The case has been opened!

I saw Hidden Figures, it’s good stuff! The theater was empty, which is usually a great opportunity to MST3K my way through a movie, but Hidden Figures leaves little to lampoon, partly because of the subject matter and partly because it’s just very good. I’ll probably pick up the audiobook.

Speaking of audiobooks, there are currently the first three volumes released of an English translation of the Legend of the Galactic Heroes! Joe and I love the anime series and consider it one of the greats, even though it’s never gotten an official state-side release (tragedy!). I definitely recommend the book series, and we’re both crossing our fingers hoping it’s successful enough that maybe the anime finally gets an official translation.

I’ve had Splatoon sitting in its plastic wrap since I don’t remember when. I finally busted it open and it’s a heck of a good time! The online community is certainly alive and well, which is heartening considering how often I hear about the death of the WiiU. Splatoon may honestly be the most fun I’ve had with a shooter! Granted the bar is extremely low on that since I’m not much of a shooter fan.

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Looks like it’s time for some water aerobics!

Okay, guys! Only two and a half more weeks until Nioh comes out! I fear that I won’t be able to pull myself away from the controller once that happens, considering they had a ‘last trial’ demo this weekend that I definitely played too much of despite having many other pressing matters to attend. I can’t recall another game action game that’s felt so good to play! There’s something about the precision of the controls, and the tension of managing the ki meter of both you and your enemy that makes each fight enthralling. Also, those authentic feudal Japanese weapons are just a killer good time to be had! When I discovered this ‘last trial’ demo added in the kusarigama I couldn’t supress a geekgasm. Tearing up yokai with the sickle and chain is a blast!

The Dark Souls games get called tough but fair, and yet in my experience with them, I always feel like I’m fighting the controls. There’s notable lag, uneven hit boxes, weird clipping issues, and strange physics going on all over the place. Nioh doesn’t put up with any of that crap. It’s surgically precise samurai action. I suspect Nioh will proudly sit along side the big boys of top tier action games like Bayonetta 2, Devil May Cry 3, Vanquished, and Metal Gear Rising (I may be a Platinum Games fanboy), while potentially being the best Souls-style ‘tough but fair’ games to date. It’s THAT GOOD.

. . .

Also, thank the gods they got rid of weapon durability, ’cause I hate that mechanic. I’m looking at you, Breath of the Wild!

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Thing’s are about to get real, guys! I’m super excited for this scene in the comic!

So how bout that Nintendo Switch?? I hear it’s gonna be REAL GREAT! It’s releasing with a total of four whole games, three of which nobody cares about! But that one game, the sole game that nintendo’s been talking about and advertising for the past year or two, THAT one looks FREAKIN’ INCREDIBLE. I think I’ve watched the newest trailer for Breath of the Wild six or seven times now, and it gives me tingles down the spine each time, filling me with incoherent glee. I haven’t been this hyped on a trailer since Rogue One and that turned out… well, not as great as I’d have liked. But maybe I just love to ride the hype train, even if it does derail 95% of the time. What I’m saying is that I preordered a Switch because I’m a hopeless Nintendo fanboy!

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In fact, Fumio’s pettiness is LEGENDARY status.

I was really jonesing for a puzzle game, so I picked up The Witness. I regretted it after about four hours because it is insanely obtuse and I started looking up answers to puzzles. I figure after you start looking up answers to puzzles out of frustration, you probably aren’t enjoying a puzzle game very much! The game itself treats its puzzles like a language, with the basic rules being imparted to you through simple puzzles, and then the rules for different sets of puzzles get compounded in to more complex puzzles.

It’s all great in theory, but I ran into a series of puzzles where I solved about four into the set having no idea how I solved them or what the rules were. After re-solving them about a dozen times while slowly and methodically trying to determine what exactly the patterns where to signify the rules of the puzzles, I gave up and just looked it up. I know there are a lot of people who love this game, and I tend to love puzzle games too, But THIS game, well, maybe you’re suppose to sleep on it a bunch when you get stuck, I dunno. I do like the philosophy on display in The Witness, though! Notably this short movie (which I came across early in the game, so it’s not really a spoiler.) Maybe I’ll just cheat-guide my way through the tough puzzles for my own sanity so I can finish the game. Life’s too short to get frustrated over video games, after all!

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Friends, LO, t’is an update! We’re back to these bumbling fools! Maybe we’ll even see the main cast again, WHO KNOWS!

Anyway, I hope everyone got all the stuff they wanted for the holidays. I now have a Rogue One soundtrack, artbook, and Chirrut Immwe bobblehead. Too bad I didn’t love the movie, but that’s okay, because I still like getting Star Wars stuff! I also got Legend of Korra on bluray and have been rewatching it. I have my problems with the series, but LoK’s got incredible artwork, animation, music, and characters, even if the plot stumbles and changes direction from season to season. Still one of my favorite animated series!

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Nataku’s argument is perfectly sound, DON’T QUESTION IT.

So I’m gonna talk about Rogue One, there will be spoilers, don’t read it if you haven’t seen the movie (unless you don’t care!)

Okay, I was probably too hyped for Rogue One. And that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it! I loved the visual look of the film, and the big battle is a ton of fun, but there are just too many tonal inconsistencies, and too many awkward callbacks. The humor, when its there, is good, but it almost feels shoehorned in. Also, Vader’s costume looked like bad cosplay to me for some reason, and CG Tarkin was hilariously distracting, I wish they’d just gotten a look-alike as they did with Mon Mothma and Jan Dodonna. I also wish the Mon Calamari admiral and his crew didn’t look like looney tunes, and was that even MORE hyperspace shenanigans I saw Cassian pulling off? If you can jump to and exit hyperspace in atmosphere and in the planet’s gravity well, then what in-universe reason do ships have to ever exit the atmosphere again?! Buuuuuuut. . . those are all minor complaints.

What I wanted was a Star Wars film that would move me emotionally. I mean the trailers still send shivers down my spine! The film itself, unfortunately, had sloppy pacing, a bombastic, jaunty soundtrack that was nothing like the music in the trailers, and characters that I failed to connect with, even though I could tell the actors were trying their damnedest. The character drama in the film, over all, comes off as very weak, and it drags the whole thing down. Granted, if you’re a huge Star Wars fan, as I am, there’s heaps of fanservice to geek out over! Rogue One is a superb star wars fan film, just not a great film. It doesn’t introduce newcomers into the universe or give them much of a reason to care. I wouldn’t take my mom to see Rogue One, because she’d just leave confused and upset.

When CG Leia appears at the end, the audience cheered, which felt very off to me seeing as the entire cast of the film had just gotten wiped out (we couldn’t have even a single character survive? A New Hope’s title crawl says the Rebels WON their first battle against the Empire, during which their spies got the Death Star plans). It was a very emotionally confusing film, and that bums me out because, going back and rewatching the trailers, I can see what the movie was supposed to be, and that was the movie I wanted.


. . .


That space battle was just super rad, though!

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Yeah, get out there, find that assassin!

Guys, I’m very excited to talk about Rogue One next comic update! I’m so hyped up for this movie, I can’t even think straight. I hope it’s actually great and not less than great! In the mean time, everyone should maybe go see Moana (if you like musicals, of course). It’s a solid movie. It’s maybe got a few pacing issues, but the music will burrow into your brain and hole up, exactly what you want out of a musical!

I picked up The Last Guardian the day of release and played through it in like three four hour chunks over three days. It’s a beautiful game, I’m totally in awe of the world design and atmosphere. It’s a seamless continuation of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus’ world, so if you loved those games, you owe it to yourself to play this one (assuming you’ve got a PS4 lying around). For anyone intent on playing it, a few tips:

  • The movement controls are gods awful, but not much worse that Shadow or Ico, although those games were two console generations ago. Just brace yourself for some janky, imprecise jumping and movement!
  • Holding L1 will focus the camera on Trico, which is super helpful.
  • I recommend adjusting the camera speed to maximum in the settings, otherwise it feels like the camera is moving through molasses.
  • When the game gives you the ability to command Trico, that doesn’t just mean holding R1 and pointing in a direction. pressing R1+Triangle/Square/Circle/X are also various commands. I got stuck for a long time because I couldn’t figure out how to make Trico do a thing that I was certain he was supposed to do! R1+Triangle is your best friend.
  • Expect to cry at the end, but maybe not for the reason you think.

I can’t even believe Last Guardian actually exists and I can play it, that is unreal for a game that was originally announced in 2009. Granted Nioh started development in 2004 and is coming out in February, and Final Fantasy 15 was announced in 2006 and somehow managed to come out just a week or so ago also. My wife picked up that one and she seems to be really enjoying it, although as a cohesive world it make no sense. Your main characters are these black leather clad guys driving this souped up Audi while everyone else you encounter looks like they’re from the 1950’s. It’s like WHAT? I can’t imagine any in game explanation for this, except time travel.  Also, something about Noctis’ pants are endlessly frustrating to me. They’re like capris that cut off just before where his black boots begin. GET SOME LONGER PANTS, NOCTIS, I don’t need to see a sliver of your beautiful calves. Also, black coats with short sleeves? Fashion disaster, friends! ( Because I know so much about fashion, why not)

Image result for noctis


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Events are transpiring at a rapid pace!

Just a warning, about to rant on and on about that new Harry Potter-verse movie. If you love Harry Potter, it’s okay to totally disagree with me! *SPOILERS*

Man, I do not get Harry Potter. Admittedly, I didn’t read the books as they were released, and I may have already been too old or already exposed to a lot of other fantasy authors when Rowling was on the rise. I’ve always found the Harry Potter books and movies frustrating contradictions. The world established in the series is one built on whimsical fantasy, with silly names like “Hogwarts” and “Dumbledore”. It’s full of magic trains and candy, and quirky magical creatures and characters. But the stories most often told in the Harry Potter universe are dark, angsty, and permeated by a theme of death and suffering. Maybe that’s part of the appeal of the franchise for some, but it’s always felt like stories diametrically opposed to the world they’re set in. Aside from Prisoner of Azkaban, I can’t say I really love any of the films, and that one only because of some clever time travel, which actually opens a whole well of plot holes in the entire series, if we’re being honest.

Anyway, the whole reason I bring this up is because I’d kinda hoped that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them would be a new beginning, one where we could finally tell some whimsical stories that worked in the context of the world. Instead we got a film about child abuse (*spoilers* the child dies). The first 15 or 20 minutes don’t bother to tell us who any of the main characters are, we just watch them bumble around watching each other with little context given. There’s also a lot of slapstick comedy to establish the tone of the film, but once all the protagonists are introduces, we immediately jump to some political family that plays basically no role in the film, and then a hyper religious woman who physically and emotionally abuses her gaggle of adopted children, especially an older boy that she beats with a belt. It’s tonal whiplash and sucks all the fun and energy out of the film. The whole movie is very slow, doling out information at a snail’s pace.

Also, it seems every magic using character can teleport without reservation or restriction. Several times, the main character goes through a difficult or inconvenient scenario that would’ve been possible to completely bypass with a teleport. At the beginning of the film, he goes through customs when entering the U.S., and his magical creature suitcase is almost discovered. Yet he could’ve simply teleported from the ship onto the dock, avoiding customs security altogether. Another time he enters a jewelry store not by teleporting inside, but by shattering the store side window, attracting the police. The main character is played off as competent with magical creatures but otherwise a lousy people person and somewhat absent minded outside of anything pertaining to his interest. Unfortunately, he mostly comes off as an unobservant idiot.

I also have little faith in the American branch of wizarding society, since their police force seems wildly incompetent. They couldn’t even set up a security perimeter around a wizarding world leaders summit! One of the characters, a lady cop who’d been suspended from the force, walks right into this summit meeting and everyone’s just like “what’s she doing here?” Post some guards at the door, guys! You’re here to talk about a terrorist dark wizard threat, for potter’s sake!

The music in the film is trying SO HARD. The soundtrack works overtime to deliver emotional impact, sometimes with musical queues at odds with what’s actually happening on screen, but there’s jut not a lot of chemistry between the characters to get invested in. Probably the best of the cast is a muggle baker who just gets dragged along for ‘reasons’. He’s the only person genuinely having a good time throughout the story, but in the end, he’s basically told to stand in a corner for the film’s entire finale, rendering his character mostly pointless.

The finale itself feels like a huge turning point in the franchise lore that should actually contradict the previous eight films (since this is a prequel, after all). Basically a good chunk of New York is outright demolished by a rampaging magical creature (who happens to be the belt-beaten orphan boy, because ‘magic’). the creature/abused boy is murdered by fifty wizards shooting it to death with wands in a sewer, but the destructive aftermath of the battle is immense. It seems like there’s no way to keep the magical world a secret anymore, but then the wizards just wipe the entire city’s memory by poisoning the water supply and reversing time so that none of the destruction happened. But were there any fatalities in all those destroyed buildings? Can these wizards even reverse DEATH? In the end, the magic on display in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is so over powered and deus ex machina that any story tension is completely destroyed by the ending.

If the film had been about a quirky British wizard breaking all sorts of magic laws in an attempt to find some magical creatures in 1920’s New York, I probably would’ve loved the film. Instead, it’s just a slow, sloppy, plodding story with a lot of plot holes and very little whimsy to speak of…

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See ya round, beardy!

Thanksgiving weekend was a mass of travel and food, resulting in a lack of update. Nataku’s sudden but inevitable betrayal will continue next Monday!

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For those who predicted Atsumori’s fate, well, GOOD JOB. I hope you feel awful!

We went and saw The Arrival last weekend and it was damn good. For everyone sick of big dumb movies where all laws of physics are broken and the peril of the characters is intrinsically tied to dramatic plot moments and nothing else, The Arrival is like a life preserver in an ocean of blah. Even if it’s not the most complex story, and even if you do manage to see the twist coming early on, the journey there is still thoughtful, smart, well paced, and character driven. At no point did I think to myself “well, that was stupid”. In fact, the climax of the movie is SPOILERS someone making a phone call in a foreign language. It’s not overblown, bomabastic, or dumb. It IS tense, and exciting, and absolutely the movie I’ve been waiting for since being teased with scifi intellectualism by Interstellar. I’m not saying The Arrival is a perfect movie, as there’s a lot of science hand-waving, but nothing is dumb or contradictory, the problems dealt to the characters are all consistently worked out through a quality flow of logical deduction. So basically what I’m saying is go see The Arrival, it deserves your money and attention, because we need more stuff like this in theaters.

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