2022 challenges, Challenges

2022 Challenges: March Recap

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After being off to a pretty shaky start, I feel like March was much more positive for the challenges and I made some headway in everything, even if the numbers haven’t jumped up a whole lot.

Platinum 15 games

March end total: 2

In March I finally managed to get the platinum in Cozy Grove. I cannot believe how long this took me in the end, and I feel like I definitely didn’t do it the most straightforward or easy way. Cozy Grove was actually my second most played game last year according to the end of 2021 PlayStation stats that came out, which just shows how much time I’ve put into it.

Get the platinum in Persona 4 Golden

I was really sick for about a week in March and I couldn’t bring myself to tax my brain too much so I played Persona 4 Golden solidly for that entire time. I have all bar one trophy, which is really quite annoying as I need to do another playthrough for it to get to level 90 and fuse one persona and then the platinum is mine!

Watch 30 anime

March end total: 1

I finally finished an anime, miracles do happen! I watched Blue Period, which I really loved a lot!

Watch 30 films

March end total: 9

I watched two feature length documentaries in March; Three Identical Strangers and Tell Me Who I Am, both of which were absolutely crazy stories, I can’t believe what the people involved had to go through. Both were so interesting though, I’d definitely recommend! I also watched Turning Red, which I really liked a lot.

Watch 30 anime films

March end total: 2

I watched Jujutsu Kaisen 0 which was incredible. I really think it’s the superior anime at the moment, over Demon Slayer anyway.

Read 18 books

March end total: 8

I read quite a lot in March. I got my first Kindle, and a free three month trial of Kindle Unlimited, so I’ve been trying to make the most of that. Chelsie of The Runaway Chelsie Blog and I also had a day where we tried to read as much as we could in 24 hours (spoiler – we did not make the full 24 hours). In March I read The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson, the first and second Zodiac Academy books by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti, They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera (which I’m still not over), and finally Hector and the Search For Happiness by Francois Lelord (which I honestly could not recommend to anyone). I’m doing pretty well on the reading front!

Clear physical Switch and Vita backlogs

NO!

2022 challenges, Challenges

2022 Challenges: January Recap

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January went so quick, it’s mad! I actually had a really positive start to the year for the challenges, so this recap is actually going to have some things to add to it. Let’s go!

Platinum 15 games

January end total: 1

In January I managed to get the platinum for Doraemon: Story of Seasons. True to my word when I set the challenge, it definitely wasn’t a 10 minute job and did pose some sort of challenge, so that objective was cleared! It had also been sitting in my backlog for some time so I also managed to clear a game from my backlog which I’m super happy about.

Get the platinum in Persona 4 Golden

I have not yet got the platinum for Persona 4 Golden, but I am working on it!

Watch 30 anime

January end total: 0

Okay so when I said January was going well, but uhhh… not for anime it turns out.

Watch 30 film

January end total: 4

In January I watched The Lonely Island Presents: The Unauthorised Bash Brothers Experience, Encanto, Afterlife of the Party, and The Mitchells vs. The Machines. A strong start on the films front! At this rate I feel like I can get this one done early in the year and free myself up for the rest of the year, which would be really good.

Watch 30 anime films

January end total: 1

I watched The Garden of Words in January, so a slow start on this front. I need to get into the habit of watching a film a week, or to pull ahead on this one because it’s one of the challenges I’ve found in the past that it’s easy to fall back on.

Read 18 books

January end total: 2

Ahead of target on this one, I have to read one and a half books a month to hit this by the end of the year and I’m actually at 2 and a half so far, so that’s a relief. In January I read The House In the Cerulean Sea and A Medal For Leroy. 

Clear physical Switch and Vita backlogs

I haven’t started on either of the handheld backlogs yet, but now my joycons are fixed, there’s no holding me back! I want to get Persona 4 done, and then I feel like I’ll be well on the way with this.

 

Games, Platinum Review

Platinum Review: Angels of Death

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Available on: PS4, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, iOS, Android
Played on: PS5 (PS4 version)

Angels of Death is a horror game originally created on RPG Maker and released back in 2015 as freeware and later in 2016 on Steam.

As far as my own experience with Angels of Death goes, I watched and loved the 2018 anime adaptation and that was my entry point into it as a property. I knew vaguely at the time that it was a game adaptation but as a horror game it didn’t strike me as a very “me” game as I’m notoriously a huge wuss – I had to get my housemate to sit next to me for moral support whilst I played Until Dawn. 

angels of death

Watching Angels of Death really piqued my interest and spurred me into playing the game. I knew I loved the characters, and knowing the plot really helped ease any anxieties going into playing, as no matter how disturbing it got I knew what was coming.

Angels of Death focuses on the protagonist Rachel Gardner, who wakes up one day in a hospital where she is receiving counselling after having witnessed a murder. She soon realises that she’s not in a proper hospital, and tries to escape. Leaving the floor of the building she finds herself in, she ends up on another floor and soon finds herself being chased by a scythe-wielding maniac named Isaac ‘Zack’ Foster. After a series of events, Rachel learns that the building she is in is the site of a murder game, where each floor is inhabited by a murderer who determines the theme of each floor. I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say that Rachel and Zack cut a deal with each other, teaming up to escape, and the game is spent traversing the floors of the building seeking escape and avoiding the perils put on each floor by it’s inhabitant.

Littered through each floor there are puzzles which require solving. These can be a little frustrating as you have to do them exactly as the game wants you to, so does tend to require a bit of trial and error even if you’ve figured out the answer to each puzzle.

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There are a few sequences throughout Angels of Death where you find yourself having to run from peril, which really opens you up to the weakest area of the game – it controls very poorly. It’s hard to do anything with any kind of precision, so trying to turn corners when in a chase feels like a matter of luck at some points. It can be frustrating but there’s a liberal amount of auto-save sprinkled through the game so restarting sequences isn’t too much of a chore if you find yourself having to retry.

Visually Angels of Death is nothing special, but it has a certain charm. Having been originally created in RPG Maker, it’s fairly simplistic and rudimentary – something that can be said not only for the visuals, but the gameplay and (lack of) voice acting. The main dialogue throughout Angels of Death is completely text based, with the odd peppering of sound effects, like maniacal laughter, throughout.

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Angels of Death offers interesting characters and an intense storyline to it’s players, however some of the characters do feel a little underdeveloped, and the game doesn’t really offer much insight into the reasons behind the characters actions past Zack and Rachel. It’s here where the anime comes into a world of its own and offers more lore and depth to all characters. The anime and the game work really well in tandem with each other and provide a more full experience for the consumer. Of course, it’s not vital to have both and they can be enjoyed independently of each other. The whole experience feels really special, and the plot of the game is a really well realised and put together journey.

8 stars

 

 

Moving onto the platinum trophy, it’s a fairly straightforward get. The trophies throughout are linked to certain things you have to do in each chapter – a lot being to fail at certain puzzle aspects or to get caught. The guide I used from PSN Profiles is good as it tells you when to save to avoid having to replay long sections, but you will have to read the trophy description to get this information.

My PS5 tells me I played for 9 hours, so a fairly quick platinum to get. I feel the simplicity of the trophies, coupled with the guide make this a really fun and easy platinum to get. The game itself being enjoyable makes any slog for the platinum feel minimal and definitely opens the player up to enjoying the enhanced lore in the anime.

Platinum difficulty rating:

2_stars

 

 

2022 challenges, Challenges

2022 Challenges: The Beginning

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Happy New Year to all my followers and readers! I hope 2021 wasn’t a total garbage fest for you all, it was okay for me but I feel glad to see the back of it! Here’s to a much better 2022!

Thinking about 2022, I want things to change. I felt like in 2021 I had my priorities totally wrong with the challenges and my focus was on things that were totally not what I wanted to really be doing. I got the platinum in a lot of games in 2021, sure, but did I play any good games? Not especially! I’ve found over the years I’ve done a few things like that, and I feel like I’d like to reprioritise things so I feel more fulfilled at the end of the year!

So, here are some slightly more targeted ~achievable~ challenges for 2022!

Platinum 15 games

I know I said in my intro that I was going to reprioritise, but I felt like it wouldn’t be Culture Shack without some focus on platinum trophies. I am going to come up with some criteria to the games I’m going to platinum so that I only get ones that actually pose a challenge and aren’t little 10 minute jobs I’ve bought just to ping the trophy. There might even be a shortlist of games I want to try to get the platinum in, who knows? This challenges leads on nicely to my next one, the first sub-challenge in Culture Shack history!

Get the platinum in Persona 4 Golden

I’ve been threatening it for years, but this year I’m finally going to do it. I’m going to get the platinum in Persona 4 Golden. I really tried in 2021, but I got caught up in other things. I first started playing the game in March 2014, so this is seven years in the making! Out of all of my challenges this is the one I’m most determined to do!

Watch 30 anime

For a self-confessed anime obsessive, I sure haven’t watched much anime lately. I really want to change this. This also comes with a sub-challenge of sorts – I want to watch one show per season. I went a bit crazy with seasonal shows the last couple of years and it was really overwhelming to keep up with, but at the same time it’s cool to be part of the hype. By paring it back to one show per season I think this will allow me to manage things a lot easier and still be part of the ‘conversation’.

Watch 30 films

I got so close to this target in 2021, and I think my mistake was only picking up steam in the latter half of the year so it felt like more of a chore. I can definitely do this!

Watch 30 anime films

Do you know how many unwatched anime blu-rays I have? A lot. Not in 2022. In 2022 I’m going to watch them… maybe not all, but most!

Read 18 books

I nailed the books challenge in 2021, and I really loved doing it. I was always an avid reader as a kid and the literature part of my degree really smashed that out of me. Now I’ve got back in my stride I reckon I can read 18 in 2022, that’s only a book and a half a month!

Clear physical Switch and Vita backlogs

My backlog has gotten out of hand, and I need to resolve that. I’m starting with my handhelds, and purely on the physical games I have so that I have some sort of structure. There’s 6 and 7 games per console so hopefully this won’t be too much of a task.

If you’re interested the games are as follows:

  • Our World Is Ended (Switch)
  • The World Ends With You (Switch)
  • Valthirian Arc (Switch)
  • Cafe Enchante (Switch)
  • Langrisser 1 and 2 (Switch)
  • Octopath Traveller (Switch)
  • Hakuoki Edo Blossoms (Vita)
  • Exist Archive (Vita)
  • 7’scarlet (Vita)
  • Tales of Hearts R (Vita)
  • Steins;Gate (Vita)
  • Pyschadelica of the Black Butterfly (Vita)

 

What do you think of my challenges for 2022? Have I bitten off more than I can chew yet again? If you have any suggestions for last minute considerations, let me know! As well as these challenges, I also have a lot of plans for the blog so I can hopefully be more active, and a lot of life goals I’m determined to achieve! Let’s make 2022 our year!

2021 challenges, Challenges

2021 Challenges: October Recap

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Wow, long time no recap! I said in my last update I’d get better at doing these on time and have done the complete opposite, whoops. I’m very aware I haven’t been posting so much, and I really want to rectify that, but life is hella busy sometimes you know?

Anyway, on with the challenges update! I’ll spare you a long list of everything I’ve added (or not) up until now and just do a totals kind of post, it’s nearly December so I’ll do a more detailed post at the end of the year!

Watch 45 anime

October end total: 17

Things aren’t looking so good for this one, you know. I’m having a problem where I can never seem to sit down and concentrate on anime (or games, it’s very annoying). I think I’ll be able to get up to the halfway point by the end of the year, but it’s looking unlikely this will get done.

Read 50 complete manga

October end total: 2

We might as well call this one now, because things just aren’t happening here. Time of death: 1.00pm on 4th November 2021.

Watch 30 films

October end total: 14

Almost halfway! I’m stupidly optimistic about this one, you know. I probably shouldn’t be, but I think I can do it or at least be a good way through!

Watch 30 anime films

October end total: 6

Hmmm…. I reckon a halfway target of 15 movies by the end of the year is probably more likely than the full 30, but we’ll see how it goes!

Get 35 platinum trophies

October end total: 18

I was doing so well on this challenge in the first part of the year, but as I mentioned earlier, I have really been struggling of late to sit down and play games. I think I can probably add a few more onto this total, but I’m not sure how stupidly optimistic that is.

Clear 30 games from my backlog

October end total: 1

Oh man. The backlog just keeps growing. Sure, I can sit down and watch 10 seasons of Ru Paul’s Drag Race in 2 weeks, but can I concentrate on a game for an hour? Can I heck. I’m also calling the end of this challenge, it’s never going to happen!

Play 12 Switch games

October end total: 2

So I did play Ys XI: Monstrum Nox for review (see my previous post) but I’ve not played anything I actually already owned, which is pretty shameful. I’ll be trying to fix this!

Read 12 books

October end total: 11

A challenge I’m going to actually achieve?! What a miracle! I’m actually reading my 12th book now, I’m about halfway through, so this is definitely going to get done! Hooray!

2021 challenges, Anime

Anime August (Again!)

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We’re in August, who can believe it? Much like 2020, my anime progress for my challenges has been really slow progress, so I’m going to boost it again with Anime August. Plus, I really enjoyed having a dedicated month for something last year as it keeps me more focused.

Here’s what I’m going to be attempting to watch this August! I’ve tried to be more realistic than last year, when I was really overly optimistic.

Series:

  • Bartender
  • Fruits Basket The Final Season
  • Hakkenden
  • Kamisama Kiss
  • Kiss Him, Not Me
  • Moriarty the Patriot Part 2
  • My Love Story
  • Norn9
  • O Maidens in Your Savage Season
  • Photo Kano
  • Starmyu
  • Way of the Househusband
  • Welcome to the Ballroom
  • Zombieland Saga season 2 

Films:

  • The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
  • In This Corner of hte World
  • Lu Over the Wall
  • Napping Princess
  • Penguin Highway
  • The Red Turtle
  • The Cat Returns
  • Laputa
  • The Tatami Galaxy
  • 5 Centimetres Per Second

Wish me luck!

2021 challenges, Challenges

2021 Challenges: June Recap

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Can you believe we’re halfway through the year? My challenges progress certainly can’t. So, how am I doing you ask? Terribly, I answer!

Watch 45 anime

June end total: 9

Anime progress is super slow, but I’m hoping now I’ve decided not to watch (or attempt to watch) so many seasonal shows, I can pick up the pace on this. I’m also looking ahead to Anime August, which is next month – crazy how time flies, I feel like I’ve been stuck in a time loop.

Read 50 complete manga

June end total: 2

Man, if I thought my progress on other challenges was slow, at least I’m actually getting somewhere with those unlike my manga reading goals. I just never seem to have time to sit down and read manga, but I know I’ve got to make time! I don’t think I’ll manage to hit this target by the end of the year but I still want to give it a good go.

Watch 30 films

June end total: 9

Watching both films of The Quiet Place means I’m up to 9 films now, which is probably 3 times the amount I watched through the entirety of 2020, so I’ll take this as a win. I need to get more into the habit of watching a film at the weekend, and then I’ll definitely hit this target!

Watch 30 anime films

June end total: 4

I didn’t watch any anime films in June, boo! I need to really get a move on with these!

Get 35 platinum trophies

June end total: 14

I have slowed up on the platinum trophies in the last few months, but I still added Angels of Death to my pile in June. I loved the anime so much so when I saw the game had come to PlayStation, I had to play it. I loved it all over again, and the anime was such a good adaptation. I’m still confident I’ll hit the 35 total for platinum trophies.

Clear 30 games from my backlog

June end total: 1

Look… I just… don’t have the time. At least I’ve started a game from my backlog – Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age, so at least I’m trying!

Play 12 Switch games

June end total: 1

It’s a miracle, I played a Switch game! I finished To The Moon for a review for Nintenpedia, a site I’m about to start reviewing for. I’m super excited for the opportunity to write more reviews, and get lots more out of my Switch so I’m hoping this number will go up dramatically by the end of the year!

Read 12 books

June end total: 6

I’ve finally got back on track with my reading! I finished the third book in the Percy Jackson series to bring my total this year up to 6 so far. I’ve moved onto the fourth book, and then there’s another to go! I’m really enjoying the series, and as I’ve said before, I really wish I had read it when I was younger as I would have totally loved it. As much as I am enjoying it, I am looking forward to moving onto reading something a bit less aimed at children.

Anime

Why I’m Giving Up With Seasonal Shows

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At this stage of the year, I’d be watching the first episode of a bunch of shows ready to write up my Summer Anime Preview post. Whilst I’ve enjoyed doing the previews in the past, it leaves me with 10+ shows I have no hope of keeping up with or finishing.

I’ve found that generally, I’m able to keep up with two or three shows, and then the rest get abandoned, added to my ‘to watch’ list, where they’ll inevitably stay until I look at them and think, “Why on Earth did I ever want to watch that?”

Speaking of the ‘to watch’ list, it’s never ending. Relentlessly adding to it after I give up on 10+ seasonal shows certainly isn’t helping but there’s all the stuff on there that I genuinely did want to watch that I’m just never getting round to as I’m stuck in a cycle of never ending seasonal shows. I just feel like I’m watching stuff for the sake of it and I’m not enjoying it anymore.

Well, no more! I’m giving up with my previews. I’ll still be watching whatever shows I want to each season, but it certainly won’t be as many as I have attempted to do in the past and will be a much more manageable number. Hopefully this means I’ll have more time for other things – whether that’s watching other shows, drawing, writing. I’ll also feel a lot less stressed about being behind on everything always, so that can only be a good thing!

Anime, Anime Reviews

Review: Demon Slayer The Movie Mugen Train

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Let’s preface this whole review by just establishing my position on the Demon Slayer anime. It’s alright. That pretty much sums it up. I was pretty behind in watching Demon Slayer so by the time I got round to it there was so much buzz about it, and I had really high expectations which I don’t feel were met. I really don’t understand the hype around it – people seem to really, really love Demon Slayer, and I just kind of like it. I can totally appreciate it’s a good story, and some of the animation is really nice, but do I love it as much as other people seem to? No, I don’t. I think it’s quite average, I liked it well enough, but I definitely think there are other shows out there with similar premises doing it better.

I hear you ask, if I don’t like Demon Slayer that much, why did I bother to see it? Well, I like it enough to want to watch the second season, and the film is canon unlike the My Hero Academia movies, so I felt like I needed to watch it before season 2 started. I even took half a day off work for it!

So, with that in mind, how was Demon Slayer: Mugen Train? Let’s get into it.

Please be aware the following review may contain spoilers for the movie.

mugen train

As a reminder, season 1 of Demon Slayer ended with Tanjiro and co. receiving a message to join flame Hashira Rengoku on the Mugen Train to investigate a case where people were going missing, and this movie is then the outcome of that mission, hence the title, Mugen Train. 

Mugen Train starts immediately with action, there’s little to no rehashing story from the first season, so you really need to go into the movie with some memory of the plot from the anime. Newcomers to Demon Slayer may feel a little lost starting their journey with Mugen Train, though it’s not impossible. Mugen Train does work well as a standalone story, though obviously there’s a lot of context missing without the knowledge of the first season of Demon Slayer.

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Plot-wise Mugen Train is an exciting and interesting ride. The action never really stops throughout the whole movie, save for a few moments of respite.

As with Demon Slayer‘s debut series, Mugen Train is beautifully animated. There does seem to be some reliance on CGI for transition scenes and some background imagery, which I did find quite jarring. I’ve never liked the combination of CG backgrounds within an anime series, which I understand is a personal preference of mine, so others might not find it as much of an issue but for me it really took me out of the moment.

Some key moments lack emotional punch as it feels like the viewer doesn’t have enough time with the characters to develop any real bonds, so it’s almost a “Well, that happened.” and not much else. I feel some of these moments might land more for manga readers who have probably spent more time with certain characters, but as an anime only viewer, for me it felt a bit lacklustre.

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Mugen Train is a good continuation of the Demon Slayer story, and builds well on the world created in the first season. Whilst the story lacked emotional depth in places, there’s no doubting that the plot is a good one, and sets up the second series of the hit anime nicely.

7 stars

2021 challenges, Challenges

2021 Challenges: May Recap

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I am once again delayed in writing my end of month wrap up because I have no concept of time passing. I think generally I’m doing really badly at my challenges, especially since I’ve starting learning to draw which seems to be the only thing I do with my time these days as I’ve got really into it. It’s a lot of fun but it’s not getting any challenges done.

Watch 45 anime

May end total: 7

Progress is so slow on my anime watching, I only watched one show, Love & Lies, through the whole of May. I’m going to do Anime August again this year, and I had a brief thought that August was ages away, but in actual fact it’s really not.

Read 50 complete manga

May end total: 2

I actually haven’t completed any more manga for a really long time. I desperately need to rectify this but I find reading manga such a huge time sink and as I said in the intro I’ve been putting a lot of time into drawing and I just don’t have that much time (or inclination if I’m honest), to do much else.

Watch 30 films

May end total: 7

I did manage to watch a couple of films in May, it’s something I’ve been consciously trying to do more of. I watched Moxie and Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire, both of which I enjoyed (Eurovision more if I’m honest).

Watch 30 anime films

May end total: 4

Like with ‘normal’ movies I’ve been making an effort to try and up the numbers on this one. I managed to watch a couple more – Demon Slayer: Mugen Train (in a cinema and everything!) and Anthem of the Heart. 

Get 35 platinum trophies

May end total: 13

I had a pretty slow month for platinum trophies also, because drawing, so I only added one to my total – Call of The Sea, which I also reviewed if you check out my previous post.

Clear 30 games from my backlog

May end total: 1

*sigh*

Play 12 Switch games

May end total: 0

Oh dear, oh no. I just, don’t have time to do everything. I need to clone myself or something, I swear.

Read 12 books

May end total: 4

After a slow start to reading the Percy Jackson series, I managed to finish the first book in May (and actually the second in June, so I’ve now started the third). They’re a pretty easy read, and I’m enjoying them. I wish I’d read them when I was a teenager as I would have loved them then.