Tag Archives: Universal Studios

The Huntsman: Winter’s Curse

the-huntsman-winters-curseCreated by Desert Owl Games & Universal Studios

My rating: 4.5 of 5

An old woman sits by the fireside, telling fairy tales to the children sitting at her feet. Tales of great happenings, like the invasion of the snow queen Freya and her armies. And tales of things smaller but perhaps of no less import. Like the tale of Elizabeth, a young woman who took up her father’s sword after his death and went out into the wilds to seek her missing brothers. Or Marcus, the man she meets in the woods who insists upon accompanying her but keeps many secrets. Perhaps, in the end, all the old woman’s tales are really just a part of a greater story.

The Huntsman: Winter’s Curse is an American visual novel that incorporates a card battle system into the gameplay. It’s a bit different–usually you get one or the other–but in this particular setting it works remarkably well. I should go ahead and say that I’m pretty sure this visual novel is connected to a movie (or movies) which I have never seen. I’m coming at this review purely from having played the game, so if you’ve seen the movie, your perception of the game may be markedly different. . . . I don’t know. Just playing the game, it’s clear that this is very intentionally made to appeal to the largest possible audience–which is both good and bad. Bad in that you don’t get all sorts of fun indie/nerdy jokes and references like you do in games like Impossible Quest. Good in that the gameplay is really polished. Seriously, the card battles are just challenging enough (but if you die, you get another chance, and another), the story flows well with some choices (all of which eventually lead you back to the same story path), and the balance between story and card battles is so natural feeling that it had to have been carefully researched. In other words, this visual novel would be playable even to those who aren’t particularly used to gaming, and it’s got enough variety to be interesting even to those who don’t like to sit still for visual novels. Also, the story is interesting, if a bit predictable, and the art is pretty, although a bit to Disney-esque in the character design for my taste. As a plus, although the game is technically rated teen, I think it’s fairly appropriate for ages 10 or 11 and up–there’s fantasy-style fighting, but it’s fairly clean and appropriate for the most part. All in all, I think The Huntsman: Winter’s Curse is an enjoyable and playable visual novel/game that should appeal to a wide variety of players (although not perhaps to hardcore gamer types). Definitely worth a try.

Note: On the topic of giving the story a try, you can find it on Steam or on the game’s own website. On Steam (where I played) it’s listed as free to play . . . which it is for the first chapter out of five. So fair warning, you can try out the game for free (and there’s enough there to really get a feel for whether you want to play more), but if you decide to play the entire game, it’s about $18 for the whole thing.

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Despicable Me

Illumination Entertainment

Story by Sergio Pablos/Screenplay by Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio/Directed by Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud/Produced by Chris Meledandri, John Cohen, & Janet Healy/Music by Pharrell Williams & Heitor Pereira

Gru has an established reputation as a villain. But the truth is, he’s getting older, and his last few attempts have been kind of . . . well, weak. He needs to do something flashy and impressive–soon–or risk losing both his credibility and his financial support. And what could be flashier than stealing the moon? Gru immediately pulls together his minions and his colleague Dr. Nefario and starts working on this villainous scheme . . . and somewhere along the way (don’t ask my how; it’s complicated) Gru finds he needs some cute little girls to help things move along smoothly. Enter Margo, Edith, & Agnes, three orphans who have just about given up on ever having a real home. These girls are integral to Gru’s scheme, but somewhere along the line, they become more important than his job, his reputation . . . maybe more important than anything to the guy they call “Dad.”

Despicable Me is–in my opinion–a cute and amusing movie, although honestly not one I would give rave reviews. It has a special place in my heart for personal reasons, but looking at it objectively, it’s somewhat better that average (of the movies that I would even watch–there’s a whole realm of “average” films I wouldn’t even touch). In theme and style, it’s similar to Pixar’s movies–perhaps closest to The Incredibleswith a solid CG art style. The story itself is, as I said before, cute and funny–what should be a comedy adventure somehow turning into a family dramedy somewhere along the line. I know a lot of folks love the minions (and they are amusing), but I think the girls are what make the story for me–they’re totally written to pull heartstrings, and they do it with aplomb. I probably wouldn’t recommend this story for younger children (it’s crude at times, and kind of confusing as to who’s actually a “bad guy”), but for anyone elementary grade or older, this is a fun, family-friendly comedy movie.

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