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

July 31, 2014

What’s the Key to Good Character Design?

There’s an image floating around on the internet that shows Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts mainstay Tetsuya Nomura’s take on Batman.  Apparently it was his design for a game that never materialized, but in exchange there’s a figure of him and some art if you’re interested in looking.  Speaking personally, I don’t think it’s that bad.  It’s definitely an interesting take, if a little cluttered.  And given the man responsible, it could have been a lot worse.  A LOT worse.

Nomura may be famous for running Kingdom Hearts right into the damn ground his artistic sensibilities, but whether you like his techniques or hate them, it’s hard to heap too much hate on him.  If nothing else, his designs -- when they’re at their best -- are the sort of things that by nature stick out in your mind.  They transcend being mere drawings or renderings, and become some truly iconic stuff.  I’d like to think that (if not for the presence of something like Berserk) it would be Cloud and his Buster Sword that engraved the concept of “massive sword” in the public conscious, where it’s stayed for years.  On the other hand, Nomura has almost single-handedly ruined “belts and zippers” for everyone, so there’s also that.

But let’s not slam the man any longer.  Let’s focus on concepts.

July 28, 2014

RE: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

Hey, let’s talk about anime for a minute.  Or to be more precise, one of the more popular trends these days (for one reason or another): incest subtext.  Or context.  Supertext?

…Don’t worry.  We’ll get through this together.

July 24, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: A Post-World Primer

The first thing I noticed about Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is that its opening sequence is eerily identical to the opening sequence of The Last of Us.

If you know how I feel about that game, then you know that it didn’t exactly get me hyped for the hours to come.  I mean, it’s like I was playing through it all over again.  Reports and news broadcasts over mostly-black graphics; talk of a spreading disease/virus/world-ending thingamajig; the info growing progressively direr as time goes on; the last broadcast effectively signaling the end of the world; it’s all there.  I pretty much went “Oh, great.  It’s one of these stories.”  It wasn’t, thankfully, but the fear was still there at the outset. 

In all honesty, it feels like a lot of the time I get too ahead of myself.  Like, I’m pretty sure there have been posts where I’ve said that certain models -- certain storytelling conceits and frameworks -- are “broken”, and need to take at least a break from the public consciousness.  Even then, I’m certain that my…distaste for “gritty” stories is well-documented.  So once again, let me make one thing clear: I don’t hate dark or gritty stories because they’re dark.  I hate them (and not even all of them) if/when they betray their central premises and quality just to give the people what they think they want.  And speaking in terms of stuff like The Last of Us and AMC’s The Walking Dead, the post-apocalypse is something that needs a lot more work and attention than it’s gotten…yet those two “bastions” haven’t delivered.  At least to me.

But this latest Apes movie has.  And now I’ll show you why.

As you can guess, there are going to be plenty of spoilers for Dawn, The Walking Dead, The Last of Us, and probably more.  So get ready for that hotness.

Also, as a side note: I tried the Destiny beta.  You can PROBABLY guess how I feel about that.  Post incoming (maybe), but in the meantime?  Just watch this and substitute “Transformers” with “Destiny”, “Michael Bay” with “Activision”, and “robots” with “guns”.  Well, just to start.

July 21, 2014

What Wins Out -- Smart or Stupid Stories?

Well, maybe not something as binary as “smart” and “stupid”, but you can’t beat that attention-grabbing terminology.

Coming off of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (dat title), I’ve been thinking a lot about the movie and its particulars.  I didn’t expect it to be that good, but much like last year’s Pacific Rim, I was pleasantly surprised.  Of course I’d prefer not to speak for anyone else, but if you need a recommendation for Dawn, you’ve got it.  In a cultural climate where there have been four Transformers movies, it’s good to see that there are still films -- even summer films -- that put in the effort and absolutely kill it in execution.

But now that the movie’s taken a place inside my unreasonably-large head, I can’t help but consider it in light of other movies, video games, and stories in general.  Dawn may be a movie that has apes with machine guns (it’s as stupid as it sounds), but it’s an intelligent movie with the skill to put forth and examine its themes.  It’s a smart movie, all things considered.  Inherently smart, gunner-monkeys aside.  Even so, it doesn’t take away from any other high-quality stories out there.  Pacific Rim is inherently stupid, but it’s also got some juice to it.  It’s got high execution as well, and brains to go along with the metaphorical brawn.

So you know what that means.  I think it’s about time we try and sort this thing out.

July 17, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (and Gary Oldman)

There’s an episode of The Simpsons where Homer takes a break from helping Moe with insurance fraud to watch Hail to the Chimp in a drive-in theater.  It’s pretty much exactly how it sounds: a monkey is now the president -- no context needed for that, natch -- and apparently by the climax the monkey president has to dive out of a plane while wearing a parachute.  And a suit.  The president has to look good, after all.

I can’t help but think back to that when it comes to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.  “Apes with machine guns” is, for me, the closest thing to a deal-breaker you can imagine.  You can’t have something like that unless you play it as a farce, and certainly can’t work that into a serious story and expect to keep a straight face.  So when I hear that the very same thing is in this latest movie, my hype meter pretty much hit the floor. 

Imagine my surprise, then, when I find out for myself that the movie is irresponsibly fantastic.  That probably has something to do with the movie keeping the simian gunslingers to a minimum…but you didn’t hear that from me.


Ha.  Bet you thought this spoiler warning would have something to do with apes, didn’t you?  Well, too bad.  Tekken 7’s been officially announced, so look forward to that Death Fist goodness.

Also, how ‘bout that EVO 2K14? 

July 10, 2014

Resogun: A Reprieve and Lament

I’d like to think that I’ve got a pretty good handle on the gaming canon, but there many, many, many titles that are lost on me.  And it’s not just titles, either; there’s a pretty strong argument to be made that I’ve got no experience in entire genres.  Case in point: shmups.  I think that the first one I ever really played was Ikaruga…the one on the Xbox 360.  I suppose in a sense you could say that Sin and Punishment: Star Successor counts, but that just came out a couple of years ago.  It really says a lot about me when the first time I see notable shmups like Gradius is through an episode of Game Grumps.

So on the subject of Resogun, I can’t say that I had any extreme interest in it.  I don’t have any attachment to shmups, so it’s only natural that I don’t go out of my way to play one for myself.  Little wonder, then, that a copy of it has been sitting inside my PS4, largely untouched by me and my brother.  But a couple of weeks back, I gave it a shot. 

What did I think of it?  Well…

July 7, 2014

Is It Possible to Ruin a Medium?

There’s a new Transformers movie out.  Joy of joys.

I really don’t want to talk about it for very long, much less see it.  If you’ve poked around this blog before, then you may be aware that one viewing of Dark of the Moon pretty much shaved thirty years off my life.  I’m not in the mood to lose any more, whether it’s by way of seeing Age of Extinction on TV years after release, or by plopping down in a theater to subject myself to the torture.  In all fairness, though, I’ve heard from a few people -- MovieBob, surprisingly -- that the latest is the best yet.  That’s not saying much, and even his review seemed to make the praise relative to complaints, but I guess it’s something.

The Tuesday after MovieBob’s review, a video went up where he suggested that we need to (as per the title) “Leave Michael Bay Alone”.  That’s…actually pretty fair.  He’s a person who’s very easy to rage at, obviously, but setting aside the fact that he didn’t make the Transformers movies alone -- let alone turn them into a runaway hit -- hating what he’s put out and hating the man itself skirts a very thin line.  And people just might play double-dutch with that line thanks to the fodder provided by the trilogy.  Er…quadrilogy.

But talking about Bay and the Transformers movies is as good a point to start as any.  See, there’s something I think might be worth talking about -- which you might have guessed if you read the title.  If you didn’t, then don’t go back and read it.  You’ll spoil the surprise.

July 3, 2014

With a Single Step: The 500th Post

You know, I seem to recall me saying once upon a time that I was going to stop celebrating these “milestones” so blatantly.  The number of posts -- and by extension, the number of anniversaries -- doesn’t matter too much in the long run.  I’d prefer to measure success and value in terms of quality.  But I can’t judge that for myself.  That’s going to come from the people who read this blog, AKA the way it should be.

So I want to start this post by thanking those that are reading, whether you’ve been drawn in for the first time by the prospect of a milestone, or you’re a long-time reader.  I know I’m not the most popular blogger on the internet (and certainly not the smartest or best), but just knowing that I can make one person happy with what I write here means the world to me.

But I’m still not satisfied.  I want to do more.  Offer more.  Excite more.  Be more.  And that’s exactly what I’m going to do. 

And it starts with this.