Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Freelancin': JRPGs I Could Never Finish - Radiant Historia, The World Ends With You, and Xenogears

Sorry this is a day late, the Internet died on me last night, meaning I couldn't get the images required to make the video.  (Not that its really necessary, but I like to at least try to justify uploading this on Youtube.)


These are three JRPGs I could never finish for whatever reason.  I'm sure you'll enjoy finally seeing me talk about TWEWY, but since I hated playing that game, you might not like what you find.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Metal Gear Rip-Off V: Ground Zeroes

So what horrible thing happened behind the scenes at Konami that resulted in this turd getting shat out?  Is everybody at that company okay?  Should I be worried for their health?  Should I send Hideo Kojima a 'Get Well Soon' card?

Was this game some kind of bureaucratic mistake?  Somebody misfiled a form, and a demo accidentally wound up on the shelves for thirty dollars?  Then the mindless machinery of a corporation takes over, every individual actor blaming this nebulous group-think.  I can see the hypothetical situation already taking shape:  Says Kojima off-the-record, "Oh, I didn't want to release it as a game, this came from 'the higher ups'."  And the higher-ups blame the game developers.  The game devs blame the marketing guys..  And the marketing guys blame one Shiro in the mail room, who accidentally spilled coffee on a memo from Hideo, which was then photocopied and sent around the company, making everybody believe this game had to be released in this woeful state.  What do you do with Shiro?  Fire him?  Nah.  Give him a promotion.  Look at the scam Konami got away with.

"Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes"* is without a doubt the very worst Metal Gear Solid game ever made.  And already I feel as though I'm doing my readers a disservice by calling this thing a "game".  It is definitely interactive media, that much is clear.  There is a goal, there are penalties for failing the challenges set up by the game and rewards for succeeding them, and your physical actions on the controller result in direct feedback on screen, so it certainly looks like a game.  But once you actually play it, you'll realize that no, "Ground Zeroes" is not a game.  It's an ad.  It is a teaser.  You could not call "Ground Zeroes" a game any more than you could call a trailer a movie.  Yeah, it is indeed technically a motion picture with sight and sound simulating real people acting out a story, but that is not a movie.  It is the taste of a larger movie.

The difference though is that a trailer is free.  "Ground Zeroes" is not.  This was sold in stores - it still is being sold in stores right now.  Somebody played through this game and said "yup, this is a product I am shameless enough that I am willing to offer this in exchange of monetary funds".  The "game" is only two hours long - and that's assuming you're playing terribly.  A second playthrough could complete the entire experience in a half hour.  A speedrunner could be done in five minutes all without any kind of cheats or hacks.  As soon as you become accustomed to the controls and adjust to the strategy of the gameplay, "Ground Zeroes" is over.  The game is all warmup and stretching, no exercise.  You finish the foreplay, then as soon as you're ready to have sex, "Ground Zeroes" is out the door with your money ready to fail to please more clients.  I sure hope you were not attached to those thirty dollars, jackass.  But don't worry - there is a real "Metal Gear Solid V" coming in the near future.  But it is not this one.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Oculus

"Oculus" is a movie I watched for two reasons, neither of which are exactly professional.  The first is that that this is the major motion picture debut of Karen Gillan, TV's Amy Pond, the cute Scottish companion to Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor.  I may be many things, but a disloyal "Doctor Who" fan is not one of them.  The second and more petty reason is that "Oculus" has been produced by a company known as Blumhouse Productions, AKA, "BH Productions".  Wait a minute, BH?  That sounds familiar, doesn't it?  Why of course, my favorite element, Bohrium, goes by the symbol "Bh".  BH Productions, how dare you trample on the memory of Danish physicist, Niels Bohr!  I'll that as a personal challenge!!

Okay, to be more serious, "Oculus" is a decent horror film, which I am always depressed to point out, is a very rare thing in this century.  Maybe the old fads of endless remakes and miserable found-footage "Paranormal Activity" wanna-bes have finally ended and horror directors have found a new fad, one started by last year's "The Conjuring", which is to make good horror movies.  You know, films that are actually scary, starring sympathetic characters, and relying upon mood and tone to create their scares, not gimmicks.  I know it is a radical change since Hollywood has grown comfortable making crap horror for most of this century, but "Oculus" is a nice little horror movie, with a basic enough premise that makes this sort of creepy fun seem completely effortless.

"Oculus"'s plotline can be viewed as a mash-up of several Stephen King novels and stories.  Clearly a lot of inspiration for the attitude of the evil towards the heroes, and the brilliant horror build-up is very King-like.  The structure is like that of "It", where the heroes who defeated an evil being in their childhood must come back again and defeat it finally in their adulthood.  Only instead of a killer clown (that is really a spider) the demonic force is a haunted mirror with powers to tamper with reality and distort the characters' minds, similar to the chilling short story, "1408"*.  During the past storyline, the children must watch as the mirror breaks their parents, turning their father into Jack Torrence from "The Shining".  The past and present storylines are interlinked, increasingly so as the characters go more and more insane.  The mirror distorts everything in the film, until all it is impossible to tell what is reality and what is illusion, and the characters are helpless victims in a mad storm.  With all of universe seemingly bending to the mirror's wicked will, can their be any of escape?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past Trailer

If you bothered watching last year's "The Wolverine" (and really, I wouldn't recommend it), you would have been given a great final teaser involving the seemingly magical return of Magneto and Professor X to the X-Men film universe.  Here's the movie they're making out of that return... and boy does it look like a clusterfuck:


Apparently EVERYBODY is in this movie, up to and including Peter Dinklage, inexplicably.  He's built an army of robots that look exactly like vacuum cleaners to - you guessed it - kill all Mutants.  Therefore, somehow, Wolverine is going back to the past to meet up with the cast of "X-Men First Class", and do time travel stuff that will save the world.  You know, because the X-Men movies didn't already suffer from huge ungainly cast problems, might as well compound the error by doubling the cast with past and future versions.  I was really excited to see Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen back at the end of "The Wolverine" - they're really the heart of this X-Men franchise, not Hugh Jackman as Fox seems desperate to prove - yet this trailer has completely squashed my expectations.

What's becoming increasingly obvious to me is how cheap the X-Men franchise looks.  Back in the early 2000s, these really were the best superhero movies you could hope for.  Now of course in our much greater modern world of "The Dark Knight" trilogy and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we have much slicker professional superhero films.  Yet here we are again with this cheesy X-Men film, which feels not only like a throwback to the 1970s but also the early 2000s.  It looks like a mess.  And you know what happens when an X-Men movie is a mess.  Need I remind you of "X-Men Origins Wolverine" (which might somehow become canon again after this stupid time travel bullshit is over)?

Hey, at least Ellen Page is coming back for this.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Bravely Default

"Bravely Default" is a game I have been eagerly anticipating for about three years now.  It has been a long difficult wait, seeing a fair share of deep suffering, and uncertainty as to whether Square Enix would allow the game to ever reach the United States*.  As the months of waiting turned to years, I became irrationally bitter at other Final Fantasy releases.  My manic mind stared at games like "Theatrythm Final Fantasy" and wished death upon its players and developers, for no reason other than the game's speedy localization.  Clearly turn-based JRPG withdrawal was doing terrible things to me.  But then, in February, the game was finally released.  God was in his heaven, all was right with the world.

Now you would never guess this from the title, but "Bravely Default" is actually the newest Final Fantasy game.  It isn't called "Final Fantasy" because Square Enix prefers to use that brand name to advertise its latest bloated psuedo-turned based, psuedo-real time disaster, like "Lightning Returns".  "Bravely Default" was made to be a side-project built to appease the old turn-based RPG fans:  the people SE considers to be ancient un-cool nerds barely worthy of their business anymore.  The entire game is a throw-back to the mid-90s era of JRPGs, specifically games like "Final Fantasy V".  It has fully turn-based gamplay, no Active Time Battle for this title, a relatively simple plot without huge FMV spectacle, a light-hearted cast who refuse to brood for hours like the so-called "cool" modern Final Fantasy characters are famous for, and it has a cartoony art style.  It's an adventure of four youths defeating evil, saving Crystals, defeating an evil Empire, and even using classic Final Fantasy Jobs and magic.  "Bravely Default" is ten times more of an authentic Final Fantasy experience than we have seen in years.  And of course, for that reason, it cannot be called "Final Fantasy".

But I'm not really here to bemoan the endless stupidity of Square Enix.  I have already covered that depressing subject dozens of times - and will continue to beat that dead horse until the Humane Society files a lawsuit.  Instead I am here to celebrate "Bravely Default", the greatest turn-based RPG to be released since "Dragon Quest IX".  It doesn't matter that Final Fantasy's head is neck-deep up inside its own ass, or that the top brass of Square Enix were honestly shocked that RPG fans still love turn-based classic gameplay,   I don't care what you call your Final Fantasy games, just as long as good old-fashioned games are still getting released - the kind Momma used to make.  We can still have a nice journey with new friends, save the universe, and have yet another great game on our 3DS.