Get ready for Marvel's latest magic show! Doctor Strange is here at last!


December 5, 2016

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild VS Horizon: Zero Dawn: Hell in a Cell (Part 2)

This post is probably going to oust me as a hypocrite (well, more so than usual).  I can see it now.  I mean, even though The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild isn’t officially being called an open-world game, it shares a good number of traits with the subgenre.  Plus, being called “open-world” carries a lot of baggage with it these days.  Ubisoft and its AAA contemporaries have run what was once a good thing -- if not a symbol of progress for the medium -- into the ground, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the mere concept is enough to make someone’s eyes roll so fast that they could break the sound barrier.

I’m pretty sure I’ve taken shots at open-world games as well, so the fact that I’m excited for Breath of the Wild means that I’m a dirty liar in need of a bath filled with holy water.  More to the point, I’m a hypocrite because this game appeals to me, but I’m about ready to write off the superficially-similar Horizon: Zero Dawn for what may come off as arbitrary reasons.  In my defense, it’s not as if I love one and hate the other; it’s just that I feel like BotW appeals to me more.  And while I’m pretty confident that Horizon will eventually be a solid game, it feels redundant -- and significantly less special -- in the face of BotW.

I guess now I’ll have to explain why.  So let’s go ahead and step back into the ring for another smackdown.

December 1, 2016

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild VS Horizon: Zero Dawn: Hell in a Cell (Part 1)

I think I’ve sent myself on a guilt trip.

The dust has long since started to settle on E3 2016, with no shortage of information to parse through.  Granted some things were still a no-show -- a new Sonic game is on the way, but Sega just teased an announcement of an announcement of an announcement to screw with everyone’s heads -- but I doubt anyone will go on a rant about how the industry’s major players kept all their cards close to the chest. 

And that’s where my guilt comes in.  At last year’s E3, I was intrigued by Horizon: Zero Dawn.  Very intrigued; it was new, it was different, and it looked as if it had plenty to offer for gamers vis a vis robot dinosaur hunting.  I’d assume that’s not all you’ll be doing, but if that’s the core gameplay, then it seems all right.  Well, that’s what I’d like to say; cut to a year later, however, and I’m suddenly not so intrigued by it.  What would’ve once made my eyebrows slide up my face now makes me go “Ehhhhhhhhh…” and “Awwwwwwwwwww…”  I don’t understand what happened, and it’s kind of tearing me up inside.  That’s especially true, because -- at least on a superficial level -- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild ticks some of the same boxes, yet my hype is breaking through the atmosphere.

What the hell’s going on?  Well, I intend to find out with this LONG overdue post.  Even though I already kind of have an answer, but let’s pretend we’re going in raw.

November 28, 2016

Tales of Zestiria: I Want You

I have a lot to thank my mom for, but I’d wager that my general avoidance of sweets is one of them.  It’s not that I have anything against candy (except chocolate, because I’m secretly history’s greatest monster), but I don’t go out of my way to get my hands on it.  Same goes for stuff like cake and ice cream; honestly, a few weeks ago I had Pop-Tarts for the first time in years.  As a result, I’ve never known the pain of cavities.  Likewise, I’d imagine that axing the most heinous of food groups has helped me keep my figure svelte and lithe -- and not at all comparable to a skin-clad sack of bones.

Still, I know the taste of sweets.  I know the effect.  There are just some foods out there that are pure bliss in edible form; I’d count a warm blueberry muffin among them, for example.  Will eating sweets lead to regret later?  Possibly.  Probably, if they aren’t eaten in moderation.  On the other hand, sometimes you just have to indulge and take in whatever you can get.  Sometimes you just have to spoil yourself.

That’s what Tales of Zestiria does for me.  Because the more I think about it, the more I realize I’m absolutely in love with this game.

November 24, 2016

Shower Thoughts with Stardust Crusaders (Part 3)

So if you could have a Stand, what would it be?

That’s kind of a dirty question, because according to JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure as we know it, you don’t get to choose your Stand.  It’s a reflection of you.  Granted that reflection tends to be tailor-made to suit the Stand user personality-wise, but it’s like the X-Men: you make do with what you’ve got, because what you’ve got is…well, you.  Still, there’s a ton of allure in imagining what it’d be like to have your own ghostly companion.  I’ve certainly indulged.

I’ll hold off on describing my ideal Stand for now, because that’d take a bit of time, I haven’t completely nailed it down, and (since this is the intro) there’s a lot of more relevant ground to cover.  I can tell you right now that it’s not too dissimilar from Echoes in Diamond is Unbreakable, barring some stuff that I’m pretty sure counts as a spoiler or eight.  So let’s go back to talking about Stardust Crusaders for the third and final time.  The premise?  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Stands in Part 3 are an embodiment of what you want to be, but fail to be.

And I’ll drive that point home one last time…with spoilers aplenty.  But then again, is there any better way to celebrate Thanksgiving Day than with theory-crafting for JoJo?  Probably.  Also, I hope I didn’t date this post super-hard.

November 21, 2016

Art, the Great Equalizer


There’s an episode of Kamen Rider Drive where --

Hey, wait!  Don’t close the page yet!  I’m going somewhere with this.

November 17, 2016

Shower Thoughts with Stardust Crusaders (Part 2)

I’ve always believed that you can make any story sound bizarre if you describe it as directly and plainly as possible.  I mean, have you ever really put much thought into Harry Potter?  “A young boy who lives in his abusive family’s cupboard finds out that he defeated an all-powerful evil wizard as a baby, and is whisked off to a British castle so he can go to a school for wizards.”  There’s a lot to unpack there, but context in-universe makes it easier to swallow.  That’s true of every story, I bet.  Break it down to those base elements -- removed of context and flourishes -- and you’re bound to get something bizarre. 

With that in mind, maybe JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is deserving of its name for a reason.  Some of the stuff in the last post -- and this one, inevitably -- sounds absolutely insane, and it feels like it’d take a conversation just to explain a conversation.  What’s a Joestar?  What’s Hamon?  What’s a Stand?  And so on, and so forth.  It’s not to JoJo’s detriment, of course, but it does make for a harder sell.  Though now that I think about it, I’d LOVE to see some kind of “Parents react to JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” video someday.  If it’s anything like having mothers describe Overwatch characters, it’ll be a hoot.

Enough of that, though.  It’s time to get back to action, and the thrust of my argument: Stands in Stardust Crusaders are the embodiments of what you want to be, but fail at being.  Am I wrong?  Am I right?  Judge for yourself, because I’ll make a case with the core six characters of the series.

Also, get ready, because I’m about to spoil the CRAP out of Stardust Crusaders.  But I would’ve guessed that I’m the last horse to cross the finish line, soooooooooooooo…if you haven’t watched the show yet, fix that.

November 14, 2016

Doctor Strange: A Beard’s Origin Story (Part 2)

Comic fans, I have a question: who is the most powerful superhero in Marvel Comics canon?

I wouldn’t know, because I’ve only got a handful of comics.  My gut instinct is to go with one of three choices, though.  First off: the Hulk, because the madder he gets the stronger he gets.  By that logic, I’m under the impression that his power level (such as it is) reaches something very close to infinity.  Failing that?  I’d guess Jean Grey, since she’s got the power of Phoenix/Dark Phoenix inside her, and years of Marvel 3 dominance suggest she’s one to be feared.  Failing that?  Doctor Strange.  If his power is to cast spells, then in the hands of a loose cannon writer with nothing to lose, all Strange would have to do is read up a bit to find just the right spell to solve the problem at hand.  Since his stories have (to my knowledge) pitted him against outer-dimensional super-beings, I’d say that that’s kind of a necessity.

So that poses a unique challenge for Marvel Studios.  How do you bring a character whose power is, theoretically, all of the powers into the MCU?  True, it’s not as if he starts out as a mystic god-slayer in his big debut (it is an originstory, after all), but since the execs are playing the long game on multiple fronts, there’s a possibility that Doctor Strange will be dramatically more powerful in his next appearance.  How do you balance future movies around that?  How do you balance this movie around that?

Time will tell what the future holds.  But for now?  I’d argue that the strongest Marvel hero is actually the weakest Marvel hero -- and the movie’s better for it.

Mystic Sword!  Bolts of Balthakk!  Spell of Vishanti!  SPOILERS OF THE FALTINE!
You know, one day soon I’m going to run out of ways to reference Marvel 3.  Today’s not that day, especially since one player managed to score a big win with a Doctor Strange/Phoenix Wright/Captain America team.  That’s my (theoretical and barely-explored) team, damn it!

November 10, 2016

Doctor Strange: A Beard’s Origin Story (Part 1)

Doctor Strange makes me ask a lot of questions, but that’s not a fault of the movie.  I suspect that I know more about him than the average Joe, if only because I played a couple of the Marvel Ultimate Alliance games way back when.  That was basically my first real exposure to the doctor, and I was entranced by his antics -- like teleporting all over the place after spinning like Wonder Woman on a turntable, or transforming enemies into highly-destructible boxes (with the added, if not game-breaking effect, of dishing out extra health).  In the time since, I’ve tried to learn more about him; my knowledge is still surface-level, but I feel like I’ve been rewarded for my efforts.

Doctor Strange is a cool character.  I’ve thought that for a while now -- and there was a time in my life when I would ask with wide, glittering eyes “When are we getting a Doctor Strange movie?”  While I wouldn’t say I’ve dreamed of this moment, I’ve been excited to see what Marvel Studios can put out.  By extension, there are questions that I had (and still have) about the movie.  Chief among them: how do you bring Doctor Strange onto the big screen?  And, you know, do a good job?

I’m not here to tell you if the movie’s good or bad.  I’m here to answer as many questions as possible in the context of what I’ve seen.  Sort out what works, what doesn’t work, and why.  If you’re interested, come along with me on this journey.  If not?  I don’t know.  Watch a Doctor Strange combo video.  Maybe you’ll pick up some new tech.

By the hoary hosts of SPOILERS! 
Side note: anyone looking forward to seeing the Seven Rings of Raggadorr is out of luck.  Sorry if that’s a deal-breaker, but as a consolation prize?  ASTRAL MAGIC CONFIRMED.

November 7, 2016

RE: Doctor Strange


I think the highlight of my Sunday was showing my brother a picture of Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, telling him that he blows into game cartridges to power up his special move, and watching his strained, despair-riddled reaction.  I consider it sweet revenge for him effectively dropping Final Fantasy 13-2 into my lap once upon a time.

Huh?  This isn’t a post about Kamen Rider or Final Fantasy?  It’s about a recent Marvel movie?  Who cares about that?

…Okay, let’s talk about Doctor Strange.  Via a lickety-split post.  No spoilers, so come on down.