Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem Review

 

Whether you like it or not mobile games have been on the rise for years. With our smartphones getting more and more advanced with each new version so too are the games that we find on our app stores.

One such game is Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem. A turn-based strategic RPG that includes the familiar characters from the timelessly classic Looney Tunes franchise and right off the bat, it brings a certain nostalgia seeing these characters whack each other over the head with hammers. That slapstick humour is probably one of the reasons why so many enjoyed watching Looney Tunes as a child and this game honours that in every way, from the graphics and art style to the sound and even the materials needed to tune up characters, it’s Looney Tunes through and through. The gameplay is standard turn-based RPG stuff that we have seen on the app store before. Players level up their toons and build the ideal squad then face off against the AI or teams put together by other players (more on that later) by taking turns utilizing their squads. The formula may be a bit overused for mobile games but it is a formula that is fun and has the depth that causes one to carefully plan their next move. This genre of game is similar to chess. One needs to know how their characters fit in the squad and their strengths and weaknesses. Support characters that buff and heal, Tank characters that taunt and put out heavy damage. Attackers that aren’t so good with taking damage but dish a lot of it out with Area of Effect abilities. The game feels balanced and it’s fun to see a new foe and study their abilities as you try to figure out how to deal with them quickly and effectively.   There is a campaign that that involves Marvin the Martian who has captured all the Toons and has made clones which is a clever excuse for so many different variants of the same character. (Bugs Bunny does different things to his clone, Barber Bugs and so on). To collect a character one has to acquire a certain amount of pieces that they get from a currency called “Reatomizers”. The more you get, the higher star rating the character. The depth of the game comes in the levelling up system. By gaining pieces players can evolve the character’s star level. Which levels up their base stats, then there are the XP potions that level them up according to the player’s own level and finally the tune-up levels which add passive skills as well as a boost in ability stats. These require materials like anvils and dynamite which can be gained by completing missions or telling Toons to complete time-based tasks in the game's cute town building mode. Luckily, completed campaign missions that have been cleared on a three-star rating can be “auto-won” which skips the fight and gives the rewards at the cost of the energy needed to enter the duel. Each region has specific Toons that are required to complete the missions within that region. So Desert characters are needed for the desert region although there are two separate regions, namely the WB Studios and "Avalooney" regions that don’t have their own campaigns but rather lend their characters to other regions which is a nice balancing technique if a player wants to do a desert mission but lacks any desert characters but has a few good WB Studio characters. The PVE is fun and with a quick pan of the map, one can see possible future regions in the works, like a Blueprint of a town layout in the corner of the map. It’s no surprise as characters like Taz and Tweety are featured in the loading screen but are not in the game at the time this review was written yet a quick glance at the game’s social media pages shows them in the games art style which is a clear indication they are quickly on their way and judging from the community’s response to the beloved characters, the anticipation sits heavy in the air like an anvil over Daffy Duck’s head. The PVP is where a lot of fun is to be had. Even more so with the Alliance feature. My friends and I have formed an alliance and partake in PVP events whenever they appear which is at least twice a week. These events are cleverly planned out. For every PVP fight a player does, they get a rating. To earn three stars which is the best rating one can get they need to take out each enemy on the screen. These stars contribute to the clan’s chest which levels up every X amount of stars and with each level up the chest becomes more lucrative. Best of all, once the event is over the chest opens instantly which is a good thing because the PVP isn’t only about taking stars and increasing your league points. It wouldn’t be Looney Toons without some mischief. Each region has a bank, these banks are used to open crates with good ol’ loot inside. But it takes time to open these crates. Players are then required to lay down a squad to defend that crate while the clock ticks because, you guessed it, the PVP is raid based. Your squad defends while a player tries to attack and steal. It’s all about numbers, the stronger the squad, the better the defence. The AI is quite formable so the system works well. The game's animation and characters work well. Who knew Looney Tunes would translate into a turn-based game so well? Characters behave just as you’d expect. Granny, the nurturing old lady is a healer. Houston the Bulldog is a Tank. It makes sense in this Looney world. Some of the animations are similar. Bugs Bunny’s basic attack is pulling a lever and dropping an anvil on a character while Wile E. Coyote pulls on a lever and drops a safe on a character but I suppose in a game such as this, too many different animations may be a bit too much. A nifty little feature comes in the form of a fast forward button which speeds up the animations which are perfect for sneaking in a quick few rounds while on lunch break. There is a ton of things to do in this game besides the campaign, from daily objectives to daily challenges as well as timed events and the PVP and that’s not mentioning the town mode where players have to build dwellings and send their Toons on timed tasks to farm resources. This game keeps one busy. As for microtransactions, the game feels balanced enough to make those feel like a choice and never forced on a player in order to progress which is a thing a lot of freemium and even some Triple-A games have forgotten these days. I have not spent a cent in the game and not once have I felt like I had to in order to enjoy it. The grind is there but it isn’t a ridiculous grind.  

The part of the game that does feel lacking is the Town aspect. It’d be nice to see more content there in the form of decorations and more customisable options for our little towns. Seeing the Toons march around in the streets just makes me want to make their world a nicer place to live in. Also, rotating buildings would be a nice touch.

   

Overall, Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem is as fun as it is chaotic and I'm still surprised how this game has hooked me as it has.  With the copious amount of things to do and earn and making enemies by stealing chests, this game has a lot to offer and it’s even more fun in a clan with friends. Playing this game will make you feel a tad Looney and to be honest, there’s nothing wrong with that.  It's nice to see these classic characters doing what they do best on a modern platform.  Though I really wish there were more to do with the towns.

Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem gets 9/10 carrots from me. That’s what’s up, Doc.

Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem is free on the Play and App Store

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Interview with Toy Photographer Eric Ruiz

Toy Photography has a huge community on Instagram and the work of famous Toy Photographer Mark Hogancamp has been featured in art galleries and his inspirational story is even being adapted into a movie coming later this month starring Steve Carell.

Anyone that knows me knows that I love action figures and I like snapping photos of them even more. So I decided to do a little interview with the guy whose photography inspired me to take my toys off the shelf and tell the stories that I wanted to tell through photography.

 

This is Eric Ruiz.

   

Q: Can you please introduce yourself and tell our readers a bit about you?

A:  My name is Eric Ruiz, I'm 34 years old, I was born and raised in Los Angeles CA, I'm currently living in Xalapa Mexico. I'm a US Marine Veteran. I like Martial arts and I teach Brazilian Jiu-jitsu in my dojo down here in Mexico. I'm a fan of Marvel, DC, DragonBall, Wrestling and of course video games Ps4.

 Q: How did you get into toy photography and for how long have you been doing it?

A: I was really looking for another way to keep my mind busy, after been in the Marines, sometimes it's hard to keep your inside beast under control, so I discovered that there was a marine taking pictures of his Stormtroopers and making some war scenes with them, I started following him on Instagram (@galacticwarfighters) and I got in love with his work and I said I have to start playing again, I purchased my 1st camera (Sony DSC-300) and since I have always been a fan of action figures I started taking pictures of them, at first it was just for fun but then I started getting more and more into it, so I enrolled my self into a photography degree online, I finished a few months ago and I was very pleased with the results. 

Q: How did you discover the toy photography community and what are your thoughts on it?

A: I discovered the community when I started using the tag #toyphotography. A lot of Toy Photographers came and likee and commented [on] my photos, so I started following them and I think it's one of the greatest communities out there. 

   

Q:  Do you consider toy photography as an art form?

A: No doubt, I think the work that you put behind the scenes on a photo, the pose, the practical effects, the set up to get to the final product it's an art no doubt. 

 

Q: Tell us about the process of how you take a picture. From finding a spot to idea conception to the setup and finally taking the picture.

A: First I get the idea of what I want to do, what's going to be the figure or figures I'm going to use, then I decide if it's going to be indoors or outdoors if I'm going to use practical effects or digital effects etc. If it's going to be an outdoor shot, I make sure the spot it's suitable for the location, I like taking most of my photos outside due to the natural lighting but I also take a bunch of shots inside, if it's going to be inside I make sure the area it's clear of house items, you don't want to make a scene of Kratos fighting Thanos and there is a bottle of soda in the background, I make sure that the scenario fits or simulates the dopeness that is needed for a fight like that. 

 

Q: What is your camera setup? Do you have multiple cameras?

A: The set up depends on the environment, I always tried to keep the ISO to the lowest to avoid the graininess in the pictures, I have 2 cameras both are Sony. I have a Sony A9 and the camera I started with [a] Sony DSC-300.

   

Q: Are all your photos planned beforehand or do you have spur of the moment pictures?

A: I will say is a little bit of both, sometimes I try to recreate scenes from movies and sometimes they just flash into my head and sometimes from those pictures comes the next idea and so on and so forth.

Q: Tell us more about the practical effects that you add in some of your pictures.

A:  They are my favourite, the practical effects that I have been using are fireworks, and my best friend the compressed air, it also depends on the photo that I will be taking but the compressed air works for mostly every photo. I use it to create a bit of atmosphere. I also use flour to recreate snow, water and dirt also work really good for practical effects. 

   

Q: What is your favourite figure in your collection?

A: I would have to say Kratos from Neca

Q: What is your advise to collectors who may want to dabble in toy photography?

A: The main thing is to have fun doing it. Doesn't matter what your goal in Toy Photography is. Try to learn as much as possible about photography, maybe you can't get into a photography school but, there are a bunch of tutorials that you can use on YouTube, don't get discouraged if other Toy Photographers have a better camera of better figures, each of us have different styles and different goals and lots people have the money to invest in gear, figures etc. But that's is not the most important of all, you can have the best camera ever, but still, your photo can suck, so it's better to study and learn about photography and then if there is a chance, you get a good camera. But no matter what just have fun!

 

 

You can follow Eric on Instagram @erbigtoys as well as finding him on Facebook via the link below. Because where else will you see Thanos pushing Deadpool in a trolly?

https://web.facebook.com/ErbigToyPhoto/?

 

All images provided and owned by Eric Ruiz.

     
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Spyro Reignited Trilogy Review

Image result for spyro   I have many fond memories of a certain little purple dragon named Spyro and playing the Reignited Trilogy was a welcome walk down memory lane with a beautiful new flare. The graphics, colours and cartoony art style are all just amazing to look at. From Spyro’s cute animations to the scenery of the levels, the modern technological advancements have really breathed a new flame into these games. The game is gorgeous, there are no two ways about it.   Image result for spyro   Also, the audio has been done over. The voice work is so much better. I remember the odd breathing between words in the older Spyro I played way back when, as if the mic was too close to the speaker but this time around the voice acting is done so much better even though a lot of it can be awkward when characters say things like “press the action button to do this!” But overall, the voices are so much clearer now. The music has also been remastered too which makes the catchy tunes more dynamic although there is an option to switch to the unedited music which is a nice feature.   Image result for spyro   Other than the graphics, voice acting and some altered controls from the original, not much else has changed. The game still plays like the old one. The controls have been altered to the better though. In the original, the bumper buttons panned the camera which was just awkward, this time the analogue sticks control the camera which does make it game feel easier than what memory serves but it is a much welcome change. Other than that, it’s still that action-packed quick thinking platformer that was adored all those years ago. With a drive to get 100% completion on all levels, players will find secret areas where they can experience mini-games or collectibles. In the first game, I managed to get 100% completion on one play through and get the secret level completed to leading me to 120% completion. But Spyro 2 is where the harder work began. That’s where the replayability starts as you only acquire certain skills to get to secret areas later on in the game.   Image result for spyro This remaster comes with the original three games, for those who didn’t know. All made dolled up for this generation of consoles. One can clearly see the amount of love and passion that the dev team, Toys for Bob, has for Spyro just by looking at the game. It’s nice to see these fantastic games made for a newer generation and for us old-timers who hold onto better days.   Image result for spyro   Although the gameplay may be considered dated compared modern games, Spyro in its remastered form still holds its own, although not an open world sandbox, the early stepping stones to that genre can be seen here with hub worlds that have portals to levels which can be done in any order the player chooses. It feels unfair to rate Spyro according to the modern-day mechanics which do promote more openness and customization. So I’ll be rating Spyro: Reignited Trilogy as a remaster and as far as remasters go, it gets a 10/10 from me.   Written by Mr Groovy B   Image result for 10 out of 10 stars
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The Hunt For Plastic

This past weekend I attended a wedding at a really nice farm out in Mpumalanga’s countryside. Before I left home I made sure to pack my backpack with a handful of action figures in case there were photo opportunities. The results were amazing and I’m still in the process of periodically uploading them to my Instagram feed, but looking back, this got me thinking. The action figures are only part of the joy in collecting and I think any collector would agree that the hunt is just as exciting.

  When it comes to collecting action figures there’s more to it than just picking one that looks cool. We are drawn to the characters that resonate with us and owning a physical version of those characters is like a symbol of the fond memories we have of watching them in our movies, series or video games. We get to embody our enjoyment of the character. Some collectors prefer to keep them in their boxes on their shelf, others display them in poses in their room but people like me enjoy bringing them to life in pictures. To tell a story that only I can tell with them. I would never see Boba Fett hunting down Rick and Morty anywhere else but in the scenarios that I create with my figures. Sharing these pictures I take with a much wider community gives me a sense of accomplishment and seeing others post their shots on Instagram inspires me. This is all just part of it, though. What excites me the most is the hunt. There aren’t many local shops that sell these things around here so I’m forced to look on the internet and spot action figures that catch my eye. For example, a Mezco Judge Dredd: Cursed Earth figure that comes with a jumpsuit, weapons with removable magazines as well as a nifty poncho. After spotting my prey I do some research which normally includes seeing how popular the figure is on Instagram and seeing what other people are doing with it. Then I move onto watching reviews to hear about the pros and cons of the figure which normally ends up making me want it more. Finally, I move onto looking at my other figures to see what kind of stories I can craft. Judge Dredd would fit in nicely with my classic Robocop figure as both are 80’s icons of dystopian law enforcement. Then comes walking around my house and yard, taking in all the information I have about the figure’s pose-ability and planning pictures around that before actually thinking about getting the figure. A lot of times I go through this process and end up not getting the figure in question. One thing a collector must accept from the beginning is that you can’t get them all. But for the ones you can get, the hunt is part of the fun. Whether it’s stumbling across it in a shop or seeing it online, the idea of having it stirs as soon as one’s eyes fall upon it. With the lack of stores that specialise in these things does seem to hinder the South African geek culture. In my area, we don’t have these things besides a Toys R Us but that isn’t a comic book store that specialises in catering for us geeks. There are a few in the bigger cities but not many people know about these things. Does South African Geek Culture need a larger soapbox to shout from? Do we need to show retailers that there is a market for these things? Wouldn’t it be nice if we had more stores across the country that catered for our need to collect and admire our collectibles? I personally think we need to be more vocal and support what little market there is in this country. South Africa was a tad late to the party on the concept of collecting action figures as only recently have I seen Funko Pops appear in stores local to me. The bigger cities are getting them first, no doubt. But I remember a few years ago not many people here knew what a Funko was while my family in New Zealand was raving about them.  

Either way, whether the market for it is strong or not, the hunt for plastic never dulls.

What do you think? Do we need more comic book shops in South Africa?

Do you collect anything?

Let us know in the comments.

   
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A Retrograde look into video games

10

Toejam & Earl

  Toejam & Earl was a funky little game. An isometric adventure game with various colourful levels that required the two heroic aliens to navigate around the strange and obnoxious human stereotypes while picking up crates that rewarded gadgets that could hinder or facilitate the players’ quest to find all the pieces of their broken funky ship. The soundtrack was catchy, graphics vibrant and the level design was superb. Each level had an elevator that took players to the next level. Fall off the map? And you end up on the level you were just on or end up on the first level. The game took ‘levels’ literally. It made the game a dangerous maze and out of all the games on this list, it is by far the most unique. With Toejam & Earl: Back in the Groove in development which retains the gameplay and style of the original but with four player co-op, fans of this classic have something to look forward to.  

 

9

Aladdin

Ah, the days when movie games didn’t suck. Aladdin was a little gem on the Sega Genesis which captured the flare of the classic movie as well as adding some of its own video game tropes to the original story. The animated look and nods to other Disney films was a nice touch and the levels were challenging. Would it be too far to say that maybe Aladdin’s video game adaptation took cues from the original Prince of Persia? The similarities are there. You can see it in the gameplay. The platforming elements were crazy and the combat, although simpler than Prince of Persia, it wasn’t a walk in the park. The dungeon levels felt like a Prince of Persia game and the soundtrack could only be good being a Disney movie. I put a lot of hours in this game, not as much as another little Disney movie game that struts its luscious mane later on in my list, but Aladdin: The Video Game is worthy of its spot on my top ten list.  

 

8

Tom & Jerry in Housetrap

I grew up watching Tom and Jerry trying to kill each other every night. Something about Jerry outsmarting Tom fascinated me and looking back on how dark this cartoon really was, it explains a lot of my taste in games and series/movies. Tom & Jerry in Housetrap was a little game that borrowed heavily from the classic Spy vs Spy gameplay but it was better! Why? Because you could play as either Tom or Jerry! It had a fun story mode that referenced classic episodes like the fantastic ‘Push Button Kitty’ episode where a slacking Tom was kicked out of the house in favour of Mechano, the robot cat. Spike the bulldog and the Duckling make an appearance too in capture the flag styled levels where Jerry had to rescue the ducklings while Tom had to catch them and throw them in the oven. As the story progressed so did the house. New rooms added new environmental traps and weapons, thrown or otherwise, to use against the other player or AI. The game sported cartoon graphics and watching Tom and Jerry’s fur pull off from the vacuum cleaner just like it did in the cartoons never got old. The game was the most fun to play with a friend although I imagine it caused a lot of squabbles among younger players. As far as a Tom & Jerry game goes, Housetrap captured everything the classic cartoon was loved for. Looking back, this game is just one of the examples of why Playstation 1 had some of the best games in history. That’s how much I loved this game.  

7

Syphon Filter Trilogy

I remember spending many weekends in these three games on the Playstation 1. The story was really good and still sticks with me. It was my first foray into the third person shooter genre. The level design promoted stealth and tactical thinking but when things didn’t go to plan, shooting everyone was still a valid option. The cutscenes were well done for the era and the characters had more depth than most characters in games these days. Gabriel Logan, Teresa Lipan, Lian Xing. I remember all of them. The one character, Lawrence “Larry” Mujari was a South African character and there was even a level set in South Africa. Syphon Filter had a similar yet more grounded theme to the Metal Gear Solid series. These games set me on the third person shooter path and for that, I’ll always remember them and how much of a challenge they were. If these games get a remaster I’ll be over the moon!  

 

6

Bugs Bunny and Taz: Time Busters

Another game I’d like to see a remaster of would be Bugs Bunny and Taz: Time Busters. This game was a real gem on the Playstation 1. There were a series of Bugs Bunny games on the PS1 but out of all of them, this one stood out the most. Players could swap at any time between Bugs and Taz to complete puzzles using each characters unique skills. The AI companion was always following you and switching was as easy as pressing a button. In fact, it felt an awful lot like the Lego games just minus the lego blocks. The puzzles required thought and the action required quick reflexes. The game had runner levels and racing levels and the sceneries were vibrant. From Aztec to Viking, there was a lot to see and do in this third-person adventure game with everyone’s favourite wise-cracking Bunny and snarling Tasmanian Devil. The game captured the Loony Toons humour perfectly and with such a wide of variety of levels and interacting with so many familiar characters, it’s no wonder it was such a joy to play, especially when with a friend. We need more split-screen games these days...    

5

Toy Story 2: The Video Game

I played this on the PC, my old Windows 98’, and as far as movie games go, this was really well done. Toy Story was my favourite movie out the series and although Woody wasn’t a playable character, the game had such a good level design that I still remember most of it while the song from the first level still plays in my head when I think back to it. From the puzzles to platforming and using Buzz’s laser in combat, it all just went together in perfect harmony. The bosses on each level were a challenge and the game had a lot of replayability as each new level required X amount of Pizza Planet tokens which players had to get by winning races, defeating bosses, solving puzzles or generally helping the various characters scattered around each level and some characters gave Buzz a power up to use in that level. The bosses had a clever design too, most of them required the player to climb up to the top of the level (no easy feat) and then duel with them on top of the highest point in the level. The second level, Andy’s Neighbourhood had a Zurg Kite on top of a tree that was such a mission to get to and defeat and the boss could knock players right off forcing them to climb all the way back up to finish the job. Those boss battles stuck with me and are probably the reason why I really like fighting enemies on rooftops of elevated areas in modern video games. The game has aged badly though as the graphics weren’t very good, to begin with. But if you don’t mind ugly and just want to experience a good third person game with a touch of everything then try to look around for it.    

4

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Manhattan Project

The side-scrolling beat em’ up games were always more fun with a co-op buddy and this TMNT game was no different. I used to play this with my cousin every time he came to visit. We must have finished it a dozen times over and each time we enjoyed every second of it. The game had cool levels and tough bosses that made it a challenge no matter how many times we finished it. The four turtles had similar move sets but the way they used their weapons were different. Don and Leo had more range than Ralph and Mickey, or at least it felt that way if memory serves. This has gone down in my memory for being one of the best, if not the best co-op beat em’ up I’ve played.      

3

Lion King

This game was and still is the definition of a movie game done right. From the early levels playing as little Simba, jumping on bugs and pesky hyenas to the endgame where adult Simba’s mighty slap sent enemies to oblivion. The levels were well designed and had a good balance between platforming and combat. The soundtrack mimicked the movie’s score and the whole game captured the essence of the movie perfectly. I watched that movie religiously as a child and I played the game just the same. I remember the cheer I gave when I finished it for the first time, only to reboot it and start again. I spent so many afternoons on it when I was younger. The memories made in this game are going to be with me till the day I die. And for that, I will roar its praises from the highest peak of Pride Rock.      

2

Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage

I never played the first Spyro game. I received Spyro 2 with the Playstaion 1. I had no idea what to expect when I loaded it in for the first time. From an array of colourful levels and hub worlds to tricky boss fights and puzzles, this game had a lot of variety to it. It never once felt repetitive with charming characters and a good storyline with funny characters. I pretended to be sick so I could skip out of school to play this game...hence why I’m so smart today. If you missed out on this jewel then fear not as the stunning remaster is right around the corner.      

1

Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic

This game is a fond memory for a lot of gamers that I’ve spoken to over the years. But for me, it was my first RPG and it was set in the Star Wars universe which I’ve been a fan of since I was five. The story was brilliant, the semi-open world was beautiful at the time and the combat opted for a more strategic approach than a button basher. The moral choices and character builds promoted replayability more than other games I was playing at the time. I replayed this game so many times that I lost count. It is of the opinion of many that this is the best Star Wars game ever made. And thinking back, I have fond memories that remind me why that is not just a mere opinion but a well-grounded fact. We need more Star Wars games like this.            

Do you agree with my list?

Which games do you have fond memories of?

Let us know in the comments!

       
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