Mad Max: Fury Road First Trailer

     Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron are bringing the 4th installment of the Mad Max series to the big screen in 2015, and the wait looks worth it.

     We get loads of over-the-top violence, dangerous stunts, and cars in battle in a huge desert wasteland.  What more could we ask from a Mad Max film?


First Official Pic of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman Revealed! (Zack Snyder)

     So Zack Snyder finally posted a tweet with the first actual picture of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.  I'm fairly impressed.  She might not be as bulked up as I was hoping, but it'll do for now.  Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is looking better already.  Now to wait for Warner Bros. to officially release the San Diego Comic Con footage teaser trailer...

Click here for high res version )

(NEW) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Brothers Unite: Official Movie Tie-In Game (Android & iOS) Review (Nickelodeon)

     With the upcoming release of the Michael Bay produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie reboot hitting theaters on August 8th, some games would be expected in addition to the millions of miscellaneous tie-ins and other product endorsements I've been seeing.  Aside from the Nintendo 3DS one that isn't out yet, or the Xbox Kinect game, this one is pretty decent.

     ***SPOILER ALERT*** (Minor story spoilers ahead for the game)

     Made by The Game Bakers, a small studio known for the oddball fighting brawler Combo Crew, the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Official Movie Game is a cell-shaded hack-n-slash brawler game relying on taps and slashes for attacks battling enemies to clear the streets of New York City of bad-guy rubbish.

     The story mode is written by Tom Waltz who has been writing the very excellent IDW comic book series.  The story is simple enough- the turtles are out to take out the increasing number of bad guys and find a mysterious ninja that's behind this.  Who that "ninja" is has never been considered a ninja, but oh well.  The game's trophies let you know who the bosses are, and this game gets bonus points for including Bebop, Rocksteady, and Leatherhead.

     Combat is done through taps (for blocks and standard attack) and 4 different directional swipes to do combos- which are unlocked and chosen by the player for their personal play preferences as you progress through modes and rack up coins and red gems.  Chain enough combos and you will unlock a 4-turtle "Turtle Power" mini-game in levels that allows you to call-in help from your 3 brothers to do massive damage to multiple enemies.  In later levels these are quite helpful to use.
     In addition each of the 4 turtles can be "trained" to upgrade their stats, and new weapons become available as you play- I personally like the chicken legs for Raphael and Leonardo's fish & bones for swords.

     I did notice a huge difficulty spike from level 28 on, possibly there to encourage the microtransactions in the store area to buy performance enhancing boosts to beat the last 6 levels.  The boosts most helpful are the "Mean, Mean Mutagene" to double damage done for one level and the "Double Trouble" that doubles the speed of the Turtle Power meter.  These are almost a necessity to get through the last few levels, and the guard break and life meter refill boosts help that go much smoother as well.  The IAPs seem a bit shady, but if you save your in-game earned currencies then it won't be a problem.

     The Game Bakers have done very well here- the game is super fun and highly addicting.  Even if the new film is bad, this game tie-in is more than worth the $3.99 cost.

     Google Play ]
     [ Apple iOS ] 

     For my other Turtles Posts [ TMNT ]

Avengers: Age of Ultron Full Comic-Con Poster (Vision First Pic)

     Marvel Comics has been releasing parts of the massive multi-panel poster for their upcoming talk at the San Diego Comic Con and it is stunning.  I like how we get our first real look at The Vision in the upper left corner.


Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom Announcement Trailer

     Little Orbit has released the announcement trailer for the upcoming Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom and it looks pretty good.  Sadly, the last game (Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW!) looked like it was going to be good as well, but we all know how that turned out.

     This one has the benefit of possibly being more the Legend of Zelda games, even if it does look like it might be a bunch of re-skins from Explore the Dungeon.  Here's to all the fans crossing our fingers in hopes this'll be a game that enhances the show's license and gives us hope for a good Adventure Time game.

     Source [ Little Orbit ]


Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd you steal our garbage?! (Why'd I Review This?!)

A pic of the greatest butler ever.
     As a moderate fan of the television series (I'm more of a Regular Show guy), and a fan of action-RPG games- I figured I'd give this a go.  It helps that I generally like Wayforward's games, even though most licensed games typically turn out for the worse- this one wasn't too bad.  Much better than I thought Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW! was.  Which also had a great concept, but fell short.


     The premise of the game is that Jake and Finn woke up to find one of the most helpful crimes committed.  The Ice King has been accidentally eco-friendly in stealing all their garbage.  What he does with it is ingenious as well.  Instead of just letting him take their garbage they make it a mission to reclaim their disposable property and find that instead of rescuing princesses, they are rescuing facsimile princesses composed of trash.

     Hey Ice King! combines a top-down overworld with side-scrolling platforming for levels.  Most friends and enemies are easily recognizable from fans of the show but don't offer much in the way of challenge in either battles or quests.  The combat is the predictable range of small combos with Finn's fists or sword in addition to Jake's shape-shifting attacks and defenses that grow in number as you progress through the story.
     You collect items for use in your backpack/BMO lower screen of the DS system, which could've been a good thing, but since the squares are so small it becomes more of a hindrance during boss fights, or really- any of the grouped enemy encounters.

     There is a large range of places to visit spaced across the map, but unfortunately the Land of Ooo is severely underpopulated.  The entire map feels mostly empty.  Simple platforming and dull combat leaves players wanting to take the easiest route of just running past enemies.  A majority of the people you run into are clumped into the city-zones with very little in-between.  The dullness of this affair is what really hurts the game- it becomes a mindless repetitive chore to pass and re-pass the same few enemies in the same locations over and over and over.
     Even the most difficult boss in the game- the Ice King himself- is only really a problem because of a glitch.  When he rises in the air and starts shooting projectiles if you happen to be anywhere on the left hand of the screen you instantly take damage as soon as he begins to shoot.

The Penguin boss fight is the best.
     One of the major downsides is the title is almost longer than the game itself.  I think it took me about 4 hours of casual play.  Taking my sweet time didn't lengthen the game in any way, but really this isn't too much of a complaint- I've been enjoying the shorter games lately.  It's what little variance there is here that is the problem.  There just isn't enough real content.  Only a few types of enemies, only a few sub-missions, and only a few locations to enter.
     The graphics are gorgeous and the animations are fluid- they are the best part of the game outside of the consistently hilarious dialogue.  Sadly, these two things cannot save the game completely, although they make it much more tolerable.

Adventure Time can always use more Lumpy Space Princess!
     Of course, my largest problem with this game is that there just wasn't enough Peppermint Butler.  With that said, Hey Ice King! is really a good standard, sure it could use some more action, more locations, and stuff to do (maybe another few months of work could've filled in the gaps), but overall it is a decent game especially for the younger audiences.  What this comes down to is if you are a fan, it'll be a good used purchase- a $10 eshop cost would make this feel much less hollow.


Josh News Update: 07.20.2014 Edition

     Well, I went and did it.  By "it" I mean I took some time away from the absurd amount of homework I've been chipping away at, and actually rounded up some writing samples, put them together with a decent cover letter and a resume, and applied for Game Informer Magazine's recently opened Associate Editor position.

Here's me with my two co-writers.
    In all honesty I think my biggest selling points are my unrivaled determination to continue writing about gaming culture and creativity... and maybe my location.  Being somewhat local, I understand our state's need to dig our way out of our homes and into our jobs through 6 feet of snow for 9 months a year.  (Yay Minnesota!)

     For submissions I tried to be varied, and the only things that can't be found on my blog were the Twitter contest items- I actually had to use TwimeMachine to root these out of my account- so here you go:

     Dark Horse Comics' Mass Effect Twitter Contest Entries (Won): (Feb 14th, 2012)
My scans of your galaxy show you have an abundance of Eezo in all the right places. #ME3PickupLine  
Want to help me Unlock my Paramour Achievement? #ME3PickupLine  
I'm going to *Probe Away* until I find all of your Element Zero. #ME3PickupLine 
Like Legion, you're a million-in-one. #ME3PickupLine 
Of course we can, but it only took me a single Grunt to lay low Tuchanka's Thresher Maw. #youprobablyheard #impressive #ME3PickupLine  
I intend a whole night of huggin and Klixen on Tuchanka. #ME3PickupLine 
Wanna get Wrex'd in EDI's cockpit? #ME3PickupLine 
"Cant talk now, I'm Mordin you can handle"- Mordin *winks* #ME3PickupLine 
You Effect my Mass more than Miranda's sassy tight pantsed biotics! #ME3PickupLine 
      Mass Effect Twitter Haiku Contest Entries: (Feb 16th, 2012)
Scattering Reapers, Shepard's team unstoppable, Normandy rages #haiku @masseffect 
Enemies abound, Fortunately for the Earth, Shepard never fails #haiku @masseffect 
Reaper's arrival, In Earth's imminent demise, Shepard presses on #haiku @masseffect 
Space hamster saves all, a tiny hero rises, beyond his glass cage! #haiku #masseffect3 #spoilers 

     Nothing breathtaking of course, just a bit to show how I can think outside the space-box.  It also helps that I've drastically improved my writing quality since starting this blog in 2008.  Seriously, it's hard to maintain output when I have a more-than-full-time job in Health Care and have been going to school full-time as well.

     I'm sure they'll get a thousand better submissions, but none as persistent as myself.  I'll be continuing here and my other sites as long as I can- I'll be doing this whether I get a job there or not.  Just they're consideration would be unbelievably appreciated.  I mean c'mon- it's friggin' Game Informer!!!

     Good luck to all the other applicants, especially my buddy Jim, as his dedication and love for games is easily as great as mine, if not greater (his FPS skill certainly is!)- and he is well deserving of a life-changing job like this.  I'm not even going to lie, his writing skill is much better than mine also.  I may take him in creativity department, but his raw writing skill far surpasses anything I could offer- so keep an eye out for him, he'll be great even if he doesn't get this job.


Avengers NOW: Black Captain America, Woman Thor, and Marvel Comics' Diversity

     I wanted to chime in on Marvel Comics' recent marketing- unsurprisingly they are shaking up their entire Universe with Thor's powers being usurped by a woman, Captain America becoming black, and Iron Man going Superior.

     These aren't really issues- aside from the Dazzler one, and I'll get to that later- really, we could use some changes in the comics industry.  What I am unhappy about is how they're marketing it.  Any long time comics reader should know by now Marvel has a real problem with finding something that sells and flooding the market with it.  Spider-Man is selling well?  Looks like we need a Clone Saga.  The Hulk is popular?  Better make him come in multiple colors and in more people.  Thor gained popularity and then Fear Itself came along and added like 8 new hammers.  Deadpool is hot, let's make a team of them!  Wolverine is slated to die this fall, and guess what, there's 10 other characters that are nearly the same.
     Marvel takes something and does it so much it dilutes the characters.  This issue is compounded by the way they take books change them and then shift them right back to how they originally were.  Or just let them disappear- where'd our female Ghost Rider go?

     Black Captain America
     This has happened before.  Honestly, and it was an awesome story and I wish they could've kept that going.  Isaiah Bradley in the Truth: Red, White, and Black series was a great character and had a descendant, Elijah Bradley (Patriot from the Young Avengers) and he could carry on the legacy.  I was actually hoping that might've been who J. August Richards was playing on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Any way, my problem is they are marketing it as the first black Cap, and that isn't true.
     Well, even though Steve Rogers is now forced to give up the suit, Sam "The Falcon" Wilson is a perfect choice to take up the mantle.  As Cap's long-time friend and ally it makes sense.  I just wish they could've worked in one of the Bradleys for the role.
     Does anyone else remember the black Hulk from the Ultimate Avengers?

     If (S)he be Worthy
     Of course, Thor has become unworthy of lifting the mighty Mjolnir and it falls on another to heft the hammer.  The role is now filled by a woman which, just like a black Captain America, has been done before.  Many times in fact, even by DC Comics' Wonder Woman.  The hammer has been wielded by many females, and Thor has even been a woman before.  As in Thor was changed into a woman- not that a worthy woman gained the powers through the hammer- during the very awesome Earth X series.  Thor was even a frog for a time.
     This is another case where it is perfectly fine that this is happening, and I am truly looking forward to a new Thor, a "strong woman" is a good thing.  It's just that this is also another case where I think Marvel is just doing things for marketing purposes.  Marketing a well-known male character being replaced by a strong female on The View is a brilliant strategy, but also caused a heck of an uproar.
     I think the problem stems from the perceived emasculation of Thor (which isn't how it works- whoever lifts the hammer gets the powers, simple as that.) with the implication that the new woman is "taking" his identity.  Of course, this may have been planned to create a huge wave of controversy to drive interest, but really- if this woman can lift Mjolnir, then SHE IS WORTHY and gets the powers of Thor, not becomes him- that's why she remains a female.  She might use the name Thor, but she is her own person, as there are pics of Thor with an axe in promo materials, so he is still around in his unworthy state.

     Diversity in the Marvel U:  Avengers NOW
     Soon Iron Man will be Superior Iron Man, what that implies is beyond me.  But as the 3rd person in the Avengers' main trifecta lead role to be altered I wonder what is in store for Marvel's chief heroes.  Heck, hopefully they won't even be human- that might be a nice twist.  (Maybe it's a version of Vision, which would tie in to my thoughts that Jarvis (film version) will become Vision (film) and bridge the universes)  This is probably a nice way of generating hype not only for comics, but for their films as well- Avengers: Age of Ultron and The Guardians of the Galaxy, which releases in 2 weeks.

     Overall I think the changes Marvel is initiating are good.  I just think they are marketing them in a way that is only meant to lure in new paying customers at the expense of irritating the long-term fan base.  It seems like they are picking a bunch of current issues like gender and race and using those as springboards into a cash pool- like a flow of publicity stunts with a diversity checklist.    At the least they are making an impact and getting new readers to come on board.
     The comics industry has been in dire need of large scale diversification for years and at least this is a start.  I remember when there was a large amount of homosexual stuff as the hot topic on TV and shortly afterwards there came a slew of characters "coming out."  Now it's just accepted and the norm in the comic book world.  Really, it just seems like there could be a better way to handle these things.  Perhaps they could put in the time and effort to create new and diverse characters instead of plugging them into established roles.  Stop pandering and make some new and diverse characters in a variety of races.  I want to see more characters like Sooraya "Dust" Qadir from X-men.  Or one of my personal favorite characters Maya "Echo" Lopez from Daredevil and more recently the New Avengers.

     Well, I suppose Marvel is at least trying to be inclusive and are developing things in a manner that reflects that even if it feels a bit like a sales gimmick.  The Miles Morales Ultimate Spider-Man is great, the new Ghost Rider (Robbie Reyes) is decent, and hopefully these new ones will last.  If they want diversity, then make these characters stick- for the long term.  If it's too temporary the importance might be lost.
     I'll definitely continue to be buying Thor and will start buying Captain America when this series begins, I can only hope that they'll be as good as the hype.  I just want to believe that this is more than trendy headline-grabbing and it will contain something more permanent, like high quality writing and lasting effects.

     PS:  When will we get a Doop animated film?  Doop is a damn green turd-creature, if that isn't diversity nothing is.  Or the Dan Slott She-Hulk show I want?!?  That would be something that would absolutely kill in the ratings department.


Avengers: First Look at Ultron (Age of Ultron)

     Entertainment Weekly has an exclusive first look at the upcoming villain in the Marvel movie Avengers: Age of Ultron, and it does not disappoint.  they've also got the first synopsis of the film as well:
     For better or worse (trust us, it’s worse), his Tony Stark has devised a plan that won’t require him to put on the Iron Man suit anymore, and should allow Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and the Hulk to get some much needed R&R as well. His solution is Ultron, self-aware, self-teaching, artificial intelligence designed to help assess threats, and direct Stark’s Iron Legion of drones to battle evildoers instead.
     But as any sentient A.I. tends to do they take a good look at the big picture, and Ultron has decided the only way to save humanity it to eliminate the humans.  We are usually our biggest problem, but now that has changed.  That is a bit of a problem for people, and making matters worse is the fact that Ultron isn't limited to a physical form- he is able to upload himself into the Cloud and rebuild himself into improved forms- becoming bigger, better, and an all around more formidable foe through all his self modifications.

     Ultron has been "performance-captured" by actor James Spader but I do wonder about Andy Serkis' sightings and role in the movie.  He's been confirmed as a character, could he be the physical actor capturing Ultron, while Spader provides the voice?  Very doubtful, but you never know.

     Avengers: Age of Ultron is set to be released on May 1, 2015.

     Source [ Entertainment Weekly ]


Shantae: Risky's Revenge: Director's Cut Trailer for PC Steam

     Today is the day that Shantae: Risky's Revenge releases on Steam.  I've been looking forward to this for quite some time, and as it is a director's cut we get all sorts of new goodies.

     A new game mode (Magic Mode with higher difficulty), a new map and warp system, and they've added plenty of Steam Achievements, Trading Cards, and badges.
     "The pixel-based masterpiece remains intact, newly augmented with HD portrait artwork and extra challenge. New illustrations, Steam Trading Cards, Achievements, Emoticons, Controller Support, fully configurable controls with controller support, and an unlockable Magic Mode with alternate costume round out the package."
     It looks like Wayforward has made a great game even better and brought it to a wider audience.  I wonder if they'll bring the original Shantae game to Steam if this sells well enough.  I might even repurchase it on the Nintendo 3DS eShop while awaiting the next games in the series- Shantae and the Pirate's Curse (coming to the 3DS) and Shantae: Half-Genie Hero (coming to PC, PSN, Vita, Wii U, and XBLA) to arrive, neither of which have a release date announced yet.


Afflicted: Film Review (and Thoughts for a Sequel)

     Ever since The Blair Witch Project way back in 1999, we've gotten a stream of found-footage horror movies with only a handful of decent gems in the bunch.  Cloverfield and Chronicle have been the only ones I've personally liked enough to buy and rewatch.  Now Afflicted joins that small but notable number as a smart and simple debut film.

     Afflicted is the story of two film-making friends, Cliff and Derek, going on a world trip because Derek has been diagnosed with a horrible brain aneurysm that could kill him at any moment.  Along the way he meets an exotic French woman and trades one affliction for another- (SPOILER ALERT from here on) he slowly becomes a vampire.
     Of course with his new superhuman abilities comes a cost that takes it's toll earlier than expected.  There's tests to his new found strength and speed, shows of his severe allergy to the sun and subsequent healing abilities, an unbelievably well executed SWAT chase, and even an obligatory small fight between two vampires.  Once he learns of his true immortality it is implied that he takes to using it as a sort of vigilante quest, and there's a nice mid credit sequence that shows the consequences of not feeding properly which is mentioned in the film.  In fact I had a small argument with someone about the ending, they felt it made Derek into a sort of villain, but he was choosing who to kill.  Specifically choosing to eliminate what amounts to monsters in their own way instead of haphazardly slaying anyone.  It was handled with extreme subtlety.
     This film has returned my appreciation for vampire horror films.  Afflicted may not win any awards, but it is definitely worth watching for any horror fans.

          The found-footage excuse is actually well handled as these two film-makers are chronicling their world tour journey for a website, and it even has repercussions in other characters use it as evidence and a sort of tracking element that I haven't seen yet in any other similar film.  They clearly had a small budget but make grand use of what little they got to make a decent movie.  Sure there's simple camera trickery, shaky cam, conveniently recorded moments for the plot, and plenty of quick cuts- but the film has enough originality and convincing material to keep it interesting and entertaining.

     I sincerely hope Clif Prowse and Derek Lee co-write and direct something with a larger budget where they might not have the constraints of small time film.  They've done extremely well for acting, writing, and directing for being essential first-time creators, nothing too amazing, but they now have gained a chance for growth in all areas by proving they can do something great with nothing.

     One last thing I'd like to mention is the ending- both left it with Derek tracking and punishing a man that was up to despicable deeds and a show of what happens to vampires that don't feed enough and descend into disgusting killing machines.  A potential sequel could easily play off both of these.  Other people could take the web-based footage Cliff and Derek had been posting and try to find some vampires.  Derek could be saddled with a human copycat killer leaving fake evidence to pin the blame on him, but Derek would need to find and stop them.  Which leads to the much better one- Derek hunting down and finding the monstrous vampires like the one during the credits, and trying to find a way to stop it.  (Maybe find a way to keep it pinned down in sunlight in a desert or something?)


Ashen: A Sunless Fictional World

     Here is a nice little find.  Ashen, a game that is said to be an open world action-RPG that needs to be explored and survived.  Even the most menial creatures can be dangerous and lead to death so you may act with combat or avoidance.  There is a non-linear progression, and it will include a "passive multiplayer" which will allow you choose how to best deal with people.

     Here's the official blurb:
     Ashen is an action RPG about a wanderer in search of a place to call home. There is no sun and the natural light that exists comes from eruptions that cover the land in ash. This is a world where nothing lasts, no matter how tightly you cling to it.
     At its core, Ashen is about forging relationships.
     Players can choose to guide those they trust to their camp, encouraging them to rest at the fire and perhaps remain. People you meet out in the world will have unique skills and crafting abilities to bolster your chances of survival.
     Together, you might just stand a chance.
     This looks to be a very promising game and I'll be keeping an eye on it.  The idea of a passive multiplayer is very intriguing.  I can't say what it means for sure yet, but it sounds like Dark Souls, but without the constant threat of invasion and death looming over your head.  The website lists it as "People you meet out in the world are players with their own agendas. It will be up to you to decide how to deal with them."  So maybe it'll be like Journey, where you can help or ignore them.  I would like to enjoy the atmospheric world without being on edge the whole time.  We'll have to wait and see.

     Ashen will be coming to PC, Mac, and Linux.

     Source [ Aurora 44 ]

Alien: Isolation: 2 DLC Preorder Bonus: The Nostromo Edition

     In an interesting turn of events, the makers of Alien: Isolation, The Creative Assembly, have announced what the preorder bonus is- a 2 part DLC purchase upgrade called The Nostromo Edition.

     What makes this interesting is it brings together the original cast of Ridley Scott's original Alien film from 1979.  Sigourney Weaver will once again play Ellen Ripley, joined by Tom Skerritt, Veronic Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, and Yaphet Kotto all reprising their characters.  I do notice that the man that played the deceptive android Ash, Ian Holm, is the only one not returning.

     The first part of the DLC is called Crew Expendable and will begin right after Brett's death and allow you to choose one of three different perspectives to play from- Ripley, Dallas, or Parker.  Each character offers their own slightly unique view of the events and will have their own starting resources in an attempt to root out the xenomorph and get it to an airlock.

     The second part, titled Last Survivor, will be only available through certain retailers depending on which territories you are in.  In this DLC you play solely as Ripley during the finale of the movie while she must initiate the self-destruct sequence of the doomed Nostromo and try to reach the safety of the escape shuttle Narcissus.

     These DLC's will have a large and explorable part of the Nostromo, but the alien itself will retain the unpredictable nature of the main game, so each time you play it will behave differently.

     Alien: Isolation will be available Oct 7th for PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC.

     Source [ IGN ]


New Extended Guardians of the Galaxy Trailer 2 With Tons of New Footage!

     Each week we get closer to the August 1st release date, the TV spots and trailers for Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy just keep getting better and better.  Marvel Studios looks to have created a sure-thing franchise with this film.

     I am super excited for this film, and I think it'll blow Avengers out of the water in terms of box office revenue. And to top it off, this film might have the most impressive soundtrack list I've heard in years.

Bioshock Vita: Ken Levine Still Wishes He Could Do It

     Ken Levine has tweeted a few things about the Bioshock Vita that never came.  At one time, E3 2011, it was hinted that we'd be receiving a "unique" version for the Sony Playstation handheld system, but due to Sony and the publisher 2K couldn't quite get the deal worked out.

     Quite interesting to see what might've happened had this game been made.  I'm not the biggest fan of tactics-type games but given the person making it and the franchise, I would've definitely bought it.

     Since the closing and dispersal of Irrational Games it seems even less likely we'll see this type of game. Although the rights are there (2K owns the rights), and because this is a money making franchise, there still remains the possibility of future Bioshock games being produced, just not this one. Especially since it hadn't even begun.