Bond you are, Nov. 11.

Baker. Maki (Maxey Whitehead) is a troubled little boy in league with, well, I’d rather you watch and find out (the plot comes in at this point), with the ability to create explosions with his hands, not unlike Kimblee of Fullmetal Alchemist (my favorite character, mind you and something I am currently re-watching). His troubled past leaves him struggling to be somebody among the wrong people. And a bit of an unspoken badass in the show, Wei Zhijun (Robert McCollum) pays with his own blood in order to lay waste to whatever it touches.

Ahhh, the power of blood.

Now these are only a few in a long string of Contractors that all have great backstories and well developed episodes. With about 2-3 episodes per character interaction, this eats up a good majority of a show. I had wished for a bit more of a straight-ahead plot the whole way through, but it didn’t detract from how good the show is. The voice acting is decent to good and really carries a lot of the show with the emotional scenes that creep up. What really captures me in this show is the excitement of a new Contractor and discovering their power and Payment. (I only capitalize because of those words’ importance.) The show, I guess, is really character driven and that’s the true charm of the show. The dark (hint hint) elements of the show don’t overburden the show or push it into the overdramatic, which really balances out the quality and amount of material the show covers. I really enjoyed myself while watching this and would suggest this to anyone who likes a good crime thriller action anime/film. Enjoy! 8.8 out of 10!

What's hidden behind that mask?