Breakdown, breakdown! Let's analyze JoJo's Bizarre Adventure and do it shining justice!


December 27, 2013

As Black as Lightning (Part 1)


(Cross-Up is on hiatus, but not really, sort of!  In the meantime, please enjoy this high-quality filler!)

You know, I have a sneaking suspicion that it was (the great) Jim Sterling’s review of Final Fantasy XIII that led me to discover Destructoid one fateful day.  In a universe where eights, nines, and the occasional perfect score orbited the game like Saturn’s rings, that one glorious 4.0 shone brighter than the sun, and to this day stands as proof -- a totem of fans’ and gamers’ outrage, and in more than a few cases outright disappointment.  That game has come and gone, and for those who felt wronged -- myself included, obviously -- there have been plenty of titles that have helped heal the wound…and then the wound got torn wide open with a rusty shovel by Final Fantasy XIII-2.  And the mere existence of Lightning Returns is enough to turn my body into a living, blood-spewing gash.  But with that game looming large on the horizon and Square-Enix in dire straits -- and news of Lightning getting a bunny suit, because of course she gets a bunny suit -- I think it’s time for me to make an assertion I’ve had in mind for a while.

That famous review started with this line: “If you're a hardcore Final Fantasy XIII fan, prone to emotional outbursts and so defensive of Square Enix's latest effort that you'll get upset by harsh criticism, then you're advised to not read this review.”  The same applies here...to some extent, at least, considering that this isn’t a review.  In fact, you can almost consider this a refutation.

December 26, 2013

47 Ronin -- An Emergency PSA

I like how as soon as I try to put the blog on hiatus, I end up seeing a movie so bad that it drags me back in.  I feel like one of those guys in an action movie who gets pulled in for “one last job” and it ends with a death toll in the dozens.  Still, that’d make for a better movie than this.  When the most interesting part of the movie is when the theater has technical difficulties and the film starts glitching out like a sputtering GameCube disk, you know your time has been well spent.

So yes, the movie’s pretty terrible and I hate it, so let’s talk about why.  But quickly.  Because I want to do something fun, like not think about this movie.  Also, because I’m dumb.

Also, don’t see this movie.

Spoilers incoming, but…look, just do what I didn’t and go see Frozen or something.

December 24, 2013

2013: Endless Possibilities


This year’s just about over.  Let’s have a special end-of-year post, shall we?  It’ll be fun.

At least, I hope it will.

*reads first 2 ¾ pages of Word document*

…Let’s just get through this.  I promise there’s a glimmer of hope in here.  A Christmas miracle, I know.  And on that note, HAPPY HOLIDAYS.

Now let’s get the despair party going.

December 20, 2013

Season's Wii-tings: The Wonderful 101

Let me be upfront about The Wonderful 101, before I get too swept up in the words to come.

The Wonderful 101 is not -- I repeat -- is NOT the greatest game ever created.  It is not the be-all and end-all of video game potential.  It is not the automatic winner of Game of the Year, merely because it exists.

It is not a perfect game.  In fact, at times it can be surprisingly frustrating.  I don’t agree with its detractors -- and I know there are some out there -- but I respect their opinions.  I know what they’re talking about.

But with all that in mind, let me say, conclusively, from the start, that The Wonderful 101 is a good, good, good, good, DAMN GOOD GAME.  

So much so that I’m going to do something I don’t do very often.

*deep breath* The time has come.

December 17, 2013

Beyond: Two Souls (feat. Kamen Rider Fourze)

So.  Not too long ago, the Two Best Friends -- or technically the Super Best Friends, since Matt and Pat brought Woolie along for the "Sadness" -- finished their LP of Beyond: Two Souls.  I’m on record of saying that I would sacrifice a goat for the gang to play the game from start to finish, and my prayers were indeed answered.  It certainly saved me the trouble of playing the game beyond the demo.  And as it turns out, the Best Friends did me (and our species) a greater service than they could have ever imagined.

Yikesy mikesy.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if I had played Two Souls for myself, from start to finish, it would easily be the WORST game I’ve played all year.

It’s like a thirty-car pileup on top of a train wreck on top of an oil spill on top of a forest fire, with a ruined birthday party thrown in for good measure.  This game -- and I can’t even use the word “game” properly -- gets so much wrong it’s almost fascinatingly terrible.  Almost.  I’m pretty sure I never bore David Cage and his crew at Quantic Dream any ill will before; that’s true even now, but after seeing them at their “best” I can’t say I have even an eighth of the good will I had beforehand.  Whatever they’re cooking up next, if it’s anything like Two Souls they need to start over. 

A part of me was willing to start this post by asking “Has David Cage ever played a video game?”  It was going to segue into how you could use the medium to tell or enhance a story, given that his game has been done, and done better.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that wasn’t the right question to ask.  There isn’t even a question I need to ask.  Why?  Because I have a theory.

David Cage doesn’t need to play more video games.  He needs to watch something dumb.

WARNING: Spoilers for Beyond: Two Souls AND Kamen Rider Fourze coming your way.  One of those is worth caring about.  The other isn’t.  Guess which one.

December 13, 2013

Season's Wii-tings: Wind Waker HD

A funny thing happened the other day.

There was a pretty big snowstorm the other day -- and by “snowstorm” I mean “here’s lots of ice, so screw you if you want to make a snowman” -- so me, my brother, and my buddy piled in to play video games.  In the midst of the two of them taking turns playing Resident Evil 4, my buddy made a proposition: if my brother gave him a ride to the nearby Wal-Mart to pick up some sour cream (seeing as how said buddy had to walk to game with us), then he’d offer us some tacos at his place.  Said brother wasn’t on board, but when he heard that he’d be able to snag Resident Evil 6 on the cheap, he figured it was worth braving the elements.  Anything for his beloved “great game, great experience.”

It turned out that with all the ice, his car was useless.  So if we wanted to get to Wal-Mart, we’d have to go there on our feet.  In the ice.  With night falling.  And that’s exactly what we did, against ALL of our better judgment.  It was a journey made in the name of tacos and terrible video games -- one that I just happened to go on by virtue of “going with the flow”, but one that I stayed annoyingly optimistic about all the way through…to the obvious displeasure of a brother who complained all the way there and back.  The trip took about an hour, and we slipped and tripped a little, but I had fun.  It would have been more fun if not for that miserable cold, but it’s not something I’ll forget for a while.

I get the sneaking suspicion that a lot of adventures are sparked by stupid decisions -- but once they’re done and everyone’s in their safe haven, what was once just stupid becomes something precious.  Something necessary.  We need adventure.

Which brings me (as circuitously as possible) to The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD.

December 10, 2013

What Does Disney Mean to You?

Has anybody reading this seen that movie Frozen yet?

The most I’ve seen of it outside of a couple of commercials (I only paid half my attention to, a poster, and maybe an online ad is Bob “MovieBob” Chipman’s review -- and the way he talked about it, it’s very nearly a revelation.  Obviously, reviews are only a suggestion of quality and not a confirmation of it, but I tend to take MovieBob’s words very seriously. 

Even if I didn’t, I have to admit I’m kind of interested in the movie.  I didn’t go see Tangled in theaters, but when I watched it on TV sometime later, I asked myself if I’d made a mistake in missing out.  Though I find it odd that they didn’t just call it Rapunzel instead of Tangled.  And why the poster has the Dreamworks Face in full force.  And now that I think about it, I wonder why promos for Frozen -- which could/should have been called The Snow Queen -- are more eager to show off a cloying mascot character instead of giving any indication as to the real meat of the movie, i.e. the depth that’s apparently a major part of what makes it actually…you know, good.   But what do I know?  I’m no Walt Disney.  Then again, I don’t have to be.   

It’s been a while -- no, this is probably the first time I’ve ever put any thought into Disney as a whole, but this is as good a time as any to challenge my perspective.

December 6, 2013

Season's Wii-tings: Super Mario 3D World

Time for a little positive thinking.  (I deserve this after a month of Family Guy posts.  Just let me have this.)

With November 22nd now past us, the big three have all released their eighth-generation consoles.  Notably, November saw the release of two of those three consoles within a week of one another, and both have reportedly broken the “million units sold” mark.  Which console won the first fight in the latest and greatest war yet?  Which one will go on to claim true victory over all others? 

Frankly, I could care less.  Right now the Wii U’s the winner in my book.

That’s not to say that the PS4 or Xbox One are worthless or useless.  And that’s not to say that the Wii U’s flawless, or that it’ll suddenly overwhelm the competition to become a financial juggernaut (though that’d be totally awesome and I kind of hope it happens).  But when I look at the games for the “real” consoles and see games that are getting browner, grayer, duller, shootier, stabbier, and microtransactionier…well, I hope you’ll forgive me for not exploding with hype.  (Seriously, you know your console’s messed up when new technology makes it HARDER to do colors.)  Comparatively, Nintendo’s first real step into the HD generation has given us colors, aesthetics, imagination, and a level of splendor that almost heals the wounds left by DmCAlmost.

So you know what?  It’s almost Christmas.  Let’s make it a special one, and gab about Wii U games -- starting with the kinda-sorta fantastic Super Mario 3D World.  Because as it turns out, it’s fantastic in a way you’ll never see coming.

December 3, 2013

On NaNoWriMo (AKA Voltech the Liar)


Don’t worry, your pies are safe.  But I guess it’s about time for me to come clean.

With any luck, the truth will set me free.  Either that, or make some people very, very cross with me.

November 29, 2013

Let's discuss Family Guy (THE FINALE).


I guess I should probably mention that I’m the Mookie King.

My class and I were on a field trip to a three-day camp adventure so that hopefully us kids would gain a better understanding and appreciation of nature (you can probably guess how well that went).  On the first night, the kids in my group -- about thirty strong, if I remember right -- gathered outside with one of the camp counselors to play a game of “Mookie”.  The rules are simple: one person gets pulled out of a line of competitors, and has to stand his ground amidst his rivals and their attempts to make him laugh by saying “Mookie” as hilariously as they can.  If the single person doesn’t laugh, he moves down the line.  If he does, he goes into the line and loses his chance at winning the game -- at becoming the glorious, undisputed “Mookie King.”

I was somewhere near the start of the line -- second, maybe third -- but I played the game well.  I covered my face with a hat (in retrospect, building up anticipation) and then let it rip.  So I took the hotspot, and had a chance at winning the whole thing…assuming, of course, that I could clear some twenty-eight additional attempts, including the camp counselor.  As it turns out, it was a lot easier than I expected.  Nobody could get me to laugh.  Nobody.  The camp counselor -- who I rightly assumed would be my greatest challenge by virtue of commanding the game for years -- got a slight smile out of me, but that was it.  I probably freaked him out a little.  “How could there be a kid who didn’t laugh?” he must have thought.  “He must be a very sad child.”

No, I don’t think that’s the case.  Maybe it was just a signal -- early proof that I had needlessly-high standards.  I don’t think I’m funny, that much I’m sure of no matter how many people disagree.  But by the same token, I’m not usually the laugh-out-loud type, or even the laugh-at-all type.  I LOVE How I Met Your Mother, but even on its best days it’s barely gotten a chuckle out of me.  It’s not that I don’t think it’s funny; it’s just that whatever mechanisms there are that make people want to laugh (or even smile), I might be lacking.  It probably has something to do with me getting into my dad’s beer can when I was three, but whatever.  I’m sure that didn’t have too serious of an effect on me.

Now, you might be wondering what this little story has to do with Family Guy.  And the answer to that is…it doesn’t have anything to do with Family Guy.  I just thought I’d offer something that’s only tangentially related to the post at the beginning, because A) I do that a lot, in case you haven’t noticed, B) maybe it’s an insight to the madness of King (but not really King) Voltech, and C) it’s about to get worse.

It always gets worse.


November 26, 2013

Girly Guys and Manly Girls


Fair warning: this is probably going to be the stupidest post you’ve ever read.  Or if not the stupidest, then the one that’ll draw discussion away from the topic and put me under (or on) fire.  Or if not that, then at least make you wonder what in the name of Paul Bunyan’s button-down flannel shirt I was thinking.  So to temper whatever rage and disdain may come this way, let me start by bringing up Kamen Rider.

I’ve been checking out bits and the pieces of it recently -- OOO, Fourze, and especially, if those words mean anything to you -- and what I’ve seen of the decades-long franchise has been supremely rewarding, and supremely entertaining.  What should ostensibly be a slew of big dumb kids’ shows have shown a level of depth that no one would expect, and married flawlessly to a spirit of fun and excitement.  To use a food analogy, there’s something to lick for a quick sugar rush, but there’s a legitimate buffet to sink one’s teeth into.  Although that’s probably not too good for the stomach, but whatever.  Totally worth it.

But the other day, a funny thing happened.  Well, not funny ha ha.  More like funny because of a twist of fate.  Of the non-destiny-altering sort.

November 22, 2013

Let's discuss Family Guy (Part 3).

All right.  Now let’s talk about The Simpsons for a bit.

Like I said before -- maybe against my better judgment -- I’m one of those terrible creatures that still think The Simpsons is still funny.  It’s not the funniest show ever, mind you, and not always on-point; I’ll go ahead and mirror the sentiment that the show in recent seasons is at its worst when it goes on at length about modern technology (because those things and their usage tend to make fun of themselves).  But for what it’s worth, when it’s on I’ll gladly watch it. 

Still, there’s one thing that I want to bring up.  I think The Simpsons is still funny, but sometimes I don’t feel like people are thinking about the show’s quality in the right way.  I don’t think people should be asking if it’s still funny; they should be asking if it still has heart.  I’m not implying that its crew is phoning it in -- especially in comparison to certain other shows -- but I wonder if they’re putting the effort in the right places.  Getting in those jokes is simple enough, and expected of the crew, but if the Nostalgia Critic’s Top 11 list taught me anything, it’s that The Simpsons can and has handled more than just gags, slapstick, and the occasional bit of social commentary. 

Ah, if only Family Guy could learn such valuable lessons…

November 20, 2013

Thor: The Dark World: Bring the Hammer Down

You know what I think?  The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s greatest strength is just how captivating it is. 

The idea of a shared universe/canon might have been absurd at one point, but by and large it’s worked.  It’s worked for individual movies, and it’s worked for the movies as part of a single unit.  I’m not saying that every movie is a flawless masterpiece, but the strength of each one is that they have the potential to surpass the “turn your brain off popcorn movie” stigma and offer up something meaningful under the guise of a suited hero punching dudes really hard.  The movies force you to move at their pace -- and that’s not entirely a bad thing.  It’s a sign that a viewer (or me, at least) is getting invested.

That said, I can’t help but think back to the first Thor movie.  As you can guess, I saw it back before I started the blog and started thinking more critically than ever before -- so naturally, I ended up calling it a good movie when asked, and went so far as to put it in the third slot of an informal “top 5 Marvel movies: list” once upon a time.  Thinking back, I wonder if I went too easy on the movie, especially in the wake of complaints before, during, and after screenings.  Did I miss something?  Did I get too swept up in the Norse-on-Norse action?  Hard to say, but if I had to guess based on evidence -- based on The Dark World hovering around the 66% mark on Rotten Tomatoes -- people aren’t quite as forgiving as I am.  But I had to see the movie for myself to judge for myself.  To give the movie a fair shake.

What did I think?  Well, let’s just say you know you’re in good hands when you can reference a power metal song in the blog title.

WARNING: SPOILERS IMMINENT.  If you have any interest in seeing the movie raw and without being swayed by others’ opinions beforehand, then you should…hey, you know what I just realized?  Thor did like five Mighty Smashes in this movie.  That’s pretty cool.  I think he got an OTG off of one of them, but he dropped the combo.  Good thing he had X-Factor.

November 18, 2013

November 15, 2013

Let's discuss Family Guy (Part 2).

You know what?  I’m glad I’ve got something like I Hraet You.

I’m not going to pretend like it’s the greatest thing out there -- because it isn’t -- but I do enjoy it.  I enjoy writing it, and I’ve found that I enjoy reading earlier chapters a lot more than I expect I would.  I’d certainly rather read one of those than, say, some of the prototype stories I’ve scribbled in notebooks.  (Note to self: make sure those notebooks have been burned and scattered into the four winds.)  Whatever the case -- or quality -- the story may be far from done, but even now I think I can see some of my ideas and opinions taking form.  It’s proof of what I think a good story can, could, or even should offer.  Well, maybe not the whole wombat thing.

I’m not so cocky to declare that everything I do is right, and everything that I do should be done by others.  I have my style and opinions, and others have theirs.  All I ask is that, if I’m doomed to languish in obscurity forever (or at least for a little while longer), then others who are holding all the creative power should put up a smart effort.  They should respect and wisely use the power they hold.  They should show their audiences, the lowly peasants that scrabble at their heels, that they deserve trust and admiration.  They should put their all into everything they release, IN SPITE of the wealth and fame they’ve gathered.

They should.  But that’s all in theory.  In practice, we have a show like Family Guy.    

November 13, 2013

Of Batman and “Predator Games”

(Alternate post title: Bored with Power 2: Electric Boogaloo)

I would just like to say one thing upfront: it is almost hilarious that this post covers the same topic I talked at length about almost a year ago on the dot.  I say “almost”, of course, because the fact that I feel like I HAVE to dredge up this topic again means that by and large I don’t feel like the games industry has learned a single damn thing.  Ergo, it’s less “almost hilarious” and more “completely depressing”.

So.  Not too long ago I did a little post on Batman: Arkham Origins (which I posted on a Monday because I didn’t want the stigma of a Family Guy post taking the top slot and corrupting my blog for too long).  I went in with a bit of cautious “optimism” thanks to the reviews and consensus being less than positive, but I figured it was at least worth a shot to see if the game could win me over.  It didn’t.  I couldn’t bring myself to play past the first hour or so, and with my brother saying that it just goes downhill from there I decided early that even if there WAS a good story in there, it wasn’t worth it.
                                                                            
As always, I want to stress that if you like the game, then that’s great.  I envy you.  But I couldn’t even begin to enjoy it, and I feel like I can’t rest until I explain why.

Short answer?  It’s the gameplay.  Long answer?  Well...hold on to your butts.

November 11, 2013

Of Batman and Prequels

Once upon a time, I hoped that when Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy came to an end, we could all shut the hell up about Batman for a while.  Not forever.  Just long enough to give the guy a rest.  Long enough for the public conscious to focus on someone else.  Something else, either canonically or stylistically.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case, seeing as how the question of “How do we make a good Superman movie?” has been answered with “Add Batman to it.”  Riveting. 

I’ve wondered before if the presence of the Dark Knight Trilogy has had a negative impact on games (or media in general), but that’s all guesswork, and I don’t want to dive into that discussion anytime soon.  That said, the release of Batman: Arkham Origins has gotten me thinking about the character and his mythos in general, and how he’s portrayed in whatever he may appear in.  By now I’d hope you know what I prefer, but I want to make it clear that I don’t hate Batman.  I just hate it when he -- or any character -- isn’t used well.  And indeed, I was under the impression that this so-called prequel game would give me a fresh perspective on the caped crusader, in a way that only a prequel can.

Then again, that only raises its own set of problems.

October 31, 2013

Let's discuss Ghost Adventures.

How much you enjoy or hate Ghost Adventures all comes down to a single question: do you believe in ghosts? 

If you do, then chances are you’ll be more likely to take the words of its investigators at face value, or at the very least buy into what they’re selling.  If you don’t, you’ll be more eager and more capable of poking holes in their “investigation” than I could ever be.

Personally, I can’t say that I believe in ghosts.  I’m not saying that they absolutely do exist, or that they absolutely don’t exist; it’s just that there’s not enough conclusive proof -- for me, at least -- that they do or don’t drift among us.  Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.  We can’t see oxygen, but we know that exists.  Same goes for Pluto.  Same goes for Antarctica.  Can we see any of those things with the naked eye at all times?  No.  But we can prove conclusively that all of those things are real.  That’s what science is for.

And Ideally, that’s what the Ghost Adventures team is for.  But proving the existence of ghosts is just one of their big trials -- because against all odds, they manage to make a show about finding ghosts unbelievably BORING.

October 29, 2013

The Walking Dead: So What Happens Next?

Looks like we’ve made it to Season 4, haven’t we?

How courteous of The Walking Dead to not only return before the Halloween weekend, but to show up way early.  That’s what you call dedication…either that, or AMC just wanted a clear programming block for a bunch of horror movies, and didn’t want to waste time recapping TWD episodes on the most terrifying weekend of the year.  Or maybe they just wanted ratings. Who’s to say, really?

Whatever the reason, the show is back and in full swing, bringing with it a slew of fans along for the ride.  Rick, Daryl, Carl, and all the rest are getting in on the zombie-slaying action all over again, ready to do whatever it takes to survive against the undead hordes.  And this season’s primed and ready to deliver on what we’ve all been waiting for -- along with no shortage of busted-up brain-munchers.

There’s just one little problem.  It might already be too late.

SUPERMASSIVE SPOILERS INCOMING.  IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE BETTER PART OF SEASON 3 (INCLUDING ITS FINALE) AND HAVE EVERY INTENTION OF DOING SO, DODGE ROLL AWAY FROM THIS POST RIGHT NOW.

Oh man, I love the Dodge Roll.  Hope it makes a comeback in Kingdom Hearts III.  As a corollary, I hope Kingdom Hearts III doesn’t suck.

October 25, 2013

Manly Songs: Kamen Rider Birth (Instrumental)

Okay, I know that this is supposed to be a feature shaped by visitors and readers, but I’m going to have to hijack the Repository for a moment.  Just a moment.  Because it’s kind of important.


As noted, I’ve been getting a lot of mileage out of Kamen Rider OOO recently.  I can’t speak for anyone’s preferences besides my own -- especially since I’m a Rider greenhorn -- but for what it’s worth, I think OOO is pretty freakin’ great.  (Then again, I watched the first episode of Fourze recently, so we’ll just have to see which one retains top honors.)  In any case, part of the allure of OOO is the music, and how it weaves into the series at large.  The way it works is that the titular Rider uses a combination of three medals to mix and match parts for his suit’s weapon loadout.  As long as he has one head medal, one body, and one leg, he can freely choose between parts.  But if he puts in three matching medals, he gets an even stronger form…and said form brings with it a swanky tune.  (“Power to Tearer” is as godlike as its title is Engrish-y.)

What I didn’t expect was for there to be a hidden gem on the soundtrack.  Two hidden gems, in fact.  That’s because they were tied to a certain character I didn’t even know existed until I’d gotten knee deep in OOO.  But now I feel ashamed for not getting into the series sooner -- because not only is the music amazing, but the character in question is just as incredible.

Now then.  It’s time for a manly henshin…unless you’re wary of spoilers, which there WILL be.  Then again, the title of the post is a spoiler in its own right, so go nuts.

October 22, 2013

Two shows enter a Halloween brawl!

I imagine I’m not the only one who wants to do a Halloween-themed post, and I doubt I’ll be the last.  But I figured I might as well.  It’s not often that one gets to celebrate holidays.

So here’s what I’ve been thinking.  For some inexplicable reason, people seem to like it when I overanalyze things to an absurd and likely-unhealthy degree, so if I’m going to do a Halloween-themed post, it might as well be about something scary.  And given what I’ve seen recently, I’ve got the material and the drive to talk about a TV show perfectly suited for the season of scares.

Or should I say, TWO TV shows.  And that’s where you come in.

Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

October 18, 2013

"War has changed."

It’s not about nations, or ideologies.  It’s not even about profit, resources, or…et cetera, et cetera.

You know, it really says a lot about the mindsets behind certain development teams -- and to some extent, entire cultures -- when you’ve got Metal Gear Solid 4 claiming that “war has changed” and Fallout 3 claiming that “war never changes”.  And it’s almost funny how the first lines of two really good games start with words in complete opposition from one another.  It’s enough to discuss at length in a well-planned and in-depth blog post…at least, it would be if MGS4 wasn’t about five years old and it’s already been talked about to the point of excess.  Ah, if only I’d started blogging a half-decade earlier…and I had the power to pre-empt every discussion ever to appear on the internet.

Well, whatever.  As you can probably guess, I finally got around to trying Metal Gear Solid 4.  I didn’t have a PS3 when it first came out, and while my brother borrowed a copy of the game from a friend once we did have one, I didn’t even get around to touching it.  I was content with watching, laughing along with him, and falling asleep during a cutscene that had to be about an hour long.  (I seem to be really good at falling asleep on floors.)  But as I’ve said in the past, I’ve always had a fondness for the Metal Gear franchise, even if every experience I’ve had with the games has led to sequences straight out of a Hanna-Barbera cartoon.  MGS4 is no different.  I’ve just scratched the surface of it, but I find it incredibly intriguing.  Stealth-bungler or not, I’d definitely like to play it at least a little more.

Because whether or not you think “war has changed”, there’s even more to think about.  Maybe something everyone should think about.

October 15, 2013

Grand Theft Auto V: Making Gouken Proud


Okay.  So not too long ago I asked the question of “How do you play Grand Theft Auto”, mostly because prior to trying out the latest game for myself I was genuinely curious.  That question came from a guy notorious for GTA shenanigans, most of which entailed and/or ended with a grisly death.  Barring that, I’d just fire a rocket under my feet in a desperate attempt to train for a stint as a Soldier in TF2

But I gave the game a fair shake, even if it was days -- weeks, even -- after others had long since enjoyed and even finished the game.  So in a way, being “topical” is not much of a possibility.  This is more of a bit of self-discovery.  A relaying of an epiphany.

I have a theory.  The best way to play Grand Theft Auto V is to do nothing. 

And that’s precisely what makes it great.  Much like a certain martial arts master.

October 11, 2013

How do you play Grand Theft Auto?


And the “Silliest Post Title of the Year” Award goes to…

In all honesty, I can’t think of a more appropriate title for a post.  I consider myself a gamer of some degree of -- for lack of a better term -- “hardcore-itude”, but I’ll be the first to admit that there are gaps in my skill and knowledge.  That said, I do have Grand Theft Auto V in my possession (as I should, because I exist), and while I haven’t played it as much as I should have/be, my brother has.  And from what I’ve seen, it looks like a pretty cool game.  Playing as this fabled creature the Elders call “Trevor” looks like it will quite literally be a blast.

But that only puts me in a bit of a bind.

October 8, 2013

Let's discuss...Kamen Rider?


If there’s anyone out there with any objections to a post on Kamen Rider, raise your hand now.

…Put your hand down, Mortimer!  I’m doing a post on Kamen Rider!

October 7, 2013

MORE Notes on I Hraet You are online.


Well, we’re long overdue for an update on the Notes page.  But with the (unofficially-titled) Sheila O’Leary Arc completely wrapped up, I figured it’s about time to pull back the curtain on a few hraet-y matters. Anyone up for it?

Oh.  I guess you don’t have a choice in the matter.  Unless you close the page and never look back, but who would ever stoop so low?

…Don’t close the page.  I’ll do your laundry for you if you don’t.

So yeah, go and have a look over on this page (which I'm linking again because...reasons) whenever you’re ready.  It’s worth noting, though, that as of today I Hraet You is going to take a break.  I’ve reached a good stopping point via the kinda-sorta season finale-ish 97th chapter, so I figure I should pause for a bit and rebuild my buffer.  (And work on some other stuff, some of which might be popping up soon.)  For the time being you can probably still expect Cross-Up posts to come on Tuesdays and Fridays, as they have been for a while.  They just won’t be sandwiched between IHY posts.

Is that it for housekeeping?  Yeah, I think that’s it for housekeeping.  In the meantime, read on.  It’s the only way you’ll have context for WRESTLING.

October 4, 2013

Re: RE: Beyond: Two Souls


After trying out the demo (and seeing it played before me in full at least once) I can say with some confidence that out of the one Quantic Dream game I’ve played, this is the best of them all.  Or…technically a slice of the one Quantic Dream game I’ve played.

Yep.  This is gonna be one of those posts.  

But on the plus side...hey, three colons in the title.

October 3, 2013

I Hraet You (97)

Beat 97: The Last Face You’ll Never See

The blast’s force blew Lloyd onto his back.  Clouds of dust and chunks of debris swept over him, with shards of stone and wood slashing and crashing against his body.  Yet he counted himself lucky; only a few embers from the explosion seared his skin.  He knew it could have been much worse.

He knew, because he sat up a half-minute after the blast.  He didn’t get to see the balls of fire that had destroyed the house, but columns of flame twisted in the wake.  A tower of black smoke rose from the foundation’s center, disturbed only occasionally by the night breeze.  As for the rest?  Nothing but smoking, crackling wreckage -- and even what little remained of the house crumbled and tumbled, preparing itself for the fire’s feast.

Lloyd just sat there, eyes so wide he nearly tore the muscles within.  He couldn’t feel the blaze’s heat; if anything, he felt as if he’d leapt inside a freezer.  He couldn’t get his mouth to work; he couldn’t get his body to work.  But in spite of everything, his mind remained in full working order.

He’d watched the O’Leary house explode before his eyes.

The same house that Sheila had just entered.

“Sheila…”  Lloyd squeaked.  He raised a trembling hand, as if hoping someone would come and take it -- as if someone would help him stand up.  “Sheila…!”

But nobody came.  Nobody.

And that meant just one thing.

Lloyd stumbled to his feet, and stared at the blooming blaze.  He kept his hand held out, still trembling, still expecting -- hoping -- praying that someone would come and take it.  But nobody came.  He could only expect a wisp of flame to lash at his hand.  He had lost her.  He had to accept it.

But he didn’t have to be graceful about it.

“SHEILAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!”

October 1, 2013

RE: Beyond: Two Souls

Man, it’s weird making a title with two colons.

Anyway, not that long ago my brother and I -- as so often is the case -- were having a random conversation that led back to video games.  And he asked me if I thought the upcoming Beyond: Two Souls would be any good, which inevitably meant that it’s a game that’s been on his radar.  If not for some time beforehand, then at least recently.

I guess that’s the thing about trying to play Nostradamus with video game quality.  The only way for consumers to know whether or not a game is good is to buy it themselves -- and once they realize that they’ve bought the laser disc form of garbage, it’s too late for them to do anything about it.  The publisher has already won, and by and large they’re done with you once they’ve got your money.  So what do you say when it comes to a game you can’t possibly know enough about to comment on?  More importantly, what do you say when it comes to a David Cage game?

My answer at the time was “Mehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…I don’t know about that one.  I would wait and see.”  But looking back, I wonder if that was even close to the answer I should have given.

September 30, 2013

I Hraet You (96)

Beat 96: The Capper

With its shift on the wane, the sun began its usual commute into Porbeagle’s horizon.  The day’s heat subsided bit by bit, but the hint of salt in the air still wafted regularly past the townsfolk.  As always, the sky welcomed and displayed streaks of gold and orange, with the sun’s rays peeking through thick, slate-hued clouds.  The town might have known no shortage of frenzy -- in the past, present, or future -- but as it citizens shuffled off for their homes, a sense of tranquility pervaded throughout.

Lloyd smiled.  He was exactly where he wanted to be -- outside a supermarket holding a girl’s hair as she puked repeatedly into a trash can.

“MRFRAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!” Sheila’s body quivered and buckled for the thirty-second time that day, and the splatter of liquefied lunches echoed out of the can.  When she finished, she pushed herself up from the rim and gasped for air.  “Okay…okay…I think that’s the last of it.”

“You’re sure this time?” Lloyd asked.

Sheila stood a few inches higher and sniffled.  “…Nope.  Still more.” 

Her ear wiggled, but Deirdre didn’t get the chance to say a word; she just bent back down and fired off another sickening salvo.  “MRFRAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!”

“Is that the last of it?” Lloyd asked.

Deirdre stood up slowly.  “Yeah.  Yeah.  Yeah, I think…I think that’s it.”  She stepped away from Lloyd and patted a hand against her stomach.  “So I guess I learned something new today: I REALLY hate puking.”

September 27, 2013

Let's discuss Devil Survivor 2: The Animation.

Hey guys!  Did you know I like Devil Survivor?  Bet you never would have guessed, considering how I like working into any possible conversation I can.  And I AM the chief authority on the games, considering that I’ve beaten exactly zero of the hidden bosses.  (Beating the late-game Bels of DeSu1 was hard enough.)

In any case, the DeSu2 anime is a thing that happened not that long ago.  And the mere announcement of it made me excited; after all, the creation of an anime meant newfound recognition and promotion.  More people would get exposed to the anime, and more than likely get excited about and ultimately try the (dope-ass) game.  That was setting aside the fact that the anime, in its own right, could make a good case for itself.  The game laid the groundwork, and the anime would capitalize on it with its own high-quality, demon-busting, cell phone-brandishing adventures.  Awesomeness would ensue on all accounts.

Or so I thought.  But on the plus side, the main theme is pretty cool.

Incoming spoilers.  Hope you’ve got Shield All equipped, because you’re going to need it to protect yourself from a Maziodyne’s worth of revealed plot points -- for both the game and the anime.

Also, get ready for a crapload of bias from someone that has played the game too much to be healthy.  If you’re looking for a more balanced look, head over here to this blog instead.  It’s much less insane.

September 26, 2013

I Hraet You (95)

Beat 95: A Hunting We Will Fear

“Hard to believe that my brother had the same idea as someone who’s supposed to be a genius,” said JP, shaking his head slowly.  “You are actually smart, right?  Not just relative to Lloyd?”

“I’ve got the report cards to prove it,” said Arjuna.  “Well, they’re not with me at the moment, but there should be plenty of them back at my house.”

“That’s all right.  The fact that your response actually made sense is proof enough -- for now.”  JP leaned against the car’s back seat, and stared coolly at Arjuna from the corners of his eyes.  “So let’s hear it.  What’s so special about this town?  Why is it a place someone like this masked freak wants to screw around in?”

“Can I answer that with a question?”

“I’ll allow it.”

“This masked man -- where did you first meet him?”

Mrs. Overdose looked over her shoulder, and swished her reed about.  “I met him first a while before this thing started, what with me bein’ a bounty hunter and all,” she explained.  “But JP here met him over at that old mansion.  You know the one, don’t you?”

Arjuna nodded.  “Haldane Manor.  So, it’s just as I thought…though I’m starting to think that that’s not exactly something to be happy about.”

I Hraet You (94)

Beat 94: Consider Disconnections, Consider Connections

“More than friends,” Lloyd repeated.  “Oh.  You mean lovers, right?”

Sheila pulled away from Lloyd, as if his denseness had pried them apart.  “W-well, what else is there?” she asked.  She lowered her head and pressed her fingers together, her face reddening yet again.  “I mean…you know…if you want to…I-I-I wouldn’t mind.”  But she jerked her head back up, and held her hands out in defense.  “Oh, but only when you’re ready!  I don’t mind waiting -- we really should take things slowly, shouldn’t we?  I am pretty new at this, after all.”

“You want to be my lover, huh…?”  Lloyd folded his arms and stared absentmindedly at the sky.  For once in his life he went silent, with the only noise coming from him -- and indeed, the only noise in the plaza’s alley -- being the shuffling of feet across oil-splattered concrete.  And when he’d done that a few dozen times, he glanced to the east, mouth covered and gaze airy.

“Um, Lloyd?  Do you -- are you --?”  Sheila shuffled in turn, but not nearly as long.  “We can be more than friends, can’t we?”

Lloyd turned back to her.  “Why?”

September 24, 2013

High-Level Housekeeping! (AKA the 401st Post)


First off, I want to use this space to officially thank you readers for sticking with this blog for as long as you have.  I couldn’t do it in the last post because I was “in character”, but I feel like I HAVE to take some time out to say thanks to anyone who’s even bothering to read this.  That big 400 isn’t exactly a number worth paying attention to, given that said number’s been inflated by content in one file being spread into two or three (or nine) posts, and of course tons of I Hraet You chapters, buuuuuuuuuuuut what I do value are the comments and readership of viewers like you.  So consider this milestone a celebration of all of you.

And in the same breath, a provocation of all of you. 

Yes, that’s right, the Spirit Showdown is back after a months-long hiatus.  Those of you who’ve seen the blog in the past…oh, roughly eight seconds might have noticed a tab over there labeled Spirit Showdown.  For the five of you who actually cared enough to look at it, it’s a bit of blog fiction -- for lack of a better term -- that puts the characters I’ve created over the years into a brand new scenario.  A story outside their stories, as a proving ground for their mettle, their potential, and of course their spirits. 

…At least, that would have been the case if it didn’t suck

September 19, 2013

I Hraet You (93)

 Beat 93: Should’ve Thrown Her in a Rubber Room…

Lloyd trotted out of the gas station at a brisk pace, holding up a plastic bag like a stolen treasure.  In his haste, he nearly became the new hood ornament of a passing truck -- but a quick swivel of his feet put him back on track and heading across the street.  “Miss O’Lea- I mean, Sheila!  I have returned with good news, and a greater bounty!” he cheered, and stumbled toward her after tripping on the curb.  “Behold!  The fruits of my -- which is to say some factory somewhere in the depths of this continent -- labors!”

“What did you get?” Sheila asked.

“Ha ha!  Prepare yourself for a grand treat, my dear!”  He reached into the bag and pulled out his bounty: a honey bun, with its glaze and sugars sticking to the crinkled wrapping.  “If what I’ve heard is true, there’s nary a woman in this world that can resist the allure of sweets.  Therefore, I offer this, a swirly tribute, to your magnificent being!”

Sheila’s head tilted slowly.  “Do I…have to say some kind of poem before I take it?”  She scratched her temple.  “I don’t think I’ve got it in me to talk like a super-flowery dandy all day long like you do.”

She’s on-point with her offhand insults, Lloyd thought with a sigh.  In spite of that, he handed her the honey bun, and watched in silence as Sheila took a few delicate bites.  “Well?  How is it?”

“It’s good.  Really good.”

Lloyd snapped his fingers.  “Heh HA!  Excellent!  So it would seem that the words of men wiser than me have come to pass!  I’ll be sure to rely on their wisdom in the future, that I may continue to win your favor!  Mayhap some day in the future, I’ll be able to offer you a cake of the highest caliber.”  He stroked his chin.  “Perhaps one with a distinct cantaloupe flavor?  I’ve always felt as if it’s a bit underrated in the fruity pantheon, you see.”

September 17, 2013

September 16, 2013

I Hraet You (92)

Beat 92: Romance Never Dies (Except When it Does)

Deirdre took note of Lloyd’s blank stare, and sidled up to him as fast as she could (if only to save face).  “Oh?  What have we here?  You look like a boy who has excellent taste.”  She sashayed her hips, and tossed a hand through a few bangs.  “So.  Do you like what you see?”

Lloyd pointed to her face.  “Your nose is running.”

Deirdre wore her sultry smile for as long as she could -- at least until a stream of snot dribbled down her bottom lip.  She ran a forearm across her face and leapt away, turning her back on Lloyd once more.  “Damn it, Sheila!  Why isn’t that spray working the way it’s supposed to?  I can be sexy, but not when I’ve got a nose like a broken faucet!”

Her ear wiggled, and she turned her head left.  “I gave you all the good stuff already,” said Sheila.  She pumped her fists up and down.  “By the way, that good stuff wasn’t cheap, so don’t expect to see too much of it again.”

Her ear wiggled, and she turned her head right.  “THAT was the good stuff?” Deirdre yelled.  She stomped a foot against the ground.  “That crap barely lasted for an hour!  And it burned the hell out of my nose!”

“You mean our nose.”

“Whatever!  Just do something about your nose already so I can work my magic!”

“I don’t think there’s anything I can do -- unless you feel like spending a half hour in the bathroom.”

“Doing what?”

“W-well, they usually have plenty of toilet paper…”

“Oh, screw you!  I’d rather clamp my nose shut than spend a second in a germy public bathroom!”

“Might I offer a solution, ladies?”

September 13, 2013

Why Anime is Amazing: Because Hideyoshi

YouTube is a very dangerous place.

It seems like it wasn’t that long ago when you could load up a video -- a song, or maybe an out-of context clop -- and be done with it.  But recently, it seems like every time I load up the site (which is often, given that I listen to video game music when writing), I end up getting sidetracked by the “recommended for you” cache that inevitably pops up.  It’s like a measure designed specifically to make sure my time gets wasted.  It’s either that or ensuring that I fall prey to the siren song of nostalgia.

One of the things that happened to catch my eye one day was a song from Sengoku Basara.  I’ve always had a fondness for the franchise -- for obvious reasons -- and Samurai Heroes helped secure that fondness thanks to its great soundtrack.  But thanks to the anime tie-in and YouTube’s dark magic sorting algorithm, “This is a Fight to Change the World” ended up getting recommended.  I’ll do you a solid and offer up a courtesy link…along with an assertion.

As it stands, the character that song belongs to -- one Hideyoshi Toyotomi -- is my favorite anime villain.

September 12, 2013

I Hraet You (91)

Beat 91: All Hail Puppeteers (and also Makeovers)

“A date?” JP shouted.  “You want to go out on a date?”

Lloyd nodded and resumed his business.  “Well, of course.  At the moment I’m hard-pressed to think of any other way to interact with Miss O’Leary.  Not to mention that she was the one that propositioned me; it would be outright callous of me to…”  He lifted his head and stared at JP with wide eyes.  “Oh!  So this is what they call a date!  My, I’m starting to get a bit excited!”

“Lloyd, are you KIDDING ME?  Don’t go out on a date with someone that almost killed you!”

Lloyd tilted his head back down.  “It was an act of near-homicide bred of misguided adoration.  Nothing more.  Or if you prefer, a misappropriation of effort.  But as I explained to you, I’ve managed to sort out a number of Miss O’Leary’s issues.  And beyond that, my adventures with her don’t end just because she’s reached four stars; I made her a promise, and I intend to make good on it, being her comrade for as long as I’m able.  So what follows next is a matter of…of…”  He furrowed his brow.  “I can’t quite seem to figure out how this mechanism is supposed to work.”

JP covered his face.  “Over and under, Lloyd.  Over and under, then you make two loops and --”

“Ah, so that’s the key!  Yes, that makes perfect sense!”  Lloyd nodded rapidly, and finished tying his shoes.  “There we are!  Fully threaded and ready for a day of true merriment!”

“Have I ever mentioned how much of a disappointment you are?  Because I get the feeling that I don’t say that as much as I should.”

September 10, 2013

Let's "discuss" Star Ocean: The Last Hope (Part 2).

Now here’s a question for you: have video games lost their sense of adventure?

The simplest answer I can come up with is “no.”  But even an answer that’s one percent more complex is “no, but…”  People -- including me, distressingly enough -- like to dump a lot of hate on this generation and hearken back to the days of old.  Games used to let you explore!  Games used to give you worlds!  Games used to mean something!  Games used to have character, man!  That was true of past games, sure, but even today we’re still getting games that rival and even surpass the hall-of-famers.

On the other hand, we’re going to keep getting games that…well, I’ll use the phrase “missing the point”.  For one reason or another, I feel as if a lot of developers are missing the point about why we play games -- and in exchange, substituting in their own, severely misguided point.  Star Ocean: The Last Hope is a good example of this, and not just because it’s utterly snared by its anime trappings.  It’s a trek through space that forgets it’s a trek through space, choosing to opt for planets straight out of an NES JRPG until suddenly remembering “oh right, space!  We can throw in whatever we want!”  And instead of exploring the possibilities of its admittedly-cool villain/concept, we’re given the same story arcs all over.  Young heroes with a mysterious power.  Rescuing the mystical waif from the bad guys.  Revenge diffused by a mere misunderstanding.  Until the main villain is revealed, there isn’t much in the way of a consistent threat from one planet to the next -- which wouldn’t be so bad if the game offered up more meaningful episodes.  It didn’t.  Its cast is almost uniformly embarrassing, and yet the focus is on them instead of making the worlds AND the characters fully developed.  It’s a Spark Notes page that only has every fourth word written.

So.  How about that gameplay? 

September 9, 2013

I Hraet You (90)

Beat 90: The Only Viable Response to Rejection

Lloyd sat on what remained of the den’s couch, scratching absentmindedly at his temple.  Thankfully, he’d gotten over his grogginess -- though he couldn’t deny a hidden desire to go to the hospital, or at least see a school nurse -- and at the moment had little more than a rumbling stomach.  If he wasn’t half-covered in bandages, wounds, and a forcibly-made pair of shorts, he might have looked as if he’d gained inner peace.

The same couldn’t be said for Sheila.  She might not have taken as much punishment as Lloyd, but as she sat across from Lloyd on the remnants of a coffee table, she looked about ready to pledge herself as a slave to the first person that walked past.  She kept her head hung low, and gripped her knees with the force of a vise.  Said knees wobbled and knocked together on occasion, and her uplifted shoulders trembled enough to dance out of their sockets.  The only thing she could get to come down normally were streams of snot dribbling down her nose -- and as always, she sucked them back up at perfectly-timed intervals.

Trixie leaned toward Lloyd’s ear from behind the couch.  “I got a real bad feelin’ ‘bout all this, pal.  Ya sure this is all gonna work out?”

September 6, 2013

Let's "discuss" Star Ocean: The Last Hope (Part 1).

So, it looks like a miracle has happened.  Temporarily.

For months, my “How to Make a Good Street Fighter Movie” post has taken top honors as the number-one most-visited post on Cross-Up.  And while there’s no doubt it’s got the highest view count by a WIDE margin, only recently has it been supplanted.  One of my posts on The Last of Us managed to do it -- and is still a top-scorer -- but more recently, the one I see (or did see) taking the top spot is a post on Tales of Xillia.  And frankly, I’m happy with that.

It is criminal that the Tales Series doesn’t have as much recognition as it deserves.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Final Fantasy has long since been surpassed as the greatest JRPG franchise.  And if you ask me, the one who’s been sitting on its shadow-shrouded throne is the Tales Series.  It’s a strange day, indeed, when you wake up one day and realize you’ve played more Tales games than FF games…at least, it’s strange for me.  And stranger indeed when three out of six FF games were enjoyable, while six out of seven Tales games are significantly closer to my heart.  (We do not speak of Dawn of the New World.  Ever.)

So I’ve been thinking.  Recent comments -- and spotting old files strewn about on my machine -- have reminded me of games past, and words that still need typing.  And I figured it’s about time to bring them to the forefront.  So let’s have a look at one of the corpses stepped over and left picked clean by vultures in the desert: Star Ocean: The Last Hope.

Fair warning, though: you might want to make sure you don’t read this where anyone can peek over your shoulder.  This game has some…things in it.  (And also SPOILERS.)

September 5, 2013

I Hraet You (89)

Beat 89: No Victory for Old Psychologists

“Combine?” Lloyd repeated.  “Wait a moment.  So does that mean…?”

“Uh-huh.”  Sheila gestured toward Deirdre.  “It’s like she said.  She can’t beat you.  And neither can I -- so I guess you can call this your win.”  She pressed her fingers together.  “A-a-although I’m sorry you had to work so hard to get this far.  It’s -- i-i-it’s not like I wanted to cause so much trouble.  It just kind of…happened.”

“Think nothing of it.  Although…”  Lloyd’s eyes shifted to his left.  “Am I really the one you should be apologizing to?”

“But…but I…”

Lloyd flashed a smile.  “I would consider myself lucky to be in your position, Miss O’Leary.  I imagine very few people ever get a chance to have a conversation with their imaginary friends.  I’d bet there are more than a few kindergarteners that are jealous of you -- so why not take advantage of the opportunity?  You might never get one again.”

Sheila nodded -- and with an unsteady step, she turned to face Deirdre at last.  “I…s-sorry, but I…I don’t even know where to begin.  I mean, this is all so unreal, I…”  She rubbed the back of her head.  “Gosh, this is really gonna be hard…”

Deirdre just stared at Sheila, her smirk long since gone.

September 3, 2013

Go see The World's End...also, I Hraet You.


*gestures to first half of post title* 

And there you go.  The shortest Cross-Up post yet.


…Sigh.  Never mind.  Let’s chat for a little bit.  About The World’s End -- and I Hraet You, too.

September 2, 2013

I Hraet You (88)

Beat 88: The Greatest Euphemism

“The madam…?” Deirdre asked.  “You mean --?”

Sheila nodded slowly.  “My mom.  He’s…he’s talking about my mom.  Though I don’t really know what he’s getting at here.”

“Worry not.  Everything will become clear soon enough,” said Lloyd.  “Rest assured, she is as much the key to your transformation as the concept of dreams.  But in order to expound on either of them, there’s a topic that we have to discuss at some length.  One that’s been on my mind for quite some time, even before her entry and departure from this audition room.”

“Wh-what’s that?”

“Isn’t it obvious?  Child-rearing.”

For a second it looked as if both the girls might fall right off the stage -- and if Deirdre hadn’t been fused to said stage, she very well might have. 

“My.  That’s quite a reaction from a pair of ladies that had aims to do something so scandalous,” Lloyd said as he stroked his chin.  “Could it be that in spite of all your bluster, neither of you are quite ready to take that fateful plunge?”

“Don’t get smart with me, boy!” Deirdre snapped.