Archive for March, 2016

Capcom threw together a reveal trailer for Alex this week. And before we knew it he was available to play! I haven’t tried him. Still haven’t got the game due to lack of offline content. I’m protesting Haha. I think Alex looks great. He’s free to try and play for everyone until Capcom get the in game store sorted out. They still have some issues with that working right. In fact each new DLC character will be free to try until the in game store is working. Who is next?

Resident Evil HD

Posted: March 30, 2016 in Video Games
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Resident Evil is such a classic game. I’m talking about the 1996 original which celebrates it’s 20th birthday this year. In fact Resident Evil is SO good Capcom made it twice. And I’ve bought the game three times now. Haha. The original PSOne classic, the 2002 Gamecube remake and now as part of the Resident Evil Origins HD collection on the PS4. The later is what I want to talk about here.

The remake came about because original game director Shinji Mikami felt the PSOne original had aged badly in light of the later sequels such as Resident Evil 4. The remake would start over and build up from scracth using new 3D models over stunning re-done pre rendered backgrounds that were jaw dropping back in 2002 and remain so over a decade later on the PS4.

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Resident Evil sees several members of the Racoon City S.T.A.R.S. forces seek shelter in a mansion after they are ambushed in the woods while searching for their missing comrades (that tale is brilliantly told in the prequel Resident Evil 0). Once inside our heroes, Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine soon realise that they are far from safe and their nightmare has only just begun.

The updated visuals are brilliant. Chris, Jill, Wesker and co. have never looked better. The same can be said for the various enimes which terrorise our heros. The zombies are terrifying, the gian snake is horrendously scary ( I am beyond scared of snakes!), the spiders, the hunters! All of them. One of the games standout sequences involves an aquatic lab and the process of getting through and out safely is so tense and well done. The threat of the giant Neptune B.O.W. a constant.

Capcom added a new plot thread to the remake in the form of Lisa Trevor and her tragic family connection to the Spensor mansion. I don’t want to spoil too much of this plot point in case you have somehow missed this classic game, but Lisa’s presence is felt throughout the game. Her inclusion paved the way for new environments that Capcom didn’t include in the ’96 original. These new areas centred on the outskirts of the mansion give the player the impression the scale of the game has been opened up considerably compared to the original.

Resident Evil HD is a classic. The story is pure B Movie gold. The gameplay is – two styles offered from the original tank controls to the more modern style associated with R.E. 4 & R.E. 5 – solid. The look of the game is timeless and this is a must buy game more so when you take into account the price when bundled with Resident Evil 0.

 

The Final Girls

Posted: March 29, 2016 in Movies
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The Final Girls is a love letter to the 80’s slasher genre. Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson and written by M.A. Fortin & Joshua John Miller, each of who clearly love the genre and deliver a solid and original take on said genres conventions.

The story takes place in the present day and revolves around Max, who having lost her mother, is asked to attend a screening of a 80’s slasher movie double bill. Said movie is Camp Bloodbath, which her mother Amanda Cartwright, starred in as doomed camp councillor Nancy. A fire breaks out at the screening and Max and her friends escape the inferno by tearing through the cinema screen which transports them into Camp Bloodbath. What follows is Max and her friends attempts to get back home, allude death by the Jason Voorhees like Billy Murphy and for Max…the oppertunity to save her ‘mum’.

Easily the films strongest points are it’s script and excellent cast. The characters both in the real world and Camp Bloodbath embrace their sterotypes but take them further and explore the reality of the person behind the jock, the bitch, the shy girl, the geek and of course the final girl. Yet for every oppertunity the film has at taking apart conventions of the slasher genre it never does it in a way which is disrespectful. Rather it’s a celebration of the genre. That is what stood out most for me.

By no means is The Final Girls perfect. But I don’t think it set out to be. Early buzz for the film was leveling it up to Scream like heights of awesome. Sadly where as Scream could switch between comedy and heavy chase/kill scenes in the blink of an eye The Final Girls tone is pretty light in comparison. Don’t misunderstand, it’s not a spoof like Scary Movie but it’s not a serious hardcore horror experience either. The only reason I bring that up, because I certainly don’t feel like the film ever tries to be anything but what it is (and it’s very good ) is due to early reactions I read being slightly misleading.

Don’t go into The Final Girls expecting a blood bath or frantic chase/elaborate kill scenes because despite being set in that universe it’s not what the film is about. Yes people die. But it’s not the focus of this story. Do expect to laugh, root for the characters and prepare yourself for a surprisingly emotional last act.

The ending is perfect but please….let this be a one and done. No sequel. The Final Girls may not have thundered into the genre like Scream did but it has and will continue to carve out it’s own place in the long history of the slasher genre as a standout example of what you can do when you add a lot of heart and passion to a sub genre.

 

Killer Instinct

Posted: March 28, 2016 in Video Games
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Dublin. 1994. Killer Instinct knocked me out! The incredible music!The insane commentator was booming around the arcade! What the hell was this game? Looking back I had the best introduction to it you could hope for. No idea it was coming. Just in the arcade one day and BOOM! There it was. I’d never seen anything like it. Even those 3D fighters from that era (Virtua Fighter/Tekken) did not look or sound as good as Killer Instinct.

Rare, the makers of the excellent Snes series Donkey Kong Country were the master minds behind this brand new beat-em-up. In parnership with Nintendo the game was let loose on an unsuspecting public. It’s amazing graphics and booming soundtrack (along with it’s killer roster) won gamers over right away. What worked in the games favour most though were the totally nuts Ultra Combos players could pull off. I couldn’t wait to own this game and I do. But it’s not on the Ultra 64 (the early name for the still in development N64), no it’s on my Snes.

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Somehow Rare and Nintendo were able to bring this arcade classic to the 16 bit Super Nintendo. The graphics and soundtrack took some hits, that goes without saying but the gameplay is brilliant and each character was able to carry over from the arcade along with their stages and move lists. What a cast too. Rather than a dozen guys and one or two gals Killer Instinct allowed players to pick from a unusual but solid cast. My faves are the werewolf Saberwulf, the velociraptor Riptor and Orchid ( who isn’t a plant, although that would have been awesome haha). Each character is highly playable so you never feel like there is one weak link amongst the roster which makes the games constantly playable.

It is a wonder that Nintendo and Rare were able to bring the game to the Snes. Most assumed it would become a launch title for the N64 (which arguably it should have been if only to have as close to a faithul arcade conversion as possible at that time) but the Snes release was a standout at the time. It still plays great, sounds wonderful and the graphics still impress despite having to be scaled back for the Snes. Yet due to the game being on the home console Rare were able to put in a training mode and allow players to adjust the difficulty which made it a lot easier to work on those Ultra Combos. It even encouraged Tournament Play with friends beyond a simple Vs mode.

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I remember when I got the game back in 1995. I had to choose between this and Mortal Kombat 3. It was a tough choice but I’m glad I went with Killer Instinct. Back in the day you were lucky if you got more than two video games a year! Haha. Never mind one whenever you felt like it!

It was boss too that you got a CD soundtrack free with the game. The soundtrack is incredbile and if you can track down a copy of the Snes version with the Killer Cuts CD it’s well worth it. A brilliant fighter and indeed a solid series that is still going strong today. Shame it’s an X-Box exclusive these days. It just doesn’t seem right. One day maybe Killer Instinct can come home to Nintendo along with Rare.

 

Witness the amaze of Batman getting down to some serious beats in the big trailer reveal for The LEGO Batman Movie! Will Arnett reprises his role from The Lego Movie, his take on Batman was a highlight from The Lego Movie so it’s no surprise the breakout character was granted a solo outing!

Arnett is joined by Rosario Dawson as Batgirl, Michael Cera as Robin & Zach Galifianakis as the Joker. The film hits UK screens February 10th 2017.

Super Mario World

Posted: March 18, 2016 in Video Games
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As Nintendo moved into the 90’s one game paved the way for the company and it’s new Super Nintendo 16 bit console. That game was Super Mario World and twenty five years later and with all due respect and applause to Nintendo, the game is still as fun and playable as day one.

Recently I was lucky enough to get a Snes (Super Nintendo). I lost mine. Rather I gave it away because I was young, the Playsation had just been released and I was very foolish. I needed that new console so I traded my Snes and 27 EPIC games for a PSOne and Battle Arena Toshinden 2. I won’t even tell you what games I had (okay…one of them was Secret of Mana 3!!) for the Snes because it will only highlight further how stupid of me it was to just trade them all away. One of the biggest regreats of my life.

In a weird twist of fate I recently gave my Playsation 2 to my old friend and without asking (he knows me well) he basically pushed a Snes onto me. I was beyond happy to take it off his hands and with it came a copy of Super Mario World. The flagship title of the console when it launched. Mario has to protect Dinosaur Land from Bowser and rescue Princess Peach. Helped out by his bro Luigi and Yoshi.

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The gameplay is king in Super Mario World. Platforming done to perfection. The addition of Yoshi and new power ups (the feather grants Mario the ability to fly for a short time) add new mechanics to the series. The game just feels like magic and it’s an absolute pleasure to play. Filled with secrets (several courses/levels have different exits that have to be located which unlock new areas) and a healthy but never unatainable challenge.

Now Super Mario World, in my useless opinion, isn’t quite as good as good as Super Mario Bros.3 but it’s almost there Haha. The variety of levels and design are second to none and it’s a riot accumilating 1Up mushrooms and storing those lives so you can keep going at those more demanding stages!

Sigh. Games. They’re meant to be fun? Right? I don’t know. I’m not THAT old. So I don’t think this is age talking but the games today….there’s just somthing missing. That ‘magic’ that was so present throughout the 16 bit era. Super Mario World is one of the best examples of this era in game history and if you missed it …well then with the likes of Ebay, Nintendo’s Virtual Console or as in my case awesome friends, there’s no excuse for you not to play this gem.

Now I have the Snes there’s going to be a lot more content dedicated to the era on here which is somthing I’ve wanted to focus on for some time now as most new releases (save those with links to 90’s series) just don’t interest me. Hopefully you can dig it.

 

X-Files 10.6 My Struggle II SPOILERS!!

Posted: March 15, 2016 in TV
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Chris Carter saw off this season of The X-Files with a mixture of good and bad choices. First of all let’s take a look at what was good about the season ender. The viral outbreak, one which would be on a doomsday level, was sudden and effective and gave the episode a great sense of urgency. Agents Einstein & Miller make a welcome return. Great new additions to the show and I felt Miller made a stronger impression this time after his debut. Hopefully these two will be recurring throughout when the show returns. Mulder M.I.A. at the beginning of the episode was typical X-Files. No one knows where he is and it’s up to Scully to figure everything out.

The idea of the viral outbreak and how it linked to the 2012 invasion mythology was well executed and clearly well researched. The science is laid on thick in this episode but that was great because it gave Scully & Einstein a real chance to shine as they desperately try to figure out a counter cure to fight the outbreak.

Now let’s look at what did not work so well. Chris Carter has famously said that no one really dies on this show but Cigarette Smoking Man’s return is just….Look we saw his face melt and his skull and everything as the missile (MISSILE!!) hit him so to have him back with a few skin grafts is stretching things a bit TOO much. Worse than that though is the absolute character assassination of Monica Reyes. SPOILERS!!! Reyes, we learn via flashback, has made a bargain with Cigarette Smoking Man to seal her safety during this outbreak in exchange for her becoming his carer. I’m sorry…what? First of all WHY would he ask for Reyes? Why would she agree to it? Wouldn’t she call Mulder and be all “Hey! He’s not dead!” When did she start looking out for number one over the greater good? Really hard to swallow and as a Reyes fan I hated it. If Carter had used…Marita Covarrubias OR (since we’re bring back the dead) Diana Fowley in said role it would have made MUCH more sense and saw the return of a series vet.

Still, the above aside I have loved the new season. It’s been amazing having the show back and I have had no issues with the fixes to mythology and where the series is heading based on this cliffhanger ending. My only real issue was the Reyes ‘twist’ but maybe that has room for damage control. Point being I hope we get to see what happens next and carry on this journey with these great characters and exciting world.

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Scream kicked off the slasher boom of the mid to late 90’s and on it’s heels came I Know What You Did Last Summer. With a script by Scream’s Kevin Williamson and a cast of appealing leads being stalked by a hook weilding killer I Know What You Did Last Summer was a massive hit at the box office back in 1997.

The story plays on the idea of how guilt can eat away at us. Our four leads find themselves in the unfortunate situation of a hit and run which they decide to cover up. Reason being they fear the implication of the “accident” will effect their futures. No shit. One year later each friend is the recipient of a dire warning informing them that someone knows what happened last July4th. As the anniversary looms nearer and nearer the threats escalate and soon turn deadly.

The film is more of a thriller than a slasher really. When it was being the made the studio asked for more gory scenes which led to one hook centred kill near the start of the film being shot specifically for this reason. The film is a slow burner which builds to an all out slasher movie like third act as the bodies start hitting the floor. It boasts one of the best chase scenes put to film too. It’s a fantastic sequence that goes on for what must be 15 to 20 minutes and it’s easily the highlight of the film and the slasher craze of the 90’s. Shot perfectly by the films director Jim Gillespie.

Cast wise we get Jennifer Love Hewitt following her Party of Five co-star Neve Campbell (star of Scream) into the slasher realm as the films lead Julie James. Hewitt is likeable enough but kind of looses her place in the later half of the film as her co-star Sarah Michelle Gellar’s character Helen Shivers becomes more central and much easier to root for. Ryan Phillippe does great at playing jock horror Barry while Freddie Prinze Jr.’s Ray fares simialr to Hewitt. Their characters just don’t engage as much as the film reaches the climax and kind of become the leads through being in the right place at the right time in the story. The ensabmle recieves solid support from Anne Heche, Bridgette Wilson and Muse Watson. All of whom are put under the finger of suspicion of being behind the attacks in a way I’d guess to make the film riff off Scream.

By no means on the same level as Scream what I Know What You Did Last Summer does have going for it is a solid mystery, some stunning direction (the sea side town setting is equally creepy and lovely to look at) and a likeable cast. Did I mention it has one of the best chase scenes-oh you know what…THE best chase scene the slasher genre has failed to top to date? Well it has! So there. Haha. Check this out before the remake hits. Yes. It’s happening.

 

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Capcom lifted the veil off Alex yesterday and I got to say that I like his new design. He looks like a beast.

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It will be a while until I get to try him out (still waiting on that offline content Capcom…) but I am eagerly awaiting the first footage of Alex in action which no doubt is just around the corner.

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No date for Alex yet but he is expected this month. Capcom will be adding some new features to the game too but since they’re mostly aimed at getting people online I didn’t really pay that much attention to them. I felt a bit sick they can’t see the need for more offline content. The in game store is set to go online this month too. You can spend all that in game fight money on costumes and stuff.

Street Fighter V is out now. Hope those of you who have it are loving it. Can’t wait to get the full game when it’s updated. One day. Haha.

 

X-Files 10.5: Babylon

Posted: March 10, 2016 in TV
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We are almost at the end of this short season of The X-Files. It feels like it has just come back and next week it will be gone again. It’s future uncertain.

Chris Carter wrote and directed Babylon and I loved it. It balances curret hot issues such as immigration, terrorisim and finds the space for some emotional scenes and a bit of comedy. My friend hates this sort of episode. “There’s no time for comedy” but I felt the opposite. Yes it is a funny episode in places but the humour comes from a legit plot device. Much more prominent in this episode are the themes of immigration, integration and challenging the point of view that all immigrants are trouble. Most impressive is the fact that Carter presents a range of points of view on the subject and remains neutral. It’s up to the viewer to take the arguments from all sides and form their own opinions.

Lauren Ambrose is the episodes stand out. An incredible actress who leaps off the screen on whatever show she appears in. Along with Robbie Amell the pair play a fellow pair of FBI aganets who mirror Mulder and Scully. At first the similarties are a bit off putting because you question what their function is but then it dawned on me that they’ve been used for a very specific reason. Should the show never return in any form the viewers know without a doubt the X-Files will live on even if we don’t get to see how. Now I’m not saying that was Carter’s intention but if it is then it was nicely done and I would love to see Agent Einstein and Miller again down the road if we get another season.

Elsewhere we get a few surprise cameos that I won’t ruin. Some very cool (and chilling) looks into the (possible) afterlife and best of all we get Walter Skinner! Skinner is a legend and sadly hasn’t been used that much this last five episodes but on the plus side at least he is being used and it’s great to have him back.

One of my fave episodes from this short season. It ends with a lovely sequence between Mulder and Scully that just summed them up perfectly even if their conversation was focused on a different subject entirely.