1.31.2014

Batman vs Superman: Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor? And Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth.

     We've got 2 more casting choices from Zack Snyder's Man of Steel 2.  And honestly, these are a doozey.  Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, and Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth.


     Irons as Pennyworth?  I can buy that.  He seems a bit too aggressive for a role like this, but he is a tremendous actor despite his recent statements in interviews.

     As for Eisenberg...  Ooof.  This one is a tough call.  Luthor is always played as a highly intelligent, but still slightly physically dangerous individual.  When you see Lex Luthor, you should think that this guy could not only know of a way to kill you, but have the will power to do so instantly.  A wolf among men.  Eisenberg just doesn't have that "look."  He needs to have a presence of intimidation.  All that patent Eisenberg passive-aggressiveness would wear the heroes down over time.

     Snyder said:
“Lex Luthor is often considered the most notorious of Superman’s rivals, his unsavory reputation preceding him since 1940. What’s great about Lex is that he exists beyond the confines of the stereotypical nefarious villain. He’s a complicated and sophisticated character whose intellect, wealth and prominence position him as one of the few mortals able to challenge the incredible might of Superman. Having Jesse in the role allows us to explore that interesting dynamic, and also take the character in some new and unexpected directions." 
    It appears that he is going for a super nerd version, and I am kind of worried for this film.  There's a piece of me that believes this movie will end up like Sucker Punch.  Will Snyder make Luthor a man to rely on what he expects of others to do rather than his own intellectual superiority?

     I suppose it's still a better choice than Michael Cera.

     Barely.

     Granted, if he pulls this off it could be amazing.  And after Now You See Me I actually do think he might be able to do this.  We'll have to just wait and see.  Perhaps he'll nail the xeno-hatred of an alien (from Krypton) destroying his beloved city.

     EDIT: I thought about this a bit more and I really do think Eisenberg could do this well if he plays Lex as the super-rich, super-genius mastermind.  No up and coming rich kid crap.  Lex is someone that is capable of manipulating the entire population into thinking he's a hero, while secretly battling Superman.  He is also someone that is able to go toe-to-toe with Batman (Bruce Wayne) in the business world.  The easiest comparison would be an evil Tony Stark (Iron Man).  He needs to exude unflinching confidence in his power as a tactician in both battle and business.  And I think he can actually do it.

     Source [ The Mary Sue ]

1.29.2014

More pics of the Bay & Liebesman Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Designs (Includes The Shredder)

     JoBlo Movie News has a few more pics of the controversial Michael Bay and Jonathan Liebesman Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot designs.  They provide better images of Leonardo, Donatello, and a couple of the Shredder.  I find it odd the Shredder, being played by William Fichtner, has slanted eye holes on the mask.  And it's a bit reminiscent of a certain Lord of the Rings character...


     These reinvented images are not bad.  Although Liebesman did direct Wrath of the Titans, I can overlook that- my worries still hinge on the writing trifecta of Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec, and Evan Daugherty.  The first two did Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, but Mr. Daugherty is responsible for Snow White and the Huntsman.

     To be fully honest- the Leonardo design below is f*ckin' awesome.  While the face is a bit too human, my worries about this film dissipated a bit after this single picture.  There are still plenty of worries, but this one image definitely lessened them significantly.



     Source [ JoBlo ]

     For more of my Turtles posts [ TMNT ]

     Also check out:
          [ The TMNT Collectionary ]
          [ TMNT Block on Yardsellr on Facebook ]

1.28.2014

Final Designs for Michael Bay and Liebesman's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

     So Comic Book Movie has posted this image showing what may be the final designs for the upcoming TMNT reboot.  They are not completely awful by any means, but still a bit odd.  Very hulking in size by the looks of it.  The kid's costume from a few days ago does have some similarity to the Michelangelo in this pic.  So I wonder if these maquettes are toys or if they are just plain old mock ups for reference.

I wonder what technological oddity Donatello has attached to his shell?
     They are nowhere near as bad as I was expecting, so that's a good sign.  And they kind of remind me of the bulky and absurd Jim Lee redesigned TMNT toys from somewhere around 1995.
 
     For now, I'll proceed with caution in the hopes department.  With all the rumors and things coming to the public, it's hard to maintain confidence in this endeavor.  Not bad so far.


     Source [ Comic Book Movie ]

     For more of my Turtles posts [ TMNT ]

     Also check out:
          [ The TMNT Collectionary ]
          [ TMNT Block on Yardsellr on Facebook ]

The Hobbit: My 2nd Reading Response for Fantasy Literature: No Time For Describing Urgency

     Here's my 2nd reading response about the Hobbit.  It's kind of about my irritation about how the narrator breaks the story by telling you information and tell you about a situation's urgency, then cuts it off. 

Joshua Barsody
Reading Response 2 
     "No time now!" said the hobbit. (p178) 
     I have noticed that the narrator has a habit of inserting things to point out that there is a hurry.  Inserting offhand comments into the story to try and convey an extra sense of urgency of the situations in the part of the story being read.  I find it to be frustrating and annoying- actually making me somewhat angry at the story for disrupting the flow to say something like: 
     "There is no need to tell you much of his adventures that night, for now we are drawing near the end of the eastward  journey and coming to the last and greatest adventure, so we must hurry on." (p187) 
     Really?  If it wasn't important, why even bother drawing our attention to something unnecessary?  Why not just skip it?  Get to the important and urgent parts we want to read.  The same goes for the "as you will see."  Like when Bombur doesn't want a safety rope, "Luckily for him that was not true, as you will see." (p207)  We don't need to be told what to look for.  Even young readers will pick things up- not all readers, but I feel this is a redundancy in the book.  It would've been just as effective and just a bit less condescending to leave the "as you will see" off. 
     "That leaves you just ten minutes. You will have to run," said Gandalf. 
     "But-" said Bilbo. 
     "No time for it," said the wizard. 
     "But-"said Bilbo again. 
     "No time for that either! Off you go!" (chapter 2 online version) 

     They become speed bumps in the road and serve to knock one out of the story.  It becomes such a pain.  Here's a great example, and in fact the one I had the biggest issue with, "As a boy he used to practice throwing stones at things, until rabbits and squirrels, and even birds, got out of his way as quick as lightning if they saw him stoop; and even grownup he had still spent a deal of his time at quoits, dart-throwing, shooting at the wand, bowls, ninepins and other quiet games of the aiming and throwing sort-indeed he could do lots of things, besides blowing smoke-rings, asking riddles and cooking, that I haven't had time to tell you about. There is no time now." (p158)  If there wasn't time now you wouldn't have wasted an entire paragraph mentioning things that aren't at least a bit necessary. 
     It feels like a cheap way to direct attention, but it is more of a distraction.  Information that could've been threaded through the book in small spurts gets skimmed and shoved into a small note, and promptly written off.  Hey here's a bunch of information I could've told you earlier, but I forgot- so here it is, oops wait- no time for that now! 
     "No time now!" cried the raftman. (p188) 
     The story should provide ample evidence of dire circumstances, we, as readers, shouldn't need to be reminded constantly.  It deprives us of the discovery and experience that is occurring in the story.  I mean really, what's that old advice?  Show, don't tell.
     I would've liked to tell you about how I searched for the quotes, and how the class is discussing various things, but there's no time for that now.

Bishock Infinite: Burial at Sea: Episode Two - Exclusive Preview Clip

***Potential Spoilers***



     Irrational Games posted this nice preview of the upcoming 2nd part of Burial at Sea.  Of course we knew it would be from Elizabeth's perspective from earlier interviews.  From the video I like the body of what looks to be the Booker/Comstock from the 1st Burial at Sea being dragged away, and then a sort of grayed "tear" looking Booker giving Elizabeth help once the body is gone.
     And then there's Atlus in person.

1.25.2014

Community Season 5 & Alien: Mash-up Meme: In Space, No One Can Hear You Pop. (Magnitude)

     I've been thinking about making this since I first saw the second episode of this season's Community when Magnitude breaks a window and screams his trademark, "POP-POP!!!"  The idea just popped into my head (apologies for the pun.

     Then I went on a tangent and thought of ways to Meme other characters- like replacing Ian Holm's Ash from Alien with Richard Erdman's Leonard from Community.  They would all involve lines from both and end up with something along the lines of Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) saying, "Shut up, Leonard!"


     Who knows, if I find some down time between school and work I might make a few more of these- there's so many swaps that could be done like Dallas (Tom Skerritt)/ Jeff Winger (Joel McHale).

1.22.2014

Could This Be Michael Bay's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle's Look? (Michelangelo)

     Is this awful kids Halloween costume an indication of the look we'll be getting with the Michael Bay Produced, Jonathan Liebesman  directed TMNT movie?  If so, I am once again losing steam for this project.  It started quite low to begin with, as Bay doesn't give me much hope with the liberties he takes with old IPs.  And then the Megan Fox as April O'Neil news.  Then of course the Shredder's casting choice, while being an actor I really enjoy (William Fichtner), doesn't fit the role.  Now this pic?  Good lord- is there no one in Hollywood with the capacity to stop this travesty?


     Source [ io9 ]


     For more of my Turtles posts [ TMNT ]

     Also check out:
          [ The TMNT Collectionary ]
          [ TMNT Block on Yardsellr on Facebook ]

1.21.2014

The Hobbit: We Have a Gandalf Meme and a Reading Response

     I haven't blogged in a few days and I feel kind of bad about it.  The reason is because I'm back in school full time in addition to working 45+ hours a week in patient care.  Well, I figured I'd knock out a blog with a meme I thought of while writing a reading response to my Fantasy Literature class' first book The Hobbit.

     This is just a bit of irritation I feel at how Gandalf is used as a back door solution to EVERY problem that arises.  Clearly I'm not the best writer by any means, but you'll get the point.

     Here's the paper/response:
Joshua Barsody
Reading Response 1
     An issue of convenience.
     There is something that bothers me quite a bit about the Hobbit, and that is the problem of convenience.  Every step of the way a strange new peril arises and it's solution is so perfectly easy that it's a let down.  The peril wasn't really peril because [ fill in the blank ].  
     The first noticeable one is with the trolls encountered by Bilbo and the dwarves.  Bilbo tries to pickpocket a troll and the troll just happens to have a purse that happens to spek! (p36)  All right, a very odd occurrence in a strange land, I can accept that, but then things get better!  Gandalf arrives and saves the troup due to the stupidity of the trolls- and upon searching the trolls stash- they find two famous weapons(p42)!  Named blades, Orcrist and Glamdring, that Elrond know-it-all just happens to know on sight.  These two also happen to be recognized by goblins (later in the story), one would guess by such amazing verbal descriptions because I don't think goblins live long enough to recall something that happened "ages ago."(p52)  
     (Note: for the above, I know the weapons are named with runes, but wouldn't people name their weapons after others' famous weapons?  Perhaps, like naming a child after family or friends.  It just seems too easy for the weapons to both be singularly named and have a history known to Elrond and the goblins that probably should've been forgotten "ages ago.")
     Once again, that's not soooooo bad.  Now we get to a real whopper, the first one I rolled my eyes at.  “Moon-letters are rune-letters, but you cannot see them,’ said Elrond, ‘not when you look straight at them. They can only be seen when the moon shines behind them, and what is more, with the more cunning sort it must be a moon of the same shape and season as the day when they were written.” (p53)  Are you effin' kidding me?!?  So they just happened to not only be there looking at the map, but also in the same season, under the same shaped moon (with the map held up to it's light, instead of being read in candle light), AAAAAND also -quite conveniently- with an individual that can read them?!?  It feels so ridiculous that all that happened by sheer coincidence that it knocked me out of the story.
     "Of course it was Gandalf." (p65)
     For the biggest piece of convenience in writing- Gandalf, the get-out-of-jail-free wizard.  In most circumstances the dangers our Ereborian friends (and Bilbo) get themselves into don't feel like actual danger.  They have a wizard!  One that's power is whatever is necessary at the moment except when it's Eagles, because somehow, Eagles trump Gandalf's ace card.  And on top of that- if Elrond is Mr. Knows-it-all, then Gandalf is Mr. Knows-a-guy.  When he needs answers he knows who can.  Why aren't there unanswerable questions and mystery?  Why isn't there real danger?  Granted, there is a chance it may play to the fact that if Gandalf leaves it'll force the over-reliance on Captain Cop-out with magic to save the day to end, and make the others actually save their own butts.
     Bilbo and the gang run into trolls?  A wild Gandalf appears! (p41)  Caught by goblins and in need of saving?  Gandalf to the rescue! (p64)  Surrounded in warg territory and stuck in trees?  Gandalf is on the job... with the aid of some Eagles. (p 107)
     Gandalf, while needed for the story, is too bothersome with how often he continually saves them (and vanishes).  It is bothersome enough for me to wonder- what are the dwarves doing anyway- he's practically babysitting them, and other than Gandalf starting them all forward, none of the dwarves has really contributed to their journey in any meaningful way yet.  They are just bearded children following the fix-all grandpa Gandalf, and feel unnecessary in what should rightly be their own tale instead of a checklist of things they were saved from by Gandalf.
     So without Gandalf and all the convenient saves/problem solving the dwarves would all be dead.  Disturbing but true.

1.16.2014

Kim Possible 2: Drakken's Demise Game Boy Advance (GBA) Replay & Review (RE)2

     This game is a prime example of taking something that was mundane at best and improving every aspect.  Better graphics, sound, gameplay, and even story!  The first Kim Possible (Revenge of Monkey Fist) wasn't special in any way- simply put- it's a forgettable time waster, but did they ever pull out stops for the sequel!

Those ghost Kims are training holograms.

     Right after loading the game there are immediately obvious improvements in looks, sounds, and music.  The animations are smooth, making the first one look downright choppy.  The music is great and the sounds are spot-on. Then, once you get started, you can see they've added a battery save (including check point auto saving), increased number of gadgets, and vastly larger levels to navigate through.
     The narrative is very coherent, unlike Revenge of Monkey Fist, where I was quite confused as to why anything was happening, or what was going on in general.  The story is easy to follow and makes sense considering it's based on a show made for kids.

     Instead of merely plowing straight through levels, this time there are reasons to explore the level.  Hundreds of collectibles and multiple paths to the end of each stage open up the world greatly.  Sometimes the platforming requires the use of gadgets and gymnastics skill moves, or occasionally creating shortcuts by tossing bad guys through breakable walls- possibly opening hidden areas.  There is a small hurdle in difficulty, nothing awful mind you- it is a kids game-, but there are some definitely challenging areas to navigate.  The liberal check point saving can be a heck of a blessing in those cases, and very helpful if you replay for collectibles.

     As for the action, well our heroine Kim starts with 2 gadgets, typical punches, kicks, and combos (they've also added the ability to damage enemies by jumping on their heads) and eventually open up things such as wall-jumping, enemy throwing, and a sneaking suit.  While you start with the lipstick that allows you to turn holes into trampolines and the absolutely necessary grappling hook, kid genius Wade eventually gets you hot sauce packets to melt ice and snowmen, a stealth suit to become invisible, and a reflective compact for lasers and projectiles.  All of the controls are clean and tight- everything worked perfectly here even with a few buttons and plenty of moves- everything felt responsive.

     There are 20 total levels over 4 stages.  They also include stages where you fly, skate, or swim your way through to break up the monotony of platforming.  Granted there is a ton of stuff to look for once you unlock all your gadgets and replay levels in the Global Justice Simulator.  Replaying levels allows you to get to previously inaccessible places which will also unlock more villains to beat and collectibles and thus a higher score for the level- and more trading cards in the extras section.

     This game is so engaging and shows such an absurd amount of sophistication that I am at a bit of a loss for words.  It is a tremendous game for the GBA- or for any 2D platformer-loving gamers for that matter, and I was blown away by how good it is.  This is a game I would give very high recommendations to, seriously- you also get to play a level as Ron Stoppable and another level as Rufus... the naked mole rat (scandalous!).  Kim Possible 2: Drakken's Demise is a finely polished gem for the GBA and packs a short-but-sweet-and-memorable punch.
     Kim Possible 2 was truly one small step for GBA action adventures, and one giant leap for Disney's licensed games.



1.15.2014

New Dark Souls 2 Trailer: Monsters, Bosses, and Curses, OH MY!


     A new trailer for the game has been released, and it gives us plenty of small things to see.  Bits of information on our curse- I personally believe it to be the meta curse of the player tormenting ourselves with struggling to come out alive in these unforgiving lands.  Monsters, bosses, and a few players awaiting the chance to cut us down.  There are legions of Dark Souls awaiting torment.


     Soon we will be lighting the bonfires...

1.14.2014

Assassin's Creed 4 (IV): Black Flag: Aveline DLC Review

Aveline de Grandpré


"I stand with those who stand with me."

     Today marks the HD release of the previously only available on the Playstation Vita Assassin's Creed III: Liberation.  As the only Creed I've really liked and the only character I've had a full interest in, I figure I'd post a little review on the Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag: Aveline DLC.


Initializing


An awesome new team?

     As a nice little break from all the plank running pirate parkour, we Playstation users got an exlcusive small 3 memory sequence story with Aveline de Grandpré.  Players are able to access her memories due to Abstergo Entertainment's wide spread genetic memory retrievals.  Clearly they are up to no good in the now, while simultaneously allowing us to revisit an amazing character.

     In this short tale Aveline is asked by well known Assassin Conner to aid and rescue the captured Patience Gibbs.  A wonderful, albeit overly headstrong character, Gibbs has a mysterious charm that allows her short peeks into the future that she has been taken captive by Dr. Edmund Judge for.
     The three sequences are pretty simple- locate, free, and recruit.  Not much, but sometimes the brevity is a good thing.


Desynchronized


Normally I play stealth, but there's something about the sugar cane machete...

     Being touted as 60 minutes of story might be pushing it.  I completed it in that amount of time after numerous glitches, such as escorting Patience and she won't move- forcing you to kill yourself and begin the segment over- guards getting stuck on things, and for some reason everyone refers to the two women as "he/him."
     I did enjoy that it was a tight little story, neatly done.  It just felt a bit empty- there were no collectibles, no extra history or information items to gather at all.  Which is the complete opposite of Black Flag, where 90% of the game world is comprised solely of collectibles- leaving you wondering where all the story went because it's buried under all the distractions on your map.
     It might have been nice to have more exploration available, and not just one straight path from beginning to end in the 3 sequences.  Shorter games are something I've recently enjoying, but this one felt too abrupt.  Just a tiny bit more filler might've made this better.

     Now for the one big issue I've had with the AC series as a whole, and this is because the out of place parkour is a necessary game mechanic, you'd think they'd have polished it up by now- that being said- the same issues plaguing controls crop up time and again and this DLC is no different.  Running dead stop into non-existent objects, the character randomly jumping in a direction you aren't pointing, and oddly enough the character just dangling despite holding all the proper buttons.  It is infuriating when this happens constantly, frequently resulting in death.  The chase controls are clunky- they've needed to clean it up for years.


Future with the Brotherhood


Oddly enough, this was a beautiful view of Newport Tower

     While I appreciate the ability to play as Aveline and wield the machete again- this short DLC felt like an unpolished, re-skin afterthought to AC 4.  All the interesting ideas Liberation brought to the table (ie- the 3 personas) seem to have been left, replaced by quick action and a light story.  Perhaps we'll get more of both Aveline and Patience in a future game?  I certainly hope so, they are an intriguing pair.  In fact, I would love to see Patience getting on Aveline's nerves with all the finishing-your-sentences-with-a-magic-charm-banter.  A piece of me held onto the line from Conner at the start of this DLC- "Aveline, do you still call yourself Assassin?"  Maybe we'll get a Sisterhood?

1.13.2014

TMNT: Ninja Turtle Tactics 3D Game Review


     Here's another short online game review.  This one is for the TMNT: Ninja Turtle Tactics 3D.  Tactics is a very simple combat simulator that Donatello created to help the turtles hone their ninja skills.

     This training lab is 4 sections of the sewers that you continuously circle through with increasing difficulty.  This first round you face off with one brother, the next adds a second, then the third, and eventually you start battling holograms or shadow turtles.  As well as collecting various Blueprints to add to your character over the course of replaying- some of which can give you things such as a faster special move mutagen, or exploding barrels.  They go into one of three types- Interactive Elements, Traps & Hazards, and Power-ups, and help by giving you things like life giving boosts, throwing stars, or mutagen canisters that build a special move meter.  You can use only one of each section, but that is still a total of 3 bonuses.    It's worth a note that there are codes to unlock these items right away.

     There isn't a lot of depth to this game but it is a really fun time waster to try an achieve higher scores over and over.  It's definitely worth a try considering it's a free browser game.  To play click the "source link" below.

     Source [ Nickelodeon TMNT ]


     For more of my Turtles posts [ TMNT ]


     Also check out:
          [ The TMNT Collectionary ]
          [ TMNT Block on Yardsellr on Facebook ]

     They always have a ton of Ninja Turtles stuff.

1.11.2014

TMNT: Donnie Saves a Princess Game Review

     In this nice little browser based Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game- we get a great homage to classic NES era titles.  It's a very short 3 level game, but it someone definitely had a great time creating it.  Each level consists of a simple retro section and a boss- followed by one of the other 3 Turtles playing a princess.

"I'm sorry Donnie, but your princess is in..."

     The first level is a riff on The Legend of Zelda- working your way through the sewers taking out all the mechanical mousers along the path to level boss Kraang in a top down view.

Fishface is no Bowser.

     For the next segment, we have a clear Super Mario Bros. dungeon level.  Avoiding pits, jumping fish, and spinning blades all to reach Fishface like the tried-and-true side scrolling platformer that started it all.

The Technodrome!

     In the last level we get a Star Wars spoof in the fashion of the old TMNT Arcade Games.  A simple beat-'em-up to save Princess Leo (Leia!  Lol)  from the clutches of Darth Shredder.  I also noticed that in the background can be seen the Technodrome from the old TMNT tv series.


     At a mere 3 levels- I feel this game is worth your time much more than the Nickelodeon TMNT for the Nintendo 3DS.  The graphics here are decent, good sounds, great story and ending, and the controls can be unresponsive in the Mario level (jumps not responding)- but you can tell that whoever made this had a good time.  I only wish they could make this much longer with plenty of other old game references to make a larger game as a whole.  As it is, we could use more games like this- simple, short, and effective.

     Game Link:  [ Nickelodeon TMNT ]

     For more of my Ninja Turtles posts [ TMNT ]


     Also check out:
          [ The TMNT Collectionary ]
          [ TMNT Block on Yardsellr on Facebook ]

     They always have a ton of Ninja Turtles stuff.

1.10.2014

Jow Abercrombie: Half a King: Cover and Excerpt

     I never hide my love of authors that impress me.  To the point of buying stacks of their books and giving them out.  Joe Abercrombie is one of those.  The First Law trilogy had my immediately, and each new book is just as good.

     Well, it's been a while since his last- Red Country- and I read about his upcoming new trilogy some time ago, and now...
     Those lucky people over at IO9 have gotten both a cover image and an excerpt for a first look.  Click the link below for their exclusive.

          Half a King is the coming of age tale of Yarvi.  As the youngest son, being born with a disabled hand, he is thought of as half a man, and cannot live up to his warrior father's expectations.  After his father and brother are killed, he has to take the throne and struggle with the difficulty of rulership.


     Here's the blurb from Amazon where you can preorder the book:

“I swore an oath to avenge the death of my father. I may be half a man, but I swore a whole oath.”
Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains, and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea. And he must do it all with only one good hand.
The deceived will become the deceiver.
Born a weakling in the eyes of his father, Yarvi is alone in a world where a strong arm and a cold heart rule. He cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he must sharpen his mind to a deadly edge.
The betrayed will become the betrayer.
Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast and the lost, he finds they can do more to help him become the man he needs to be than any court of nobles could.
Will the usurped become the usurper?
But even with loyal friends at his side, Yarvi finds his path may end as it began—in twists, and traps, and tragedy.

     Half a King will be available in July.

     Source [ io9 ]

The Legend of Hercules: A Failed Combination of Hollywood, History, and Mythology

     Since the Legend of Hercules is released in theaters today, I figure there might be a few things to be said about it.  As a mythology buff and movie fanatic I know some of these things need to be said.  From the first trailer anyone could tell that instead of giving us a mythologically accurate story, Hollywood would rather shoe horn in a bunch of action-packed scenes into a movie held together by the barest thread of plot- without even a hint of similarity to the great stories from ancient Greece, outside of their names.



     As for the inaccuracies- I can tolerate a fair amount- suspension of disbelief and all, but only so much.  There has to be limits about this kinds of thing.  Why do Hercules and these warriors all appear like the Spartan armies that were supposed descended from him centuries later?  Gladiatorial arenas- from the Roman era?  A lightening whip-sword?  Who keeps thinking these will do well?  They might as well make a sandwich shop where the "sandwiches" are made from other shop's used bread and a piece of meat sliced thinly enough to see through.

     Here's what the trailer shows-
          Awful acting?  Check.
          Bad dialogue?  Check.
          Terrible special effects?  Check.
          Super strength but struggling?  Check.
          Preposterous fighting manoeuvres?  Check.
          Abusing slow mo/speed up moments?  Quadruple check.

Flexing my acting chops is WAY harder than flexing my abs!!!

     The Problem

     Hollywood is trying to capitalize on films such as Thor and 300 by creating a trend of making quick buck with pitiful films, but at least the two mentioned had good stories.  The Hollywood machine is too concerned with churning out giant theatrical spectacles without the driving force of thoughtful or even reasonable narrative.  There's far too much reliance on cheap CGI, and not enough common sense.  You can add to that the notion of doubling ticket prices for suckers that buy 3D.  I'm sure there'll be the quite a few moments where arrows or spears swung towards the viewer just to make use of the forced perspective, but nothing worthwhile.
     It is sad that we can even say what scenes were lifted from video game and other movies- the stones on chains look awfully reminiscent of Kratos' blades from the God of War series.  (Remember the film Immortals?  They have a scene that is damn near an exact copy from God of War 2 with Poseidon diving off of Olympus into the ocean.)

     Just from the commercial it looks like we have clips stolen directly from 300, Ben-HurConan the Barbarian, Spartacus, and Gladiator.  Simply seeing the trailer is enough to tell me this film is more than likely comprised solely of ripped-off segments of other films.
     Honestly- this looks to be worse than Clash/Wrath of the Titans.  It takes truly heroic effort to make things worse than that.  It appears they've created a commercialized demigod.  One made of a blank face and giant pecs.  How can so many sword & sandal movies nowadays copy so much from predecessors and then completely fail to capture the magic of any of them?  Movies cannot be carried on two hours of flexing and swords.

     An Answer

     When will we get a Greek Myth film with all the complex psychology and meaningful depth that are inherent in the old mythic stories?  They have lasted so long for good reason- and that reason isn't special effects- it's the infinitely layered symbolism.  There is always another layer of meaning.  Another interpretation.  Where is the Hercules (Heracles) that willingly accepts dangerous quests of penance for slaying his family in a fit of madness?  The servitude under King Eurystheus- bearing the guilt and striving to do good?  We don't want the brawn over brain meat slab that can't act Hercules, we want the emotive champion- the greatest hero in the Olympian pantheon Hercules.  He needs range and charisma.
     There is a vast wealth of mythological lore to draw from, and if properly tapped- there could be an unmatched blockbuster on par with the likes of Gladiator.  We can't have that until we have a meaningful story.  Give us an adaptation that is written by people that know and care about the legends.


     A side note:  The biggest threat this movie has towards Brett Ratner's Hercules (starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) is that this'll probably be available to rent when that hits theaters in July.  I'm genuinely surprised this didn't go straight to DVD.

1.09.2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare DS Review

     After the Turtles' franchise revival in the early 2000's there were loads of games released- all pretty much similar, and this one is no different.  In fact this is just an extension of TMNT 2: Battle Nexus on Game Boy Advance (GBA).

     Although this one eliminates the awful stealth the last game tried to implement.  But they also had not struck the gold mine Konami created back in the early 90's with the amazing arcade games and 16 bit beat-'em-ups.

     For Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare the fearsome four are sent through a highly repetitive 4 levels with 6 sections each.  But between the level's first segment and last each turtle gets their own individual pathway to follow- with slight story changes to fit, which include different endings.  Regardless of which Turtle you pick, you get to fight the same hordes of palette swapped enemy, broken by the occasional recognizable bosses such as their long time nemesis The Shredder.

     Somehow ignoring the inclusion of all the extra DS buttons we are treated to the usual special, attack, and jump buttons.  Causing predictable combos and special team-up moves.  Like I said earlier- this game is pretty much an extension of the last game with just barely enhanced graphics and sound.  They did however tack on some touch screen additives to make it DS compatible.  At context sensitive points a sound occurs signaling you may tap the turtle pictured and one of the non-played brothers appears to assist with an attack.
     Near as I could tell- the controls are just as frustrating and unresponsive as the last game.  Enemies can hit you without problem, but some of your attacks will go unregistered through them.  Plus there is the massive problem of never knowing which of your attacks will hit multiple enemies, and which will leave you wide open for a retaliatory beat down from an angry Triceraton.

     There are also touch screen mini games of a sort that appear throughout a few of the levels and cause players to scramble for the stylus.  Sometimes you need to rotate a handle or slide electronic puzzle pieces back and forth in a short amount of time (or suffer injury and time loss) to proceed.  All of them feel out of place in what should be a straightforward action game.

     Another part of the game that feels way off key is the escort missions that crop up (which have time limits for no explicable reason).  One of them you are tasked with escorting Fugitoid and have to pick him up and carry him around.  Another you have to solve mini-puzzles and open doors with Leatherneck.  They are downright annoying- slowing down game progress while you figure out what you're supposed to do because most of the mini portions have no instructions.  Most are simple to solve but a couple are off because they don't tell you what the goal is.
     Sure, they did great in adding the extra characters, but at the cost of escort missions?  Not worth it in my book.

     I might add there is a multiplayer mode, that I sadly could find no one to join, and the second time a "Battle Mode" is misnamed.  Battle Mode is once again a crystal collecting challenge set of missions.


     At most this is mild entertainment for a TMNT fan, at worst a dull and forgettable 2d Turtles game.  Mutant Nightmare is another trip to platforming and puzzle solving with small bouts of combat instead of returning to the tried and true brawlers that made the Turtle games great in the 90's.  One might've thought that Konami would've learned that these kinds of TMNT games aren't what the players are looking for.


     For more of my Turtle posts: [ TMNT ]

Also check out:

     The TMNT Collectionary ]

     TMNT Block Yardsellr on Facebook ]

     They always have a plethora of TMNT goodness to peruse.

1.08.2014

Streets of Rage: Replay & Review (RE)2

     Streets of Rage.  What can really be said about this game?  Anyone who had the privilege of playing it back when it was first released probably have good memories about it.  Which isn't bad at all.  It still holds up pretty well now.  Not amazing, but still entertaining and quite playable.


     Three fed up ex-police members want to take back their city which has been overrun by a crime syndicate.  Unfortunately the syndicate has also corrupted much of the police force, and the 3 vigilantes- boxer Adam Hunter, martial artist Axel Stone, and Judo expert Blaze Fielding- decide to do something about it.  And that something is fighting crime with brute force.  Of course the differences between characters are simple- Adam is slow and strong, Axel is the middle ground, and Blaze is fast and weak.  Finding one to fit a play style is easy, and only Adam feels slightly hampered as enemies tend to come in droves and are noticeably faster than the player.

     These cops have a surprising amount of combat depth for such limited button controls.  It's much more than Golden Axe or Double Dragon had to offer with the same 3 buttons- special, attack, and jump.  There is a range of combos and throws- and even a special move that, neglecting city safety issues, has another police officer shoot a bazooka blast into the area you are in- inflicting instant kills for small goons, and large damage to bosses.  Combat sensitivity causes there to be various moves, and each character has a couple only for themselves (Axel has a great head-butt)- and throws are range relative- just get in close and the grab is automatic- just point and toss.  It's a very useful way to clear a path of enemies.

    Along the way- players must beat down a steady stream of baddies- ranging from pitifully weak nameless punks to end boss and syndicate head honcho Mr. X over the course of 8 rounds (levels).  The streets are littered with usable items as well.  Phone booths, trash cans, and old tire stacks hide inexplicably left cooked meat, 1 ups, and a wide variety of weapons to help put the smack down on all criminals in your path.

     I've read that this was supposed to be a Final Fight killer, and while they didn't do that, they created one hell of a game.  All around decent and entertaining.  And after replaying there are two things I never noticed back then- the first is that there is actually a time limit for each level's individual section of enemies, and multiple endings.  There are two different endings depending on if there are 2 players and one or both agree to "join" Mr. X.
     What we've got here is great music, good graphics, and tight controls in a city in turmoil.  When boiled down Streets of Rage's best feature is that it spawned sequels, one of which stands as one of the greatest beat-'em-ups in history.  If you like the series it's a fun play, if not- try Streets of Rage 2- it's a lasting gem that has few rivals.



1.07.2014

Tearaway (PS Vita) Review

     Since I first nabbed myself a Playstation Vita, I have had many good experiences with games on it- others may not say the same thing however- and with Tearwaway, I can say I had a great one.

     ***WARNING: Minor spoilers ahead!***


     Media Molecule, the British studio that brought us the wonderful world of Little Big Planet, has now made another universe worth investing in.  This one is made of highly stylized papercrafts- an entire world created solely in origami.

     We get to play as with either Atoi (female), or Iota (male), a small and extremely customizable messenger tasked with delivering an important message.  Even after completing the delivery, I'm still a bit fuzzy on both what and why the message was so important.  ***SPOILER***  Especially confusing as it is the tale of the player and the character delivering the message itself, so how was it written in the first place?  ***END SPOILER***  The game was more of an entertaining jaunt through a nicely realized world, than a goal oriented trek- making side quests and collectibles easy to obtain as I was in no hurry to finish.

     It should also be said that Tearaway is a game that breaks the 4th wall.  Not just as part of the story, acknowledging the player (making you the sun), but as believable and consistent game mechanics.  There are numerous ways of assisting your tiny paper character.  From bouncing them higher by tapping the rear touchpad to "popping" your finger through the screen to defeat enemies- they all add just enough extra oomph to keep you tied into the fairly short narrative.  All the 4th wall breaking is easily one of the best parts of the game, and at one point the game enters our world, and looks back into it's own.  Intriguing use of the Vita's cameras.


     And unfortunately, because no game is perfect, I have to mention the two problems I personally had.
     First is the joystick controls.  They are far too sensitive during the rolling sections on a later stage with very slim areas to make it by without falling off.  While they work perfectly for all other aspects it was only with the rolling portions I noticed an odd difficulty.
     Second- and this is actually a problem with many other Vita games- the rear touchscreen.  It is used for plenty of miscellaneous necessary controls for platforming and because I have adult hands they constantly touch the rear pad, which lead directly to many unwanted occurrences on screen.

     Tearaway is nowhere as revolutionary or vast as Little Big Planet, but it has a unique quirkiness that lends itself well to the Playstation Vita's slowly expanding library.  A wonderfully concise game made better by being portable on the Vita.  It isn't often we get games tailored so perfectly to a system, utilizing all the functions of the system in the game being played.

Alien: Isolation- Sega's Official Announcement Trailer

     Sega has officially released the trailer for Creative Assembly's Alien: Isolation, and it looks good.  Really good, in fact.



     The trailer definitely evokes the feelings of isolation and horror hearkening back to Ridley Scott's original Alien film.  Inspiration drawn straight out of it.  Darkened hallways, moving shadows, and a dangerous predator hunting you on a space station.  The atmosphere of fear is pervading.
     Seeing what has become of your crewmates doesn't help, and being unarmed will necessitate a lot of hiding and planning to escape this foe.  This looks to be a real return to survival horror many Aliens fans have been waiting for- a deadly and ominous game of hide-and-seek.


     Isolation takes place 15 years after Alien, on a large, decommissioned trading station called Sevastopol where someone has recovered a Nostromo flight recording.  As Weyland-Yutani engineer Amanda Ripley (pictured above), seeking to know what happened to the Nostromo, sets out to find the ship's Black Box.  She's trying to find answers to how her mother disappeared.  I am very curious how well this story fits in the Alien franchise.  As it is, this game looks much better than Colonial Marines.

     Here's a couple of hopeful quotes from Joystiq:
     "The thing we're always focused on is that first film," Lead Game Designer Gary Napper told Joystiq at a recent press event. "It's making the game as much like that original experience of being focused on a single alien in a single environment, and not being prepared to shoot it. It's that really close-up, personal, and connected experience with the Alien. That's what we've always focused on and wanted to do."
     "We wanted you guys to see the Alien in its raw form," Napper explained, "Because we've built this entire game around that set of core mechanics, that kind of base behavior of the Alien, hunting and searching for you and you having nothing to defend yourself."
     I, for one, am quite eager to experience the terror and desperation this game looks to provide in a first ever "real" Alien experience.

     Alien: Isolation will be released in late 2014 for PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC.

     Source [ Alien: Isolation Official Site ]

1.06.2014

Golden Axe: Replay & Review- (RE)2

     Back in the side scrolling beat-'em-up arcade days, around the time of the fantasy barbarian sword & sorcery movie explosion, we managed to receive a grand original arcade game that combined the two- and Golden Axe was born.


     Golden Axe is the hack-n-slash story of a trio coming together to defeat the evil Death Adder, who has taken control of the king's castle and laid waste to the land of Yuria- threatening to kill the rulers if he is refused the throne by the peasants.  Not much in the way of story telling depth, but for the time it fit just fine.  I find it a bit odd that Death Adder abducted the King and Princess.  Where's the Queen?  All the other castle dwellers presumably killed, I suppose.
     All three of these mighty warriors are on quests of scantily-clad vengeance for deaths caused by Death Adder:
     First up is Ax Battler, whose name doesn't really fit as he is a broadsword wielding, stone magic using barbarian seeking vengeance for a murdered mother.  Medium in strength, speed and magic. 
     Next comes Tyris Flare.  A fire magic Amazonian armed with a longsword, looking to enact vengeance upon the killer of her parents.  Weakest in strength, but fastest and most powerful with magic. 
     Last, but not least, the Dwarf Gilius Thunderhead, whose slain twin brother will be avenged with the titular large Golden Axe and the magic of lightning.  By far the strongest, but also easily the slowest and weakest magic user.
     The Sega Genesis port of the arcade was quite amazing in it's time.  This game was filled with tons of variety.  There were plenty of different attack animations, a variety of special magic potions that increase in power with number of potions, and a constant stream of enemies to battle along the path towards Death Adder himself.  In addition they had beasts you could ride upon, and a mini-game of sorts at the campfire levels where you could replenish health and magic potions by beating up the looting gnomes that spawn.  They felt far in advance of their time.
     Though the coin-op itself had better graphics and a few less levels, it felt longer.  The Genesis port was also missing the 4th wall breaking ending as well if I recall correctly.

     Even playing with my rose-colored glasses- the game is fun despite the flaws.  Yes, there are plenty of frustrating moments because this Golden Axe was designed as a quarter-muncher coin-operated arcade.  They purposely made arcades to be difficult and unfair to keep you pumping quarters in for more play.

     Enemies are considerably faster, have way longer reach, and have much smaller hit-boxes than the player.  It does hamper the return enjoyment, but not enough for me to stop playing.  It is a lazy way to arbitrarily add challenge- but since there are infinite continues it isn't too bad.  It also helps that the game is very short- roughly an hour long.  (A block button certainly would've been nice.)

     While Golden Axe doesn't hold up nearly as well as the Streets of Rage games- it is still a decent game.  Honestly, I relished returning to the roots of hack-n-slash fantasy gaming.  It's tough to judge this game as it is a classic, and there really isn't much for the fans of today- so due to the age of this fantasy brawler, I can only truly recommend it to fans of the series.

     Note:  The Sega Genesis Ultimate Collection has all 3 Golden Axe games and I unlockable game that plays like The Legend of Zelda.  Sega also released an Arcade Classic version that I believe had online co-op, challenge modes, and a few extras such as "Duel Mode."  These versions have a few added features that give incentive to new players, and might be worth looking into.



1.05.2014

(RE)2 = (RE)Play & (RE)View

     Since I've been on quite the retro gaming rampage lately I decided to make another section to both this blog and my other site [ Playing It Wrong ] (which is more than just myself contributing) I went and made a neat little subsection called Replay & Review.  (RE)2 or (RE)Two.


     It isn't anything special, but I like the idea of having a section wholly devoted to games we used to love, or hate, and giving them another go.  Currently I have about 20 games I've made it through to start posting on and hopefully a string of others from fellow gamers on the Playing It Wrong site.

1.02.2014

Kim Possible: Revenge of Monkey Fist: Game Boy Advance Review


     "So, What's the sitch?"

     This old GBA game follows the adventures of red-headed teen heroine, Kim Possible, on a mission to save Ron Stoppable from the dastardly clutches of Dr. Drakken.  Near as I can tell the game mashes a few of the first episodes into one game's "plot" for a story.  That being said- Monkey Fist isn't even the real villain here, as he is a only a boss roughly half way into the game and then disappears.  We get to travel the globe fighting bad guys such as Kim's arch rival Sheigo, the apish Monkey Fist, and the ever nefarious Dr. Drakken over the course of 8 short levels.

     Kim is armed with acrobatic moves, a small arsenal of spy-type equipment (Lipstck Laser, Bomb, or Grapling Hook), and information fed to her through her Kimmunicator by the young genius Wade.  The Wade information I learned by mistake while trying to pause and accidentally hitting the select button- resulting in a hint/info screen when he popped up in the bottom right corner on the Kimmunicator.

     As a personal fan of side-scrolling action adventures, this game is only a decent play.  It has pretty good visuals (considering it's on the GBA), great music, so-so audio effects, and is pretty fun to play in general.  Although it does have a few flaws that make it really hard to say it was worth the time to play.

     One specific issue, a massive problem in my book- one that I can only imagine caused many kids to stop playing- is the "Super Backflip Jump" maneuver.  It is a move that allows Kim to jump large gaps or reach higher places.  The problem is the preceding cartwheel necessary to do this jump.  It is damn near impossible to place it correctly without falling into a hole in later levels.  To do the jump you have to have a running cartwheel, then hit the jump button.  As a major gamer myself, I was very irritated that the cartwheel itself is hard to judge in length, then the short arch range on the jump itself nearly ALWAYS lands too short causing unnecessary deaths.  There is a stage late in the game that took me many, many attempts to get right.  Of those attempts at least a quarter of them the jump should have worked, but for some reason as soon as the jump began Kim was sucked into the hole I was jumping over.  An odd and extremely aggravating effect.

     The next problem is the save system.  Well the lack of save system, as there is no saving.  Just a password system for each level consisting of a series of character's faces.  Luckily nowadays there are plenty of websites that have them listed in case you forget or lose them.

     There's certainly not much in the way of extras here.  For in game collectibles there are pictures and movies.  The small movies are unlocked by watching them during standard gameplay, while the pictures are unlocked by getting high scores and collecting all the blue crystals in each level.

     Overall, this game could've been a great small game to play through for fans of the show, or merely GBA gamers looking for a small but entertaining adventure.  It does have a weird difficulty spike in the last few levels where enemies start appearing en masse and the platforming gets really tough due to the Super Backflip Jump never working quite right. (As well as ONLY one move that can hurt Drakken during the last fight- took me a bit to figure out which one.)
     It feels a bit lack-luster as GBA games go, and is only mediocre at best- so unless you're a die-hard Kim Possible fan- steer clear of this.

1.01.2014

DLC Quest (and Live Freemium or Die) Review


     With an increasing number of companies offering DLC content to pad out what used to be complete games, DLC Quest satirizes this trend to great effect.
     At the beginning of the game, you have no character animations, and can only move right.  No jumping or moving left.  You slide to the right, collect a few coins, and run into a vendor that sells you the ability to go left, which in turn will get you the extra coins to purchase the ability to jump.  Something that should've been naturally included in the initial cost, but wasn't.

Even characters are a commentary.
     The whole game progresses in this fashion.  Unlocking all the components that were once standard gaming fare, are now being sold to us under the term microtransactions.  For the few dollars to purchase DLC Quest, you'll receive plenty of amusement in it's hour or so play time.  There's lot's of hilarious commentary relating to breaking up a game into pieces that can be then "unlocked" for a fee.  Luckily for us all the fees here are spent with in-game money.  Filling the game with unecessary quests and useless junk- be it characters or unlockable content- I had a strange desire to collect it all.  An odd feeling for a game to show me how absurd my own gaming habits and desires were.  The whole of the game and expansion is a perfect example of how our wants can be exploited for money.


     I even laughed about the "Awardments" (Achievements) that were unlocked.  All made to poke fun at the games we love to play, but in a way that also makes us giggle.

     It's sad to say, but this could easily be something plausible for companies to actually try in the near future.  It isn't too difficult to envision as some of this happens already- in DLC Quest you can purchase plenty of useless in-game items such as a pet fish that appears in a bowl on a pedastal and stays there forever doing nothing and never responding to you, as well as armor you can buy for your horse.  A horse, I might add, that is just as useless as your fish- because you never use the horse.

     For $5 both DLC Quest and it's expansion Live Freemium or Die are worth the money.  More so than many other games just for the self-referencing humor.  I can only hope this game will give us pause to truly consider how gaming is changing (has changed?) while still remaining a piece of entertainment.

Batman: Arkham Origins: Story DLC: Mr. Freeze

     After yesterdays Arkham: Origins DLC teaser image- I had guessed it could be my personal favorite Bat-villain Mr. Freeze because of the old animated series episode Heart of Ice.

     Today we get another teaser image that damn near confirms that speculation.  There have been no details given, just images, but how cool would it be if we got to play as Mr. Freeze?  Hopefully WB Games Montreal stays faithful to the Paul Dini penned tragedy Heart of Ice.  At least we know this will be story content and not more challenge maps.

     This has got me 100% on board for more Origins play time, especially if it's with Mr. Freeze.  Will we get to re-experience the entire origin tale for Victor and Nora Fries?  I certainly hope so.



     Source [ Arkham Origins Facebook ]