Monday, April 14, 2014

Why I (mostly) hate Superman!

I hate Superman! Seriously, of all the comic book characters he's always rubbed me the wrong way. I know most people are fans of him from his various depictions (my mum loves the 1978 movie version... because Christopher Reeves) but I'm going to talk about what I've always hated about Superman and why a certain version actually proves that there is or should I say WAS hope for the character.

Superman started innocently enough way back in the late 1930's as a bare bones hero with the depth of a teaspoon and primarily for kids with a nearly inexhaustible array of powers... all well and good but as time passed things got confusing and irritating. Now I could go into the complete history of Superman... but I haven't got that much patience's and Wikipedia already has it. Now if you're caught up with his history I'll go into why I hate him.

Now I could be a jerk and say "I hate his patriotism!" but I don't... also IF I did that would mean I hate Captain America too for the same reason(note: I don't hate Captain America... I just find him boring outside of the recent movies and The Winter Soldier graphic novel) no no no, I hate that there is no real Clark Kent! Seriously, Clark Kent and Superman in the comics, movies and cartoons are always masks hiding the true person. My question I've always asked when consuming Superman media is "Where's the boy raised by the Kent's?" and I never seemed to find that answer for YEARS!

Now if you've seen enough Superman media, you'll notice that Clark Kent is on average, a quiet guy who is sometimes clumsy and dull. Superman on the other hand is... well... infallible, God like, a messiah! Both persona's are boring as hell and neither are genuine! In short, both are masks he uses to hide himself. The Clark Kent persona has always felt forced, like he was deliberately hiding his true self and Superman never seems to reflect any of the morals and teachings the Kent's supposedly passed on to him. Superman was never... human!

Here's the thing, there was a version done of Superman where the character wasn't a one dimensional bore and I actually enjoyed it... Lois and Clark: The new adventures of Superman! I've watched every episode of that show because it was the first time I ever saw the man behind the masks... or should I say mask since it was the first time we could truly see the real Clark Kent that was raised by the Kent's. The Clark Kent throughout the series managed to never seem like it was an act and I loved that because it finally made the character... human! Yes, I know he's an alien but he wasn't raised a Kryptonian! The Superman persona in this TV show also managed to reflect some of what his parents passed onto him and while it was still an act, even the Superman persona didn't seem as over the top like the more commonly used Jesus parallel we've seen every other time... especially in the crappy 2013 movie!

I know it seems like a flimsy argument against Superman but compare him to my favourite comic book characters Batman and Spider-man, he's a boring and one dimensional character that reflects nothing of his human upbringing and hides behind 2 masks. I'm sure most people reading this probably clicked here by accident, but I thought I'd post this to talk about something I've wanted to talk about for years.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: More questions than answers

Ok... kinda annoyed with how Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D likes to keep throwing out all of these mysteries and not answer the questions they raise. Now admittedly this is the first season and it does have to keep up with the movies but come on!

If you're keeping up with the Marvel Movieverse(that's all the Marvel movies not released through Sony or Fox so not X-Men or Spider-man) Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is essentially a show to tie events together between movies and set up future plots. In theory it's a brilliant idea, but in execution it's kinda between a rock and a hard place... that hard place being normal TV audiences and comic book fans.

Now when making a show for TV that's for comic book fans is one thing. Comic book fans love complex story lines and mysteries. As a comic book fan I live for them and most fans do, but with a TV show that only has 24 episodes a year... you can't really afford to have too many mysteries because by the time it returns to TV most fans would have forgotten. In comics this isn't as much of a problem since comics come out monthly(sometimes fortnightly) and we can easily refer to our collection to refresh ourselves but with TV... not quite as easy.

As for regular TV viewers...they probably aren't watching it anymore anyway. Trying to make a TV show more targeted at comic book fans appeal to the normal TV viewing public isn't easy. Now with a comic book writer like Joss Whedon on the show(among others as producers) you'd think his skill with his TV shows like Buffy and Firefly would give him a best of two worlds advantage... but you can tell watching it that it's a niche show more targeted at the Marvel Movieverse fans. Pretty much all attempts to make it mainstream have failed.

As for all the questions with no answers... it's the movies fault I suppose. In the last few episodes we had Hydra return(see Captain America: The First Avenger for who Hydra are) and the unknown status of allegiance throughout S.H.I.E.L.D, an alien in a tube in a hidden base(Guardians of the Galaxy will probably cover that... or at least the origin of the alien), who's responsible for Deathlok and what T.A.H.I.T.I may have done to Agent Coulson along with Nick Fury's involvement with it. I look forward to seeing how these play out but I can see lots of people either turning away from the show if the trend keeps up.

I personally enjoy Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D but I think it's time for answers to the questions being raised before the end of the season. Also I don't see this series succeeding on DVD/Blu Ray/Rip Off Digital. Well... only time will tell. Thanks for indulging in my attempt at something different. Tell me what you think.

I'm back baby... if you cared.

Hey guys and girls and miscellaneous, I finally got a new PC. It's not very powerful at all but I don't game on PC so it's all good. So you now know why I haven't been updating this in such a long time. I'm also changing how I do things on my blog since the break between post.

So the big changes will revolve around many things. First off is reviews... I'm not going to try and write them as quickly as I used to because it's too hard to produce them at a fast pace and enjoy the game... plus I don't get paid for it! Retro reviews may start showing up again once the Retron 5 comes out or if I feel nostalgic.

I may also start talking about movies and TV shows I watch as well(probably a lot of Doctor Who just to warn you!) since I do watch a lot of stuff that I feel like talking about. These will only be done whenever an episode of a show inspires me to write something.

Another thing I may start talking about are the comics I read(and manga if I start buying more again). Mainly if I do it'll be relating to things that bug or interest me. I have no intention of regurgitating full plot synopsis' or go deep into the lore.

So yeah, not much is going to change in the long term is it? Did you miss me? As for the games I still have on my to do list... the list will be gone so don't worry about it, I'm not. I do hope to write more now that I have a new PC... but we'll see.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Review: Gundam Breaker(Japanese import)

Gundam Breaker
Hack 'n' Slash
PS Vita, PS3
Oh boy... this ones going to be tough to review. Despite the fact I love of Japanese made games... I don't understand the language and Gundam Breaker is 90% in Japanese. This game has been a trial to get through the language barrier, but I managed. So... was importing this Gundam game worth the language barrier?

First off, I have absolutely no idea what the story in this game is. I get the whole Virtual Reality Gunpla(Gundam plastic models) battle thing, but everything else... nope! All I could grab were words like Gunpla, GGF, Gundam... and that's it. Wikipedia says... absolutely nothing either since it has no article for the game! So yeah, you want story? Learn Japanese... sorry.

The gameplay is your classic hack 'n' slash style with close range melee attacks and long range shooting. It's very easy to pick up and play, which is a bonus for non Japanese speaking people like myself. The game's basic 2 button attack scheme works fine but there's more then just that. Your jump button also acts as your boost button while holding it. There's a kinda limit break system called G.A.I.O.S(no idea what it stands for) which puts you into a hyper state that increases your speed and attack strength while also giving you health regeneration during it's duration. Special attacks known as EX Attacks that range from healing, long range and close range attacks and these recharge over time during each mission and can be changed in the customization menu to see what suits your play style and weapons.

The game is mission structured and the main reason for it seems to revolve around it's multiplayer focus in Japan. There are 100 missions to complete with simple goals to achieve ranging from survival, team attack, defend, area raid(capture territory) and the normal clear which is just destroy the main Gunpla at the end of the course. If playing solo, you sometimes get A.I partners... and they are rubbish! The A.I. partners are suicidal and keep dragging you down and will fail missions for you... probably to encourage online play.

Speaking of the online multiplayer, the multiplayer is Co Op only for up to 4 players and unfortunately... the menus are only in Japanese... so the language barrier really punches you in the gonadular region here. Unfortunately I never found a translation guide for this and had to figure it out myself. There are 2 options, search and create room. Search is easiest to use since you just go to the big button at the bottom of the screen and let it search for all rooms and find a room that isn't locked or says Japanese only. Create room on the other hand is trickier to grasp and the biggest problem here is prejudice... and I mean that! For some reason a lot of Japanese gamers avoid your room if you have the audacity to type in English and since more of them play the game... it can be very lonely. Seriously Japan, Japanese Only rooms and avoiding English written rooms? What's wrong with you?

Now onto the complicated part... customization! Yes, this is more complicated then the online menus! This can be very difficult to understand without a translation guide and thank God one exists for the various stats involved. While building Gunpla can be so much fun, it can be a constant struggle of looks Vs practicality. There are a whole bunch of stats to consider when building Gunpla and taking your play style into consideration can help if you're not too fussed about looks. I highly recommend you find a translation guide, write down each stat and use it to help influence your builds. The only slightly simple part is the modules you use that influence a variety of things and can range from stat boosting to buffing effects... just remember to bookmark translation guides to help.

Think customisation sounds daunting? It's about to get worse! To get parts, you need to buy them from the shop with the money(GP) earned in missions and find them in stages... and you only unlock certain models in the shop after earning a certain amount of parts for the model in missions... and that's for starters! During missions the parts( which are called runners) have different colours to indicate rarity and they come in 2 different sizes, 1/144 scale(HG) and 1/100 scale(MG). It's kinda obvious that bigger is better, but rarity is key. The colours are simple to understand but will force a lot of grinding once you've found the parts that look good or you want the most powerful Gunpla parts. You may spend hours just grinding for a specific part so I hope you enjoy repeating the same mission over... and over... and over again!

I personally love Gunpla and Gundam Breaker is a dream come true for Gunpla builders like myself. Being able to customise a Gunpla that looks awesome is great and the experimenting to see what parts go well together is so much fun and you can even just rebuild you favourite Gundam from the anime too if you're imagination is lacking. The gameplay and mission can and will feel very repetitive but playing with that perfect Gunpla makes it feel like its worth it. Yes it's grindy and yes, playing online can be hard to comprehend but if you're into this stuff in say... World of Warcraft, you'll feel right at home... you just need to be a Gundam fan. Pretty much if you love the Gundam anime's and especially love Gunpla, this game is well worth importing... or you can just badger Namco Bandai Europe and America for an English physical release.

Score 4/5

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Review: Super Mario 3D World

Super Mario 3D World
Wii U
RRP: AU$79.95
This game... this game... is EVIL! The Angry Video Game Nerd thinks Super Mario Bros 3 is possessed by the Devil... if that's true, then Super Mario 3D World is possessed by the Omega Devil! This game trolls you with a whole bunch of fun levels... then it gives you harder versions that punish you... then the final world makes you go crazy and goes out of it's way to not just piss you off... but make you want to kill the Nintendo level designers! Question is... despite this, is it good?

The story has been slightly changed from the norm. Bowser this time kidnaps the Sprixie princesses and Mario, Luigi, Toad and Peach... yes... Peach, go to the Sprixie Kingdom to save them. Funny thing, we finally see the Mario Bros do some "plumbing" and repair a busted clear pipe.

You may have noticed from the trailers that the game looks a lot like Super Mario 3D Land... well the game was built on the same engine yes, but unless you have a 3DHDTV it's going to be tougher. This game plays a little like SM3DL but with 5 different characters to use, it comes out feeling so different.

The 5 characters have their own strengths & weaknesses. Mario is the middle stick, Luigi slips about but can jump high, Toad is the fastest but can't just to save his life, Peach is slow but can float for a short period of time and Rosalina has a spin attack and can jump high... but she's a slow character. You'll probably stick to your favourite or one that suits your play style best, but I wouldn't get too comfortable with them.(epic foreshadowing!)

With 3D Mario games I have a love/hate relationship with them...I LOVE them, but the camera hates me and it carries on to this one. Unlike Super Mario Sunshine you can't control the camera properly and it goes out of it's way to screw you over as much as possible. The camera is limited on how you can move it and it can usually be unhelpful, even on a different angle.

The game has a world map that looks like any other recent Mario games, but you can navigate it completely and not along a scripted path. This doesn't really add anything to the experience, but you can hunt for coins, lives and secret pipes so there's something. You can also warp between the worlds easily and anytime using the map option which is a great thing to have.

The levels are very imaginative in their design. You can tell while while playing them they were designed with a lot of flexibility with the players in mind. The main levels in the game are designed to reflect the world they're in and aren't too challenging but after the credits roll, the end games levels are a whole other ball game... but I'll get into that later.

The gamepad isn't used very much in the game. The main levels it's used for are some explorer Toad levels. These will have you blowing into the mic and turning the camera to help navigate the obstacles. These levels are definitely a highlight of the game but feel like they were designed with 3D in mind and can be hard to beat. There are a few normal levels that will use the touchscreen and mic to get through it but there aren't very many of them.

A fair few of the classic power ups have come back from SM3DL but there are a couple new ones too. There's the cannon block that lets you shoot cannon balls, a goomba hat that makes things ignore you, a potted piranha plant that eats everything in sight and the star of the show... the cat bell that turns our heroes into a cat that can climb walls, swipe at enemies and do a dive bomb attack in the air.

The game has a heavy multiplayer focus, but is still a great single player experience. Before you ask, no... there's is no online multiplayer because Nintendo don't like it. Playing with other people is less irritating then in the New Super Mario Bros series and can lead to some fun shenanigans. Multiplayer can also be exploited by the solo player too since each player can can score an item to stash away and everyone has access to them, just use 3 Wiimotes to score the items and away you go. The multiplayer in this game is the most fun with others I've had in ages.

This game is also the best looking game Ive ever played, better then the original Crysis on a high end PC in my opinion. Well detailed environments filled with vibrant colours pepper the game and that soundtrack! The music is top notch and is the best in the Mario franchise to date! Visually and musically, this game is just beautiful.

The boss fights in this game outside of the returning Boomber and female Boomber are kinda unique. Kicking soccer ball bombs at Bowser on a car is my personal favourite. All the bosses still work on the 3 hit kill style as before, so nothing new there. You'll have a bit of fun playing through these fights... but lets face it, they're not very challenging.

Now onto the EVIL part of the game... the end game levels! Once you beat the main game, more worlds open up. From World Mushroom and World Flower you get remixed versions of stages designed to be harder and more irritating, but they are nothing compared to World Crown! World Crown is a completionists nightmare and is pure EVIL! It only has 3 levels but they are the hardest levels ever conceived in a Mario game... ever! The hardest one is World Crown-Crown aka Champion Road. This level will eat up 100's of lives and to make matters worse... if you're a completionist it has to be done with EVERY CHARACTER! This will drive you insane and may lead to physical violence against inanimate objects like a coffee table or the controller itself... you have been warned!

So yeah, Super Mario 3D World is a fantastic game and should be under your Christmas Tree... but it's a completionist's nightmare. Great level design, great music, fun throughout the main portion... but beware the endgame levels! I mostly had a lot of fun with the game... still have a headache thinking of Champion Road though. This is just such a great family game and it's the 2nd reason to own a Wii U with Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD being the main reason and The Wonderful 101 the third reason. Go buy it!

Score 5/5