Let's discuss Avengers: Infinity War -- a movie BOUND to make you feel so good!

June 26, 2012

I Hraet You (18)

Beat 18: It Really Could Have Ended Only One Way

Deirdre let fly a coquettish giggle.  “Well, you’re a little slow on the uptake, aren’t you, Tiger?” she asked, flashing a gleaming smile.  “Do you want me to spell it out for you?”

Lloyd shook his head jerkily.

“Well, that’s a shame, isn’t it?  Because I’m gonna spell it out anyway -- just so you and I are on the same…hmmm hmmm, wavelength.”  She tugged herself upward, pressing her breasts against Lloyd’s chest, and shifting her cotton tail against his leg, as she moved toward his ear.  “You and I are going to [CENSORED] and [CENSORED] all day and all night, and then [CENSORED] while you [STILL CENSORED] and I [DEFINITELY CENSORED].  And then I’ll [WOW THAT’S MOST CERTAINLY CENSORED] with a [OH SWEET APPLE PIE THAT’S CENSORED] while I [GOOD GOOGLY-MOOGLY I’M NOT GETTING PAID ENOUGH FOR CENSORING] and [OKAY THIS IS JUST WRONG I’M OUTTA HERE] like a Portuguese man-o-war.”  She ran a finger across the top of his ear.  “Sound fun?”

June 25, 2012

Columna Cerului? Collaboration?! Crazy!

Transcending history and the world, a tale of souls and swords, eternally retold...oh wait, wrong game.

Anyway, for the past couple of weeks I've been working on a collaborative project with my blogging comrade, Konstantine.  Who is that, you ask? Konstantine Paradias is a metaphysical singularity -- a collapsing point on which warriors, philosophers, and lovers from days past live on within his blazing core.  As decided by fate and his own noble soul, he has chosen to use his great and terrible power for the betterment of mankind.    He also reviews comic books.
That (incredibly honest and truthful) introduction aside, we've worked together to come up with a product that will hopefully delight, entertain, and make you want to ram dollars through your screen into cyberspace -- a dream RPG dubbed Columna Cerului.  Go read the hell out of it...and if you haven't already, be sure to follow the crap out of his blog.  It's probably the smartest thing you'll do all day -- or at the very least, the best thing you can do with your time online.

You heard me.

June 24, 2012

I Hraet You (17)

Beat 17: And Then There Was a Rabbit

Lloyd stared at Sheila.

Sheila stared at Lloyd.

Lloyd stared at Sheila.

Sheila stared at Lloyd.

Lloyd stared at Sheila.

Sheila stared at Lloyd.

Lloyd turned to the side.  “I feel as if we’ve done this dance already.”

June 22, 2012

The Final Mix: A Kingdom Hearts Retrospective (Part 4)

You’ve seen me cry about E3.  You’ve seen me moan about Prometheus.  You’ve endured my constant peddling of an over-the-top love comedy without complaint.  And now, finally, the Kingdom Hearts Retrospective returns with a vengeance -- a vengeance so vengeful, you’ll want to avenge the vengeance.  Vengefully.

I know I’ve made this fairly clear already, but just in case anyone needs to hear it directly, I’ll say it now.  Not only do I like Kingdom Hearts 1, but I prefer it over its mechanically-superior sequel Kingdom Hearts 2.  Why?  Because KH1 has a better story.  Not the most complex story, mind, and likely not the best story ever told in a video game -- but for what it was worth, it succeeded.  Keeping in line with its “simple and clean” veneer, it satisfied from start to finish.

But in spite of that “simple and clean” veneer, it offered its fair share of depth and subtleties.  It was -- and is -- a self-contained story with plenty of themes to explore, unburdened by the need to play its cards close to the chest for sequels.  Whatever the case, it’s certainly a story that leaves you feeling good, and without any complexities weighing you down.  Makes me wonder what happened when the sequel came around -- seriously, what the hell happened, Squeenix? -- but we’ll get there when we get there.

For now, let’s do something that’s been long overdue.  Let’s talk about Kingdom Hearts 1’s story.

June 21, 2012

I Hraet You (16)

Beat 16: Total Neurological Wipeout and Euphemisms

Lloyd stared at Sheila.

Sheila stared at Lloyd.

Lloyd stared at Sheila.

Sheila stared at Lloyd.

Lloyd stared at Sheila.

Sheila stared at Lloyd.

Lloyd raised a hand.  “Excuse me.”



June 20, 2012

Enter Sandman: Remembering Chaos Legion

Anyone out there ever play a game called Chaos Legion?  For those who haven’t, it’s an old hack and slash from Capcom made in 2003, and follows in the same groove as Devil May Cry.  A young yet skilled swordsman, fighting against the army of the damned with his own supernatural abilities, in what is arguably a hybrid between Pok√©mon and Dynasty Warriozzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

Sorry, let me start that again.  Gameplay-wise, it’s pretty simple -- run, jump, summon demons, attack with squazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

Dammit, why does that keep happening?  All right, seriously though, the first level has the standard tutorial, letting you get a feel for the combazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

Okay, reset article.

June 19, 2012

This looks disappointing.

Coming soon to a blog near you...maybe.  If you believe in miracles, perhaps.

I Hraet You, Disqus

Minor update right quick -- I've decided to switch this blog over to using Disqus for the comments section.  It seems to be growing more popular and more useful, so I'd wager it's to my advantage to jump on the hype train before it takes off from Radical Station for New Badassington.  I hope everything works out; I'm a little worried about the transition from one platform to another, but (as I understand it) people will be able to comment more easily via Disqus than Blogger's default platform.  Likewise, I'm worried about this "import comments" business -- particularly because right now my comments are all MIA on the pages themselves.  So if there's anybody out there just itching to lay into me, I'd recommend waiting a bit; the blog's going through some growing pains, but hopefully it'll all turn out better than expected.

Now that that's out of the way, here's a little something from me to you: some sketchy art of I Hraet You's miserly misanthropic snark-meister, JP Hoigleheimer.

Aw, look how adorable he is!  Don't you just want to give him ALL OF THE MONEY?

June 17, 2012

I Hraet You (15)

Beat 15: Now You’re Just Trying Too Hard!

Lloyd spent the rest of anatomy class with Lien-Hua with his hands in his pockets; thanks to the first day of school being less than taxing, he and his classmates could just lean back and let her run through the typical “welcome back” procedures. 

Still, he kept a close eye on her the whole time.  If she was in any danger of a soul-based meltdown -- or even a victim of it -- she could sure hide it well.  Lien-Hua operated with the grace and composure he’d expected; at times she stumbled a bit and showed just how jittery she could get (like a pratfall worthy of the average rom-com); at other times, she seemed as at ease and acclimated as one of her students -- when she finished her rundown of the course, she sat down with a few of them and traded stories about their summers.  Lloyd could sooner worry about being struck by lightning than his teacher’s despair.  And yet…

She was only at a half-star, he thought, watching her giggle alongside some of the girls.  An ill omen, if there ever was one.  And yet she hardly seems fazed.  Why?  What could weigh down her heart so heavily?  Or…could it be that my understanding is faulty?

June 14, 2012

I Hraet You (14)

Beat 14: Breaks Are For the Lucky

Lloyd leaned forward and adjusted his glasses.  “Well now, this is unexpected.”

The audition room loomed before him, in all its monochrome glory.  The director’s chair behind a long desk.  The stage ahead, with the outlines of curtains.  Wires and lights,   from studio lamps to spotlights on hanging rails; a blank screen on stage, with props and cameras strewn about it.  So I’ve managed to return at last, he thought, stroking his chin.  In which case, I’ve gained some valuable data.  There are two qualifiers for entering the audition room.  First, endearment.  And second, physical contact.  Given my history with Miss Zhang and our…well, accidental contact, it seems I’ve all the proof I need.

He stroked his chin with his index finger.  I’ll admit that I wasn’t quite prepared to have an encounter with Miss Zhang, but I’ll allow it.  So long as I’m here, I may as well begin practicing, and improve my knowledge on matters of the heart.  He turned aside.  Although…

June 13, 2012

Prometheus: Because Aliens Need Love, Too (Part 2)

You know, I’m actually kind of glad I split this rant into two parts.

Biased and unprofessional as it may sound, I think I’m reaching a bit too much with this movie.  That is, I want it to be one thing and try to pull it in that direction, but the movie’s trying to move in the opposite direction (by way of its creators and its intent).  It’s reached a point where a part of me wishes Prometheus was actually two movies.  One of them could be this journey to a mysterious planet, asking not only for an exploration of the harsh environment, but also the themes and ideas at large.  The other movie could be the gruesome, freaky, kill-everyone-but-a-chosen-few horror film worthy of being a part of the Alien canon.

I’m not so brazen as to claim that the movie’s got a case of an identity crisis, especially since the most I know about the franchise at large is from about thirty minutes of viewing time from each movie put together (and fifteen of those minutes are from Alien Resurrection).  If others feel that way, then that’s fine with me.  I won’t knock them for it.  But given that this is a highly-subjective topic, I will say this:

Why?  Just…why?

(In case you’re just joining us, this post is absolutely filthy with spoilers.  If you’re opposed to getting down and dirty with them, I suggest you bail out now.  I wouldn't want you ruining your Wednesday best on my account.)

June 12, 2012

Prometheus: Because Aliens Need Love, Too (Part 1)

So there I was in the theater, with nothing standing between me and Prometheus but a slew of previews.  I’d avoided thinking about it in the weeks up to its release, but over the past few days I’d started gathering information and glancing at a few reviews.  While spoilers never deterred me before, for one I decided that I’d hold off.  I’d see the movie regardless of reviews, and regardless of hype; I’d see it, and watch it based on its own merits.

So I sat there, worried yet hoping for the best.  As I shifted in my seat, my brother leaned to his right and started chatting with his pal.  See, I’d skipped out on movie outings before with the pair because I don’t like horror movies.  Me being the youngest of the trio (and both of them having been around during my Little League years), I tend to take flak pretty often, on this subject most of all.  “This movie might get a little too scary for him,” my brother chided, nudging me in the arm.

“I don’t like horror movies because I think they’re scary,” I said calmly.  “I don’t like horror movies because I think they’re stupid.”  And I meant it.  Maybe I’ve just been exposed to the wrong films, but I’ve never found any merit in them.  In my eyes, they’re often just venues for A) jump scares, B) gross-out spectacle, C) killing off characters that the movie doesn’t even pretend are important, and D) a liberal application of uncovered lady parts.  But in spite of all that, I believed Prometheus would bring something awe-inspiring and thoughtful to the table -- something to make me believe that it wasn’t a franchise built on chest-bursting nasties.  I’ve been wrong before on movies; I wanted to be wrong again, and walk out thinking that Prometheus was worth it.

In retrospect, I probably should have lowered my expectations.

(Spoilers by the barge-load to follow, along with a slurry of highly opinionated opinions.  You’ve been warned.)

June 11, 2012

Prometheus…But First, Charts!

Confession time: I’m not all that familiar with the franchise.  Yeah, yeah, I know -- how can I call myself a man if I only remember the bare details about one of the most famous intellectual properties ever to grace the medium?  Well, you know me.  My expertise lies in video games; while I certainly have gaps in that medium as well (partly because I was a Genesis kid in the great console wars of the nineties), I’ll admit I fare better with those than with things like this.

That said, I try to expose myself to stories no matter what form they appear in, or what kind of story they have to tell.  For example, even though I’m not a fan of horror, I’ll still give it a shot…assuming that someone forces me to watch it.  Granted, every time I try to expose myself to horror I end up disappointed or left with a headache, but I just figured that I’m missing the GOOD bits in exchange for the bad.

And you know what?  After last night, I’m starting to see the appeal.  Not just of the genre, but the franchise as a whole.  It’s genuinely good!  Full of mysteries!  And I’ll be honest:  it had me laughing the entire time!  In fact -- against my better judgment and theater etiquette -- I managed to record some footage on my cell phone.  Have a look.

...I got that wrong somehow, didn’t I?

June 10, 2012

I Hraet You (13)

Beat 13: Connect the Dots with a Sledgehammer of Ham

A chilled, salty wind swept over the school’s east breezeway -- not surprisingly, as the school, and plenty of other buildings, sat on an incline high enough to peek at the harbor.  But for the moment, Lloyd paid the sea no mind; he just sat in the nearby lawn, cupping his mouth as he tapped his foot against the stone bench. 

It didn’t work, he thought, his fingers regularly pressing into his cheeks.  I couldn’t head into the audition room with May.  Why?  Is there something missing?  Could I have overlooked a step?

He turned to his right.  With the pre-school morning winding down, students started heading toward their classes in earnest.  By the dozens they stepped through the doors on either side of the breezeway, in groups as large as seven or as small as two.  Only the occasional oddball -- like a lanky punk with a mohawk -- headed inward by himself.

Lloyd raised a hand and hailed a couple of girls toward him.  “Ah!  Miss Byrne!  A pleasure to see you again!  I trust you had an uproariously entertaining summer?”  He trotted towards them like a loyal terrier, just as they stepped onto the grass to meet him.  He only recognized one of them -- Rita Byrne, a newly-minted junior with curly brown hair and a propensity for wearing track shorts (perfect for showing off those tanned, toned legs of hers, Lloyd had noted).  The other was shorter and sandy-haired, and blew carelessly into her bubble gum.  “Oh!  And another fair maiden has come to enjoy your company!  A younger sister, I presume?”

June 8, 2012

E3 2012: Everybody Loves Stabbing (?)

So.  Let’s talk about E3…again.

I guess I’ll start with my observations -- not on the expo itself, but hearsay around the internet.  From what I can gather, this E3 has been average at best, disappointing in general, and a spiraling nexus of universe-ending badness at worst.  And even though I think of myself as the Eternal Optimist, even I have to agree with the detractors.  This E3 wasn’t amazing.  It had high points, and even the stuff I didn’t like had merit to some people, but overall I walked away from my TV wishing that I had just seen…well, SOMETHING more.

I’ve gone into detail about my thoughts on this year’s showing several times already, but I’ll save you some legwork (or finger-work) and say this: in a nutshell, it was a very “safe” showing on all accounts.  A safe showing of games we already knew about.  A safe amount of new properties.  A safe number of attempts to try and convince us that System Z will become the entertainment hub of the future.  A safe period to appeal to casual gamers -- and give time for bathroom/food breaks.  The stuff that the core gamers didn’t care about could be ignored; the stuff that did, I assume, managed to codify consumer loyalty, at least until the next E3.  Say what you will about things like the Nike/Kinect partnership or Wonderbook, but more or less, each company showed us the things that we want.  Or perhaps, what they think we want. 

And that’s what brings me here today: is this what gamers really want?

June 7, 2012

A quick update on I Hraet You.

No, I'm not going on hiatus, and as far as I can tell I'm in a good place with the two-a-week schedule.  (In fact, a part of me wanted to post a bonus third chapter this week...but I'd better not mess with a good thing.)  I just thought I'd use this space to announce that from now on -- assuming I don't forget -- there's going to be a row at the bottom of each chapter that'll take you forward a chapter, back a chapter, or to the archive.  Why I didn't think of this before is beyond me, but now that I've (tediously) added it into every chapter thus far, it should be more comfortable to navigate.

And as long as I'm speaking here, I'd like to give a shout-out to Dimanagul for commenting, and making me realize that I probably should add that little feature in.  As a tribute to you -- and all of you who have commented here on Cross-Up, as well as any incidental readers -- I'll offer a humble yet satisfying gift.

Metal.  Because, as you know, it makes everything better.

June 6, 2012

I Hraet You (12)

Beat 12: The Lost Kingdom of Lloyd B. Hoigleheimer

For a moment, Lloyd couldn’t do much more than watch May head off -- but in a moment of insight, decided against inaction.  It would behoove me to not let this chance slip away, he thought, stroking his chin.  What sort of information could she have acquired?  I may have quite the reputation, but still…something about this puts me in a fretful mood.

He started after her, covering his mouth all the while.  Hmmm…it’s possible that she heard about me in regards to the accident at High Tide Park.  Has word of mouth spread that quickly?  Or could it be that she was there as a witness?  Or perhaps…perhaps she caught a glimpse of me connecting with Miss Walters.  His fingers tightened around his mouth.  Circumstantially there’s no telling how long our session lasted.  If Miss May saw us from the shore, then she’d have no reason to forget me.  How would any given person react to seeing two young adults standing in the water while completely still?

This could be problematic if I let things progress too far.  Best to start cutting down my problems while the chance still remains.  He raised a hand. “Miss May!  A moment of your time, if you would!”

Square Enix has all the good ideas.

So apparently, Square Enix is showcasing their new graphics engine.  I guess there's no better time than E3 Week, but on the other hand, I still think it's way too early to even discuss better graphics and new engines and whatnot.  Square Enix in particular, because even after some six years of waiting, we STILL haven't gotten our hands on Versus XIII.  There's thinking ahead, and then there's an attempt at ethereal clairvoyance.

While it's about as good-looking as you'd expect, there's something even more interesting about the page itself -- namely, that it links to a survey where you can voice your reaction and opinion.  Squeenix has some real gusto to invite Hell so liberally; after a quick selection of questions (ranking your satisfaction from 1 to 5), there's a box where you can put in additional feedback.

There's no way this can end poorly.

June 5, 2012

E3 2012: That Just Happened, Apparently

The following is probably the most rational, unbiased, laissez-faire, and comprehensible E3 reaction blog post you’ll find on the internet. 


What?  I delivered on my promise.

…All right, here.  My real thoughts on E3.

June 4, 2012

E3 2012: My Reaction (In 4 JPEGs)

My face whenever a gritty modern war-style shooter was on-screen:

My face when I realized how many games today espoused brutally stabbing your enemies/victims with knives:

My face when I noted just how much innovative potential Ubisoft's Watch Dogs has (and how I'm actually excited for a game shown at this E3):

My face when I finally processed that Sony was trying to literally make video games out of books and take out the legwork of letting readers imagine their own worlds, thereby rendering their software useless:

More thoughts on E3 to follow later this week once all's said and done and I collect my thoughts.  And besides, a storm is approaching -- and its name is Nintendo.  Or, alternatively, Hurricane Reggie.

June 3, 2012

I Hraet You (11)

Beat 11: No Bees in This Chapter, Thankfully

Sunlight started spilling into Lloyd’s room.  As the heat tickled her body, Trixie shifted her way out of the sheets, and rubbed the last bits of the sandman’s dust out of her eyes.  She was a bit surprised she’d even fallen asleep -- but of course, the drool gathered atop the bed gave her all the proof she needed.  She rubbed her head, trying to smooth her ruffled hair…and to massage her brain before the prince’s inevitable antics gave her a migraine.

She threw off the sheets with a wide swing of her arm.  “All right, so whaddya gonna do to me today?” she asked.  But to her surprise, she didn’t get an answer.  She stared at the door ahead; no Lloyd in sight.

“The jackass already left,” said JP.

Trixie catapulted out of the bed and hit the floor.  When she crawled up its side, she locked eyes with JP, leaning casually against the wall with his hands in his jacket pocket.  “What, are ya tryin’ to give me a heart attack?!” she yelled.

JP stared at her for a while, and then turned toward the door.  “So you sleep in that swimsuit of yours, too?” he asked the door.

“Just gonna ignore me then, huh…?”

June 2, 2012

Tales of Xillia 2, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Beast

 So the countdown for the next installment in the Tales series has come to an end -- and with it, the reveal of Tales of Xillia 2

While I have my reservations about it being a direct sequel (and the fact that Tales of Xillia 1 has yet to appear in the states), I’m okay with this.  You may think me a hypocrite for accepting another sequel in this franchise while blasting it elsewhere -- i.e. Final Fantasy XIII-2 -- but that’s because A) I’d like to pretend that the Fabula Nova Crystallis project doesn’t exist, and if I don’t look at it it’ll go away, and B) in my experience, the Tales series has been consistently good.

And by consistently good, I mean it’s probably one of the most unappreciated franchises in the past decade or so.