9.29.2016

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mega Bloks Wave 2: Tiny Toy Review

     Back in February 2015 Mattel and Nickelodeon announced some changes in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles licensing.  LEGO had dropped the license and the toys began anew with MEGA Bloks.  Really, I wasn't ever impressed with the LEGO TMNT anyway, although it was a disappointment we never got a video game along the lines of size and quality of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes.


     I first came across these Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles MEGA Bloks earlier this year, and have been consistently impressed them.  The first series was great- high quality look, materials, and designs.  Tons of posability and sheer fun factor.  They were exactly the kind of TMNT toys I would've wanted as a kid.
     The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows film figures were slightly less amazing.  As they felt like a cheaper plastic, and the realistic look didn't come across nearly as well as the Nickelodeon cartoon based figures' appearances did.  Overall they're still great little figures, it's just the cartoon waves are better.
     Then I got, but haven't reviewed, the Classic line and the Mirage Comics based Eastman and Laird black and white toys.  Both lines are downright superb.  They got right back to the great plastics, great sculpts, and tremendous coloring and articulation of the first series.  These toys are better than either the Playmates line or the Minimates toys.

     Now I got ahold of the series (wave) 2 of the Nickelodeon figures and they are equally amazing.  MEGA Bloks have maintained a level of craftsmanship that makes me quite grateful that LEGO isn't the one making these little toys any more.  The Slash figure is awesome, the translucent purple Donnie is neat, and the Mouser 3 pack is an ingenious use of micro-figures.  My only complaint about this wave is Splinter's lower half is a bit awkward being one chunk instead of legs- but that's a small nitpick.  They did, however, make it so you could pose the chunk.

     In future waves they could definitely use a few extra non-main-turtles figures as well.  Each wave has kept all 4 turtles with 4 other figures, one of which is the "secret" figure.  Series (wave) 3 is already being spotted in places and it has, once again, all 4 turtles in their new variants, as well as another foot soldier variant, April O'Neil, and Leatherhead- with a Triceraton as the secret figure.  Where's Metal Head, Mutagen Man (Pulverizer), or The Fugitoid?  We need more variety in each wave.  And less blind bags.  I've never been a fan of blind bag marketing because it really seems like a cheap sales tactic.

     Anyways, as long as they keep making these I'll keep buying them.

9.27.2016

Dark Souls 3: Possible Ashes of Ariandel DLC Hint

A DLC HINT?

     While I've been awaiting the Dark Souls 3 DLC, Ashes of Ariandel, to arrive I've been playing a lot of Dark Souls 2 and 3 in silly ways in addition to looking for things I may have missed in previous playthroughs.
     Well, in my clubs character (and talisman for a little extra healing because I'm using no armors or other weapons) I came across this small thing behind the Cleansing Chapel bonfire at the Cathedral of the Deep.


     There's an altar of sorts blocking a statue behind it.  It's probably nothing, but I just found it intriguing that it might be something.  It appears that it was placed there to prevent viewing of what's behind it.  To me it seems like the shrine after the Abyss Watchers fight that moves and opens another passageway.  Could this be something from when the Cathedral's inhabitants started turning to the dark, when the Deep became something more corrupt than it's original peaceful form.  The miracle Deep Protection says, "The Deep was originally a peaceful and sacred place, but became the final rest for many abhorrent things. This tale of the Deep offers protection for those who worship amidst those horrors."
     Why I'm drawn to this is because in the Ashes of Ariandel trailer there's a couple shots of this area with someone offering up a torn piece of something.  Could this be one of the ways into the DLC?  I was initially thinking that it would be in the Irithyll room with the 4 paintings and the silver knights, but this is looking equally plausible now.  On top of that, in the gameplay trailer at the 3:38 mark a lady comes in that looks an awful lot like this statue.
     As I said though, it'll probably be nothing, but it's still a potential link.

THE PAINTED WORLD

     Director Hidetaki Miyazaki told Polygon that, "It is taking place in the Painted World, but it’s taking place in a different Painted World.  However, there are some connections between this Painted World and the one from the original Dark Souls. The reason I decided to return to the Painted World is because it matches with the theme I’m trying to describe in the first DLC. Players should be able to understand the reason as they play the DLC."
     I would take this in a couple ways.  One I believe to be is an alternate world- like the Dark Firelink Shrine.  The reason I use that example is- and I have yet to see anyone else pose this idea- is that I believe the Firekeeper Champion Gundyr failed to protect was Irina of Carim, but in his own world.  His soul reads, "Once, a Champion came late to the festivities and was greeted by a shrine without a fire, and a bell that would not toll."  I don't believe Untended Graves is necessarily in our past.  There are many worlds between the characters- as shown most notably with helping Anri kill Aldrich in her world, helping Sirris kill Creighton, or being invaded by Hodrick after his body is smashed beneath Curse-Rotted Greatwood.  It's best explained by Solaire from Dark Souls 1, when he tells us how summoning works.  He says, "The flow of time itself is convoluted, with heroes centuries old, phasing in and out.  The very fabric wavers, and relations shift and obscure.  There's no telling how much longer your world and mine will remain in contact.  But, use this, to summon one another as spirits, cross the gaps between the worlds, and engage in jolly co-operation!"
     Anyways, back to Untended Graves- you find the Firekeeper's eyes on a Firekeeper body in the same place Irina sits in the normal Firelink Shrine.  It heavily suggests that in Gundyr's world she was the one that died.  Backing this up is the fact she actually becomes a Firekeeper in our own world if we buy all her miracles and she moves to the tower of bodies behind the Firelink Shrine and sits in the dark.
     So what if this Painted World is simply someone else's version, as the names are Ariamis and Ariandel.  They're far too similar to be coincidence.

     The second way I could think of this is what if we are changing time, as FromSoftware is known for messing with time.  What if meddling with the shifting times has altered the paths and subsequently changing the names and properties of the world in the wake.
     Maybe this Painted World is from a time before the Deep became corrupted?  Such as if the events of this DLC will lead to the Deep becoming full of the dark and gnawing creatures.  Perhaps it's an offshoot of that- in a world where the corruption didn't happen, but the flame was dying- leading to a world of cold, which could eventually lead to an era of the Deep.
     I don't know, these are just some thoughts I wanted to toss out.  I'll need to mull it over and consider some more possibilities for what we might be getting and the hints we got in the trailers are about.  Like the Lothric connections in the trailers (the boss characters from the main game), they make me wonder if it could be from a time when the Deep began to spread and infect those from Lothric- thus serving as a bridge in the story.

ONE LAST THING

     The attention to details and connections are so damn amazing in these games.  Think about the body near the bonfire at the Profaned Capital, it took me forever to place it as Laddersmith Gilligan, and the only reason I recognized him is because I've been playing DS2 again.  It makes sense because he's also surrounded by a ton of ladders.  Seeing him again brings a really nice call back to the previous game.  And what makes it better is it's something many people wouldn't bother to think about- it's just another body laying around.  So I'm keeping my eyes peeled for more small touches like this.

     And lastly, something that made me laugh.


     Not sure how this happened, but it gave me a chuckle.

9.22.2016

Star Wars: Uprising: The Rebellion Has Been SHUT DOWN

     I received a slightly disappointing email a few hours ago.  Apparently the only Star Wars mobile game I actually enjoy is shutting down.  It sounds like the Empire is winning.  First LucasArts closes shop (taking 1313 with it), the amazing looking Maul game got cut down, then Disney Infinity became finite, and now the Uprising has been quashed.
     There aren't many good Star Wars games that are available, and even less so for mobile.  Which makes this that much more sad.


     Kabam's email:
"Despite the best efforts of our team here at Kabam, unfortunately, Star Wars: Uprising will soon be decommissioned. On November 17th, 2016, all Star Wars: Uprising servers will be shutting down permanently. As part of this shutdown, we will be shutting down payments on November 17th, 2016 to prevent additional payments from occurring. For information about the shutdown, please visit the FAQ HERE or your in-game message. We hope that you enjoyed Star Wars: Uprising, and would like to invite you to come check out one of Kabam’s other great mobile games, listed below. Finally,We would just like to again thank you for your commitment to Star Wars: Uprising. We hope to see you again soon!"
     I never did get to posting a review, but I spent a lot of time playing Uprising.  It had a really good feel for a mobile MOBA of sorts- with levels, missions, and goals and so on.  There was a decent level of customization and character differentiation with varying factions to join and compete against.   Kabam had somehow crammed far more entertainment into Uprising than I would've guessed was possible.  The game had a lot to like.  But of course, if the income isn't coming in, maintenance and work on the game cannot support itself.


     If you'd like to experience the game you'll have until 9am Pacific time on Nov. 17th, 2016.

Here's a couple shots of my character- Sella Lazru.

9.20.2016

Marvel Future Fight: Misty Knight & Shang Chi Update: Thoughts

     I was actually surprised when I logged in last night to get my daily play time in on the always amazing mobile game Marvel Future Fight only to find that there's already a new update so soon after the Gwenpool and The New Avengers one a month ago.


     This new update gives us two new characters, Misty Knight and Shang Chi, as well as 4 more costumes- one of which I was almost hopeful for- Ghost Rider.  Unfortunately, it's his Inhumans: Attilan Rising suit with a flair for the Prohibition era, although it has a car as his summon which is kind of cool.  That, however, makes me wonder why they wouldn't just go with either the much cooler looking comic version of Robbie Reyes (to go with his appearance on the new season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) or go with the really badass looking Trail of Tears costume with the fiery horse.  I've been waiting on the Trail of Tears one for Marvel Heroes 2016 for years to go with my cosmic prestiged Ghostie.  Or a Ghost Rider 2099 costume with some kind of cool digitized flame effects.  When will we get that in either game?!?

     In addition there's new Black Cat, Moon Knight, and Daredevil costumes.  Sadly, I'm not too impressed with them.  They're all pretty decent, I just don't care for them.
     We also get some more tier two abilities, some new 6* skills, and the new Shadowland mode.

     I have to say that after playing Misty Knight, she's absolutely fun as hell and has already taken a place in my main team.  I like the fact she's got a great look and freeze powers (sort of) complete with the nice bonus of boosting Lady Loki's ice powers with her mastery ability.
     While I don't have Shang Chi yet, his powers look wonderful on the screen in the testing area.  He appears to be a good alternative to the other fast combat characters.
   
     Overall, I'm always pleased with new updates and the surprises new characters bring, and we're still waiting for Doctor Strange from over a year ago.  Not even kidding, check the date on that link.  Anyways, just getting Misty Knight has made me downright giddy.  Once again I have to say Marvel Future Fight is without a doubt the best mobile Marvel comics game, and they keep proving time and again that they will remain that way for a long time to come.

     For the full update notes [ Marvel Future Fight ]

9.19.2016

Sony's Problem with the PS Vita

     As a Sony fan I feel this is a post I should make.  Well, actually, it's more of an updated reminder- because I said almost the exact same thing back in 2013.  The post was actually prompted by Sony's recent news that the PS Vita is getting 2 new colors in Japan (a silver-grey and metallic red).  It sells much better overseas than here in the west, but that doesn't have to be.


THE PROBLEM(S)

     The major issues with the Vita is really in 2 areas.  The first is cost (both the Vita itself, and secondarily the ridiculously overpriced proprietary memory cards).  To be fair, they did release a newer model of Vita (which is awesome) that is considerably cheaper- but the memory cards are still far too costly.  Though, this is really the lesser issue the Vita has.

     The larger problem is the games selection.  When the system was first marketed, it was supposed to be a portable Playstation in the palm of your hand.  Which we do have, but only without the AAA titles that make the system worthwhile.  The same goes for Nintendo's continued use of re-selling old titles on new handheld systems.  We want games that can't simply be played on a phone.
     What happened there?  Think of the Vita's early games that were, and are, still the best the system offered- Assassin's Creed: Liberation, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, and Gravity Rush.  These 3rd person action adventure games are unbelievably great.  We fans want more of this kind of quality.

POSSIBLE SOLUTION

     It's been my biggest complaint since I first got the Vita 4 years ago- the games selection.  They need better games.  Games.  Games.  GAMES!  More AAA games.  More exclusivity and original games.  Not just games that are already available for free on phones.  We want the true Playstation in our hands feel that a phone or tablet cannot give us.
     We want AAA-quality exclusive games.  Good freakin' lord- can you imagine what a new game that takes place in the world of The Last of Us could do on this system?  A NEW Dark Souls, a NEW Borderlands, Ico, Far Cry, Deus Ex, Batman: Arkham game, or even a new Bioshock?
     Or what about a new Metal Gear?  I wrote up a small outline for a game that would be a wonderful use of the franchise on the Vita- featuring The Boss from Metal Gear Solid 2.  The previous Vita Metal Gears were great, we could definitely use more of this type of game.  Hopefully it would be a little better looking than Metal Gear Survive.  The series could use some new content, and Konami might need a bit of guidance since Kojima left.
     Note that I specifically say "NEW" versions- we don't want more ports of console titles we already own.  We want portable experiences that the other companies and consoles cannot provide.  Less ports and more originals.  Real Triple-A titles that we can play on the go.  Sony, you have immense potential with the Vita, so why aren't you using it?  We want the content, it just isn't available.  Seriously Sony, a few NEW AAA games would cement the Vita as THE portable system to have.

     Back in May there was a reveal that there was an actual portable Elder Scrolls game in production for the Vita's precursor (the PSP) that was cancelled.  Can you imagine how unbelievably amazing a NEW Elder Scrolls game for the Vita could be?!?  A real first person Elder Scrolls game and not the stupid card game currently being peddled would be a tremendous money maker, and if it was a Vita exclusive...  that's a whole lot of sales.

VITA SUCCESSOR

     Sony Computer Entertainment's president Shuhei Yoshida was asked about a PS Vita successor by Eurogamer at the EGX 2015 and his response was:
"That's a tough question- people have mobile phones and it's so easy to play games on smartphones, and many games on smartphones are free, or free to start. 
"I myself am a huge fan of PlayStation Vita and we worked really hard on designing every aspect. Touch-based games are fun - there are many games with really good design. But having sticks and buttons make things totally different. 
"So I hope, like many of you, that this culture of playing portable games continues but the climate is not healthy for now because of the huge dominance of mobile gaming."
     This comment stuck with me (from a year ago) because as phones get better, they'll catch up to the Vita eventually.  A new Sony portable gaming system isn't needed- they simply need a better selection of AAA games that are extremely lacking from the Vita right now.  It doesn't matter how awesome the Vita is if there aren't games to show it off are non-existent.  I mean, you could have the greatest movie theater ever created, but if you only play Sharknado on each screen no one's going to show up.

     So, please Sony, give us some brilliant new reasons to dust off this amazing portable system.

Dark Souls 3: I Found My Dead Body and WTF Crab?!?

     Came across this nice little accident a while ago while playing Dark Souls 3 and needed something to serve as a quick post.  It's just the convenient placement of my lost souls on what may very well be my dead body!


     And here's something that's bothered me for quite some time.  In the Catacombs of Carthus, the second skeleton ball can explode, like the first one that also leaves a bone shard, but this one leaves a small crab behind.  No clue as to why this is, but I find it humorous.  


     I have yet to find any connection to why or how the crab got there, but hopefully someone will notice something to provide some in game context.  I'm curious to know if it has anything to do with the embered giant crabs in the nearby Smouldering Lake?
     And why are some enemies embered anyways?

9.15.2016

Gravity Rush 2: New Tokyo Game Show 2016 Trailer Looks Amazing!

     As expected, the nearer we get the the release date the more material we'll get to see for the highly anticipated Gravity Rush 2.  This is the Tokyo Game Show 2016 trailer, loaded with new goodies for all of us fans.


     New moves, new character, and new costumes- what's not to like?  It appears that the sequel to the PS Vita exclusive Gravity Rush has taken everything we liked about the first game and made it better.

     Gravity Rush 2 will be available Dec. 2nd for PS4.

     For related posts [ Gravity Rush ]

9.13.2016

NVRLND: Issue 2: Short Review (451 Entertainment)

     The first issue of NVRLND was a welcome surprise, with the creators transforming the classic tale of the boy that never grew up into a more modern story full of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll- all placed in the underground music scene of Hollywood High.

     Issue 2 begins with an unexpected, but surprisingly great, backstory for Tiger Lily. Wendy gets grounded for ditching school with Tiger after their initial fight, and later she sneaks out to meet up with her new friends to see Peter and his band The Lost Boys at his secretive club Neverland.

     Of course things go awry at the club as pirate themed tattoo artist and drug dealer James Hook has a terrible plan for Peter and those that frequent his club that he sets into motion.  Hook doesn't want to just peddle Pixie Dust, he wants Peter to see what is going on and suffer, and only then does he want him to die.

     Hook and his gang start a brawl and take Wendy hostage.  During the scuffle there's an unforeseen relationship brought to light between Peter and Hook that drastically changes their dynamic.  The conflict heats up, both men act and the issue ends with Peter and Wendy in a riveting cliffhanger, but not before we get to see Peter do some real magic with his shadow.  There's no real explanation of how the magic works or where it comes from, but that may come in the next issue.  We are left with Hook triumphant.

     The writer/creator pairing of Stephanie Slayers and Dylan Mulick have upped the ante quite well- taking the first issue's foundation and adding the magic into the story in a way that fells right as well as getting the characters into action.  Although, with that said, I feel the pace is just a little too rapid.  The story could use some down time to balance things out.  The issue starts off fast, and just puts pedal to the metal all the way to the end, but not everything has to be breakneck sprint to the finish line.  The only slow moments are the few with Mr. Darling making headway in the political realm while his chief comes across a clue pointing towards the Pixie Dust related deaths.  It's a small portion of the whole, but it could be longer to give readers a pause before taking flight again with the younger characters.

     Make no mistake, the story may feel rushed, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.  It's something that does align with the rockstar lifestyle Peter and all these teens strive for.  To be fair, they've firmly grasped the clubbing nightlife of raving and partying.  This fact is only enhanced by all the wonderful shots by artist Leila Leiz (with colors by Thomas Chu) having captured it with neon perfection.  For a four issue series 451 Entertainment has been hitting the right notes and are on track for another great story in NVRLND.

     NVRLND issue 2 will be available Sept. 14th.

     Official Sites [ 451 Entertainment ] [ Twitter ] [ Facebook ] [ Youtube ]

     Link to 451's [ Comixology ]

     For more 451 comic reviews [ HERE ]

*Review copy provided by 451, Thank you!

9.12.2016

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Ghost Rider: "Vengeance Comes" Teaser

     The newest teaser for season 4 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been released, featuring the coming vengeance of the Ghost Rider.  It doesn't give us a whole lot to go on for story, but does show us the darker more violent tone the new 10pm time slot would suggest.


     I've got an on-again-off-again relationship with the show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and I'm really torn here about their use of Ghost Rider.  I thought the first 6 episodes of the first season was garbage, but then returned and it got better towards the end of the season.  Then it got terrible once more, and slowly made more headway to become interesting again...  ...only to fall into another awful bout of poor writing and directing.
     Once Ghost Rider was announced they recaptured my attention.  Very skeptical attention.

     When a character that is a demon-possessed machine of vengeance is being added to the show, I'm a bit worried that Agents will turn him into something reminiscent of one of the CW's teen-angst filled heroes.  I've written about how I thought he'd be better off in an R-rated Netflix series, though the teaser holds some decent tones to alleviate my fears.  It has a couple shots right out of Stephen King's Christine, and a dash of the extremely underrated Charlie Sheen movie The Wraith (which is a much better Ghost Rider film than the actual Ghost Rider films).

     The choice of Robbie Reyes does make a bit more sense for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and even though I thought his initial comic book appearance was less-than-spectacular, the idea behind him was great.  He is an interesting new take on the character, and might even get better as the creators say they'll be doing their own version of him.  Hopefully the writers of the show can do better with him than his comic series did.  There's a lot of potential here, don't screw it up Marvel.  They neutered Agent Coulson by taking all his wit-filled secretive badassery away.  Seriously, go back and re-watch Iron Man and Thor and see how much better he is in those roles.  The same thing happened to Agent Carter.  Her television show lost the magic of what made her special by relegating things to petty romantic dramas.

     To be fair, this teaser looks much better than most of the 3rd season, so I remain hesitantly optimistic.  I just wish he was more grimy and dirty looking- like a real mechanic.  Oil stained hands, jacket scuffed to hell, and so on.  He looks too damn clean.
     And they need to fix the skull.  As of now it looks pretty bad.  They really, really should fix it.

     Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns Sept. 20th, @ 10pm ET on ABC.

     For more Ghost Rider related [ posts ]

The Last Guardian: Delayed AGAIN?!? Now Releasing Dec. 6th.

     Mere weeks before the game was set to arrive (Oct. 25th), Playstation has announced on their official blog that- surprise, SURPRISE- The Last Guardian is receiving yet another delay.



     SCE Worldwide Studios President Shuhei Yoshida himself posted this message:
"Fumito Ueda, gen DESIGN and JAPAN Studio have a wonderful vision for The Last Guardian’s touching, emotional journey of friendship and trust, and we want to deliver the most polished experience possible for our fans who have supported us for so long. A delay is a difficult decision, particularly with this game, but we have encountered more bugs than anticipated while in the final stages of development. To ensure that The Last Guardian delivers on the experience that the game’s creators have envisioned, we need to take the extra time to work on those issues. 
Our development continues to push itself to the fullest and we look forward to revealing new content toward launch. 
We appreciate your continued support."
     Honestly, this is something that is definitely souring my taste for the game.  Announcement after announcement gets followed by disappointment and delay.  Everyone watching the development knows that it began in 2007, was initially announced in 2009, and reintroduced in 2015.  It's getting to the point where the game may not be able to live up to its own hype.
     Team Ico has yet to make a bad game, but this feels like it's going to be too short or too small and might feel like a decade of wasted potential.  Ico and Shadow of the Colossus still stand as two of the most creative and innovative games ever.  Something just feels off about this, and that in itself seems like an ill omen.  Granted, I could be very wrong about this, and The Last Guardian may become the triumphant final installment to the Team Ico saga.

     The Last Guardian's newest expected release date is Dec. 6th.

     For related posts [ The Last Guardian ]

     Source [ PSN BLOG ]