Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder In Hell

Published: April 24th, 2019 – December 4th, 2019
Written by: Mateus Santolouco
Art by: Mateus Santolouco
Based on: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird

IDW Publishing, 146 Pages

Review:

While I haven’t read any of IDW’s regular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles continuity, I’ve heard really good things about it from friends who love everything Turtles. Granted, they could have some bias but I figured that this miniseries had an interesting enough premise for me to check out.

I’m not sure about what led to this but Shredder is in Hell, as the title implies. I wouldn’t say that this is too dissimilar from other comics where characters go to Hell and have to face their own demons but it was still a cool read with pretty good art.

My only real complaint about it was that I felt like I needed more context and enough backstory wasn’t revealed within this five issue arc.

Additionally, there were big delays between the issues getting released and waiting three months for issue five really hurt the momentum of the series, as it’s hard to retain most of the details from the first four issues, when you are getting old and read dozens of comics per month.

In a nutshell, this isn’t a bad effort but it’s not a very good effort. I felt lost through parts of it but the art salvaged some of it and at least it was visually neat.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: other recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics from IDW, especially since this ties to the main story in that continuity.

Film Review: Bloodlust! (1961)

Release Date: September 13th, 1961 (San Diego premiere)
Directed by: Ralph Brooke
Written by: Richard Connell, Ralph Brooke
Music by: Michael Terr
Cast: Wilton Graff, Robert Reed, June Kenney, Gene Persson

Crown International Pictures, Cinegraf Productions, 68 Minutes

Review:

“Listen, Mister Balleau, fun’s fun. But if you think we’re gonna be the clay pigeons in your shooting gallery – you’re just a little far out!” – Johnny Randall

I’ve seen Wilton Graff appear in other films but mostly as an uncredited bit role. Here, one of his last films, he gets some time to shine. And frankly, he comes off like a poor man’s Vincent Price. But honestly, that is kind of cool, even if he doesn’t quite nail Price’s eloquence, panache and poetic way with words.

Despite that, however, this is a pretty crappy film that was deservedly lampooned on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The plot sees some vacationing doofus couples hijack a boat from their drunk captain. They get the genius idea to go explore a jungle island. The drunk captain wakes up and warns them not to. The doofuses quickly discover that the island is owned by a madman. Their insane host then holds them hostage in his home. They all want to escape but before they know it, they’re used as game in the madman’s manhunt.

While I like manhunt movies, this isn’t a near masterpiece like 1994’s Surviving the Game, I say that facetiously, since tone can’t be expressed properly with typed words. But honestly, this is amusing to a degree but far from anything all that worthwhile and the concept has been done much better elsewhere.

On a side note: there is a chick in this movie that is the daughter of a judo expert and she judo flips a henchman into a pool of acid. So for all the weirdos that didn’t think that there were badass female heroes before Captain Marvel, you’re stupid.

Anyway, this isn’t a film that I can recommend unless you watch the MST3K version.

Rating: 2.5/10
Pairs well with: other black and white horror schlock that was featured on MST3K.

Video Game Review: The Karate Kid (NES)

Sadly, The Karate Kid game for the original Nintendo Entertainment System is completely devoid of Cobra Kai.

I guess that’s because it is primarily based off of the second film, which saw Daniel-San and Mr. Miyagi go to Okinawa where they both had to face their own challenges. In the case of Daniel-San, his challenge came in the form of the local douchebag rich kid, Chozen.

The first stage in this game is the karate tournament from the end of the first movie but you fight generic opponents. Every stage after that takes place in Okinawa, as you fight your way through side scrolling stages. Eventually, once you reach the end of the fourth and final stage, you fight Chozen on the same platform from the finale of the second movie.

The game is pretty much a side scrolling beat’em up. However, there are a few cool mini games thrown in like dodging the hammer, catching the flies with chopsticks and karate chopping blocks of ice. These were all things taken from the second movie.

For the most part, the game is fun but it is over pretty quickly.

The mechanics are okay. They can be a bit frustrating at first but they don’t take long to adapt to.

While I like the game, I do wish it was longer and had better level design. Maybe even some cut scenes to provide some story would have been nice, as well.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: other 8-bit side scrolling beat’em ups.

Film Review: Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle (1993)

Release Date: July 31st, 1993 (Japan)
Directed by: Kazuhiro Furuhashi
Based on: Fatal Fury: King of Fighters by SNK
Music by: Toshihiko Sahashi

Nihon Ad Systems (NAS), 75 Minutes

Review:

While the first movie didn’t age too well, I still wanted to watch the second one, as it bridges the gap between the first and third movies and because I remember the third one being exceptionally good for the time.

These films are based off of the fighting game series of the same name, a series that would eventually evolve into the popular King of Fighters franchise.

I would say that this chapter is a step up from the first one, as it is longer, has more story and also has more fighting and introduces fans to other beloved characters that didn’t fit in the first chapter.

The plot mostly follows the plot of the second game and introduces the villain Wolfgang Krauser, who appears to be a bigger badass than Geese Howard of the original game and film. It also brings in the matador villain Laurence Blood, as every big baddie needs a top henchman. Blood is to Krauser what Billy Kane was to Geese.

I think that the animation here is pretty consistent with the first film but it may be a hair bit better. Where I did notice improvement was in the action, especially the fighting scenes.

Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle expands the story quite a bit and it helps to set the stage for the followup: Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture, which was the finale and the only one that saw theatrical release.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: the two other Fatal Fury movies.

Video Game Review: Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom (NES)

The things I complained about with the first two Ninja Gaiden games seem to be less of an issue with this one. The main thing being the difficulty of the game and how you are constantly overwhelmed by enemies and find yourself extremely frustrated.

The other main issue I had with the other games was the mechanics. They are greatly improved here. You can climb up walls and actually jump forward over edges now, which allows you to work your way through the levels much better and with less complications.

Also, the bosses in this seem easier and there is more of a variance in their style. You can figure out and employ good strategies for most, as opposed to simply hacking and slashing and hoping you can dodge enough enemy attacks just to outlast the baddie.

Where the game lacks though, is in the story. This has the weakest plot of the three games and it feels out of place, as a follow up to the first two games. This is much more sci-fi based than fantasy. It has alien technology, super soldiers and dimension jumping. While those aren’t bad things, they just felt out of place with what was already established and the tone of the stories that came before.

The plot is still okay enough to make me care but it didn’t motivate me to push through like it did in the other games. Still, I played through and beat this but that was mainly due to it being less of a clusterfuck and more fun, overall.

I only wish they had fine tuned the gameplay earlier than this and employed it in the previous games, which would have made them much better experiences.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: all the other Ninja Gaiden games for the NES.

Video Game Review: Wrath of the Black Manta (NES)

I remember renting Wrath of the Black Manta for the weekend when I was in sixth grade. It was a new game, starring a ninja and it just had a cool f’n title!

However, what I got was mostly a pile of mediocre ninjitspoo.

It’s not a bad game but it’s not a good game. It’s frustrating in spots, as it’s not clear as to what your supposed to do sometimes but even when I played this as a kid, I got to the final level. I’m pretty sure I didn’t beat it though.

The graphics in this are just pretty mundane. And honestly, the gameplay is boring. This feels like a halfassed ripoff of the Nintendo port of Shinobi but with less style.

Most of the levels aren’t very straightforward and while it may at first seem like interesting level design, it’s mostly nonsensical. That’d be okay, I guess, if there were things worth exploring but there aren’t.

The mechanics are wonky, as well. It’s not clear how to do any of the magic shit or what the point of most of the spells are. It’s a trial and error thing but I still didn’t mess around with most of them.

This is an okay time waster but there are much better games to play before even firing this one up.

I’d say it’s less infuriating than the first two Ninja Gaiden games but those were at least carried by cool stories. The story here is generic and uninspiring. It certainly doesn’t make you want to beat the game for a resolution to the plot.

Rating: 5/10
Pairs well with: other ninja games for the original Nintendo.

Video Game Review: Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos (NES)

Like its predecessor, this was a game that was frustrating as hell but sort of made up for that with superb cut scenes and a terrific story that you wanted to see come to its conclusion.

The story is the real motivator in these games, as you have to progress in order to watch it all play out. Plus, we didn’t have YouTube back in 1990, so we couldn’t just throw our controllers through a window and just watch the ending online.

This does improve on a few things though.

For one, the graphics are better than the first game. While the sprites of the characters are basically the same, the levels just look nicer, have better colors and seem more varied in style.

Also, the physics have been tweaked to improve the gameplay. You can climb up and down regular walls, which is a big plus.

However, this game hinders these improvements by making the frustrating enemies even more frustrating. Because of that, despite countless hours of trying, I never beat this game back in the day.

I did beat it on this playthrough but it required game genie codes and the save state option on an emulator. But even then, this was still just a lot of frustration.

In the end, this is an improvement over the first game but it’s just as maddening, if not more so.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: all the other Ninja Gaiden games for the NES.