4.03.2019

Joker: Official Teaser Trailer & Quick Thoughts

     The first trailer for the Joaquin Phoenix Joker film has landed, and it's... different.  Not that it is necessarily a bad thing, we'll just have to wait and see.


     The Joker seems to take a completely different approach to other DC films in that it gives us the origin of the Dark Knight Detective's most famed villain and puts it center stage.  I'm cautiously optimistic as it does look good, but could revealing the Joker's true origin ruin some of the magic that made him so special?
     I'd previously written that Nolan handled him perfectly, he arrived on the scene and "had no fingerprints, no ID, nothing but 'knives and lint.'"  He arose from nothing, and in the end literally vanished.  But here, we get motivations and familial links- which can only serve to humanize him, making him more relatable and understandable, which in turn takes away the true wild card aspect of his being.

     I'm of the same position I was when first seeing Jared Leto's Joker from Suicide Squad for the first time- we have to wait to see it in action.  Granted, after seeing Leto in action I had to write:
     "I think they went a little too far into a Tony "Scarface" Montana look.  I mean, while he is the Clown Prince of Crime, they entirely left out the clown part.  When he makes Griggs kiss his hand I was totally expecting a water spout to splash out of the ring in the face, or have a flower on his coat do it, but it never happened.  Ayer completely left that aspect out.  They made him all bling and no sting." 
     Hopefully this team has learned the lesson of failure from Ayers and Leto.  In the mean time, I'll keep my fingers crossed that Joaquin Phoenix along with writer/director Todd Phillips and co-writer Scott Silver have done something much more in line with the iconic and beloved arch-rival to the legendary Batman himself.
     Seriously, this looks to either be a masterpiece, or something very, very terrible.  It's a risky film that DC is taking a massive chance with.

     The Joker waltzes into theaters October 4th.

Borderlands 3: Official Announce Trailer: Launch Day & Epic Games Exclusivity

     Well, today is a momentous occasion- we get both great news with the official launch date (Sept. 13th, 2019), alongside some pretty crap news.  We have official confirmation that Borderlands 3 will not launch on Steam, but instead will be exclusive to the Epic Games Store for 6 months.


     I don't like to be a naysayer, but this is not a move people like.  The Epic Game Store has been in some serious controversies (primarily the spyware potential and privacy policies/data protection problems- as seen in this wonderful explanation video by Yong Yea).  Steam having competition is a very good thing, but the way things are being handled are not.  Making this worse is the limited features of the store in general.


     I've been a Borderlands supporter since the original launched a decade ago, and this is the first time I will not be buying it on PC.  I will not support it on the Epic Game Store, I absolutely refuse to use it and will wait the 6 months of exclusivity to get it on Steam with my other Borderlands games.  That said, I'll still be purchasing it on Playstation 4 as that is my primary console (outside of PC).

     To read how displeased many, MANY fans are just scan through the responses on the official @Borderlands tweet.  And for even more, the link to the official trailer has a plethora of disapproval throughout the comments section.  It isn't the best idea to crap on Steam users.  Sorry 2K, but this was not a good decision at all.

     For related posts [ Borderlands ]

3.29.2019

Sex & Mortal Kombat: 100 Things In Common (Guest Post by @EricVBailey)

Sex and Mortal Kombat have a lot in common. 

     So I wrote a list.


1) You can choose whether you’ll have sweat or you’ll have blood.

2) You might go two or three rounds.

3) Successive impacts may elicit heightened vocal response.

4) Skill with hands is good but some may prefer skill with feet.

5) There might be costumes involved.

6) You might sneak in a match at your buddy’s house.

7) Your parents aren’t entirely comfortable with your participation.

8) You aren’t entirely comfortable with your parents’ participation.

9) You went through a phase of ‘researching’ more information online.

10) Years ago, you would’ve had to rely on magazines for this ‘research.’


11) You may stick with a main for a while but try to switch it up sometimes.

12) Some of your friends have no clue about it.

13) Remember that period in high school when everyone was talking about it?

14) Every new release still feels like a big deal.

15) The acting in the films is not the greatest.

16) The films also lend unrealistic expectations with inaccurate portrayals.

17) Still, many have their favorite movie on the topic.

18) Some may worry about their children being exposed to the subject prematurely.

19) Politicians occasionally take fanatical positions concerning it.

20) Some prefer the men, some prefer the ladies.


21) Thousands of people are enjoying it right now, at this moment.

22) Some people don’t even like it.

23) There is plenty of amateur art online, and a lot of it is inappropriate.

24) People have written entire books about it.

25) Be careful -- overdoing it can exhaust you.

26) It might cost you some money.

27) There are some spectacular finishing moves out there.

28) Apparently there are YouTube tutorials to help improve your skills.

29) Typically, men are lauded for playing the game but women are met with disrespect.

30) Fists play a part.


31) You may see some unusual or extreme anatomy featured.

32) It has a long history, generations’ worth.

33) You can match up with a partner online.

34) Might make for an interesting first date.

35) Some married couples don’t even bother with it anymore.

36) You don’t see it play out in public much. But you might.

37) You can play by yourself but it’s not as fun.

38) You probably won’t make much money writing about it.

39) You can enjoy it in the bedroom, or maybe on the living room sofa; the kitchen, more rarely.

40) You used to see it at the arcades a lot more.


41) If you could go at it for five hours straight I’d be impressed.

42) I understand if you’ve never tried it, but it’s harder to believe you’ve never heard of it at all.

43) If you keep getting kicked in the face, maybe you’re not doing so well.

44) If you do it a certain way, you end up with a baby.

45) If you do it another way, you end up as friends.

46) And if you really screw it up, you might have your spine torn out of your body.

47) It’s rare to have more than two players at once.

48) The setting doesn’t really make a huge difference, honestly.

49) Often, one player is going to have a much better time than the other.

50) Typically, a “nothing but roundhouse kicks” strategy is frowned upon.


51) There are very few friends of whom I’d be comfortable asking about their performance.

52) You’d probably get in trouble if you were caught doing it at work.

53) “Excessive jumping” is totally a thing.

54) I understand Nintendo is reluctant to release this kind of content.

55) I’d prefer to not have someone watching over my shoulder while I’m going at it.

56) Some people are more vocal than others while it’s going on.

57) C’mon, don’t make fun of people who are new to it.

58) I think the Bible has some relevant commentary.

59) Juggling at the same time would be rather difficult.

60) The right soundtrack can help set the mood.


61) There are oh-so-saintly prudes out there who probably take pride in never trying it.

62) I see chatter on Twitter about it occasionally.

63) It’s the sort of content that gets an “R” or “M” rating.

64) Sometimes you just have to growl “Get over here!”

65) If your doctor says you’re not healthy enough for it, please listen to them.

66) The 3D modeling has really advanced over the years.

67) It’s all about who’s in control.

68) There are firm boundaries, and it is good to know them.

69) Leave your grandmother out of it.

70) The classic debate: Should you try everyone, or stick to one main selection?


71) You might have luck finding it on Craigslist.

72) The motion-capture work is always interesting.

73) If you record yourself doing it, someone out there would probably watch.

74) Let’s be honest: Sometimes it’s gross.

75) Mileena is either the best or the worst, depending on how you look at her.

76) You might have your heart ripped right out of your chest.

77) Personally, I don’t like involving food, I think it gets messy, but hey, you do you I guess.

78) Have I ever paid $60 for it? No. Has someone else? Yeah. I bet a lot of people have.

79) Has it gotten worse as you’ve aged? That may depend on who you ask.

80) You have to know how to push the right buttons.


81) But timing is crucial. Timing is the difference between success and disappointment.

82) However, pressure is important too. You have to know when to go hard and when to lay off.

83) Your first time is going to be an awkward disaster.

84) Sometimes it leaves a big mess.

85) You might stay up too late doing it.

86) Can you play in VR yet? I’m not even sure.

87) Try moving your thumb in gentler circles. Flick back at just the right moment.

88) You can face one way or the other way.

89) Some of the most innocent-looking people have far more experience than you’d think.

90) Be respectful of your neighbors, try not to be too loud.


91) I bet there are people who are absolutely obsessed.

92) No, I’m not interested in your podcast about it.

93) Make sure you’re properly hydrated beforehand.

94) You may experience sweaty palms for the duration.

95) You may have to compete with killer instinct.

96) Never pick a guy named Stryker.

97) There’s a chance your play will involve some electric shock.

98) It’s the shape-shifting warlock you have to worry about.

99) Use that block button to help prevent unwanted advances.

100) Your opening move might be the most important.

     And have a bonus round:

101) Whoever gets the first blow doesn’t always win.


Eric Bailey likes Nintendo games and writing about Nintendo games. You can follow him on Twitter @EricVBailey, check out his minimalist YouTube series, support him on Patreon, or ignore him altogether.

     Previous Guest Posts by Eric Bailey:

     [ Who Can Eat More: Yoshi vs Kirby ]

     [ Tribute: Link's Awakening ]

     [ You’re All Idiots, Everything's On Fire, and Nothing Ever Changes: Yet Another Critique of Gaming Culture

     [ Easy-Mode Players Are The Real Gamers ]

3.28.2019

Borderlands: The Handsome Collection: Ultimate HD Upgrade Pack is Free on April 3rd!

     Today is a good day.  First there was the official reveal trailer for Borderlands 3, then they announced a Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition HD for the modern generation of systems, and now, we are also getting a Handsome Collection (including Borderlands 2, The Pre-Sequel, and all DLC) 4K ultra high definition upgrade for free.*


     The Handsome Collection UHD Pack arrives April 3rd for PS4, X Box One, and Steam.

     For related posts [ Borderlands ]

*Presuming you already own the game.

Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition HD Remaster Arrives April 3rd!

     Not only did we finally get the highly anticipated official Borderlands 3 reveal trailer, but we also get a complete remaster of the original game for current gen systems.  It looks to be one hell of a visual upgrade to ultra high definition.


     This Game of the Year Edition includes all 4 DLC packs, along with some quality of life improvements, as well as what looks to be a few currently unannounced extras- just take a look at the differing character heads towards the end of the trailer which were not in the original game.

     This is definitely the Year of the Borderlands, marking Gearbox's triumphant return as a developer after the poorly received Battleborn, and the whole Aliens: Colonial Marines fiasco.

     Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition drops April 3rd on PS4, XBox One, and Steam.

     For related content [ Borderlands ]

Borderlands 3: The Official Reveal Trailer has Arrived

     Hot on the heels of yesterday's teaser we get the official reveal trailer for he unimaginably anticipated next installment of the Borderlands franchise, and it is everything we could've hoped for.


     It's got guns, bad guys, heroes, explosions, a plethora of wonderful looking new locations, and an absolute wealth of returning characters, including a few from Tales from the Borderlands.  I honestly don't have to really say anything, as the trailer speaks for itself.

     The hype is real, and the end gives us the news that more will be revealed on April 3rd.

     For related posts [ Borderlands ]

3.12.2019

Borderlands 3: Possible PAX East Reveal: Randy Pitchford May Have Given Us the First Teaser

     It's been a long time since I've posted here, and even longer since I posted Borderlands related material- but there's some possibly huge news that just came in the form of a wonderful teaser from Gearbox head Randy Pitchford.

     He's posted a Tweet that looks very remeniscent of something out of the beloved Borderlands franchise, pointing towards an announcement of something at PAX East:
     Could we finally see the long awaited announcement and release of the third core installment in the franchise?  I believe so.  There's been a slew of update activity on Steam, countless small leaks, and even this wonderful April Fool's teaser from a year ago:


     My hype for the game and blogging has returned.  I look forward to updating and discussing news of Borderlands 3 as it comes.  A Borderlands review was one of my very earliest blog posts (though it corrupted and I lost the page), and Borderlands 2 provided years of content, so the third game can only offer a large amount of content for me to provide- so I hope to hear from many of you fans again in the coming months.

For related posts [ Borderlands ]

12.28.2018

Who Can Eat More: Yoshi vs Kirby (Guest Post by @EricVBailey )

THE QUANDRY

Yoshi and Kirby are two Nintendo characters who have a lot in common: They both have a reputation for being more “cute” than combative, they star in their own series of games, they have a limited vocabulary, and they are known for eating their opponents or other items.

But who can eat more?


YOSHI

Mario's faithful steed has to be near the top of the list of competitive eaters in gaming lore. The green dinosaur does little else besides eat and be sacrificed for longer jumps. With a flick of his tongue and a lay of his egg, he rapidly disposes of any meal placed in front of him.

In Super Mario World, the larval form of Yoshi doesn't even need the classic tonguing action. You just kinda shove his face into any enemy and Baby Yoshi will eat it. We take it for granted, just how impressive this feat is. Have you ever tried to eat something larger than yourself in less than a second?


This is the truly impressive facet of Yoshi's consumptive power – not just the size of his conquests, but the raw efficiency of the process. From the gulping swallow to the egg-to-ammo transformation, Yoshi seems to have optimized his guts for maximum capacity. You can parade an endless stream of feed-fodder straight toward his mouth, and he will just keep swallowing. Look at this .gif, illustrating the point. You could leave this thing running for decades, only to come back and still find Yoshi wolfing down Shy Guy after Shy Guy for all eternity.


So beware the tongue of Yoshi, lest he get you next. He may yet tempt you, or even impress you, with the skillful application of his long, thick, and moist appendage. He is quite capable of giving you a good tongue-lashing. Yes, he'll tongue you good. He'll tongue you hard, and deep. His skin glistens with sweat, his sinews drawn taut, his shoulders rising and falling with excited breath as he bites his lip and proceeds to-- *stares off into the middle distance*


KIRBY

In the circle of Nintendo's competitive eaters, Kirby has to be in the mix as well.

This lovable pink puffball seems to have an insatiable appetite. Whereas Yoshi converts his foes into weapon-projectiles through arcane digestive means, Kirby himself is the end of his means, the final destination for those unlucky enough to cross him. His mouth is like a black hole, his stomach the period that the story of life.

Yoshi's gift for rapid-fire snacking is nothing short of miraculous, but Kirby has him beat in a few specific ways. For one, Kirby can eat more than one thing at once. Yoshi has this certain physical limitation about him, this constraint whereby the tip of his tongue must physically connect with his target. Kirby shows no concern for paltry ideas like “physics,” instead electing to consume, consume everything.


Yoshi's backstory has something to do with living on an island and playing a part in the rise of the Super Mario Bros. Kirby's story always seems to essentially boil down to “One day, Kirby was having a picnic or taking a nap or otherwise being perfectly innocent and adorable, until his idyllic peace was interrupted by a paradimensional entity bent on the violent destruction of all life. So Kirby ate him. Peace was restored, the end.”

You don't mess with Kirby.

Kirby will eat everything, instantly, forever.


At this point, some Yoshi apologist will say “b-b-but what about Mega Yarn Yoshi, and those giant metal eggs from New Island?!” Get that garbage argument out of here. Look, Yoshi's a dinosaur, he has to adhere to certain physical limits. Kirby, on the other hand, laughs at every attempt of the cosmos to contain him.

We can look to one title in particular for the most compelling persuasion: In Kirby Triple Deluxe, Kirby does this thing where he goes “hypernova” and his suction rips entire dang trees out of the ground, among other objects. There is video evidence. But if you're going to watch one video to summarize Kirby's nigh-apocalyptic prowess, check out his final boss battle from that game, in which he swallows... a streaming blast of supernatural energy? And then fires it back out of his face to annihilate all in his path? Ridiculous. That kind of eating can't be quantified.

Perhaps there was a time when this article began with a good-faith intent at debate but, no, let's be honest, Kirby wins this battle of bites and it's not even close. Even if Yoshi forked his tongue, and stretched it out, and massacred his mouth into an inescapable maw of unfathomable tentacle-tongues, Kirby would just suck 'im up like the infinite vacuum he is and swallow it all whole.


THE WINNER

Kirby wins.

Easily.

Decisively.


     …


          Although...


               Now I do have to wonder:


                       Could he eat a ghost?



Special thanks to internet pal and Kirby expert Jonathan for his input on this piece. You can follow him on Twitter @radicaldefect.

Eric Bailey likes Nintendo games and writing about Nintendo games. You can follow him on Twitter @EricVBailey, check out his minimalist YouTube series, support him on Patreon, or ignore him altogether.

     Previous Guest Posts by Eric Bailey:

     [ Tribute: Link's Awakening ]

     [ You’re All Idiots, Everything's On Fire, and Nothing Ever Changes: Yet Another Critique of Gaming Culture


     [ Easy-Mode Players Are The Real Gamers ]

12.27.2018

Dead Island: Survivors: Short Review

     It's been a little over 2 years since Dead Island: Survivors shambled into soft launch in Norway, and it has finally spread the infection to the global market.  The Dead Island franchise has definitely had a rough patch over the last five years.  Escape Dead Island missed the cel-shaded mark, the highly under-rated MOBA Dead Island: Epidemic was shut down before it could even leave open beta, Dead Island: Retro Revenge wasn't anything like the beat 'em up it was originally advertised to be, and Dead Island 2 is still lost somewhere in developmental purgatory.


     Unlike its Dead Island predecessors Survivors combines base building with tower defense and adds a dash of 3rd person zombie slaying action in as well.  Players are tasked with setting up protective perimeters, laying all manner of blockades and traps, and defending their bases while attempting to round up all the other survivors from the formerly idyllic nearby islands.  Sadly, what makes this one unique addition to the tower defense core of the game go awry with is the absolutely atrocious controls for the character.  When you want to engage in melee combat with a character the control is of the point and click variety instead of a traditional joystick (virtual in this case).  It then locks your camera in and having to constantly adjust to see what you are missing is infuriating to no end.  Trying to attack a specific zombie in a horde is utterly worthless, resulting in wasted attacks and time, which in turn generally lead to losses for the player.  You have to either focus on building and maintaining the defense system OR using the extraordinarily poorly controlled character.  You cannot do both as the other will suffer quite swiftly- creating an awful situation where in the later game you hit impassable walls because you can't do both.  Having to sacrifice one aspect of the duality is not a good gameplay decision here at all.

     Deep Silver’s development studio Fishlabs Entertainment has brought the franchise to the mobile market, but despite the potentially bright rays of sunshine a new Dead Island game might've provided us with, the Banoi Archipelago has seen better tie-in game days (Epidemic), but to be fair, it's also seen much, much worse (Retro Revenge).  There's an absurd microtransaction focus that happens with a great many mobile games by gating off things with an overabundance of timers and an extreme scarcity of resources leading to the inevitable lengthy wait times and slowing down progress to the point of actually discouraging gameplay. 

     As much of a fan of the series as I am, I can't recommend this game at all unless you really, REALLY like the monotonous grind of tower defense games.  Dead Island: Survivors is a case where they might've done far better had they broken the game into either strictly a tower defense, or gone with a simple hack-n-slash adventure game (which is what I had hoped for) as opposed to attempting to merge the two together as an incongruent mess.  That's a very disappointing thing for me to say too, because the visual design is so good in Survivors, and any hope for another mobile tie in game that is truly worthwhile is rapidly dwindling while awaiting the official Dead Island 2 to re-emerge from whatever undead state it currently resides in.

     Dead Island: Survivors [ Google Play ] [ iOS ]

     Dead Island on [ Twitter ] [ Facebook ]

8.29.2018

Tribute: Link's Awakening (Guest Post by @EricVBailey )

People enjoy stories about likeable protagonists who overcome adversity.

In the face of overwhelming odds our hero manages to triumph, and our sympathetic tension achieves a victorious payoff. One popular framework toward this end is the shipwreck. You have a happy character, on top of the world, enjoying some maritime travel, who is suddenly thrust into harsh conditions. This is quite a dramatic turn, bolstered by historical examples, and works to unfold our fears of an uncertain future.

Castaway is a generally well-received film, with Tom Hanks continuing to stretch his acting range in a challenging role. Robinson Crusoe is regarded as a literary classic. The television series Arrow leaned heavily on a “stranded on a remote island in the Pacific” backstory. Even the Bible heightens its drama with the account of a shipwreck in the book of Acts. And tucked back in the late 20th century, on a humble handheld machine, gaming also has its premiere shipwreck story --

Survival Kids.

… no, wait, sorry, not Survival Kids.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.


links_awakening_shipwreck_1.gif

On a dark and stormy night...

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is a video game that originally released in 1993 for Nintendo’s portable Game Boy system. It is one of my personal favorites, and I believe it is great.

This topdown adventure oozes classic Nintendo appeal and, in my view, sports some brilliant design strokes that perfectly complement a delightful original world. The setting often straddles the line between charming and unnerving, and I found the overall effect intoxicating when I first played the game as a child. Just as a good book is described as something you cannot put down, Link’s Awakening was truly an experience that I was reluctant to let leave my hands; notably, I do not often feel this way about games.



Franchise Legacy

In some ways, Link’s Awakening is a radical departure for the Legend of Zelda franchise: It is the only game to take place on Koholint Island, the first portable Zelda title, and plays extensively with references to other games and media altogether. In other ways, it poses more subtle subversions.

In Ocarina of Time, a girl named Malon teaches Link Epona’s Song for his ocarina. In Link’s Awakening, a girl named Marin teaches Link the Ballad of the Wind Fish for his ocarina. Both of these characters show an affinity for animals.

In Link’s Awakening, using the Bow and a Bomb at the same time results in firing an arrow attached a bomb that explodes on impact. Curiously, this has never been confirmed or denied by the developers as an unintentional glitch. Arrows and bombs could be combined in Twilight Princess, but it was not until Breath of the Wild in 2017 that Bomb Arrows were finally their own full-fledged item.

I feel Link’s Awakening forged new ground for the Zelda series in ways that have been overshadowed by the contributions of other titles, like later games get credit for feats Awakening already achieved, and much of its greatness has been lost in the mix of fondness for some of Link’s other adventures.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask has received lots of praise over the years for its melancholy mood and a darker theme. Rightly so! It remains my favorite Zelda game, largely because it is so unusual. However, some may forget that Link’s Awakening has its share of dark imagery as well, as noted by a Twitter friend of mine on a playthrough in 2017.


Link’s Awakening was already exploring the idea of an oncoming world-ending cataclysm in a world entirely separate from Hyrule years before Majora’s Mask would, complete with the necessary epic songs and ventures into added layers of the not-quite-real.

How about cameos? In the 64-bit Zelda titles, you can find little winks to the Super Mario canon, like the Bowser jewelry in Ocarina and the Mario mask in Majora. In Twilight Princess, keen observers may spot a Bullet Bill image. But did you know that in Link’s Awakening you can find Yoshi, Goomba, Pirahna Plants, Cheep Cheep, Bloobers, and a Chain Chomp! Never again would so many Mario characters manage to squeeze into one of Link’s adventures. It’s so strange!

Breath of the Wild is infamous for hiding 900 Korok seeds throughout its world, rewarding completists who will search every blade of grass for hidden treasure. Ocarina had its Skulltulas. But y’know which Zelda game started the trend of having a big fetch quest throughout? Link’s Awakening, with its 26 Secret Seashells, 20 of them standing in the way between Link and his sword upgrade.



It’s A Good Game, Brent

Consider the worst parts of popular Zelda titles.

What’s the one design element you hate from each one? Is it the rain in Breath of the Wild, or how poorly the polygons have aged in the N64 games? Do you despise the endless sailing in Wind Waker, or was it the Triforce shards that drove you to despair? Did you abhor the motion controls of Skyward Sword, or the barren overworld of Twilight Princess?

Link’s Awakening doesn’t have any of these issues.

It’s just a solid, well-rounded game. Like any high-caliber Nintendo fare it has charm, humor, a memorable soundtrack, tight gameplay, and some gorgeous visuals. Your mileage may vary as to its difficulty, but I always thought it hit a great spot between ease and challenge.

Words can hardly encapsulate the experience. Maybe some games can be summarized in a reflection like this, but I think Link’s Awakening truly rewards those who dig into it. I recommend you try it, and I’d love to hear what you think. I have a feeling it’ll be one of my sentimental favorites for as long as I live.

Eric Bailey likes Nintendo games and writing about Nintendo games. You can follow him on Twitter @EricVBailey, check out his new minimalist YouTube series, support him on Patreon, or ignore him altogether.

     Previous Guest Posts by Eric Bailey:
You’re All Idiots, Everything's On Fire, and Nothing Ever Changes: Yet Another Critique of Gaming Culture ] 
Easy-Mode Players Are The Real Gamers ]