Godzilla Trailer

I am cautiously optimistic about this. Bryan Cranston is a great actor, though I’m worried this will be WB just plugging him into a major franchise for the star power, wasting his talent in a blah character with weak writing. That’s really what Need for Speed looks like it’s doing with Aaron Paul.

There’s a big aspect of the trailer that I want to discuss. There’s a very clear sense of drama. This doesn’t look like Pacific Rim, in tone or visuals. There doesn’t look like a lot of fun. Not that giant monster cagematch kinda fun anyway.

I know people who’ve really criticized Superman and Star Trek for being too dark, too edgy, with too much destruction porn. While I didn’t love the movies, I don’t think those elements were the fatal blows. Here though, I can’t help but worry they’re going to make this really, really serious.

Of course, there are worse ways to go…

Twitch Plays Pokemon (or, in case you were wondering, the origin of Bird Jesus and All Praise the Helix Fossil)

My, that was definitely the longest title I’ve ever had.

Joystiq has the best summary of what all this involves, but I am so damn proud that I couldn’t help but write my own post on this.

A few weeks back, a single live edition of Pokemon Red hit the net. It is part of Twitch Channel (which I have no idea what is) but the idea is that it’s whoever is on giving commands to Red and driving him through the game.

Imagine, 70,000-120,000 players all trying to play a game at once.

Yep.

But what has developed is one of the most surreal, and frankly, awe-inspiring moments in internet, gaming, and Pokemon.

What is so fascinating is the forces at play here. Bird Jesus and Omanyte vs Flareon, Anarchy vs Democracy, the “death” (really the release, but pretty much the same thing) of cherished Pokemon such as Charmander.

FrontI had no idea what any of this was when I started seeing the memes, but have quickly grown fascinated. Omanyte has never been a favorite of Pokemon fans, now he is the new and risen Christ of their world. Well, sort of, he also shares that distinction with Bird Jesus, apparently the only Pokemon anyone could agree on or drive forward.

It is filled with these moments. The challenge of the Safari Zone, the infamous diglett tunnel…that bastard who somehow blocked Red in by a table.

So far, Red is about to challenge the Elite 4. Gotta say, that’s going to be a challenge, but it’s a challenge I look forward to seeing.

 

The Walking Dead: Claimed

This week’s episode was very similar to Cleared, in both theme and quality.

Once again, Michonne really proves to be a great character the more she’s fleshed out. My familiarity with the comic ended around the beginning of the prison so I don’t really know what is the show vs the comic, but either way I’ve really enjoyed furthering her back story. Getting her back with Rick and Carl was a great move, especially as her and Grimes the Younger cleared the house.

The moment where she walked into the pink room was a special kind of Walking Dead moment, the kind that shows you of the world that was lost.

Carl really gets the benefit of these story lines. I remember thinking at the end of last season that they were going to take him down the sociopath route, making him into the next Shane, but he’s really gone in a great direction and might actually be the most balanced character in the show now. He shows continual remorse about Judith, so I just know that’s going to be a great moment when they’re reunited (unless they really do kill her or him before then).

Then there was Rick’s nap, which started out kinda great. He really needed a break, and what better kind than to kick back and read some Jack London. Then, as always, people show up and ruin everything. It was especially intense and got more so when the two guys actually started fighting

Abraham is a unique character. At first he’s got the dangerous humor of Martinez or some of the other characters we’ve met along the way. The more you see him, though, the more responsibility you see him take up. He’s a good guy, doing a  good job, but apparently he doesn’t fuck around either. As we saw with Glen.

Then, of course, the zombies show up.

It’s funny how this show always punctuates moments with zombies. I remember reading a story about a mystery novelist who said that whenever the story needed something, he just killed someone. There were moments he didn’t even know who got killed or why, all that mattered was that they had to go.

Same thing with the Walking Dead.

I don’t really know what to make of the other two characters they’ve introduced with Abraham. The chick just kinda seems like a reason to have another hot girl (to balance out the immense gravitational field of attraction that Maggie generates). Then there’s Dr. Scientist guy, who was hilarious, but also had a mullet. Can’t really trust anyone with a mullet.

Everyone is steadily converging on this central point. I know that’s what a lot of people theorized would happen, but I’m looking for the twist they’re looking to throw out there. The fantastic advantage the show has is in using the comics continuity as bait. They did it with Shane, they did it with damn near everything involving the prison, it’s just a theme with the show now.

Either way, looking forward to seeing where it goes.

Chrono Cross: Revisiting a Classic (Part I)

This could be really fun or really embarrassing. This is the first multi-part post I’ve tried to do and it’s about a video game near and dear to my heart. I wanted to wait until I was done with it, but as I’ve stated before, I tend to not finish video games. If that happens here, I want to at least get a bit out. So, if this is it, take it as it is. If I finish I’ll put up a part II.

So here it goes.

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about my android phone are emulators and roms. I started playing Pokemon FireRed a while back (probably need to write something on that all by itself) and that was a ton of fun. Eventually, I got bored with it but started thinking of some of the games that meant the most to me and how much I’d like to revisit them.

An annoyingly large amount of work later, I had the Chrono Cross intro playing on the screen.

This may or may not be a game your familiar with. I played it the very first time when I was about eleven or twelve. There are several games, that for one reason or another, I never bought and this was one of them. Instead, me and my friends just rented it over and over and over. My best friend and I were really into JRPS at that time (it was the age of them after all) but never had I played anything like Chrono Cross. From the story to the characters to the combat, it was a game me and my friends played and passed around for a good year or two. It was one of the few games we got the strategy guide for (the twenty dollar, thicker than the Bible, Prima strategy guide, you know what I’m talking about!) and one of the few that needed the strategy guide.

The combat is nice but not too tough, in fact a lot easier than I remember. That wasn’t why we needed the guide. We needed the guide because of the fucking story. I know that sounds nuts, but unless you’ve ever played it, you have no idea. Chrono Cross has something like 40 characters and no matter how you play out, you can’t get them all. While the story line (and dozen endings) don’t vary too wildly, the game is nonetheless different depending on how you play it. We all had favorite characters that the others didn’t even know about. That’s not too big a deal today, but back in 99 when you were still playing on a Playstation, it was pretty damn cool. Couple that with all the hidden loot, special attacks that could only be unlocked through story elements, and a ridiculously sprawling story, there was so much to miss.

That was what was so beautiful about Chrono Cross. It was an epic, a story that isn’t afraid to go a little nuts. It has all those crazy, batshit things that could only come from Japanese culture mixed in with time travel and alternate realities. There is a moment (The one with Lynx and the dragon tear) where everything about what you’ve been doing changes. It was the boldest thing I’d ever seen a game do up until that point.

The story is the best part, but the combat isn’t too shabby either. Like the early JRPS, you can either attack or cast a spell, in this case coming as elements. Where it differs is that each character has a grid, which any element (spell) can be placed. There are stats behind it that drive the power of these forces, as well as the character’s innate element, but it allows for all characters to be flexible. When it throws a big boss at you or another unique event, Chrono Cross really shines.

I’m close to the midpoint, but I’m enjoying it quite a bit. In some ways it really does show its age, but in many others it really holds up.

If you’re looking for a classic, give it a look.

Irrational Games Has Closed (Pretty Much)

Irrational Games, the makers of BioShock is, for all and intents and purposes, done with. Ken Levine announced a few days back that he will be laying off all but fifteen of his employees.

This is a huge blow to the gaming community. I remember, vaguley, hearing about Black Isle, the creators of Baldur’s Gate, closing down when I was a kid. I remember feeling somewhat upset, because I had wanted more games like that. But it was way in the back of my mind, I had come along to these late so they were already old to me. I assumed there wouldn’t be more.

This is different. I may not have been there for System Shock, but I followed BioShock from announcement to release. I went by Wal-Mart on my way home from work (at five in the morning) to buy it then spent four or five hours diving into Rapture. I played the demo three or four times just because I couldn’t get enough. I bought BioShock 2 when it hit the bargain bin, and though the story wasn’t near as rich, the combat was, by far, the best BioShock has turned out. BioShock 3 has a story like no other, with possibly the only escort character I’ve ever seriously, emotionally, cared about.

I hate to see this happen, but I guess I understand as well. Making video games, especially these triple A titles, takes a ridiculous amount of resources. Thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of man hours, high powered equipment, office space, and millions of dollars to power it. Couple that with the bullshit politics and business practices of the video game publishers (who frankly, make book publishers look like saints) and you have an industry that chews people up and spits them out.

I respect Ken Levine. He is a brilliant creator who has always wanted the best gameplay coupled with the best story. If he’s taking his company in a more entrepreneurial direction, maybe something some of us would refer to as indie, I have to understand that motivation. Maybe we’ll see more of Rapture or Columbia, maybe it’ll just be in a new form.

God only knows.