Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sonic the Hedgehog

Giving speed freaks their fix since 1991.

Platform: Sega Genesis, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS (Sonic Classic Collection), Xbox 360 (Arcade)
Version Reviewed: Sega Genesis
Published by: Sega
Developed by: Sonic Team
Genre: Platformer
Players: 1
US Release Date: June 23, 1991
ESRB Rating: Everyone

Story: The story of the original Sonic the Hedgehog game can easily be lost in the avalanche of sequels, spin-offs, and various media surrounding the franchise's mythology. However, returning to the first Sonic Team-developed game, we find the story to be delightfully simple, in a Mario-esque way: Sonic, our blue, super-fast, hedgehog protagonist, must battle the villainous Dr. Robotnik (sometimes known as Dr. Eggman) for control of the Chaos Emeralds, which will consequently save the wildlife inhabitants of South Island. Said creatures have been transformed by the evil Ph.D. into robot "badnik" versions of their previous selves, intent on killing Sonic. However, there is one major problem with this classic story of good vs. evil: Sonic has taken the time to put on a pair of red shoes, but what is his excuse for not throwing on pants as well? He must not mind the breeze down there while traveling at super-speed. Yikes.

Little known fact: Dr. Robotnik always rides into battle blasting his favorite Journey cassette tape.

Graphics: Sonic the Hedgehog occurred during the 16-bit era of gaming, and makes some great use of the Genesis' engine. Colors are bright and rich, creating some excellent environmental textures (take note of the twisting runways and loops). Environments themselves are designed in such a way that many of them seem to possess a life of their own. Character designs for Sonic and his enemies are cartoony, but detailed enough to give each model individuality. Despite the, at times, blistering speed of the game, it is possible to take a step back and notice the slew of minute details the programmers threw in that really make this game shine. And who can forget the flashing, psychedelic backgrounds of the bonus stages? Even college didn't get that intense for me.

Sonic could have prevented this accidental enema if he had only PUT ON SOME PANTS.

Sound/Music: Sonic's soundboard is (understandably) fairly limited. Springs will "boing," rings will "bling," and so forth. The soundtrack consists of a number of plodding, synthesized loops that serve purely as background music. Nothing really memorable here, but in the grand scheme of things, sounds and songs are not what drives the Sonic experience.

Gameplay: When it first was released, Sonic the Hedgehog introduced a handful of fresh twists that made it quite a refreshing installment in the classic platformer market. Sonic still utilized the core platformer elements of "collect things" (in this case, golden rings, 100 of which granted the player an extra life) and "start stage, finish stage, kill boss." While the established ability set of walking, running, jumping, and swimming was also still present, the sheer speed of gameplay was amplified to unseen levels. The addition of springboards, tunnels, loops, as well as many other creative game mechanics not only placed an emphasis on dashing/rolling through a level in as little time as possible, but encouraged it. Even to this day, sprinting through a level in less than a minute is a thrill; however, in this great moment of innovation, Sonic also finds one of its more prominent drawbacks.

Unfortunately, following the action at such a ludicrous speed is quite difficult: dying due to a random pitfall or spike trap will happen frequently, and it's only through trial-and-error that these breakneck sequences can be truly mastered. Luckily for a majority of Sonic's levels, there are multiple, branching paths that vary in difficulty and utilize different play mechanics (for instance, one path may take you upwards, where you will have to dodge timed spike traps, whereas the bottom path will force you to navigate an underwater maze and fight for air). Power-ups also help increase your survival rate (such as limited shield or invincibility), as well as the unique "ring shield" feature: as long as you possess a single ring or more, you can survive *most* attacks without instantly dying.

Sonic also features some varied, interesting, and fun boss fights at the end of each of the six "zones" (each broken up into three "acts"), where simplistic strategy can be used to overcome Dr. Robotnik's evil inventions.

Sonic throws in some more variety through the use of bonus stages, which can be accessed by collecting over 50 rings in a level. Within these bonus stages, Sonic can collect extra continues (for use during an inevitable "Game Over") or a Chaos Emerald; collecting all six Chaos Emeralds will award the player with the game's "good" ending (although, in my opinion, going through the trouble is really not worth it).

Hurray, physics!

Overall: While the story and soundtrack are bare-bones as they come, Sonic the Hedgehog manages to produce a great experience through some really brilliant graphics and gameplay mechanics. For those of you whose childhoods were devoid of a Sega Genesis, picking up a copy of Sonic has become much simpler these days, with numerous reincarnations flooding the market. Despite Nintendo's takeover of Sega, Sonic has remained a staple in the world of iconic video game characters, and playing through this game again as an adult easily reminds me of why. While many of Sonic's sequels and spin-offs have improved on the original formula, one needs to keep in perspective that this is the game where it all started. For those of you unsure about this title, downloading a ROM of the original cartridge might prove to be a more cost-effective way of testing the waters (but I certainly don't encourage illegal downloading of any sort. No, definitely not me). Chances are, you're going to need the "save state" function to make it out alive, anyway.

Score (out of 10): 8.5

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Super Mario Bros.

If you've never played this game, I suggest you give up gaming. Forever.

Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System
Published by: Nintendo
Developed by: Nintendo EAD
Genre: Platformer
Players: 1-2
US Release Date: 1985
ESRB Rating: Everyone

Story: Who doesn't know the story of Mario? For those of you out there who remain unenlightened (read: ignorant), I will explain: Mario and Luigi are Italian plumbers (and, surprise! Brothers!) who are transported to the Mushroom Kingdom to save Princess Toadstool from the clutches of King Bowser, leader of the evil Koopas. Mario and Luigi must use all of their skills and cunning (which consists of running, jumping, and occasionally swimming) to outwit the Koopa king's army of minions and ultimately save the princess from whatever fate awaits her. Seriously though, does anyone else ever wonder what Bowser even intends on doing to/with the princess? Don't think about it too might hurt yourself.

This screenshot should be as iconic to you as a gamer, as bread is in the sandwich world.

Graphics: What can I say? It's the NES: 8-whole-bits of power coursing across your screen. While not much on the original Nintendo can compare to any of its successors, Super Mario Bros. definitely incorporates some quality visuals. While it's nothing too fancy, this early entry manages to effectively portray lush, green vegetation, bright blue sky, and fluffy white clouds as you sprint through the Mushroom Kingdom, slaughtering its denizens. Your transformations into Big Mario, Fire Mario, and Star Mario are all quick and only minimally flashy. Fire effects in Bowser's various castles are appropriately fiery. Goombas (the evil, mushroom foot soldiers of Bowser's army) are flattened to hilarious effect when you stomp on their heads. It's nothing special these days, but it sure did look nice back then.

Last time *I* jumped onto the top of a flagpole and slid down it, I didn't get 5000 points; I got blisters on my hands, and was later arrested.

Sound/Music: I guarantee you've heard the Mario Bros. theme song blasting from some douchebag's cellphone while walking through the mall at some point in your life. While I'm a fan of Koji Kondo's magnum opus, I feel the four other tracks he composed for Super Mario Bros. are deserving of much more attention than they have received over the past 25 years. From the light fanfare of the water worlds to the dark, menacing theme of Bowser's castle, Kondo's soundtrack remains appropriate throughout. I know I'm not the only one who can attest to getting sweaty palms when the timer hit "99" and those songs sped up to a terrifying tempo.

The sound effects of Super Mario Bros. are some of the most iconic in the genre of platforming: the "boing" of Mario's jump, the "boop" of stomping on a Koopa Troopa, and the gut-wrenching death-trill when an enemy or pitfall kills you. Simple as it gets, but just as unforgettable.

Gameplay: The basic premise of Super Mario Bros. is to rescue the Princess Toadstool from King Bowser by making your way to his castle. There are eight worlds, each consisting of four stages, to make it through before your final confrontation with the supreme Koopa. Each stage has a set time limit, and it's up to the player to get Mario through the hordes of enemies and past the various pitfalls before the timer reaches zero, which will cause him to inexplicably die.

Mario can initially perform two basic actions: run and jump. Fortunately, there are flashing blocks marked with a "?" littered throughout the Mushroom Kingdom that contain various power-ups. Should Mario collect a red and yellow mushroom, he grows to double his size and can smash bricks with his upraised fist while jumping. He can also take an extra hit of damage from enemies before dying. Fire Flowers will grant Mario the ability to throw fireballs at his enemies, and Starmen (bouncing, flashing stars with eyes) will give Mario temporary invincibility, allowing him to kill enemies simply by sprinting into them. Hidden throughout some levels are green and orange mushrooms that will give the player an extra life; the player can also earn extra lives by collecting 100 golden coins, which are found almost everywhere in each level. Levels where Mario must swim instead of walk on land occur at various points throughout the game, adding a small helping of welcome variety to the experience, but the gameplay objectives of these levels are virtually identical to their dry land counterparts.

There are a variety of enemies, power-ups, and secrets strewn throughout Super Mario Bros., and even a two-player mode (which consists of one player controlling Mario and one player controlling Luigi, each taking turns at beating a level). It's easy to see why this game served - and still serves - as the template for many of the games that followed it.

Son of a bitch, not again!

Overall: Super Mario Bros. is, without a doubt, one of the biggest landmarks in video gaming history. Without it, who knows if Nintendo would have continued the Mario franchise, which would have left us without many of the groundbreaking sequels and spin-offs the series inspired. Having been re-released countless times on countless systems, it is clear that Super Mario Bros. continues even presently as much more than a fond memory in the minds of many. If you're a gamer and you're a fan of any platformer, be sure to remember Mario's place at the roots of the genre; not as something archaic and defunct, but rather as the inspiration for many other great titles of today. Super Mario Bros. was not just the quintessential game of its time, but one of the quintessential games of all time.

Score (out of 10): 9.5

Friday, March 12, 2010

Geometry Wars Evolved² (a.k.a. Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2)

Because who really wants to play Algebra Wars?

Platform: Xbox 360 (Arcade)
Published by: Activision
Developed by: Bizarre Creations
Genre: Shooter
Players: 1-4
US Release Date: July 30, 2008
ESRB Rating: Everyone

Story: You control a spaceship. Evil, neon, glowing shapes are floating through space, trying to crash into, and ultimately kill you. You have laser blasters. Go.

Graphics: If you ever wondered (for whatever reason) what playing the game "Asteroids" on mild hallucinogens would be like, then look no further. Menus are simple in design and easy to navigate. The game screen is littered with constant multicolored explosions as you destroy your enemies with flashing laser blasts and bombs. Your ship and enemies are basic outlines of geometric shapes - the graphics themselves are barely a step above an Atari 2600. Despite this graphical simplicity, the flashing, glowing, neon dynamic of the visuals definitely adds a level of excitement and chaos to the whole experience; unfortunately, this same dynamic sometimes overwhelms the senses in the same way a strobe light in a dark room can. Overall, however, this game is incredibly fun to watch, and appropriately arcade-y.

Unless you enjoy seizing, I highly-recommend any epileptics to stay far away from this game.

Beyond the sounds of your laser blaster's "pew pew," and the inevitable "boom" of your ship exploding, there's not a whole lot on this game's soundboard. The soundtrack consists of various techno/electronica tunes, with thumping bass and ambient synthesizer loops - fitting background music for a high-speed shooter, but nothing you'd find DJ Tiƫsto spinning in a club. In other words, it's ultimately forgettable, albeit appropriate for an XBLA entry.

Gameplay: I personally haven't played any other Geometry Wars incarnations, but I am told that the gameplay has remained virtually identical from version to version. While I can see how some find this notion stale, I like to live by the motto "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Especially for those new to the series (as I was), Geometry Wars Evolved² offers plenty of exciting, unique challenges - six modes of ball-busting madness are available to unlock, as well as an addicting local multiplayer mode for up to four people (although I would have really liked if the multiplayer was online as well). Each mode offers its own challenges and unique spin on the basic gameplay mechanics. The controls are some of the most user-friendly on the system, allowing almost anyone (sorry, one-armed man from "The Fugitive") to just pick up a controller and play. The object of the game is so tried-and-true that it should be ingrained in the minds of every gamer out there: bad guys appear on the screen; use laser beams to kill the bad guys; don't die. However, the ridiculously-steep level of challenge will turn many gamers off: this game ramps up the difficulty almost TOO quickly, and without any warning. There are moments where the screen will become so saturated with enemies and particle effects, you will rely solely on luck to survive. You will die. A lot. But chances are you'll have more than enough fun to come back for additional servings of punishment. And let me tell you, this game can really dish it out.

The number of expletives I've uttered while playing the mode "Sequence" (shown above) has definitely broken some sort of world record.

Overall: Playing this game is a lot like stepping into a nightclub - you'll be bombarded by flashing lights, loud techno music, and who can forget the giant, floating shapes trying to kill you? This game will frustrate you beyond words, but therein lies some of its ironic beauty: how can something so incredibly basic (i.e. move ship, shoot bad guys, win game) manage to generate so many challenges? As a gaming society, we're used to blowing away our enemies with super-charged weapons against highly-detailed backdrops; Geometry Wars Evolved² strips away everything that it doesn't deem essential, leaving only the naked gameplay to interact with. Geometry Wars Evolved² will grow on you, and you will find yourself replaying its game modes over and over again in desperate attempts to best your high scores or unlock its insane achievements (like just making it through the near-impossible mode "Sequence"). It's the type of game that doesn't fall back on a lot of needless gimmicks, rather hearkening back to the coin-operated arcade machine era. Just like those games of yesteryear, Geometry Wars Evolved² is fast, challenging, and most of all fun in its simplest of forms.

Score (out of 10): 8

Monday, March 8, 2010


2K Games plunges players headfirst into a world of Rapture. Enough said.

Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Mac
Version Reviewed: Xbox 360
Published by: 2K Games
Developed by: 2K Boston/2K Australia/Irrational Games
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Players: 1
US Release Date: August 21, 2007
ESRB Rating: Mature - Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language

Story: Welcome to Rapture - a utopian society built by the great visionary Andrew Ryan and the world's greatest minds, located conveniently on the bottom of the sea. Well, that was Rapture before people started getting cabin fever from being cooped up in a giant sardine can...I'm sure the gene-modifying and mind-altering drugs they were regularly mainlining didn't help either. At this point in the storyline, everyone in Rapture is pretty whacky-bananas; the city has fallen far from its former glory as a pinnacle of human achievement, and has become a leaking, dripping, dark, dank, giant bucket of crazy. Enter Jack (your character): he's your average plane crash survivor, who is thrown deep into Rapture's now-ugly belly, as well as into a desperate fight for survival against crazed mutants and Rapture's mechanical defense system. As the halls of the underwater dystopia become more dark and twisted, so does the story - not long after entering Rapture, you will find yourself becoming gradually more entangled in a web of deception, identity crisis, and conflicting philosophies. Without giving too much away, there is an incredibly (potentially) rewarding morality system the player is faced with at key moments in the game, involving the life or death of none other than children. Of course, the player also has the option to skip out on a majority of these events; I'll warn you ahead of time, chances are you won't get too far in the game if you go this route, but it is possible. That's part of the beauty of BioShock: it's a game you decide how to play, and your enemies AND your environment will be more than willing to adapt to your every move.

OK, remember when I said that you can play BioShock any way you want? THIS is definitely the wrong way. Wrench < Big Daddy

Graphics: BioShock is beautiful. If there is one thing I love about this game, it is the amazingly-warped 1950s theme and persistent sense of foreboding that the art style strongly conveys. The environments leak and rot away with the same dank, grim atmosphere as a deep sewer, the enemies and characters all look and behave like evil, twisted versions of "I Love Lucy" characters, and the special effects capture a sense of realism that makes destroying and maiming feel that much more gratifying (come on, you know you're only playing a violent game like this to quell your passive-aggressive yearnings). It's quite easy to become completely immersed in the sights and lights of Rapture. If you don't have an HDTV, I can't even begin to explain to you what you're missing out on.

Outside of the realistic qualities of BioShock's graphics, the 2K team manages to cram plenty of cartoony, retro-style commercials and advertisements into the mix, adding even more authenticity to the '50s vibe, as well as a large helping of dark humor: watching a cartoon ad of a man lighting another person on fire by snapping his fingers - all to cheesy music and a pleasant, female narrator - is just too absurd of a juxtaposition to take seriously. While 2K has shown us they're more than capable of bringing their A-game to the realistic graphics table, this added retro advertisement bit will reassure anyone playing that they certainly haven't lost their sense of humor.

BioShock is full of faux-retro advertisements and commercials, depicting only the best parts of the '50s: Domestic violence.

Sound/Music: BioShock features some of the most amazing audio this side of Perfectville, USA. The voice acting is incredible: emotion is conveyed in a purely realistic fashion; when a character is afraid, you will hear their voice quiver or go up in pitch; enraged individuals will scream so vehemently, you will swear that spit is flying out of your speakers; even the scattered audio diaries you will listen to around Rapture reveal most of the individuals as bored, exhausted, and teetering on the brink of insanity, despite the lack of visuals.

BioShock's soundtrack is top-notch, featuring authentic music from the '30s, '40s, and '50s, as well as some truly powerful original orchestral tracks by Garry Schyman. But even more significant than the music are the sound effects in BioShock. Sound effects are such an important part of the BioShock experience: ambient clinking, dripping, and the pattering of footsteps make up much of what you will hear. Some of the eeriest moments of the game are spent just...well, listening. Instead of stomping around like a brute the entire time, stopping and listening for telltale signs of enemies is an oftentimes useful strategy, especially since most of them make A LOT of noise (i.e. screaming at each other, foraging through trash for resources, talking/singing to themselves, or in the case of the game's hardass enemies known as "Big Daddies," the menacing stomping of their heavy, metal boots). If you actually take the time to hear what's going on in the game, you'll get a lot more from the experience.

Gameplay: BioShock includes some truly entertaining gameplay features that adhere to all player styles. There are plenty of weapons, special powers (called "plasmids"), and items strewn about Rapture, just waiting for you to discover - using all the weapons and plasmids in combination to find out what works best in certain situations is great. Along your journey, you will find money lying about or on the bodies of the dead, which can be used in vending machines that sell ammo and other items vital to your survival. Weapon upgrade stations, hidden plasmid upgrades, and random audio diaries give the player enough incentive to roam off the beaten path and into the labyrinth of random rooms that make up Rapture. But this is just the beginning of what makes BioShock such a fun game to play.

More so than most similar FPS games, BioShock promotes the use of strategy when dealing with the hordes of enemies found in the halls of Rapture. While it is possible to charge through the entire game like Rambo on bull hormones, some players may find it more rewarding to explore other options - see a large group of enemies in the distance? Why not snipe them off before taking them head-on? Don't want to waste your limited ammo reserve? Hack a security bot to do your dirty work for you. Don't quite feel like fighting at all? Sneak by that group of enemies too busy screaming at each other. I don't want to sound confusing: there are random enemy attacks and sneaky bastards hiding all over the place, ready to jump out at you; enemy AI will adapt to your tactics, and you will be forced to fight (after all, this is a first-person shooter). However, the way you approach much of this game is largely up to you, and therein lies much of the beauty of BioShock.

Raiden's got nothing on THIS lightning. Now if you could just Superman dive across the screen...

Overall: An engrossing story, great visuals, fun and interesting gameplay mechanics, and some of the best audio effects I've ever experienced on the 360 round out one hell of a trip. Multiple endings exist based on certain choices you make in the game, giving BioShock some pretty decent replay value. Still, I wasn't able to give this a perfect 10 out of 10, due to the lack of a multiplayer component (which was added in the sequel). Also, I felt that the frequent random enemy attacks were a bit too frequent: despite being included to prevent lulls in the action and to add an ominous atmosphere, I feel they stopped being intense early on in the game and more of an annoying hindrance. Regardless, BioShock remains one of my favorite single-player experiences on the Xbox 360, enough so that I pre-ordered a copy of the sequel when it recently came out. If you enjoy a good story with a lot of creepy atmosphere (and a lot of offbeat humor), then you may want to take a stroll through the underwater halls of Rapture.

Score (out of 10): 9

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Final Fantasy X

The first Final Fantasy on PlayStation 2 proves a timeless classic almost a decade later.

Platform: PlayStation 2
Published by: Square/Square Electronic Arts (US)
Developed by: Square
Genre: RPG
Players: 1
US Release Date: December 18, 2001
ESRB Rating: Teen - Blood, Violence

Story: Final Fantasy X, much like its predecessors, does not follow any pre-existing storyline established by the series. Instead, the tenth installment follows a teen sports star named Tidus (let the pronunciation war begin!), who is ripped away from his life of luxury by a mysterious creature known as Sin, and into the distant future in the world of Spira. There, he becomes the guardian to a summoner named Yuna, who is on an ancient quest to find the aeons and defeat Sin to bring peace to Spira. If you think that's confusing, then you're in for a trip: the story continues to branch and twist, but never totally leaves the player behind, instead explaining each plot development or at least dangling hints in front of their nose. Final Fantasy X boasts a great, fully-fleshed-out cast of characters as well; I had a tough time letting most of them go when I beat the game. It also includes one of THE BEST love stories in RPG history - don't think you're too "manly" to acknowledge love; it makes you look like a massive douche. Once you start along the path to Zanarkand, it will be very, very hard to stop. Final Fantasy X's story ranks among my favorite of the series.

If you thought Tidus and Yuna's love story was "gay," then you are an insecure, dumb, little penis.

Graphics: Though dated by today's standards, Final Fantasy X's visuals rank among the most beautiful and detailed on the system: environments are large, lush, and vibrant; characters' facial expressions and body language convey natural emotions during scenes of dialogue; menus are bright and easy to manage. Square's cutscenes are leaps and bounds ahead of the competition in this installment, bringing a level of hyper-realism to the characters and displaying some really gorgeous water effects. When viewing this game for the first time, it's crazy to try to imagine the visuals getting even better as the series progresses.

Sound/Music: Series composer/musical genius Nobuo Uematsu returns, with the help of Masashi Hamauzu and Junya Nakano, to deliver another Oscar-worthy score. The music is appropriately epic, triumphant, and sad, adding unspoken emotion to each and every moment of the Final Fantasy X experience. Sound effects are typical RPG fare, with one major addition: Final Fantasy's first attempt at voice acting. While the entire game isn't fully voiced (come on, let's not get totally banana-crazy here), every major section fits in at least a few lines of spoken dialogue. I personally found it a welcome addition and almost flawlessly-executed (with the exception of the infamous "laughing" scene). I'm glad Square stuck with the idea after this game.

Gameplay: Final Fantasy X makes some big changes to leveling up - in fact, forget what you already know about leveling up (for the most part...unless you've already played Final Fantasy XII or Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga). Enter the Sphere Grid: hated by some, loved by many, I rank this among my favorite character development systems to date. Sure, you still collect XP to some degree, but instead of a random stat generator boosting your parameters and giving you skills at preset levels, you get a little more freedom in your characters' development. Each time your character acquires the required amount of XP, you get to move to a "node" of the sphere grid (assuming you have the proper sphere in possession). In the beginning of the game, each node contains a different character-specific skill or build statistic; as the game progresses, however, each character gains access to the skills and parameter builds of all the other characters. You want your mages to be able to lay a beat-down with their staffs? Done. Tired of your warrior/tank being slow as a constipated turtle taking a dump? With enough time, effort, and patience, you can have that dude casting fireballs 23849757 times a turn (OK, maybe nothing THAT crazy). Confusing as hell to read, I know - this is more reason to check out Final Fantasy X and (possibly) fall in love with the Sphere Grid.

This installment of Final Fantasy follows the turn-based combat of yesteryear, back before the ATB system made its debut on our battle screens. However, Final Fantasy X places heavy emphasis on strategy, maybe more so than any previous incarnation; especially during battles later in the game, it becomes frequently necessary to swap out teammates to find the party that will be most effective against an enemy. These less action-centric battles may not appeal to all, but I found it satisfying that the slower pace of combat was balanced with a myriad of strategic options that felt both refreshing and rewarding.

Final Fantasy X boasts some truly epic boss fights. This dude is just a small-fry compared to the size of some.

Overall: What else is there to say that I haven't already said? Great graphics, great music, some pretty decent voice acting, and a rich, deep battle and level up system come together to form one killer package. Final Fantasy X ranks not only among my favorite Final Fantasy games, not only among my favorite RPGs, but among my favorite games of ALL TIME. It's a game I'm inclined to replay enough that the case never gets dusty. If you for whatever reason missed out when it was first released (or the 9 following years), you shouldn't have to pay more than a cool 20 bones to play what I consider a gaming landmark and masterpiece. Hats go way, way, waaaay off to Square for this one. And seriously...don't be afraid to cry, or at least fall in love with some of the characters.

Score (out of 10): 10
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