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Top 10 films of 2018

We've come to the time of year again where its appropriate to look back and run down some of our favourite things of the past year (in this case the 10 best films of 2018). Read on below to find out what made my list this time around.

Although I initially thought that it would be hard to come up with ten films I had watched in 2018 that could make a Top 10 list, after penning down the films I had watched last year I found that there were easily more than the required number. Therefore a couple of honourable mentions have to go out to the likes of A Simple Favour, Ready Player OneHalloween and Ralph Breaks the Internet (films that I enjoyed but could not quite make the Top 10 list). As per tradition, the list will run from #10 right up to #1, assuring that readers won't be spoiled on what makes the top spot until they get to that section of the article (some of the choices may or may not surprise my regular readers but its still fun to compare and contrast lists (see my good friend Sebski's top 10 list over here).

10. Blackkklansman

I think the latest film by Spike Lee makes the list not only because it was based around real events (black police officer Ron Stallworth convincing the KKK to allow him to become one of its members through building up a relationship via various phone conversations and allowing his colleague, Flip Zimmerman (a white Jewish detective played here by Adam Driver) to be his stand-in at the racial extremist's local group meetings). The actors did a great job of bringing a great deal of heart and humour to the picture. The depiction of the different KKK members is no exception either with Ryan Eggold turning in a great performance as the somewhat reasonable Walter Breachway and Topher Grace doing his best impersonation of former KKK leader, David Duke.

Send-ups of ridiculous real-life individuals aside, Blackkklansman covers the subject of extreme racial discrimination in the past at a time when it could not be more relevant right now. The story told by an older gentleman at the black studio union meeting about a mentally ill friend who was beaten and sentenced to hanging for a crime he did not commit is sorrowful and chilling to hear. The addition of footage from the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia later in the film is also a wake-up call to the audience (with a touching tribute) as if to hammer home the point that racial tensions aren't resigned to those events of the past but are ever present in modern day America.

Although you may know what to expect if you've ever seen any of director Spike Lee's other films (political overtones among the stories and lives of his characters) its worth watching Blackkklansman to see how one police officer and his colleagues were able to show how twisted and far removed from human rights the Klew Klux Klan really were.

9. Creed II

The latest in the Rocky series of films (although this is up for debate) and the sequel to Creed, the latest film from director Steven Caple Jr. sees the son of legendary boxer Apollo Creed, Adonis (know as Donny to his friends) at the height of his career after winning the WBC World Heavyweight Championship. However a familiar face from the Creed family's past returns as Ivan Drago and his son, Viktor, send out the invitation to challenge the recent champion to a boxing match in order to defend his recently obtained belt. Knowing that Ivan was the one who caused his father to die in the ring as a result of injuries obtained from their boxing match in the past, an emotionally-fuelled Adonis is more than ready to redress the balance by taking on Viktor in a fair fight.

Although the setup of the latest Creed film is nothing new and leans into series fans' memories of the events of Rocky IV it also does a great job of standing up on its own merits. Though Sylvester Stallone returns as the notorious Rocky Balboa (now coach to Adonis) and its interesting to see his interactions with Drago when they come face-to-face again (firstly in Rocky's restaurant, Adrian's, after hours and later at the pre-fight weigh-in and ringside) the film isn't dominated by the old guard. The film's focus is not only on Adonis' efforts to protect his current standing in the ring but navigating his relationships with musician and girlfriend, Bianca, long-term coach Rocky and his firm but ever supportive mother, Mary Anne. We also get to see how time has not been kind to Ivan and his son with them living in a cold, dreary part of the Ukraine, suggesting a severe fall from grace after Ivan's defeat at Rocky's hands in Rocky IV. The film also shows why this fight is not only important for Viktor to gain his father's approval but is even more important to Ivan given past events (and his opportunity to regain the Russian bourgeoisie's respect).

The film's action is no slouch either with a mixture of long cuts and clever camera work used to let the audience feel they are right inside the ring as body blows, hooks, straights, rallies and uppercuts fly between the boxers. The make-up effects team must be given credit here too given how Adonis and Viktor end up looking as the boxing match progresses (they won't be doing a Men's Fitness magazine photo shoot the next day for sure).

Creed II is worth watching if you want to see an inspirational sports drama film that provides a strong tale of a boxer's journey together with the difficulties he faces inside and outside the ring along the way.

8. A Star is Born

I had seen the marketing around this film via large billboard posters the last time I visited London last September. I was curious about watching this latest iteration of the 1937 original that had already been remade before in 1954 and 1976. What I didn't expect to see was a superb drama that had great music performed by director/actor Bradley Cooper and his co-star, Lady Gaga (real name Stefani Germanotta), great acting and a mature take on a familiar tale that sees Cooper's character, seasoned country singer Jackson Maine discover waitress and incredible singer-songwriter Ally performing in a drag bar he visits after a recent gig. Enamoured by her talent, Jackson spends the evening with her to find out more about the performer, ultimately inviting Ally to one of his future performances, getting her to join him on stage for one of his songs. As the film develops we see the Ally's growth from Jackson's guest singer to a star in her own right. This is in contrast to Jackson's own waning  popularity, dealing with tinnitus and lack of control over alcohol and drug addictions.

The summary of A Star is Born sounds about as cliche as stories go but its in the delivery that the film excels. Credit should be given not just to Cooper and Gaga for their portrayals on-screen as well as their chemistry but the supporting cast too. Sam Elliot does a great job playing Jackson's older brother, something between a roadie and PA who has seen all the rough times his brother has been through and stood by him. Dave Chappelle, Andrew Dice Clay and Rafi Gavron also put in strong turns as Jackson's neighbour, Ally's father and her future record producer who is adamant about making her a huge mainstream pop star (much to Ally's dismay about changing who she really is). Perhaps it is down to the film's direction but everyone is strong to brilliant here with punches rarely being pulled as the film goes all-in with some of the more emotional scenes. The music is also excellent throughout (although I'm not sure if Cooper plays all of his guitar parts you can tell just by listening that its him singing those numbers during the film's runtime).

A Star is Born is worth checking out because its a great film. You also don't have to be a fan of musicals to like this one. If you like watching great drama, performances and talent on-screen then you don't have to look much further than watching this. It is probably my most unexpected great film of 2018.

7. Black Panther

Marvel's first cinematic release of 2018 proved to not only be a seismic box office success but also a cultural milestone, touted not only as the first superhero film to put a character of black origin front and centre but also positively highlight the richness and pride of African culture. Black Panther can be seen as a success in many respects but it also manages to be a really entertaining film too.

First introduced in Captain America: Civil War, Wakandan prince and distinguished gentleman T'challa is the eponymous Black Panther, a legendary mantle that has been passed down through generations of the Wakandan royal family. It is not only a prestigious title but gives T'challa access to a sleek-looking black bodysuit with vibranium claws (the strongest metal in the Marvel universe) at his disposal. It makes for an highly athletic, durable and exciting hero to watch as he moves, flips and slides about the screen. However T'Challa is not alone in his feats with the likes of his scientific genius sister Shuri, undercover agent and potential love interest Nakia and leader of the Dora Milaje, Okoye. They play women in strong roles that compliment T'challa rather than rely on him, showing that the kingdom of Wakanda equally values the accomplishments of women as well as men.

Right from the off the film is filled with great action set pieces that show director Ryan Coogler's capable hand at the helm. The kingdom of Wakanda and its various territories are also brought to life, highlighting their differences and beauty with vast waterfalls, colourful plains, snowy mountains and the bustling streets of Wakanda itself. Black Panther also does a great job with the film's main villain, Eric 'Killmonger' Stevens, setting up a compelling case for why he returns to Wakanda and openly challenges its current king, T'challa, to a duel for the country's leadership. The smartness of the film's script is that it allows you to understand his motivations (if not sympathise with them to some extent), questioning whether Killmonger is truly the bad guy at all (one of his main aims is to open up Wakanda's borders, sharing its technology with the world and its not a bad idea in theory). It helps to ramp up the film's tension as we see T'Challa face various trials in his efforts to valiantly lead his homeland, let alone defend it from an outsider who might actually have a legitimate point (and claim to the country's throne).

With the film making a worldwide gross of $1.35bn to date there is little doubt a sequel to be helmed by Coogler is in development. And with T'Challa appearing in another of the films in this Top 10 list it appears that Black Panther may go on to be one of Marvel's most unexpectedly successful superheroes of all time. If you haven't caught Black Panther yet do watch it if possible. You won't be wasting your time and you may find yourself a new fan of Wakanda's first son.

6. Upgrade

Of all the films on this list, this is the one that I did not anticipate would even make it (mainly because I wasn't really aware of the film until I watched it with my friend). I'm glad I did though as Upgrade shows you can make a great science-fiction film on a reasonable budget and still make a compelling, visceral and enthralling piece of cinema.

After a traffic collision and consequent mugging goes horribly wrong, leaving main character Grey paralysed from the neck down and his wife dead, he is offered a revolutionary but risky operation to have a chip named STEM fitted to his spine in order to restore his motor functions. Although said operation restores Grey's ability to move normally again in his body, unexpected side effects also start to unveil themselves as he begins to track down those responsible for his wife's murder and the life-changing accident. What follows is a gritty, visceral journey that sees Grey take measures beyond even his comprehension in order to enact revenge on those that had attacked him before. The film is also imbued in a variety of neon colours with many scenes taking place at night (perhaps to add to the film's noir feel throughout).

As the twists are unveiled during Upgrade you never feel like the film is pulling a deus ex machina on you. They develop naturally and make sense within the framework of the film. The film is also well acted with the likes of Logan Marshall-Green, Betty Gabriel and Harrison Gilbertson doing their best with the material they are given to draw you into the film's world (Grey reacts to some of the things his body does as a result of the STEM chip being fitted the way most of us would upon seeing them for the first time and it works).

Given the film supposedly had an overall budget of $3-5m and though it didn't make a great deal at the box office don't be mistaken. Upgrade shows that you don't need Hollywood studio or producer backing to make an effective film that tells its story well, has solid acting, decent action, great prosthetics and a very interesting ending (which I won't spoil of course but you'll have to watch it to found out how the film ends). Another one that is worth your time and restores your confidence in filmmakers making great films that aren't solely chasing maximum box office takings.

5. Into the Spider-verse

For the last 10-15 years cinema has been graced with a wealth of films based around superhero comic books. Given their profitable box office its no surprise with Marvel leading the charge in creating its own cinematic universe to tie its various films into one cohesive whole. It also allows space for films that do something a little different such as this take on the well-known comic book character from various different universes with Into the Spider-verse.

The film follows teenager Miles Morales as he enrols at a prestigious New York school, is bitten by a radioactive spider and discovers that has gained unexpected powers of increased strength, agility and an additional spider sense that allows him to sense imminent danger (among others). If this sounds like a familiar origins story it is due to it being that of the original Spiderman, Peter Parker. As we follow Miles as he not only becomes more familiar with his new abilities we also learn that there he may not be the only one with those abilities. What this develops into is a unique take on a superhero film as Miles meets not only Peter Parker from an alternate timeline but Spider Gwen, Noir Spiderman and several others from various timelines. The film's plot shows why these continuities merge with a hydron collider owned by the ever-menacing Kingpin. Other familiar (or perhaps not so familiar) rogues also show up during the film, giving its creators much freedom with refreshing what we are used to seeing or expecting with a new take on familiar faces.

The animation style used throughout the film must also be complimented with a combination of CGI stylised with heavy edges and tones to make it appear comic-book like in appearance. Although it initially looks a little strange to the eye audiences are able to readjust to this somewhat unique style of animation. The voice work is also strong with great casting that hits the emotional highs and propels the intense action which is well choreographed throughout.

Do watch Into the Spider-verse if you want to watch a superhero film that does something different with the genre and presents an exciting tale to watch unfold as we follow Miles, Gwen and Peter's journey through the multiverse.

4. Mission:Impossible Fallout

The sixth instalment in the long-running franchise, Mission: Impossible Fallout is potentially the series' strongest entry to date (or at least as worthy a film as the first Mission: Impossible). The international action spy thriller raises the stakes with an imminent threat of nuclear devastation after an operation goes wrong, allowing the syndicate (established in previous entry Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation) to procure a set of plutonium cores.

MI Fallout does an incredible job with portraying nail-biting action set pieces that are portrayed as authentically as possible by director Christopher McQuarrie, lead actor Tom Cruise and the team, providing long takes, tension-filled encounters and moments of 'they actually filmed that?' on screen. The cast is also strong across the board with the likes of Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames and Alec Baldwin returning and this time around joined by Henry Cavill as American agent August Walker and Angela Bassett as his superior. They all bring their acting talents to the picture with a couple of unexpected faces also showing up during the film's run time. The movie also does a great job of keeping viewers guessing as the Impossible Mission team is in a race against time to retrieve the plutonium cores from dangerous hands. We see Ethan Hunt take on a false identity in order to get deeper into the organisation he is targeting, questioning his own morality, what boundaries he is willing to cross and whether he can really trust those who are closest to him. It genuinely makes for a thrilling spy action film that has strong twists which blend seamlessly with the film's impressive action.

Its nice to see a film series run for the length of time that Mission Impossible has and being able to say that its latest entry could be its strongest yet. Although the films won't be the same if and when Cruise retires the role (the man's not young but I'd be surprised if they are half as thrilling without his involvement, commitment to the role and various stunts) let's hope that they continue to be as compelling to watch on the big screen as MI Fallout was.

3. Aquaman

DC has had a patchy record regarding films based on its most famous characters. Batman vs Superman, Suicide Squad and Justice League suggest a studio at odds with itself, trying to capture the cinema-going audience whilst trying to carve its own niche in the superhero space. The box office has been generous but the critic and audience feedback has not been as much. In contrast DC has had some reasonable success with Man of Steel and Wonder Woman (well-received films that focus on two of DC's most popular heroes). Into the ring enters Arthur Curry, the titular Aquaman in his own standalone film that turned out pretty well all said and done.

Half-human, half-Atlantian, Arthur is more than happy doing his own thing with being a savior of those who are troubled on the earth's seas, occasionally visiting his father to have a catch-up and 'breakfast' (including various pints of beer). Into his life enters Mera (an Atlantean) who explains to Arthur that a war is coming between the kingdom of Atlantis and the 'surface dwellers'. Despite his initial disinterest in Mera's warning, after a tsunami ends up throwing up all sorts of junk on various beaches around the world Arthur changes his mind, travelling to Atlantis with Mera to stop the impending war between those above and below the sea.

Director James Wan and his crew do a fantastic job of presenting a superhero film that holds very little back. From the outset we are treated to well-choreographed action, mesmerising and colourful vistas, witty dialogue and a great ride as Arthur and Mera journey around the world in order to find a legendary trident (originally owned by the first king of Atlantis, Atlan) and reign as the underwater kingdom's ruler).

Aquaman isn't a short film with a runtime of over two hours but you won't have a chance to complain about the film's pacing. Things progress at such a pace that you only get to catch your brief as the opening credits role. Perhaps this was done to fit the volume of characters, kingdoms and content into this film in case it was a box office failure. However given Aquaman's financial performance over the last three weeks that couldn't be further from the truth.

Sure some of the dialogue is corny and not much time is spent on developing the film's main character but if you want a good time and proof that DC is able to make somewhat lighter and entertaining films in the superhero genre, look no further than Aquaman. Its one of DC's best comic book films yet and gives hope for the brand's future in cinema.

2. The Incredibles 2

Making the Top 10 list this year is another 3D animated film and Pixar's latest, The Incredibles 2. Original director Brad Bird returns after 14 years to bring us another tale with the Parrs, a family of supers who are used to leading double lives not only as everyday citizens but also the likes of Elastigirl, Mr. Incredible and so on. The film picks up from where the last film ended with our super family taking on the Underminer as he attempts to rob one of the city's banks. Although they prevent city hall from being flattened they are not so successful at letting their new enemy escape. On top of that, as a result of the damage caused to the city during their attempts to stop the Underminer the government closes down the superhero relocation program it runs, putting Robert and his family in a difficult situation. Although the family are initially dismayed at their predicament trusted friend Lucius (Frozone) comes to their aid with an offer from a local wealthy business, Winston Deavour, who aims to use effective coverage and promotion to put The Incredibles back in the public's good books.

It would be easy to think that this sequel only came out 2-3 years after the original rather than 14. Very little feels different or out of place as we rejoin the Parrs in their day-to-day lives. The film is full of well-written dialogue, clever humour and has decent arcs for each member of the family. The film does a nice role reversal as Helen (Elastigirl) goes back into the field whilst Robert (Mr. Incredible) takes on full-time parenting duties for the couple's three children. It makes for an interesting scenario as we follow them in their current roles and how that affects the family dynamic.The film also does a great job of providing a fair amount of growth to each of the family members (even the family baby Jack-Jack who appears to have more than just the powers suggested in the first film). That the sequel wasn't rushed out of the door shortly after the success of The Incredibles has probably helped the sequel feel much more like a perfect compliment to its predecessor rather than solely a means of the studio making more money. 

Pixar's animation is as smooth and wonderful as ever, allowing the likes of Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Dash, Violet and Jack-Jack to feel more incredible than ever before. The animation presents us with a wonderful-looking world that reflects the hard-work and capabilities of Pixar's animation team, possibly some of its best to date with not one moment of The Incredibles 2 looking sub-par or rushed. The musical score also perfectly compliments the film with subtler pieces during the more heartfelt moments and bombastic tracks to match the film's exciting action. The voice work is of a similar calibre as the previous actors return to their roles, bringing their characters to life as we see the Parrs have difficult discussions around the dinner table about the family's future, Robert's ability (or inability) to deal with being a stay-at-home dad or Helen's newfound position as the family's breadwinner. If any of the actors involved weren't completely invested in giving their best it would show immediately which makes it more a joy to see everyone give 110% in all areas.

I had expected that The Incredibles 2 would be a great animated film given the previous film's high quality and that this would see the same team return for the sequel. This is on a par with that if not potentially a little better than the first entry. If Pixar announces a third in the series at some point in the future I wouldn't be entirely surprised. Let's hope they can maintain the high level of quality established with the first two and this could turn out to be one of my favourite series of animated films ever (if it isn't already).

All that is left now is the no. #1 film of 2018. Want to know what it was? You may have a good idea already. In any case, read on below to find out.

1. Avengers Infinity War

This may come as no surprise to my closest friends but upon looking back on the films of 2018, none provided as much action, entertainment, memorable scenes and that ending the way the latest in the ongoing series of superhero team films, Avengers: Infinity War, was able to. A culmination of ten years of cinematic development of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) that began with Iron Man, the latest Avengers film brings together a wealth of characters that we have been introduced to and journeyed with along the way for a story with the highest stakes to date in the entire Marvel universe. It is by no means an easy feat and yet somehow, director brothers Joe and Anthony Russo manage to accomplish this superbly.

Teased in the previous Avengers films via post-credit sequences or the tiniest of cameos, intergalactic threat and titan Thanos finally enters the picture and from his first few minutes on screen allows the audience to see how big of threat he presents as he slay a colony of Asgardians travelling with Thor, bests Hulk and obtains the Space stone (the second of six Infinity Stones Thanos is searching for in order to place them in gauntlet worn on his left hand, providing him with immense power over the universe). This all takes place before the film's title card even appears, suggesting that we are in for a wild ride during the film's 149 minute running time.

To list the wealth of acting talent involved in Avengers: IW would take whole paragraph of its own. It is astonishing to think that so many well-known and popular actors are in the same film (Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johanson, Chris Hemsworth and Mark Rufallo return among various others) and yet they all make an appearance somehow, whether it be as a key cameo in the film's overarching plot or as a character central to the film's main story of Thanos' quest to collect all six of the infinity stones. Credit must be given to writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely for putting the characters and pieces in place so well, allowing audiences to understand where the different groups of heroes are, why they are there and what causes them to come together in the end. It makes the film's earlier mentioned runtime fly by, allowing you to forget the film's length as so much takes place during Avengers: IW without any of it feeling unnecessary or like filler. Certain things happen to beloved characters during the film that may leave long-term fans in despair but it works for the film's overarching story and is a compliment to Marvel Studios for allowing the directors/writers to take these steps with characters that we have grown to love and cherish on the big screen.

The next Avengers film, Avengers: Endgame, has already been formerly announced which might take the edge off of the way Avengers: Infinity War ended (I won't spoil this for any that haven't seen the film yet but it has to be watched first-hand to understand how important it is for the whole MCU). My hope is that the upcoming film is a perfect compliment to this one, making it not only the best superhero team movie series to date but the best in its genre period (we'll only have to wait until late April to find out). As it stands I can't think of a film that provided more an involving cinematic experience than this one did in 2018. It even got me to buy the Blu-ray on release day which isn't something I do for all films (not even the recent Star Wars episodes) but I was happy to for this one. I hope to continue watching Avengers: Infinity War over the years and I hope it continues to be an amazing film regardless of the amount of times I see it.

So that's my Top 10 films of 2018. What do you think of the films that were chosen? Do you agree with the list or would you make any changes to the films that have been chosen? Whatever you feel, do share your thoughts in the Comments section below. Alternatively you can share this post via Facebook, Twitter or your social media network of choice. Thanks for reading and I hope you continue reading the blog as I write and share more of my upcoming articles throughout 2019.


A long awaited return to the blog (with gaming news updates of course)

So I've noticed looking at the blog it has been nearly seven and a half months since the last update. I did go on holiday with my friend to Japan for a little while in late April-early May and moved departments in July. Taking in all the new processes was a little draining but I'm pretty comfortable with most of them now. In the meantime there have been a range of interesting gaming news updates during that period. I thought I'd posted the following update but it appears to only have been archived (it was quite a decent one too). You can read all about it below.

The first game news update is all Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition-related. Capcom has already added the fourth DLC character, Cody, to the game's roster (check out his character trailer below).

At this year's Evolution 2018 tournament, Capcom unveiled the last two additions for its Season 3 set of DLC characters for the game, G and Sagat.

The self-appointed president of the world, G,
and the Emperor or Muay Thai, Sagat

G takes the presidential theme to its extreme with his Abraham Lincoln-esque getup and wealth of speeches. He appears to be a comedic character in line with earlier-released character Fang but in this case he channels the power of the earth to strengthen his attacks, giving them a magma-infused edge when powered up.

Check out G's character trailer below.

Sagat is a Street Fighter legend and many a fan has been awaiting for the emperor of Muay Thai to return. This time donning a shawl around his vast frame, Sagat is yet again a slower but powerful fighter, returning with his high and low Tiger Shot, Tiger Knee and the eponymous Tiger Uppercut. Be sure to check out his Critical Art where long-standing street fighter carries out some mid-kick and elbow practice on the opponent before finishing them with a mighty rising uppercut. Its a very fitting super move for the game's original boss man.

You can check out Sagat's character trailer below.

Famed developer Atlus has confirmed that it will be bringing its two dance spins-offs of the long running JRPG series Persona, P3D: Dancing Moonlight and P5D: Dancing Starnight to the West on December 4th (thanks Gematsu).

The dancing titles will see release on the PS4 and PS Vita. A regular edition and special edition will be released, the latter including a digital version of P4D: Dancing All Night.

You can check out further details and place a pre-order (if you are so inclined) via the dedicated site link below.

You can also check out the announcement trailers for P3D and P5D below.

Although the above titles have further been updated and or been released since this post I appreciate it may be old news. I still think its worth posting though for those interested in the titles covered. Do share any thoughts you have in the Comments section below. Alternatively you can like and share this post via Facebook, Twitter or your social media network of choice.


Gaming updates for April

Hello everyone. I've been busy preparing for an upcoming holiday among other things recently. That's not stopped the news updates flowing in the world of gaming though. Read on below to find out more

Firstly, long-standing fighting game developer SNK has recently confirmed the last two characters it will be adding as DLC to the existing roster. Fan-made Najd and long-term favourite, Blue Mary, will be joining the roster on April 12th together with the version 3.00 update (thanks official Playstation blog). The game will also receive a variety of character balance adjustments as well according to the game's executive producer, Yasuyuki Oda.

Players can now recreate the original team Mary was a part of
in the first KOF she appeared in with Yamazaki and Billy

You can check out their respective character trailers below.

Capcom has formally announced the next DLC character it will be bringing Street Fighter V, Falke.

Ed's right-hand woman who uses
a staff imbued with psycho power, Falke

According to the Capcom Unity blog, staff-wielding female fighter 'Falke was built to be an alternative clone for M. Bison. She was heavily experimented on by Shadaloo and was forced to train day in, day out to achieve perfection. Falke has the unique ability to infuse Psycho Power into objects and release it through them, mainly through her staff, which she named Harmony. Years of harsh training went by, causing Falke to spiral deep into despair, wishing for it all to end. Finally, Ed came to her rescue and they both were able to escape Shadaloo. Now, the two have a sibling-like bond and are searching for others like them in need of help.'

The character will be joining SFV on April 24th (next Tuesday). You can check out her character trailer below.

Like the rest of the SFV roster, Falke will also be receiving a Story and Battle costume too. You can check these out in the screens below.

And finally, the latest title from developer Arika, Fighting Ex Layer, is to receive an expert mode. This will allow players to go through a variety of trails for each character that will be included when Fighting Ex Layer releases digitally in June this year.

You can check out a trailer for the newly announced mode below.

What do you think of the recent updates announced above? Are you looking forward to using any of the characters in SFV, KOF XIV or Fighting Ex Layer? Do share your thoughts in the Comments section. Also like and share via Facebook, Twitter or your social media network of choice.


A range of gaming updates for mid-March

Hello again everyone. Its been 2-3 weeks since I've updated the blog but I've been subdued by the cold weather. It hasn't stopped the flow of news in the the world of gaming though. Read below for some of the latest updates.

Kazuma Kiryu returns in Yakuza Kiwami 2

SEGA has announced it will be bringing the remake Yakuza Kiwami 2 to the West in late August this year. The revamp of the second numbered entry in the long-running series will be coming to the PS4 on August 28th. You can check out a trailer for the game's announcement below.

SEGA is at it again with the recent announcement that it will be updating the most recent 2D Sonic title with the release of Sonic Mania Plus.

SEGA updates the latest great Sonic title
with Sonic Mania Plus

The game will feature two new playable characters (Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel), an all-new Encore Mode and an expanded four-player Competition Mode.

Users who already own Sonic Mania will be able to get the new content of Sonic Mania Plus via a digital update, the pricing of which will be revealed at a later date (thanks Gematsu).

The God of War is now a dad of war?

Sony is gearing up for its reboot of the God of War
 series with the similarly-titled game, due for release on April 20th. A one-minute TV spot has been released in promotion of the game which you can check out below.

Atlus continues to share character trailers for its upcoming rhythm-action games, Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night and Persona 5: Dancing Star Night.

The latest character trailers show the navigators from each title, Fuuka Yamagishi and Futaba Sakura, strutting their stuff solo and with dance partners in their respective titles. You can check out their character trailers below.

And finally, publisher PQube is bringing Arc System Works' latest title, Blazblue Cross Tag Battle, to the PS4 and Switch this Summer.

Its nice to finally receive confirmation of a European release for the title despite its recent negative press regarding how the DLC characters will be offered for the game. You can check out the launch trailer for the game below.

So March appears to be quite the busy month with various upcoming game announcements, launch dates and details. Which of the above games are you looking forward to? And what other titles are you looking forward to this month? (Ni no Kuni II and Far Cry 5 are a couple of the big hitters coming in the latter half of the month). Share any thoughts you have in the Comments section below. Also like and share this post via Facebook, Twitter or your social media network of choice.


Valkyria Chronicles 4 demo available on Japanese PSN

Games developer/publisher SEGA has been gracious enough to offer a demo of the latest in its ongoing strategy RPG series, Valkyria Chronicles 4, on the Japanese PSN store

The demo comes in at 5.3Gb and will let you play from the beginning of the game up until the second chapter of the main scenario. The save data can be imported into the full release when it launches. If you play the demo until the end, you will be able to take on an extra mission based around the new “Grenadier” class in the game (thanks Gematsu). 

You can find the demo via this link HERE (you will need a Japanese PSN account to download the demo but this is relatively easy to setup).

Will you be downloading and trying out the Valkyria Chronicles 4 demo? I'll be posting a brief review of my experience with it later this week. In the meantime you can share any thoughts you have via the Comments section below. Also like and share this update via Facebook, Twitter or your social media network of choice.


Last week's gaming updates

Good afternoon all. I've got some interesting updates for you to read this weekend from the world of gaming. Read on below

Long-standing game developer SNK has recently announced the latest DLC character it will be adding to its current 3-on-3 team fighting title, The King of Fighters XIV.

Commander from the game Ikari Warriors, Heidern brings his slices, chops and eyepatch-wearing self to the 3-on-3 team battle series. You can check out his character trailer below.

Arc System Works has unveiled the cover art for its upcoming crossover fighter, Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle. You can check out how this looks below.

The 2-on-2 fighter sees a variety of characters from Blazblue, Persona 4 Arena, UNIEL and Western anime-themed series, RWBY. The game will also feature an story mode called Episode Mode, allowing players to experience the game's story from the viewpoints of each of the four series mentioned above.

Namco Bandai's long-running weapons fighter, Soul Calibur IV, has confirmed that two familiar characters will be returning to the series with the likes of chain sword-wielding madam, Ivy Valentine and scythe-wielding monk, Zasalamel. You can check out their character trailers and portraits below.

And finally, Atlus has released two new trailers highlighting characters Aigis and Makoto Niijima from its two upcoming spin-off rhythm action titles, Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night and Persona 5: Dancing Star Night. You can check these trailers out below.

Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night and Persona 5: Dancing Star Night will launch for PlayStation 4 and PS Vita on May 24 in Japan (thanks Gematsu).

What do you think of the recent gaming announcements? Are you excited for any of the titles above? Or what are your hoping to see announced for them in the near future? Share any thoughts you have in the Comments section below. Also like and share this post via Facebook, Twitter or your social media network of choice.


Blanka claws his way into SFV:AE on February 20th

We knew he was coming from the previous reveal trailer for the Season 3 characters but Street Fighter's famed green wildman from the Amazon, Blanka, will be joining the SFV:AE roster on February 20th

Blanka returns with his familiar cannonball rolls and electricity attacks. The character appears to have learned a few new tricks with the ability to crouch below fireballs, then either launch the opponent or leap towards them to take advantage of the situation. His V-Triggers also enable him to hit the opponent multiple times with his cannonball rolls, change direction and enhance his electricity attacks.

Will Blanka end up being top-tier when he becomes available in SFV:AE? We won't have to wait long as he will be added to the game's roster next Tuesday (20/02). Then we'll find out how effective (troll-like) the wildman will be.

You can check out his character trailer below which highlights his moves, V-Triggers, Critical art and costumes (the mascot costume is going to appear online a lot, I guarantee it).

What do you think of Capcom's latest rendition of an old Street Fighter favourite? Are you a fan or will you enjoy pulverising Blanka in every match? Feel free to post your thoughts in the Comments below, like the post and share it among your friends on Facebook, Twitter or your social media network of choice.


A variety of gaming news updates for the last month

Hello again readers. Its been sometime since I've updated the blog. However I'm back and I bring your a range of gaming news updates that were shared over the last month.

Firstly SNK dropped details of the first of four DLC characters it will be adding to the existing roster of its latest entry in the long-running franchise, The King of Fighters XIV. Card-weilding in a sharp suit, Oswald, will be returning to the game. You can check out his character highlight trailer below.

Developer Atlus, known for its subversive and immersive RPG titles, is currently working on two dance rhythm action titles based on its famed turn-based series, Persona.

You can check out the trailers for Persona 3, Dancing Moonlight and Persona 5, Dancing Starlight below.

Developer of action titles that often look like paintings in motion, Vanillaware, will be releasing its multiplayer scrolling fighter with a high-fantasy theme, Dragon's Crown Pro for the PS4 in the Americas and Europe on May 15th.

Vanillaware's multiplayer brawler
with a high fantasy setting comes to the PS4

The title will feature 4K resolution support, the entire soundtrack newly recorded by a live orchestra, cross-play with the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita versions (as well as save data importing), and both English and Japanese voice-overs (thanks Gematsu).

Vanillaware games are always a treat to look at and great to play so it will be nice to revisit this former title. Those who will be playing for the first time will be in for a brawling treat.

SEGA has shared a trailer introducing the central group of characters in its upcoming strategy RPG, Valkyria Chronicles 4The trailer introducing Claude Wallace, Riley Miller, Raz and Kai Schulen can be viewed below.

And finally, popular 6-on-6 team hero shooter developer Blizzard has added a new event to Overwatch in celebration of the Lunar calendar New Year. You can check out the trailer which provides a taste of what's in store below.

The last month appears to have been packed with a variety of interesting gaming news. What do you make of the above? Do share your thoughts in the Comments section below. Alternatively you can share this on Facebook, Twitter or your social media network of choice.


New blog update coming soon

To my readers, forgive me for not updating the blog for the last month. January has been an interesting one with various new updates on a range of titles.

I'll be updating the blog this weekend with a full update including a variety of gaming news from the likes of SEGA, SNK, Arc System Works, Atlus and more. Please look forward to reading it.