Coming up next on Problematic Reviews

Coming up next on Problematic Reviews

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

News Update - May 28: Review Queue, Policy Changes, and 1000 Views Special

Good afternoon fillies and gentlecolts of the Internet! As you all know, it's been a week since we launched the Problematic Reviews Network and its website. I am glad to announce this endeavour has met incredible success! A massive thank you to all of you who follow the reviews and our newest series, Spoiler-licious-ness. Stay tuned for some announcements and a sneak peek at our latest project, all below the break! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

FiM Fiction Review - The Human and The Tall One

I couldn't help but notice that I have been giving out lower and lower scores as of late. I think I might just be growing a bit ill-humored and therefore more willing to burn a box of puppies. I never liked the bloody things anyways. TheMadBrony’s The Human and the Tall One has an entertaining main character that is driving force behind this story. The conversations he has with himself are hilarious and while it doesn’t express internal conflict, his multiple personalities provide very amusing commentary. However, this story is quickly weighed down by mediocre dialogue and bad characterization. Even more so, the narrative and writing need some work. This is going to be another negative review, isn't it? Yep! Onward to reviews!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Spoiler-licious-ness: Episode 2 - The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: Equestria Girls

Well then. don't this wonderful? I didn't want to do it. I didn't want to follow the jolly trend. Ladies and gentlemen, I won't watch the upcoming addition to the My Little Pony franchise: Equestria Girls. For those of you that don't know yet, Equestria Girls is an animated movie made by DHX Media due to be released on the 16th of June. It’s ponies turned into humans and then sent to the “human” world. From what we saw in the trailer (video below) it’s a stereotype fest filled to the brim with high school drama.  We all know this is going to end well.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

FiM Fiction Review - In Nomine Equi

I said that I was too busy for the weekly review but I found a story that was short enough to squeeze in so here we are. Plus I can't sleep when I don't do reviews and when I can’t sleep, I read. Weird isn't it? Anyways, this story reminded me of the most perfect of all sandwiches: the sacred peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I don't know about you, but I'm sure it’s pretty difficult to screw up the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. As a result, it’s a decent meal or even a decent snack. Something to take to college or work but never to be chosen over a more appetizing meal, if one could afford it. The point being, Canterlot Ninja’s In Nomine Equi is mediocre and nothing really sticks out to me. Not extremely polished yet solid and a decent meal: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Stay tuned after the review for not one, not two, but three very important announcements!
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In Nomine Equi by Canterlot Ninja
Complete (Completed on December 4, 2012)
The first time I saw her eyes, they struck a chord within my soul. One that I have never experienced before. It was like I was coming alive for the first time.
But it was only a glimpse, and then she was gone. I am not going to let this go, though. I will discover who she is, why she is here... and why fate almost brought us together.
My name is Octavia, and I will stop at nothing to find her. Read it here.
Tags: Romance
Rating: Everyone  
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You know what? I thought Vinyl Scratch should donate her eyes so Octavia could catch them on them black market. Maybe Tavi could keep them in a jar.... in her living room. Never mind that. My main issue with In Nomine Equi is for a story about Octavia’s obsession with Vinyl’s pupils, not much happens. The story progresses slowly and tends to drag out a bit long. It would be more interesting to see some self conflict and such but I was pretty disappointed when none was to be seen.
This is not my focus in these reviews but I have to address it. In Nomine Equi has some technical issues. It’s not written all too well and as a result, it feels clunky and a bit hard to read. The small issues in the technical side of things bugged me quite an awful lot. However, it should not be too story breaking to most people. While on the topic of writing style, the narrative is not at all too captivating. I felt as if someone was reading me a book in a monotone voice.
I say the dialogue is mediocre because, even though it flows smoothly, it doesn't fit into the story. The way the characters talk implies a darker mood that really deceives the reader. It is clear this story more of a slice of life than anything and yet, characters interact as if it’s much darker. Be wary of this. Everything in the story, from dialogue to exposition to writing style, establish mood and set the tone of the story.
I hate to leave everyone with such a short review but I have to get back to [insert secret stuff here (no not clopping)]. With that, let’s wrap this up. In Nomine Equi is not severely flawed but it does face some obstacles. The narrative is not horrible but never really impressed me. The dialogue flowed well but never felt quite realistic considering the circumstances. Last but not least, the plot is too slowly paced and doesn't really go anywhere. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for some announcements. This has been Admujica. Have a great weekend everyone!
In Nomine Equi gets a score of: 5 out of 10
Definitely solid but has some issues that make it a decent read if you have time on your hands
Read it here.  

Shout-outs! are pretty self-explanatory. Leave a comment if you want me to Shout-out! your birthday, marriage, or even story. Hell, I’ll even Shout-out! the fact that you got out of bed this morning. I felt like I don’t pay enough attention to you guys so please, don’t hesitate. Anyways, onward to Shout-outs!
Happy birthday to my best friend, Jack Brown! You’ve led me through some dark times and keep me me on a path I often veer off of. I love you and you enjoyed your birthday!
Happy birthday to my father, Simon! JJ Abrams delivered for you this year, you Star Trekky (sorry, I never really knew what the Star Trek fandom called themselves). Enjoy Into Darkness!
(17 of May 2013)
Cons anyone?
It wasn’t exactly difficult choosing which con to go to this summer. It’s been a long standing goal, you see. I say it wasn't difficult because Fiesta Equestria popped up fifteen minutes away from my house. It’s looking pretty awesome so I'm excited. It might be my first con, but I'm still interested in joining panels, i.e. a reviewer’s or writer’s panel so drop a PM if you're looking for panelists. Let me know if you're coming! I'll pass by give you a hug if you want it. See you guys there!
Onward to Guatemala!
I bought the tickets yesterday to fly to my mother’s home country, the beautiful land of Guatemala! On the 5 of July, I will hop on a plane and not see American soil until Wednesday, June 17. Now, I am not comfortable relaxing on volcanic beaches while you guys wait for reviews so I'll try to figure something out by the time I leave. I'll keep you guys updated as things develop.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

FiM Fiction Reviews - Outbreak: Unknown

It’s easy to say that I probably shouldn't be writing reviews at the moment. The first wave of finals are inbound and it’s about time to hide in the bunkers. Nevertheless, I am still here. Sorry if I snap at a few at you. Secretary! Give a story to review this week! Wait.... I don't have a secretary. Damn shame. Well then I'll chose... like I've always done for the last two months. How about a darker one? Ah yes! ChaosBrony93’s Outbreak: Unknown was right on mark with trying to set its darker tone but things quickly go south with the exposition and dialogue. Both end up disappointing and overall rather dull. I hate to say it but Outbreak: Unknown is tied down by several problems that overwhelm the good in it.
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Outbreak: Unknown by ChaosBrony93
Incomplete (last updated April 14 2013)
This is a recount of the events that transpired on the eve of Nightmare Night, 30 years ago today. These hoof-written accounts were ignored as writings of mad-ponies and diseased minds... But they were wrong. Far beneath the lush beauty of Equestria lies a sinister secret, the dark past long forgotten by unicorn and pegasi alike. I must warn you dear reader, what you read within these very pages is the absolute truth. Seek it and perish without a scream... Without a whisper... Read it here.
Tags: Dark
Rating: Teen, Gore
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I don't like to bring up this issue too often considering we are, after all, amateur writers. While it shouldn't lower the standards, it’s impossible to expect an unpaid individual who is simply doing this on his/her free time to have perfect grammar and spelling every time. However I caught several mistakes throughout Outbreak: Unknown. In this case, I do recommend finding an editor for it will greatly improve the piece.
Outbreak: Unknown, as well as the horror genre, focus greatly on design. They strive to perfect imagery but also to find the ideal exposition. So after making me dry heave, I couldn't help but realize that that, even with my overly sensitive stomach, the imagery is very well done; especially when trying to highlight the darker portions of the story. If you won’t listen to me then listen to the former contents of my stomach.
Unfortunately, that’s probably the only good thing from this story. Like I said in the intro, things quickly go south from there. Outbreak: Unknown knew where it was going. It knew the dark, desperate situation it was shooting for but the exposition is lacking. Even with its head start, the exposition lags behind and often repeats itself. Not to mention it all is really dull and uninspiring. You see, I find that some authors don't get the mood just right. Sometimes they are too subtle, but in this case, the mood is shoved down the reader’s throat like some gigantic pill. Back off a bit, you know? Try not to repeat yourself too often and try to tell the story through the character’s eyes.
This brings me to my next point. Twilight and her friends break character very often. I would go in depth but these reviews are spoiler-free. Just keep in mind: “What would they do in the show?” While we're at it, the dialogue doesn't only break their characters even further, but is also choppy and unrealistic. Some of the lines are cringe-worthy and conversations change faster than Hollywood celebrities’ love lives. I often say, if you can't carry out the conversions in real life, then they shouldn't be in your story.
So I hired a secretary while writing this review. I believe his name is Watson but I wouldn't know because he quit on the first day. Something about underpayment and I give him too much work, but that besides the point! Outbreak: Unknown comes in swinging with great imagery but is crucified by its lacking exposition and bad characterization. However, I can say that some of you that enjoy the things that my stomach obviously doesn't could enjoy this story. Before signing out, I must say that the next two weeks will be unbelievably busy for me and there might not be a review this week. Please don't lynch me. This has been Admujica.  I'll see you guys next week and stay safe EQLA blackout survivors!
Outbreak: Unknown gets a score of: 5 out of 10
Strong imagery that appeals to the horror genre but not without several exposition and dialogue problems.
Read it here.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

FiM Fiction Review - The Detective and the Magician

It’s a bit strange. Things have been quiet in this fine land I live in. Of course, there is no paranoia to be found in the lack of collapsing Texaco gasoline stations, but that leaves this review void of cruel metaphorical humor. Well, we could always joke about the poor lady who nearly lost her thumb to her cat. However, there could be some discomfort in the fact that the ‘poor lady’ is my mother. So, for the sake of not being thrown into a mental institution, we will get on with the review. Bad Horse’s The Detective and the Magician is nothing short of amazing. It’s a crossover than will not disappoint with good dialogue, a deep mystery, and outstanding characters. It wouldn't take Holmes too long to figure out why The Detective and the Magician is definitely one of my personal favorites.
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The Detective and the Magician by Bad Horse
Complete (Completed on July 29, 2012)
To Holmes, she is always the mare.  In his eyes she eclipses the whole of her sex, and fills him with admiration and loathing.  Whether she in fact stole the Starry Night was ultimately beside the point.  What mattered to Holmes was that he had been matched at his own game, by a mare; that it had not been altogether unpleasant; and that she had caused him, however briefly, to turn his keen and unflinching gaze upon himself. Read it here.
Tags: Romantic, Sad, Crossover, Adventure
Rating: Everyone
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As a reader, the last thing I want to see in crossover, especially in those of the usually darker topic, is canon characters. Without pointing fingers, I find that some people include canon characters in a crossover is too often trying to cater towards the love of such character. However, The Detective and the Magician doesn't suffer from such this. In fact, it’s biggest strength is the use of Trixie as Irene Adler. Their characters combine beautifully and Trixie never feels out of character; with the exception of one instance that Trixie breaks Adler’s character. The characters of Fetlock Holmes and John Watson do well on their own as well. Their characters are captured well and their dialogue is clever and engaging.
The story is sweet and simple. Bad Horse keep things short but, even at 14,000 words, keeps the plot interesting and easy to follow. Concepts regarding magic theory are explained well and the romance, or whatever romance is in Holmes’ case, is just as entertaining. The whole concept of love is comedic to Holmes and it is captured excellently in the writing.  Just between you and me, Trixie was sexy enough to drive even my non-clopper mind to wishing for a hot night. So much for keeping these reviews PG.
If there is one thing thing that sells this story it’s the dialogue. As mentioned, it is excellently crafted; being clever yet easy to follow. Bad Horse keeps the whole Holmes feel of it, forcing me to use the dictionary on more than one occasion. It’s one of the first stories to have the dialogue feels organic and flow nicely. Two words: absolutely phenomenal.
Unfortunately, I do have one minor complaint. The writing style isn’t exactly top notch. Bad Horse is a very visual writer and it shows. Photographs and drawings are used throughout the story and I mean actual photos and drawings. Don’t get me wrong, the use of illustrations isn’t a bad thing but like I said, it shows in the writing style. The Detective and the Magician is written with long descriptors and while it’s not a bad thing, it could use some polish.
I checked again. Still all quiet. It’s starting to creep me out, living in the most boring corner of the United States. The Detective and the Magician is a story that will satisfy all your Pony Holmes needs. The incredible cast, entertaining dialogue, and engaging mystery makeup for the writing style by a country mile, making it well deserving of its score of nine out of ten. This has been Admujica. Have a great week and don’t forget about Mother’s Day on Sunday.
The Detective and the Magician gets a score of: 9 out of 10
Fantastic character backed by great dialogue make this a crossover that won’t fail to engage its readers
Read it here.

Side Note: An Open Letter of Thanks
I wanted to take the time to thank not only Bad Horse, who tossed up this on his blog, but all of the people who read and follow my reviews. The Second of May marked two months since I published my first review. It has already been a wonderful journey and I cannot wait to see what the future brings. My friends, you are the reason I carry on. Thank you for the patience, kindness, generosity, honesty, and loyalty you’ve all shown. I hope you continue to join me on this journey.
Adrian Mujica-Martinez

Monday, May 6, 2013

FiM Fiction Review - The Rising Stars

The thunderstorm that came by my neighborhood wasn't too friendly, to say the least. Not to mention my porch was flooded, the local gasoline station came down with a case of oh-god-the-building-is-collapsing. Now, I never liked Texaco anyways but I do like using metaphors. I’m not saying it’s like the Texaco gasoline station, but ShootingStar159’s The Rising Stars comes pretty close to collapsing due to excess weight. The Rising Stars pulls through in the end but nearly dies as it goes through too much world building in the early chapters. The pace slows frighteningly in the beginning and suffers from bad exposition. Get passed it’s problems and The Rising Stars does very well with good dialogue, interesting characters and intriguing world building. Poor Texaco, the only thing they get is to be used as a metaphor.
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The Rising Stars by ShootingStar159
Incomplete (Last Updated April 16, 2013)
After almost being executed for his magical talents, a young Starswirl wanders into a mysterious forest. His life is barely saved by a creature out of legends, an alicorn named Luna, who not only saves his life, but takes the young colt under the care of herself and her older sister.
But Luna isn't the only one who's taken an interest in the young unicorn... Read it here.
Tags: SadDarkAdventure
Rating: TeenGore
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Starswirl was a character that always intrigued me and I was looking forward to some backstory. However, I was quick to put away my bias as my reviewer senses started tingling. The first chapter, if I recall correctly, opens with Luna retelling the events of the past few years. Considering The Rising Stars is set as far back as before Hearth's Warming Eve, you can say ShootingStar has plenty of wiggle room to exercise his imagination on the world of our equine friends. The end result is fantastic. ShootingStar puts together an intriguing and fascinating world that had me hooked from the start.
Unfortunately, this is where one of The Rising Stars main problems occur. I have read the review fromThe Equestrian Critics Society which I recommend reading but disagree with in some cases. The point is, this is where I highly disagree with them. The exposition is weak and problematic at best. The new universe is a big pill to swallow with exploration of the origin of the Elements of Harmony, Alicorns, and the creation of the world itself. All this information is given to the reader quickly and very blandly. There are more interesting mediums to recall past events.
I just realized that I started on the negative side of things. No worries, The Rising Stars has some good stuff up its sleeve. This however isn’t one of those “good things.” The largest issue this story faces is its strange case of being extremely slow. It take four chapters to establish any sort of conflict and in the meantime, the mystery is never brought up by any of the characters. It just feels like too much time is taken in doing, well that’s the problem, nothing.
Finally! On to more good stuff! For one, the dialogue is great and feels natural in most instances. It does have its hiccups where the conversations don’t flow all too well. Unfortunately, it does happen often enough to reduce points, but the dialogue does well overall. Some could complain that Celestia and Luna do not speak in the Royal Canterlot voice, but there is an explanation. Now, the author has said it himself and I am confident he would allow me to speak on his behalf. The Royal Canterlot voice doesn't exist yet. If you remember from Hearth’s Warming Eve, the three tribes were united when they agreed on sharing the land known as Equestria. We can assume Canterlot was founded after the events of Hearth's Warming Eve by the Unicorns. As a result, the idea of the Unicorn royalty later developing the “dialect” isn’t too far fetched. Hey! It makes sense to me!
Last but definitely not least is the writing style. Hats off to ShootingStar for this one. The Rising Starsdoes a good job at following the “Show, Don’t Tell” technique. This is where the writing style packs a punch. Scenes are clearly visualized without long descriptions of them. It’s hard to do and it’s incredible on the writer’s part.
It’s getting late now and as much as I like sitting at the keyboard with bloodshot eyes, yawning like it’s my duty to wake up the entire household, I think it’s time to wrap this review up. The Rising Stars has several problems including bad pacing and a lacking exposition. However, I highly recommend it because of it’s strength in writing style, dialogue, and world building. ShootingStar’s The Rising Stars will never fail to intrigue the reader as it is a display of the writer's imagination that knows no end. This has been Admujica. Have a great week everyone!
The Rising Stars gets a score of: 8.5 out of 10
Although it begins weakly, The Rising Stars has excellent dialogue and incredible world building.
Read it here.
The Equestrian Critics Society Site can be found here.
The Rising Stars Review by the Equestrian Critics Society can be found here.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

FiM Fiction Review - Quizzical

As I watch my inbox turn into a jumbled mass of unread stories, I couldn't help but notice that most of them don't really fit into the My Little Pony universe. I guess that’s the nature of fan fiction right? However, I could very well say that JMac's Quizzical fits seems seamlessly into our enchanted land of magical talking horses with one exception. Damn you, Alicorn Twilight. Nevertheless, I can easily say that Quizzical might be one of my favorite stories of 2012 for it’s strengths in character development, story arc, and great dialogue. Even with its rough edges, Quizzical is definitely worth a read. Let's get our review on and see why.
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Quizzical by JMac
Complete (Finished Dec 8, 2012)
Quizzical Greystone has just come to Ponyville as an assistant in Friendship Research.  Such a socially inept filly might not be the best pony for the job.  But this just might be the job she  needs.  If you can't make friends in Ponyville can you make friends anywhere? Read it here.
TagsSlice of Life, Comedy
Rating: Everyone
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Quizzical, the story’s main character and namesake, is probably the most dull and boring character I have ever met; but I loved her! JMac had me hooked from the get go as Quizzical’s character is expertly introduced and stays the strong throughout the story. Her dialogue strengthens her character even more by feeling like a clear extension of her personality. Quizzical's biggest strength is in character development pretty much all across the board. Unfortunately, this can't be said for the antagonists. The characters introduced in the latter part of the story felt rushed and forgettable. It’s a strange contrast for a story with such great ones. Nevertheless, Quizzical has excellent characters and sticks to having the Mane 6 stay in character pretty well.
As stated above, the dialogue is great and compliments the personalities of the entire cast. Although it does have its hiccups from time to time, the dialogue flows smoothly and feels highly organic. More than anyone, Quizzical’s lines are feel like an extension of her character. No small feat considering she is an original character. Not to mention there are one or two references thrown in. Did I lose an eyebrow? Did you really think you could hide those MythBusters references from me, JMac?
Pacing is done extremely well with plenty of time taken to development characters and establish relationships. Nor do the scenes overstay their welcome. Nothing in this story feels rushed or slow. Hats off to JMac for that one. The one thing that did bother me was the structure. Paragraphs and chapters end and begin very abruptly. As a result, Quizzical is choppy and it scene transitions are odd and badly placed. The overall writing style doesn't flow naturally. Although the story is easy to follow, it is a bit hard to read without getting a bit annoyed at the transitions.
This is already a long review. Don't worry, I'm almost done. Quizzical suffers from what I like to call “the sequel syndrome.” Don't get me wrong, sequels are good and I definitely plan to read Thweet Geniuth, the sequel to Quizzical. Yes, I need more Quiz and yes, I love that pony! Now I say “sequel” with plenty of caution because Thweet Geniuth doesn't seem to continue Quiz’s character arc. Nevertheless, Quizzical ends very abruptly. Quiz's arc is open ended and there isn't really any conclusion to the story. You know what? I could be wrong. Until I read Thweet Geniuth, which introduces a new conflict and looks to develop Twist’s character, I can’t say anything. All I know for now is that Quizzical ends badly, leaving open ends and not finishing Quiz's character arc. "Wait! You forgot something Admujica! There is another sequel! Quizzical And the Basements of Doom is currently in production!" A huge grin just crept across my face.
I told you I was almost done. Quizzical does have problems with it story. I can’t exactly say because I've kept these reviews spoiler free and they're going to stay that way! Maybe I publish a new series called Spoiler-licious-ness. That'll be fun. We’re getting off track here. Even though Quizzical has its rough edges, it’s strong characters and entertaining dialogue make an excellent story. I definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a medium length comedy. This has been Admujica. Have a good week everypony.
Quizzical gets a score of: 8.7 out of 10
Strong characters and excellent dialogue join to make an enjoyable story
Read it here.
Squeal: Thweet Geniuth can be found here.
Squeal: Quizzical Greystone And the Basements of Doom can be found here.