Shantae: Risky's Revenge (WiiU)

You may remember a few years ago I tried to play this on PC, but was having trouble with Shantae ducking and going through doors when I didn't want her to because the game wasn't coded with an analog stick in mind. Well, in the final days of the WiiU eShop this went on sale, so I snatched it up so I could finally play it with a D-pad.

And with that annoyance out of the way, Shantae: Risky's Revenge is a perfectly serviceable Metroidvania with pretty pixel art, a nice soundtrack, bosses that take too long to kill, and an overreliance on jiggling boobs to set itself apart from the other Metroidvanias.


Justice (Written by Jim Kruger, Artwork by Alex Ross)

The theme of Justice is that strife is an unavoidable part of being human, and no wishing or promises of a perfect world is ever going to change that. Everything has a price, and when somebody is offering you utopia, that price is probably going to be your freedom.

The gist is the various villains of the DC universe have, in a bid to stop a nuclear apocalypse they're all having dreams of, banded together under the guidance of Braniac and Lex Luthor to create a perfect world; Poison Ivy and Captain Cold bringing plants and water to deserts, Cheetah and Riddler setting up charities for animal conservation and food banks, but most curious of all, Jonathan Crane delivering medicine that with a single drop can cure any ailment or handicap. In reality, this "miracle cure" is a suspension of nanomachines that, once they repair a person's eyes or eliminate their cancer or whatever, hijack the acceptors' minds and, in extreme cases, slowly turn them into machines.

I'm torn on this plot twist. On one hand, it fits into the theme of sacrificing freedom for comfort. On the other, if I didn't already make it clear with my rants on Darkstalker in the Wings of Fire books I talked about earlier in the year, mind control is a pet peeve of mine because the villain isn't relying on their own intellect to figure out what a person wants and how to manipulate them to get what they want, they're just using magic or nanomachines to force it out of them. And it lets the people who fell for them off the hook cause, oh, they were just being mind controlled. I guess Justice isn't the worst example of it because yes, Braniac had to figure out what these people wanted to infect them with the nanomachines in the first place, but after that he flicks a switch to forcibly get what he wants from them. You've also got the side story with Hal Jordan, thrown into the deepest reaches of space by Sinestro and having to merge with his ring so as not to run out of Green Lantern energy and suffocate, passing the time by constructing a dream world around himself and losing himself to it, ultimately requiring Phantom Stranger to drag him kicking and screaming back to reality to advance the theme while getting away from the nanomachines.

Alex Ross' artwork is stunning but there was always been something off about it for me that I couldn't quite identify, and it was an episode of Comic Tropes on Kingdom Come that pointed it out to me. Alex Ross' character poses are strong and striking, but that's what they look like; poses. As in, while most comic art looks like a snapshot taken in the middle of an action, Alex Ross' characters look like they're posing for a camera. Also, the realistic artwork makes it hard to tell some characters apart when they're out of costume. Once I thought I was looking at William Magnus, the creator of the Metal Men, but it was Hal Jordan.


Liberation Maiden (3DS)

Unlike BOXBOY! and Shantae which I snatched up during the eShop Fire Sale, I've actually had this sitting on my 3DS for years. Figured I'd finally knock it out, and less than an hour later I was finished. Liberation Maiden is some kind of all-range shooter consisting of four extremely repetitive levels with the fifth being the final boss fight. Given this was developed by Grasshopper Studios and directed by Suda51 of Killer7 and No More Heroes fame, I feel like there's some joke here I'm not getting.