Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Dream Game: MK

Last year's Tecmo Koei/Nintendo mash-up Hyrule Warriors taught us several key things about the future of gaming. The Warriors franchise isn't as played out as people think, no mash-up is too outlandish to gain a large following, and more companies need to take risks like this if there is any hope whatsoever for gaming's future.

With the release of Mortal Kombat X, and my lack of a next-gen system, I  recently picked up a copy of Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks for Playstation 2. I've always loved the mythology of the Mortal Kombat universe, and Shaolin Monks showed us that MK can be so much more than just a one-on-one fighter While Shaolin Monks provided a solid combat system for a beat-em-up, though, there is so much more to explore in the MK universe.

Enter MK: Deception's Konquest mode. If you're unfamiliar, this mode follows new character Shujinko in his coming of age journey through all the realms of Mortal Kombat. On his way, he meets, trains with, and fights against a wide roster of veteran MK fighters, learning their moves, and establishing his own fighting style. This mode was truly unique due to it's wide open world that players could explore, freely travelling through portals and visiting incredibly varied landscapes.

Source: Kamidogu

The open world of Konquest mode was filled with secrets to find and new areas to explore, even including very basic combat in realms such as Outworld, allowing simple punches and kicks as you wander. With this being an extra mode in an already great fighting game, it's no surprise that it lacked a certain polish that we'd come to expect in a full fledged spin-off game. With that, my question is: Why not make that very game it's own spin-off?

Non open-world series like Mortal Kombat, Halo, Legend of Zelda, and more offer such rich universes filled with diverse planets, continents, and races that the base games barely graze. LoZ finally got the chance to spread it's wings and explore this lore with Hyrule Warriors, by completely changing it's fundamental gameplay. Halo has attempted this with games like Reach, and Halo Wars, but has come closer in it's widely popular book series. Mortal Kombat could value greatly from this, and the Warriors game series is a great way to enable this. The question is: How?

For your consideration, I offer you: Kombat Warriors.

Mortal Kombat X's story mode starts in the midst of a war. Three sides fight for total control, each led by a select group of unbeatable commanders, each with their own varied skill sets and weaponry. Sound familiar? That's because it's the entire Dynasty Warriors saga. It's a formula that works. 

Kombat Warriors would begin after the events of the first game. The tournament is over, Earthrealm has won. But Shang Tsung, and Shinnok are having none of it, as Shinnok enacts dark magic that causes all realms to merge together. The result is a new world whose continents are each based off of each individual realm. Choosing your warrior (or creating your own), it's your duty to fight on the front lines, defeat the other Kombatants, and rule this new world.
Players could choose their allegiance from three sides: The good warriors of Earthrealm, the evil forces of Shang Tsung and his Deadly Alliance, or the war driven armies of Outworld, led by Shao Khan.

Source: Crave Online

Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks offers a combat style ideal for this type of game. Your chosen character has a light and heavy attack, a throw, as well as four special attacks accessed by holding a shoulder button. Fatalities could also be performed after filling up a gauge, but this feature would be reserved for fights against the generals, as this feature tended to slow the game play of Shaolin Monks significantly. Dissimilar from the Dynasty Warriors series, instead of swinging wildly and hitting large numbers, the player would feel a closer connection to the Batman: Arkham series, having to balance combos from one enemy to another, sometimes throwing enemy grunts at other enemies. Countering would also be a prominent mechanic, making the traditionally 1-on-1 MK combat feel applicable in a large scale battle.

Battles would take place closely to that of Dynasty Warriors. Armies would combat each other, and the player, trying to gain the upper hand and control the battlefield. When the player reaches the enemy's Commanding Officer, however, the game play switches seamlessly to that of traditional Mortal Kombat. The remaining soldiers in the area would either continue fighting in a dynamic background, or circle around the two Generals, cheering their commanders on. Victory would allow the player to either spare their opponent, giving them a chance to change sides in the war, or fatality them, and the joy/misery of the soldiers in the background would change appropriately depending on who won.

Source: Too Much Gaming

Sounds a little too close to the Dynasty Warriors series, right? Well here's where the power of next-gen comes into play. Between battles, the game takes place in an open world. As players defeat the opposing armies, and claim their land for themselves, new cities become open for exploration, trade, and side-quests. Depending on when or how they reclaim a city, certain stores or areas might be destroyed, encouraging multiple plays. Stores located in these cities would act as the Krypt in past games, allowing the unlocking of new skins/costumes, and more. A morality/conversation system akin to Mass Effect would allow the player to further learn about the lore and characters, possibly influencing their actions or morality in battle.

Throughout the story mode of every base Mortal Kombat game to date, I've never felt the power of saving the world in my hands. The best the player can ever hope for is being the one who punches the big bad guy and stops all of the off-screen death that we're supposed to care about. Think how invested you'd be in saving the world when you can see what your actions cause! Kombat Warriors would give you the opportunity to decimate an entire army single-handedly as Scorpion. Woo Sonya Blade as Johnny Cage. Smash two grunts' heads together as Shao Khan. Maybe even transform as Shang Tsung, and convince another General to switch sides in the upcoming battle! The combination of large scale combat, intense 1-on-1 finales, and strategic morality and conversing would make this an absolutely unmissable crossover game.

Source: Mortal Kombat wiki

TGLVG: Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight
Wii U, 3DS, PS3, PS4, PSVita, Xbox One, PC, Linux, Mac

Source: Arcade Sushi

A rising trend over the past half decade has been the utilization of old school graphics to recreate the "glory days" of gaming. The biggest and earliest example of this was a little game called Minecraft. The combination of 8-bit graphics and modern game play spawned countless clones, and inspired indie developers everywhere to get on the 8-bit bandwagon.

Fast forward to June 2014, and the release of the highly anticipated Kickstarter project Shovel Knight. Created by rookie studio Yacht Club Games, the game draws inspiration from 8-bit side scrolling classics like Mega Man, Super Mario 3, Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and Ducktales, while simultaneously creating something entirely unique. The result is a critically adored 2D adventure that, since it's initial Wii U/3DS/PC release, has been ported to PS3, PS4, PSVita, and Xbox One. (Note: This review is based on the 3DS version)

Source: Yacht Club Games

The story begins with the adventures of Shovel Knight, and his partner Shield Knight. Things quickly go awry as Shield Knight is taken hostage by an evil and mysterious power. Distraught by the loss of his friend, Shovel Knight goes into a life of quiet solitude. This doesn't last long however, as he's called into action in order to defeat the nefarious "Order of No Quarter" and rescue his beloved Shield Knight.

Players navigate Shovel Knight through twelve harrowing stages, while acquiring new skills, and hidden treasures, which can be used to purchase new armor and equipment. Along with the normal full-length levels, players can access optional content such as three bonus stages, three extra bosses, and several towns in which to shop. Additionally, the Playstation versions include a boss fight with Kratos, and the Xbox One version has a full level where Shovel Knight meets the Battletoads. Several DLC packs have been announced, and due to the success of the initial Kickstarter project, all will be free. Top all of this with the addition of a New Game Plus mode, which ups the difficulty, and 45 feats (achievements/trophies) to conquer, and this game is absolutely bursting with content.

Source: Polygon

The game play itself is crisp, fair, and rewarding. As the player progresses, more skills and items are at their disposal, which reward players by making boss fights easier, while at the same time not being required to win. In that way, the boss fights feel reminiscent of early Mega Man games. These items also unlock certain bonus levels, encouraging players to collect every new item they can. The items can be a challenge on their own to acquire, but Yacht Club Games have thought about that as well. Struggling players can buy these items with in-game money if they're too difficult to reach, giving a good sense of difficulty balance.

Unlike the original NES/SNES games that it takes inspiration from, Shovel Knight doesn't punish players with Game Overs, or password screens. The risk comes from the game's currency system. Throughout his adventure, Shovel Knight accrues large sums of money which are used to purchase items. Whenever the player dies, however, they lose a chunk of their gold, which appears in the spot of their latest death in the form of three floating bags. This becomes risky in some areas, where you must balance your greed against your ability to recover the gold. After purchasing everything in the game, this becomes a trivial concern, but until that point, this is a very real fear instilled in the player, and a great challenge to keep the player coming back for more.

Source: 8bithorse

Shovel Knight is a relatively short game, with my slow, casual play through clocking in at roughly 8 hours. The action doesn't stop there, though. The game's feats are meant to challenge players to master the game. One feat requires the player to not die throughout the entire story mode. Another calls for game completion within 90 minutes. While these feats do not actually unlock anything in-game, it hearkens back to games like the early Resident Evils, where half the challenge is not the initial play through, rather the total mastery of the game.

Surprisingly, if you've truly mastered the game, you're not done yet! Shovel Knight includes over 300 cheat codes, which do anything from making Shovel Knight giant, to replacing random words in the game's dialogue with "butt." While this may seem odd, let it never be said that Yacht Club Games didn't want you to have fun with this game.

Source: IGN

Verdict: 9/10

At the price of $15, Shovel Knight offers more content than many full price retail games of the past few years. The style, charm, story, game play, and accessible yet challenging difficulty mix beautifully to create an engaging experience that rewards players for full completion, but still delivers a robust, complete game to the casual player as well.

Mega May! week 3

Welcome back once again to Mega May! Last week we took a few jabs at our blue clad robo-friend, and for that I'm not too proud. To make up for it, this week we'll be covering the heights of Mega's fame, as well as some of the best musical tributes to our friends Rock and Roll! Heh, get it? Because in Japan...he's called Rock?

I'll see myself out.

ROCK Music

The Protomen
Remember when you were bored in grade school, so you'd fill your notebooks with Super Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog fan fiction? What if you took that fiction, and made it into a rock opera?

Thus was the fate of The Protomen, a rock band with two albums set in a fictional storyline in the Mega Man universe.
The stories themselves are dark enough to make even Christopher Nolan blush, but no less enjoyable because of it. Act 1 tells the story of the creation and fall of Proto Man, the building of his replacement, Mega Man, and his struggle with the ideas and responsibilities of what a hero really is.

Act 2 is a prequel, and covers the loss of friendship between Dr. Light and Dr. Wily, as well as the fall of mankind under Wily's rule. Both are incredible albums that I would highly recommend even for non Mega Man fans. The Protomen have also had their music featured in season one of the popular YouTube series "Video Game High School."

I highly suggest that your first listen to the albums are accompanied by a glance through the band's Wikipedia page. There are a few story elements that aren't portrayed through the music, that need to be read. They definitely impact the story, especially related to the somewhat cliffhanger end of Act 1. Don't worry though, they're hard at work on Act 3 as we speak!

Joshua Morse
There is no shortage of video game remix artists, but in the same way that sites like DeviantArt or YouTube give every person the ability to share their creations, not all of them are on equal ground. I'm a very big fan of 8-bit remix music, but Joshua Morse does it best. One of his albums, The Robot Museum, covers a medley of Mega Man music in a variety of musical styles.

The Best of the Best

As such a beloved franchise continued to gain ground throughout the decades, more and more spin-offs, future or alternate universe settings began to arise. Given that Mega Man and friends appear in over 100 different titles from NES to Wii U, it can be hard to decide which ones deserve your attention. 

Every game in the series offers something unique. Young or old, there's something for almost any gamer. That said, here are my top picks for a variety of categories.

"I don't have all day, and I'm a pretty casual gamer. I like quick, easy games."
Mega Man: The Power Battles (Arcade, PS2, Xbox, GC)
Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters (Arcade, PS2, Xbox, GC)

The originally arcade-only Power Battles/Fighters games are a fun, simple foray into the Mega Man universe. Since the games were made to be arcade cabinets, they forego levels altogether, instead offering a string of boss fights. I suggest picking up the Mega Man Anniversary Collection in order to play these, since you get infinite continues. Both of the games can be conquered within half an hour, offering a fun, fast way to conquer some robot masters with the Blue Bomber and friends.

"I love a challenge. The thrill of trial-and-error boss fights is why I've beaten Dark Souls ten times!"
Mega Man 1 (NES, PS2, Xbox, GC)
Mega Man & Bass (SNES, GBA, Wii U)
Mega Man X3 (PS1, PS2, Xbox, GC)

Chances are high that if you pick up any MM game at all, you'll be happy. Those who want a real challenge though, should start by mastering the original, MM 1. No charge shots, slides, or double jumps here. It's edge-of-your-seat NES platforming at it's finest.

Not enough? Then give Mega Man & Bass or Mega Man X3 a whirl. Both of these games provide some of the most brutal platforming and maddening boss fights throughout the series history. You won't be breezing through these any time soon.

"I like story. Being engrossed with characters, relationships, and plots is why I play games."
Mega Man: Battle Network (GBA, Wii U)
Mega Man Legends (PS1, N64)
Mega Man X: Command Mission (PS2, Xbox, GC)

The MM: Battle Network series spanned six games, and a television show. If you want strong character bonds and interactions, look no further. They are, however, aimed at a slightly younger audience.

A slightly more teen-to-adult story can be found in Mega Man Legends (or Mega Man 64). It's set thousands of years after the original Mega Man series, with characters who just happen to be named after the original Mega Man and Roll.

If you're looking for a darker story, pick up Mega Man X: Command Mission. This game is strangely enough a turn based RPG. The MMX franchise has always been darker, and carried more adult themes and stories, though it's still appropriate for all ages.

"I'm not very good at video games. I like being able to beat a game without too much frustration."
Mega Man: Powered Up! (PSP)
Mega Man Xtreme (GBC, 3DS)

My personal favorite of the MM franchise is the PSP exclusive, Mega Man: Powered Up!. The game is a remake of the original NES game, but the graphics are completely overhauled, and a difficulty setting is added, making it accessible for any gamer. The game also features a level creator, the ability to play as any of the in game bosses, downloadable costumes, and so much more.

Mega Man Xtreme is a Gameboy Color port of the console versions of MMX 1 and 2. The graphics and gameplay are slightly dumbed down, but it tends to make the game slightly simpler, and more accessible for rookie players.

In the final chapter of Mega May, we'll be discussing the future of Mega Man, the best cameos and tributes, and his upcoming spiritual cousin, Mighty No. 9!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mega May! week 2

Welcome back to the Mega May festivities!

As we continue our trip through the highlights of everyone's favorite Super Fighting Robot, it's important to remember that every hero has a dark side. So this week, we'll be looking at some of the stranger, darker moments in the Blue Bomber's history.

Street Fighter X Tekken
Straight off of the original box art of Mega Man (NES), here we, this thing.

Included as a joke, Mega Man appears as a playable character in the PS3 fighting crossover Street Fighter X Tekken. His every appearance and movement is bulky, clumsy, and foolish, but at the very least his costume is well made in terms of it's source material!

Source: Fighters Generation

Mega Man 2
Strike two for even remotely accurate box art. This image, while only pertaining to the European release, continues to invoke the question of how this series actually maintained popularity. They say you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, and thank heaven for that, because this iconic character probably wouldn't exist if we did. Swing and a miss, Europe.
Source: Time Warp Gamer
Oil Man
Unless you've played (the highly underrated) PSP exclusive "Mega Man Powered Up!" chances are you won't recognize Oil Man. That's because he holds a rather shameful spot in Mega Man's reputation. Upon initial release of the game, Oil Man's sparked controversy over the color invoked the 1920s-30s depiction of "black face," a racial stereotype in which actors would paint their faces pitch black, and their lips and surrounding skin bright white. In terms of offensiveness, think Borat on steroids. The initial Japanese coloring replaced the navy blue with a near black, and the yellow lips with a light peach color. For obvious reasons, the colors were swapped before the game's US release, and larger controversy was avoided.
Source: Mega Man Powered Up
More recently, Oil Man was portrayed in the Archie Comics series of Mega Man comics as having his scarf cover his entire face, thus avoiding controversy entirely. Good move, Archie.

Napalm Man
Sometimes a video game can so accurately portray a war that simply by playing it, emotions are invoked in such a way that the player grows in their knowledge of history, and yearns never to repeat it's mistakes. 

Other times, a level designer at Capcom models an entire level after Vietnam, and names the boss Napalm Man.

Napalm Man's name alone doesn't place him in such a bad spot. Just take a look at his stage. Not only does it resemble a jungle, but it has Mega Man traverse tunnels similar to those used by the Vietcong. Finally when you add Napalm Man into the mix, it gets pretty hard to ignore. Unsurprisingly, this led to Mega Man 5 being banned from release in Vietnam.

Source: GamesRadar

Cancelled Games
Not every game that gets past the idea stage is destined for release. No genre or series is safe. Capcom, however, has built itself quite a gathering of haters in the past few years with how they've treated the Mega Man property.

Maverick Hunter
Planned as an FPS reebot of the X franchise, this game was cancelled before anyone even knew it existed. The footage and description made it sound like the game would follow in the footsteps of Metroid Prime. That said, it looked pretty freaking awesome!

The game was intended to be a trilogy, but not even the cancelled footage saw the light of day until 2013, a full three years after it's initial cancellation. If the series had taken flight, it would have followed X, and his human police partner. By the release of the third game, the protagonist would have been switched to Zero, who would then have to take down X, after he had grown too powerful. How cool does that sound?! Sadly, no reason was given for the game's sudden cancellation in late 2010. As such, I will forever mope that I never had the opportunity to experience this:

Source: Games Radar
Mega Man Universe
Intended as somewhat of a Little Big Planet approach to the Mega Man franchise, Universe was going to be released on Xbox Live Arcade, and Playstation Network. In it, players would design their own look for Mega Man (utilizing the appearance and weapons of other Capcom characters), build and share their own levels.

Unfortunately, Keiji Inafune, the co-creator of Mega Man, had a falling out with Capcom, and departed from the company. In the aftermath, the game was scrapped in March 2011. All in all the fan reaction wasn't horrible, considering the game looked like a cross between Mega Man and Robot Chicken.

Source: Game Informer
Mega Man Legends 3
Possibly topping the list in terms of disappointed fans sits Legends 3. Not only was the game going to continue the beloved Nintendo 64/PSOne series exclusively on the 3DS, but Capcom utilized Twitter to allow fans to choose a variety of character names, designs and features that would be implemented into the final product.

Capcom's pattern held true though, and in July 2011, the game was officially cancelled.

Rockman Online
Announced in 2010, Rockman Online was poised to be the first ever Mega Man MMORPG. Rumor has it the game was even near it's completed stage. There were even contest winners waiting to be contacted so they could be added as NPCs in the game! They were never reached out to, and rumors ran rampant about the game's fate until March of 2013, when it was officially cancelled. At the very least, we got a sweet trailer out of it!

Alright, he's taken his lumps. Next week, we'll talk about the highest highs of the franchise, as well as some fantastic musical tributes to the Blue Bomber.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Mega May! week 1

(originally posted on

I love Mega Man. I mean, I LOVE this guy. As a kid, I couldn't beat any of the Mega Man (MM) games I owned, there was just something about the "Blue Bomber" that I absolutely adored. Every Saturday, I'd watch the super cheesy Mega Man cartoon (the whole series of which is available on YouTube), I had (and still have) all sorts of action figures from the series, I'd frequent fan site on a daily basis, and even though I couldn't beat them, I'd still play the games all the time.

What better way is there to celebrate this fan favorite character than with the mega month of Mega May! Last Year, Nintendo began this young tradition by releasing six Mega Man games on the Wii U and 3DS virtual consoles, and they're doing it again in 2015. Capcom may be dropping the ball with this cash cow, but Nintendo sure is trying to keep the spirit alive!

As of May 7th, Nintendo has released the Gameboy Advance version of the 1998 SNES game Megaman & Bass. This side-scroller gives players the choice of Mega Man or his rival Bass, as they fight through an original story. The look and feel of the game is very similar to that of MM8, so if you enjoyed that one, this is worth a try.

The rest of Mega May's Wii U virtual console releases will play out as follows:
5/7 - Mega Man & Bass (GBA)
5/14 - Mega Man Battle Network 3: Blue/White (GBA)
5/21 - Mega Man Zero 2 (GBA)
5/28 - Mega Man Battle Network 4: Blue Moon/Red Sun (GBA)

Mega Man & Bass (GBA)
Source: YouTube
Each game is priced at $7.99, so unless you happen to have your old copies laying around, chances are you won't get this deal on eBay. Also released this week was the Mega Man Legends spin-off title "The Misadventures of Tron Bonne" on the Playstation Network Store. $5.99 on PSN will get you what $250 would on eBay.

So let's start out Mega May with one of my more recent acquisitions, and one of my favorite games that I own: the Mega Man Anniversary Collection!

Source: Wikipedia

Released in 2004 for Playstation 2, GameCube, and Xbox, this package included MM 1-6 (NES), MM7 (SNES), and MM8 (PSOne), and also included both Mega Man: The Power Fighters, and The Power Battle (Arcade) as unlockables. Among the other unlockable content was game music, concept art, a full episode of the Mega Man cartoon (PS2 version only), or a full episode of the Battle Network anime (Xbox version only).

As if all of that wasn't enough to make this one of the must own games of the PS2/GC/Xbox era, the game also included interactive menus, a save function, easy mode (for people like me), and a "Navi mode" for newcomers to the series. Navi mode teaches players the very basics of the series, and gives hints on how to find some of the series' shortcuts or hidden items along the way. Of course the easy difficulty and Navi mode are completely optional, so hardcore fans can still play the games just as they were on their original systems. If you're ever planning on picking up even one of these games in the future, this is the way to do it.

Going through each game individually, while fun, would take me months. So instead, I've chosen to highlight a few must-try parts of the Anniversary Collection.

1 - Mega Man: The Power Battle/Fighters
No matter which one of these two you decide to try, the arcade-exclusive Mega Man fighting games are a great time. When I was 12, I bumped into an arcade that housed one of these games once, and never again until I saw it at a convention last year. They're not easy to find, and this is a perfect way to play them, quarter free.

Source: Arcade Museum
In The Power Battle (1995) players can choose to fight as Mega Man, his brother Proto Man, or their rival Bass. The game foregoes the typical level system, and instead pits one or two players against the bosses of six previous Mega Man stages. After that, it's time to take on Dr. Wily and his mini-bosses.

The Power Fighters (1996) added newcomer Duo of Mega Man 8 to the mix of playable fighters. The core game play remained the same, but gave players three different story lines to play through, each with it's own unique set of robot masters to fight. Fun fact: This game also includes the first appearance of Mega Man X's partner Zero!

Both games are very easy to unlock within the Anniversary Collection, and can either be done by entering a password, or reaching certain areas in the original games. These two arcade brawlers carry a lot of charm within their well crafted sprites, beautiful stages, remixed music, and enjoyable co-op.

Source: Screw Attack 

2 - Mega Man 2
It is very true that MM 1-6 are largely the same, albeit with varied bosses, stages, and the occasional new power-up. That said, MM 2 has a reputation among the originals of being the easiest. So why suggest this one?

Chances are if you're playing this collection, you've tried the originals. The Anniversary Collection, while holding within it the same games that you would remember, do feel quite different when played on something other than an NES controller. Because of that, I suggest using MM 2 to break yourself in, and get the hang of the control scheme. Fundamentally, the game isn't drastically different from any of the others in the series, but there are moments and stages within 2 that have become some of the fondest memories of dedicated Mega Fans.

Source: Nintendo Wiki

3 - Mega Man 8
Yeah, I said it alright. For those who aren't dedicated fans, let me fill you in quick: People HATED this game. Whether it's because of the cheesy opening cutscene, the different feel of the controls, or the ludicrous bosses (yeah I will admit Clown Man is pretty dumb), it was far from a fan favorite.

You should, however, still give it a play through. MM 8 was the first non-Nintendo Mega Man game, being released on the PSOne in 1996. With the graphical capabilities at the time, the game oozes charm. The visuals and sprites are a treat in every level, there's plenty of challenge in every level, and the music is some of the catchiest I've encountered in any of the Mega Man games to date.

Source: Destructoid
There you have it, all the proof you need that the Mega Man Anniversary Collection is a must-own title. All of this doesn't even take the value into account! Given that the original cartridges can be anywhere from $50 into the hundreds, and this collection will only run you from $10 - $50, the choice is obvious. It's never been easier to get your Mega Man fix on than right now.

Friday, May 1, 2015

TGLM: Avengers: Age of Ultron

(Originally posted on


Avengers: Age of Ultron

In July of 2013, Kevin Feige took the stage at the Marvel Comics panel at San Diego Comic Con, and teased the sequel to the 2012 blockbuster The Avengers. The dark screen lit up with the words "Age of Ultron," and the crowd erupted.

Reactions among comic fans were stellar. Non-comic readers, through blank stares and confusion, mumbled, "Who?"

Given how the past several movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) have been teasing the arrival of Thanos, it seems a fair question. Those curious had a long wait, but finally in October 2014, the first trailer was leaked online, accruing tens of millions of views in mere days. It's safe to say the world is excited for this movie. Does it live up to the hype?

In one word: Hell yes!

Alright, two words.

It is worth noting that since the initial movie of the MCU, Iron Man, released back in 2008, moviegoers have had plenty to keep up with in terms of the series' overarching plot points. This movie is no exception. If you’re not like me, and haven't seen every movie multiple times, you may need to do some brushing up on a few characters, and briefly mentioned story arcs from past movies. To get the full effect from Age of Ultron, I suggest re-watching Avengers, Captain America 2, Thor 2, and Guardians of the Galaxy. It also wouldn't hurt to re-watch Iron Man 3, but it isn't quite as relevant as the others.


The story picks up three years after its predecessor, as it opens on the team working as a well oiled machine. The good times don't last forever though, as Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) inadvertently gives birth to artificial intelligence, taking the form of Ultron (James Spader), who believes the only path to peace lies in the destruction of the Avengers. The movie has plenty of subplots between the heroes, but all are easy to follow, and are neatly wrapped up by the end of the movie. While the story is enjoyable, most moviegoers will most likely be looking forward to the action, which Age of Ultron delivers in droves.

Throughout the film's two hour and twenty minute run time, there are a bevy of beautiful beat-em-ups. The action is frantic, fast paced, fun, and filled with plenty of humor and one-liners sprinkled in. The movie shines in the moments where one or more of Earth's mightiest heroes pauses mid-combat to deliver one of the movie's plethora of quotable one-liners. 

Anyone who has seen the past Marvel movies knows that Downey's Tony Stark tends to steal every scene he's in with his quick wit, and snarky overconfidence. This time around though, everyone gets more than a little taste of the spotlight. Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), however, steals the show. After his minimal role in the initial Avengers film, Barton proves that he's more than just a bow and arrow, while pumping out some of the most enjoyable lines in the movie.

A close second in terms of humor was the movie's title villain, Ultron. The previews didn't set a tone for the character beyond that of "bad guy who wants to rule the world," but Ultron is so much more. It's easy to see the correlation between Ultron and his creator, Tony Stark, through their similarly dry yet quick humor and one liners.


Some critics have complained that the movie follows the formula of the original too closely, leading to a near identical movie. This is definitely not the case. The stakes that Ultron sets are much higher than that of the Chitauri invasion from the first movie. The settings and action are bumped up several notches, and since the team is already assembled when the movie starts, there is an immense amount of character development added. 

Others complained that it doesn't impact the Marvel cinematic universe in the same scale as the events of Captain America 2. This may be the case, but to that I have this to say: If you go into every movie in the franchise expecting a massive, universe-changing event or catastrophe, that leaves no room for actual development of the universe. There’s no room to care about those huge catastrophes, since there won’t be anything at stake. This movie's primary purpose is to prepare for the potential galactic war that will take place in Avengers: Infinity War. In that capacity, the story serves it's purpose beautifully.

By the time the credits roll, every Avenger has had their time to shine. Coupling this with razor sharp humor and intense fight scenes (sometimes at the same time), an engaging story, and a jaw dropping finale, Avengers: Age of Ultron delivers on all fronts.

Verdict: 9/10.

Even if you just want a fun, sci-fi action movie, this is it. But for those fans who have been following the Marvel cinematic universe thus far, it all pays off here. This is an absolute must-see, and a fantastic kick off of the 2015 summer blockbuster season.

There is one more thing worth mentioning. Marvel has earned a reputation for their post-credits teaser scenes. Age of Ultron is an exception to this rule. There is a mid-credits scene, but nothing at the end of the credits, as is the norm.