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

February 28, 2014

Let’s discuss Attack on Titan (Part 1).

This is what I get for jumping on the bandwagon late.  No, scratch that.  It’s more like I watched the bandwagon zoom past, went the opposite direction, jumped into a well, sat inside it for a few months, and then poked my head out as soon as I realized I’d seen a bandwagon in the first place.

Some months back, my brother was asking me if Attack on Titan was any good, seeing as how he hadn’t watched an episode of Naruto in two years and wanted to get back into the anime fold.  I told him that -- as far as I knew -- reactions were mixed; some people say it’s amazing, and others think it’s overrated (or just not very good).  I hadn’t seen it for myself, but when my bro found out that it was on Netflix -- thanks to Funimation, apparently -- he proposed that we watch it together.  How’d it go?  Well, I’ll just say this: we had multi-hour marathon sessions to blast through all twenty-five episodes of the first season over the course of a few days.  And we were both chanting “just one more episode”.

So yeah.  Attack on Titan?  It’s pretty friggin’ good.  But now there’s a problem: I’m gonna have a hell of a time getting back into The Walking Dead -- because everything it does, Attack on Titan does better. 

But that should be a given; seriously, have you heard the theme song?

Oh, right.  SPOILERS INCOMING for BOTH shows.  I almost forgot, because I’m so excited to be able to embed the theme song after the jump.  Also, have you seen some of the mashups?  I’m personally a fan of Attack on Ramsay, for obvious reasons.  Man, I want 3D Maneuver Gear challenges in the next season of Hell’s Kitchen.

February 26, 2014

D.O.X. is Dead #3: Cities and Madness

Okay.  Let’s talk very briefly about Kamen Rider.

I’ve been hoping that some day in the future I could talk at length about the individual installments I’ve seen -- not only because there’s a lot to love, but there’s a lot to learn (even from Wizard, which is supposed to be much-maligned, but for the life of me I can’t understand why).  For now, I want to bring attention to W; it’s one of the more popular installments, and I can see why.  Said reason is independent of the fact that the titular Rider is composed of two detectives’ minds in one body fighting simultaneously…though that doesn’t hurt.

Anyway, one advantage that W has over the installments I’ve seen is that its setting, Futo, has a much bigger presence in the show than the others.  To be fair I don’t know much about where the shows are filmed (in Japan, derp de doo), but W goes out of its way to give Futo a character of its own.  It’s “the windy city”, as named in the opening theme, and it’s full of pinwheels, windmills, and wind-themed accessories.  The heroes and villains alike concern themselves deeply with it, and want to protect it, or enhance it, or even transform it (using what is effectively a drug that turns people into monsters -- contained in mystic USB drives!).  The people of the city have a special relationship with it, even if they have to acknowledge its faults.  You should expect no less, given that one of the main themes -- in terms of writing and in music -- is “Nobody’s Perfect”. 

W wouldn’t be what it is without Futo.  And if I want to even begin to rival it, I have to do the same.

February 24, 2014

On the Designated Hero

Well, my intention was to upload a post on something positive for once -- one that I actually wrote weeks ago, in fact -- but I changed my mind.  Just as well, though; this is a topic that’s been on my mind for a while, and more so thanks to what I’ve seen recently.  The sooner I can get it out of my brain and on (virtual) paper, the better off I’ll be.  Plus it can serve as kind of a lead-in to the actual good stuff I WANT to talk about.

So.  You might have noticed that I put up a post on the new RoboCop movie.  If you didn’t, let me confirm the obvious and tell you it’s exactly as terrible you expected it to be...to the point where I felt like I had to add in a tag called "Insults to Intelligence".  (I get the feeling I'm going to be using that one a lot more in the future.)  In fact, I was debating whether it or 47 Ronin was the worst movie I’d seen in theaters recently, and RoboCop won the prize.  I may have fallen asleep during 47 Ronin, but the aggressive stupidity of RoboCop -- and the reckless conviction that puts that stupidity front and center -- edged out the competition.  Besides, at least with 47 it kind of had a point in existing, even if it DID botch the story every step of the way.

RoboCop (2014, and yet another example of a remake/reboot that tries to take the place of the original by copying the title) has many problems.  Many, many problems.  But the one that sticks out to me is with its title character.  Not just because he’s bland and marginalized in his own movie; no, it’s because he reminds me of problems that a LOT of other characters have had recently.  And it’s a problem that I’m starting to realize is the one thing that I hate above all others.

Can you guess what it is?  Without going to TV Tropes first?

February 21, 2014

RoboCop: (Don’t) Feel the Love

This is usually the part where I make some long and meandering intro only vaguely connected to the main post, but if you read the title, you can probably guess how I can feel about this movie.  And it’s probably the way a lot of other people feel about this movie.  And if you’ve seen it already, then it’s probably the way YOU feel about this movie.

In a shocking turn of events, RoboCop (2014) is an awful movie that only exists because of the original movie, will only get viewers because of the goodwill from that movie, and shouldn’t exist because the original move already exists.  The only reason I suffered through it was because my brother got suckered by said goodwill, and to celebrate his birthday.

For the record, I can’t think of a time when I wanted to punch him in the face more than when he decided we’d see RoboCop.  So let’s talk about why, before I slip into an incompetence-induced coma.  Oh, and SPOILERS, I guess.  But whatever.  I’d hope you don’t intend to watch the movie of your own will.

God, why couldn’t we just go see The Lego Movie?  That’s based on a nostalgic property, too…

February 19, 2014

So Why Make an Everyman?

If you’re just joining me here on Cross-Up -- and I’m not entirely sure why you would -- then let me make something clear right now.  In my opinion, the main character of a story defines the story.  And by extension, if the main character of a story is bad, then the story is bad.  I’ve said as much in the past, and while I’d like to think that I’m mellow enough to say that there are exceptions, I’m having a hard time thinking up any…so I’m going to revoke that mellowness and say there are no exceptions.  For me, at least.

It makes sense, doesn’t it?  When people talk about stories they like, one of the first things they’ll mention when it comes to favorites -- or at least use as an example for why the story is awesome in the first place, and you should like totally check it out, dude -- is a character.  It’s only natural.  Characters have faces, dialogue, personalities, and some good old panache to make their story worthwhile.  As they should.

And then there’s the “everyman”.  Trying to make me look like a fool since 1803.

February 17, 2014

On The Last of Us: Left Behind

Okay.  Let’s talk about DLC for a little bit.

I can remember a time when people were excited about the prospect.  Additions to their favorite games?  New content?  For a meager price?  No problem, they said in a united chorus.  But flash forward to the present day, and the mere mention of DLC is enough to make people retch.  These days, DLC doesn’t always mean “adding more”; it means “taking out what should have been in the game in the first place and charging extra for it.”  I guess it’s a way to soften the blow of development expenditures, and to be fair, it DOES feed into that oh-so-identifiable “games as a service” mantra.  Why let people unlock costumes in Street Fighter 4 when you can just make them pay for it later?  Why make Final Fantasy 13-2 a complete game when you can just dish out costumes, sidequests, and an impenetrable “ending” later on?  Who needs loyalty and goodwill when you can just hassle customers for more money?

As you’d expect, I wasn’t exactly excited about DLC for The Last of Us, given my…well, let’s call it “history” with the game.  But my brother -- and presumably every other person on the planet -- was.  So he played through it, and I sat through it.  I’m standing firm on my opinions about the game, but I’ve always felt bad about giving it so much trouble.  I wanted to like it, I really did -- and I wanted to be able to share the popular opinion without looking like some sort of gaming hipster.  So while I wouldn’t play through the DLC myself, I at least owed Naughty Dog a shot at redemption.

The question is, would they earn it?

Spoilers for The Last of Us -- main game and DLC -- ahead.  You might want to ride your horse on out of here if you’re looking to see The Misadventures of Joel Grumpybuns raw.

February 14, 2014

A Valentine's Special: Let’s “discuss” Infinite Stratos.

I think zombie fiction has run its course.  For now, at least.  (Because that’s a good way to start a Valentine’s post.  Mentions of the living dead.)

I’ll admit that the concept itself isn’t automatically wrong, or impossible to work with.  But with an immensely flawed game like The Last of Us going to great lengths to win the Half-Assed Award, and a show like The Walking Dead caught in an Ouroboros of people being sad and angry and sometimes killing zombies, I think that we’ve reached a stage where -- unless there’s a big variation in the formula -- then zombie fiction is a “broken model”.  Going with the basic conventions gives diminishing returns, and just exposes the problems with the model in the first place.

But zombie fiction isn’t the only broken model.  I’m about ready to say that the same applies for the standard harem in anime and manga.  I’m not the only one to say as much, and I won’t be the last; based on comments on sites and forums, harem stories have to work ten times harder for recognition (beyond the usual “best girl” declarations). And in a lot of cases -- in the case of Infinite Stratos, for example -- the stories just expose all the holes.  Granted harems probably keep popping up because people keep buying/supporting them, but at what cost?  Broken models may be enough to earn some fans and some cash, but it’s the easy way out.  A fool’s errand.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I wake up one morning and realize I’m using the same model.

February 12, 2014

Guest piece! Get your guest piece!

So, BioShock Infinite is a pretty cool game, and something worth talking about for a while.  And I did exactly that over on Battle Misfit.  That's right, I wrote a guest piece -- and the only way you'll ever get to read it is if you head over there right now!  Or...you know, whenever you feel like clicking this link.

It doesn't lead to viruses.  I promise.

I said as much a couple of days ago, but it bears repeating: Battle Misfit is looking for guest writers, so if you want to have something of your own posted to rival me, then this is your chance.  Get in that action, or just lounge around and read what I wrote...as usual.

Give it a look if you want.  If not, then just stick around here.  There's a new D.O.X. is Dead post right below this one -- and I swear that direction won't be confusing when someone finds this post randomly six months down the line.

D.O.X. is Dead #2: Leads and Partners

Old habits die hard.

This post was originally going to be focused on one character and one character only.  And with good reason; I’m pretty sure I’ve drilled a certain phrase into this blog over and over again, and I don’t see much reason to repeat itMAINCHARACTERDEFINESASTORYagain.  It should go without saying, then, that the MC of D.O.X. was one of the major defining factors of the story.  He owned it.  He shaped it.  He changed it.  And while the story started with him being bored one day in class, the story -- wrapping up over the span of three days, sans epilogue -- ended with him punching the canine embodiment of the apocalypse in the face.  Said canine, by the way, would have been big enough to its mouth stretch from one end of the horizon to another.  Character development’s a hell of a thing.

I’m not so bold as to claim that the MC is absolutely perfect, but each new version of the story helps said MC get closer and closer to the ideal form.  I’ve done what I’ve can, and then I did even more.  But the thing that I’ve realized is that he was never D.O.X.’s problem.  Never.   The problem, without question, came from virtually everyone else.  And by extension, there was one major issue that I’ve fixed with this third and final version -- but the fact that I only recently made such a fix means that certain “trends” are a lot more heavily-engraved than anyone would care to admit.  Anyone can fall prey to them.  Even me.

So let me say this to start: D.O.X. had a pretty good MC.  The problem was that it needed two.

February 10, 2014

Battle Misfit is Calling for Guest Writers!

I don’t know how to make a post any simpler than the title.  So I won’t.

So, do you like video games?  Do you like talking about video games?  Do you like writing about video games?  Do you like blogs that talk about video games AND can make their point without resorting to thirty-three thousand-word treatises?  Well, you’re in luck!  Now you can do something meaningful on the internet without having to see what happens when you type in fun.com!  Seriously, don’t ever type in fun.com.  That was a rather revelatory afternoon.

Anyway, Battle Misfit is a pretty cool site that I learned about via the Destructoid community hub -- and just as the title implies, it’s looking for people who can spare some words (a couple of paragraphs, at a bare minimum) about games and/or game-related subjects.  So basically, you not only get to help a fellow blogger gain some new content and offer up something to the net at large, but this can also be a chance to promote some of your wares, or your site at large.  Or you can be altruistic and just do it because you love people.  And the internet.  And America. 

Interested?  Looking for more information?  Have a look here.  Get in on that action, and save the world.  However minutely. 

There you go.  Enjoy this Monday post.  It was either this, or something on Lightning Returns.  And I know how much you were looking forward to that hot mess.

February 7, 2014

Let's "discuss" Infinite Stratos (Part 1).

You don’t need me to tell you how bad Infinite Stratos is, because it shoots itself in the foot with a cannonball from the start.

The premise is that in the future, all military hardware has been surpassed by the IS system -- that is, women don armor and weaponry and duke it out wherever conflicts may arise.  So basically, women in this universe don’t pilot mechs; they ARE the mechs, only significantly dumber.  I refuse to believe that there’s a military in any universe that would approve of girls going out to battle with armored arms and legs, but nothing to protect their heads or bodies (or thighs, in many cases) but a skintight leotard.  Setting aside the fact that we have tanks, planes, and ballistic missiles for a reason, even if the IS pilots had an “anti-everything shield” it doesn’t work in the context of this universe.  One of the first main characters introduced is a sniper.  Unless she’s the only sniper in the world, there’s nothing stopping any given soldier from grabbing a rifle and ending a few lives from halfway across the battlefield. 

But you know what?  The concept itself isn’t completely wrong.  If the only reason these girls are in fanservice-ready suits is because of fanservice, then all they had to do was take out the military aspect and put them in a different context.  Put them in some kind of sports competition.  Have them be on teams, and competing in arenas for fame and fortune.  Have them literally try their hardest to put on a show.  That would make it so that A) there are no gaps in logic over how there could be a military that approves this concept, B) there are no tonal issues trying to marry a serious plot with…the other kind of plot, and C) you don’t make the military, real or not, out to be such a farce.  All Infinite Stratos needed to do was make a few minor tweaks, and it could have approached being good.  Alas, it didn’t care enough to try.

So what does it care about, then? 

February 5, 2014

Are Big Budgets Ruining Storytelling?

Time for me to reveal a big secret about myself: I like video games.

I’m one of those people who believe that video games can be art, and by extension make for a unique medium bursting with potential.  I’m not the only one who feels the same way -- but on the flip side, the fact that I hold games in such high esteem just makes all the problems and failures sting that much more.  

I know it’s a little early to start with the doom-and-gloom toward the new consoles on the block, but cripes a la mode, neither Sony nor Microsoft have come even close to justifying an upgrade, what with titles like Ryse and Knack.  To be fair, the Wii U also had and still has problems, but right now I’m convinced that the console that’s actually interested in delivering good games will do so long before its rivals.

(Side note: have you played The Wonderful 101 yet?  You should.  Because it’s dope.)

February 3, 2014

The Volties: My Top 10 Favorite Boss Battles

I don’t know if you’ve heard before, but video games?  They’re pretty cool.

Plenty of conventions have made their rise to fame and delight for the common gamer justified.  They’re like a book you can dive into as long as you’ve still got a connection to an electrical source!  They’re like a movie you can play, only about four times longer on average, for better or worse!  They’re like newspapers you can…uh…okay, the analogy breaks down here, but you get the point.  Any medium can accomplish a lot with its conventions, and games are no exception. 

In fact, games have been proving that little rule to be true for years.  Why?  Because it’s got the “boss fight” -- a true test of one’s skill, wit, and resolve; it forces the player to defeat their greatest foe in order to get closer to saving the virtual world.  They’re big, they’re brutal, they’re boisterous, they’re bombastic, and in a lot of cases, they’re brilliant.

So what do you say we celebrate a few of them?  Go on, then.  Press the Left Mouse button to start.

WARNING: Incoming spoilers.  If your fragile maiden’s heart is easily bruised by such slights, then I suggest you depart now, and take to sipping tea atop your tuffet while tending to your little lambs.

I suspect that this train of thought has long since derailed.