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Reviews Written by
Daniel A Moir (Salt Lake City, UT)

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Avenue Q
Avenue Q
Price: CDN$ 10.99
34 used & new from CDN$ 6.92

5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious!, July 14 2004
This review is from: Avenue Q (Audio CD)
Since the advent of computer animation puppets are becoming more and more rare, so Avenue Q (a loose parody of Sesame Street) was a nice treat, and a very well done production. I've become quite a huge fan of the production since my sister played the "Internet lesson" for me while I was visiting with my parents. My initial reaction to the song was "what the...?" But Once I understood what Ave. Q was I found myself laughing nonstop. One thing I should note however, that while this album and its puppets are hilarious, and a lot of fun this is definitely not a show intended for children. I would definitely recommend buying this CD for an adult however, its catchy tunes not only demand repeat listening, but that you sing along! It is one of the best CDs to hit shelves this year.
Best songs:
The Internet is for porn
Everyone's a little bit racist
My girlfriend from Canada
(And just about everything else)

Legend of Zelda Classic NES Series - Game Boy Advance
Legend of Zelda Classic NES Series - Game Boy Advance
10 used & new from CDN$ 39.90

4.0 out of 5 stars The classics never die, but the framerate does..., June 24 2004
When Nintendo released this as a freebee for the GCN last year in the Zelda collection I didn't mind at all that the frame rates dips and flickering problems of the old NES edition were still present. It was obvious that the game (which had a significant resolution boost but not much more) was being emulated by the GCN, and had not been really ported. It was free, so I didn't mind. All I needed to do as renew my Nintendo Power subscription, which I intended to do anyway. Now the game has been re released for GBA, once again, emulation, and not a port. I must state first that if you have the GCN Zelda Collection its not worth it to buy the GBA Legend of Zelda. Its fun, and the classic still holds up in its entertainment value even though it's a nearly 20-year-old game. I love Zelda to tears which is why I'm still giving it four stars, however, owning the GCN version and having played the GBA edition (courtesy of a friend who let me borrow it) I can honestly say that I don't think its worth paying the $20 to own this game yet again. If you don't have it definitely get it but be ware... The original Zelda was built on a relatively weak 8-bit console. The GBA is a relatively powerful 32 bit handheld specifically designed to take full advantage of sprite based games. The fact that Nintendo is charging $20 for such an old game but could not be bothered to eliminate the frequent and annoying slowdown really makes me mad. Capcom did it for Mega Man! Why couldn't Nintendo be bothered to do it for Zelda? On the plus side, they did remove the flickering that plagued the original and the GCN emulation. It would have been nice if the frame rate dips were worked out too. It could have been done; shoot it wouldn't have been much work for them to do it for the GCN. The difference is that now you do have to pay for this game, and Nintendo should be ashamed of themselves for not eliminating the frame rate dips, which can and do hinder the game play frequently.

Mega Man Anniversary Collection
Mega Man Anniversary Collection
13 used & new from CDN$ 23.65

5.0 out of 5 stars The games that started it all ported to perfection!, June 24 2004
I have always loved Mega Man, but have never been able to own the entire series. My copies of Mega Man 1-3 disappeared over time, and I was never able to get 4-7, never even got to play 6, and then I got 8 for my PS 1, which eventually got used to trade toward something else (a move I regretted). When Capcom announced Mega Man Collection my response was a mix of "YAY" and "It's about time!"
There is not a Mega Man game from the main series that isn't at least good, if not great, and I've been having a blast playing through all the classics, especially since Atomic Planet and Capcom took the time to polish the titles. The original NES was too weak to be able to properly handle these games without some technical problems. While some could be taken advantage of (Such as the elec beam glitch in the first Mega Man which allowed you to make short work of the games most difficult battles) most dragged the original games presentation down significantly. There is no slowdown, or flicker in any of these ports. Not only that but they bumped up the resolution too. Don't get me wrong, these games are not graphical marvels al la Campcom's Resident Evil 4, but they are not only a collection of the ten greatest Mega Man games ever created, but the best versions of those games ever released. Additionally the remixed music is awesome, the navi mode helps the games instead of hurting them, and the bonus material (especially on the GameCube version of the game) is both fun and informative. Fans of the Mega Man Anime will want to pick up the PS 2 version for the anime episode it contains, though mega man die hards will likely already have the Mega Man DVD sets, and won't be gaining anything from it. Fans interested in the making of and history of Mega Man may be more interested in the GCN version, which features interviews with the series creator. These of course, must be unlocked, and with the glitch fixing that went on that won't be easy. No more taking advantage of the elec beam glitch, its not there. Good luck getting past the Yellow Devil, the Clone, and Dr. Wily now! These games will challenge you in ways that few games do anymore.
Kudos to Capcom, and thank you for a compilation that is long overdue! Thank you to Atomic Planet for fixing a lot of the annoying bugs in the games (although I liked the elec beam glitch, oh well.) I highly recommend this collection for all gamers, as the collection is large enough (including two never before domestically released Mega Man Fighter games) to have something for everyone, and the price is simply too good to be true for such a huge collection. The GCN version is the better version over all as it loads much faster, and has no slow down or flickering at all. The PS 2 version does have some slow down, but it doesn't affect game play very often. I also preferred the bonus material of the GCN version. The only advantage the PS 2 version has is the control scheme. The GCN has a great controller for most next gen games, but has always been a bit awkward in fighters, and old school retro games. It will take some getting used too, and it would have been nice to have an option to let you change the button configuration. A should be the jump button with B being the single shot button. It is awkward, but after a bit of adjusting works just fine. In all, I recommend the GCN version with my only real complaint is that most of the older games still have that black bar on the left side of the screen, and the titles never even filled a 4X3 screen before, let alone a 16X9 (slightly stretched out of course.) I also am disappointed they did not include Progressive Scan, but the resolution is still very good for a collection of 8 and 16 bit games. It's surprisingly very smooth.

Ella Enchanted (Bilingual) [Import]
Ella Enchanted (Bilingual) [Import]
DVD ~ Anne Hathaway
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 32.17
18 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What do you get when you mix Cinderella with Shrek?, June 21 2004
A mess. I have found out that this film was apparently based on a novel, I would recommend without reading it to stick with the novel. Seeing this movie was my wife's idea, and I was reluctant simply because I had heard nothing about this movie (good or bad) and didn't know what it was. I wanted to see Hellboy, now I wish I had, even if it meant letting my wife trod off to see this disaster by herself.
It seems that the idea behind the movie was to parody fairy tales, offering a sort of "Cinderella with a twist" sort of tale. Many elements of the parody seem ripped from the drastically better "Shrek" including the oppression of mystical creatures, elves, Ogres, etc seemed very reminiscent of Lord Farquad's activities in the first Shrek. The big difference between Ella Enchanted and Shrek is that Ella Enchanted is not really funny. I found myself rolling my eyes, smacking my forehead, and playing Mystery Science Theater despite my wife's slugging me very hard in the arm. Sadly the only laughs this movie garnered from the audience were when I did my Simon Cowell impersonation and commented on Ann Hathaway's song and dance routine. This movie wants to be Shrek, meets Cinderella, meets A Knights Tale, but lacks the humor and subtlety of Shrek, the intrigue of a good Cinderella (al la Ever After) and the charm of A Knights Tale. In short, this is the worst interpretation of Cinderella I have ever seen. I cannot comment on the book from which this movie draws its inspiration, but I can say that this film certainly offers little incentive to actually read it. My wife liked it, but mentioned its not a buy worthy movie. I would think that the only audience who might like to buy this film (Pardon my generalizing)would be 13-year-old girls (probably the film's target audience). The film contains a hunky guy whose perfect in every way, IQ-taxing humor, and poor special effects along side a cheesy stereotypical "Cinderella" romance story that only a 13-14 year old girl (or younger) could enjoy. The film contains nothing for older audiences, and nothing for well... guys... And that's okay, there's plenty of guy movies out there (like Hellboy). The rest of us would have to fight the urge to Play Mystery Science Theater and mock this film. An urge I could not resist. (Rubbing sore arm.)

Once Upon a Time in China 3 (Sous-titres français)
Once Upon a Time in China 3 (Sous-titres français)
DVD ~ Jet Li
Offered by Warehouse105
Price: CDN$ 42.85
15 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Poor editing and voice overs don't kill this movie entirely, June 1 2004
Wong Fei Hung is an important figure, not only to Chinese history, but also to me as a student of the style, which he helped make famous. The Hung Gar Style is traced back to Hung Tsi Kwan (there are lots of debates over the spelling of his name) who taught Luk Ah Choy, and Wong Tai (Wong Fei Hung's grand father) who taught Wong Kei Ying (Fei Hung's father) who refused to teach Fei Hung, forcing him to turn to Luk Ah Choy for lessons. Fei Hung then went on to teach Lam Sai Wing who wrote the book that more or less made the style famous. Hung Gar is a very common style in Southern China, but is very rare stateside with only a small number of schools teaching it. Wong Fei Hung is therefore a matter of great interest to me, which is why I bought this film without actually seeing it first. Sadly I was disappointed.
The voice-overs for the English dub of OUATIC 1 and 2 were decent, and I liked the voice actor behind Jet Li in the first two films. Sadly he was replaced with a less appropriate voice actor. I didn't really notice if any of the other mainstays of the series had different voices, but Fei Hung's voice was very different and not as good as the previous installments. Granted bad voice-overs are to be expected with Kung Fu movies, but why fix what isn't broken?
The editing in this movie also leaves a lot to be desired as it is the worst editing I have seen in a modern Kung Fu movie, period. Story line wise the movie is very good with a story that sets the stage for the Boxer Rebellion, which shook the very foundations of the Qing (or Ching depending of your spelling preference) Dynasty. In that time frame the Empress decided to use the anti-foreign attitudes of China to what was supposed to be her advantage. The idea was inspire the Martial Artists to revolt against them; she never anticipated that the Martial Artists (many of them Ming Dynasty patriots) would not only violently revolt against the foreigners, but also the Ching themselves. This movie is kind of a precursor to that bloody massacre, with the empress trying to inspire the revolt by hosting a Lion Head (King) competition. Parts of this story are indeed based on actual history, which make this story perhaps the most intriguing of the trilogy. However, now Wong Fei Hung and Cousin Yee are discussing marriage, and while Wong Fei Hung was married three times it was never to his cousin-by-marriage. The bizarre and arguably incestuous relationship gets even more interesting when Lilly Lee meets up with an old flame that has now turned into a Russian-Japanese double agent who is plotting to kill China's President Li. Also in this film is a poorly portrayed Wong Kei Ying, who was in his prime one of the Ten Tigers of Canton (China's greatest fighters at the time). Here the one fight scene he has he looses... and I am sorry, but seeing such a legendary fighter get beaten was kind of an eye roller. I'm as much of a fan of Wong Kei Ying as I am of Wong Fei Hung... I wasn't happy with how the elder Wong was portrayed. On the plus side while the action sequences failed to meet expectations set by the first two the Lion Head sequences are simply breathtaking. I have always loved Lion head dances and hope that one day my SiFu will allow me to participate in one myself. This movie did a fantastic job or portraying the multiple sides of the Lion Head tradition. On the one side, its fascinating to watch, amazing to participate on, and can be a lot of fun over all. On the dark side, they were used to pass messages around during various revolts, and in many cases Lion Heads were used as vehicles of assault, or assassination. This move does a superb job of focusing on both aspects.
Although the movie is still good I only recommend it over all for fans, or completists as this is sadly not the OUATIC series' finer moment, and the casual movie goer may not get into it as much.

Once Upon a Time in China 2 (Sous-titres français)
Once Upon a Time in China 2 (Sous-titres français)
DVD ~ Jet Li
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 43.78
16 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars In my opionion, the best of the series that I have seen, June 1 2004
Wong Fei Hung is an important figure, not only to Chinese history, but also to me as a student of the style, which he helped make famous. The Hung Gar Style is traced back to Hung Tsi Kwan (there are lots of debates over the spelling of his name) who taught Luk Ah Choy, and Wong Tai (Wong Fei Hung's grand father) who taught Wong Kei Ying (Fei Hung's father) who refused to teach Fei Hung, forcing him to turn to Luk Ah Choy for lessons. Fei Hung then went on to teach Lam Sai Wing who wrote the book that more or less made the style famous. Hung Gar is a very common style in Southern China, but is very rare stateside with only a small number of schools teaching it. Wong Fei Hung is therefore a matter of great interest to me, which is why I bought this film without actually seeing it first. Lucky for me it ended up being a very worthwhile purchase.
Although the film continues the bizarre and fictional relationship between Wong Fei Hung and his Cousin Yee this film is the most enjoyable of the three that I have seen. There is a lot of comedy in this film that works brilliantly along side the action and the drama for this film, which fully recognizes itself as being a work of fiction despite its use of historical figures.
Wong Fei Hung and his student Foon (Now played by a different actor) set off on an adventure with Cousin Yee that bring them up against the Sinister White Lotus Society who are determined to rid China of the foreigners using a mystical power that makes them invincible. But is this power real? The film's story is more intriguing than the previous film, and the action scenes are twice as good. I highly recommend this title as it, like its predecessor is one of the finest Kung Fu films out there. Even the English dub on this film is halfway decent!

Once upon a Time in China (Sous-titres français)
Once upon a Time in China (Sous-titres français)
DVD ~ Jet Li
Offered by Warehouse105
Price: CDN$ 42.68
18 used & new from CDN$ 1.47

4.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest Kung Fu Flicks of all time, June 1 2004
Wong Fei Hung is an important figure, not only to Chinese history, but also to me as a student of the style, which he helped make famous. The Hung Gar Style is traced back to Hung Tsi Kwan (there are lots of debates over the spelling of his name) who taught Luk Ah Choy, and Wong Tai (Wong Fei Hung's grand father) who taught Wong Kei Ying (Fei Hung's father) who refused to teach Fei Hung, forcing him to turn to Luk Ah Choy for lessons. Fei Hung then went on to teach Lam Sai Wing (who is depicted in this film, albeit inaccurately) who wrote the book that more or less made the style famous. Hung Gar is a very common style in Southern China, but is very rare stateside with only a small number of schools teaching it. Wong Fei Hung is therefore a matter of great interest to me, which is why I bought this film without actually seeing it first. Lucky for me it ended up being a very worthwhile purchase.
While some of the events of the film are based on real history (or legend) much of this story (and its sequels) remains a matter of fictional entertainment. Althogh Wong Fei Hung was married three times in his life, he was never involved with his by-marriage cousin (or 14th aunt if you're not watching the English dub), so introducing an arguably incestuous love interest is a bit odd, but the romance aspects of this film aren't really the reason to see this film, Jet Li and his incredible action scenes are. The action in this film was a landmark in Hong Kong Cinema and may have pioneered the "wire fu" so popular in today's movies. The story is very good as well, dealing with the idea of resisting change, and staying true to one's traditions and heritage. As a Kung Fu student and fan I love this movie through and through, as a critic, however I really wish the writers of this movie could have done something less awkward for a love interest for a man whose memory is revered not just in China, but to any and all students of the Hung Gar style. After all, Wong Fei Hung invented the Tiger Crane set that is now the trademark set for Hung Gar practitioners, and so it is a bit odd to see him portrayed in a potentially incestuous relationship. Still this movie remains at the top of the list for fans wanting to collect Hong Kong flicks, as it is one of the absolute best out there.

Metroid  Zero Mission - Game Boy Advance
Metroid Zero Mission - Game Boy Advance
10 used & new from CDN$ 30.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Metroid Uncensored, June 1 2004
There's been a much welcome trend in the industry of games lately; remaking old classics. I'm in love with these remakes because many of them have been keeping true to the spirit and design of the original, yet adding a much-needed overhaul to the graphics, and to the sound, etc. The best examples of these remakes so far have been limited to the Nintendo GameCube with Resident Evil, and Metal Gear Solid The Twin Snakes. Now the GBA gets a taste of remade classics. Granted the GBA has been home to a number of ports of SNES classics, but this isn't just a port with a few added features, its all an all-new game built upon the skeleton of the original Metroid, and while it fails to surpass Metroid 3 (AKA Super Metroid) it comes fairly close in most retrospect. The graphics are amazing, the sound is also amazing, and the game play is stellar, although I do agree that it holds your hand too much to some extent, but this will not prevent getting lost, nor will it ensure you getting 100% items collected. In fact, getting 100% items collected is no easy feat. I have yet to accomplish it, as some of the tricks that must be pulled off to get all the items are either very difficult, or have no obvious solution that can be found for the puzzle. One item that was in Metroid 3 that could have helped with this is the scanner. I was able to get 100% of everything in Super Metroid thanks to that handy device. In addition to the lack of the scanner I also feel that there was room for even more content. They did add some mini-bosses and such, but the game was still far too short for my taste. I would prefer a much longer game. I also didn't like how the role of Mother Brian seemed so downplayed. I won't blow the ending, but the last boss was disappointing. Apart from that Metroid Zero Mission is nearly right up there with Super Metroid in overall greatness for the 2D versions of this game series. I hope that Metroid 2 will be next to undergo such a serious makeover, and that Super Metroid will be ported to the GBA soon as well.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Game Boy Advance
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Game Boy Advance
9 used & new from CDN$ 8.95

3.0 out of 5 stars TMNT are back... but are they as good as they once were?, April 27 2004
Someone once told me that fashion and trends tend to repeat themselves every 20 years or so. He-Man is back, Pretty Pretty Princes is back, Rainbow Bright has returned, as has Care Bears (which has my wife very happy), and Strawberry Shortcake... and so too have the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles returned with an updated look and style designated for a modern audience.
I remember watching the old cartoons as a kid, and playing the old Konami Ninja Turtle games in the arcade, and on my NES or Super NES and loving them. Then the fad fizzled out. I lost interest when I discovered X-Men, a story I've been following since I abandoned the Ninja turtles.
Having beaten all my GBA titles thus far my wife and I went searching for an inexpensive new addition to keep me occupied during slow time at work. That was Saturday... today I am rearranging my budget to look for a new game to keep me busy at work during down time.
Its not that this game is bad, far from it, its just ridiculously short. This game takes about three hours to clear completely, with next to nothing to extend the game play or encourage replay. Worse yet there's no two-player modes at all, and as far as I can tell no unlockable secrets. Also the stories seem to be based on episodes from the new series, which could explain why there seems to be such a minimally connected narrative between the games "chapters". Played even remotely out of order and it will make the story completely incoherent. (I recommend playing Leo, Raph, Mike, and then Don for the most coherent story). This game is a lot of fun, but there simply isn't enough of it. It was fun to relive a piece of my childhood, but overall I wish I had gotten Metroid Zero Mission instead, even if it did cost a bit more.

Sword of Mana - Game Boy Advance
Sword of Mana - Game Boy Advance
14 used & new from CDN$ 18.50

4.0 out of 5 stars The prequel of Mana is great fun!, April 21 2004
I recall one summer when a friend brought over a game I hadn't heard of to play on the SNES that I was borrowing. Essentially it was the game that made me aware that there was more to Square than Final Fantasy and made me a fan of all their work. That game was Secret of Mana. What I didn't know then was that it was actually the sequel to a GameBoy title Final Fantasy Adventure. The name change from Sword of Mana to Final Fantasy Adventure seemed to be solely to ensure strong sales. I never played the original but loved Secret of Mana so much that when Square announced that Sword of Mana would be remade with an unchanged title I was excited. Mainly because Secret of Mana was something of an amazing game, a perfect ten in every way for its era, and the follow-up, Legend of Mana... well... let's pretend we never suffered through that disaster. I had high hopes for Sword of Mana. Game play wise it plays a lot like Secret of Mana, thankfully, and it has an intriguing (albeit somewhat childish) storyline. I love the story behind the game, though it's disappointing that Square-Enix opted to rename the Shadow Knight "Dark Lord". Its kind of hard to identify with the villain when they delve into his history and why he's doing what he's doing when he has such a sill name that screams "bad guy"... Even Dark Knight would have been a better name. This game also does what Legend of Mana didn't in that you can see where it ties to its sequel Secret of Mana. It's a blast to play.
This game contains some of the best graphics I've seen for the GBA as well, although there are times where the frames rate seems to stutter a bit, but it doesn't hinder game play. The music isn't as memorable as other square efforts but it's not bad either. All in all this game makes me yearn for a remake of Secret of Mana for GBA... and lets also hope that we'll see the never domestically released Mana 3 for the system as well. With Square Enix fully supporting the GBA this system is set to rock the handheld market (which is already dominated by Nintendo anyway). But it is so nice to have Square back.

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