Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Super Smash Bros Brawl: Subspace Emissary

I've been playing "Super Smash Bros Brawl" for over a year now.  Yet, I never did find the time to actually play through its story mode.  Also I always played "Brawl" in my friend's Wii, but thanks to some very crafty handiwork, the "Smash Bros" disc is now sitting in my own personal white phallic-titled game system.  And thanks to that, I finally got to play, and beat, Subspace Emissary.  Yeah, I know this review is really late, but what do you expect?  When "Brawl" first came out, I didn't even have a blog then!

With harsh memories of "Dissidia" behind me, I was really hoping that Nintendo could succeed where Square Enix had failed so miserably:  have a massive crossover plotline without accidentally creating one of the worst storylines in the history of all mankind.  With a name like "Subspace Emissary", a bizarre coupling of two words whose exact meaning I still am nowhere near understand, I was already getting some bad "Final Fantasy" vibes.  "Subspace Emissary" could easily be the next subtitle to the newest "Kingdom Hearts" game.  However, "Brawl"'s story mode immediately shows itself to be something very different than "Dissidia" by taking an interesting approach:  no dialog.  Of course, many of Nintendo's franchises are either dialog-less or have very sparse storylines, so this is an appropriate way of going about telling the story.  It would be a bit odd for Link to suddenly start talking out of nowhere with Fox.  And after "Dissidia"'s unbelievably awful script, and "Other M"'s raping of Samus in an sad attempt to add a plot, I can't say I have any problems here.  The last thing anybody wanted was Link to start talking about his dreams of filling the world with flowers.

"Subspace Emissary" above all else is a simple sidescrolling game.  As with Nintendo's overall gaming strategy, gameplay is placed well above story issues.  They wanted to make a fun adventure before writing an epic poem, basically the opposite of "Dissidia"'s strategy.  And which would I rather play?  Which would anybody rather play?  "Subspace Emissary", that's what.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bleach Recaps: Ep. 197, Let's Green Egg and Ham It

Laptop is back!  Yay!  Now my creative juices are flowing at full spirit now that I know that random people can't see me watch shows where large Black men dress up like toddlers.  Instead it will be my closest friends and roommate.

Last week "Bleach" inaugurated a new round of battles:  Kenpachi vs. Spoony, Byakuya vs. Shaq, and Dr. Insano's ridiculous new look vs. the audience.  Things are generally looking up for this show, I have to say.  As long as their's brainless repetitive anime swordplay, "Bleach" will still have one viewer in me.  This Sunday's* episode was entirely about the battle between the prettiest man in the Soul Society vs. a dude with spikes on his head.  And amazingly at the end, the fight almost seems concluded.  Finishing a fight in under three episodes?  This can't be "Bleach" I'm watching now, right?

So after a hideously long recap of last week's events, we return to the action.  Byakuya and Zommari are still arguing over which one of them is arrogant.  All Shaq seems to want is to be treated as an equal, and maybe get enough respect to at least get pretty-boy's name.  But Byakuya, showing a really nasty side that I doubt his fangirls will enjoy, refuses to accept Shaq as an equal.  Shaq is like "I'm an Esapda, you're a Captain, come on dude, we can at least not be dicks."  Then Byakuya is like "You're a lesser species, I don't want nothing to do with you."  I know Japan is a highly racially homogeneous country - the worst ethnic problem they have there is some angry Korean immigrants - but to a Western eye, I see a light-skinned man telling a Black man that he does not count.  Not cool, "Bleach", not cool.  I mean, yeah, the show is talking about the difference between Hollows and Soul Reapers**, but its easy enough to see some really deep problems here.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


"minus." by Ryan Armand is a webcomic about a little girl with the powers of Almighty God.  Its never explained where the little girl gets her powers from, but everybody seems to just run with it.  Her name is "minus", always spelled lower cased, though in the comic title its spelled with a period for no apparent reason.  Through minus' inexplicable omnipotence, the comic becomes a weird and wonderful world where anything can happen.  One day minus can be the warrior queen of the ant-people, and then the next she'll be playing with her lunch (see above).  Thanks to the unlimited imagination of this little girl, "minus." becomes a 21st century digital "Calvin & Hobbes" - which is easily the highest recommendation I can ever give a webcomic.

Drawn in soft childlike colors with a spare sense of space, "minus." appeals to a sense of childlike innocence.  "minus." does not attack complex issues directly like Bill Watterson's "Calvin & Hobbes", rather it briefly brushed up on them then moves on.  "minus" is a quiet character who simply enjoys playing for its own sake, not some great philosopher like Calvin.  Despite her unlimited power, minus still goes to school, listens to her mother, and has friends, of course all this happens when she's not flying into space and trying to befriend an alien culture or conversing with ghosts.  Typically in stories where little kids get unlimited power, they wind up wishing innocent people "to the cornfield", but minus is not vindictive - but don't get on her bad side or she'll turn you into a balloon, then pop you.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

War in Libya

A few days ago the United States essentially went to war with Mummar Gaddafi*, the self-declared "leader" of Libya.  For the past few weeks the world has been watching as the Libyan rebels have been nearly completely defeated by Gaddafi's army, and now were forced into the capital of Bengazi.  If not for American military intervention coming when it did, Bengazi, a city of more than 600,000 would have been the sight of a massive battle with Gaddafi almost certainly being the victor.  Essentially what we were staring at was the prospect of a modern-day sacking.  So yeah, I'm going to support the President in his intervention in Libya, in fact, I've been worried for the last week that Obama would sit back and let us enjoy the watching a city be razed on CNN and the Huffington Post.

Now I know there are those among you who immediately panic to imagine the US in another war, especially after we so brilliantly mired ourselves into two quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last decade.  Then of course there are those among us who just naturally hate every single military action the US takes, no matter what the situation or circumstance.  Nobody wanted to go to war, but the situation has arisen where once again, if the United States stays silent, nobody will do anything.  Obama gave his support to the rebels several weeks ago when their victory seemed only days away, now that the situation has turned away from them is he to just leave them to be destroyed by a tyrannical dictator?  Unfortunately Obama has blundered his way into an incredibly unclear mandate:  just what the Hell are we doing in Libya?  Acting as a shield for the rebels?  Removing Gaddafi?  We will be backing up similar revolutionary movements in Bahrain, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, where protests have been met with viscous reprisals by their respective authoritarian governments?  How far are we willing to go for our mission here, whatever it is?  And finally, who is in control here?  The UN?  NATO?  The Arab League?  Or like in Iraq, is this going to be a mainly US-led operation?  Most importantly, if we want Gaddafi gone, what is our plan for the Libya to be?

Unless Obama answers those questions immediately with a clear statement of our goals in Libya, we could indeed end up in one more quagmire.  Right now the bombings have not deterred Gaddafi from launching another offensive - one most likely to doomed to be crushed under the bombardment coming from the most sophisticated military hard-ware in world history.  But what then?  Right now Obama is doing the right thing for fighting for humanitarian aid.  But we need a plan.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bleach Recaps: Ep. 196: Kenpachi Cuts Somebody in Half!

From now I've decided that I hate the regular titles for "Bleach" episodes, so I'm going to add my own.  What I remember most about this episode is Captain Kenny cuts somebody in half in the first two minutes, thus the title change.  The Japanese title is "Joining the Battle! The Strongest Shinigami Army Appears" - which honestly doesn't make any sense because a Shinigami army does not actually appear.  And in AMERICA we call them "Soul Reapers", got it, translators?

So in tonight's episode, after Ichigo's invasion of Heuco Mundo has ultimately turned into well... a complete failure, he is luckily saved at the last minute by reinforcements coming out of basically nowhere.  And who could ask for better reinforcements?  No less than four Captains of the Soul Society and three Lieutenants.  Since one of those Captains is no less than Kenpachi Zarachi, the mad dog who lives and breaths for death itself, I'm pretty sure Ichigo can rest easy while the big boys take care of things.  Or maybe he can't.

You see, Ichigo beat Kenpachi back in the Soul Society arc, and that was two power level jumps ago.  He beat Kenpachi to within an inch of his life before even attaining Bankai.  Now Ichigo, with Bankai plus his Vizard powers can't beat Spoony.  Naturally the power level game should prove that Kenpachi has no chance here, but Kenpachi doesn't exactly play by those rules.  He so insane that in the Soul Society arc he got stabbed in the heart and kept on fighting.  Tosen, now one of Aizen's big dogs, couldn't beat Kenny.  Kenpachi took on two Captains that day, beat one, and probably would have beaten the other.  He's basically an unstoppable monster who is just hilariously out of his mind.  Which is why of course, Kenny is my favorite character.  So let's see him do his thing:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Red Riding Hood

I came into the theatre of "Red Riding Hood" knowing that what I was about to watch wasn't going to be good.  Personally I was hoping for a "Twilight"-level humdinger of bizarre sexual fetishes, creepy implications, and the complete and total lack of a plot, making for a night of high laughs and good entertainment.  But sadly "Red Riding Hood" managed to completely disappoint by being too good.  This movie wasn't a wretched "Twilight 3.5", it was just a mediocre werewolf movie.  Not sexy enough, not scary enough, not stupid enough, just a blank nothing of cinema.

"Red Riding Hood" I think, probably more than any other movie before, is a perfect example of why horror movies can never ever have a rating of less than R.  This movie screams and squeals in tortured desperation while being chained down by its family friendly PG-13.  You can hear the script gasping for air as its lungs are crushed by the limitations its producers have set on it.  It can't be as bloody as it wants to be, it can't even have a single shot of nudity, come on!  There even isn't a scene of a person transforming into the werewolf, making this a really pointless and stupid movie.  So instead, in what seems to be an eleventh hour script rewrite, a meaningless "Twilight"-esque love triangle is thrown in - that naturally goes nowhere and only exists to eat up time.

Ultimately, "Twilight" fans will feel ripped off, this isn't the movie that they were promised.  Horror fans will be pissed that this so-called horror movie is so tame.  And movie fans will be annoyed at a hugely bloated cast filled mostly with characters that have nothing to do, a horrible script, and some of the most over-the-top cheese-eating acting you have ever seen in your entire life.  "Red Riding Hood" perfectly manages to be so mediocre that it offers nothing for anybody, not even people like me who are simply looking for something silly to laugh at.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bleach Recaps: Ep. 195, Pesche's Seriousness

My poor computer is dead, so for the next few weeks I'll have to use the college library for blog updates.  And I gotta say, these ancient Windows XP computers and the sounds of people updating their Facebook profiles is not really the most conductive place for writing.  Also every time I use the computers here for something other than school work, I always feel nervous, like the teacher is going to catch me or something.  High school computer labs have wired me in odd ways.  Considering what I pay for tuition at these lovely institution of higher learning, by all rights I should pay able to watch hard-core anime porn with the volume up to eleven on these things. Personally I think the librarians looks so bored that I think the sounds of some dick girl screaming in Japanese might lighten up their day. Whatever, I gotta recap "Bleach", but if it at all sounds like I'm not feeling it this time, its because of the less than desirable workspace.

Anyway, last night's episode wasn't all that bad, aside from the fact that for once the villains are just plain cheating now.  Are you telling me that Granz was able to deflect an attack just by looking at it?  Kubo, just let this weird freak die already so that story can move!  Also, is it really necessary to have Ichigo be saved twice?  I mean, you pulled Nel's transformation completely out of your ass, so now you have to get rid of her by crapping out some other silly nonsense, and now Ichigo has to be saved by yet another thing getting pulled out.  Man, Kubo, you probably won't be able to sit for a week considering how often you have to reach up inside there.  Off topic: readers, I strongly advise that you invest in Vaseline, because those stocks have been through the roof this week for some reason.

On the other hand, this episode does mark the triumphant glorious return of the greatest character in this series, so can I really complain?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Battle: Los Angeles

In the last few years, the alien invasion genre really has been taking a pounding thanks to mediocre movie after mediocre movie.  For whatever reason, after "Independence Day" decided to portray the invasion on an epic scale showing the President on down, giving us a full picture of the interstellar war, every alien invasion movie instead decided "No, we're not going to do that.  Instead, let's focus on a small group of annoying characters and never give the big picture."  Naturally I hated "War of the Worlds", despite it being filmed in my home town, I especially hated "Cloverfield" for starring a pudgy dimwit who may be the single worst character in the history of cinema, and "Skyline" was so bad I wondered if an alien invasion movie could be halfway decent ever again.  Sadly the best alien invasion movie that I can think of in this century is "Evolution" starring David Duchovny and that was a comedy.

One of my main problems with those three movies is that they always give you brief glimpses of what the military is doing to fight the aliens.  In "Skyline" for example, you might see a CG Humvee fighting some CG aliens (everything was CG in that movie, probably even the actors).  My issue there was, why can't we be following the soldiers in the Humvee?  Screw Hud and the rest of the "Cloverfield" gang, I want to know what these GIs are doing.  1) Being soldiers they'd have a better idea of what's going on, 2) being soldiers they wouldn't be rich horribly unlikable Hollywood bastards or Tom Cruise's hateful family, and 3) being soldiers this would turn into a war movie, and who wouldn't want to see a war movie with aliens spliced in to replace Ze Germans?

"Battle: Los Angeles" somehow or another broke into my brain and stole my idea.  I might have been sore about this, but luckily "Battle: LA" actually is not that bad of a movie.  Its far from being "Independence Day", but it works on its own.  As a war movie, its not bad.  As an alien invasion movie, its the best one by far of the 21st century.  So yeah, go see it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Drive Angry Shot in 3D

"Drive Angry Shot in 3D" uses the words "badass motherfucker" in its first sentence.  That's really all you need to know if you're wondering what kind of movie this is going to be.  Come on, tell me what genre "Drive Angry" belongs to?  I can answer it right now, the AWESOME genre!  This is a movie about badass motherfuckers, for badass motherfuckers.

Naturally of course, both of the movie theatres I went to see "Drive Angry" in were completely empty.  "Both" is a word you should note.  No, I didn't see "Drive Angry" twice, though I totally would if given the chance.  What happened was perhaps the single most tragic series of events I have ever experienced in my filmgoing lifetime.  So yesterday I go to the local, somewhat crappy movie theatre to see "Drive Angry", alone of course*.  The movie is twenty minutes late, something I didn't mind so much since it gave me some more quality time with "Tactics Ogre".  But finally I had to complain to the clueless-looking fat kid behind the concessions counter.  Then finally the credits start.  After seeing underwhelming trailers for "Pirates of the Caribbean 4:  Monotonous Isn't It?" and "Marvel Superhero Movie #567", "Drive Angry" begins.  Everything is awesome right until thirty seconds pass, and the movie goes blank.  So then I complain again to the clueless looking fat kid, before finally a clueless looking nerd walks in, apologizes to me and the redneck, then gives me a couple free passes to see any movie ever.  Then after sneaking into the last thirty minutes of "The Adjustment Bureau"**, I went to a different threatre for my awesome car movie.

And was it worth it?  HELL YEAH.

Japan Disaster

I think we all know what's happened in Japan last night, and the sheer toll of devastation is still reeling in from news reports all around the globe.  Every media outlet is frantically pouring out info for the horrified world populace.  Today I had planned a review of "Drive Angry in 3D", but it seemed that simply posting a review without mentioning this nightmare was some kind of insult.  When you see levels of devastation so awful that they might be excepts of a "Godzilla" movie every moment on CNN, ignoring the situation is a crime in of itself.  Japan is the country that gives me practically half my subjects of discussion here at Planet Blue ("Bleach" alone accounts for like a quarter of my posts, I think), so you know my heart goes out to them.  And I do pray that the situation does not get any worse, those nuclear reports are getting nasty.

For the last few weeks I've been ignoring world issues as to deal with my own problems, but I feel that I should finally get back into the game.  I missed Wisconsin, I missed Egypt, I'm missing Libya right now, but I won't miss Japan.

Pray, hope, donate, volunteer, call loved ones, send aid.  God bless, good luck.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together

I think at this point I just have to give up and admit to myself that my favorite video game genre is RPGs.  I won't call myself an "RPG Gamer" because using the title "gamer" to describe yourself forces you into a bizarre subculture of pompous twits who focus their entire lives, income, creative powers, and intellectual ability on video games.  Then if you're a "gamer" you're forced by law to complain about how violent video games have no effect on us in any way, which then forces you to defend serial killer-in-training games like "RapeLay", complain endlessly about how Jack Thompson is the devil, and compulsively collect Xbox Live Achievements while not bathing or dating women (or men).  So to save myself all that, I'll just say that "I like video games, and particularly RPGs".  There.

And clearly not being obsessed with video games, I'll just review "Tactics Ogre:  Let Us Cling Together" now.

A few years ago, I played "Final Fantasy Tactics", probably the best* game out of the entire Final Fantasy franchise.  "FFT", as I'll abbreviate it now out of laziness, was a dark game set in a fantasy medieval kingdom in the midst of a civil war - basically a History Major's wet dream.  In this game, rather than a basic story where a group of plucky teenagers save the world and the damsel in distress (your sister), you are an outcast where just being heroic in a world full of so much backstabbing and betrayal is enough to make you every faction's enemy.  Then... the plucky teenagers save the world, of course, but even then things don't end very well.  "Tactics Ogre" for the PSP is the game that inspired "FFT", meaning that is probably the one game I am most excited for in all of 2011.  So I bought it immediately, dreaming to recreate that "FFT" experience.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bleach Recaps: Ep. 194, Nelliel's Past

Apologies for not writing a recap last week, I wasn't feeling up to it.  Usually that would be a pretty lame excuse, but under the circumstances I feel I have the right to tell anybody with a problem to respectfully fuck off.  Also Episode 193 was a Granz episode, meaning that it was absolutely unbearably awful from beginning to end.  I can recap it right now:  "Granz made plush toys, then acted really fruity.  Please die, Granz.   THE END."  You happy?

Anyway, tonight's episode is at least partially a flashback to Nel's days as an Espada.  There we get to learn that Spoony once upon a time had a more sane fashion sense, Dondomoron and Pesche weren't always incredibly annoying, and that Granz is a total dick.  Wait, we already knew that last one.  Oh whatever, I feel its an important life lesson worth repeating several times.  More importantly we learn how Nel was defeated in the past.  And the explanation... doesn't suck.  In fact, this episode is really good, and even does the impossible by making Dondomoron and Pesche look like half-way decent characters for a moment.  Along the way, we also learn why Spoony is so evil.  Well done, "Bleach", well done.  Finally you learn that using characters as mere joke factories is not good storytelling.

Of course, I think the real purpose of Episode 194 is to show that Nel, unlike most of her comrades, makes the Arancar thing look good.  Oh yeah...

Saturday, March 5, 2011


"Rango" caught me eye for a number of reasons, not the least of all being the fish in the chameleon's arms in that poster to my right.  For one, it was animated by Industrial Light and Magic, the special effect kung-fu masters who created "Star Wars", and have never before made an animated film before.  ILM's impressive digital fists have created arguably the most graphically impressive cartoon ever in cinematic history.  Then there's the poster.  Notice the main actor?  The Hawaiian T-shirt?  The mismatched eyes and the twisted neck?  This is the poster to "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas"!!  What kind of kid's movie would dare make a thematic reference to the most legendarily insane drug movie of all time?  There are few better ways for a creator to give me the "I'm one of you" wink then referencing "Fear and Loathing".  Epic.  Then of course, its a Western, and Westerns these days never fail to entertain.

As a movie, "Rango" has next-to-nothing to do with "Fear and Loathing", which is probably a good thing.  I doubt kids would put up with a trippy nearly-plotless film about a chameleon and his Samoan lawyer bumming around the old west trying every single narcotic known to man.  Instead the actual plot is a frothy mixture of "Chinatown", "Flushed Away", with a tiny bit of the "Man With No Name Trilogy" mixed in for extra flavor.  Obviously this movie is best enjoyed if you've actually seen "Chinatown" and "A Fistful of Dollars", which is something I rather doubt most kids actually have done.  If you are a seven-year-old who knows that Clint Eastwood's pony does not like to be laughed at then you get a high-five from me, but otherwise this movie is probably going to go over your head.  "Rango" is an odd kind of movie, that's clear.

But sadly I can't really say that "Rango" is an amazing piece of work.  Its no "Fantastic Mr. Fox" despite its dreams for trippy originality.  Its just a bit less sentimental and clever than it thinks it is.  Its funny, its beautiful, its worth seeing, but its not a masterpiece.  And I was hoping that "Rango" could be something so much more.  Instead its just Friday-night entertainment, little else.