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Why I have Hope for ‘Paper Mario: Color Splash’



Paper Mario: Color Splash has had a storm of controversy swirling around it (thanks to some very vocal critics) ever since the reveal trailer announcing its release aired.

In short, there were a few hasty jumps to conclusions. The initially sparse gameplay footage suggested Color Splash was going to be merely a console rehash of 2012’s Paper Mario: Sticker Star – a game seen by many as a lackluster installment that deviated from the RPG themed backdrop of past Paper Mario games.

As an avid fan of the Paper Mario franchise, I watched the reveal trailer and was admittedly disappointed. My dream of a spiritual sequel to Paper Mario: Thousand Year Door was, once again, set back a few more years. I honestly sympathized with the hateful bandwagon who’ve condemned this game from the very beginning and originally planned to write a cheeky article echoing some of their top complaints.

shots fired

shots fired

Thankfully, I did some homework first.

Seeing that I might regret writing an emotionally-charged article about a game I haven’t even played yet, I immersed myself in all things Color Splash. This means watching and taking notes on gameplay videos from E3, Gamescom, Hyper Japan Festival, and PAX West, as well as reading up on transcripts of interviews with Color Splash director Risa Tabata. To top it off, I played through all of the Paper Mario games released to date – from Super Mario RPG, to the infamous, experimental Sticker Star. Heck, I even threw in Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam for good measure.

I had become one with paper.

Upon completing this investigative quest for knowledge, I came to two conclusions:

  1. Sometimes, nostalgia inaccurately immortalizes games. This topic can be an article all by itself.
  2. I am reasonably hyped for Color Splash. The game clearly has potential.

Edgy, I know. If I listed these revelations in a video, I would probably find myself on the wrong end of a YouTube firing squad. Oh well, I did my own research and am confident in the perspective developed from it. Here is what I found:

Color Splash is undoubtedly similar to Sticker Star – but, fortunately, the similarities are seemingly limited to only the endearing traits. The humorous dialogue, superb musical score, and consistently outstanding aesthetic delivery are definitely present, thanks in part to the return of Sticker Star developer Taro Kudo.

PMCS Atmosphere

By and large, this is where the similarities between the two end.

Using Sticker Star as a case study, Nintendo not only retained what worked, they also improved upon what did not. Here are some of the top complaints about Sticker Star, coupled with what appears to be Color Splash’s attempts to address them. Noticeably missing are the prolific complaints regarding lack of partners, badges, and traditional leveling. Make no mistake, the absence of these cherished elements was (and continues to be) disappointing.


Bullet Bill Blaster

5 Sticker Star Complaints and How Color Splash Answers Them

Sticker Star Complaint #1
There is little to no incentive to fight enemies in Sticker Star. With no XP system of any kind, encountering enemies not essential to plot progression served pretty much no other purpose other than draining your inventory of stickers, lowering your HP, and wasting your time.

+ Color Splash Improvement
Enemies now drop not only “Hammer Scraps” that eventually level up your paint hammer storage, but also have a chance to drop Battle Cards unique to the enemy species. A coin bonus is granted for defeating an enemy or a group of enemies without taking damage. Also, Kamek the magikoopa randomly appears at the onset of a battle sequence to “curse” you and steal lots of your Battle Cards. Defeat the enemies and Kamek will return the stolen cards along with 300 coins for your trouble. Neat.

Curse Cleared

Sticker Star Complaint #2
Inventory issues make stickers in Sticker Star an obnoxious mechanic – especially larger stickers or “Thing” Stickers. A player can hold up to 120 normal sized stickers in SS, but when larger sticker types are factored in, those 8 pages fill up way too fast. To make matters worse, sometimes missing terrain/architecture vital to level progression take up space temporarily in your sticker pages – making resource management even more stressful.

Note: Come to think of it, inventory issues have been a recurring theme in the Paper Mario series.

+ Color Splash Improvement
Color Splash’s card system will let you hold up to 99 Battle Cards. The key takeaway, though, is that all cards in the deck take up the same space regardless of card classification. This change will definitely be an improvement over the sticker system by hopefully making resource management problems a thing of the past. Fingers crossed.

Sticker Star Complaint #3
The sticker system is overly simplistic. The battle sequences lack depth and boss “Thing” card weaknesses are not hinted at well enough to be utilized consistently.

+ Color Splash Improvement
The new Battle Card system introduces “Enemy” Battle Cards that are replicas of Mario’s enemies. An Enemy Card, once played, serve as an extension of Mario in both offense and defense. The “Battle Spin” system is brought back, but now it’s not the only way Mario can use multiple items in one turn. Additional slots for Battle Cards seem to open up as the game progresses. You can choose to use some of your paint to color a Battle Card to increase the amount of damage that card does. Hints at boss weaknesses to specific “Thing” Battle Cards will be more obvious.

Sticker Star Complaint #4
 Very minimalist setting – too few NPC’s (non-playable characters) and a bare-bones plot.

+ Color Splash Improvement
From the gameplay videos shown, Color Splash seems filled with NPC’s to interact with and feels anything but barren. During battle sequences, even minor enemies talk trash to you and react to taking damage. +1 for immersion. The plot seems to be at least somewhat more in-depth – at least, the game is marketing itself as such. For evidence of this, check out Episode 1 of the recently released Rescue Squad V commercials:

Also, players are promised at least 30 hours of non-completionist gameplay. If this is true, it’s at least on par with Paper Mario 64. AWESOME.

Sticker Star Complaint #5
Exploration in Sticker Star is occasionally tedious and does not feel rewarding.

+ Color Splash Improvement
Rewards are now added for exploration such as the recurring Luigi side quests. Find Luigi hiding out in a level and you’ll get 300 coins for your efforts. Completionists will also be happy to know that the game openly tracks the percentage of spaces painted on each level. This percentage tally really incentivizes exploration and completion. Let’s hope there will be additional, more tangible incentives to accompany that emotionally satisfying “100%” checkmark.

Final thoughts on Color Splash:

I would argue that, while Color Splash initially appears to be the refinement of Sticker Star, it has enough original content and quirks to evade the “Sticker Star 2.0” label that critics are trying to slap on it.


It might be unfortunate that Color Splash and the Paper Mario series as a whole remains distant from its RPG roots, but just because a game takes a different path than its predecessors does not mean it will be inevitably bad. Try not to let your disappointment toward the genre deviation of the series rob you of an open minded play-through of Color Splash.

On a positive note, compared to Sticker Star, this game actually has more RPG elements.

This is definitely a step in the right direction.

Personally, I am looking forward to the release of Color Splash this October 7th!

Please feel free to leave any thoughts, observations, or criticism in the comment section below.


Fantastic Fest 2019: Second Wave Adds ‘Knives Out’, ‘Parasite’ and More




This year’s Fantastic Fest is shaping up with one of the strongest lineups in recent years and if the first wave announcement didn’t impress you, the second wave of films announced today will have you running to buy tickets.

Wave two brings a ton of exciting new titles including Rian Johnson‘s Knives Out, Bong Joon-ho‘s Palme d’Or winner Parasite, as well as Richard Stanley‘s The Color Out of Space and the latest from filmmaking duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead, Synchronic.

This year, Fantastic Fest will also be spotlighting Mexican genre films such as The Black Pit of Dr. M and The Ship of Monsters—and, the festival will also include a sidebar dedicated to LGBTQ+ representation in genre cinema.

Check out the full second wave film lineup below. Fantastic Fest runs September 19-26. Be sure to check back as we will be covering the event once again this year.

Abou Leila
Algeria, France, Qatar, 2019
North American Premiere, 139 min
Director – Amin Sidi-Boumédiène
In the midst of the Algerian Civil War, Lotfi ventures into the desert with his lifelong friend S., who hopes to find and kill the elusive, dangerous terrorist Abou Leila.

The Antenna
Turkey, 2019
US Premiere, 115 min
Director – Orçun Behram
Somewhere within an unnamed city in Turkey, the residents of an apartment block await the installation of their new antenna as ordered by the central government. No one can prepare them for the evil that will be unleashed.

The Black Pit Of Dr. M
Mexico, 1959
Repertory Screening, 82 min
Director – Fernando Méndez
Two doctors make a pact on behalf of science: Whichever one dies first will return to share the secrets of the afterlife. This pact will not end well.

USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 80 min
Director – Joe Begos
While trying to complete her latest painting, a starving artist facing a lack of inspiration spirals out of control in a blaze of blood-soaked, drug-fueled glory.

Blood Machines
France, USA, 2019
North American Premiere, 50 min
Director – Seth Ickerman
The wild sequel to the Carpenter Brut music video, Turbo Killer, shoots you into a turbulent psychedelic adventure of galactic hunters tracking down the soul of a spaceship set to a killer synthwave soundtrack.

Butt Boy
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 100 min
Director – Tyler Cornack
Writer/director/comedian Tyler Cornack’s Butt Boy introduces us to Chip, a middle-aged man whose first prostate exam stirs feelings deep inside leading to an addiction that can only be shown to Fantastic Fest audiences.

Climate Of The Hunter
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 90 min
Director – Mickey Reece
The “Soderbergh of the Sticks,” Mickey Reece, returns to Fantastic Fest with his 27th feature. Two beautiful sisters vie for the affections of a man who may or may not be a vampire.

Color Out Of Space
USA, 2019
US Premiere, 111 min
Director – Richard Stanley
Unimaginable terrors befall the Gardner family after a meteorite lands on their front lawn in Richard Stanley’s entrancing, horrific adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story.

Iron Fists And Kung Fu Kicks
Australia, 2019
North American Premiere, 107 min
Director – Serge Ou
From the Shaw Brothers to The Matrix, this wild documentary tells the story of how kung fu films conquered the world from the 1960s to now.

Knives Out
USA, 2019
Special Presentation, 130 min
Director – Rian Johnson
In attendance – Director Rian Johnson
From acclaimed writer, director Rian Johnson comes Knives Out, a fresh and modern take on the classic “whodunnit” mystery genre.

The Lodge
USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 108 min
Directors – Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala
Five years after Goodnight Mommy stunned Fantastic Fest audiences, Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala are back with another disturbing psychological twister about a brother and sister spending Christmas with their shadowy soon-to-be stepmother.

The Long Walk
Laos, Spain, Singapore, 2019
US Premiere, 115 min
Director – Mattie Do
In attendance – Director Mattie Do
An old Laotian hermit discovers that the ghost of a road accident victim can transport him back in time fifty years to the moment of his mother’s painful death..

2014, USA
Repertory Screening, 65 min
Director – Stewart Thorndike
In attendance – Director Stewart Thorndike
After the loss of her child, a young woman begins to suspect that her neighbors might be part of a satanic cult and that she might be their next target.

A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
USA, 1985
Repertory Screening, 87 min
Director – Jack Sholder
In attendance – Actors Mark Patton and Kim Myers
Jesse (Mark Patton) is the new kid on Elm Street and Freddy Krueger might not be the only monster in the closet in this much discussed but under-appreciated queer horror classic.

Austria, 2019
US Premiere, 90 min
Director – Karl Markovics
In a retirement allotment in Vienna, a crabby 91-year-old finds both himself and his humanity when he hires an Afghani refugee to help him in Karl Markovics’ remarkable and poignant third feature.

South Korea, 2019
Texas Premiere, 131 min
Director – Bong Joon-ho
Bong Joon-ho’s seventh feature — about an unemployed Korean family conning their way out of their basement apartment — is a roller coaster ride of laughs, gasps, horror, tears, and perfection.

Belgium, 2019
North American Premiere, 97 min
Director – Tim Mielants
Patrick is not having an easy time. First his domineering father passed away and now his favorite hammer is missing. Before the day is out, Patrick’s search will lead him to discover answers to the questions he didn’t even know existed.

Phil Tippett – Mad Dreams And Monsters
France, 2019
International Premiere, 80 min
Directors – Gilles Penso & Alexandre Poncet
After their documentary Creature Designers – The Frankenstein Complex, French journalist Alexandre Poncet and filmmaker Gilles Penso deliver an in-depth, sad, and beautiful documentary about the stop motion and VFX artist Phil Tippett, a man who changed the landscape of visual effects in film.

The Platform
Spain, 2019
US Premiere, 90 min
Director – Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
In attendance – Director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
Somewhere in the future exists The Platform, a vertically tiered prison where the upper levels have access to exquisite food and the lower levels fight for survival. Level assignments are random, but how long can a prisoner’s luck hold? One man is about to find out.

1977, United Kingdom
Repertory Screening, 78 min
Director – Norman J. Warren
Jessica and Josephine find more than their relationship at stake when they’re chosen by a shape-shifting alien as his target for an observational study.

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street
USA, 2019
US Premiere, 100 min
Directors – Roman Chimienti & Tyler Jensen
In attendance – Directors Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen
More than thirty years after its release and his departure from Hollywood, Mark Patton (star of A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge), sets the record straight on the famously queer horror sequel in this fabulous, surprising, and eye-opening documentary.

The Ship Of Monsters
Mexico, 1960
Repertory Screening, 81 min
Director – Rogelio A. González
Two Venusian women and their robot servant are on a mission to find suitable candidates to repopulate their planet. Soon their ship is filled with bizarre specimens from across the universe, leading to an adventure like no other!

USA, 2019
US Premiere, 96 min
Directors – Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
In attendance – Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead
Two paramedics find their world ripped apart when they start encountering deaths linked to the otherworldly effects of a new designer drug called Synchronic.

Trampa Infernal
Mexico, 1989
Repertory Screening, 77 min
Director – Pedro Galindo III
In Mexico’s most notorious unseen video-era masterblast, a crew of toxically masculine bear murderers runs afoul of a forest-dwelling war veteran wearing a mannequin mask and Freddy Krueger glove. Entertainment ensues!!

The True Adventures Of Wolfboy
USA, 2019
North American Premiere, 88 min
Director – Martin Krej?í
Suffering from hypertrichosis — which covers him with animal-like fur — Paul knows he’s not like other kids. But a seemingly random package from his estranged mother will send him on a journey of self-discovery alongside extraordinary characters.

The Vast Of Night
USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 90 min
Director – Andrew Patterson
A rural 1950s radio DJ and a telephone operator uncover a strange signal that could change everything in this stunning science fiction debut feature.

USA, 2019
World Premiere, 92 min
Director – Joe Begos
In attendance – Director Joe Begos
In the near future, a new drug called Hype has turned America into a war zone. The addicted are more mutant than human, and they’ve set their sights on assaulting a VFW post in Joe Begos’ star-studded latest.

USA, 2019
World Premiere, 71 min
Director – Jack Henry Robbins
In attendance – Director Jack Henry Robbins
This bizarre retro comedy, shot entirely on VHS and Beta, takes us back to when 12-year-old Ralph, over one formative week, mistakenly records home videos and his favorite late night shows over his parents’ wedding tape.

Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, 2019
US Premiere, 98 min
Director – Lorcan Finnegan
When young couple Gemma (Imogen Poots) and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) drive out to a maze of temptingly affordable houses in the suburbs, they find themselves unable to leave.

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Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Antlers’ Gets a Mysterious Trailer




Fox Searchlight has released the first trailer and poster for Antlers, a rural horror film about a small-town Oregon teacher (Keri Russell) and her brother (Jesse Plemons), the local sheriff, who discover that a young student (Jeremy T. Thomas) is harboring a dangerous secret that places the entire town in danger.

Director Scott Cooper and producer Guillermo del Toro have teamed to adapt a short story from Nick Antosca, the creator of the criminally underrated horror anthology series Channel Zero. Not much is yet known about Antlers other than Fox Searchlight, now owned by Disney, has scheduled the film for a 2020 release. Rounding up the main cast is Graham Green, Amy Madigan, Scott Haze and Rory Cochrane. Watch the trailer below.

Antlers Movie
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Be Excellent to Each Other with these Awesome ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ Figures

“History is about to be rewritten by two guys who can’t spell.”




Since its release in 1989, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure inspired a sequel (Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey), a Saturday morning cartoon, a comic book series, and launched actor Keanu Reeves into movie stardom. And now, three-plus decades later, Bill and Ted are getting their own scale collectible set courtesy Sideshow and Blitzway.

This is your chance to own the friendly duo in one go! The work put into creating these high-end figures is truly astounding as the figures capture the look of a young Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves just as we remember them. If you have $399 to spend, they can be all yours.

Check out the photos below along with the official press release.

Bill and Ted are two high school buddies who dream of becoming international rock stars. Their hilarious time travel adventure is depicted in the amazingly audacious comedy Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

It’s like having them pop up right in front of you, with their iconic fashion and elaborate accessories. Besides, the iconic props are designed to let you reproduce a variety of wonderful scenes from the movie.

Be excellent to each other and travel to the past through the exciting story of Bill and Ted!

The Bill & Ted Sixth Scale Collectible Set specially features:

Highly detailed likeness of Alex Winter as Bill S. Preston Esq.
Highly detailed likeness of Keanu Reeves as Ted “Theodore” Logan
Newly designed and developed male body with over 30 points of articulations and flexible soft arms
Two (2) Newly designed and developed figure stands
Twelve (12) interchangeable hands (total for both) including:
Two (2) pairs of guitar hands
Two (2) right blow fist hands
Two (2) pairs of open hands
Two (2) right good fortune hands

Costume for Bill:

One (1) purple pattern shirt
One (1) graphic t-shirts
One (1) pair of blue jeans
One (1) pair of pattern underpants
One (1) pair of striped socks
One (1) pair of canvas shoes

Costume for Ted:

One (1) blue jacket
One (1) black vest
One (1) graphic t-shirt
One (1) pair of graphic shorts
One (1) pair of inner training pants
One (1) pair of striped socks
One (1) pair of canvas shoes

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Watch the Creepy Trailer for ‘Little Nightmares 2’: Six is Back and She has Help.




One of the biggest surprises to come out of Gamescom 2019 so far is the announcement of Little Nightmares 2, the sequel to the puzzle-platformer hit horror game developed by Tarsier Studios.

While the first Little Nightmares has you take control a character named Six while avoiding instant death as she traverses alone amongst the depths of a dungeon, the sequel will give her a companion named Mono, who must accompany Six throughout her terrifying new journey.  

Little Nightmares was one of our favorite games of 2017 and so we can’t wait to get our hands on the sequel. In our review, James Baker wrote, “Tarsier Studios have created a wholly original concept to a horror genre that has leaned more towards thriller before anything else, bringing its roots back without relying on jump-scares and needlessly-gory shocks. Just like hide-and-seek, Little Nightmares captures the fear of being caught, albeit in a creepy, macabre style.”

Little Nightmares 2 will be released sometime in 2020 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One.

Watch the trailer below and if you are a fan of the first game, we recommend reading this article that dives deep into the meaning behind Little Nightmares.

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NBA 2K20’s Story Mode Gets a Stunning Trailer




NBA 2K19 features to date, its strongest MyCareer mode with the aptly titled, “The Way Back”, a fascinating look at the culture behind college basketball recruiting. The story mode was well received by critics and fans everywhere and in our review, we called it, “an incredible achievement that conveys the fabric of modern American life, aspirations and incidentally, sports, in close-up and at length”.

NBA 2K20 which will be released in less than a month, promises to include an even better story mode, and while we haven’t played the game yet, we have plenty of reasons to think it might be. Not only does it feature an all-star cast with top-tier talents such as Idris Elba and Rosario Dawson, but the story mode – entitled “When the Lights Are Brightest” – is being produced by LeBron James’ Springhill Productions, the same company behind the upcoming Space Jam 2.

NBA 2K20’s latest trailer, which debuted Monday during Microsoft’s Inside Xbox show live from Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, give us a good idea of what to expect. We get a glimpse at Idris Elba and Rosario Dawson in action as well as the rest of the supporting cast which includes Thomas Middleditch, Mark Cuban, Ernie Hudson, Lamorne Morris, Scottie Pippen, and Jaleel White!

The NBA 2K20 demo will go live on Wednesday, Aug. 21 and will allow players to create a character and get a head start on MyCareer. Any progress made will carry over to the full game, which will be released Sept. 6 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One.

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