Sunday, 16 June 2019

I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu ☆☆☆☆☆


In 1978, one of the most controversial films of all-time was released. I Spit On Your Grave, or Day of the Woman was an exploitation film written, directed and produced by Meir Zarchi. The plot involved Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton), a young woman on a summer vacation in a lakeside cabin when a group of men brutally sexually assault her and leave her for dead. Hills has her revenge, killing each of them in horrific ways. Noted for its depiction of extreme violence, the film was labelled by critic Roger Ebert as “a vile bag of garbage” and made Time magazine’s Top 10 Ridiculously Violent Movies list. The film spawned a remake trilogy, but now, 40 years since its original release, has spawned a sequel of its own. This is I Spit On Your Grave: Déjà Vu. And it’s every bit as shit as you can imagine.

Writer/director Meir Zarchi returns – along with original star Camille Keaton – for this bloated, overlong and generally abysmal piece of shit. Clocking in at 148 minutes, the film clearly wants to be epic in scope and hoped to be a historic release – the film’s marketing materials even label it “the most anticipated sequel of all time”. According to who? Nobody asked for this. Sure, the first film is a cult piece and it is definitely iconic – but for all the wrong reasons. I don’t think there is anybody out there who can defend the film, or consider themselves a fan of it. Sure, there are elements of the films having its heart in the right place – the original title has a clear feminist slant and the premise of the victim exacting brutal revenge on her attackers is certainly something to cheer about, but the execution is nasty and the on-screen violence is harrowing. It’s not a remotely pleasant watch and has absolutely nothing about it that is worth celebrating – so why the f**k would anybody want to revisit these characters?


This sequel’s plot is pretty simple. Forty years after a brutal attack for which she exacted her revenge, Jennifer Hills (Keaton) is hurtled back to where it all began to face the wrath of the families of those she murdered. Kidnapped along with her daughter, a game of hunt-or-be-hunted plays out against a lethal gang of degenerates overseen by the violently unhinged matriarch Maria Olsen, the widowed wife of one of Hills’ victims. Of course, buckets and buckets of fake blood are sprayed everywhere as we, the audience, must endure 2 and a half hours of self-indulgent violence and atrocious B-movie filmmaking that has no place in 2019. The film has that nasty low quality of a 70s exploitation film but it simply doesn’t work anymore – the polished and clean visuals alone make the abysmal quality all the more jarring. 

This horrendously low quality across the board never seemed quite so bad when it was shot on 16mm but now, on digital, it just goes to show that absolutely anybody can make a film now. The whole thing feels so cheap and poorly performed, written and edited that it’s a genuine embarrassment. It feels fan-made more than professional and made by fans that have never made a film before. But this wasn’t one of those so-bad-its-good efforts. I didn’t laugh once. I was just disgusted by this brutal and cheaply made film that so passionately celebrated the original disgusting film. The trailer of Déjà Vu alone is so filled with admiration for the original ‘classic’ that it’s hard to take it seriously. 

I am honestly disgusted by this. It’s everything that is wrong with the film. As if the original film and the remakes weren’t bad enough, this 148-minute sequel reeks of desperation and self-adulation and it is just a bloody embarrassing and uncomfortable watch. Absolutely nobody in it can act, the ‘special effects’ look like they costed pennies, the whole thing just feels so forced and cheap and self-indulgent. I absolutely hated this film and would put it right there at the #1 spot in my worst films of the year list. It would take a hell of a lot to beat this. Offensive, embarrassing trash. Avoid at all costs.

☆☆☆☆☆
Sam Love



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Friday, 14 June 2019

The Kid Who Would Be King ★★★★☆


Every time I saw a poster or a bit of marketing for The Kid Who Would Be King, I got angry. I don’t know why, but something about it enraged me. The title made it sound like an abysmal, obnoxious kids’ film. But I should’ve looked closer. I should’ve seen Joe Cornish’s name attached – if I had, I would’ve been relieved and excited. For those of you who don’t know, Cornish is one half of comedy duo Adam and Joe, directed Attack the Block and co-wrote Ant-Man. Yep, no reason to worry with him at the helm.


The Kid Who Would Be King follows the young Alex who stumbles upon the mythical sword Excalibur on a building site when hiding from bullies. With the power of the sword, he must unite his friends and enemies into a band of knights and, together with the legendary wizard Merlin, take on the wicked enchantress Morgana who gets stronger with every day. With the future at stake, Alex must become the great leader he never dreamed he could be. Despite being a box office bomb and losing an estimated $50 million, this is actually a delightful old-school romp for all ages and one that could well be a future family film classic.

This film has such a nostalgic warmth and heart that I was whizzed back to my childhood watching it. The special effects-filled me with wonder, the humour made me chuckle, the action had me on the edge of my seat. I was pretty enthralled by the film, which is surprising considering I went in with preconceived notions that I was going to hate it. So where do we begin?

First of all, the young cast are great. Louis Ashbourne Serkis, son of Andy, portrays our hero and gives the film its heart. He’s brilliant and has clearly inherited his father’s talent onscreen. He makes the film so relatable for anyone who has ever been a kid. The supporting youngsters – Dean Chaumoo, Tom Taylor and Rhianna Dorris – are all fine too. Special mention should go to Angus Imrie who plays Merlin (Merlin ages backwards, he has the appearance of a teenager after centuries have passed). Angus is absolutely superb in the role of the quirky and eccentric wizard, and one of the most memorable things about the film. When Merlin shifts into an older body, he is, obviously, played by Patrick Stewart. Who else?


The film’s visuals are pretty stunning too – the final showdown at the school is actually one of the best battle scenes I’ve seen in years. But ignoring the film’s visuals, acting, comedy and everything else – it gets by on its heart alone. This film is so full of childlike joy and wonders that you’d have to have a heart of pure stone to not be moved and entertained by it. It’s such a charming romp that it will make you feel 10 years old again no matter what your age – and if you don’t like it, then you should probably consult a cardiologist, you heartless bastard. The Kid Who Would Be King is an absolute delight and perfect viewing for a wet Sunday afternoon.

★★★★☆
Sam Love



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Thursday, 13 June 2019

Last minute Father's Day gifts



Can't work out what to get your Dad for Father's Day? Fear not, CeX stores across the nation have a treasure trove of Games, Movies, and Gadgets to choose at great prices to save the day!





                                    









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E3 2019 - Part 2




Ubisoft

Ubisoft are so pissed off with Brexit, they made a game about it.
Watch Dogs Legion (3) as already announced after leaking, is set in an overly cockney London.
It's a bit strange seeing areas I know very well not looking quite as I know them, as it’s set a few years ahead of us. I Wonder how close of a representation it is. The driving engine still looks awful. I miss The Getaway.


They keep emphasising about being able to recruit and play as any random NPC, which seems to be a big part of the game. I get the feeling it's not quite as open to taking "anyone" as they'd like us to believe, but I would love to be proven wrong.

The rest of the show is mostly updates to already released games and lots of self-congratulating. Meh.


 




Square Enix

Square Enix had a long show but the only real take away was the first good look at the Final Fantasy 7 Remake. Giving a better understanding of how the combat system will work and a rough idea of the games size and a release date of March 3rd 2020 (Next year’s looking busy).






Final Fantasy 8 also gets its first re-release since the original PlayStation, as it’s heading to just about anything that can run a game. To close out, they showed off their Avengers game. Which has been in the works foreeeever and we still saw no real “gameplay”. It seems to be trying to go for the “games as a service” model, which seems a little weird and unfair to the kids that will want to play it.
Really good voice cast involved, though.




Nintendo

After several underwhelming stage shows, Nintendo did their own pre-recorded Direct show and pick up the slack of everyone else; showcasing a ton of games.
Some of which we already knew about as well as some nice new surprises. No Metroid though.

We got a long look at the much-awaited sequel to the GameCube launch title, Luigi’s Mansion.
This time set in a haunted hotel with all new gadgets, abilities, and some weird Ditto like Goo-uigi; who doubles up as a co-op character.





Pokemon Sword and Shield was shown off, to some, length during Nintendo’s Treehouse aftershow, giving us a good look at what the game will play like.

Pokemon are now visible on the world map as the player is wandering around, much like in Let’s Go, Pikachu/Eevee!, and random encounters still exist within areas such as tall grass, for those surprise battles.

Pokemon Go-style raid-like encounters also make an appearance, where a giant version of a Pokemon will show up and the player will need to team up with other trainers to take them down.





We got an update on the progress of the latest Animal Crossing. The game where you do chores you wouldn’t want to do in real life, and take abuse from woodland creatures. This time set on an Island. It’s due out March 20th 2020.





The Witcher 3 is getting a (massively downgraded) Switch port. So now everyone can play Witcher 3 on their travels. Still, the fact it can run on a Switch is fairly impressive.





Suda51 with No More Heroes 3.Yay. I also approve of Travis Touchdown’s Joy Division-inspired t-shirt. This time around it looks to focus less on the league of assassins.





Another Mario and Sonic Olympics game….





Contra Rogue: Corps ditches the side-scrolling of the good games, in the series, for a top-down perspective. It looks like it plays more like Diablo or a twin stick shooter, like Enter the Gungeon.
I’m a fan of twin-stick shooters, but not sure this is what I want for a Contra game.





The Link’s Awakening remake still looks really good and includes is own dungeon creator, allowing everyone to build their own Zelda dungeons.





An unexpected short trailer for a remake of the Sega Saturn cult favourite, Panzer Dragoon.
Fully remade but sticking accurately close to the original.





Banjo and Kazooie were announced as DLC characters for Smash Bros, to many a Nintendo/Rare fan’s delight. Which made the inclusion of Dragon Quest characters that bit more underwhelming. Sorry DQ.





 Nintendo direct ended with a surprise teaser for a no named full-on sequel to Zelda: Breath of the Wild, that’s in development but a good few years away.

Breath of the Wild is my most played game on the Switch, next to Smash Bros, so needless to say I’m much looking forward to this.





 Like I said… They had a lot to show.
 Overall, not many new titles from this year, but we got some better looks at games coming soon to look forward to.

Guess all we have now is to see what Sony have to show. I think they possibly made the right choice by staying out of it this year and not showing the same four games again.

Bry Wyatt



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Reflect is THIS WEEKEND!


Reflect is THIS WEEKEND!


Spectator tickets are now only £4 with all proceeds going to SpecialEffect.
Tickets and more info available from www.reflectexpo.com

Don't miss out on the UK's hottest new Fighting Game Tournament!
Tell your friends, come down to Reflect and support a brilliant cause!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Reflect, in conjunction with CeX and ESL, is the hottest new eSports tournament on 15th-16th June at  Novotel London West.

With a prize pot in excess of £10,000, Reflect will showcase the greatest talent from the International Fighting Games scene, battling it out on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Tekken 7, Mortal Kombat 11, Street Fighter V, Dragonball FighterZ, Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2, Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike and Super Street Fighter II: Turbo.

Follow the hype & spread the word on TWITTER, TWITCH, YOUTUBE, FACEBOOK, and INSTAGRAM.
More info @ reflectexpo.com

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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Lords of Chaos ★★☆☆☆


Here is the church and here is the steeple. Mayhem was a band made of terrible people. Which is a difficult thing to film, as Lords of Chaos illustrates by being a complicated and yet simple mess. Like when you order a subway with everything on it, except in Lords of Chaos, instead of meatballs... it's DEATH! 

Starring Rory Culkin and Emory Cohen, it appears to be a story about the origins of True Norwegian Black Metal and specifically the bands Mayhem and Burzum, but it's more about their psychopathic behaviour... I'm a huge heavy metal fan, but never of Black Metal, I always found the vocals and childish aggressive nihilism annoying. Well not always, when I was a childish nihilistic self-loathing teen, I loved it. I never really enjoyed the thought of murders or sniffing corpses, however. Call me a prude if you will. 

In the movie, Mayhem was formed by Euronymous, a possible European pun on the god of rotting corpses 'Eurynomos' from Greek Mythology. It had been over a decade since Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and the rest of the heavy metal gods had been endlessly blamed for pretty much every murder and suicide in the world and a collection of nihilistic metal fans missed the energy that came from that.


The crazy life of Mayhem comes thick and fast, as what would've been the climax of a Nirvana movie, is simply the first plot point in Lords of Chaos. Dead, the singer of Mayhem was a tortured soul, and was often seen doing things like smelling a dead crow from inside a paper bag, to get the 'smell of death'. His obsession with death, his hatred of cats and his obvious mental illness meant that he eventually shot himself in the face with a shotgun and you can still find the image online as Euronymous used the picture he took of his body as an album cover. The film is a depiction of horrible mental illness and cult-like behaviour, which results in increasingly extreme behaviour from the band. Some of the scenes are so real and visceral I felt physically ill. Like when you think you've accidentally sent a nude pic to your niece. 

The tone is very confused, and Rory Culkin is, for equal lengths, charming, interesting, grotesque and terrifying. You never really know how you are supposed to feel, who you are supposed to empathise with or what the message is. Like, half the time you are living vicariously through them, imagining what it's like to be in a successful band, partying all the time, then someone does something abhorrent and then you're asked to try and empathise with the joy again immediately after. It's like a modern equivalent of the Ludovico technique from A Clockwork Orange, except in this circumstance you end up becoming a serial killer. 

It's not a perfect film, and it definitely leaves you with an opinion on Mayhem, but it's basically a very busy film that can't decide who its protagonist is, or whether he is empathetic or not, so while I enjoyed it as historical research (of which a lot of it is inaccurate) a lot of people won't like it at all. Black metal fans won't like it, Mayhem fans will hate it, and horror or crime fans might find less than they expect from it. 

★★☆☆☆
David Roberts

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Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Isn't It Romantic ★★★☆☆


It's not unusual for a film to come along once in a while that is determined to shake up the genre by poking fun at its tropes and cliches, Austin Powers, for example, has been held responsible for the tone change of James Bond, making it "impossible for [Bond] to have witty quips after he kills an enemy". Isn't It Romantic, is Rebel Wilson's 2019 vehicle, gently but firmly giving every inch of it to the Rom-Com genre.


Natalie (Wilson) is shown, as a child, to have suffered intense cynicism of romance and romantic comedies drilled into her by her mother (Jennifer Saunders), while watching Pretty Woman. Present day Natalie sets the tone of the film by hammering out a list of unrealistic tropes in rom-coms in general, as a means of accosting her assistant Whitney about her endless watching of the Wedding Singer during work hours. (Which itself would seem like a punishment for a much greater offence). After another age-old Wizard of Oz style trope of waking up in a more colourful world where the rules are different, Natalie finds herself in a 'Rom-Com World' learning about the kind of self-love that it's ok to perform in public. 

Rebel Wilson has a talent for compelling performances in Adam Sandler style films, where one two minute joke is taken to ninety minutes of entertainment, or whatever you might refer to Adam Sandler movies where the word entertainment seems grandiose. Isn't It Romantic is a very simple premise but Rebel's enthusiasm for the role is contagious and I really enjoyed the ride, and while I don't dislike Rom-Com's I would rarely seek one out to watch with friends. Admittedly because I am likely to cry at the most understated happy ending, and all my jock friends would beat me up and call me a dork.


The film is pretty on the nose and doesn't leave much room for subtlety, so much so that Natalie even seems to forget her own rules after a while and gets swept up with the new overly-stylised Rom Com plot in her dream world. There are fewer jokes on the theme than I would've expected, though the ones that are there are entertaining enough, which I feel left too much room to forget you were watching a parody. 

Not a perfect film by any means, and very much a throwaway one in my eyes, but little things like her coming from a fucking 15 rated world to a flipping PG-rated world to discover her own self-belief, were cute. Though it could've fallen into many more traps of becoming what it parodied, the storytelling was as compelling as anything in the genre and left a nice taste of pecan ice-cream flavoured optimism at the end.

★★★☆☆
David Roberts



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Tuesday, 11 June 2019

E3 2019 - Part 1



Scarily, we’re already halfway through the year and I’ve procrastinated most of it away. The good news; this means E3 is once again upon us.



I’ll start with what people were waiting for, any info about next gen. 

Microsoft, whilst talking about it at length, actually said and showed very little regarding their next console, Project Scarlet. 
  • Spec wise, it’s very close to Sony’s machine. They’re both basically running on the same internals at this point.
  • Microsoft had a long marketing video that talked numbers that didn’t really mean anything. Saying your machine is capable of 8k or 120 frames per second is subjectable. I could run something on my pc over 1000 frames, to make the same claim, and leave out the info that it’d look like complete arse.
  • Scarlet will launch with Halo Infinite. 343’s next in the series and during the brief teaser we got to see, it looked like Master chief really wanted to shoot things.
  • No signs of banjo, Fable or Forza. There was no info on price, either, but I guess next years show will be heavily focused on all that. All we got was a launch window of xmas 2020.

Other highlights of the Xbox conference and things closer to our current date, -

  • were a new look at Obsidian’s new game - Outer Worlds - which still looks very Fallout. Which makes sense, coming from the original creators of the series.

  • Gears 5 is out on my birthday, September 10th. Shame I don't care about Gears. Looks nice though. A new 3 player mode, Escape, was shown off with a very cinematic but not representative of any gameplay kind of trailer. This happened a lot during all the conferences.

  • From outta nowhere; there’s a Blair Witch game, which looked okay at times and like a budget Silent Hill at others.

  • Fromsoftware and George R.R. Martin teamed up to make Elden Ring. Much fantasy. Very Dark Souls.

  • Microsoft’s Flight Simulator uses satellite and NASA data to bring the most real reconstruction of the globe, yet. Sorry flat earthers.

  • Lego star wars: The skywalker saga makes up all 9 of the mainline Star Wars movies.

  • Forza Horizon 4: Lego Speed Champions expansion looks cool and it’s out this week. I’d probably actually play that.

  • The hugely popular Phantasy Star Online 2 is coming to Xbox one, in 2020, to appease lots of weebs, and for extra weeb points, there’s also JRPG Tales of Arise.

  • The 10 year old korean shooter Crossfire, by Smilegate (who sound more like a torture syndicate than a game studio) is coming to consoles. Everyone loves Tencent, right?

  • Borderlands 3

  • Microsoft announced a new Battletoads that looks like a mobile game. Not sure on that one.

My favorite thing from their show was the Cyberpunk 2077 section. A new trailer and the reveal that Keanu Reeves is in the game... and then, there he was, on stage. We also finally have a Release date of 16.04.20


EA had very little to show and probably didn’t need to bother.

As usual there was the yearly updates to franchises like Fifa and Madden. Previews of things coming to Apex and Battlefield 5. Fifa 20 includes Fifa Volta, a street football style mode. The rest was a presentation using the same buzzwords about ball control and physics changes, but really it’ll all mostly be the same for the next few years.

The only thing they really had to offer was a longer look at Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, by Respawn. Without being harsh, looks like a mash up of Titanfall and Uncharted, but less polished. Fighting utilises force and lightsaber techniques. There are no decapitations, which is slightly lame, but I guess that’s to keep the age rating down. I’m hoping there's a bit more to the combat than was shown. I’d like a Perry and evade system, but maybe the guy playing just wasn't showing those off very well within the fifteen minutes of gameplay that was shown.



Bethesda did their show at 1 a.m. (GMT) as usual. Thanks for that...

They started with apologies for the appalling Fallout 76 and say they’re next update adds NPC's, with quests and dialogue trees. Why weren't they just there in the first place? It’s a free update and due out in the autumn; as well as the new mode, Nuclear Winter. A 52 player Fallout Battle Royale. Because all games now need battle royales.
Elder Scrolls Blades is heading to the Switch, for free.



A game i’m intrigued by, Ghostwire: Tokyo, by Shinji Mikami of Resident Evil fame and art design by Ikumi Nakamura (Okami, Bayonetta and Evil Within) both introduced the game saying it’s not a survival horror. Not a lot was given away but it appears to be about everyone vanishing, from Japan, and spirits.
Two outings for Wolfenstein. Firstly, the VR Wolfenstein Cyberpilot and then the follow up to the main series, Wolfenstein Youngblood. Which can be played Single player or in Co-op and is set in an alternate future (past) 1980’s Europe. It’s due out July 26th, so not surprising it had a main showcase.
Arkane studio (the dishonoured peeps), had a CGI teaser trailer for Deathloop. 
Doom Eternal looks like more Doom, which is good, but I’m not sure about a few of the new design choices, which is bad. Will have to wait and see on November 22nd. The Collectors edition comes with a Doomguy helmet.

News outside of the main show

A new trailer dropped for the Final Fantasy 7 remake and is set for March 2020 release.



Will update with more as the shows happen…

-Bry




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Fighting With My Family ★★★★☆


‘Fighting With My Family’ documents the story of a Norwich-based wrestling family and the children’s journey as they aim for WWE. Ricky (Nick Frost) and Julia (Lena Headey) have a passion for wrestling which has been instilled into their children Saraya (Florence Pugh) and Zak (Jack Lowden). After a promo video is positively received by WWE, the pair find themselves competing to get on the list, although all doesn’t end well when only Saraya, stage name Paige, is chosen. Finding herself in America, Paige is thrown into the pressures of potential stardom, while at home Zak is struggling to come to terms with his perceived failure, affecting everyone else around him.


I’ll admit that I pretty much have no interest in wrestling (apart from my bizarre and short-lived WWE obsession during the year 2009, but we don’t talk about that), but really enjoyed ‘Fighting With My Family’. It’s a gripping story, and gives the viewer an interesting insight into the world of professional wrestling but also highlights some of the inequalities and issues that have taken place. It’s hard not to love the Knight family despite their very apparent downfalls (there’s a hilarious dinner table scene in which the family invite the rather posh parents, played by Steven Merchant and ACTRESS, of Zak’s girlfriend round for takeaway, where the differences in British class couldn’t be more obvious) and because of this you get completely sucked in.

I was also really impressed by the acting – there are some very well-known actors in there, such as Nick Frost and Vince Vaughn, who plays tough-nut wrestling coach Hutch, and of course, Dwayne Johnson who plays, well, himself (probably not his hardest role ever, but he does it well). The real stars are the more up and coming actors and actresses such as Pugh and Lowden, who give incredibly believable performances from start to finish, in particular during the more emotional scenes of the film. It’s got that grittiness that I love about British film, but also that sense of humour that’ll have you laughing out loud in parts and cringing away from the screen from awkwardness in others.

There was only one issue I had with the film which was that it was quite over-simplified compared to the full story of the family – so much was missed from Paige’s wrestling career prior to her WWE venture. I guess the film would have been way too long had it been included, but it would have interesting to have found out more about that side of things.


You generally know if a “based on a true story” film is good if you end up researching the characters afterwards, which is exactly what I did. Being fairly local to Norwich it was great to hear about an underdog story from so nearby, and in general, the film was entertaining, giving the right balance of comedy and seriousness. I wouldn’t say it’s instilled a passion from wrestling within me, but it was certainly a good two hours well spent and I’d recommend for any fans of British film that love to see the underdog turn things around and come out on top, even with so many barriers in their way. 

★★★★☆
Hannah Read



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Reflect Spectator Tickets Now Only £4!

Reflect has teamed up with the charity Special Effect 
to offer Reflect weekend spectator tickets at just £4! 

All proceeds from the Spectator tickets will be going to SpecialEffect.  Spectator tickets also allow access to the many gaming setups and activities at the event.

 Get your tickets at: reflectexpo.com
Tell your friends, come down to Reflect and support a brilliant cause!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Reflect, in conjunction with CeX and ESL, is the hottest new eSports tournament on 15th-16th June at  Novotel London West.

With a prize pot in excess of £10,000, Reflect will showcase the greatest talent from the International Fighting Games scene, battling it out on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Tekken 7, Mortal Kombat 11, Street Fighter V, Dragonball FighterZ, Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2, Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike and Super Street Fighter II: Turbo.

Follow the hype & spread the word on TWITTER, TWITCH, YOUTUBE, FACEBOOK, and INSTAGRAM.
More info @ reflectexpo.com

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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