I’ll be on the S’up Holmes podcast in a few minutes. My ability to be super calm until moments before a thing is consistent, at least.
You can now buy Book of Memories’ DLC pack from the PSN store. I’ve seen people do it!
Hey guys, super busy at the new job working on a cool project you’ll find out about some time eventually…
…but I wanted to make sure everyone was aware some DLC for Book of Memories is being released today!* It adds a ton of new content, including playable James and Heather. Pretty much every aspect of the game is getting a boost (more weapons, more classes, more notes, more enemies) so if you enjoyed BoM don’t miss it.
…some notes may even shed light on some fan-favorite characters.
As some of you have realized, in recent years I’ve become somewhat into horror fiction–due to my wife’s interest in it as well as other factors. So this weekend I continued what has become an annual tradition, of watching the latest Paranormal Activity when it becomes available for legal home viewing. We also watched some other horror-themed movies (including Hotel Transylvania, which I won’t mention again in this post). So let’s dive in…
As I’ve detailed previously, I enjoy the Paranormal Activity films (at least on paper) because they involve the viewer, and they also have an element of voyeurism. Very creepy. The first PA did a fantastic job of this, and the second tried to repeat the formula with a few new gimmicks, which of course is not the best way to do horror. What it did do well, was advance the mythology of the series in a smart, organic way. The third movie, in contrast, advanced the mythology in a really stupid way. Or, maybe, to a stupid place. Its premise was great–take the two sisters that sort of protagonized the first and second film jump back in time (well, again–technically wonderful!), and explore the events hinted at earlier. I was so psyched to see it. Unfortunately, the movie didn’t have anywhere good to GO beyond that premise. So rather than fizzle out, it tossed in a wacky cult that had no place in the series and wasn’t properly explained. So it went from a tight, if limited, premise to this weird nonsensical origin story nobody liked.
I was willing to give film 4 the benefit of the doubt, because it ditched the ultimately wasted “looking back” progression to jump forward in time to the near-present and see what happens after the first movie. Clearly we have a completely new family that has some level of wrong-place-wrong-time syndrome. I was eager to see how this tied in, and hopeful they’d ditch the lame cult and focus on the monster. As things progressed, I was even on board for the rather silly new gimmicks–because they were creepy and created a nice sense of suspense and tension. Unfortunately–even worse than the third movie–nobody gave this story anywhere to go. Lots of creepy set up and then… a plot revelation that makes absolutely no sense–but that’s okay because they don’t bother trying to explain it! And then the movie ends. See, in the other films, you’d build toward an expectation, that would be subverted with a twist… that twist would tie into a greater mythology and then before anybody had a chance to find the truth–they’d die. But there are no hints of truth here. Nothing ties into the greater mythology (in fact, this entire movie is basically a self-contained plot hole). Extremely disappointing. Maybe we push PA 5 to 2014 and think things through a bit better? Maybe?
Our second film was also a surprise, but a much more positive one…
Warm Bodies is good. I mean it won’t be up for an Oscar next year, but it’s a good movie. Early reviews came back positive but I didn’t get TOO hopeful… and I was pleased (and a little surprised). I had feared a lame zombie movie… but looking at online manifestos against the film I see a lot of people calling it out as a Twilight wannabe. Ha–no. I don’t even see how you can think that, as the trailers at the very LEAST depict a tongue-in-cheek sardony at work here. Maybe you saw the trailers for Beautiful Creatures and got confused?
Anyway, it’s based on a novel that is an expanded version of the original short story. It has a message. Not a preachy, in your face message–but nothing so trite as “true love cures zombies” either. It’s a message worth pondering and discussing with friends afterward, and it’s woven in very subtly and cleverly… I’m kind of sad it wasn’t more hard-hitting and profound. That said, if you’re in the first 3 years of high school its message most definitely IS hard-hitting and profound, so thesis away my young academic friends. This movie is rife with potential.
But ignoring all the navel gazing of youth–it’s also a fun movie. Humorous, well-paced, it even has a jump or two. There are far worse ways to spend your cinematic dollar, and if you’ve been handed a stub with the words “Resident Evil” on them in the past four years, you kind of owe it to the universe to sprint toward Warm Bodies. I’m certainly glad my weekend viewing ended on this note, rather than the previous one.
Happy New Year everyone. I know my blog hasn’t been exactly “hopping” lately, but I’d be a horrible person not to summarize my picks for the year. Once again – please keep in mind, I have in no way experienced all of the things that came out in 2012 so if your favorite thing isn’t on my list, deal with it. And this has been a weird year for my media consumption patterns, so we go to some weird places.
Book of the Year - The Cross in the Closet (Timothy Kurek) (by default)
I apparently didn’t read many books of import this year – certainly not anything that actually came out in 2012. That’s a little weird. I’m currently working through Ghostwritten, but that’s not new. Of the 2012 books I DID read, though, this nonfiction one was pretty important. The basic idea being the author (a Christian) was brought up to believe homosexuals were the enemy. So to test this belief he decides to “come out of the closet” to understand what homosexuals actually must face, from family abandonment to being ostracized from certain facets of society. He does this for a year, and learns a lot about love and how Christianity is supposed to work. Recommended for anybody with a stake in the Chick-fil-a debate.
Album of the Year - Days Go By (The Offspring)
So this one wins primarily because it’s finally another good Offspring album. By which I mean, not just “cool if you like the band” but interesting and relevant and also cool if you like the band. Soooo many old groups have dropped the ball lately (Linkin Park, Blink182) and it’s disappointing because I lack the ability to stop buying a series of something that I’ve ever at any point liked. So it’s nice to be rewarded once in a while. Better than Offspring’s been since Americana–you know, the last time you remember hearing about them, and track 1 is exactly what I thought Offspring would sound like in 2012 when I first got into them.
Runner up: V/A (Handheld Heroes)
Movie of the Year - Wreck it Ralph
So, I saw a lot of movies I enjoyed this year, but a lot of them on video and stuff seeing as we couldn’t leave the house for half the year, and then didn’t go to movies much during the final months when all the nerdy important emotional films are in theaters. But that’s okay, because this would have been my movie of the year anyway – Wreck it Ralph. It was great! It is too perfect to exist, so I have no idea why it’s here, but it is. It goes beyond just a dozen or so funny game references in that its made by people who “get” games, so all the other non-referency decisions are basically references, because they are how games WORK, not just “remember Pac Man? Ha ha!” type moments. It’s funny, has hearts, and is a very well constructed movie.
Runners up: Cloud Atlas, The Hobbit
New Show of the Year - Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23 (ABC) (by default)
Another “by default” win – we just haven’t started watching any new shows really. So while I’m not saying you should start watching “B” right away because it’s totally awesome (it’s not)… for a lame show, it’s not bad. The best part which you should be aware of is that James Van Der Beek (Dawson) plays himself on the show, and by “himself” I mean an egotistical, oblivious jerkwad. It’s hilarious self-satire and it’s what keeps me coming back. Keep in mind I have never once seen Dawson’s Creek – but the skewering is so entertaining it works regardless.
Returning Show of the Year – How I Met Your Mother (CBS) (caveat)
So this is a bit of a lie and a misdirection, as it really should be going to Doctor Who, which I discovered this year AND had a good season. The current season HIMYM isn’t actually its strongest. So why did I choose it? Well, because I think a lot of people may have dismissed it as just some stupid sitcom, or like me, some stupid sitcom with a terribly stretched premise after 8 seasons. Well, the thing about HIMYM besides the crazy and appealing acronym for its name, is that it does really interesting things with plotting and the flow of time that no other show has done. While this is far more appealing in seasons 2-4 than the recent ones, those seasons are definitely worth experiencing and if you haven’t, then get to Netflix and invest some time. These writers know, or at least knew, what they were doing and crafted some great fun for continuous viewers. Also it has Neil Patrick Harris who is just delightful(ly a terrible person in this show).
But also go watch the “Don’t Blink” episode of Doctor Who and if you dig that, dive in.
Runners up: Doctor Who (BBC), Supernatural (CW), Walking Dead (AMC)
Portable Game of the Year - Kid Icarus: Uprising (Nintendo, 3DS)
I love Kid Icarus. When Nintendo announced this game, I don’t know, 4 E3′s ago at this point? it was like they announced it just for me. It came out this year, and it was pretty sweet. Every level was basically an anime episode that played out in the background as you flew over Nintendo’s finest pre-WiiU graphical showpieces fighting crazy monsters at increasingly high speeds. It also had oodles of 8-bit fanservice and a great villain swap a few levels in. Also, Troy Baker speaking computer binary faster than you’d think possible. So it’s got everything. Unfortunately I didn’t really have time to devote just to KI when it came out, and ended up beating it months later on the (far superior) 3DS XL. It’s a shame, too, because there is TONS of content locked away that I never scratched the surface of, from an innovative difficulty system feeding into loot crafting and online multiplayer… If you’re the type of person, or the same age as, I was when I first fell in love with the Kid Icarus franchise–and one game has to last you a month or more, Kid Icarus: Uprising really WAS made just for you.
Runners up: Final Fantasy Theatrhythm (SquareEnix, 3DS), New Super Mario Bros. 2 (Nintendo, 3DS)
Digital-Only Game of the Year - Tokyo Jungle (Sony Computer Entertainment, PSN)
As much as I want to give the nod to my buddy Sean Velasco at WayForward–and you should definitely all go download Double Dragon right now–Tokyo Jungle is exactly the type of game I always used to imagine playing as a kid, but had to accept would never get made. And yet it lives. This is a game where you play as an animal in post-apocalypse Tokyo and are forced to survive. There are a bazillion animals to unlock, a story mode, and the main survival mode. It plays like a light roguelike on a nightmare version of the Nature Channel. Nothing beats sneaking around as a house cat and engineering a battle between Shibuya’s Tiger and Hippo populations.
Runners up: Super Hexagon (the VVVVVV guy, iOS), Double Dragon Neon (WayForward, PSN), Fez (Polytron, XBLA)
PC Game of the Year - Walking Dead (TellTale)
Another year, another instance of me cheating this category by lauding a game I played on console by virtue of me not actually playing PC games… Walking Dead is pretty great. You know that, because you’ve already played it, but if you haven’t for some reason give it a shot. It’s a LOT like Shattered Memories in that the experience is meant to tailor AROUND you and the point is really MAKING the decisions, not having an actual different game play out than people who chose differently… and that’s fine, because making a game that ACTUALLY supported independent results for 12 hours of choices would be out of the scope and budget of the industry as it stands (but at least SH:SM had multiple endings, just sayin’).
Point is, like the show and comic, Walking Dead puts you in the very grim reality of a zombie apocalypse and the difficulty of banding together to survive when everyone in your group is just as frazzled, damaged, and close to death as you are. No punches are pulled, and the game does an admirable job of endearing you to Clementine, the nine-year-old who’s been put in your care. I haven’t heard of anybody NOT affected by seeing Clementine’s disappointed pout after they made a tough but necessarily horrible decision at some point in the game. This is good stuff, and if you’re a fan of storytelling in digital media it’s pretty much a must-purchase.
Console Game of the Year - Journey (That Game Company, PS3)
Speaking of storytelling in digital media, there are great ways to do that without crafting rails around a linear narrative. Not sure how? Play Journey. Journey isn’t just the most beautiful looking thing on four wheels, but it integrates multiplayer in a brilliant way that not only keeps you safe from the perils of the other people on the internet, but also tells a self-created narrative. You’re on a journey with others–and you will interact with them (or not) as you go along. Most will help you, some will ignore you, and in the end you’ll be better having struggled alongside someone else than going it alone. The great thing about this is, the metaphor doesn’t just apply to one type of person. My experience was trying to keep up with (or guide) the same person through as much of the journey as possible… but any other approach is equally valid, and supported by the game and its narrative. Did you break off from your friend when he wasn’t as concerned with treasure hunting for trophies? Did you find a white robe and follow his every move hoping to get one of your own? Did you decide the multiplayer was stupid and ignore it, or worse yet, disconnect from PSN so you didn’t have to be bothered? These all say something about YOU, the player, and don’t help or hinder your ability to reach the end of the journey… powerful stuff, and all without a single line of dialogue.
Runner Up - Spec Ops: The Line (2K, XBox 360)
So this deserves more than just a funny caption, because it’s pretty heavy and depressing. You need to play Spec Ops. If you hate modern military shooters (or like me, never play them) you need to play Spec Ops. If you LOVE modern military shooters, you especially need to play Spec Ops. It has a message, and that message is not a trite “War is bad guys.” Just play through it. It’s kind of a miracle this game exists in its final form.
But Seriously You Owe it to Yourself to Play - Super Meat Boy (Team Meat, XBLA) (disqualified – came out years ago)
Sorry for the lack of updates, but I haven’t been on the proper continent.
Every four years we have to experience the worst day ever: the day after election day. Traditionally this is celebrated by half the country going absolutely nutballs about how they “won”, and the other half coming up with creative ways to complain about the country descending into nonsense and making empty threats about moving to Canada (more entertaining when that particular example comes from the Conservative half, admittedly).
This is dumb and has to stop. Political parties are not “teams”. You are not striving to be on the winning team. When you vote you are saying “This is what I feel is the best direction for my country” and between 8 and 10 PST you find out how much of the country agrees. The only “team” is America. Having elections open to everybody without the threat of horrible personal consequences means we all “won”.
Posting online “We did it guys, we saved the country from the powers of evil!” is just as ludicrous as the posts saying “It’s all over guys – hopefully Rapture comes sooner rather than later.”
So please stop. If the election went your way, be happy that America is seeming to go in a better direction (and hope it actually does!), and if the election disappointed you then work hard to make your views heard next time (and elect better candidates geez come on guys).
(Full disclosure, this “Day after Election” crap bothered me when Bush won, and it bothered me when Obama won. It doesn’t matter if my candidate wins or not we just shouldn’t behave this way. Though to be honest it was a little more understandable the first time Obama won because seriously first black President–that’s cool)