Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Weapon of the Week: Boomerang Flower

A rare native plant of the Mushroom Kingdom. Also Australia.
Franchise: Super Mario
Appearances: Super Mario 3D Land, Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, Mario Golf World Tour
Type: Power-up

Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone, and welcome to the very first Weapon of the Week! Today, we will be looking at one of the lesser known power-ups from the Mario universe.

Where would Mario be without his power-ups? In all likelihood, he’d be in a crumpled heap at World 1-1, with Goombas dancing all over his corpse. Lucky for him, he is supplied with many different tools throughout his adventures that makes saving the princess a piece of cake. Several of his power-ups have reached iconic status: the Super Mushroom, the Fire Flower, the Starman. However, the power-up I chose to write about isn’t iconic, but is still very useful in its own right.

Enter the Boomerang Flower. Like many of Mario’s power-ups, touching it will allow Mario to change form. In this case, Mario will become Boomerang Mario, allowing him to use a boomerang (creative, I know). The boomerang itself is surprisingly useful; it can collect far away items, can destroy projectiles, and can even bounce off walls. Clever players can jump over their own boomerang, keeping it in the field for a longer period of time. All of this adds up to a very versatile power-up.

I hope to see the Boomerang Flower make a return in future Mario games. I also hope that one day I too can get powers by eating plants, but beggars can’t be choosers. Next time, we’ll look at a weapon that can both create and destroy. Until then, have a happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

For Reels: Into the Woods review

All will come to a happy end...right?
Note: I have not seen the musical, so I will make no comment on how faithful the film is to the original stage musical.

I think its safe to say we are all familiar with the classic fairy tales: Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk. Its not uncommon for people to put their own spin on these classic tales. Stephen Sondheim, a legend in the world of musical theatre, combined the tales mentioned above into the hit musical Into the Woods. 28 years after the musical’s debut, Disney has adapted it into a feature film.

The film takes place in a fantasy kingdom, home to many fairy tale characters. A baker and his wife (James Corden and Emily Blunt respectively) wish to have a child, but cannot due to a curse placed on their home many years ago. A witch (Meryl Streep) offers to lift the curse if they can bring her four items: a red hood, a white cow, a golden slipper, and a lock of yellow hair. Thier quest leads them to interact with other fairy tale characters, including Jack (Daniel Huttlestone), Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), and Prince Charming (Chris Pine). All get their happy endings at first, but things really get interesting during the second act, when characters start facing consequences not seen in the original stories.

If I were to pick one word to describe this film, it would be “sincere”. Both the acting and the singing were very well done, being both sincere and emotional. Both dialogue and song blend very well, and neither clash with each other; no song feels forced or shoehorned in. Everything about the film feels natural, down to the movement of the individual characters.

Of course, a musical wouldn’t be complete with actual musical numbers, and each and every one is great. The scenes are well shot and coordinated, and are wonderfully sung. The songs themselves are very melodious and pleasant to listen to. Not one song feels forced, which goes hand and hand with the film’s sincerity.

I have little to say against the film. Personally, I wanted to see more of Rapunzel; she basically disappears halfway through the film. Other than that, Into the Woods is a fantastic film that must be seen.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Press Start: Top Ten Anticipated Games in 2015

2015 is right around the corner, and while it will be a while before I start writing “2015” instead of “2014”, I am ready to accept the new year with open arms. 2015 will bring a lot to the table, especially in terms of gaming. Tons of big titles are already slated for 2015, and there a good number of them I’m looking forward to. These are the top ten titles that I’m looking forward to the most:

10. Super Robot Wars Z 3.2

The Super Robot Wars series involves giant robots from all sorts of anime coming together to do what they do best: blow stuff up. Oddly enough, the games are turn based strategy games, not a giant fighting game franchise. Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The series is not only strategic fun but also filled with flashy attacks guaranteed to make your jaw drop. In fact, if the games don’t make your jaw drop, the game developers will personally give you your money back (to this day, they have not have to give any refunds).

The latest game in this long running series will be Dai-3-Ji Super Robot Taisen Z Tengoku Hen, or 3rd Super Robot Wars Z: Heavenly Prison Chapter. This game will feature robots from over 40 animes, as well as new attack animations for returning robots. The game will also be the debut of Diebuster, an anime I wanted to be featured in SRW ever since I discovered it. With such a cast and with such blood boiling animations, this game looks like one that will melt one’s brain (this may or may not be covered by your insurance, so check before you play).

The game will be released in Japan on April 2nd.

9. Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires

I am a huge Warriors fan. I love the concept of wiping out armies as a single general. It may not be the most intricate series, but it's mindless fun I’ll never get tired of. In 2014, we got Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends, an expansion of Dynasty Warriors 8. 2015 will bring yet another expansion in the form of the oddly strategic Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires.

DW8E still features the “run into a horde of soldiers and kill them all with a single combo” gameplay that the series is known for, but will include several new editions to make the game (slightly) less mindless. Battles this time around can be won with stratagems, in-battle spells that can bolster your forces or cripple your opponent. Stratagems can stack up for extra effect or can be used to lessen the blow of opposing stratagems. The expansion also allows for empire management, allowing players to do things like arrange political marriages.

All in all, this sounds like a creative expansion of an action centric franchise and one I can’t wait to play. The game will be hitting North America on January 27th.

8. Dying Light

Zombies are everywhere nowadays. From TV shows to movies to video games, its hard to escape the zombie craze, which is fine, since I’m all about the undead menace. Zombie games may be a dime a dozen these days, but there’s still one that has me excited to crack some decomposing skulls: Dying Light.

Dying Light drops you in the middle of a quarantined Turkish city overrun with zombies. The game has you do the regular zombie survival routine- gather supplies, set up traps, rescue survivors. Alongside all that, however, comes a whole lot of interesting mechanics. Your primary mode for exploring the city? Parkour, of course! What do you fight the zombies with? With homemade weapons made of stuff lying around! The game even features changing weather and a day and night cycle, both of which affect the zombie’s AI.

Dying Light looks like a interesting and brutal twist on the typical zombie game. It will stagger into stores on January 27th.

7. Splatoon

When I say “Nintendo”, you don’t usually think of shooters. Nintendo really only has one franchise it can call a shooter (Metroid), and even that’s a stretch. However, Nintendo is planning to release a team based shooter of their own that’s very, well, Nintendo.

Splatoon is not like your typical shooter. At all. How so? Well for one thing, you use paint based weapons as opposed to assault rifles or rocket launchers. Your team’s goal is to cover as much of the stage as possible with your color as possible. Players can change from human to squid form and swim through the areas that your team painted over, allowing for quick travel across the battlefield (I’m not making any of this up).

Splatoon looks like Nintendo-style fun mixed with a crazy concept. A firm release date is not known, but it will be in stores by the second quarter of 2015.

6. Shin Megami Tensei Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker

Shin Megami Tensei is a long running RPG series which involves you taming demons and shaping a new world with your own actions. Devil Survivor, a spin off of the SMT franchise, involves you taming demons and shaping a new world with your own actions with strategy. Might not sound like much of a difference, but Devil Survivor’s strategic gameplay gives it its own identity over its parent franchise.

An update of Devil Survivor 2, Record Breaker, is coming out for the 3DS. The game features the same solid gameplay of the original, with tons of new content. The game will include 3D cutscenes, new characters, new difficulty levels, new story scenarios, and a full English dub. All are perfect additions to an already exceptional game, I can’t wait to save the world yet again with the help of my demon buddies.

Record Breaker will crash into stores on April 7th.

5. Mighty Number 9

Capcom may have cancelled all things Megaman related, but he isn't quite dead. He has appeared as a playable character in the new Smash Bros game, and his fan community is still alive and well. As a fan of Megaman myself, I was elated when Keiji Inafune, the man behind the Blue Bomber, announced he was developing a spiritual successor to the legendary franchise.

Mighty Number 9 is practically a Megaman game, right down to the very concept. You play as a mechanized hero on a quest to pacify eight evil robots, all the while collecting new weapons and powerups. The gameplay looks frantic and action packed, something the Megaman franchise is known for. While essentially Megaman, Inafune's new brainchild is exactly what we Megaman fans need.

Mighty Number 9 will be released worldwide in April.

4. Ratchet and Clank

I have been a Ratchet and Clank fan for many years. In fact, its one of my favorite franchises, and quite possibly my favorite video game series. The zany weapons, the intense action, the great humor, the memorable characters- its a tremendous piece of art. So imagine my excitement when Insomniac announced that a new Ratchet adventure was coming to the PS4- a reboot of the first game to go alongside the movie.

Not much is known about the game. What has been revealed is that both the gameplay and visuals will be overhauled and the story would be reimagined. The lack of information doesn't bother me; I’m just happy that my favorite galactic duo is coming to a next gen console. I personally can’t wait to blow me up some Blargs.

The game is slated for a first quarter or second quarter release.

3. Xenoblade Chronicles X

Monolith Soft’s Xenoblade Chronicles is regarded as one of the best RPGs last gen had to offer. With a huge world to explore and a creative story to experience, the game found many fans in the west. It did so well that a sequel is in the works, which I personally can’t wait to get my hands on.

Xenoblade Chronicles X tells the story of a group of human refugees as they try to carve out an existence on a hostile alien world. The world itself looks gorgeous, and the worlds look like a treat to explore. However, the biggest draw for me is the fact that you can pilot a giant robot into battle. That alone makes me giddy with excitement. A huge open world RPG with mecha is like my dream game (well, one of them at least).

The game will touch down sometime in 2015.

2. Battleborn

Borderlands has already established itself as one of my favorite shooters. With a great sense of humor, excellent gunplay, tons of loot to collect, and frantic co-op action, it is a true gem among the FPS genre. Gearbox’s new project is a MOBA-like, team based shooter that looks as every bit as stylistic and action packed as the Borderlands series.

Battleborn features multiple heavily armed factions fighting over the last habitable solar system in the universe. Each faction sports a number of colorful and creative characters, all with their own personalities and play styles. As each player tears up the battlefield with their character, they level up and gain perks, offering longer life spans and more destructive power. The level of customization, alongside intense firefights and team based battling, makes Battleborn one of the best looking games coming in 2015.

Battleborn will be released sometime in 2015.

1. Code Name STEAM

Intelligent Systems has earned my respect as a developer. With franchises like Paper Mario, Fire Emblem, and Advance Wars under their belt, it's hard for me to dislike them. Their newest project, Code Name STEAM, is my most anticipated game of 2015, not only because of its creator, but also for the potential is has.

Code Name STEAM looks like a cheesy B-movie, and I love it. With a comic book art style and featuring characters like Tom Sawyer, Tiger Lily, Henry Fleming, and the Cowardly Lion, this game looks ridiculous in the most glorious way possible.

Code Name STEAM looks like it has the gameplay to back its concept and presentation. The gameplay mixes real time strategy, third person shooter, and turn based combat elements into one awesome looking battle system. Each character has their own set of weapons and abilities, making for satisfying and strategic battles against an alien force. With special loadout options and reactionary tactics, STEAM looks like the must have strategy game of 2015.

Code Name STEAM looks like it has every element of a great game in its hand. It will fly into stores March 13th.

Honorable Mentions
Star Fox- a reboot of a franchise that I hold dear. It would have made the list had I known more about it.

Evolve- a great concept that looks fun, but couldn't make the cut due to being multiplayer only.

Tales of Zestiria- a great looking RPG that would have made the cut if I was a bigger Tales fan.

Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition/DmC Definite Edition- remasters that I’m looking forward to, but not enough to be consider more anticipated than games like Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires.

Mortal Kombat X- a exceptional looking fighting game that would have easily made it if I was into fighting games more.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Previews on future projects.

Hey y'all. Just want to let you know that I'm working on two projects: Top Ten Anticipated Games of 2015 and Top Five Animated Films of 2014. I'm trying to get at least one up before New Year's Eve.

Until next time. See ya.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Hi Everybody!

Hello world!

Hey y'all. How we doin?

I promised myself that I'd start a blog for years, and I finally did it. Better late than never, I suppose.

Anyway, this blog will not only be a record for my thoughts, but also a creative outlet. alongside regular posts, here's what your in for:

Weapon of the Week: Every Wednesday, I'll do a profile about a weapon (usually from a video game) that I think is neat. My definition of a "weapon" is rather lax, so expect more than just swords and such.

Press Start: Game reviews! Need I say more?

Gamer's Frontier: Every so often, I'll write about a game I think deserves more attention.

For Reels: Movie reviews! Pretty self explanatory.

Mechanime: I review mecha anime. If it has a giant robot, its fair game.

Ramblings of a Young Liberal: Where I spout liberal agenda and offend half the country.

Just Hear Me Out Here: Just random thoughts I have. May or may not be interesting and/or funny.

See y'all soon! Take care.