Tag Archives: Reviews

Food Passport: Waraku

The tan tan ramen cooked in a sesame broth and served with ground pork. All photos by Catherine Uy

 

Waraku, the dimly-lit restaurant run by Shabuway and Men Oh owners, Eiichi Mochizuki and Koji Kikura, is quaint and cozy. Despite its simple aesthetic it really speaks to the idea that good things, or food in this case, are found in the smallest places.

When sitting down, on a date or with a group of friends the setting itself is intimate and demure. It’s a very trendy ambience because of the crowd of people that attend this restaurant as popular music is played throughout the background.

The bowls are a favorable portion size, but worth the price at only $8-$12. Jars of peeled garlic are served table side to add pressed garlic to your bowl of ramen.

The tantan ramen is a hearty portion of soup and noodles, oily and hot, with a little bit of spice. The tonkotsu ramen, which contains a creamy, milk-like broth, is infused with rich slices of pork. The noodles, which are thick and have a springy-texture, have a good consistency.

The tonkotsu ramen cooked in a pork bone broth served with barbecue pork.
The tonkotsu ramen cooked in a pork bone broth served with barbecue pork.

All bowls come with basic toppings such as bamboo shoots, soft, slices of barbecue pork, and green onions. The soft boiled egg has a creamy yolk with a custard like texture. It also has a combination of both smokey and sweet flavors.

The gyoza (potstickers) are nothing special. The dumplings are crispy on the top but overly soft on the bottom. The takoyaki (octopus balls) on the other hand, were perfectly cooked, crispy yet soft.

The only issue is that Waraku’s tonkotsu is not really flavorful. It lacks a heavy pork bone flavor and the pork is either too soft or tough.

 

The verdict: The smoked egg is creamy and delicious, and the bowls come with a good portion of toppings. However, a rich broth is what really makes a perfect bowl of ramen.

★★★ out of 5

Waraku, 1638 Post Street

Food Passport: El Farolito

A look inside the popular Bay Area Mexican chain restaurant. All photos by Catherine Uy

Located in the outer Mission, just a few blocks from the BART station, a rich aroma of smoke emanates from inside a small Mexican restaurant. Inside you’ll find walls in the colors of the Mexican flag and red tables with wooden booths on each side of the space’s tiled floor. In the background, mariachi music plays as a chef places tortillas on a large skillet.

El Farolito looks like a restaurant straight from the 80s with its fluorescent lighting and festive colors, but its  flavors and dirt cheap prices make up for its decor. It’s the type of place where you can enjoy a quality burrito at 2 a.m. when you need to satisfy the drunchies.

The al pastor burrito is extraordinary, filled with pinto beans, tomatoes, onions, cilantro and salsa. It’s filled with strong flavors and textures: a slightly crisp tortilla, tender slices of pork and fresh and flavorful vegetables. Compared to other burrito joints the fillings aren’t overly soggy. There’s just the right balance between chewy and crispy textures.

The small restaurant also serves up a variety of authentic Mexican foods, like nachos, enchiladas, and tostadas de ceviche.

Carne asada tacos filled with cilantro and onions.
Carne asada tacos filled with cilantro and onions.

 

The tacos here are everything you could ask for. The tortillas are rich and buttery, filled with juicy bits of grilled steak. The soft, thin flatbread carries an appetizing medley of diced onions, cotija cheese and cilantro. It has all the elements of the perfect taco: pico de gallo, well seasoned meat, and a chipotle sauce, that’s sweet with just a little bit of spice.

The nachos, however, are nothing special. The chips are topped with mounds of beans, melted cheese, avocado, sour cream, and jalapeños. The tortilla chips have a nice crunch, but are way too salty and greasy. Despite all the toppings, you can’t have good nachos without good chips. It’s a shame though considering the salsa is so damn delicious. Word of advice: try the green sauce.

During the day it’s packed with hungry customers, but the service is quick and friendly. The food is mouthwatering and delicious, but the restaurant loses points for cleanliness. Some of the tables have remnants of food or trash from its previous eaters.

The verdict:  Craving a good burrito? Need to satisfy the drunchies? El Farolito is the place to go.

★★★ ★out of 5

El Farolito, 4817 Mission Street San Francisco

Food Passport: Koja Kitchen

Kamikazi fries, one of Koja Kitchen’s most popular items. These crisscut fries are topped with bulgogi meat, sautéed onions, kimchi, green onions, a secret spicy sauce and Japanese mayo. All photos by Catherine Uy

 

It’s a dangerous situation, taking a bite from its delicate rice buns, hoping it won’t fall apart and spill its generous filling of bulgogi beef. The hand toasted garlic rice buns, which are crisp on the outside, have an overly soft and mushy interior, making it a challenge to eat. Take a bite from the top, and the overloaded burger begins its inevitable crumble, spilling a mixture of Siracha-like sauce and Japanese mayo. Things fall apart, and that’s ok. Sometimes all you need is a fork and napkins.

At Koja Kitchen, Chef Alan Tsai fuses together Korean and Japanese foods with a menu of Korean barbecue burgers, rice bowls and fries topped with seaweed flakes and kimchi.

The popular Asian-fusion restaurant started out as a food truck on the streets of San Francisco back in 2011. Though food truck ventures still happen with the occasional Off the Grid visits, this one found a permanent home in Berkeley two years ago on Telegraph Avenue.

A look inside the Berkeley fusion restaurant on Telegraph Avenue.
A look inside the Berkeley fusion restaurant, Koja Kitchen, on Telegraph Avenue.

When you enter, you’ll find a siracha bottle sitting on every table. The small space is filled with yellow walls and minimal decor, like flat screens displaying close-up shots of their own food-porn, and a few Japanese-inspired wall scrolls.

Be warned though, there aren’t many seats and most of the space is taken up with lines of customers. But the service here is fast and friendly, so you won’t be waiting anything more than ten minutes.

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Beef koja served with a side of koja fries.

Their most popular side, kamikaze fries, are basically carne asada fries with an Asian twist. It’s made up of crisp crisscut fries drizzled in a sweet and tangy sauce, garnished with tender bits of slightly spicy kalbi-style beef, kimchi and green onions. Though all of this is delicious and full of umami flavors, the excessive amount of sauces make the fries soft and soggy.

Kamikaze fries could be a meal itself, but if you can’t handle them, there’s a lighter option dressed with spicy red sauce, Japanese mayo and seaweed flakes. The taste is similar to that of takoyaki, a Japanese street food made up octopus balls.

Kojas, on the other hand, are a whole different story. The restaurant’s main item, kojas, are barbecue burgers sandwiched between two lightly seasoned garlic rice buns. They come in three variations: barbecue chicken, bulgogi beef and portobello mushroom.

The mini burgers look like light snacks, but they’re actually quite filling. Their chicken koja is sweet and salty, as it’s served with a large caramelized pineapple slice and pieces of sesame vinaigrette lettuce. And their beef koja contains juicy strips of bulgogi in a sweet marinade served with sautéed onions. However, the rice buns aren’t firm enough to hold the meat and fillings together, though there’s a rice bowl option to remedy the messy eating.

The verdict: If you’re looking for a savory meal at an affordable price, Koja Kitchen is open till 9 p.m.

★★★★ out of 5

Koja Kitchen, 2395 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley

Food Passport: Yamo serves up Burmese classics

Stir fried egg noodles mixed with fried garlic, green onions, cilantro and beef from Yamo. The Mission restaurant serves meals with flavors influenced by Burmese cuisine. All photos by Catherine Uy

 

At the corner of 18th and Mission, lies a tiny restaurant, tucked between a beauty salon and smoke shop. Red paint peels and cracks off the surface of its tiled walls, some of which appear to be missing or broken. Below the window is a faded image of cats eating noodles with chopsticks from bright orange bowls.

Yamo is the kind of place you could easily miss if you walked by because of its run-down appearance, but its pungent aroma of garlic and spices are enough to lure you in. The hole-in-the wall Burmese restaurant serves a variety of dishes for takeout or dine-in. There’s sautéed tofu with black beans and mixed vegetables, samusas and chicken noodle soup cooked with a coconut milk base.

On weekdays, long lines of customers wait for their takeout or a chance to dine inside the tiny joint that serves hearty meals for under $10.

Expect to wait at least fifteen minutes for a seat, and a few more minutes for a chance to order. Don’t even think about going inside to check for empty seats. An elderly woman at the counter will squint her eyes, give you a mean glare and shoo you away.

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  • The scene in front of Yamo, a small Burmese restaurant located at the corner of 18th and Mission.
  • Inside the tiny space, a chef prepares noodle dishes for takeout in a cramped open kitchen.
  • Tea leaf salad (cabbage, tomato, onions, dried shrimp, fried bean, nuts and sesame seeds) at Yamo.

The wait can be annoying, especially since the restaurant only seats about ten people. If you’re lucky enough to snag a seat, you’ll find rows of Viet Huong fish sauce bottles set against the window and a sign that reads: “Cash Only.”

You’ll be welcomed by a gray-haired woman, who won’t say anything at all. She’ll throw a paper placemat and menu on the counter where you sit and leave to tend to other diners. After a few minutes, she’ll visit you again, with an intense gaze, yelling to ask what you want. It’s like eating with your least favorite aunt.

A rich aroma of smoke, spices and meat fills the small rectangular space. There are no tables,  just a long counter offering an up-close view of the women prepping and cooking thanks to its open kitchen. The bar stools are arranged so close together that you’re basically bumping elbows with the person next to you. Behind the counter are two women, one taking orders and prepping meals, and another in a maroon apron cooking.

The women behind Yamo don’t seem to care about the dining experience, it’s all about the food.

The vegetable egg rolls while crisp and flakey, needs more seasoning. Portion wise, their popular tea-leaf salad is not enough, but it still packs a burst of flavors and textures. It’s sweet and sour, and tastes as if it were doused in a citrus dressing. The sesame seeds and fried beans give it a nice crunch, while the onions create this bitter bite. The only issue was that there were more cabbage than tea leaves.

But when your beef house noodles finally come, you’ll realize that the attitude and wait are worth it. The noodles are soft and warm, and garnished with crunchy bits of fried garlic. It’s mixed with green onions and minced cilantro served with thin slices of soft, tender beef. It’s incredibly greasy, but delicious, nonetheless.

The verdict: If you don’t mind smelling like smoke afterwards, dine in at Yamo. Otherwise order takeout.

★★★ out of 5

Yamo3406 18th StSan Francisco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SF State’s Vista Room offers fine dining on a budget

The oven roasted lamb chops (bottom) and eggplant parm tower (right) served at the Vista Room, SF State’s only on-campus fine dining experience. Photo by Martin Bustamante 

 

Double doors open to reveal a large dining room where each table is set with a glass of red roses. The decor is a bit outdated, with its white walls, black marble columns and long turquoise curtains. Yet the room still has a feel of sophistication. Soothing sounds of violins and cellos play in the background as two hosts kindly greet a group of eaters and walk them to their table. A sweet and savory aroma of freshly baked bread greets one’s nose at the door.

On the fourth floor of Burk Hall lies the Vista Room, SF State’s most elegant hidden gem. The fine dining restaurant, managed by hospitality students, offers a weekly three-course menu and unlimited drinks for just $17.

The Vista Room was started two decades ago by former Hospitality Department Chair, Janet Sim, as a hands-on lab for hospitality students in food service. Each meal is prepped and served by students under the supervision of its new chef, Shelly Rapaport. The menu features three meals (appetizer, entree, dessert) with menus changing every week.

Unlike a traditional fine dining establishment, the Vista Room exudes a nice casual ambiance despite its polished setting. There’s no defined dress code so you won’t feel out of place in jeans and a T-shirt. Most of their diners are casually dressed students or faculty in business attire.

Service: The service is excellent, and the staff is incredibly friendly and attentive. Many seem to anticipate your every need before asking, refilling your water every two minutes or constantly checking up on you. Yet none were ever intrusive or annoying. The tables were bussed quickly, but entrees took awhile to arrive. The taste, however, made up for the delay.

The corn chowder soup with bacon bits and potatoes. Photo by Martin Bustamante
The corn chowder soup with bacon bits and potatoes. Photo by Martin Bustamante

Appetizers: Diners are welcomed with a variety of bread rolls. My group and I started our lunch with golden-brown Parmesan bread. The texture was light and flaky, and had the perfect blend of Parmesan cheese.

Appetizers included your choice of soup or salad. I opted for the corn chowder soup with bacon bits and potatoes. It was garnished with corn fritters – deep fried cakes made of corn. As soon I took the first bite, I was in heaven. I immediately wondered how I went twenty-two years without ever eating corn fritters. They tasted like fluffy pancakes. The soup was rich, creamy and had a thick consistency. It had this summery, sweet corn taste that worked well with the bacon, which gave off a subtle smokey flavor.

Entrees: I’ll be honest, I started planning my return right after I took a bite of the oven roasted lamb chops. The meat was cooked perfectly as it was soft, tender and juicy. It was served over a bed of couscous in a red wine reduction sauce. The sauce brought out this sweet and tangy flavor. My companions, on the other hand, enjoyed the eggplant Parmesan and the seasonal catch (petral sole) over polenta with asparagus.

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The lemon meringue pie served at the Vista Room. Photo by Martin Bustamante

Dessert: The lemon meringue pie was more like a lemon meringue bite as they were baked in tiny pie shells. These were difficult to eat because the crust was too hard. The lemon custard filling was silky and rich, while the meringue topping was fluffy and sweet. It was unfortunate because the crust would have brought the whole dessert together.

The verdict: With its great service and gourmet meals, the Vista Room is the place to eat. The portions are just right and you get more than what you pay for. I mean, where else can you get a delicious three-course meal on a college student budget?

★★★★

Vista Room, Burk Hall 1600 Holloway Ave, 4th Floor,  San Francisco

 

Beats n’ Stuff #8: ♡ heart-shaped box ♡

Hey everybody!

I’m back, with another ‘round of Beats n’ Stuff playlists for you all to enjoy and uncover your as-of-yet undiscovered new favorite artists. For those unfamiliar, Beats n’ Stuff is a bi-weekly playlist and blog around a central theme, with a typically-five-song-long SoundCloud playlist residing by its side. I switched up the logo for the new semester, opting for a Vib-Ribbon-inspired getup. Anyways, this week’s theme is pretty obvious: Valentine’s Day.

For my Valentine’s playlist ♡ heart-shaped box ♡, I’ve curated a six-track playlist with songs about being in love. Be it frolicking through Golden Gate Park with your significant other, or curling up with a sitcom that’s been with you during the toughest of times. Being in love isn’t strictly romantic, in my opinion, so I hope this playlist isn’t a downer for those without partners to call their own.

My plans for Valentine’s Day involve hanging out with my boyfriend, ordering pizza, and probably playing a bunch of Towerfall Ascension. For everyone else’s plans, good luck braving restaurants, couple-y activities, or avoiding such things.

Alas, Happy Valentine’s, Galentine’s, or Me-entine’s everybody! Enjoy the playlist~

1.) “Give Love” by Akdong Musician (AKMU)

I’ve featured YG Entertainment’s Akdong Musician in the past, but their music is impossible to ignore whenever a theme calls to it. Arguably the cutest K-Pop duo in the world, AKMU’s sunny springtime sound is perfect for the sunniness that is Valentine’s Day.

Recommended if you like: Insanely talented 15-year-olds

2.) “Prom Night feat. Bianca Raquel” by Anamanaguchi

Anamanaguchi were once-upon-a-time a chiptune band, but have since evolved into so much more. Now more of an electro-pop outfit, Anamanaguchi’s updated remix of their own track “Prom Night,” from 2013’s successfully Kickstarted full-length Endless Fantasy. “Prom Night” is a love letter to teenage love for 20-somethings, and is damn fun to sing along to. The remix is just as delightful as the original track.

Recommended if you like: Chiptune-esque pop

3.) “First Love” by Uffie

Uffie is probably the coolest girl in electronic music, even four years past her only album, an indefinite hiatus, and two kids later. The Ed Banger records’ muse has collaborated with virtually every artist on the French label, before culminating her own record, Sex Dreams and Denim Dreams. Cheeky references to Myspace (yes, it was that long ago) and playing saxophone plague her debut album, but one of my personal favorite tracks is “First Love,” a momentarily quiet track on the record produced by Mr. Oizo.

Recommended if you like: Myspace profile songs

4.) “Under Your Spell” by Desire

Did you watch Drive? Yeah? That soundtrack sure was somethin’, huh?

Recommended if you like: Drive

5.) “Something About Us” by Daft Punk

“Something About Us” and “Digital Love” are two of the greatest love songs ever made, and they both exist thanks to legendary French electronic music duo Daft Punk. Okay, maybe “the greatest” is too high of a compliment, but at the very least, Daft Punk’s Discovery is in all actuality the greatest electronic album of all-time, which counts for something. “Something About Us” is sweet and mellow, contrasting some of the heavy dance-y House tracks on the album, but somehow not messing up the flow of Discovery whatsoever.

Recommended if you like: Songs that you could probably dance to at your wedding

6.) “Bound 2” by Kanye West

Kanye’s ode to Kim Kardashian is a shockingly sweet and genuine one, given the anger that resonates through the rest of Yeezus, and the media’s perception of the two celebrities. “Bound 2” is a middle finger to everyone that’s accused Kanye of only superficially loving Kim, and vice versa, and I think as an end to an album filled with anger and grievance, it shows that through love, Kanye sees a light at the end of the tunnel. If that’s not good tracklist construction, then I don’t know what is.

Recommended if you like: Kanye, Kim, and their adorable child

“Saints Row IV: Re-Elected” Deserves Impeachment

Saints Row IV was a colossal bummer on all fronts.

Remastered games generally give titles a second chance to right the wrongs of its first release or at least yield a more convenient way to access the classics. There’s a reason why companies keep gussying up old titles and putting them on new hardware. Considering its title, Saints Row IV: Re-Elected wasn’t able to be revived as a classic since Saints Row IV wasn’t a classic to begin with.

Re-Elected might mark the first time a remaster actually performs worse than its last generation version, despite it hardly looking better than an average looking Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 game. During my 20-hour playthrough, I had multiple disconnects in co-op, which kicks your hub world, around 6 or 7 hard locks, and more than a few progress-stopping bugs. This is supposed to be the better version and yet, every single time I inserted the disc, I had to worry about it exploding inside of my Playstation 4. Most remasters add something to the games’ performance. Saints Row IV: Re-Elected‘s biggest new feature is a wealth of horrible bugs.

Glitches aside, Saints Row IV has other issues. The super powers granted to the gang makes traversal a breeze. Zipping around and leaping from building to building makes car jacking irrelevant as on-foot movement is much more flexible and swift. And that much carries traversal far but not far enough.

The digital city of Steelport wasn’t made with these powers in mind, which leads to instances of tight squeezes and irritating losses in momentum. You’ll be cruising along quite quickly thanks to the improved frame rate, but you’ll inevitably hit a literal wall or some general junk that abruptly halts any flow. Games like inFamous Second Son crafted cities around the game’s available set of powers and it’s obvious that Steelport wasn’t constructed with the same amount of care.

Offensive powers like stomping and ice balls are good fun as well, but nothing really meshes with shooting. Don’t mistake that as a burn towards the shooting; it feels smoother than most others in the genre, but it isn’t on the same wavelength as the power set. You’re either shooting or performing heroic feats; there is no in between. There’s an odd disconnect between wanting to use your powers and guns in tandem. Switching just isn’t quick enough to form a cohesive gameplay experience that seamlessly integrates gunplay and superpowers.

Flying around Steelport is kind of fun sometimes, albeit really easy.
Flying around Steelport is kind of fun sometimes, albeit really easy.

Even though the shooting feels great and has an inventive weapon layout, the entire game suffers from an uncomfortable amount of familiarity. Saints Row IV has the exact same visual style as Saints Row: The Third. It’s set in the same city, it has the same HUD, it recycles a lot of the same jokes, and enemies still annoyingly juggle you around when you take a hit. All of this copied-and-pasted content is not only inexcusable, but does little to drum up excitement while doing anything. You’ve done these activities before in the same place. Saints Row: The Third was an incredible game but seeing IV ride so closely on The Third‘s coat tails is as disappointing as it is boring.

The story follows the same template of being simultaneously disappointing and boring. The Saints have continued up the chain of command by conquering the White House. After brandishing the entire crib in the Saints’ iconic purple hue and throwing in a few strippers for good measure, an alien race known as the Zin invades Earth and holds humanity hostage. This alien race has jacked the gang into some sort of Matrix-like simulation, forcing the purple crew to kick some alien ass and save the human race.

The Boss is pretty badass.
The Boss is pretty badass.

An alien invasion feels like a natural progression for the series but this threat doesn’t seem to go beyond an intriguing premise. The Boss (that’s you) must free the other members of the Saints and stop Zinyak, the Zin’s nefarious and drastically underutilized leader. That’s it. It’s overly simplistic and doesn’t really evolve over the course of the game. Because of this, the overall plot can feel monotonous after nearly every banal, run-of-the-mill mission, scarcely finding new ways to motivate the player to keep trekking on.

Not even the once-amazing writing can save the narrative. A solid joke appears once every few hours, but it does little to distract the player from the numerous flat debriefing segments and portions of the game where nothing important or interesting happens.

The Dubstep Gun is exactly what it sounds like and it is amazing.
The Dubstep Gun is exactly what it sounds like and it is amazing.

The only events that are interesting come in the form the game’s included downloadable content (DLC). How the Saints Save Christmas is a delightfully funny holiday-themed mission pack with some solid writing, cheery atmosphere, and most importantly a new setting. Enter the Dominatrix is a mockumentary take on the unfinished DLC for Saints Row: The Third. It’s unmistakably unfinished, but the fourth wall breaking humor and friendly self-deprecating jokes make this short campaign worth seeing through. Including the DLC is an ironic cold reminder of how muted and bland the main game is.

Saints Row IV: Re-Elected drops the ball more than it drops the bass and it has a gun that shoots dubstep. Remasters generally improve the experience, add new features, or a combination of both. While the included DLC is appreciated, Saints Row IV is still disappointing on most fronts and even more so now given its rampant buggy-ness. Performance issues aside, it’s also not a game most people would want to see serve another term in office. With a performance like this, impeachment should be inevitable.

Saints Pro:

+Some solid jokes are buried in the dialogue
+Upgrading and moving around the city can be simple fun
+The Dubstep Gun

Saints No:

-New, game-stopping bugs and “new” visuals don’t match its peers
-Repetitive mission objectives
-Lame story with no real meat
-Borrows far too many jokes, environments, and missions from Saints Row: The Third

SRIV REAL SCORE 6

The Teardown: Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge

Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U
Release Date: April 2, 2013
Average Scores: 67, 70, 69

I spiked my controller to the ground at least twice while playing Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge. That is the joy of having wireless controllers; you get the ability – nay, the privilege – of throwing them in a bout of frustration.

I was at the final boss fight. I was dying over and over again. I had been playing this game for far too long. I had had it up here with all the bullshit in Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge. So, after about forty minutes of getting pounded into ninja-flavored pulp, I snapped. Lightly, but a snap nonetheless.

It felt both terrible and great to throw my controller. Terrible because fixing a controller is tedious; I have had to do it a couple times already – probably to that same exact controller. But it felt good, cathartic even, because I finally got whoop some ass in something while Razor’s Edge was burning in on my television screen. I was not kicking ass in Razor’s Edge, but close enough.

Tossing the plastic hunk of buttons was a build-up of hours of frustration that stemmed from the trashy, tedious combat. The original Ninja Gaiden Sigma and Ninja Gaiden Sigma II are some of gaming’s essential swordplay combat games. They still, to this day, remain the fastest, most satisfying melee combat games around. Conquering any of them was not only fun but also a badge of honor since beating that final boss was an earned achievement.

To even endure fifteen minutes of Razor’s Edge is an achievement because the game starts off on the stupidest foot. The once-pristine way in which Ryu, the main character, would cut down ninja has been neutered, devolving into a generic sludgy mess that it never recovers from. Every move, from attacking to the ever-important dodging, felt like it was on some sort of time delay, which is not too great if you have a red-cloaked master ninja trying to cut you into confetti. Or when you are trying to fight German Shepherds that can somehow dive bomb you. That is actually quite impressive. I cannot even get my parents’ German Shepherds to not poop in the garage – and these dogs are fighting ninja. I need to hire a dog whisperer or something.

The stories in the past titles were always bad. When people say that video games have bad stories, they are basically talking about the Ninja Gaiden games. The stories were always forgettable but the action was memorable. They were porno games. The horrendous narratives with terrible acting only punctuated the action, which was the main attraction. Ninja Gaiden even has the huge-breasted, objectified women in every scene, but Razor’s Edge goes beyond that.

If a scene has a woman in it, you can move her boobs by by jiggling the controller. I am of two minds on this. It is stupid that the developers over at Team Ninja think this objectification is somehow attractive. Maybe it is a culture thing although that does not excuse it. On the other hand, it is so over-the-top and stupid, that I sort of found it funny to make the silicon valleys look like they were trying escape their prison within each woman’s inflated chest. The awful, cringe-inducing drama only got somewhat entertaining when I could make the breasts comically gyrate around. It did not salvage the story by a long shot though. Just some unintended comic relief.

View post on imgur.com

But nothing could relieve me from actually playing Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, mainly because I had already played its other iteration, simply called Ninja Gaiden 3. That was such a failure that it warranted a re-release here in the form of Razor’s Edge. How lame is that? Team Ninja got two steps up to the plate and horribly struck out both times. The game’s repulsive art style, awful combat, and abysmal narrative make this game unpleasurable to all of the senses. I bet the disc even tastes like generic trash. I am never going to play another new Ninja Gaiden game again. I am just going to stick to the first two in the series, which are the only ones that have actual care put into them.

The Teardown: Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City

Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Release Date: March 20, 2012
Average Scores: 52, 52, 48

Upon inserting the disc of Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, this is the first thing that greets the player:
reorc

What is that? A fetus? A zombie fetus? My ultrasound pictures? The answer never arises, nor will it ever. After admitting that the game had “flaws” and then completely closing a bit after launch, developer Slant Six’s last big game does not inspire confidence to anyone looking at the title with intentions to have fun. That is why most games are played, right? After playing through the entirety of Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, I am not too sure that is a correct theory anymore.

After scrounging through the four or five hours it takes to complete RE: ORC, I could not find the aforementioned “fun” in any of the corners of the game. I even went out of my way to look for it too. I tried diving around using the pathetic dodge move. I tried watching others dive around. I tried… just about everything the game could, which is wherein lies the problem in this shallow pool of trash.

For a game that was once sixty full American dollars, there is almost nothing to do but shoot zombies for a handful of hours with a couple of suckers on the Internet. They are not even cool zombies either. No clown zombies. No stripper zombies. Nope. Just the plain Jane zombies over and over and over and over again. You shoot them for far too long and you move on as you curse at the video game gods. Because those zombies get the release of death. You, on the other hand, have to keep enduring the stench of Operation Raccoon City‘s bland shooting.

Or you just move on without most of the shooty parts. The game is short already but more so when you just sprint past most fights because the game lets you in most situations… and that is usually the best strategy. You read that right: The best way to play is to not play it when you get the chance. Mission objectives become an Olympic dash to the finish line. A finish line of sadness… and bad shooting.

More stupid shooting. Ugh.
More stupid shooting. Ugh.

A few situations mandate murdering the onslaught of zombies, but, much like those zombies, no thought has been fed into these encounters. It is like the combat designers just said, “yeah. Fuck it. Throw all the zombies in that arena so we can go get high and watch Star Trek.” The lame shooting gallery of the walking dead is mind-numbingly banal especially when you factor in the inaccurate, pathetic-sounding firearms. Shooting confetti would hold more impact since it would at least give the environments some color.

Some games usually get berated for being a wash of browns and grays—that makes sense. Seeing a scenery filled with browns can get monotonous. I have seen a wider color palette in piles of vomit than I have in Operation Raccoon City. Ugly gray and brown zombies fuse into ugly gray and brown backgrounds. It becomes visual gumbo pot of all different forms of sewer water. Nothing gives your eyes a break unless you close them and imagine something better. Anything.

These are possibly the lamest characters ever.
These are possibly the lamest characters ever.

Besides the awful, forced cooperative play, there is competitive multiplayer as well. It is a good mode because you can pinpoint the poor souls who still play terrible games years after launch. That is your cue to never talk to or interact with those people ever again. People who voluntarily play this game instead of doing literally anything else are not people you need in your life period.

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City left me speechless and, obviously, not in a good way. Most bad games make a spectacle of their inferior quality, becoming mere marvels in their extreme mediocrity. But RE: ORC does not do that. Do not misunderstand: Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is still very much a horrendous game, but it is so barren in content that it is almost hard to continue to find aspects to harp on. It is almost as if this brief reflection must reflect how anemic the game is. Short or not, I do not want to think about RE: ORC ever again; that is probably the most damning thing I can say. If given the chance, I would throw this raccoon down the stairs… forever.

The Teardown: The Bi-Weekly Gaming Column

Well, hello there. My name is Michael Leri and I will be writing and making videos every two weeks about video games. But not just any video games. I already do that here.

I am picking the slop of the crop, the crap of the stack, the shit of the… something that rhymes with shit. I will be playing and tearing apart some of the worst games that I can get my hands on, hence the name of the column. None of these games will get scores either because they will pretty much all be terrible piles of street trash that you should not touch.

Playing the good games is easy and, honestly, can get a tad monotonous since singing praises is not the best way to flex the ole noodle. The thing with terrible games is that they are usually bad in all sorts of fascinating ways, giving both the reader and the writer room to explore different concepts.

First up in this column is Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. Without spoiling anything, let me just say that it fits the direction of this series perfectly.

Twist of Fate – Destiny Review

Platforms: PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Release Date: September 9, 2014

Destiny is the child spun out of divorce.

After splitting from Microsoft in 2007 and subsequently the Halo franchise, developer Bungie has executed a vision of the next generation of shooters that feels like it was thought up before the technology could support it. Destiny is the first part of a ten-year vision, merging the MMO (massively multiplayer online) mission structure with a first-person shooter. Hype and developer pedigree has carried this game since its unveiling, but only its pure quality can propel it past its release. Unfortunately, Destiny falls into the trap of many ambitious new franchises by failing to move pasts its good ideas and solid foundation.

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