A new blogging milestone brings with it a surprise! It's time for the (sub)ultimate crossover battle!


July 21, 2014

What Wins Out -- Smart or Stupid Stories?

Well, maybe not something as binary as “smart” and “stupid”, but you can’t beat that attention-grabbing terminology.

Coming off of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (dat title), I’ve been thinking a lot about the movie and its particulars.  I didn’t expect it to be that good, but much like last year’s Pacific Rim, I was pleasantly surprised.  Of course I’d prefer not to speak for anyone else, but if you need a recommendation for Dawn, you’ve got it.  In a cultural climate where there have been four Transformers movies, it’s good to see that there are still films -- even summer films -- that put in the effort and absolutely kill it in execution.

But now that the movie’s taken a place inside my unreasonably-large head, I can’t help but consider it in light of other movies, video games, and stories in general.  Dawn may be a movie that has apes with machine guns (it’s as stupid as it sounds), but it’s an intelligent movie with the skill to put forth and examine its themes.  It’s a smart movie, all things considered.  Inherently smart, gunner-monkeys aside.  Even so, it doesn’t take away from any other high-quality stories out there.  Pacific Rim is inherently stupid, but it’s also got some juice to it.  It’s got high execution as well, and brains to go along with the metaphorical brawn.

So you know what that means.  I think it’s about time we try and sort this thing out.

July 17, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (and Gary Oldman)


There’s an episode of The Simpsons where Homer takes a break from helping Moe with insurance fraud to watch Hail to the Chimp in a drive-in theater.  It’s pretty much exactly how it sounds: a monkey is now the president -- no context needed for that, natch -- and apparently by the climax the monkey president has to dive out of a plane while wearing a parachute.  And a suit.  The president has to look good, after all.

I can’t help but think back to that when it comes to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.  “Apes with machine guns” is, for me, the closest thing to a deal-breaker you can imagine.  You can’t have something like that unless you play it as a farce, and certainly can’t work that into a serious story and expect to keep a straight face.  So when I hear that the very same thing is in this latest movie, my hype meter pretty much hit the floor. 

Imagine my surprise, then, when I find out for myself that the movie is irresponsibly fantastic.  That probably has something to do with the movie keeping the simian gunslingers to a minimum…but you didn’t hear that from me.

GET READY FOR THE NEXT SPOILERS.

Ha.  Bet you thought this spoiler warning would have something to do with apes, didn’t you?  Well, too bad.  Tekken 7’s been officially announced, so look forward to that Death Fist goodness.

Also, how ‘bout that EVO 2K14? 

July 10, 2014

Resogun: A Reprieve and Lament

I’d like to think that I’ve got a pretty good handle on the gaming canon, but there many, many, many titles that are lost on me.  And it’s not just titles, either; there’s a pretty strong argument to be made that I’ve got no experience in entire genres.  Case in point: shmups.  I think that the first one I ever really played was Ikaruga…the one on the Xbox 360.  I suppose in a sense you could say that Sin and Punishment: Star Successor counts, but that just came out a couple of years ago.  It really says a lot about me when the first time I see notable shmups like Gradius is through an episode of Game Grumps.

So on the subject of Resogun, I can’t say that I had any extreme interest in it.  I don’t have any attachment to shmups, so it’s only natural that I don’t go out of my way to play one for myself.  Little wonder, then, that a copy of it has been sitting inside my PS4, largely untouched by me and my brother.  But a couple of weeks back, I gave it a shot. 

What did I think of it?  Well…

July 7, 2014

Is It Possible to Ruin a Medium?

There’s a new Transformers movie out.  Joy of joys.

I really don’t want to talk about it for very long, much less see it.  If you’ve poked around this blog before, then you may be aware that one viewing of Dark of the Moon pretty much shaved thirty years off my life.  I’m not in the mood to lose any more, whether it’s by way of seeing Age of Extinction on TV years after release, or by plopping down in a theater to subject myself to the torture.  In all fairness, though, I’ve heard from a few people -- MovieBob, surprisingly -- that the latest is the best yet.  That’s not saying much, and even his review seemed to make the praise relative to complaints, but I guess it’s something.

The Tuesday after MovieBob’s review, a video went up where he suggested that we need to (as per the title) “Leave Michael Bay Alone”.  That’s…actually pretty fair.  He’s a person who’s very easy to rage at, obviously, but setting aside the fact that he didn’t make the Transformers movies alone -- let alone turn them into a runaway hit -- hating what he’s put out and hating the man itself skirts a very thin line.  And people just might play double-dutch with that line thanks to the fodder provided by the trilogy.  Er…quadrilogy.

But talking about Bay and the Transformers movies is as good a point to start as any.  See, there’s something I think might be worth talking about -- which you might have guessed if you read the title.  If you didn’t, then don’t go back and read it.  You’ll spoil the surprise.

July 3, 2014

With a Single Step: The 500th Post


You know, I seem to recall me saying once upon a time that I was going to stop celebrating these “milestones” so blatantly.  The number of posts -- and by extension, the number of anniversaries -- doesn’t matter too much in the long run.  I’d prefer to measure success and value in terms of quality.  But I can’t judge that for myself.  That’s going to come from the people who read this blog, AKA the way it should be.

So I want to start this post by thanking those that are reading, whether you’ve been drawn in for the first time by the prospect of a milestone, or you’re a long-time reader.  I know I’m not the most popular blogger on the internet (and certainly not the smartest or best), but just knowing that I can make one person happy with what I write here means the world to me.

But I’m still not satisfied.  I want to do more.  Offer more.  Excite more.  Be more.  And that’s exactly what I’m going to do. 

And it starts with this. 

June 30, 2014

Coming Distractions (AKA Voltech the Dumb)


Whew.  Looks like I finally got over those Watch Dogs posts.  Finally.  I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: in a lot of cases, I don’t intend to write thousands and thousands of words on a subject.  It just sort of happens when I sit down to make a post.  It’s problematic, I know, but if nothing else I’m comprehensive.

But whatever the case, I’m done with Watch Dogs.  I’m tired of thinking about it, and I’m ready to move on to bigger and better things -- on the blog and off of it.  (I’m on my way to Ni no Kuni City, baby!)  I mean, I could go for a little bit of a cooldown period.  Maybe lighten up the load on things here, so I can redouble my efforts on other stuff.  I mean, it’s not like I can make good Let’s Discuss posts without playing games.  And beyond that, I --

*checks Blogger dashboard*

*notices that a major milestone is coming up*

WELP.

June 26, 2014

So How Good is The Hunger Games, Really?

Oh, this is gonna make me popular.

Not too long ago, there was an episode of The Simpsons that took a few jabs at The Hunger Games -- in typical fashion, highlighting some of the franchise’s…shall we say, conceits while simultaneously being eerily honest.  For a guy like me with no real attachment to the tales of Katniss Everdeen and the rest of the Monster Buster Club (that’s what they’re called, right?), it was just the sort of thing I could laugh at and shrug off.  For others?  I wonder if it was something like an affront to all of the deities.

It came at just about the right time, though.  I’ve been thinking about The Hunger Games more than I should, for one reason or another.  It probably has something to do with web series like CinemaSins and Honest Trailers laying into them in their own distinct yet biting (but always hilarious) ways.  Sure, those two manage to succeed precisely because they play up faults and nitpicking, but sometimes the line between joke and complaint starts to blur.  And there’s no doubt that even more jokes will flare up, given that the last book is not only getting split into two movies, but the first of them, Mockingjay: Part 1 is due out fairly soon.  Ergo, this post.

So I think it’s time I open the floor for some input.  Though preferably, not arrows to the skull.

June 23, 2014

Watch Dogs, Revised

I would ask “what’s wrong with Ubisoft”, but that would imply that A) there was nothing wrong with them to begin with, and B) that their problems were all that different -- i.e. inlaid -- with the triple-A industry at large.

I almost feel bad about piling on the hate.  I mean, I’m pretty sure that by now you all know how I feel about Watch Dogs, and that’s a strike against the company if there ever was one.  And plenty of others have felt a similar sting, what with THE “first step into the next generation of gaming” being more like a drunken shamble across an oiled-up floor covered in marbles. 

That’s bad enough in its own right, but then people discover that the PC version has what’s effectively a switch to change the game back into its E3 super-mega-graphics mode because…hey, it’s not like people have ever poked around game data before, right?  And beyond that, there’s still the whole fiasco where nobody knows what’s going on with Ubi, the newest Assassin’s Creed, and its refusal to portray women in games.  (I’m staying out of the conversation, but I will say that “adding female characters” should have been part of the plan the SECOND they said “Okay, let’s start the new game”.)

But I’m not here to rail on Ubisoft, because people have done that elsewhere, and done it better.  This is Cross-Up, and as long as the subject isn’t Final Fantasy 13, it’s a happy place.  So let’s keep it that way.

Let’s do something constructive.  But first…

June 19, 2014

What Earns Your Brand Loyalty?

 So, how’s everybody enjoying Ultra Street Fighter 4?

I wasn’t exactly counting down the seconds over its release, but when I first gave it a whirl, I couldn’t help but get swept up into its pace.  Okay, sure, there are only five new characters (four of whom, along with the latest stages, are just carry-overs from the ill-fated Street Fighter X Tekken), but just being able to play as Poison -- don’t judge me -- in a new setting made that first session with the update surprisingly exciting.  We’ll see how long that excitement lasts, but as it stands?  I’m glad that Street Fighter 4: The T. Hawk Is Actually Kinda Good Edition is in our midst.

Though I suppose Capcom has kind of forced gamers’ hands with this one, especially those in the fighting game community.  They pretty much HAD to get the update, because if they didn’t, they’d get locked out of the competitive scene.  And the same applies to more leisurely players like me; anyone who wants to blow off some steam (or build it) online has to buy in or get locked out.  It’s a dirty trick, but I guess we’ve got no choice but to deal.  And we will deal, because even if these constant “new additions” are a pain in the ass to keep up with, the core game has always been worth it.  Worth our time and respect.

Which brings us to the question of the day…however circuitously.  As is my standard.