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

December 29, 2014

Let’s discuss Kamen Rider Gaim (Part 2).

(Cross-Up is on hiatus, sort of, but not really!  I’m going to try and take it easy over the next few weeks, because it’s the winter holiday season and I half-expect nobody to be around on the internet.  Things will get back in gear sometime in January, but until then?  If you ARE here, then enjoy a handful of high-quality filler posts.  It’ll be fun, presumably!)

Before I get started, let’s play a game. 

I want you to think of a villain -- your favorite villain, from any story, from any medium, from any time.  Take as much time as you need before going on.  Then, once you have that villain in mind, think for a minute about why that villain means so much to you.  (In the event that the villain is more of a concept/conflict than someone the hero can punch in the face, substitute that instead.)  Don’t worry about forcing yourself to articulate it, or even mentioning it here in a comment.  Just keep your answers fresh on your mind, okay?

Good.  Great.  Remember those answers, because I’m going to come back to them later.  But for now?  Open your eyes for the next Faiz.

My SPOILERS will make you cry.
Wipe your tears with this.  *tosses printed copy of the last two Gaim posts*

That is also the wrong Rider.  Man, I’m really bad at this.

December 25, 2014

Kamen Rider Gaim: A Super Holiday Suplex Post

(Cross-Up is on hiatus, sort of, but not really!  I’m going to try and take it easy over the next few weeks, because it’s the winter holiday season and I half-expect nobody to be around on the internet.  Things will get back in gear sometime in January, but until then?  If you ARE here, then enjoy a handful of high-quality filler posts.  It’ll be fun, presumably!)

Oh man, please tell me I’m the first person on the internet to make this joke.  It would make me so very, very happy.

Well, if nothing else, I’m the first person to ever make the joke on this blog.  THAT MEANS I’VE WON!

All right, I’m about to unload a fruit basket’s worth of SPOILERS on you guys, so if you want a no-spoiler version of what I think about this show (and by extension, a trim primer on Gaim), then you’d better go read this post instead…or first.  Or you can read this one if you have no interest in ever watching it.

That would kind of make this post a moot point -- if not for the stuff I’m about to discuss.  Are you ready?  Here we gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

December 22, 2014

RE: Kamen Rider Gaim

(Cross-Up ison hiatus, sort of, but not really!  I’m going to try and take it easy over the next few weeks, because it’s the winter holiday season and I half-expect nobody to be around on the internet.  Things will get back in gear sometime in January, but until then?  If you ARE here, then enjoy a handful of high-quality filler posts.  It’ll be fun, presumably!)

I don’t do this very often -- or at all -- but I’m going to have to put a little strain on the rules.

What I post here tends to NOT be a straight-up review -- of TV shows, games, movies, or anything that pops up.  I’m more concerned with determining why something is good or bad instead of just outright saying “this is good” or “this is bad”.  There’s some overlap, sure, but as I’ve said in the past, this isn’t the place to go if you’re looking for a score on the latest game, or any sort of ranking system.

That in mind, I have to make an exception just this once for Kamen Rider Gaim.  Two reasons for that: first, I’d vastly prefer talking about it if I can point someone toward watching it -- but seeing as how that’d demand a fifty-ish episode marathon run, I think it’d be best if I at least put the suggestion in a reader’s head.  More importantly, Gaim is the sort of show that’s hard to talk about without tripping all over spoilers -- SO, I’m going to use THIS post as a sort of all-purpose primer.  It’ll superficially tell you what’s good and what isn’t (even if that means hinting towards spoilers); in the posts to follow, we’ll go into full-on discussion mode so I can talk about the good and the bad.  Watching Gaim in its entirety won’t be required, though, so you can rest easy.  Just read what I’ve got so you can walk away with a fresh perspective.

Okay?  Okay.  Let’s get started then.  First…

December 15, 2014

Season’s Wii-tings II: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Previously on Cross-Up…

“Sometimes I wonder if I’m a hypocrite.  And then I remember that I am, so I go about my business.  But then I remember that I brought up that point for the sake of a blog post, so I guess I’d better go into detail.”

Okay.  So in the last post, I mentioned that I tend to have a bad reaction whenever the Game Grumps go back to the NES/SNES well -- playing 2D platformers and such on an extremely regular basis.  It’s true that they can get a lot out of them comedy-wise that I appreciate, but then I remember how much fun it was for me (and the Grumps, I bet) for Dan to experience Shadow of the Colossus for the first time.  I suppose there’s always Steam Train -- or failing that, the Best Friends Zaibatsu -- to offer up something fresh, but it still leaves me wary.

Except when they play something like Donkey Kong Country Returns: Tropical Freeze.  I wanted to stand up and cheer when they started a playthrough on that…which is ass-backwards, considering that it’s pretty much just a 2D platformer that just happens to look amazing.  So that pretty much means I’m a hypocrite, right?  Like, I just want the Grumps to play the games I like, and what I want to see?  That’s the impression I’m getting, unfair as it may be to some of the funniest guys online.

In my defense?  There’s a reason why I want them, and everyone, to play Tropical Freeze.

December 11, 2014

D.O.X. is Dead #8: Avatars and Magic

Let me tell you a little secret: I don’t always know the difference between a good idea and a bad one.

This blog may make me look like a smart guy who has all the answers [citation needed], but that’s hardly true of me.  Just think about it: would a guy who has all the answers feel the need to completely invalidate years of work on a hunch bred from second-guesses and crippling insecurities?  Common knowledge suggests not.  So let it be known that I’m no ace.  I stumble just like everyone else -- maybe more than average.  And I’m hoping that even if I become some writing tour de force, I won’t become so blinded by power that I’ll reject all criticism.  (Consider that a license to punch me in the stomach for anyone who one day sees me as no better than Michael Bay.)

I want to do my best -- and more -- for the sake of others.  I want my stories to entertain people, and make them happy.  And I want to be good enough to make that happen.

Which begs the question: why do I keep doing dumb things?

December 8, 2014

Season's Wii-tings II: Shovel Knight

Sometimes I wonder if I’m a hypocrite.  And then I remember that I am, so I go about my business.  But then I remember that I brought up that point for the sake of a blog post, so I guess I’d better go into detail.

Like a lot of people, I’m a fan of the Game Grumps.  Whether it’s the original Jon era or the current one with Arin and Dan, it’s still a series I tune into routinely.  Sure, not every second of every video is a laugh riot, and their regular stumbling blocks are problematic (I’m surprised I lived through their Wind Waker playthrough, given how long it took them to leave the first damn island), but on average?  Team Grump is pretty good. 

Still, I have to make a confession.  Whenever the two of them decide to play through an old-school NES/SNES game -- platformers, typically -- my heart ends up sinking.  I mean, Team Grump has access to a monstrous library of games, both from fan contributions and a museum-sized collection.  Out of all the choices available, why opt for something like Super Adventure Island?  And why do that as a months-later follow-up to a game like Shovel Knight, the premiere love letter to old-school games?

Crap, did I just give away my opinion on Shovel Knight?  Great.  Now why would anyone want to read this post?  I might as well just post pictures of cats or something.

December 4, 2014

D.O.X. is Dead #7: Scope and Heart

These three things happened last time on D.O.X. is Dead!  (With the proper music, of course.)

Firstly, two dangerously-deadly rival characters are revealed -- the rough-necked punk, Coil, and the bruising beauty, Kath! 

Secondly, the story’s revamped concepts take the stage, with the idea of power discussed furiously at length!

And thirdly, two MORE characters of the core cast of eight make their debut -- the king of normalcy, Johnny, and the queen-sized wallflower Maddie!

And that’s about it for the recap.  So let’s get into the post proper.  First things first, though:

Count the words!  The number of words appearing in this post is…!

Man, Kamen Rider OOO is just too good.  I seriously need to do a post on it one day.

December 1, 2014

Season's Wii-tings II: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

I have to be honest: I don’t really care for the title.

I get it, of course.  There’s a Smash game out for the Wii U, and there’s a Smash game out for the 3DS.  How do you set them apart?  Say as much in the title!  But man, isn’t that name such a downgrade?  We had Melee, and then we had Brawl, and now we get…for Wii U?  Why not Showdown?  Or Riot?  Or -- well, I guess those are all the good ones.  But the point stands.

That’s pretty much all I’ve got in terms of complaints.  I could nitpick, I guess -- and I probably will -- but other than that?  Look, I seriously don’t think I need to tell anyone reading this that this is a good game.  If you have it, you know that already.  If you don’t have it, then you’ve probably heard as much by this point -- and I’d argue that you should buy it, especially if you have a Wii U. Generally speaking, just going over some of the ins and outs of the game would make this post completely pointless.

So let’s do something different.  Let’s start with a question: why this game?

November 28, 2014

The Smash Diaries (Day 5)

So I decided to check the Smash Bros. wiki to see if there were any nuances I missed in the new game -- you know, to try and make some of those intangibles more tangible.  I already knew about the Tekken-style rage effect built in (get hit a lot, do more damage), but the wiki suggests that not only is there increased knockback, but also the inability to act out of hitstun.  It seems like a minor thing -- and it is, because not every player even knows what hitstun is -- but that nuance does mean something in the long run, especially for those who care immensely about the under-the-hood mechanics.   Among other things.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that whether you’re aware of the changes or not (or if I am, in all fairness), Smash 4 feels more…well, I don’t want to use this word exactly, but since I can’t think of a better fit, let’s go ahead and use “legit”.  I don’t know if this game will replace Melee as the EVO standard, if it’ll be able to exist simultaneously, or if it’ll just be cast aside by the old guard.  But I think it’s at least capable of making it there, and being welcomed by the fighting game community. 

Which brings me to the point of the day: Nintendo’s master plan.  Or my vision of it, at least.

November 27, 2014

The Smash Diaries (Day 4)

Before I get started, there’s one thing I have to mention: I’ve been playing this game exclusively with the Wii Classic Controller Pro (the one that came with Monster Hunter Tri).  As I’ve established by now, I don’t have any problems with the Wii U GamePad; the issue is that playing Smash 4 means completely un-learning how to play with a GameCube controller.  This has been…an issue on a consistent basis.  I need to get used to the new controller, but it’s the closest facsimile to the GC pad I’ve got right now.

So yeah, no commentary on how the GamePad figures in this time around.  So let’s put our focus back on the game -- though before we do that?  Let’s have a moment of silence for my brother’s GC pad.  After years of smashing, it finally gave out on him. 

Just as well, though.  It had a lot of exposed wires.

November 26, 2014

The Smash Diaries (Day 3)

On his way out one night, a friend of mine jokingly said that PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale is pretty much dead to us now.  I don’t want to say that he’s right…but yeah, he’s right.  The only reason to ever touch Sony’s mascot fighter again is if every copy of Smash 4 and every Wii U spontaneously exploded.  And I’m sorry to say it, but I just don’t see that happening.

All right.  So let’s dive right back in, shall we?

November 25, 2014

The Smash Diaries (Day 2)

Is it redundant for me to talk about the mechanics of a game when there’s been a version of it out for nearly two months before this point?  Yes, of course.  But let’s go ahead and do it anyway, because…uh…holiday filler?


November 24, 2014

The Smash Diaries (Day 1)

So I’ve put some time into Smash 4 -- more than I thought, but less than I’d hoped.  By which I mean there have been several moments in the past few days where I thought to myself “I don’t want to sleep.  I just want to smash all night long!” 

That should probably tell you everything you need to know about how I feel about this game.

But for the sake of a VERY short post (hopefully), let’s start going over some of the particulars.  It’ll be fun.  Just, you know, not as much fun as playing the game.

November 21, 2014

Of Smash Bros. and Short Anti-Breaks

The time has come, and so have I
I laugh last ‘cause you came to die
The damage done, the pain subsides
And I can…et cetera, et cetera.

Smash Bros. 4 is here, people.  We can all play it now -- every last one of us.  MAXIMUM REJOICE.

So.  Let’s have a very quick chat.

November 20, 2014

Interstellar: For the Love of TARS

Is Smash Bros. 4 out yet?  No?


All right, let’s do this.

Do not go gentle into that good SPOILERS
Old age should SPOIL and SPOIL at close of SPOILERS
SPOIL, SPOIL against the -- wait, didn’t the Bum Review do the same thing?

*sigh* I just wanna play Smash…

November 17, 2014

Season’s Wii-tings II: Pikmin 3

So I saw part of Gravity the other day, and I have to say, I wasn’t really feeling it.  Granted I was trying to put something together, and my dogs were being so wild that I eventually gave up on watching the movie in peace, but I went in expecting it to grab me from the get-go and it didn’t.  That’s not to say that it’s bad or anything.  It just wasn’t for me.  I couldn’t get into the characters, and it felt as if the movie could have (and should have) ended as soon as they spiraled into space.  Weirdly, that’s a sentiment mirrored elsewhere -- and I have to wonder how far off the mark I am when most of the praise thrown its way comes from the visuals.  Because clearly, the only thing that matters is how good something looks.  Thanks, video games!

Maybe I’ll give the movie another shot when I can give it my full attention, but there is one thing I took away from it: SPACE IS AWESOME.  There may still be plenty of mysteries left here on Earth, but the stars are the premiere source of adventure in both fiction and real life.  Anything could be out there, but the one surefire thing is the potential for exploration.  Space can scratch that itch, and take us to whole new places.  Admittedly, that adventure is only possible with some hyper-rigorous training and skill in real life (a sobering truth for six-year-old Voltech), but games can compensate easily.

Which brings us to Pikmin 3 -- the game you should have played already if you love games.  And/or space.

November 13, 2014

D.O.X. is Dead #6: Humans and Monsters

Hey, does anybody remember that anime D. Gray Man

To be honest, I’m kind of surprised I do.  I mean, I used to watch it, but it ended up slipping off my radar for one reason or another.  It probably had something to do with its creator taking ill, which led to the manga going on hiatus, which of course led to the anime getting stalled into oblivion well before the story’s conclusion.  It’s kind of a shame, because thinking back, I enjoyed the show.  I suspect that I have a secret appreciation for stories with a twinge of the macabre – at least if my enjoyment of that show, Bleach, and Soul Eater are anything to go by.  (Though it’s my understanding that Bleach fell apart a while ago, so who knows if I’m still a “true” fan.)

The reason I bring up D. Gray Man is because I recently realized that I started getting into it right around the time I started my story.  I wouldn’t exactly call it an influence by any means, but having looked at some old files, I realized that one of my characters was – or used to be – heavily based on one of that series’ characters.  Not in terms of skill sets, of course.  In terms of appearance?  No doubt.  You know me – striking visual design is something I value.  It can be (emphasis on “can”) the first step toward making a good character.

And “striking” is probably the exact word I’d use for one of these characters.  Or, alternatively, “absurd”.

November 10, 2014

Season's Wii-tings II: Bayonetta 2

In the first fifteen seconds of the game, you’re treated to a slow-motion shot of Bayonetta that -- of course -- pans straight down to her crotch.  Barely a minute later, you’re commandeering and piloting an angelic mech to wreak havoc on your foes.  And in one of the early cutscenes, she kicks an incoming jet well above a spread of skyscrapers.  Seems like a reasonable start, yes?

Chances are you don’t need me to tell you how good Bayo2 is (my answer being “absurdly good”).  It’s gotten high marks all over, and proven that the wait was worthwhile.  If not for Nintendo, there would be no Bayo2 -- and now more than ever, I’m glad that the Big N extended a helping hand.  Granted I’m not sure if I like it more than Metal Gear Rising or The Wonderful 101, but that’s a moot point; those three can stand shoulder-to-shoulder as a trinity of awesome games.  I don’t have any problems leaving it at that.

But there’s more to say about Bayo2.  MUCH more.  Dare I say it, TOO MUCH more.

THE SPOILERS REMAIN CAST!  *gets wrecked by angels again*

November 6, 2014

What’s the Key to a Good Horror Story?

Question: How good is Bayonetta 2?

Answer: Too damn good.

I’m not the type to tag scores and numbers to my opinions, but I can see why people would give Platinum’s latest such high marks (including a hyper-rare ten out of ten from Gamespot!).  There’s plenty of good stuff in the game.  And even if the ride’s destined to end -- albeit after a healthy play time -- it strikes me as the sort of game I can and WILL play through again.  I did the same with Devil May Cry 3, after all.  Dat Vergil battle…

Still, I’ve had The Evil Within on my mind for a while now.  I…didn’t care for it, so you can chalk it up as yet another disappointment in the eighth-gen library.  But while I don’t have any problems heaping hate on stuff like Watch Dogs or Destiny, a part of me feels bad for being unable to like Shinji Mikami’s latest.  It could have been the one, man.  But it wasn’t.  And the more I think about it, the more I realize that there’s a reason for it.  TEW may have been botched, but it made me realize how much potential and how many possibilities there are when you make good use of horror elements.

Too bad I have no idea how to do that.

November 3, 2014

Season's Wii-tings II: Hyrule Warriors

You know what?  I think Hyrule Warriors is a great concept.

If I had to guess, I’d say that those who play and love Zelda don’t exactly look to it for the combat.  It’s more about the adventure; exploration, and clearing dungeons, and whatnot.  It may seem strange to say that, seeing as how you can’t divorce the canon from collected weapons and magic swords, but fights are just blips on the radar.  They’re events you encounter along the way, even with the massive bosses you’re typically pitted against.  It really says a lot about the design philosophy when there was no built-in, intentional focus on combat until roughly 2011.

So Hyrule Warriors shows what happens when you let someone else interpret your work (meaningfully and skillfully, at least).  Now the focus is almost entirely on the combat, and shows just what happens when Link and Zelda and all the rest get to go all out against the forces of evil.  As others have suggested, Hyrule Warriors is when and how we finally get to see some of the big battles and wars of lore unfold before our eyes.  I can’t think of a lot of ways to exponentially increase the scale of Zelda’s conflicts, so maybe giving the canon that Musou/Dynasty Warriors twist is the best way to go about it.

That all said, Hyrule Warriors is probably the worst Wii U game I’ve played yet.

That said, even the “worst” Wii U game is still unreasonably good.

It’s LU BU!  LU BU has come to destroy us!
Oh, wait.  I mean SPOILERS.  Not Lu Bu.  Jeez, I’m not playing Dynasty Warriors here!
…Or am I? *nightmarish chorus of fallen angels plays*

October 30, 2014

The Evil Within: The Super Halloween Suplex Post

Sadly, this post has nothing to do with wrestling.  But it is Halloween-appropriate, so there you go.  That’s one match won.

Now then.  Let me start by saying this: I don’t have a lot of experience in “survival horror”.  Or horror in general, if you don’t feel like subdividing into smaller categories.  I’ve played my share of games, but there are still huge gaps I haven’t put much effort into filling.  How big are these gaps?  Well, let me put it this way: the first Resident Evil game I played from start to finish was Resident Evil 5.  I’m not much in the way of the horror genre, and with the Month of Pumpkinpalooza almost over I can’t help but feel like I’m missing out.  I should try to broaden my horizons.

So that’s why I tried out The Evil Within.  Not finished, mind, because I never would have done that in time for this post.  But I’ve taken strides with it.  And conceptually speaking, there’s no beter game to start out with.  It’s by the guy who practically made survival horror a thing (plus helped with Killer7)!  It sounded like a nightmare come to life thanks to a couple of previews!  It’s a bold counterclaim against the mindless power fantasies that are trying to strangle the medium into submission!  What’s not to love?

It turns out there’s a lot.  I’ve spent a LOT of time waiting for the game to get scary -- and, you know, good.  And right now, I doubt it ever will.

October 23, 2014

Revenge is Boring

Yep.  Taking a hard stance on this one -- because I’m convinced that contrary to popular belief, it’s not a dish best served cold.  Or at all.  But let me back up a little.

My friend and I both gave my brother trouble over Middle-Earth: Shadows of Mordor because it just looked like a knockoff Assassin’s Creed.  Licensed game garbage, and little else.  But considering the majority of the reviews and reactions, it looks like the two of us were wrong -- and if nothing else, my bro’s been having a hell of a time with it.  So yeah, I guess I can’t help but offer up my blessing to those that enjoy it, and the game itself.  To an extent.

I’ll concede that the gameplay and the Nemesis system are (apparently) amazing, but there’s more to it than that.  The question that was on my mind for a while was “All right, so how’s the story?”  And the answer I’ve gotten, more or less, is “awful”.  You play as some guy whose wife and child get killed, and he strikes out with newfound ghost powers to exact his revenge on those that wronged him, leaving a trail of bodies in hizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

October 20, 2014

D.O.X. is Dead #5: Ideas and Power

Hey, welcome back to D.O.X. is Dead -- where the points don’t matter and everything is a reference to Whose Line Is It, Anyway.

It wasn’t exactly my intention to let this feature slip out of sight, but these things happen.  I’d say “blame Watch Dogs”, but it’s more my fault than anyone else’s; I’ve been pecking away at that little project for a while now, and setting aside the fact that it takes, you know, time to write a novel, it’d be for the best if I had something to show for my efforts besides empty hype.  And now that I have finished (in a sense) that little project, I’d say it’s time to switch gears.  I’d like to see how far I’ve come, if at all -- and I’m hoping that this “pulling back the veil” is entertaining for those of you reading this. 

If not?  Uhhhhhhh…well, I don’t know.  I’ll just double-up on the funny JPEGs, I guess.

October 15, 2014

Introducing: Cross-Up’s Greatest Hits!!

Well, isn’t that just the most subjective post title you ever did see?  Then again, I’m wary of calling it “The Anniversary Collection” because even if it does allow a reference to Street Fighter, it just doesn’t have the syllabic flow I’m looking for.

Also, I want to make sure that the tabs on the home page are all regulated to a single bar, no matter what screen I or anyone else is on.

…This is a golden start for a post.

October 13, 2014

So What’s The Deal With JRPGs?

Don’t you just love how after spending a solid two months talking about shooters, almost as soon as it’s over I jump immediately to its diametric opposite in JRPGs?  And on more than one occasion, just 'cause?

You could argue that it’s “comfort food” or “getting back into my comfort zone” -- but I’d hope that you wouldn’t.  I like JRPGs, but it seems like I’m being typecast as a guy who only likes Japanese games, or only likes Japanese things; anyone who’s read this blog for long enough should know that’s not the case.  In all honesty, JRPGs aren’t even my favorite game genre.  Granted I don’t know what that is, exactly, considering that my favorite games are all over the map.  But let it be known that even if I can (and will) appreciate a good JRPG, I still think they’re not the be-all and end-all.

So let’s talk a little about JRPGs…as a way to compensate for the fact that I never really did go over a semi-comprehensive list of good JRPGs for every system.  I admit it, I goofed.

If words aren’t enough, please accept a slew of Christina Hendricks pictures as an apology. But then again, why wouldn't words be enough?  Surely we don't live in a world in which the written word has a thousandth of the worth of the average picture.  That would just be ridiculous, and largely counter-intuitive to a society so reliant on verbal and textual communication.  Simply outrageous.  Simply, truly outrageous.

...You're not even reading this text, are you?

October 9, 2014

Let’s discuss Final Fantasy 15(‘s trailers).

Some time back, there was a comment here on Cross-Up that asked what I thought of Final Fantasy 15.  Having largely and forcibly divorced myself from FF after the absolute debacle of the so-called Lightning Saga, I haven’t followed it as closely as I could have.  Then again, it’s not as if there’s been a ton of information to sink my teeth into; despite nearing the nine-year mark in terms of development time, I doubt I’m the only one who only knows scant plot details and a handful of names.  Frankly, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about FF15 is the “please be excited” meme.

It’s a little hard to believe that FF15 is the rebranded version of FF Versus 13.  On top of that, it’s hard to believe that that big reveal -- itself suspected, but never confirmed -- came at E3…E3 2013, that is, with nothing to show for it a year later but some trailers.  On the other hand, it’s been revealed that Squeenix mainstay and Kingdom Hearts mastermind Tetsuya Nomura has been taken off the project/director’s seat, suggesting some potential changes under the hood.  On the other (other) hand, supposedly the game is only 55% complete.  FFS, Squeenix.  You not only botched your entry into the seventh-gen consoles, but let babies grow into third-graders before putting out something.

*sigh* All right.  You’ve got trailers out now, huh?  Okay.  Let’s see what you’ve got. 

October 6, 2014

RE: Persona 4 Arena Ultimax

Ever needed proof that I’m cursed?  Here it is. 

A fellow (supra-dynamic) blogger did a post on the latest iteration of the Persona fighting game, and in anticipation I thought I’d offer up my thoughts on the characters.  So I opened up a Word file to jot down my thoughts (and make sure I could keep things within the comment box’s character limit).  And as I wrapped up, I thought to myself: “Wait, what am I doing?  Does anyone care if I go this in-depth?”  So I realized the answer was no…after scraping together most of a blog post.

So here we are.  I didn’t intend to do a post on Ultimax, but because everything I touch turns into a novella, I figured I might as well do a lickety-split rundown. 

Let’s hear it for resignation to futility, and consistently making the same mistakes!

October 2, 2014

Super Smash Bros.: The Final Hope

Have you ever woken up one morning and thought to yourself, “Wow!  I’ve been a fan of this ongoing franchise for the majority of my life!”  Yeah.  That was me not too long ago.  I can’t say I hate the feeling.

So, Smash 4, huh?  You know, it’s funny; if I remember right, the original Smash was pretty much a low-budget, throw-it-out-there title with little in the way of expectations.  Fast-forward to the present, and not only is it THE most high-profile release for the Wii U, but it’s also the one game that could convince people to even buy Wii Us.  Even though The Wonderful 101 has long since made a strong case for the console, but whatever.  I’m not salty at all.

I don’t know why I would be.  Smash Bros. 4, y’all! 

September 29, 2014

RE: Tales of Xillia 2

Somebody’s getting trolled here, and it’s probably me.

O brilliant SPOILERS of coldest steel, rend the infinite SPOILERS, and crush my enemies to nothing!  SAVAGE SPOILER FURY!

The sign of victory!  (And spoilers.)

September 22, 2014

ShootStravaganza!! THE FINALE!

So, let’s talk about shooters one last time.  Because I thought about giving Destiny another shot, but decided against it; I made a cat robot in the beta, but now I want to make a female avatar.

If the game industry won’t put women in, then the duty falls to us.  #ForJusticeOrSomething

September 18, 2014

Are Video Games Actually Hurting Us?

So I started watching Kamen Rider Gaim.

I said as much on Twitter, but it bears repeating: Gaim strikes me as what happens when a man watches the movie version of West Side Story, and takes it WAY too seriously -- and upon realizing that the streets of New York aren’t filled with gang battles won via elaborate dance moves, proceeded to have a nervous breakdown. 

The show starts in one place, and becomes something completely different barely a quarter of the way in.  Without giving away any spoilers, let’s just say that head writer Gen Urobuchi has evidently been playing a lot of Devil Survivor…and unfortunately, happened to watch huge swaths of the abysmal anime adaption.

That -- much like the majority of this post -- is pretty depressing.  So you might want to have your favorite comedic video or song uploaded.  

(Should your search fail, Gaim will provide.)  

September 15, 2014

ShootStravaganza!! Battlefield 4

“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will He keep His anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.”
--Psalm 103:8-12


So.  You knew this one was coming, didn’t you?

September 11, 2014

So How Good is Harry Potter, Really?

A while back, I got to meet one of my dad’s work friends, and he asked me what I had in mind as per the whole “life” thing.  I told him I had the writing equivalent of “hoop dreams” -- though not in those words, because that would require me to be witty on the spot.  In any case, the conversation ended up shifting to J.K. Rowling and the mind-crunchingly famous Harry Potter series -- which he didn’t think was all that great.

Not being a devoted, diehard Potter fan, I can’t say his opinion filled me with rage.  It caught me off guard, sure, but I understood what he meant.  Failing to do so would bring me closer to believing that the canon is perfect, which -- as you know -- is impossible so long as it fails to focus on Sir Neville M.F, Longbottom.  But for what it’s worth, I think that overall, the Potterverse has its fair share of juice.  It wouldn’t have become a cultural tour de force if it wasn’t.  Although considering what other book series also became a tour de force, that might not have the hallowed status it once did.

But enough about that.  Let’s talk Potter.

September 8, 2014

ShootStravaganza!! MGS5: Ground Zeroes

Cripes.  How do you even talk about this game?

The only way you can is the obvious way -- by bringing up the fact that it’s a forty dollar demo.  And it IS a forty dollar demo, without question.  That’s literally the only reason it exists, even if it’s got a spiffy title independent of the upcoming The Phantom Pain.  And it’s not a justified existence by any means, believe you me.  Remember, I’m the guy who raised a stink over The Last of Us and its DLC -- fifteen dollars for maybe an hour and a half of cutscenes, and maybe thirty minutes of gameplay.  So I can’t in good faith recommend Ground Zeroes to anyone.

And jeez, does this set one hell of a bad precedent.  Konami and crew likely only did it because they needed to restock the war chest, and they figured with the MGS name attached, they could get away with it.  And they did.  Even if some people raised complaints, others -- and plenty of them, by the sound of it -- spoke with the one thing that mattered: their wallets.  So I guess this is the new standard now.  I take issues with games like Destiny offering access to its beta demo solely by preordering the game (and “subtly” pushing a thought-free purchase under the idea that “eh, I already preordered it, so I might as well keep it”), but that’s a saintly practice compared to Ground Zeroes

Now.  Let’s talk about the actual game.

September 1, 2014

ShootStravaganza!! Mercenary Kings

You might think it’s a little unfair of me to add a game like Mercenary Kings to this miniseries, by way of it being a shooter in the sole sense that “it has guns”.  But then again, I could counter that by saying there was never any exact definition as to what sort of shooter would appear in the ShootStravaganza.  Given that there’s a third-person shooter coming up, is it really so far-fetched to have a game that leans hard toward being an old-school 2D platformer?

No.  No it is not, good sir or madam.

Moving on to more pertinent matters -- this game has sprites, and that makes me happy.  I agree with the sentiment of a lot of gamers, and think that sprites are cool…and on top of that, something precious ended up being lost in the transition from 2D to 3D.  I’ve got one of the later Breath of Fire games on my PS3, and the animations there make me lament that that didn’t become the future of gaming.  Same goes for Street Fighter; I like (and still play) IV, but there’s just no beating the marvel of Alex tearing his shirt, Sean’s two-fisted dragon punch, and pretty much everything about Makoto and Elena.  A well-made sprite leads to a level of artistic expression that 3D can’t always match.  Or if not that, then it at least offers something friggin’ cool.

So the same applies to Mercenary Kings, as you’d expect.  I just wish there was more to it than that.

August 28, 2014

My Mom is the Best in the Universe

I’m well-noted for being an optimist, but sometimes it’s pretty hard.  That’s to be expected, sadly.  Negativity is part and parcel of the World Wide Web these days, and with good reason: it’s a place where fans -- where those who care deeply about the things they love -- find out on a regular basis that something bad is about to go down.  I try to counteract that here, but the woes of the video game industry and its mounting failures means that a lot of times, I have to get negative, too. 

So you know what?  It’s time to do something different.  I want this to be a happy place, and I can think of one surefire way to do that: paying tribute to my mom.  Today’s her birthday, after all, and she’s such a great person that I HAVE to give her the praise she deserves.  I don’t do that enough, but that’s to be expected when you’re about as good with people as trying to spell the alphabet backwards…while on fire.  (As evidenced by that curiously-morbid joke.)  And seeing as how I have yet to encounter a greeting card that can cram several thousand words onto a folded piece of paper, this will have to do.

So gather ‘round.  Have a seat.  Because I’m going to wish my mom a happy birthday the only way anyone can: by giving 100% irrefutable proof that she’s the best in the universe. 

It would be 110%, but doing that would require making the post’s title in all caps.  And as per The Rules of the Internet, that would put the post's credibility in danger.

August 25, 2014

ShootStravaganza!! Wolfenstein: The New Order

Video games may be an art form, but it’s hard to separate them from the mechanical underpinnings.  Yeah, that’s probably true of every art form, but given that games are built on technology, it’s more than a little pronounced.  So while in a lot of ways, it’s easy to understand why there are so many shooters (even if you’re not willing to welcome them): the mechanics are the simplest way to create a relationship between a real player and a virtual world.  Take aim, pull a trigger button, and things happen.  It’s a hard formula to screw up, even if it is less than preferable to others.

I’m not even going to pretend like I know everything/anything about shooters, but I can do something like that for fighting games.  Even if you don’t have any skill with them, it only takes a glance to realize that there are systems and particulars that go into each one, making them different across the board.  True, there are lessons and concepts that carry over from game-to-game, but Street Fighter 4 is not the same game as, say, Street Fighter X Tekken

There are surface-level elements, like those unique systems; there are deeper elements, like preparation and tactics; there are elements that you have to learn on the fly, going from one match to another (someday I’ll learn how to fight Chun-Li) -- and then there’s the super-deep stuff like frame data, proration, and more.  Fighters may have seen a renaissance over the past half-decade or so, but that’s partly because they’ve got the depth -- at every level -- that can satisfy a player.  It’s what makes fighters one of the purest game genres out there.

I bring all this up because I think that’s part of the appeal of Wolfenstein: The New Order.  And it’s part of the reason why it’s not only the best game I’ve looked at for the ShootStravaganza, but maybe one of the best next-gen games so far…even though that doesn’t really mean very much at this stage, but whatever.

August 18, 2014

ShootStravaganza!! Killzone: Shadow Fall

So you know what I just realized?  All the games that are going to pop in for the ShootStravaganza are PS4 games.  Fancy that.

The way things are looking now, I’m not exactly what you’d call excited about the next (technically current) generation of games.  I’m on record here on Cross-Up of being genuinely worried about what the PS4 and Xbox One would bring, and now that they’re getting dangerously close to the one-year mark, I can say that they’re not the doombringers that most would have expected.  Now, mediocrity-bringers, on the other hand?  THAT’S something they can do.  For someone who’s getting into games for the first time with something like Infamous: Second Son, they’ll be fine.  But for someone like me, who’s played the other, better Infamous games?  It’s a step down.  And the less said about Watch Dogs, the better. 

It doesn’t say good things about the state of a console or a game industry when the most compelling argument to even turn the blasted new box are games that not only DON’T take full advantage of the technology, but could conceivably appear on the earlier consoles…not to mention they were likely made for a fraction of the price, yet ended up better regardless.  In all fairness to the PS4 (and the Xbone, to a lesser extent), I’m going to say what I’ve been saying for a while: someday, they’re both going to get the games that justify their existence.  Someday, they’re going to be consoles worth owning.  Someday, they’re going to make big contributions to the gaming canon.

Today is not that day.  And Killzone: Shadow Fall is not that game.

August 14, 2014

On the Ninja Turtles and Nostalgia

I never really liked Scooby-Doo.

There was a time when I sat down for a marathon of episodes -- my first exposure to the show as a wee little Voltech.  Believe it or not, I was excited for them.  And then I actually sat down and watched them, and I pretty much went “Ehhhhhhhhhhh…this is kinda garbage.”  I guess I just didn’t have the artistic sensibilities for it yet. 

But those sensibilities never did develop.  Even with the myriad spinoffs and alternate versions -- there was one about catching thirteen ghosts, which gave the series a built-in END button -- I never found myself treating the franchise as anything more than a diversion.  Just some background noise to play, or a last-ditch effort to find something on TV.  Still, Scooby-Doo has long since found both its legs and its audience, and it doesn’t matter if I’m not a member of it -- although, as it turns out, I actually think the recent Mysteries Incorporated show is pretty good.  I’ve only seen bits and pieces of it, but I could see myself watching that more than anything else.

The reason I bring up Scooby-Doo is because it’s proof of an obvious truth: the past is not sacrosanct.  Just because it’s from yesteryear doesn’t automatically make it flawless and worthy of some slot in the hall of fame.  It can qualify, sure, but there’s no reason why the old should get a seat on a golden throne just because it has a familiar name.

Which brings us to…well, you read the title, didn’t you?

August 11, 2014

ShootStravaganza!! Destiny (The Beta)

This should go without saying, but you should never take anything I say too seriously.

Holding up someone’s words and opinions as gospel is pretty dangerous, because A) it prevents you from thinking for yourself, B) it hands over a lot of power to some nigh-unseen force, and C) it would imply that the deliverer of gospel is flawless.  They’re not.  And I’m not.  I try to be as fair as I can, and look past my biases.  If I can’t -- which is often, I’d bet -- then I’ll at least try my hardest to support my reasoning…even if that reasoning is just a way to justify shutting my eyes and covering my ears. 

I just thought I’d make all that clear up-front, because this is actually the second post on Destiny that I’ve done.  Granted the first was focused more on the business side of the equation, the dangerous precedent at play, and the potential threat to the gaming canon vis a vis another big push toward mediocrity, but…uh…I don’t have a positive way to end this sentence.  So I’ll just go ahead and say that Destiny was, at the time, innocent until proven guilty.  Until gamers in droves -- myself included -- got to try the game, making any snap judgments would’ve made anyone who slammed the game look like a fool.

But that’s fine.  Because now that the beta is over and done, I get to slam the game all I want.

…I told you I was biased.

August 7, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy: Playing Favorites

So my brother wants to go see the new Ninja Turtles movie, and I now have a sudden urge to find the largest, heaviest item I can carry so I can introduce him to it.  In the percussive sense.

I probably shouldn’t be too surprised, seeing as how he’s the same person who caused me to watch the unthinkably awful RoboCop reboot.  I guess some people never learn, but I figured it was worth another shot.  So I asked him: “If you want to see the Turtles, then why don’t you just watch the cartoons?”  His answer was that the upcoming movie was new.  And I guess that means it’s…better, somehow?  In which case, I’d point his attention elsewhere

Well, it could be good.  But I have my doubts (for any number of reasons).  Setting aside the miserable fate that may await anyone who has even a passing interest in cinema, I can’t help but think back to a statement made by Michael Swaim of Cracked, and a sort of “understood truth” about the Turtles, or characters in general: whichever one is your favorite says a LOT about your personality.  I like Leonardo, for example, and if you’re familiar with the stuff I’ve said here on Cross-Up, this should be no surprise to you.  But beyond that, the important thing is that by identifying deeply with a character, your overall enjoyment of the story is practically destined to increase.

I say all of this because it applies to Guardians of the Galaxy.  Because not only is it a good, good, good, good, good movie, but your enjoyment will inevitably increase…because by movie’s end, you WILL have a favorite.  Guaranteed.


…Because who needs thought and wit when you can just make references?

August 4, 2014

Introducing: The Cross-Up ShootStravaganza!

Not too long ago, I took to Reddit’s Truegaming section to pose a question: what kind of lasting effect have guns had on video games?  I think it’s a legitimate question, considering how you pretty much can’t have a game these days without guns.  Okay, maybe not every game has guns (Tokyo Jungle comes to mind, and is stronger because of it), but there are ENOUGH games full of guns to give pause.  It really doesn’t say good things about the state of the industry when I read a GameInformer article about Gearbox’s upcoming game Battleborn, and the first paragraph talks about how the dev established itself as a FPS ace with Halo: Combat Evolved.  And in that very paragraph, it goes on to say that Gearbox left its comfort zone by making Borderlands…another FPS, only with RPG elements, sort of.  And then their new game is -- hold on to something -- another FPS.  Only different!  Somehow.

I’ve gone on about this before, but it bears repeating: guns are a useful tool in-universe and out of it, but they can be limiting in the very same method.  Think about it; a character’s weapon of choice/fighting style says a lot about their personalities, and in a video game it can decide (and jazz up) the mechanics.  Or, to put it a different way, compare a handful of shooters to a handful of fighting games.  There are basic principles that carry over from, say, Street Fighter to BlazBlue, but the varying characters, styles, and mechanics make each fighting game a whole different beast.  Conversely, playing one shooter gives you nearly everything you need to succeed in another.  There are nuances that set them apart, yes, but there’s only so much you can do in terms of deviation.

So the question that’s been on my mind, now more than ever, is simple: what makes a good shooter?  And I intend to find out.