Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle

I don’t know how much I have to say about Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. It was pretty fun, but it is exactly what purports to be; I didn’t see a lot to comment on. Maybe I could spend this review complaining about the first Jumanji, which is junk, but that feels like a waste of time. This movie takes a goofy body switching premise, but things in the hands of four fun performers and just sort of does its thing.

The plot of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is that a quartet of high school kids fitting rough stereotypes get sent to detention together. Forced to clean out an old storeroom, they find a mysterious old video game titled Jumanji and try to play it. It sucks them all into the game, where they become the character they selected. So the nerdy guy becomes the Rock,the jock turns into Kevin Hart, the shy girl becomes Karen Gillan and the popular social media obsessed girl becomes Jack Black. Working together, they must beat the game to go home.

It is just what it seems. They play through video game cliches and confidence lessons. There are tons of jokes about how the guy that was small is now big and the guy that was big is now small, as well as Black portraying a teen girl. It is nothing new, but it all works.

The biggest reason it works is because of its stars. Dwayne Johnson is endlessly charming and has a track record of working well with Kevin Hart. Hart, I’ve found, works best in small doses and this here is just the right amount. This is also a good showcase for Karen Gillan, who gets a chance to shine not covered in Nebula makeup. Then there is Black, who has to play a different gender and really has fun with it. How much you like the movie likely comes down to how much you like these four. I am a big fan of three of them, and neutral on the fourth, so it really worked for me.

I don’t really want to spoil any jokes, and the plot isn’t worth spoiling; there really isn’t much here other than some very good popcorn entertainment. It is action, adventure, and CGI animals, which fortunately look a lot better than the ones in the original looked. It isn’t genuinely good, but it also isn’t as dumb as a lot of other would be blockbusters. It is roughly as good as watching The Last Jedi for the third or fourth time.

***1/2

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri Review

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri is a hell of a movie. It isn’t perfect, but is a thoughtful and thought provoking film. It has several excellent performances and some really interesting things to say about how people deal with trauma. It is also really funny. It is simply one of the best movies released this year.

The movie opens with McDormand’s Mildred deciding to place three billboards on a largely abandoned stretch of road near the small town of Ebbing, Missouri that calls out the local police, and popular Chief Willoughby in particular, about why there has been no progress made in the investigation of her daughter’s murder. It provokes some responses; some support angry, many angry, and things soon spiral out of control.

It is certainly Frances McDormand’s movie and she is as good here as she has ever been. She imbues Mildred with palpable hurt and anger about the loss of her daughter. She isn’t always easy to like, and does several things that are simply wrong. Still, she is very relatable. Woody Harrelson as Chief Willoughby is also great; he is a mostly good man dealing with his own struggles. He certainly has blind spots, egregious blind spots, but he is at least trying to the right thing. The most outstanding performance is Sam Rockwell as Dixon, an incompetent, racist cop who appears much more interested in settling personal grievances than doing his job. The movie doesn’t do much to redeem those flaws about him, but it does eventually give you the rest of the picture, and he becomes a full figured character. Everybody else is good, but those three give the best performances.

While the film raises a lot of questions about difficult issues, it is really about anger and how people process it. It doesn’t suggest that anger is a bad or inappropriate response to terrible things, but it also shows how acting in anger isn’t always the best idea. Mildred is understandably and justifiably angry, though she might not have the right target for her rage. Likewise, Dixon is all rage at frequently innocent targets, but his is shown to be frustrated at his inabilities. He can’t solve Mildred’s case, he can’t help Chief Willoughby, but he acts in whatever way he can to do so. Willoughby is the most at peace with troubles. He could react with anger to what happens to him, but he accepts it with something resembling calm. The movie doesn’t suggest that Willoughby’s reaction is necessarily the right one; it instead shows how anger can help people process tragedy, but at some point you have to process or the anger becomes merely destructive. It is really great.

Those difficult issues it brings up, and doesn’t really deal with, are a problem. Mildred’s ex-husband is abusive, but it also has him dating a significantly younger girl and doesn’t even acknowledge that this might be a terrible thing for her once he reverts to form. It also level accusations of racism against the cops, and one in particular, but the movie never really does anything with that information. I like that it has the nuance to not make any of its characters out and out villains, but it also lets some of them off the hook too easily.

This is undoubtedly one of the best movies of the year. I haven’t seen any of McDonagh other movies, In Bruges or Seven Psychopaths, but I intend to rectify that shortly. It is rare to get a movie that is this unpredictable and enjoyable.

*****

Top 10 Games of 2017

I didn’t play too many new games this year, and I completed only a fraction of those that I did play. Even so, I was able to assemble a list of my 10 favorite games. I haven’t beaten every game on this list, but I have played all of them enough to know how good they are.

10. Etrian Odyssey V -I have barely cleared the first stratum of this game’s dungeon. I have loved previous Etrian Odyssey games and I like this one so far, but it hasn’t grabbed me like most of the rest of the series, so I don’t know where I’ll end up with this one. It could easily fall off the list, or it could shoot up four or five spots once I finish it.

09. Disney Afternoon Collection -I have played each of the games in this excellent collection for at least an hour, but I haven’t beaten any of them. Capcom’s NES Disney games are mostly terrific. Even the worst of the lot, Tailspin, is at least trying to do something interesting. I man never beat any of these games, but I expect to have a lot of fun with it going forward.

08. Ever Oasis - A delightful little game with a little Actraiser and a little Secret of Mana and a little Legend of Zelda.  It ends up being a pretty unique blend that makes for a very fun little game.  I didn’t think it did anything great, but it was consistently pleasant and enjoyable.

07. Yakuza 0 - This game would almost certainly be higher on this list if I had managed to complete it. If the first two chapters are indicative of the whole game, it might have topped the list. I just didn’t spend the time with it that I needed to in order to beat it. I have raved about Yakuza games in the past, and everything I’ve said about the previous games hold true here. It is just a great experience.

06. Fire Emblem: Shadows of Valentia There is a middle ground between this remake of the second Fire Emblem game and the previous 3DS triad release of Fates. I liked this game a bunch and it did some new and interesting things with the series despite being a remake, but it also lost some things that I loved about the series. I guess my complaint with the series amount to why can’t they just make the GBA games some more. I still have yet to not enjoy a Fire Emblem game.

05. Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap Another remake (fully half of the games on my list this year are remakes), this new Wonder Boy takes the Master System game and gives it a gorgeous, fresh coat of paint. It also changes just enough in terms of quality of life improvements to make it play just like you remember it playing. I really think I need to spend time with the rest of this series, since I loved both this and Monster World 4.

04. Persona 5 I didn’t love this game quite like I did with the previous two games in the series, but it was still mostly a really good time. It still has a great battle system and its life sim elements are incredibly addictive.

03. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age This remake of the most underrated Final Fantasy game proves how good and forward thinking the game was back when it first came out. It also reminded me that the game is a lot shorter than I recalled, clocking in at a satisfying 35-40 hours instead of the 60 or so I remembered. I really need to get back to try to finish up all the hunts at some point.

02. River City Rival Showdown - This one might not be as high once the newness wears off, but right now it is everything I want out of a modern River City game. It’s got a fun, goofy story, classic graphics, a deep array of special moves and some genuinely awesome moments. I hope they make more of these.

01. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild I had some trepidation going into Breath of the Wild, but it won me over completely. It mostly lacks my favorite part of a Zelda game, the dungeons, but it creates an open world that for once is actually worth exploring. It fulfills the exploratory promise that has been inherent in the series since the NES days. I love it.

Top 10 TV Shows of 2017

It was a pretty good year for TV. Here’s my list for the ten best shows of the year:

10: Lady Dynamite – Weird and surreal and completely hilarious.

09: GLOW – It takes a little while to get going, but the payoff is worth it. This show does a great job building up a cast of character worth watching going forward.

08: Wet Hot American Summer Ten Years Later – I hope they keep making Wet Hot Summer, because it keeps getting weirder while maintaining the same level of funniness.

07: Outlander S3 – The book this season was adapting, Voyager, is a tough nut to crack. It jumps all over the place in space and time, with few recurring characters. It also has some terrible moments, offset by some terrific ones. The show did a good job of turning that into a season of TV, though it couldn’t shake the unevenness. Still, I liked it.

06: Legion – It definitely goes its own way with X-Men lore, but it was a wild entertaining ride. I really need to rewatch it now that I know where it goes.

05: American Vandal – This came out of nowhere and the first time I watched it, it wasn’t near the list. But I felt compelled to watch it again and I liked it even more that time. It just does too many things well to mention them all here.

04: Fargo S3 – I’m not sure this season came together by the end, but I know that I really loved the journey. It set up a lot of compelling characters and scenarios, and mostly played them out satisfactorily, though with more coldness than the first two seasons.

03: The Good Place – The show is phenomenal. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, it pivots into something else, something even more interesting and funny than what came before.

02: Stranger Things 2 – The titling of this show tells it all, this is a sequel, not a continuation. It all worked for me. It pushes right up to that edge of being genuinely scary, but is mostly in that Jurassic Park range scariness that is about the most I can take. It move all the characters forward and introduces some great new ones. I loved it.

1: Master of None – There are like three of four masterpiece episodes in the second season of Master of None, the standout being Thanksgiving. Aziz and Alan Yang crafted a perfect comedy romance over the 10 episodes of this season. I loved it.

Honorable Mentions: There was a lot of good TV that would fit somewhere between five and ten, but a lot of them couldn’t fit on the list. Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return was good, especially after the first few episodes and got into a rhythm. I don’t know that the most recent season of Bob’s Burgers was the best the show has ever had, but I did finally realize that it is one of my all-time favorite shows. Dear White People was a insightful look at race relations in 2017. Riverdale is delightfully bonkers. Taboo was enjoyably gross. Little Witch Academia is the most I have enjoyed a new anime series in some time, though with the caveat that I don’t watch all that much anymore. And lastly is Snatch. There is a significant possibility that Snatch would not hold up to a rewatch and I seem to be one of the few people that liked it, but I thought it was good fun that captured the tone of the movie even if it wasn’t quite up to that quality. I really wanted to put it on the list, but it was more of a good not great show that I wanted to bring up.

Let’s hope 2018 brings as much good TV as 2017, while being less of a shitshow in nearly every other regard.

Top 10 Movies of 2017

Making a top 10 list this year has proved pretty difficult. There were a lot of movies I liked, but few movies that I really, absolutely loved. I don’t think anything I saw this year was as good as last year’s The Nice Guys or Love and Friendship, let alone Mad Mad: Fury Road from the year before. But there were a lot of movies that I liked enough to consider for the back half of the list. Also, this year I watched a lot more movies than I have in years past, so I had a lot more to choose from. There are also several that I think I would like that I haven’t had the chance to see, like I, Tonya, Coco, or The Darkest Hour. But I didn’t manage to see them before I made the list, so they aren’t on it. It also might be noted that my review scores don’t match up exactly with how I ranked the movies on the list; I don’t care this is how much I like the movies compared to each other right now.

Honorable Mentions: Okja and Murder on the Orient Express. Both a lot of fun, but neither quite as good as the rest of the list. Still, I liked them well enough that I had a hard time not putting them on the list at all. Also, Dunkirk, which got bumped off the list just the other day when I saw my #1.

10. Logan Lucky I went into this with little in the way of expectations and I liked it. The further I get away from it, the more and more I like it. It is just a thoroughly enjoyable film.

9. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 It is like the first one, but more. Just more. It also held up better to a rewatch than I expected it to, though it does get pretty shaggy in the middle and I kind of hate the CGI-fest that is large parts of the finale.

8. Thor: Ragnarok A full on delight that I expect will play well on rewatches. I wish it would have pulled back on the humor just a bit so the more epic moments could hit a little harder, but I liked it anyway. It was frequently legitimately funny and had just enough the cosmic stuff to feel worth it.

7. John Wick 2 – The first John Wick movie was about a perfect distillation of everything great about action movies, the sequel is not quite as pure, but it is deeper and had just as great of action scenes. Keanu Reeves has more than cemented his place on the action movie Mt Rushmore, and this is just another feather in his cap.

6. Wonder Woman – This is one of the finest examples of just a straight up superhero movie to come out in long time. And the ending, which I had some problems with in the theater, played really good watching it over the holiday.

5. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri – A fascinating, difficult look at not entirely good people in tough circumstances. It is funny and sad and full of great performances.

4. Star Wars The Last Jedi – It moved the new Star Wars movies from being just retreads of the original series and on to being their own thing. It did it while pushing a lot of the themes that the series has been known for.

3. Blade Runner 2049 I’ve honestly never been the biggest fan of the original Blade Runner; it is a mood piece that just never quite connected with me. This sequel, though, is exactly what I wanted to see. It is a thoughtful, intelligent, gorgeous, sci-fi thriller.

2. Baby Driver The Kevin Spacey stuff hangs over this like a pall. I don’t know that I’ll be able to rewatch this anytime soon and not think about that stuff. That doesn’t change the fact that for most of the year this is the best movie I saw in 2017. It isn’t Edgar Wright’s best movie, but it is perfectly fun.

1. The Shape of Water – I caught this a few days after New Years and I immediately fell in love with it. Del Toro spins another phenomenal fairy tale that really gets across his love of the monster in the monster movie. Del Toro makes movies just for me and I am glad of it.

Now Playing in December 2017

Beaten

River City Rival Showdown — I burned through this game in a few days and have a post coming up for it. It is everything I wanted from it.

Ongoing

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild — With Xenoblade Chronicles 2 out, I felt the desire to go back to Xenoblade Chronicles X and finish up a lot of late game stuff, but apparently my nephew deleted my save at some point. Instead, I fired up Breath of the Wild again and completed a few shrines. I love the game so much, I could play it forever. I think I might try to clear out all of the shrines if I have the time.

Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time — I’ve been told that this game is the black sheep of the Mario & Luigi series, but through the first half or so of the game it is closer to the peak of the series rather than the bottom. I like the M&L series, but the only weakness of this entry so far is that it lacks the joy of the great villains like Fawful or Bowser. Otherwise, it has been a blast.

Upcoming

Final Fantasy XV — I got this for Christmas and am eager to get to it.

Monster Hunter World — I’ve missed out on the beta demos for this game, but I couldn’t be more excited for a full console Monster Hunter game. Don’t get me wrong, I greatly enjoy the 3DS Monster Hunter games, but I first fell in love with the series with the WiiU version of Monster Hunter 3. I hope this is good.

Mario — I still intend to get to the rest of the series and finish this playthrough before starting a new series playthrough, like Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest of Suikoden.

What I Read December 2017

Here’s what I read in December: nothing. For the first time since I started doing this on my blog, I have went a month without reading a book. I hope to never do that again. We’ll see. I wasn’t sure I should even write something out, but I decided marking the occasion that I read nothing was worth noting. I finished The Phoenix Guard near the end of last month and just didn’t try to start anything else before the end of the year. I did get Brandon Sanderson’s newest Stormlight Archive tome, Oathbringer, but that is a huge book and I barely got started with it.

What I did read were some old issues of Nintendo Power, which made me incredibly sad and nostalgic. Out of my disorganized collection, I just happened to pick up one of the issues I had as a child, from the days just as the SNES was coming out. I read my issues from that period over and over as a child. The other one I grabbed was the last issue of the magazine. It is still equally satisfying and heartbreaking to read. I do think their list of greatest games covered is nonsense, but there is no way to do that list without it being nonsense.

Next month, hopefully I’ll have something read.

Star Wars The Last Jedi Review

Honestly, when I first walked out of the theater after seeing The Last Jedi I was disappointed. It wasn’t at all what I expected or what I thought I wanted. As I thought about it on the drive home and over the next day, my opinion really changed. I was shocked at first because the movie is so different from it predecessor. The Force Awakens was desperate to please and easy to like, with constant, reverent references to the original trilogy. While it’s plot wasn’t much more than a point for point remake of A New Hope, it also took the time to set up numerous mysteries. Instead of being focused on living up to expectations, The Last Jedi revels in subverting them. It can feel confounding at first, but once digested it makes for one of the most fulfilling Star Wars experiences I’ve had.

I don’t want to just spoil the movie in my review, though I assume nearly everyone who is going to see it has done so at this point, so I am not going to walk through each of Rey’s, Luke’s, Finn’s and Poe’s stories. They each share key thematic points, though the movie keeps most of the heroes apart. Details are shared across three stories pretty evenly, but I think the strongest example of what the movie is doing is Poe’s storyline. The hotshot pilot gets a moment to show off to start the film with a solo bit of heroics that morphs into a suicide run on the film’s bigger, more dangerous take on the Star Destroyer, the Dreadnought. In any other Star Wars movie, the assault on the Dreadnought would be a grand, heroic moment. That is the sort of moment the series is built on. Here it is a bit of folly that gets Poe demoted. Still, throughout the movie Poe tries to be the action hero like Luke and Han and even Obi-Wan were in previous movies. While I say that isn’t like other Star Wars movies, it isn’t really unlike Empire Strikes Back, which saw the rebellion only as they fought a delaying battle before running away from an Imperial Fleet. The Last Jedi spells it out as a battle to save what you love, not destroy what you hate, a message that fits in with other Star Wars movies even as this one makes distinctions.

It is also a movie about failure and how to deal with it. Each of our heroes must deal with failure in this movie, and how they learn from it is important. That is why people who dislike the Finn and Rose story are missing the point. That part is called a waste of time only because they eventually fail in their mission, but the whole point of the movie, the final lesson that Yoda has to teach Luke, is that failure is among the greatest of teachers.

The best part of the movie is how it backs away from the idea of the destined hero. That flaw is largely confined to the prequels, which started Anakin out as this mythological figure before we even got to know him. This pulls that back. The heroes of Star Wars maybe do heroic things, but they are just people in this world, like Luke and Han were. It is deliberately lessening the emphasis on legacy that The Force Awakens focused on. People spent a couple of years speculating about who Rey’s parents were because of who Luke’s dad turned out to be, but Rey’s story isn’t Luke’s story. The revelation that her parents aren’t anybody is the best possible way to solve that mystery.

At first, I didn’t like that The Last Jedi withheld the comforting conclusions that I was expecting. I wanted to see Luke in his full glory, I wanted to see Finn and Poe go on adventures. Watching the movie, I didn’t get anything that I wanted, other than the wholly excellent throne room scene. But judging the movie not based on my preconceived notions about what I thought it would be, but on what it is and what is accomplished convinced me that this is the best Star Wars movie since the original trilogy ended.

As I said, I didn’t really like the movie when it first finished, but by the time I went for my second viewing a fews days later I was even more excited than I was before my first viewing. The Last Jedi is a thematically rich movie that upends a lot of what people expect Star Wars to be, while not really changing anything. It makes the galaxy far, far away feel larger than it has since it was revealed that Leia was Luke’s sister. It is a big galaxy, and anybody can be the hero. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I don’t know what is coming next with Star Wars and I couldn’t be more excited.

*****

What I Watched November 2017

Movies

Thor: Ragnarok- read review here. ****1/2

Murder on the Orient Express – read review here. ****

Icarus – This is an amazing watch. It starts as a man trying to recreate some cycling doping, to see how effective and difficult it is, but it morphs into something much more. It is wonderful. *****

Justice League – read review here. ***1/2

Message from the King – Chadwick Boseman is great, this movie is not. It is a lifeless thriller that struggles to elicit any interest. Other than the star, I found nothing to like or latch onto here. **

Wheelman – The gimmick of this movie just didn’t do it for me. It is a crime movie about a driver that never leaves the car. So nearly the whole movie happens with him behind the wheel. It isn’t terrible, but nothing it did was particularly interesting. **1/2

Goldeneye – This is still an excellent start to Brosnan’s run as Bond. It is one of the better movies in the series and that start of what is my favorite era of Bond. It all just kind of works. ****

A Christmas Prince – I was still trying to watch all of Netflix’s movies, so I watched this. It is exactly what it seems to be. It is not for me, it shouldn’t be. I guess it is perfectly fine for what it is. **1/2

Bram Stoker’s Dracula – I am not a big horror guy, so this movie has sat just off my radar forever. If I had only known what I was in store for. Keanu is miscast, but the rest of the cast is so great it more than makes up for his struggles. Anthony Hopkins is having a blast and so is Gary Oldman. It is insane and great and unexpected and not really a horror movie at all. I think I loved it. ****

Jackie Brown – Someone once told me that this was one of Tarantino’s weaker movies, but now that I’ve watched it I know that that is not true. This is at least on the level of Pulp Fiction, and I rate it higher. It is, I believe, Tarantino’s only adapted work, but it still feels like him. It luxuriates in character, letting everything build at the appropriate pace to always satisfying conclusions. *****

On the Waterfront – This is real good. Brando plays a former boxer whose brother works for a corrupt union boss. Brando witnessed some murders and is going to testify and the boss, who is willing to take drastic measures to stop him. It is impossible to look away from. *****

To The Bone – A drama about a girl with an eating disorder and her struggles dealing with it. It seemed perfectly well made, if not completely interesting to me. ***

Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – I guess it is well made, but watching it made me like Jim Carrey, Man on the Moon and Andy Kaufman less. This is footage that didn’t need to be seen. **

Wonder Woman – My thoughts really haven’t changed from this summer; this movie is still great. ****1/2

The Big Sick – I bought into the hype a little too much with this one. I heard from a lot of people how great it was and when I watched it I only found it to be very good. I don’t really have anything to criticize, it is very good and deserves all of its success, but it was low-key enough with the humor and the drama that it didn’t have the impact I would have liked. Still, I say again it was very good. ****1/2

TV

The Orville – The reaction to this has been mixed to say the least. It is an odd mash up, with straight up Next Generation Trek mixed with Seth MacFarlane’s often dubious humor. The humor often doesn’t work, but through its twelve episodes it finds its footing and ends up providing some classic sci fi entertainment. It feels like classic Star Trek, albeit Star Trek with a misplaced irreverent streak. When it keeps that stuff to the margins or confined to the cold open, it is very entertaining. I’ll watch more of it when it comes back.

Inhumans – How bad this show was is astounding. It wasn’t just ill-conceived from a plotting perspective, like Iron Fist, a show that shares a showrunner with Inhumans, but it is also cheap and just badly made. In nearly every choice this show made, it chose poorly. It almost defies description. I feel bad for the actors, because it isn’t really their fault. But this is a superhero show that belongs in the conversation with movies like Catwoman or Fantastic 4 as the worst superhero production of the 21st century.

Alias Grace – This show was interesting; it is an adaptation of the based on a true story book. It is a perfectly fine adaptation that never really rises above being perfectly fine. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t really stick with me.

The Confession Tapes – This might be the most infuriating thing I’ve ever seen. Not for any failure of the show, but because how awful the events it depicts are. It shows in stark detail how police elicit false confessions and then convict people with confession that they must know are not true. It is gross and upsetting and important to know. It doesn’t make it any easier to watch.

Brooklyn 99 – I liked this show when it first started, but I kinda lost track of it after that. Catching up with it on hulu, I’ve really been missing out. It is another great show from MIchael Schur, who had a hand in The Office, Park & Rec, and The Good Place. This show stands with those as another modern classic. The first season is a little rough at times, but it finds its footing remarkably quickly and maintains a steady excellence for most of its run, up to now.

Lady Dynamite Season 2 – This was a surreal masterpiece. It manages to both real and completely nonsensical. The future segments grow increasingly unhinged as the show goes on, while the present day stuff is largely goofy sitcom fun. It is just a great show.

Runaways – I’ve only watched the first three episodes so far, but the show is good so far, despite being incredibly slow. I hope it picks up, because three hours into a show called Runaways no one has run away yet.

DC Superhero Shows – This year’s crossover was just about perfect. Legends has made another leap this season and is now clearly the best of the DC’s CW shows. Supergirl is kind of stuck in neutral, but it still mostly enjoyable. The Flash has made something of a course correction from last year’s too dour season and is so far a lot of fun. As for Arrow, I’ll catch up when it hits Netflix.

Now Playing November 2017

Beaten

Kindle Picross games – I’ve been playing some picross games on my Kindle before I go to bed and I’ve all but run out of free puzzles. They are fine.

Ongoing

Yakuza 0 – I did a handful of side stories with Majima, and played a ton of Outrun. I love this game, but I haven’t had the time to play it.

Terranigma – Small progress, see my consistent complaints about free time.

Etrian Odyssey V – This game has me stymied. It should be my wind down, spending twenty minutes exploring before I go to bed, but I can’t get through the end of the first stratum, where traditionally the increased options with the characters eases things up enough to be enjoyable rather than frustrating.

Upcoming

Mario – I am getting back to this, though there may be a couple holes in my series replay. I don’t know if I have a working Gamecube or Wii to play Mario Sunshine. I also don’t have ready access to a good copy of New Super Mario Bros Wii. The rest, though, are ready to do and I will get to them as soon as possible. And maybe by the time I’m done I will have access to Super Mario Odyssey.

River City Rival Showdown – This came out in November, but my package didn’t arrive in time for me to start. Once finals end, I am going to lay on my couch and play this straight through, so long as it lives up to its predecessor.