I’ve been Shawshanked

Good grief… This poster sets the stage for disappointment.


The Shawshank Redemption is regarded as one of the best films of the 1990’s. The film apparently disappointed in theaters but burst into popularity in the home video market as well as on TNT. For those unaware, like I was, the movie is about a banker named Andy who is given two life sentences in prison following the murder of his wife and her lover. He meets Red, an inmate who can get anything from the outside, who shows him the ropes and tells him that there is no hope so just get used to being in Shawshank. Andy repeatedly displays that he can be the change in the system and gradually improves things. After a series of happenings, he manages to escape by having dug a small tunnel over the course of a couple of decades. When Red is finally released for good behavior, he finds out where Andy has gone. They presumably live happily ever after. Continue reading “I’ve been Shawshanked”

Multiplayer is…fun?

Not much time for an update, but I wanted to share some recent game experiences.

Online multiplayer is a world from which I’ve generally kept my distance. It involves a time investment that I’m not willing to make due to the low reward in the end and potentially obnoxious players that make the game altogether unpleasant. Every now and then I’ll dabble in something offered for free or for cheap, like some League of Legends-style Lord of the Rings that released on PS3 nearly a decade ago and Fat Princess, a game that I’m surprised did not receive a sequel. I even gave Warframe an hour. Nothing was a must-play.

This past week saw the launch of Mobile Suit Gundam Battle Operation 2 in English-speaking territories and the beta of Project REsistance, the new Resident Evil game. I played and had fun. Gundam was a no-brainer because I’m taken by the mecha designs and the, “Whoa! I’m a pilot!” of it all. Project REsistance was something else. You can look up full reviews of the beta to read about the asymmetric game play in this 4-vs-1 game, so I’ll spare you those details. What I can tell you is that it’s a unique experience to play a clustered action horror game and not be able to expect anything due to the random element of the player on the other end.

And that helped me to realize what games like these do well. The randomness of other players is chaos. And the chaos is a unique story that you experienced and can tell. It’s like Shadow of Mordor but on a larger scale. I can tell the story about how the Tyrant emerged out of nowhere in Project REsistance and I kicked it with Tyrone before running away. I can tell a story about how disabled a bomb in my own base and then blasted an enemy pilot with a bazooka not once but twice in the same session of Battle Operation 2. And those are fun stories because they were not expected, and someone else playing the game may not have a story quite like that.

Maybe it’s not what everyone gets out of those games, but those are my takeaways.

Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest

Having grown up through the dawning of the age of Nintendo Power, I was pretty much convinced that any game that was allowed to grace the cover of the magazine was an instant classic. Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest has perhaps one of the most iconic — and unintentionally horrifying — covers in the history of the magazine. That solidified to me that it must have been a great game. A game I never got to play but still great. Continue reading “Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest”

Promare: Style is Substance

Anime fans in the US lucky enough to live near movie theaters showing Fathom Events had the opportunity last week to watch Studio Trigger’s first original animated film, Promare. For those familiar with the work of the studio, which came into being following many staff members’ contributions to Gainax’s Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and most well-known work being Kill La Kill, the best way to describe the film is simply “Peak Trigger.” Over the top absurdity and action that is very, very well animated. The cliché “a feast for the eyes” is a more than apt description of what you get. And while I haven’t seen it on the small screen yet, this is one of those movies that needs to be seen on the big screen to be appreciated. Continue reading “Promare: Style is Substance”

Shadow of Mordor — or why I should retire from open world action games

One of the most intriguing games to come out in the past decade, and one of the major reasons I looked forward to getting a PS4, is Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. The major draw for the game is what is called the Nemesis System. This feature creates an extra level of drama for the player outside of the main story. Interactions with the enemies become more meaningful because each encounter actually means something. Uruk, basically the bosses of the orcs, have procedurally generated features and names as well as strengths and weaknesses. You learn of these weaknesses by interrogating random orcs, and you can exploit the weaknesses in battle. However, if you defeat an Uruk, it does not mean the Uruk is completely out of the game. You may scar them, and your means of defeating them may no longer work in the next fight. Defeated Uruk may show up during one of your missions and call you out for defeating them last time — or for running away. Later in the game, you may send orcs back to them to make death threats, powering up the Uruk (resulting in a better loot drop) and giving them something else to yell at you about when you fight them. This is a fascinating feature of the game that I’m sure I’ll return to from time to time. Continue reading “Shadow of Mordor — or why I should retire from open world action games”

Young Justice: Outsiders can’t set a pace [insert Flash joke here]

The announcement of Young Justice: Outsiders was the one thing that made me think the DC Universe streaming service might be worth a purchase. Considering its price and how much other content it offers that fails to excite me, that’s saying something. I ended up getting to share an account, and the only thing I’ve spent any time looking at on the service was YJ:O. I was a huge fan of the previous two seasons. Without the standards and practices of the Cartoon Network — and most notably network executives who were disappointed with the show’s appeal to girls and women — controlling the content, maybe this could be great.

It was good; it wasn’t great. Continue reading “Young Justice: Outsiders can’t set a pace [insert Flash joke here]”

About Spider-Man, Sony, and Disney

There is notably quite a bit of disappointment about a publicly shared business decision over the current generation of Spider-Man films. Sony and Disney could not come to an agreement about shared production of the films, resulting in Tom Holland’s Spider-Man series henceforth no longer being included in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not only does this mean that Spidey will no longer be rubbing elbows with the collective of characters officially considered Avengers in the last two major MCU films, it also means that Spider-Man’s cast of foes will not be incorporated into the greater Cinematic Universe as well. And to be completely honest, it’s disappointing that Norman Osborne — the Green Goblin — may not get to move in and become an incredible Earth-based enemy for the world’s mightiest heroes.

At the same time, so what? Continue reading “About Spider-Man, Sony, and Disney”

Is GLOW losing it’s, uh…. Is GLOW beginning to fade?

I wish this image had Carmen front and center. She really is the heart of the group.

Full disclosure: I was a pro-wrestling fan for about 12 years of my life — from about 1993 to 2005. Shortly after I got into wrestling, I got into the internet (AOL) and found myself reading about the world of wrestling outside of the ring. Not only was there fun action and drama in the ring, but there was plenty outside of the ring as well. The younger version of me found it entertaining that there was politicking and power games in the wrestling offices, and I played right into the hands of the “Monday Night Wars.” The wrestling business was a trip. Continue reading “Is GLOW losing it’s, uh…. Is GLOW beginning to fade?”

Spider-Man PS4 is Tedious

I love the comic book suit, but it stands out sooo much.

“The story is the best part,” is something that I personally don’t like saying as a compliment about video games. Yes, I am someone who values a good story, but that’s not something that should be valued most in a video game. The game play is the thing. And despite the fact that there is a surprisingly well written Spider-Man story that incorporates so many villains into a fairly coherent plot, most of the time the player spends in Spider-Man (PS4) is in all of the other stuff.

The other stuff is traversing the city and combat. Continue reading “Spider-Man PS4 is Tedious”

Does Veronica Mars transition well into adulthood?

Remember in the original series when Veronica wasn’t supposed to be in places like this?

It’s a shame that the focus the show Veronica Mars has received over the past couple of weeks has been on a moment in the final episode in the new limited series. It was unexpected and perhaps a bit too much even for people who weren’t fans of that particular character, but it was only a thin sliver of season 4. As a long time fan, I have to say that Veronica Mars has never been about moments. It has always been about a bigger picture. A bigger mystery. A season rather than an episode. And the darker world the protagonist discover beneath the sunny vail of Neptune, California. Continue reading “Does Veronica Mars transition well into adulthood?”