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

December 28, 2012

Let's (briefly) discuss Far Cry 3.

Far Cry 3 is a weird game.

I was willing to give it a pass and a polite dismissal based on its less-than-appealing E3 showing; it didn’t look like anything special besides Call of Duty in the jungle with more knife action.  But then again, almost everything this past E3 looked like some variant/bastard child of CoD and Uncharted, so I hope you’ll forgive me for being a little jaded.  Still, the fact that my brother hyped up the game to an insane degree -- i.e. saying “Far Cry 3 is gonna be so awesome” in the same tone he’d used to describe Darksiders 2, Borderlands 2 and Resident Evil 6 -- didn’t inspire much confidence.  Doubly so when he mentioned the co-op option; I started having PTSD flashbacks to RE6 and its room full of explosive Beyblades. 

So Far Cry’s been out for a while now.  What do I think of it?  Well, let's see if I can sum it up in three points.  This should be a piece of cake.

1) Ignore multiplayer.  It completely misses the point of the single-player game.

2) I like the campaign.

3) The campaign is notably flawed from the outset.

This is a game that’s incredibly easy to nitpick and chide.  Incredibly easy.  But you know what?  It’s not a deal-breaker.  Well, not yet at least.

December 27, 2012

Django Unchained: One More Thing...

I’m not a hundred percent sure I should be bringing up this topic, but since I left it off the main post I figured I’d be doing a disservice if I just ignored it.  So let’s quickly go through this…and pray that I don’t make myself look like a fool.

But hey, what are the chances of that happening?

*looks at sidebar on right*

Oh.  Pretty high, I guess.

(Hey, what do you know?  No spoilers in this post.  Well, unless you’re the type to intuit entire story events from a handful of words.  In which case, quasi-spoilers!

...Or if you prefer, quasar-spoilers.)

Django Unchained: Can We Talk This Out?

Fancy that.  For a guy who once went years without going to the movies, I’ve done pretty well this year.  The Hunger Games, The Avengers, Prometheus, The Dark Knight Rises, Looper, Cloud Atlas, and Django Unchained -- that’s quite a bit of a haul, at least from my perspective.  And I actually saw two movies in one month.  For me, that’s like the planets aligning, or people unanimously deciding to stop making jokes about Uranus.

With that in mind, I figure I might as well rank the movies I’ve seen.  It seems like a tradition to do that for end-of-year posts, and I’ll go ahead and do the same.  So, from bottom to top, here’s how the movies I’ve seen stack up, with a one-sentence “gist” of what I thought of each (and of course, in-depth looks under the Movie Magick tab).  Make of my thoughts what you will…just don’t fire up your Hatred Engines.  This is a happy place.  Usually.

#7: Cloud Atlas
Three hours of philosophizing is a true-true way to test your patience.

#6: Prometheus
An awe-inspiring adventure into an alien world…that is, until the plot happens.

#5: The Hunger Games
It’s far from hazardous to your health (barring Katniss poisoning.)

#4: The Dark Knight Rises
You did well enough, Nolan -- now, about that spinoff for Commissioner Gordon…

#3: Looper
Commendable merely for not creating a time paradox with its existence alone.

#2: The Avengers
Do I really need to say anything besides “Puny god”?

#1: Django Unchained
This one’s gonna require some explaining…so let’s get right to it, yeah?

(WARNING: SPOILERS, as is my usual standard.  Also, this is going to take more than one sentence, so you might want to kick up your boots and take hold of a tall bottle of sarsaparilla.  Similarly, have your trusted six-shooter in your holster, because there’s no telling when some varmint might hassle you, and you’re thrown into a real hootenanny of a hoedown.

Being a pre-Civil War tough guy.  Am I doing it right?)

December 25, 2012

Behold! Happy Holidays!

Best wishes for all of you this Christmas Hanukkah Kwanzaa Observation of the Winter Solstice Preparation of One's Body for Several Dozen Gallons of Egg Nog holiday season. 

Also, a quick note: look forward to a special holiday chapter of I Hraet You.  It'll be as exciting as it is non-canon!

(But no Spirit Showdown this week.  You can blame that on a viewing of, AND an upcoming post on Django Unchained...and me getting yelled at for doing anything in PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale playing video games with friends for Christmas.)

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to continue being tormented by Majora's Mask in an alternate dimension of despair and failure straddling the boundary between reality and fantasy.  It's part of a story arc, you see.

And THAT'S how you stay in character. 

December 19, 2012

Spirit Showdown #8: The Soldier

“Hey, it’s your favorite band!”

My brother Rich recoiled at the sound of Linkin Park bursting through the speakers of his car.  It’s a running gag between us to say “it’s your favorite _____” when something either of us revile  or don’t care about shows up, like when I’d hold up the Wii installment of Deadliest Catch during a GameStop run and say “Hey, it’s your favorite game!”  But the mere mention -- the mere thought -- of Linkin Park made him positively livid.  Why, I couldn’t begin to guess.

Of course, he was quick to explain.  “Everyone’s allowed to like one shitty band when you’re young,” he said.  “I remember back when I was taking bass guitar lessons, my teacher told me to bring in a song to play.  So I brought in Linkin Park, and he was just like, ‘Ughhhhhhhh.  All right, let’s get this crap over with.’  I mean, they’ve gotta have the worst bassist ever.”

Not being a guitarist, I wasn’t about to debate with him.  All I knew was that at one point, he liked Linkin Park -- to the point where, when I’d come home from school, it wasn’t uncommon for me to hear him blasting some of their tracks.  Whether that was just to hone his skills or just because he loved hearing their music remains a mystery…though I suspect his discovery of the band was helped by stumbling upon a Dragon Ball Z AMV set to “Forgotten.” 

It goes without saying that, by virtue of audio-osmosis, I ended up liking Linkin Park for a while as well (it certainly helps that Rich left one of their CDs in my CD player after an extended borrowing period).  While those days have long since passed and I’ve moved on to some better stuff since then -- metal in particular -- there was a time when their music had a real effect on me.  Not the “CRAWLING IN MY SKIN” sort of affect, of course, but just enough to shape me just a tiny bit.  To change my perspective, outlook, and of course, creative processes.

So if not for Linkin Park, this next character likely wouldn’t exist.  And if not for the years that followed, and all the music therein, this next character wouldn’t be who he is today: quite possibly my favorite of them all.

December 18, 2012

RE: How I Met Your Mother

Wait a minute…two short posts back to back?  What sorcery is this?!  (Don’t worry, it won’t last long.)

“Yikesy mikesy” is a phrase I don’t use very often.  I came up with it back when I was six, and for a while I had every intention of making it my catch phrase.  Didn’t pan out, exactly; I pretty much didn’t use it until my brother reminded me that I once coined it.  And even then it wasn’t exactly a common utterance.  But I’ve entertained the thought of putting it into rotation -- after all, there are few phrases that capture the supreme, heart-stopping, breath-stealing affectation of something truly remarkable.  So for future reference, if you see me use “yikesy mikesy” to describe something, chances are it’s to describe something I found really, really great.

Such is the case with How I Met Your Mother.  

December 16, 2012

Horror Movies -- An All-Points Bulletin

I’ll get straight to the point: I don’t like horror movies.

I feel like it’s a genre that has a lot of faults by nature (though there are exceptions, I’d assume).  You know what I’m getting at -- the jump scares, the use of gore rather than actual horror, the almost-supernatural ability to include some bare breasts at any juncture, the situations predicated by stupidity…and most of all, how so much of so many horror movies is just a progression from one kill to the next.  It all turns into a slog; a nigh-invincible monster has his way with scores of mostly-attractive people, only to lose out at the very end…OR DOES HE OMGWTHLOL HE’S STILL ALIVE ROLL CREDITS!

As I’ve explained before, I don’t hate horror movies because they’re scary or gory; I hate them because they’re stupid.  But time and time again, I end up sitting in front of the TV with my brother and my buddy, sitting through what should ostensibly be a tense, paranoia-inducing creep show, only to realize how bored I am the whole way through.  And that’s assuming that I don’t go into Nitpick Mode -- something I’m more likely to do if I’m not being entertained, or there are some grievous gaps in logic, or it just drags on and on and on because, oh no guys, here comes the chainsaw-meister!

So after watching a pair of horror movies with my pals last night, I was about ready to swear off horror movies for the rest of my life.  If they found one on TV, I’d raise an objection and say, “Nope.  Change the channel; we’re not watching this.”  But that’s not fair.  Not fair at all.  I know -- I KNOW there are good horror movies out there.  I know there’s a reason people keep making these things.

And that’s where you come in, fair reader.

I’m issuing an APB -- a call to arms -- for some good horror movies.  Name one in the comments, give a little description of what makes it good, whatever you have to do; prove to me that there’s something worthwhile out there.  I know there is, but the fact that I’m consistently exposed to dreck has left me weary and jaded.  I need someone like you (a presumably-brilliant and beautiful young warrior noble) to guide me to something good.  Tell all, speak all, discuss all; give me something to look forward to, or check out on my own.  Give me a reason to believe in the genre, or to know the true meaning of fear and despair.  Show me that I’ve been missing out on the good stuff.

I’m in your hands now, guys.  Don’t let me down…and also, don’t run me through with a chainsaw or machete.  I assume that would be relatively unpleasant.

December 15, 2012

Final Fantasy 13: Target's a Target (Part 4)

So.  Let’s talk about this game again.

I know it’s been…what, half a year since the last post dedicated to this game?  And I’m pretty sure I promised that I’d be hitting some of the high notes (relatively speaking) well before that.  But I got distracted by other stuff, and then the next thing I know, I can’t quite summon up enough bile to give the game a licking.  That’s not to say I’ve forgiven it by any means; it’s just that I couldn’t bring myself to summon the right bile.  It would have been lukewarm at best, I think.

That problem no longer exists.  I’ve played through a few hours of Final Fantasy 13-2, and…hmmm, what’s the best way to describe it?  A disappointment?  A disaster?  Dead on arrival?  Dumber than a lobotomized turkey after several decades of inbreeding?  Well, any one of those would likely do.  What I’m getting at is that for all of 13’s faults, 13-2 is on a whole different level of terrible.  Is it worse than its predecessor?  Well…there’s a lot I want to say about that game, and I will.  Believe me, I will.

But in order to talk about that game, I want to tie up some loose ends.  I need to wrap up this game first…and then, maybe I’ll be able to make fewer jokes at its expense. 

And then I can start making jokes at 13-2’s expense.  Circle of life, I guess.

(It goes without saying, but there are going to be SPOILERS.  You know, if you care.  I certainly don’t at this point.  I seriously -- like, I can’t even bring myself to care.  I don’t -- I really don’t feel like -- I AIN’T EVEN MAD!

…Okay, I am a little bit.

Excuse me; I need to smoke the equivalent of the combined weight of China’s population in cigarettes.  And if I’ve done my job right, by the end of this post you will too.)

December 12, 2012

Spirit Showdown #7: The Agent

Killer7 is a weird game.  I just want to make that clear.

It’s as much a rail shooter as it is an adventure game, fusing Resident Evil’s item-collecting sensibilities with the pinpoint-striking gunplay of any given light gun arcade game.  If that were it, then I’d be fine with calling it innovative and leaving it at that -- but in case you haven’t heard, Killer7 is a game where you shoot mutated, explosive, laughing suicide bombers in their weak points to absorb their essence.  You play as eight characters, seven of which are more or less rolled into one body and you switch between them as needed.  There’s a conspiracy involving an afro-haired TV personality with a cardboard office in Texas, a pastiche of the Power Rangers that’s come to life and kills their creator, and a plot partially orchestrated by two Japanese politicians who shoot brain matter at you after having their heads blown open, and the only way to beat them is to shoot at one of their ties.  Oh, and a harvester of the bodies of orphans who has an anime schoolgirl daughter with eyes the size of sand dollars, submachine guns, and super-speed. 

I’m pretty sure that the developers -- Suda51 well among them -- made it up as they went along as part of their drug-fueled fever dream; I dare not imagine the man who could come up with the final hours of that game while in a normal state of mind.  But what’s important to take away from Killer7 isn’t that it leaves you saying “Wow!  What a delightfully weird-ass game!”  What’s important is that it leaves you saying “Wow!  What an imaginative game!”  That’s probably why I admire Japanese games as much as I do: they don’t give a damn if you don’t understand them in the long run.  They’re just out to act on their creative vision -- act without limits, just as any good story can and should.

And with that in mind, here we are.  A story, and a heroine, that likely wouldn’t exist without the reckless imagination of Killer7.

Hope you’re ready.  The first member of the “Tech Trio” is here.

December 8, 2012

Let's discuss Ratchet and Clank.

No one is more than aware of my aptitude of making crushingly long posts.  So in an effort to try and get over that bad habit, here’s everything you need to know about this post condensed into one sentence:

$8.99 is all you need to own one of the most enchanting and rewarding games ever created.

…And now to spew six thousand words explaining my claim.  Nobody said that breaking bad habits was easy.

(My love for you is like a truck SPOILERS!  And potentially, BERSERKER!)

December 5, 2012

Spirit Showdown -- Round 2 Recap

Hey guys, what’s up?  I’m guessing that a bunch of you are getting into the holiday spirit (or lamenting its mere existence and the contaminating effect it has on society and media at large).  And what better way to celebrate the season than with a much-needed update on the Spirit Showdown?

Now, don’t flay me with your trusted javelins just yet.  I’ve been cooking up some new stuff on the Showdown front, and if you’ve been keeping up you may have noticed it.  There’s a story arc a-brewing within the confines of that segment, and if things go as they have so far, the entire world -- and worse yet, the internet -- is facing a complete meltdown!  What’s a blogger to do?  You can bet I’ll have my hands full trying to figure out an answer, but time’s running out…and characters that I once considered allies may turn out to be the most dangerous of all!  Breathless gasp!

So yeah, if the original character (DO NOT STEAL!) angle isn’t doing it for you, rest assured that there IS something bigger going on in the long run, and if I can summon up the proper skills, I can give it a hopefully-satisfying conclusion.  That aside, I’ve prepared another four-minute recap to bring any newcomers up to speed on the “Speed Trio”.  Observe:

And of course, the recap on the “Power Trio” is still up and ready for viewing.  You can pop over there at your leisure and see that video if need be.  Alternatively, you can read the in-depth stuff on Cobalt, Shino, and FX whenever you’re ready -- or just place your votes at the bottom of this post, or once it appears on the sidebar in a day or two.

That aside, I want to take steps here and now -- while there’s a slight reprieve -- to open things up for at least SOME form of discussion.  As I said when I started this thing, I’m not just doing this to show off my super-duper characters or my so-so at best art.  This is a way to get people thinking about what they can do and want to do with their own work…or at least think about the things they like in a new light.  A good story, in my opinion, has a strong and definable spirit -- an essence, or an array of ideas and proofs that helps to give a story a genuine and unique feeling.  I think it’s something that is pretty easy to point out, when you think about it; to paraphrase Mr. Plinkett of Red Letter Media, “You may not have noticed, but your brain did.”  So I’ll go ahead and leave a question for you visitors to my virtual space:

What’s your spirit?

I would assume that there are a handful of would-be writing heroes who have my blog on virtual speed dial, so if you’re one of them (or have inexplicably come here by virtue of searches for sauerkraut), then tell all.  If you’ve got a story in mind, talk about its essence.  What makes it tick?  What makes it special?  What makes it your own, and your best?

And for you gamer-types, don’t think you’re off the hook either.  Even if you’re not actively writing a story, you still have easy access to tens, hundreds, or even thousands of them across at least a half dozen mediums.  So in your case, I’ll ask you this:

What kind of spirit gets you excited?

I’ve made my distaste for gritty stories known, but maybe that works for you.  Maybe there’s something you see in them that I don’t -- not just aesthetic and tonal choices, but the one-word essence that sums up everything that makes the tale what it is (I’d argue that the spirit of Looper, for example, is “selfishness”).  Basically, you can gab on about why you like the things you like; if you’re anything like me, writing about what you enjoy will give you a better perspective and appreciation of it.  Or just make you hate it more than the limits of human emotion and decency can allow.  Could go either way, really.

In any case, the stage is set.  There are six characters up, and four more to go.  The story arc is starting to motor.  Soon enough, the Hero of Heroes will be crowned.  But we’ve still got a ways to go before we reach that point.

In the meantime…

And that’ll do it for now.  See you guys around.

December 4, 2012

The Walking Dead: So That's What's Going On

Thousands of years ago, I did a post on The Walking Dead.  It’s amazing how much things can change (or not change) over the course of a few seasons.  But it’s worth noting that I not only stuck through Season 2, with the many, many, many problems therein, but have successfully watched Season 3 to its midpoint.

So.  What can I say about this show now?  Uhhhhhhhh…well, I kinda like it.  It’s not perfect -- by the nine rings of Draupnir is it not perfect -- but I don’t mind watching it every Sunday, and I certainly have more of an investment in it than I did earlier this year.

It’s worth noting, however, that my opinion of the characters therein has changed somewhat.  Namely, that I’ve been rooting for the wrong guys.

(Spoilers -- and brains, maybe -- to follow.  So I guess if you’re a zombie that hates spoilers but loves brains, tough luck.  You’re not getting my brain anytime soon.)

December 1, 2012

Let’s discuss PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale.

Funny thing about this post -- it wasn’t supposed to exist.

That is, it wasn’t going to be a single-game discussion; it was part of a batch that I’d started working on beforehand.  But one thing led to another, and I noticed that the section for this game ended up being bigger than the other three combined.  So here we are, in a dedicated post on the game.  Kind of beneficial on my end, because it gives me plenty of space to focus and talk about my findings -- and ultimately find out where I sit with the so-called “Smash Bros. Clone”.  Which it is; it really is a clone, no matter how much you try to deny it.  That’s not a bad thing, but there should be no attempts to try and say otherwise.

With that in mind, I don’t know what to make of this game.  Really, I don’t.