Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Persona 5, the Return of Spider-Man, and Underwhelming Comics

Almost back to back, I got two bits of wonderful news that has me very excited for things coming up. Which is good, because I've needed something to look forward to!

Persona 5

First, a gameplay trailer for Persona 5 launched. IT WAS AMAZING. This is already my GOTY (game of the year), and I won't be playing until at least 2016 (Japanese release date is sometime 2015, so I'm HOPING we're sometime 2016). I love the red colors, the cat burgler-esque themes, the grittier characters, the more dynamic dungeons, persona enemies instead of shadows, etc etc... The only thing I'm not seeing in the trailer is a cast that exceeds for playable characters. It's not determined by the trailer, obviously, but I wouldn't even be mad if that was the case.

Oh, and it's coming to PS4 (and PS3), which 100% justifies my purchase of the system. Perfection. Watch it below, the Elder Gods know I have...


Spidey's Return

Next up, we have the "return" of Spider-Man to Marvel, in regards to film rights. Marvel has brokered a deal that allows them to use a new (not Andrew Garfield/ASM series) Spider-Man in their films (which is already impacting upcoming releases -- like May's Captain America: Civil War!). Sony will choose the actor and have final say in regards to character development, but I'm hoping they see reason and more or less follow Marvel's lead.
Doubt they'll go this route, but an important Civil War moment...

Then Sony will continue to produce solo Spider-Man films, which may now see inclusion of MCU characters. While I no longer trust Sony with anything related to my favorite super hero, I'm hoping the cross-pollination with Marvel will produce quality results. And having two studios pumping out related MCU films sounds like a perfect setup to me (though I would prefer Marvel having ownership of all rights back, just to allay the shakes and mental anguish ASM2 still causes).

Apparently the agreement was reached without Marvel actually paying anything, either -- they won't be getting any money from Sony Spidey-films, and Sony won't be getting any money from MCU group films. Honestly, it sounds like Sony got the lesser half of this deal, unless they're expecting the MCU marketing to be worthwhile... Or maybe there's something else there going on.


Now, on to actual comics...

Guardians of the Galaxy

Because... Venom.
I was excited that Guardians of the Galaxy was finally going to the home planet of the symbiotes. We've seen a "Planet of the Symbiotes" in a 90's crossover, featuring Spider-Man, Scarlet Spider, and Venom titles, but never the actual point of origin for the species.

Guardians promised to take us there, and they did... but they didn't exactly deliver anything worthwhile. The arc is mostly taken up by the Venom symbiote jumping from Guardian to Guardian (as if we EVER expected anything else), eventually taking over the ship and directing the group to its home. Upon arrival... well, there's a very short, very anti-climactic stay. I won't even bother spoiling things for you, but the reveal of the species as a whole is unfortunate, white-washes a potentially interesting story, and retcons information offered in the "Planet of the Symbiotes" arc (Planet of the Big Fat Liars is more like it).

All in all, after reading decades of Venom, Carnage, and their extended family, it comes as a real let down that this is the direction Marvel went. I wanted a potential inter-galactic threat, or something menacing in some way that explains all the bullshit abilities and costs the symbiotes seem to offer or impose. Instead... blah. Going back to NOT reading GotG.

Spider-verse

As a whole, Spider-verse hasn't been as inclusive or as interesting as I hoped. "Every Spider-Man ever" isn't actually pulled off, and it's a giant chase scene between an arbitrarily super-powered family hunting Spiders, with limited-to-no logic applied. The Spiders could just as easily get help from the other super powers in their multitude of dimensions, but instead they wait and allow some of my favorite Spiders to get killed off.

GUESS WHO'S AT THE END?!
On that note, I won't even start on how annoyed I am with the "Scarlet Spiders" run ended. The bastards did it again. They. Did. It. Again.



For now... Well, wish me luck in netting a Majora's Mask Edition New 3DS XL. I, like anyone who wasn't a filthy scalper, missed the tiny pre-order window (less than 20 minutes, I believe), and have had to resort to sending The Wife out to flirt with associates of certain stores, in an effort to secure us a copy come Friday. The Wife seems confidant of her success... You'll be seeing a review of the system next week, if she's correct!


Friday, January 16, 2015

Marvel's Star Wars: Off to a Bad Start?

Props for the Skottie Young variant!
A post in which I am over critical of a universe, medium, and company I love:

Star Wars #1 by Marvel Comics.


This comic embodies everything I hate in a movie based comic series, and something that is especially glaring, coming from a universe we've had expansive experience with in the medium.

1. The setting. This series takes place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Uhg. This has been Donne to death. Yes, all of the previous material has been branded "Legends," aka non-canon, but the first comic from Marvel's newly acquired license should NOT be such an overdone time frame that the most recent Dark Horse run ALSO used! Especially if the writing is going to be WORSE!

2. The characters. This is a more serious offense. We have the characters as we left them in A New Hope and how they'll be in The Empire Strikes Back. They should not vary from those points, at least not much. This issue has the following discrepancies:

Han Solo: why does he talk like a country hick? Why are they making him a bumbling romantic, when he's usually shown as a bit aloof? Yes, there is some room to play with the romance, but stay in character, people!

Princess Leia: we witness her punch an Imperial Officer into unconsciousness, with one blow. Yes, she has every right to be mad at the Empire, but she probably didn't take up martial arts and then forget martial arts between the two movies -- she's not shown as having any physical strength in A New Hope, and she very ineffectively attempts to overcome Han Solo's embrace in The Empire Strikes Back (yes, there is obviously romantic attraction there, but she at no point shows any hint of strength or combat training). Leia is a badass, don't get me wrong, but she's not Chuck Norris. Giver her a blaster and she'll cut down folks in cold blood (he said STUN, damn it!), but she really shouldn't be handing out knuckle-sandwiches (that is unintentionally sexist, but I'm leaving it).

C-3PO: Threepio is and always shall be a pessimist. And yet, we have him being awkwardly hopeful for a high-tension mission that should normally have him telling the odds of invading a high-importance Imperial base, especially without the help of any trained professionals. And, might I add, completely reasonably.

[Millennium] Falcon PUNCH!
Vader: we have never before seen Vader using Stormtroopers as living shields. It seems to be an almost petty level of evil for a once-honorable man to do so (though it was pretty badass). Yes, he's murdered children. But that was after direct orders that served a practical purpose. Otherwise, he only seems to eliminate Imperials when they've been incompetent {again, practical). There's no reason why he couldn't use his saber to block those blasts.

And, honestly, we don't need to see Darth Vader in every freaking comic. Give him a break. And stop reducing the impact of when characters meet him in the films (if done well, this last complaint is nil).

The Empire: they've apparently removed any sense of being a functional, somewhat professional governing body. Now, they follow every given order with a threat of "obliteration." Because that's not excessive. None of the Imperials act like this in the films, but I guess they need to act like complete dicks in case we forgot they're the bad guys.

3. The plot. Why exactly are Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, Threepio, and R2 acting as a strike team? Without any Rebel support at all? If the mission is so important, they'd have backup, or be the backup of a commando group. But no, they'll do it all because they have plot armor, I guess. That's one of the worst things movie comics flail around. They throw our heroes at impossible odds because they cannot die. And, for some reason, they insist on mortally wounding them at one point (has t happened in the comic, yet), as if it will have any emotional impact for us at all.

There are a couple of good things to say, such as Chewie being a badass, Artoo using some of his prequel abilities, and the overall art, but, all in all, I really disliked this comic and will probably not be adding it to my pull list. Even if the new lightsaber motion scenes are pretty neat. Maybe I'll give it a another issue before I pass final judgement...

Some of this is partially coming from the fact that a lot of good Star Wars storylines were killed off due to the company switch. Dark Horse had a lot of good titles running, even if they'd now be considered "Legends." To trade them for this offends me (though it now makes my collection of the Legacy series 100% complete...).

And I thought there was a team to make sure ALL new Star Wars media, across all mediums, would create one coherent canon. It's already looking to me that the comics are going to suffer from "Super Hero Mag" syndrome.

And I was so hopeful, too.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Firefly: The Game Review (Expansions Included!)

Hi all! Finally coming back with the review of Firefly: The Game, now that I've actually gotten to play it with all the current expansions available (promo material not included)!


Base Game

The base game does a lot right. The Firefly theme is felt in every element of the game, and there are a ton of references for fans of the show to enjoy. When you're working jobs and upgrading your ship, it can really feel like you're a ship captain working your way through the 'Verse. Especially when things go wrong -- Reavers, ship malfunctions, running out of fuel, and other unfortunate elements.
Every time you take an extended trip through the big black, you take the risk of random things happening. Sometimes their good... but that's pretty rare.

The Reavers aren't actually much of a threat in this version. There's one ship that may get moved around a couple spaces, but there's really only one card that forces them upon you and, even then, it's easy enough to prepare for. The Alliance Cruiser, being centrally located and opposed to some of the best characters in the game, poses much more of a threat... if you're not keeping things strictly on the up and up. And it's MUCH more lucrative to play on the other side of the law.

Other players... well, they really don't matter. Very minimal interactions, you're just hoping they don't accomplish the goals, which are variable based on the chosen setup card, before you. Even then... that can take PLENTY of time.

My first game was with two other players and we were at it for about six hours. And we really, really enjoyed it.

Breakin' Atmo'

This was just a booster pack of cards for the various decks, It added a couple of interesting items/characters, but didn't in any way impact game mechanics.

Pirates and Bounty Hunters

This was an awesome expansion!
-It added two new, very unique ships. They offer substantially different play styles than the Fireflys, and they play to different styles -- one a super fast ship with little storage place but offering plenty of opportunity for hunting the galaxy's most wanted or maybe even engaging in a bit of piracy. The other is a slow, lumbering cargo hauler that... well, is really damn awesome at hauling cargo.
-It also added bounties -- using the characters that already have Warrants on their cards, now they may randomly become open season for all aspiring bounty hunters. Some huge payoffs, but taking these bounties aren't always safe... especially if they're on another player's ship!
-Piracy added an element of PVP, and some more tension between players. Is he coming by because he needs to get some shopping done at the Space Bazaar, or does he have a mission that allows him to board my ship and steal my goods? ... Better mosey...
-The new items and characters were also solid additions.

For the new ships alone, this expansion was awesome -- now six players can traverse the 'verse at once... though this WILL create MUCH longer games. Strongly recommend ONLY playing this many with an experienced group. The PVP was a nice touch, too!
The slow cargo hauler.

Blue Sun

This expansions expands the board, adds a new shopping destination and two new contacts, AND makes the Reavers (which are now three in total!) MUCH more of a threat. Seriously, I got munched on twice, and didn't have time to collect the Mechanic/Pilot combo needed to get out of the way :/

No real new mechanics, other than those that relate to the Reavers, but the additional space, items, locations, and faces were very welcome. I'm really looking forward to seeing what they add next, considering they've already used a lot of fairly minor elements from the show and movie...

The new board and the Reaver threat!


On another note, the base box kind of sucks. Its beautiful, but it just doesn't keep things organized or have enough room for the expansions. I actually decided to do some crafting for the first time ever, and made a custom box insert. It... well, it's rough, and I miscalculated all of my measurements by a half centimeter, but it is currently functional, fits everything from all the expansions, and makes setup/clean up MUCH faster. Seeing a show version 1.1 is a little rough (1.0 already had to have a couple modifications), I'll be waiting for version 2.0 before I do a write about about customizing the box... but this has been a project I enjoyed doing and would really like to look into for my other games... and it may make for an interesting series of posts. More on this later!

P.S. If you're on Instagram, you can always follow my progress there! You'll also see images from our game sessions, pictures of the work I've been doing on the Nerd-Cave, and maybe some pictures of a really cute baby. Who knows.


Friday, December 12, 2014

The Nerd Reviews EVERYTHING!

Ok, that's a bit over dramatic. But there was a lot I wanted to talk about, and I don't ever seem to be able to set aside them time. Or, when I do, I fall asleep.

... 4 months of fatherhood will do that to you.

So I'm going to give a quick comment on things I've been meaning to touch base on, with the promise of a longer review for the super mysterious last item, that I won't reveal until... well, you've scrolled down the bottom of the page, I guess.


Saga #24

This issue was full of win. It's a story about making The Will better. We learn some things about him, his sister meets up with Lying Cat and Co., and the final panel, featuring Marko and Prince Robot IV, is freaking perfect.


Spider-Verse Event

The event has been going strong. I'm liking it, for the most part. I dislike the villains being stupid strong for no apparent reason, and there are a lot of deus ex machina moments, but the writing is decent and some of the alternate Spiders are really interesting. They have killed off some Spiders that I'd rather they didn't, the pacing in general is so-so, and the fights really inconsistent, but it's entertaining enough on the surface. All the artists have been solid as well, and I'm getting a Ben Reilly kicking around for awhile.

Until they invariably kill him, too :/

New Star Wars Trailer

I dislike the name of the movie, the new lightsaber is dumb, everything else looks pretty damn good. Really hoping Finn's story (the guy in stormtrooper armor in the opening shot) is awesome and actually stormtrooper related -- I'd like to see one of the movies follow characters on both sides of the fence.

TV

I don't have time to watch TV, what is this?

But I have rewatched Firefly... twice... in the past week. Dammit Fox.

Speaking of Firefly...

 

Firefly the Game

I picked this up and was able to play a solo game and a three player game. I've picked up a couple expansions and am looking forward to playing again. When I do, I'll do a full review on the game, with it's own post and everything. Shiny.

Review preview: I'm loving it!




Monday, November 17, 2014

The Nerd isn't Dead, Only Dreaming

I suspect I've used that title before. Oh well.

I'm not dead. Just super busy at work and pretty exhausted afterwards. And there's this little monster at home that is against things like sleep or sanity (I knew we should have named her Cthulhu).

I want to write review on the most recent issue of Saga and how the Spiderverse event is going. So keep an eye out for that.

I picked up the new Call of Duty. It's enjoyable, but I find the novelty fades fairly quickly, and the weapons aren't balanced enough to promote switching things up.

Dragon Age: Inquisition comes out tonight. Assuming I don't fall sleep beforehand, I'm planning on picking it up at midnight and playing for a bit. I'll be surprised if I make it past the character creation...

This weekend I'll be attending a gathering of friends celebrating the release of the new Smash Bros... but playing the crap out of it all day. I might write a few thoughts afterwards.

TableTop Season 3 started. Check that out, the first episode is a solid one and they made me really want to get Tokaido :/

And I hate the announced title for the Star Wars film. But whatever, I'll avoid the rant on that one.e

Back to work. Or sleep. See which one wins...

Friday, October 24, 2014

5 Fixes for your Gundam Mania

Sometimes, I just get the urge to binge on things. As a nerd, this generally relates to periods of time where I binge on a certain title or genre.

This month's binge is brought to you buy giant mecha, specifically in the form of the Gundam franchise. Unfortunately for me, America doesn't love Gundam. Which means that Gundam rarely comes out to play and, instead, stays home, all the way in Japan. There have been countless games, books, and movies/shows that have never hit US shores... and it's pretty depressing.

In case you've got the same affliction I've got now, I'm going to share how I scratch that Gundam-mania itch, in 5 relatively easy steps!


1. Watch the Original Series


Ah, Mobile Suit Gundam. Dated visuals, inconsistent plot, and sometimes terrible writing. Old school anime at its best. But wait, there's more! The original series, as it aired, was truly a mess. The creator realized that and, for your benefit, reconstructed the series into three, feature length films. The art doesn't take any leaps forward, but the plot is restructured and improved, and certain story elements are made clearer. If you're really jonesing for Gunam, but not interested in the dozens of meh quality episodes, these three movies are just for you!

2. Play MS Saga: A New Dawn

MS Saga is a PS2 game. It is a JRPG with traditional, turn-based JRPG elements. The kicker is that your team takes giant mechs from many of the Gundam series into battle.

The story is rubbish. The character designs are the worst, and further dragged down by painful voice acting, and the mobile suits follow the SD (Super Deformed) style. That being said, the gameplay is respectfully challenging, the diversity in enemies is perfect, and it features great customization and collectible options. Every time you acquire a new mobile suit, it feels like Christmas (or whatever holiday you choose, I suppose, but it has to include getting awesome shit). You've never been so happy to see a Gouf in your life! And, when you finally get to see the Gundam in action, it will give you butterflies.

The traditional gameplay is actually a solid example of how RPGs can be turn-based and still awesome, too -- you can have up to six party members at a time, three active and three that can be swapped in on a whim. It gives you a lot of options on how to approach combat.
Customization example. Yes, you can also change part colors!

Despite all the negatives I mention, I give this game an 8/10 on the Arbitrary Scale. If you can, I'd also recommend emulating it -- I was MUCH happier being able to A) save anywhere and B) speed up the game at certain points.

3. Search #Gunpla on Instagram

After playing MS Saga, you'll think you've have seen a large variety of suits. Well, it's time to expand your mind. Bandai has been released Gunpla (Gundam Plastic Models), regardless if they match up with any ongoing show or not. What this means is that there are some truly awesome, never-before-seen models out there. And, since they're WAY too expensive a hobby for me to pursue, Instagram lets me enjoy the hard work of others (truly, the American Dream).
#Winning

When I need a quick fix, Instagram and Gunpla are where it's at. Unfortunately, this remedy has led to some additional side effects, such as seeing if Gunpla models are really THAT expensive, and how difficult could it be, putting them together...

4. Play Mobile Suit Gundam: Zeonic Front

Crap, gotta distract myself from Gunpla. Alright, back to the PS2, which is the definitive console for Gundam in the US. Zeonic Front is a third-person strategy/action game. You're playing as a Zeon soldier during the ground-wars of the One Year War. Before each mission, you equip your troops (up to three squads) and set the paths your squads should take on the battle map. This leads to a lot of different strategic options, and it's an awesome, realistic feeling mech sim in that regards.

Of course, that's not to say it doesn't have issues. Controls are not intuitive or responsive, combat is quick and usually dirty, and there are especially difficult/cheap missions (I'm looking at you, mission #6!).

This game gets a 7/10 for me. I really do love it, but it can frustrate the shit outta me.

5. Watch an Alternative Gundam series

The Gundam series has several universes. The original follows the UC timelines and is comprised of the main titles "Mobile Suit Gundam," "Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam," and "Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ." There are related side stories (0083: Stardust Memories has some awesome art, and bridges the gap between the original series and Zeta), and follow up movies, but I recommend jumping off the UC timeline for a bit.

Your Gundam Beat-'Em-Up Anime
I'm going to split this recommendation in twain, only because the correct 5th treatment is based on your preference:

If you enjoy a lot of action with relatively limited story (which can be refreshing after Mobile Suit Gundam), watch "Mobile Fighter G Gundam." This series is all about fist-fighting mechs that participate in an overly dramatic martial arts tournament. This may sounds kind of stupid, but it's actually pretty awesome, and it features the most unique mobile suits in the franchise (mostly because they don't all go pew pew, bang bang). The cast isn't large, so you're less likely to get annoyed by them (I personally find all the main protagonists from the UC timeline really, really annoying).

If you're looking for a deeper, character driven story, watch the always-classic "Mobile Suit Gundam Wing." You're not sure if the Gundam are the good guys or the bad guys, or even friends or enemies, but it makes for an awesome ride. Probably one of my favorite story-oriented shows in the franchise, and the suits are all iconic (it's amazing when you start picking them up in MS Saga).

Angst and Explosions, the Anime



Alright, those are my five steps. You can expand the first point, as I'm doing, by watching all of the UC timeline in order. I don't necessarily recommend that, but you could. And there are other (mostly PS2) Gundam video games, but the most common entry in that vein lately has been Dynasty Warriors Gundam *sigh*. Let me know if you find anything else that helps you with your Gundam Mania, because I'm afraid mine might flare up again...

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Two Blonde Dudes



I might have said something about finishing my dark heart of the soul analysis of Twin Peaks as a reworking of Peter Pan, but that shit be dark and depressing, and I got a little weekend getaway in Kyoto planned, so I felt more emotionally comfortable blogging about two white bread characters. Just be grateful I didn't have the time to include other blondes like Barry Allen (now a brunet on the CW), John Constantine (dyed thanks to NBC), or Animal Man

The Brave, the Bold, and the Blonde gender bender await after the jump!