March 31, 2012

Two more things about The Hunger Games.

1) Katniss and Peeta deciding "they're not hungry" when they're en route to the games.  Why?  Wouldn't they want to eat to boost their strength?  Isn't it better to start on a full -- maybe even stuffed -- stomach, when food is provided in excess?  Especially Katniss; if she's dedicated to seeing her sister again, wouldn't she do whatever it takes (outside of compromising her pride/dignity) to gain a fighting chance?

2) Am I the only one who wants to see this guy's story?

Not only was he NOT the first one to die (by virtue of being the black guy), but he steps in and saves the day -- dramatically and viscerally -- just when Katniss needs him most.  Maybe there's some fanfiction about him somewhere on the net...

March 29, 2012

The Hunger Games: A Pun-Based Subtitle with "Odds" in It

I saw The Hunger Games with my brother yesterday.  It’s funny; you don’t know how close we were to seeing 21 Jump Street.  He woke up early asking me if I wanted to see the latter, but I brought up that -- from my perspective -- we’d decided to watch the former instead.  “Given the choice, I think I’d rather see The Hunger Games,” I said yesterday morning.  And so it was written. 

I broke my rule of not seeing movies based on books; I’d heard of the story before, but I’d never gotten around to reading it.  I HAVE, however, read the purportedly-similar Battle Royale (and after seeing THG’s movie, I can see a lot of similarities).  Regardless, I was willing to give THG a try.  An 85% on Rotten Tomatoes; high marks from a few sites and word of mouth; the fact that I perceived everyone was seeing it -- a good movie, not one of Michael Bay’s onscreen travesties -- meant that to avoid it was akin to skipping out on a masterpiece.  Like refusing to observe the Mona Lisa in exchange for staring at some half-cooked lasagna. 

Besides, I have a certain…experience with movies.  See, I once went about four years without going to a theater to see a movie.  There was good stuff on, I’d wager, but I just never got around to it.  It’s a trait I’ve inherited from my mom, I think; my head snaps toward her whenever (if-ever) she says she’s going to the cinema with her pals.  The point being that, while I’m reluctant to go to movies sometimes -- I have a habit of getting antsy and restless in the middle of them -- it’s pretty often where I’ll say “Eh, all right, I guess I’ll go…” and then when I walk out of the theater I’ll say “Wow, that greatly exceeded my expectations!”  Such was the case with Super 8, V for Vendetta, and Kick-Ass.  So I went in to see THG in good faith.  I needed to see what other purveyors of stories were doing and thinking.  I needed to see if I could intuit and dissect a tale, regardless of medium.  I needed a reason to type out, oh, some 3500 words and post them onto the internet for some piddling sense of self-satisfaction.

And now I do.  The Hunger Games is…not as good as I thought it would be.

March 28, 2012

The Hunger Games: Shake it Fast

So I saw The Hunger Games today and...well, I'll withhold my thoughts for now.  I'm due for a play date (of video games, natch) with my brother in...oh, about five minutes ago.  More to come.

In the meantime, I found this.  Am I the only one who's bothered by this?  I mean, I'm no film buff and it's never particularly bothered me before, but now?  Eh, maybe I'm getting old.  Somebody put me to bed and give me a sponge bath.

March 27, 2012

Tales of Vesperia is a Game for Not-Babies.

One of these days, I'm going to have to go into detail about why the Tales Series has eclipsed Final Fantasy on several fronts -- relevance, fun factor, storytelling, etc.  But until then, I'll just leave this arranged song here and call it a day.

"Spin around and around!"  "Such grace!"  "Blast...HEAAAAAAAAAAAAAART!"

Raven.  Manliness personified.

Don't even try to deny it.

Persona? More Like Bro-Sona! (Part 4)

I didn’t think it was possible, but somehow, Devil Survivor 2 kicked my ass even harder than the original.

It never reached Sin and Punishment 2 levels of difficulty (though I’d argue nothing ever will).  But for what it’s worth, it was ridiculously hard.  While I managed to clear it -- and as I understand it, cleared a path that no one on their first run should go through -- I feel as if the difficulty sometimes went from “challenging” to “cheap.”  It’s a delicate balance, and while I absolutely love DeSu2, I think that it goes way off the deep end a few times too many.  Take the new enemy type, Hamsa.

Imagine if you will a super-fast enemy.  One that can clear a huge distance in two or three moves.  One that, merely by being a part of a demon team, gives the same bonus to its comrades.  Now imagine that same enemy being able to strike your characters long before they can even wind up for a swing.  And imagine that enemy healing up demons you just brought within an inch of their lives, thereby giving them a second chance to wallop you…this, in a game where killing enemies as quickly as possible is ABSOLUTELY VITAL.  And they do it all while staring at you with this braindead expression.  Mocking you.  Taunting you.  Saying “Hey dude, you brought this demon down to 1 HP?  Too bad, bro!  I JUST HEALED HIM UP TO FULL!  SUCK THAT DOWN!”

Those ducks.  Those ducks.  Those damn ducks.  Those ducks.  Those ducks.  Those damn ducks.

…Anyway, this post is about another bro.  

March 26, 2012

More reviews! More Mass Effect talk! More robot lovin'!

Street Fighter X Tekken and Tales of Graces f are out.  What did I think?  Go have a look over there, yeah?

It's likely that I'm not done talking about them; I'll get into their nitty-gritty issues here on Cross-Up soon enough.  (Same goes for Devil Survivor 2 -- I foresee at least 2 posts on that little number.)  And who knows?  Maybe I'll get some content up for the under-the-radar Armored Core 5; I've only seen one review, which is a crying shame.

I guess that's what happens when you release in the same month as Mass Effect 3.  And since the internet is currently brandishing pitchforks and torches over the ending -- something about colors? -- people are very...occupied as of late.

I need to start playing that game in earnest.  But I can't get out of the Citadel without getting bombarded by sidequests and conversations.  Also, minor tangent: why does EDI, the Normandy's AI, feel the need to take over a sexy clothes-less android?

I guess you could argue it was "out of necessity" (and certainly not because Bioware needed to put in MORE women in skintight spacesuits, no sir).  Next question: if she's essentially just a computer, why does she do a sexy walk when she first appears on-screen in her new body -- and why does she assume a bunch of sultry poses and human mannerisms?  Did she just download them into her thought processors or whatever? And why?  What would she need with data like that?

I'm sure there's some justification in the ME universe, and I haven't gotten far enough in the game to make a definitive statement, but this just bugs me.  But I'm sure there's some kind of payoff in the end, ri--

Oh.  Well, I guess that explains everything. 

March 24, 2012

Grandia III: Disappointment In the Sky

Yo man, Mass Effect 3 is the worst piece of garbage I’ve ever -- no, just kidding.  Let’s leave that off the table for now, shall we?  I haven’t beaten it yet, but unless there’s some grievous issue that I can’t ignore, I’m willing to give both the game and Bioware the benefit of the doubt.  (My prediction?  Shepard engages in a noble sacrifice and bestows unlimited hot dogs throughout the entire universe.)

Enough of that.  I suppose you guys should count yourselves lucky; the moment this topic started up, I was ready and waiting to discuss -- and justify -- my abject hatred of Final Fantasy XIII.  But I’ve already done that here on multiple occasions, and one of these days I intend to continue my rant.  So instead, I’ll focus on one of the few other games out there to earn my ire so readily.

Its name was Grandia III

...Excuse me, I need to go smoke a few truckloads of cigarettes.

March 22, 2012

Super Blog Post 64

Well, well.  Imagine that.  Two months ago, I never would have guessed that I’d stick with this blogging thing for so long (you can blame my adversity with technology, AKA the threads of blood-born necromancy).  But here I am with 64 posts, a slowly-but-surely increasing pageview count, a slew of other blogs that I follow, and a potential platform for writing notoriety.  Optimistically speaking; I’ve still got some work to do.

For one thing, I’d like to get some more followers.  That might help matters a bit.

But anyway, I think I’m off to a good start.  So long as I can keep up the momentum, I see no reason for me to give it up now.  I’m a blogger, and hopefully I’ll stay that way for months to come.  And then, someday, you’ll get the message “What?  Blogger is evolving?”  And then you’ll get a cute little jingle, and then I’ll turn all digital and start transforming, and you’ll be so mystified you won’t even think of pressing the B button, and then it’ll say “Congratulations!   Blogger has evolved into Legendary Writer!”

It’ll be awesome, is what I’m trying to say.

So to celebrate, let me show you this game called Mischief Makers.  It was the first N64 game I ever owned.  Arguably, it’s in my Top 20 Favorite Games.  And with good reason; look at this.

Look at that.  Look at -- just look at that shit.  You’re a robot girl riding a cat in a psychedelic dimension fighting against a dog-man on a transforming motorcycle, and you make missiles bigger by shaking them so you can throw them back at that dog-man -- and then you throw him around once he starts sliding around as fast as his transforming bike.  And then he explodes like it’s the Fourth of July.

Anyone who says Japanese games are stupid needs a sledgehammer to the medulla oblongata. 

Thanks for sticking around with my blog, (hopefully non-imaginary) readers.  Here’s to better days, yeah?

It's been too long since I've used this picture.

March 20, 2012

Street Fighter X Tekken: Flight of Paul Phoenix

You know, it’s funny.  I’ve played a lot of fighting games in my time, but I’ve never really put too much stock into why I chose the characters that I do.  Until recently; since I learned about the concept of “mains” a few years back -- the character you play the most, and are arguably the best with -- it’s made me wonder what inspires that fighter/player loyalty.  As I’ve mentioned before in several other places and to several other people, I have zero recollection of my time in arcades.  I guess I spent SOME time there, since my brother remembers the arcades fondly (and being two below-ten-year-olds, our parents did their best to corral us in the same general area).  But ask me about who my main was in Street Fighter II, and I’d respond with a resounding “Durrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…”

But now it’s 2012.  Thus far, two big fighting games have been released, and there are at least four more games coming down the pipeline.  It’s a time to re-evaluate one’s choices -- what draws you to a certain character.  How you forge your loyalties.  And, whether you’ll stick by them through your darkest hour, or abandon them to play Wesker.

So I made this little ditty in response to that thought.  Now, if you’ll allow me to invoke the muses…

March 19, 2012

So I made this here video...

A lot of people don't know I've been working on a novel series (or something like that) for the past four years. Some do.  Those people now loathe me with a passion and threaten to kick my face into my colon.

And now you can be one of them.  Here's a fun little project I've wrapped up and tied with a bow.  Now unwrap it, in the name of justice.

I'll start getting more info on the story here on Cross-Up as the days pass.  Until then, sit tight and be cool.  Cooly-cool.

March 16, 2012

Dead or Alive 5 Has Some Familiar Faces

Remember that one time when I talked about DOA's creepy-looking faces?  Remember how much fun that was?  Well, new materials have been popping up, and...well, I'm not sure what to say about them.

I know the game's not done yet, and I know that things might change, but the consensus is that some of the characters look derpy instead of (or as well as) creepy.

Here's how Hitomi looked in DOA4...

And here she is in promotional materials for DOA5...

Uh...huh.  Well, that sure is a face there. 

March 14, 2012

Black to the Future: A Quantification

(The following is not meant to be taken seriously.  If you are offended, please contact your humor service provider immediately.)

I have a sneaking suspicion that my mom doesn’t think that I’m black enough.

Every time I fail to name one of her favorite R&B singers – or “my people”, as she puts it – I can see a part of her soul crumbling to dust. Her attempts to make me into the ultimate black scion have been thwarted by (tentatively) four zaptillion hours of games. That won’t stop her from trying, though; to this day, the floor of my bathroom is lined with African-American-oriented magazines, archiving critical matters like Mo’Nique’s love life and an expose on Laz Alonso, the TRUE star of James Cameron’s Avatar in his award-winning performance as Giant Blue Kitty No. 4. Miraculously, all of these gather dust, since I’m taking care of more important business. Here’s a helpful hint: it involves toilet paper.

But even so, the piercing stare of dust-covered Lionel Richie haunts me every time I have a seat. He’s watching me, glaring in disgust; disappointed that I’m using my writing to make obtuse video game references rather than advance the cause of our “brothers”.  Oh Lionel, can you blame me for preferring a resuscitation of the Konami Code?  You’re not a man if you don’t know the code…and who couldn’t use a few dozen extra lives?

On the other hand, I can see why my crippling overspecialization could prove problematic.  Imagine a scenario where people are having an average conversation, and then I join and say, “Hey guys!  Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Start!  Know what I’m sayin’?”  Exaggerated as it may be, it suggests that I’m out of touch with the social expectations and mores of my so-called people – that, although I rarely think of myself as black, certain mannerisms, standards, and knowledge are expected of me.  Questionable as my blackness may be, I’m a human, a social creature that needs to belong and be understood. 

And in order to do so, I must understand in turn.  Therefore, if I’m going to make my mom and the ghost of Lionel Richie haunting my command center happy (wait, he’s dead right?), then I owe it to the both of them to evaluate my blackicity, and make strides toward remedying my unique and vaguely hilarious situation.  In doing so, mayhap I’ll evolve as a man.  As a writer.  And who knows?  Maybe even as a Pok√©mon; like a helpless Magikarp blooming into a mighty...

Oh, wait.  I’m trying NOT to be a freak.  Sorry about that.  Let’s get started, shall we?   

Mass Effect 3: Take Earth Black

There’s been a lot of controversy and hate spiraling around Bioware recently.  Well, that’s to be expected, I suppose; I doubt there’s a single company out there that’s never gotten any disdain from fans.  Well, maybe Double Fine.  Or Atlus.  Maybe.  But I digress; the point is that for what it’s worth, I owe a lot to Bioware and I want to give them thanks.

And in order to do that, I have to be “that guy.”  You know the one.  The guy who raises a hand in objection and says -- with no shortage of spit and bile spewing from his mouth -- “Hey!  You guys!  Where’s all the (insert under-represented societal category here)?  All we have in video games are (insert standard character trope here as a means of general insult here) -- it’s time for (insert qualifier with an 83% chance of matching the debater’s qualifiers here), or else this game is (insert accusation of socially unacceptable -ism here)!”  It sucks that characters in games are so homogenized.  I get that.  I sympathize.  And I understand that sometimes, it seems like we -- developers and gamers alike -- take steps back twice as often as we move forward.  I agree with people who argue as much.  But just this once, I hope you’ll allow me to say “good job” instead of raising a fist.

In the same sense that some argue that FemShep is the superior version of Shepard (more badass, better voice, a strong female character, what have you), I’d like to thank Bioware for making competent black characters.

March 13, 2012

Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Rock of Two Rock Concerts

Come get some hot stuff!  (If you know what that's referencing, you win a tuna sandwich.)

First, a little linky-link for you...

And then, a sweet video with sweet lyrics with a sweet song attached!  Warning: please enjoy sweetness responsibly.  

More to come in the near future.  Stay tuned.

March 12, 2012

The Problem with Ninjas

There’s something that’s been on my mind for a while (and if you’ve read the title, I’m sure you can guess what that is).  I like to fancy myself a writer -- if not a real one yet, then at least someone with the understanding of a few literary nuances.  I know how to intuit the meaning and subtext behind things, and I’d argue that I can point out an issue or two with a work as needed…or justify my hatred of something, at least if my continued posts on why I “rather dislike” Final Fantasy XIII are any indication.

You see, I don’t like ninjas.  I think they’re overplayed and over-rated.  I’m probably the only person on the planet who doesn’t go all glossy-eyed at the sight of one.  Maybe it’s because I prefer a nice samurai or two.  But in my opinion, they’re kind of boring.

Ho-hum.  How pedestrian.

Not particularly related to anything, but...'s still awesome.

Persona? More Like Bro-Sona! (Part 3)

Devil Survivor 1 kicked my ass.

I’d argue that it’s of the hardest games I’ve ever played; I’d make a list of the hardest games, but it’d be pretty redundant.  Outside of one game (Sin and Punishment 2), they’d all be Atlus products -- and it’d hardly behoove me to type Shin Megami Tensei four times in a row.  So let’s just say Atlus has a penchant for taking a taser to your tender bits and call it a day, yes?

Though to be fair, Devil Survivor will kick your ass in more ways than just punishing difficulty (and the occasional infuriating escort/protect the civilian mission).  Subjectivity is at play here, but I’d argue that it’s got a really great story -- not just with the asterisk “for a video game,” but as a story, period.  You know, just in case you need to prove to some skeptical parent that games have merit. 

I dare any gaming naysayer to play through this game and say otherwise.  Or more precisely, to go through a session with Atsuro and not come out with a newfound appreciation of life.

Who says bros will never amount to anything?

(Warning: you’re about to head into North Spoilerbrook, Indiana.  Read at your own risk…and be sure to have a map handy, because there are a lot of exits you’ll need to take.)

March 9, 2012

Persona? More Like Bro-Sona! (Part 2)

Minor note -- how freaking long is Scooby's neck?

Many, many comparisons have been made between Persona 4 and Scooby-Doo.  The first five party members you get are a goofy guy who gets no respect, the de facto leader of curiously handsome appeal, a short-haired girl who does a fair share of the legwork, and a long-haired girl of some semblance of wealth and beauty who may be an untapped (?) sexual dynamo.  And to top that off, you partner up with a talking animal with an unusual speech pattern -- adding “kuma” (Japanese for bear) to most sentences in the original version, and making bear puns in the US version. 

Several dozen times more lethal than a snack-loaded Scooby-Doo.

I’d argue that Persona 4 is one of the greatest games ever made…but I’ll save that debate for a later date.  For now, let’s talk about our Japanese Shaggy doppelganger, Yosuke.

(A query: Is he really a doppelganger if there are no underscored implications of drug use at play?  Well, whatever.  Spoilers to follow.)

March 7, 2012

Persona? More Like Bro-Sona! (Part 1)

In a perfect world, Atlus would be the Activision of the gaming world.  (The fact that “Atlus” doesn’t clear Word’s spell-check but “Activision” does is proof in itself.)

Imagine an alternate reality where Call of Duty was a no-name, niche title with a small but dedicated fanbase, and the games themselves -- while competent, as they currently are -- had to impress with other elements besides overblown graphics and astronomical marketing campaigns.  And imagine the inverse, in which Atlus -- the small-time company with a big heart -- became the most well-known company on the planet.  A purveyor of games that pervade the public consciousness, from pop culture to (of course) the rooms of millions of gamers.  The resources to create products with production values that rival Hollywood, with a certain caveat: everything you love about Atlus games, from the story to the characters to the themes to the punishing, strategic gameplay remains intact.  It just gets turned up to eleven, with a spiffy veneer and most of all, the respect it deserves.

It would only be a matter of time before one of two things happen.  One: Atlus becomes drunk with power and turns to evil.  Or two: they destroy the world.  Neither of those things sounds very pleasant.  

Be glad this dog isn't real.  

So, while I wish that more people could enjoy Atlus games, I suppose it’s in a good place.  The fans are in an exclusive, untainted club; the kiddies can have their CODBlops while the MEN take on Atlus’ next sickening challenge.  Funny though; I think the bros might find a lot to enjoy about Atlus games, particularly the games in the Shin Megami Tensei line.  Namely, because they’re full of dope-ass bros for you t tag-team demons.

(All right, screw this.  I’m adding “Atlus” to Word’s dictionary.  They deserve it.)

Four Dudes Go to Hell (6)

Hunt 6: Red Heat

Luckily, they weren’t his actual last words.  The same went for Luke, Dante, and RJ; all four of the boys had survived, though not without a little humiliation.

One by one they pulled their faces out of the dirt, dusting them off and wiping grounded rock from their tongues.  “Okay, that could have gone better,” said Luke, the first to recover (since he’d started spitting like a camel).  He massaged his back.  It stung, but he figured he was lucky he hadn’t shattered his spine in the fall.

But as he started to look around, he felt himself wishing otherwise.  “Oh…this is not good.”

Dante raised his eyebrows.  “That’s all you’re gonna say?”

“Well, what should I say?”

Wade raised a hand.  “How about…’oh, hell.’”

March 5, 2012

Video game reviews? What sorcery is this?!

In my continuing quest for legitimacy -- and the chance to become a true hero! -- I'm keeping up the momentum with some other projects.  Be sure to check them out, okay?

Lord knows I could use a self-esteem boost.

I'll have a Devil Survivor 2 review up soon, I think -- maybe Street Fighter X Tekken and Mass Effect 3, as well, though those'll take some time.  And maaaaaaaaaaaybe Tales of Graces.  Time will tell.  In the meantime, enjoy this picture of a cassowary -- otherwise known as the most dangerous land animal known to man.  (Maybe.)

So vicious!  

Also, more ridiculous blog content coming soon.  Gonna be a hero soon enough!

March 3, 2012

Devil Survivor 2 is harder than...

(Check all that apply)

__ College and/or law/medical school
__ diamonds
__ the tempered adamantium skeleton of Wolverine
__ winning the Tour de France with a broken leg
__ climbing a mountain without arms
__ eating an elephant (yes, the whole thing)
__ any given event on Fear Factor -- particularly those involving eating animal genitalia
__ surviving the morning after eating animal genitalia
__ wrestling a bear
__ wrestling the entire armada of Greenpeace that comes after you try to wrestle a bear
__ having a good time in Death Valley
__ enjoying Final Fantasy XIII (oooooooooooooooooooooh burn!)
__ breaking The Great Wall of China in its entirety with your fingernails
__ headbutting something so fast/hard your face breaks the sound barrier
__ going down an escalator that's going up
__ becoming more renowned for your craziness than Gary Busey
__ clearing the Lucifer fight in Devil Survivor 1

(It's still fun as hell, though.)

More DeSu2 goodness coming soon, so sit tight.  And remember...

Peaceful days are over.  Let's survive.