Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What Is And What Should Never Be Remade

Would’ve updated last night, but Venture Brothers Season 3 hit stores. Watched it instead. Good times, but a word of warning; the box isn’t kidding when it says “uncensored.” In addition to the poopy words to be heard, there is also nudity. There are animated dongs. You have been given fair warning.

Speaking of uncensored profanity, the following will contain lots of it.

It was looking like a pretty good week. Busy, but a good week. Then I saw this. And double checked it here.

I hoped it wasn’t true. I really hoped not, but apparently it is and there is a Three Stooges Movie in the works. “Updated for the new Millennium.” Allegedly with Benicio del Toro, Jim Carrey, and Sean Penn as Moe, Curly and Larry respectively.

Fuck. Me. Fuck la mode, as a t-shirt in Quebec once told me. I… I thought I could muster up some words trying to explain why something from the wildly adolescent days of cinema that embodies beautiful, pure, mindless slapstick with such genius SHOULD NOT BE REMADE FOR A NEW MILLENNIUM!!!11!!1!!!!!!ONEONEELEVENTY!!!

There are not enough exclamation points made to express my rage.

First: The original actual Stooges were a product of their time. They translated what was essentially a vaudeville act onto the silver screen. That’s what a lot of comedy teams did then. It was the Depression and it was cheap escapism for people. And it was pure slapstick. The plot was secondary. Wanna know what a Three Stooges plot goes like?

Simple setup: Crooks want to rob a bank, grave robbers want to steal a mummy, a woman’s throwing a party, a guy wants a haircut before his wedding. Random shit like that. The Stooges get involved somehow: They’re hired to do the job, they’re looking for work, they get mistaken for (insert profession here). Hilarity ensues as they proceed to do everything wrong, get in fights with each other, spout one liners, Moe gets really mad, Curly unleashes catchphrases and bad puns and Larry occasionally plays the violin. Pies are frequently involved. The ending features them either: running away, getting killed comically, or (rarest) somehow outsmarting everybody else. Rinse and repeat for any situation you can think of. Three Stooges in Space. Three Stooges playing football. Three Stooges as dog catchers. The Three Stooges foil some Nazi spies. They even had the Three Stooges taking over a country and making fun of Nazi Germany with Moe as Hitler. Yes Really.

The point I think I’m trying to make through the foggy haze of fury is that the Stooges are classics for being what they are when they were made. Larry, Curly & Moe were funny because they WERE Larry, Curly and Moe. Everything was a vehicle for their perfectly delivered lunacy. And the shorts were short, like 7-10 minutes each.

There is nothing, NOTHING in this information that tells me that this is a “franchise” that should be resurrected to hook up to the movie machine to be sucked dry out of every possible penny. What’s other franchise can they resurrect that was popular based solely on the charisma & performance of the original cast? Steve Martin already did terrible, terrible things to the Pink Panther. How about the Marx Brothers? (I’m sure there’s already a script being worked on as I type) Laurel and Hardy? Charlie Chaplain? How about Jack Black as W.C. Fields? Ooo, I know, Buster Keaton! Hey, let's take formerly offensive ethnic stereotype franchises like Amos & Andy and update them for the New Millennium!

Who needs to come up with modern characters that can fill roles through their natural charisma? Let’s just mine the past for ideas that we can ape! It’d be hilarious! So fucking hilarious! AHAHAHAHAHHAAHAHAAHAAHAHA!!! LOLLERSKATES!!! ROFLCOPTER!!!!!



Oh god. I have to laugh, otherwise I’d probably get drunk and start bawling my eyes out. Because I sure as hell won’t be laughing when this actually becomes reality.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Bullet Points

*Item: Laptop was infected with a virus and the wireless card doesn’t seem to be working anymore either. Possibly connected. Making do with improvisational Ethernet cable. Suspect conspiracy.

*Item: Watchmen was good. Rorshach, Dr. Manhattan, Comedian steal show. Mostly faithful adaptation that, given a director’s cut closer to the book, could be great movie. Studio meddling may have affected the theatrical ending. Suspect conspiracy.

*Item: Coraline is fantastic movie. Henry Sellick is artistic visionary. Realize comment on movie is month late. Suspect conspiracy.

*Item: Smugly pleased that personal MP3 player contains almost 10,000 sounds and still has 35% free memory space. Marvel why Creative Zens are not more popular than stupid iPods. Suspect Conspiracy.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Now, I’ve been focusing a lot lately here things that aren’t fun, good, enjoyable or whatever since, well, two reasons: 1) It’s the internet and hatred is as common as hydrogen and 2) Angry ranting is fun.

So to switch gears dramatically, here’s something I DO like: Batman The Brave And The Bold. The short of it is that it’s a Batman cartoon that combines cheesy one liners, crazy-awesome ideas, a 60s retro aesthetic and guest stars galore. The Dark Knight might’ve been a monumental movie about the darkness in men’s souls, but The Brave And The Bold has something over the Dark Knight; namely, I can spend the entire experience with a big stupid grin on my face. It’s a Batman that inner monologues with tongue embedded in cheek, plays well with others and is crazy prepared for any obstacle because even if he doesn’t know how to solve a problem, he knows someone who does.

And the show single handedly made Aquaman awesome.

Read that sentence again.

See, now you’re curious. Aquaman = Awesome on this show. He’s like a barrel-chested Errol Flynn that can’t stop speaking in exclamations and regaling people with tales of his adventures. And he say “Outrageous!” a lot.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Extended Metaphors

So the wireless card in my laptop decided to stop working its unholy magic. Not sure how exactly yet. Maybe its supply of blood sacrifices was interrupted. The end result is that I’ve had to go back to a more old fashioned way of accessing the internets. Instead of the arcane chanting of sinister monks worshipping Dagon allowing me to access it without any visible connection, I’ve had to reconnect an Ethernet cable the old fashioned way. The way Ben Franklin did.

This item is… Well, I’m not really sure “why” is an appropriate enough question. I understand rebranding a cable television channel is just something that happens. It’s a corporate decision to reflect a change in direction/theme. When the History Channel rebranded to just “History” I was visibly upset because it was a kind of giving in to genericness. “History” contains a large number of programs that are not, in fact, about recorded history. Pop science and reality television have already mutated “History” (which doesn’t seem to be really a success at rebranding. I don’t know anyone who does not add “channel” after it to separate the network from the field of study). After shedding a few manly tears, I realized that I was watching Discovery a lot more now (a network that already contained reality programming and pop science). I haven’t watched Sci Fi with any regularity since 2001, so the impact of the change to Syfy is, well, just about nil.
The reasoning behind the name change has me scratching my head though. “Syfy.” Phonetically it sounds identical, yes, but visually? Well, it looks…really geeky. You know how in (movies about) high school, where you’ve got the fat/and or skinny nerdy kid with posters of Tron and The Last Starfighter in his bedroom and a stack of shitty Star Wars novels on his bedstand. So he wants to ask out the head cheerleader and there’s a long comical montage about him trying to clean up his body image, physical fitness and social skills. That’s what this name change feels like, because often in those circumstances, if the nerdy kid succeeds in becoming socially presentable and DOES get the date with the cheerleader (I guess E! in this metaphor) the comical denouement features an awkward dinner at a fancy restaurant where our protagonist realizes he has nothing in common with the object of his desire. Insert a ham fisted moral about being true to yourself and roll credits.

Actually, that’s exactly what this feels like. No matter how much the Sci Fi channel may try and change its image, it’ll still have that stack of Sci Fi Original Movies in the closet. He might pretend to like Sex And The City to get chicks, but deep down inside he’d rather be watching Dungeons & Dragons 2: Wrath Of The Dragon God.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Ten Days In Sunny Azeroth pt. 3: Young Brightmace Takes A Holiday

(Couldn't update earlier through no fault of mine)

It was right around the time I got to Westfall that I discovered that I could heal myself. Yeah, DURRR, N00B, but come on, it only said “friendly character,” which I assumed meant “people in my party that weren’t me.” The problem with that line of reasoning is that as of writing this, I haven’t teamed up with anything for anything.

My enjoyment of the game is dropping swiftly. Westfall has proven itself to be a blasted wasteland of repetitive death. The roads aren’t safe because coyotes and ugly vulture things will jump at you even if they’re four levels below you. The fat, ugly scarecrow golems aren’t so bad, but they can be pretty tough to take down, but they don’t hover around the paths. I can’t find a trainer in the settlement, just a few dinky shops, a gryphon depot that charges 99 copper to fly you back to Stormwind and some people who want me to take the fight back to the bandits. Fighting bandits and gnolls makes sense, but when I’m fighting them the coyotes have a nasty habit of coming around and bushwhacking me.

Which brings us to the death system. Running back to your corpse can be annoying, but its fecking infuriating when you run back to your body, come back to life and are immediately torn to pieces by coyotes before you can get your auras back up and heal yourself! And the graveyards aren’t a better alternative anymore. In addition to the durability hit your equipment takes, now your combat and magic abilities are crap for a set amount of time. I’m around 13-14 and I have to wait three minutes before my abilities are worth anything. Its as though the game is taunting me. “Don’t feel like running back to your body? Then you’re a pussy! Enjoy three minutes of uselessness!” I could live with that, really. Gives me a chance to get up, stretch, take a piss, get some iced tea, whatever. HOWEVER, after rezzing at a graveyard and getting ready to wait, three more coyotes charge into the cemetery and gangrape helpless old me. The word “fuck” doesn’t even begin to describe the rage this inspires, and it happened MORE THAN ONCE.

So running around Westfall is enough to shake even Brightmace’s faith in his Shovel God. No, that’s a bit too tame. It makes him want to smite himself with his own hammer repeatedly until he concusses himself enough to feel like the pretty visuals of the game and potential “phat lewt” are worth the effort. Maybe it would be more fun if it wasn’t such an “lulz, every man for himself” atmosphere, or I could actually stand up to multiple enemies at a time. I kind of hate to keep pointing to CoH, but that’s been my other MMO experience. My lowbies in that game, even squishies like controllers or defenders can stand a reasonable chance against five guys. Scrappers, Tankers and Brutes can regularly handle groups of enemies that are three levels higher. Hell, on teams, I can engage those same enemies and type out one liners at the same time without fear of death. A paladin who can heal himself, debuff enemies and hit things at a slow-but-not-unreasonable rate shouldn’t have his ass handed to him by an even leveled bandit spell caster. Travel powers in CoH (flight, teleportation, leaping and super speed) become available at lvl 16, temporary jetpacks with limited charges are available even earlier. There’s no way in Hell I’m getting a mount in WoW in the ten day trial.

I dunno, maybe I’m just unlucky playing this thing. Maybe if I fell in with a regular running crew like a guild or some people I know well in real life I could actually enjoy this game. A gnome paladin would be pretty sweet to roll up. As it stands, I honestly don’t think I’ll be wasting any disposable income on this after the free trial expires. I feel like I’ve gotten to know Brightmace pretty well over the last week, but no amount of paladin-y moxie can keep me riveted to this boring dice rolling simulator. It just feels so… Well, the crap about crafting, grinding enemies that you don’t actually enjoy fighting anymore, having to sit through actual travel times if you want to go somewhere. My God, that’s it! WoW is simulating everyday life. THAT IS THE OPPOSITE GOAL OF ESCAPIST FANTASY! There’s a reason why that shit is skipped over in movies!
I shouldn’t be running away from a trio of bandits in the game. I should be running toward a bandit camp, spade raised high, spittle foaming from my mouth as I shout prayers to my Shovel God to guide my hand as I bring down righteous fury on the skulls of the wicked who would dare threaten the peace of the land.

This game is only marginally more exciting than fantasy football. Or is it…?

I hear Warhammer Online’s got a ten day trial. Its got race-specific classes and their orcs are, well, orkier. Maybe Brightmace will ride again as a warrior priest of Sigmar.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ten Days In Sunny Azeroth, Pt. 2: Shovels For The Shovel God!

I’ve noticed a few things in my WoW experience. Aside from the WALKING EVERYWHERE part, there’s also a crafting system that I’m not anal retentive enough to explore right now. The biggest difference from CoH I’ve noticed is that I haven’t seen any teams. Nobody’s invited me to a team yet. I just see random solo character running around hunting down the things I’m also hunting down. Occasionally we’ll buff or heal each other, but that’s about the extent of player interaction. Contrast: in CoH, its certainly possible to solo, but you also get invited to random pick-up-groups, even at the lowest levels. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a tell asking you “hey, want to go break some faces in the sewers?” but often its just “Captain So-and-so has invited you to a team” out of the blue. Hasn’t happened yet to me in WoW.

The other thing that kind of rankles me is that in WoW, at low level I feel like a mook. I can handle, at best, 2 or 3 enemies at a time (if I’m lucky). And the missions don’t have the weight of importance either. There’s a lot of “hey, can you take this mundane shipping manifest over to Stormwind for me?” or “I’m hungry, kill some boars and take the meat to this lady at the other farm to bake into a pie and bring it back to me.” Brightmace isn’t sure about being a courier boy (especially with no bicycle to speed things up). Contrast: in CoH, even at low level the missions include stuff like “Kill ten Hellions to help clear the streets of gangs” that can segue into “Rescue this doctor from the Lost in the sewers before they mutate him into a murderous freak.” Of course it doesn’t have any actual effect on the game world, but it feels more…heroic.

The other thing that’s tough to adjust to is the chat/whisper/tell/shout system. I just found the emotes last night and had the game since Saturday morning. Its no fault of the game, I just don’t know the shortcuts to all that stuff yet.

So we return to our budding young paladin, Brightmace and his Blessed Kobold Shovel of Smiting (and Shoveling). He delivered a letter to Stormwind, got a dramatic intro to the Human capital and realized the city was friggin’ huge. After delivering the letter, he stopped off at the cathedral to level up and, unable to find any missions for him in the city, walked all the way back to the forest and accepted a quest to hunt down some murlocs.

Murlocs are a primitive, amphibious species that make amusing gurgling sounds when they “talk.” Should be no problem to a warrior of virtue, right? I head over to a logging camp (and notice that the trees in the game are all comically gigantic beyond the realm of normal earth trees), kill some wolves and bears for the locals and turn my attention to the puny murlocs. Apparently they killed an Alliance Patrol and I have to find out what happened to them. Shouldn’t be too hard.

Individually, a murloc is easy to take down. They were of roughly equal difficulty level, so no worries, right? I get to their village and see a lot of them shuffling around. Okay, if I can manage to isolate and contain them, I should be able to--oh shit, two of them just spawned right behind me. I manage to take down one and fall to the second. Ghostwalk time. I rush back to my corpse, rez and am immediately beset by three of the bastards. I try to run away because I’m not at full health when I rez, aggro a wolf and am killed again. The red mist begins to cover my vision as scrapperlock starts to kick in.

Scrapperlock is a phenomenon in City of Heroes where a character (usually the melee damage oriented Scrappers who already have a daredevil attitude toward combat) encounter a situation that is proving difficult, such as repeatedly being defeated by a superior enemy. The scrapperlock solution is “KILL IT TO DEATH” regardless of how many times you get defeated and sent to the hospital. You will always rush back to the scene as fast as possible to keep at it until the specific targets you have marked for death are in fact, dead. Its reckless, foolhardy, and potentially glorious to charge headlong into the enemy against terrible odds because there’s a chance it might work. This, in a way, sums up the Scrapper class in CoH in general. Reckless, Foolhardy, yet capable of pulling off impossible feats of heroics.

Brightmace’s scrapperlock was considerably less glorious, but the stubbornness to not let those damn frogmen beat him won out eventually (and when I say eventually, I mean like forty minutes into it).

By now, I had out leveled my Shovel of Smiting and upgraded to a more powerful hammer, but I didn’t sell off the Shovel like all my other junk. No, no. The Shovel had served Brightmace well, and he continued to carry it as a reminder of his blessed favor.

Eventually, I dinged level ten and was told to send some messages to a place called Westfall. More walking occurred and I crossed a bridge that opened up into a rather arid looking plain. I see some people in a farmstead who have missions for me. They complain about the hard times that have fallen on them. Ah, good. A chance for me to bring some justice. Brightmace eagerly looked forward to fending off bandits, curing the sick and rescuing slaves.

Get some oats from the monster infested field for their horse. Deliver a RECIPE to the next farmhouse??? Look lady, do I look like a Rogue to you?? I’m a PALADIN!

Alright, fine, since there’s nothing else to do and I can definitely use another bag to store stuff in, I’ll do it.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Ten Days In Sunny Azeroth, Pt. 1: You No Take Candle!

Daylight Savings time screwed me over for this update.

Like I said, I got a 10 day trial to World of Warcraft and figured what the hell, I’ll try it out. See how it compares to City of Heroes. So after registering and installing I was ready to play. The enthusiasm declined after having to download patches for a day straight. Eventually though, it finished, and I was ready to go.

After a lavish cutscene of things fighting each other to set the mood, I got to the login. The login screen featured an undead dragon of some sort (a dracolich?) flying around and occasionally roaring at me. So the mood was set pretty well. Lots of monsters, atmosphere, Action and Adventure were strongly implied.

To the character creation screen! Ok. Not as detailed as CoH (and that’s City of Heroes, not Company of Heroes. CoH was around before that CoH came out). You can only mess around with facial features, and even then, you have a limited palette to choose from. There’s no slider for physique or height. You don’t choose your clothing either. I understand why its like that because of the loot system, but CoH has a real edge in character creation.

So I roll up a human paladin, because in these types of games, I just gravitate towards goody-two-shoes justice seeking guys who wade into combat with a mad-on for smiting evil in the face (later I rolled up a female gnome fighter because it was funny). Picking the name Brightmace, my mustachioed avenger entered the world.

After a pretty nifty cutscene/narration that explains the human situation in Azeroth (they’re against the ropes after Warcraft III and trying to rebuild), Brightmace was greeted by Northshire Abbey and a bunch of wolves and kobolds swarming around. Ok, cool. Time for smiting. Go to a contact. Hey, they actually talk when you click them. Do they-? Yes, they do get annoyed when you keep clicking on them. Ginchy. Anyway, I’m told to kill something like 8 kobolds. Go to another contact who tells me to bring back some wolf meat. I kill some wolves (no doubt EVIL wolves, since I’m a paladin and all) and loot the corpses. Some of them had fangs and claws and…pants? Okay… I get to the kobolds hanging around by a mine. Smash a couple of them with my bigass mallet. As I attack the next one, a text balloon appears over him screaming “You no take candle!” This being level one, the poor bastard doesn’t stand a chance since its level one. Curious, I loot his body (in the name of JUSTICE!) and find a small candle. Curious, I take the candle and examine it. Can’t do anything with it. Maybe I can sell it. It occurs to me that essentially murdering a hapless kobold who just wanted to hold onto his beloved candle and then taking it isn’t exactly…heroic behavior.

I gain a level or two, get some low quality armor to wear, get sent after some bandits, who tear me a new one when they gang up on me. I was still trying to figure out the auras and seals and blessings system in the game. I died a couple times. There’s no debt system like in CoH that you have to pay off before you can get full XP again. Instead you pop up in a graveyard as a ghost. Everything’s greyscale and there’s a weird spirit healer/angel of death thing floating in front of you giving the option to run back to your corpse or be rezzed (resurrected) on the spot with a durability penalty to your equipment. I realize that I have to repair my equipment in this game. Minor inconvenience, but makes sense in the loot system.

Many of the missions are “kill x number of enemies and bring back x number of this specific loot.” After some more levels, I gain some new powers. I’ve already got an aura, a heal and a seal (which is a kind of temporary-well, 30 minute temporary, buff). I pick up a seal of judgment, which debuffs an enemy for something like 20 seconds and gives me a chance to heal back damage as I smash my chosen enemy. Cool beans. The only WTF moment was when I realized I had to pay copper to learn my new abilities. Again, it kind of makes sense, but CoH spoiled me with the trainers who’s only requirements are reaching the appropriate level.

Then its time to leave Northshire. Unlike CoH, WoW doesn’t have “zones” that have to load before you can wander around. You just start walking and eventually you get there. There’s pros and cons to each system. Loading zones in CoH simulates traveling long distances without having to actually experience said long distances, but can also disrupt the illusion of the world you’re in. in WoW, you can wander around exploring (and trying to run like hell away from things that outlevel you). And you will walk, since you can’t get mounts (like horses) until you reach a certain level. So I wander around Elwyn Forest, do some more quests, repair my equipment, level some more, repeat. I will admit, getting some slightly better loot as quest rewards is kind of nice. It reminds you what kind of goals you’re working for.

One quest had me exploring another mine and butchering some more kobold candle-fetishists. After examining the loot of one of them, I see a shovel. Examining it closer, I see that its got weapon stats and is better than my mallet and qualifies as a mace, which plastered a big grin on my face. Brightmace and his Blessed Kobold Shovel of Smiting (and Shoveling) set out on his holy mission to kill and loot monsters with a sense of renewed purpose. Clearly, the Light had sent him this blessed weapon to validate his crusade for justice. Shovels for the Shovel God!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

You Know Who's Awesome?

Sir Orfeo is awesome. Whodawha? Sir Orfeo, the star of a medieval Breton Lai written in Middle English. You know why he’s awesome? Because the anonymous poet who wrote it took the classical Orpheus myth, modernized it for his time and threw in a creepy fairy kingdom instead of Hades.

And you know what’s crazier? Orfeo has a happy ending. Better still? It works.

Enjoy your mind being blown. Unless of course you’ve already read the poem.

That’s all I’ve got for tonight. Got a free trial to World of Warcraft that I’m checking out for the sake of smashing evil in the face with a hammer, because I roll with paladins.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Welcome Back...To The Stage Of History

I so desperately wanted to like Soul Calibur IV. I mean really wanted to like it. Loved Soul Calibur. Loved Soul Calibur II, Loved Soul Calibur III (never played Soul Calibur Legends, but then again, no one did. ZING!).

It was a winning formula before. What happened?

First the good. Major next gen graphics upgrade. A bit obvious, considering it’s a next gen game, but it looks fantastic. The character creation system got a major upgrade from III. Adding sliders for almost everything made a world of difference (and also allowed the adolescent to put F cups on characters). The weapon enhancement system is pretty nice too, adding some depth. The actual gameplay is pretty solid too with a few exceptions to get to later.

So what’s not to like about it? For all of the actual upgrades they added, there’s a lot of steps away from things that made the game great in the first place.

1. Story Mode: Only 5 missions, making it the shortest in the series. III’s labyrinthine story (and multiple endings depending on what buttons you press) stands as an immediate contrast.

2. Survival Mode: A standard of the series, right? Well, now its only accessible through the Tower of Lost Souls mode and you have to pick two character to go through it. This in itself isn’t bad, but what if you want just a standard survival mode with one character and no weapon effects/costume effects? No dice.

3. Multi-character fights: A lot of fights involve fighting a string of enemies one by one. When one is defeated, the next one charges in swinging. The problem here is that when you ring out a character (you know, one of the most reliable ways to end a fight), you’re still staring at the splash they make and can’t turn around to prepare yourself for the next guy that you KNOW is coming. So you wait there, shuffling from side to side leaving your back completely exposed.

4. The Weapon/Costume Enhancement System: It’s a double edged sword. The depth is nice, but not when you want to maximize your survivability. Some costume items may look cool but actually end up hurting your defense/offense/hit points. Min-maxing can result if you want an edge in survival mode.

5. Shallow Single Player: I realize it’s the first in the series to have online multiplayer (I don’t know if the Dreamcast version did…) but what if I don’t have or want an X Box Gold account? I’m stuck with Story Mode, standard Arcade Mode, and story-less Tower of Lost Souls.

6. Character Variety: Naturally, all games in fighting franchise add new characters to the storyline . 2 Added Cassandra, Raphael, Necrid, Yunsung, Talim, 3 proxies for Lizardman, Rock & Hwang, and a guest character depending on the console (Heihachi, Spawn or Link). That’s 5 new characters with fully fleshed out storylines in the game world (not counting the random imitator guys like Charade & Olcadan). 3 Brought back Rock and added Tira, Zasalamel and Setsuka as fully fleshed out characters, then threw in a ton of bonus weapon styles that were either incomplete or broken, but out of these, Arthur, Li Long, Hwang, Amy and a couple others had a place in the game world. Some of the other characters were unique to the campaign mode, but they weren’t too out of place among the normal characters (in appearance). 4 has only two new characters that aren’t a guest or a bonus, Hilde & Algol (Amy already existed in 3). Now, admittedly, she’s pretty cool with the sword & spear style, and Algol’s the boss of the game (and a big cup of crazy moves voiced by the guy who did Lu Bu in the Warriors Orochi, which, by the way, I finally unlocked the last character of, okay, random tangent over) but the bonus characters? They’re all clones of somebody else in the game. Shura’s a Cervantes clone for example. Some of them don’t even make sense in the aesthetic of the game: Angol Fear & her attack nipples, for example. Oh, and this really burns me. Using a character gains levels for the character (in terms of how many enhancement slots they have), but the clones have their own levels, separate from their clone daddies. One doesn’t carry over to the other (which it does for the Create-A-Soul characters you make). If Shura has the same exact moves as Cervantes, she shouldn’t have her own fighting style for leveling purposes.

And then there’s the guest characters. They’re from Star Wars. Now, I know what you’re thinking. 2 had guest characters, isn’t that the same thing? Yes and no. Spawn was kind of a weird one, but they gave him an axe. Heihachi was from Namco’s other big fighting franchise Tekken, so he made sense. Link, despite looking completely different, came with a sword and shield, making a perfect fit. 4’s bonus characters all have lightsabers, weapons that can cut through just about anything unless there’s a plot infused macguffin to prevent that. Maxi’s nunchaku shouldn’t be able to block Darth Vader’s lightsaber. Still, the last fighting game featuring Star Wars characters was Masters of Teras Kasi, and the less said about that the better.

So the Star Wars characters are Darth Vader, Yoda & the Apprentice from The Force Unleashed. Now, Vader & the Apprentice both have pretty cool move sets and without the force powers could fit in pretty well in Soul Calibur. Yoda on the other hand is pretty broken. He’s a tiny target that can’t be thrown. Not even Yoda can throw Yoda in a mirror match. He’s just…annoying. Personally, I’d rather they fleshed out & balanced the bonus weapons from 3, because I’d rather have a wave sword or grieve edge in a SOUL CALIBUR game than Jedi.

Its…its…Basically it comes down to feeling like there’s less game for the buck. The new, innovative stuff that’s actually there is pretty nice, but it feels like less game than the last gen games in the franchise. I don’t hate it, but I…don’t like it.


Now, I know you’re thinking, “hey you inconsistent jerk, why can’t you update on time for your little self-indulgent marathon session?” And, well, most of that’s true, but the thing is, I had an update ready to go for last night, but it was long and I didn’t want to split it up into two parts.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Why is it always snake gods?

I can’t think of anything particularly insightful to write at the moment. Um, Orochi X has been unlocked, so hooray. Now that the snakey bastard’s been unlocked, I can go about finishing games with better storylines and innovative features, like GTA IV. If it’ll let me load my gamer profile…

Anyway, the Orochi monkey is off my back and I feel free. Free to frolic through meadows, whistling back to the blackbirds as the first green buds start to show the greenery of life. Then I remember I live in Northeast Ohio and that won’t happen for another month.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Happy Feast of St. Winwaloe…ladies.

Also, today is Square Root Day. Apparently happens nine times a century.

Ruminate on that, I'm going to do things relevant to gaining a year.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Booooonesawwwwww is Readyyyyyyyyyy

Let’s talk Spider-Man. Remember 2002? There weren’t a lot of successful comic book movies based on the mainstream stuff from Marvel or DC. Batman was still lying in a shallow grave after Batman & Robin tanked. X-Men was out by that point, and while it hit a lot of right notes, it still wasn’t exactly what people really wanted, which was lots and lots of colorful mutants. Other than that, all we had before were the first two Blade movies, which is…I mean, there weren’t a whole lot of hardcore Blade fans that complained about the changes made to the character.

Spider-Man came out in May of 2002. Audiences were jonesing for some wonderment on the screen. (For the sake of argument, let’s not remember that Fellowship of the Ring came out at Christmas time 2001, even though that as well provided ample wonderment, but I mean come on, we’ve seen elves and dwarves on the big screen before, usually in really bad movies)

Leading up to the movie, buzz was good. Sam Raimi was known for being a cool director, what with Army of Darkness and everything, but Spider-Man isn’t the same kind of thing. Sure, X-Men was good, but Spidey’s look is iconic. You can’t just have him in a pleather jumpsuit like Wolverine.

So after the moody Danny Elfman intro music, we get an origin story. Admittedly, a necessary evil for a super hero movie, but this one…works. I mean, a bad origin sequence can tank a superhero movie. Raimi pulled it off great.

I mean, sitting in the theaters, watching nerdy Peter Parker pining away for Mary Jane (Watson! Not hemp!), Flash Thompson getting his comeuppance! Willem freakin’ Dafoe as Norman Osborne! All that early stuff was pretty cool, but what about, you know, Spidey?

And Holy crap, it’s the first time he webslings and he slams into a billboard! Awesome!!!! Then he figures out how to swing around New York!!! And it’s the first time we see J. Jonah Jameson!! And he calls Spider-Man a menace!! You get the idea. It was an inner child’s dream come true.

Are there flaws? I just watched it again, and yeah, there’s some goofy moments and some of the CGI doesn’t stand up to age that well, but come on! We got to see Spidey swinging around New York in live action and it looked almost exactly like we imagined it would in our heads (except for the Green Goblin’s costume, that was kind of weird). And that ending, that bittersweet ending!

It. Kicked. Ass.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

I Never Promised Good Content

My PS2 gets a considerable amount of use. I only got it about three years ago, pretty much near the end of the last generation of consoles, but catching up on the library of quality games for it is considerably cheaper than chasing the next gen hits obsessively.

Whatever, I’m a firm believer in gameplay and concept taking precedence over cutting edge graphics. It’s all part of a simple philosophy I have. I don’t tolerate shoddy writing in novels I like to read, or bad everything in movies I want to watch, so I suppose I’m also of the camp that “games=art” just as much as anything else can be. Ocarina of Time is possibly my favorite game in history. The old Lucasarts Adventure Games (Monkey Island, Sam & Max, Grim Fandango, etc) and any spiritual successors to them are also uber high on the list of quality rides.

And then there’s one game that has continued to see heavy rotation on my PS2 for longer than I can logically explain. Warriors Orochi 2 is a mindless beat-em-up that is a crossover game of Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors, two OTHER mindless beat-em-ups. The premise, such as it is, is that a scythe wielding anthropomorphic snake god named Orochi from Japanese Mythology got bored one day, created an alternate world and sucked the characters from the Chinese Three Kingdoms Era and the Japanese Warring States Period through space-time so that they could fight for his amusement. That’s pretty much it. This, being the sequel, continues the story of these Asian warriors in this alternate dimension as they try to come to grips with leaving behind everything they’ve ever known- No, I’m kidding. They continue to fight with inexhaustible numbers endlessly like its Valhalla. Sure, there’s some other gods showing up to put Orochi back in his place and hinting at some character depth about being a fugitive from divine justice with a death wish, but its not developed more than that. Ultimately, Cartoony Asian Valhalla is pretty much all that this game is all about.

So the story is ridiculously bad, the voice acting is goofy in both bad and good ways, and the combat couldn’t be simpler. Actually, yes, there is a way to make the combat simpler than combo system. There’s a weapon upgrade called “almighty” that you can collect parts for and then apply to a weapon that turns any basic attack into a win button. Hitting X at that point is guaranteed to kill something in your radius, and even joke characters like Yoshimoto Imagawa can own former monsters like Lu Bu.

And I just. Can’t. Stop. Playing. The reason for that is because unlocking the last Character, Orochi X, takes in inordinate amount of level grinding. There’s 92 playable characters with their own move sets (which means something until you slap almighty on them) with a level cap of 99 and a proficiency cap of 50. The end result is a hell of a lot of level grinding. I still don’t have Orochi X and I am rapidly approaching at least level 30 proficiency for each character. Every single character HAS almighty on their weapon. This is no longer a stress relief activity after a long day. This isn’t even a single character genocide simulator that features the deaths of thousands of ninjas and snakemen. This is a quest motivated by pride. Arrogant pride that is keeping me from playing other, better games, like Okami or Shadow of the Colossus.

I… I’m so ashamed of myself.