Nintendo Wii U, 3DS News & Features

Review: Assault Gunners HD Edition (PlayStation 4)

Automatons are running rampant on Mars. Cubed3 reviews Assault Gunners HD Edition for PS4.

Review: Yakuza 6: The Song of Life (PlayStation 4)

The final chapter in the legend of the Dragon of Dojima sees him facing his greatest challenge yet: taking care of a baby.

Review: A.O.T. 2 (Attack on Titan 2) (PlayStation 4)

On that day, humanity received a grim reminder… on this day it receives a sequel. Cubed3 reviews A.O.T. 2.

Review: Fear Effect Sedna (Nintendo Switch)

Hana and Rain are back to put some 'sass' back into assassination. Cubed3 looks at Fear Effect Sedna on Nintendo Switch.

Anime Review: Skip Beat Collection

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Skip Beat Collection (UK Rating: 15)

While most Shoujo stories are dedicated to a starry-eyed, cute, demure beauty, pursued by a host of bishi boys, Skip Beat goes for an entirely different approach. Kyoko Mogami has grown up doing everything for her childhood friend, Sho, going so far as to drop out of high school to support his dream of becoming a rock star idol. While she thought they were in love, Sho saw her as basically a slave, making her work numerous jobs just to fund his life, but when Kyoko realises the truth, she becomes a whole different person. Skip Beat Collection comes courtesy of MVM and is available from 26th March.

In the first episode, Kyoko is shown to be pretty pathetic. She is absolutely obsessed with Sho and throws away her own happiness to make his dreams come true; working numerous jobs, barely sleeping, living off cup Ramen, all to fund his dreams. In that same first episode, though, she accidentally overhears him talking with his manager; explaining that he sees her as a maid and assistant, not to mention a sugar mama, that he sees her as pathetic, a tool to be used and basically a joke.

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Kyoko loses it, and finally tells Sho she's going to take from him the thing that matters most: his fame. She vows to beat him at his own game and become more famous than him. It's a considerable challenge considering he's the seventh-ranked male idol in Japan, while she can't sing, can't dance, never had a single acting lesson, and dropped out of school… but she has her determination and hatred to drive her along. With this in tow, she heads straight to the talent agency of Sho's biggest rival, Ren Tsuruga.

What follows is a story of Kyoko learning to become an actress, taking on jobs and ultimately finding a love for the craft outside of her revenge. Her background learning how to serve Sho, being taught how to please as an old-fashioned Japanese wife, helps her for her first roles and then she begins to understand the heart of acting. She begins to completely throw herself into each role, almost becoming a different person each time, and as the series progresses, her natural talent really begins to shine and it's easy for the audience to become invested in her mission.

This is a shoujo series, though, so romance is obviously a big part of this story. It doesn't get far enough to really craft the love triangle that is hinted at. Kyoko begins to fall for Sho's rival, Ren, who initially has nothing but disdain for her, seeing her as someone who doesn't respect his vocation, but he becomes more of a mentor to her, then a friend, and then something more. Meanwhile, Sho begins to get interested in Kyoko's new strong attitude, even coming to appreciate how awful he was to her.

This new release comes thanks to a hugely successful IndieGoGo campaign where fans finally had the chance for an English dub. The original release of this anime ran almost ten years ago but a dub has been nowhere in sight. Best of all, thanks to the success of the crowd-funder, the dub has brought in some superb talent. There are some serious veterans here with some memorable and recognisable voices. The star, Kyoko, is voiced by the celebrated Caitlin Glass, best friend Erika has prolific star Christina Vee. The renowned Robbie Daymond is Ren. The glorious Grant George is Sho. Yukihito is played by the venerable Vic Mignogna. Maria is the magnificent Mela Lee. These stars are not just providing the voices, either, as this dub takes the extra step of recording all of the songs in English, too. The quality of dub is absolutely top tier and even sub-only anime fans should give this one a chance.

This new release is also home to a host of brand new bonus features, although they are all disappointingly short. There are interviews with various members of the main cast and staff on the project. There are also behind the scenes slideshows, videos showing some of the English songs being recorded, along with clean openings and closings. All of these featurettes are between two and five minutes (mostly two), with a message to visit the official site to see the full interviews… quite the waste if these "exclusive interviews" are longer online than on the actual release; a foolish decision.

Skip Beat Collection is one of the best shoujo series in recent memory, and one that has been made even better thanks to the fantastic new dub. The series is popular with good reason and is still running to this day, almost sixteen years after it first launched. Of course, that means the complete story isn't going to be told here. The anime adapts the first 13 volumes of the current 39 available, but leaves out a great deal, and those who enjoy it would be wise to grab the manga from Shoujo Beat! Which has kept up to date with the Japanese releases, with them landing just a month later in English.

Review: Q.U.B.E. 2 (PlayStation 4)

Variations of a theme, Cubed3 reviews Q.U.B.E. 2 on PlayStation 4.

DVD Movie Review: Kickboxer: Retaliation

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Kickboxer: Retaliation (UK Rating: 15)

Kurt Sloane is a name that stinks of action hero. Like John McClain or Kent Hero, it's obvious just from hearing his name that Kurt Sloane (played by Alain Moussi - Kickboxer: Vengeance; stunt performer in Suicide Squad, Warcraft, X-Men: Apocalypse) is one bad mother… so, when he ends up kidnapped and in a prison near Bangkok, it can only be for the sake of witnessing his bad mothering up close and personal. A sequel to Kickboxer: Vengeance, Retaliation sees Sloane at the hands of a wealthy man who fancies himself a Roman Emperor. Now, fight for his amusement!

Along the way, many things happen that, as you might expect, aren't particularly unexpected. Kurt meets some allies in the form of Iron Mike Tyson and a blind master who appears to have the super human ability to anticipate things that are about to happen… or, as he so wisely puts it, "You have to feel the air move before it moves." Yeah, the dialogue can get pretty corny, but really, is that surprising? There's going to be plenty of flicking fingers and saying "Come get me" littered in the film's 110 minute run time, and it never manages to detract from the fun. Even the most eye rolling lines feel at home here, and it feels pedantic to worry about them otherwise.

Thing is, even as it comes off as the kind of film that just makes you want to feel good about everything, it knows how to pace itself. Sloane finds himself against a monster of a man, played by Game of Thrones' Hafbor Bjornsson. The film never concedes to Sloane being able to effortlessly take him down, either, as every time they meet, Kurt seems to find himself on the wrong end of a beating. However, to paraphrase Mark Hamill's Joker, if it's a whoopin' he's a wantin', he's going to find one in this behemoth of a man. His handler, Christopher Lambert, plays a snarling, conniving, but ultimately charming businessman, ready to unleash his pet project on anyone unfortunate enough to have taken a taekwondo class at their local recreational centre.

The film is expertly shot and even when Sloane is finding himself being bounced off the pavement, like a red ball during four square, it's all really fun to watch. When he's running through disposable enemies like a John Deer on a weed field, the camera is just as much the star. It effortlessly dances around him like a ballerina while he throat checks yet another "Bad Guy #4" and "Courtyard Bad Guy #6" …and the music… whoa! The music is absolutely superb and so well picked that it feels like the producers need to be employed on more mainstream films, just to show them how it should be done.

There are some spots that hinder things a little bit. For all the grittiness of the fight scenes, Sloane and friends seem to have some super-human abilities, even outside of the previously mentioned anticipation skill. While it's all cool watching him as he seemingly runs across the air after jumping off a bike, it breaks the otherwise perfect flow of the scene it's included in. Also, there are a few times when the fighting can get a bit repetitive, and Sloane will use the same move that just yielded no results, but since he needs to appear to have gotten better in what amounts to just a few moments, it suddenly works.

Also, the final fight drags on a bit too long. The sense of David and Goliath is definitely there, and there's a whole progression that takes place, quite well it should be added, throughout the fight. Still, there are a few moments that feel superfluous, like the runtime needed to be padded just a little bit. Equally frustrating, but fortunately only encompassing a few moments of the film, is a segment of green screen that is just plain awful. It's not a deal breaker, but it's bad enough that despite being visible for less than a minute, it's worth mentioning.

Kickboxer: Retaliation isn't an Oscar-worthy period piece about a man overcoming the odds, and thank goodness for that. It's the kind of movie someone would watch while shadow boxing the air right in front of them, being careful not to knock over their glass of Sprite or their bowl of jalapeño peppers. The thing that makes it special is how well it does all of it. It's an absorbing film, and one that manages to be both engaging and exciting pretty much the entire runtime. No member of the cast feels out of place, and while there are some questionable moments, they do little more than become noticeable while watching what might be one of the best action movies to come out in years.

Review: KARAKARA 2 (PC)

KARAKARA 2: a dark, post-apocalyptic tale with nekos - minus the dark, post-apocalyptic bit, that is.

Review: Kirby Star Allies (Nintendo Switch)

Kirby is back, and he's brought a slew of friends with him in the addictive Kirby Star Allies for Nintendo Switch.

Review: Little Nightmares: The Residence (PlayStation 4)

The final DLC for Little Nightmares, The Residence, has arrived and it does not disappoint!

Review: 3tris - The Color Brick Saga (Android)

Mobile gamers have a glut of puzzle games to choose from. Can 3tris' mix of Tetris and colour matching stand out?

Review: Old Man's Journey (PC)

Join an Old Man's Journey and share in a visually beautiful, yet depressing tale, wrapped around a simple puzzle concept.

K-Pop Korner - The Best of Korean Music
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