Friday, February 22, 2008

Street Fighter the Later Years

With Street Fighter IV excitement growing with each new video that hits the web I thought now would be a good time to share with you one of the funniest web movie series I've ever watched! Now I may be a bit biased but this series is hilarious, especially if you played Street Fighter II (who hasn't). The series is currently up to episode 8.
So without further ado enjoy episodes 1-5 of Street Fighter the Later Years. And remember this could've been the fate of the World Warriors if Yoshinori Ono didn't pressure Capcom into making a forth Street Fighter.

Episode I

Episode II

Episode III

Episode IV

Episode V

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Movie Review: Death Note

I am a firm believer that there is absolutely zero point in making a live action movie based on anime, in my opinion it's as pointless as having a magazine article made into a book or a childs picture turned into a billboard.
I was extremely hesitant to watch the live action adaptation of Death Note based on the Anime, based on the Manga....but I figured it wasn't coming from hollywood, it was made in Japan and I knew none of the actors or actresses so I threw it in and even got the wife to watch it with me (she had no idea it was based on anime) and ya know what? It was actually pretty freaking good! I knew of Death Note...saw a few episodes of the anime but never committed to watching the series...maybe I'll find the time now.
If you can get past the ridiculous premise the story is very engaging and you'll find yourself sympathizing with Light least for awhile.
Death Note is a great supernatural/psychological thriller that will have you glued to your TV or monitor as Light Yagami (Kira) and L  try to discover each other's identity. This battle is waged with one weapon, their intelligence and is the most fascinating thing to behold....the key is understanding the rules of the book. The two geniuses contrast each other as much as they compliment each other, they came off as the ying and yang of morality and justice to me! Death Note the live action film is a great pop corn flick that will grab your attention and not let's a bit campy at parts but the actors put 100% into the roles especially Tatsuya Fujiwara ( Light Yagami) and Kenichi Matsuyama (L) and it totally pays off with a conclusion that will leave you craving a sequel!
Which there is and I watched also. That review will come another time...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Video Game Console Commercials: Then and Now

Ahh the Atari 5200 "super" system, the first console I ever owned. Sure I played the 2600 but even as a wee lad I knew 5200 was higher than 2600 which could only mean one thing...more power!
I began my addiction at a young age playing such master pieces as Pac Man, The Dreadnaught Factor, Pole Position, Congo Bongo, joust and others. After seeing a commercial like the one below I have the urge to try hooking up my 5200 right now!

Bow your heads people, it's the NES! I don't know how Atari dropped the ball but thankfully the Nintendo Entertainment System revived the gaming industry...but it had help! Help from a little robot named Rob...he had your back when the going got tough Rob...uhh...well I don't really recall what the hell the stupid robot did.
Compared to todays system launches this little grey box came with all the fixin's! The console, 2 controllers, Rob, the Zapper, and 2 games! My friend CJ was the first kid in my neighborhood to own this marvel of technological goodness....8 bits of unbridled processing power! Holy Moses!! I remember wasting hours at his place playing Super Mario Bro's, the graphics had us glued to the TV. In the years that past I got to know Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Simon Belmont, Megaman, Golgo 13, the Vic Viper, Athena, the Contra bros., Soda Popinski, and many more.

After playing The NES till I was out of breath...if your old enough you know what I mean. I was hooked on Video Games again like a crack fiend! I had power....Nintendo power that is and when 8 bits became passe I heard rumblings of even greater power...16 bits of power. Jumpin Jehovas witnesses that was double the power, my mind couldn't concieve of such supernes.
Times they were a changin and now Sega had a console on the market, the Genesis. I remember seeing it at Toys R Us with a demo of Altered Beast, the game had real speach, my God what was next games on compact disks???!!! As I grew older, my addiction worsened I began going into the local game store and reading articles...there was no going back. Like the good crack addict I was, I waited to see what Nintendo's new system had and when I saw that little Italian plummer riding a dinosaur and sporting a cape my mind was made up, I needed SUPER power. And thus my third console was the Super Nintendo Entertainment System....

As the saying goes, all good things come to an end...
When I think back the SNES was honestly an amazing system, the sheer improvement of the games graphically, the audio, the size was memorable. I owned so many amazing titles on the SNES; Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart, Gradius III, Street Fighter II/ CE, CastleVania III, Act Raiser, and many more. Sega was already pushing ahead with their next console, the 32 bit Saturn and the industry was moving with them. Months passed and finally the folks at Nintendo announced the Ultra 64. I couldn't wait to find out more, but regrettibly we all did...wait, and wait and wait....
The Sega Saturn launched and many people who were waiting for Nintendo's next great console jumped ship and bought the Saturn, I waited some more. Soon a new player entered the ring Sony, and they also had a 32 bit console, the Playstation. I had seen the system displayed in store's all over, showcasing Battle Arena Toshinden a 3D fighter as well as Destruction Derby the graphics weren't as crisp and clean as some scans I'd seen of the next Mario title but the games looked fresh and fun. Then one day, without warning I made an implus purchase at a Kaybee toy store, I bought a Playstation....the Ultra 64 didn't come out till a year after I bought the Playstation. Sony was new to the video game world but they were determined and by the second year Sony had become a force to be reconed with in the console business....times were once again changing.

I admit I bought the PS1 on a whim, but I was not e ! The first game I bought for the PS1 was Akklaim's Alien Trilogy, a FPS that was scary as hell, the graphics were way beyond anything I saw on the SNES, and there was something different about this game and the many others I would buy, they were more mature. Realistic violence, blood, gore, cursewords Barret dropping the S-bomb in Final Fantasy VII >o.O<
The PS1 seemed to have an original title release each month, WarHawk, Twisted Metal, Crash Badicoot, Resident Evil, Colony Wars and Gran Turismo. And Sony also had some of the greatest games of existing franchises like Final Fantasy , CastleVania, Street Fighter Alpha and so many more! Other notable changes were the controller design and the games were on CD's instead of cartridges, and the cases for the games were eventually in CD jewel cases making starage simpler and made the medium seem more grown up. Around 1998 the industry was abuzz again with news of the next generation of consoles.
Three's company fours a crowd...
The three console makers were begining to release info on there next systems; Sony's PS2, Sega's Dreamcast, and Nintendo's Gamecube, but there would be another contender for the next generation Microsoft would launch the Xbox.
Sega was first out of the gate like last generation, launching the Dreamcast Sept. 1999 a little over a month later Sony launched the Playstation 2 and this time I wasn't buying a console on a whim, I had reserved my PS2 a year prior to launch and come Oct. 26, 2000 I was driving home with my fifth video game console. One of the great aspects of the PS2 was the fact it was the first backwards compatible system, so I was able to box up my PS1 but could still play all those PS1 titles!
A year later Nintendo launched the Gamecube and Microsoft launched the Xbox in November 2001.

The PS2 had a a good run, 7 years for me and some terrific games...just check out some of my reviews...SSX1 & 3, Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater, FFX, FFXI online, FFXII, Gran Turismo 3, God of War I & II, Socom, Grand Theft Auto III/ Vice City/San Andreas. Seven years and still selling strong says alot for the PS2, Sega called it quits in the hardware wars after the Dreamcast's premature death (Like I mentioned previously, three's company), the Gamecube's late release found Nintendo struggling to get third party support and Microsofts Xbox had a short but sweet run for it's first system...only four years.

December 2007 I got a Playstation 3. Sony's third system did not get the red carpet treatment this time out, the console launched on November 11th 2006 to mediocre sales and less than stellar media coverage. The first year didn't go as Sony planned but it seems Sony is getting down to business in 08. Just look at their latest advertising campaign, it's in your face, angry, and serious. Well that's it for now I'll see you when the next generation comes around, and if the PS2 lasted 7 years for me then it might be close to a decade before I do this again...

Friday, February 15, 2008

New Street Fighter IV videos

Some new footage of Street Fighter IV has hit the interknot! The new trailer showcases all the fighters announced so far, the two newest additions to the franchise are C.Viper and Abel. Is Abel Joe from Street Fighter I? He doesn't even know since he's got a bad case of amnesia!
C.Viper looks more impressive in motion and that intro trailer with her and Chun Li is gorgeous!
All the characters movements look very fluid and life like, my only cmplaint is Guile could use a bit of work in my opinion. And his level is very empty, it needs alot more added to it, Get a couple C-17's and a few F-22's taking off or landing. Altogether the game is coming along nicely can't wait to see some more fighters, and hopefully less Darkstalkers characters like SFIII had.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Teaser Trailer

Check it out! I've unearthed the first teaser trailer for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull! We get a glimpse at all Indy's other adventures and a few brief shots of Indiana meeting the US Army, I'm guessing on campus. Another shot shows Indy at a US Air Force guess Roswell New Mexico. And we also see Indy returning to that government warehouse where the Ark of the Covenant is stored, Perhaps it's at Roswell? And a couple shots of Cate Blanchett in the warehouse also. And what's in that crate marked top secret? The time frame is 1947 and at 1:38 seconds we see Indy swing into someone and kick him thru a window in what looks like a testing room and is that a jet engone on the floor? I have a feeling we're gonna get some laughs from the roswell scenes like our jet engine technology DID come from aliens!
Here's my theory on how the movie will flow...
Indy @ University, Indy gets "picked up" by the US government, US government needs Indy's expertise about some ancient civilization, Indy's brought to Roswell, Russians try to steal that top secret crate in the warehouse, Indy's travels to South America to find something....Yeah it's vague but that's all I got for now.
Fortune and Glory kid, fortune and glory....

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Super Puzzle Fighter II

Way back when the PS1 was coming out with a new "must have" title every week I picked up a little puzzle game from Capcom, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, it was your run of the mill puzzle game but it had ultra cute, super deformed versions of characters from Capcom's Street Fighter and Dark Stalkers franchises. You could choose from Ryu, Ken, Chun Li, Sakura from Street Fighter or Morrigan, Felicia, Hsein-Ko, Donovan from Dark Stalkers and battle your way to the final "boss". The game droped pairs of colored gems that could be grouped together to form larger gems of the same color, to destroy these gems a "bomb" would randomly come in a pair and by making contact with the matching color you would destroy the gem. After destroying a gem or a gem cluster you'd drop a layer of countdown gems on your opponent, each character had a unique "drop pattern" so this could throw off your opponents plans if suddenly they're giant gem was no longer acessable and they had to wait three seconds for the droped gems to become vunerable to bombs. At first the game seems simplistic, but don't let the adorable super deformed characters fool you this puzzle game is deep and against a player that knows your characters drop pattern they could use your drops against you.
With the advent of high definition Capcom has gone back to the drawing board (literally) and with the help of Backbone entertainment and Udon artists have painstakeingly redrawn every single character, background, and effect and made it 1080p resolution! The game is absolutely gorgeous to look at and plays even better than the original, the sound is crisp clear and loud. Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix is available on the PSN and XBLA for only $9.99, pick it up today and test your puzzle fighting skills online. It's addictive simple fun!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD remix

Capcom made this little gem (pun intended) for the PS1 and it has grown an underground fandome, I had it for the PS1 and downloaded the HD remix last week from the PSN. The 1080p face lift and rebalanced X' mode improves this "super" fun little puzzle game. The sound and effects are all terrific. The game becomes even more entertaining when you play online and for the low low price of $9.99 on the PSN it's a great little game when you need a breather from Call of Duty and Rock Band!
With the quality of the visual's redone for Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo I am extremely anxious to see the final results of Udon & Backbone's work on Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD remix.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Street Fighter IV Famitsu scans and video montage

A new video montage of some of Street Fighter IV's fighters has hit the web! We get to see Chun Li, Guile, E. Honda, Dhalsim, Zangief and C. Viper.
The stills are impressive, the effects such as Guile's summersault kick look really great. I can't wait to see some more video from Capcom with these fighters.

I <3 Liberty City

Rock Star North's flagship franchise is almost here and I'll sent you a postcard from Liberty City. I never visited San Andreas, but after my time in sunny Vice City I'm looking forward to returning to my old stomping grounds. And if you're new to Liberty City be sure to check out all the city has to offer at the official website!

And enjoy the trailers for GTA IV below! This game is gonna be incredible!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Retro Review: Life Force

In a remote quadrant of the universe there was hatched a hideous creature. His proud parents, Ma & Pa Deltoid, named their only son Zelos, which in alien lingo means "one mean son of a gun."As Zelos grew into an adult space monster, his appetite turned ravenous, his temper became ruthless, and his
name proved an understatement. It didn't take long for Zelos to leave the nest and go out on his own, devouring everything in sight, including three galaxies, four hundred planets, two trillion life forms and a side order of stars.Then your innocent galaxy appeared on Zelos's menu, and he chowed on an entree of
roast Gradius, with the planet Latis for dessert. Now, the only chance these civilizations have of escaping from his digestive tract lies with
you and your starfighting partner.

In 1988, one year after Konami released Gradius the Vic Viper was once again needed against a new galactic threat, Zelos!
Life Force contained six levels, four from the arcade game and two for the console version. Life Force offered a much different experience from Gradius and could almost be mistaken for a different game altogether. Levels one, three and five scroll horizontally like Gradius but levels two, four and six scroll vertically. Life force has a much more organic feel to the majority of the levels and some of the levels seem very out of place in this "space shooter", most notibly levels 4 and 5! Fying thru intestines, a gold rib cage and the boss is a floating skull that uses it's eyeballs as projectiles or an Egyptian pyramid and battling King Tut in space >O.o<

The power up system from Gradius was retained for the NES port. Power ups available were Speed, missile,ripple laser, option and force.

Another original aspect was cooperative play in Life Force, two players teaming up to destroy Zelos, one piloting the Vic Viper and the other piloting the Lord British!

The following score is based on my memory of the game and is compared to games of that period.


Reminder,CoD4 Game of the Year 07

In case you missed my review of CoD4,

and are still wondering if you should drop the cash on CoD4. Hey the industry experts all agree CoD4 = GotY!! Still not convinced?

Listen to the Escapist! He'll set you straight.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Movie Review: Dragon Wars

My sincerest apologies to anyone who paid money to see this in the theaters, or bought this steaming pile of excrement on DVD! Fortunately I borrowed a copy from a co worker and still felt violated after sitting thru *most* of it....I couldn't do it man, it's that bad!
I remember sitting home on Sunday afternoon's as a kid watching channel 11's Godzilla flick, I loved Godzilla and his crazy monster pals like Jet Jaguar and King Ghidora even the newer Heisei and Milenium series are fun to watch as an adult.
This movie tanks on every level; acting is atrocious, the actors must've been desperate for a paycheck, the audio sync is off throughout the movie, the CG serpents stand out like a sore thumb, there is no sensible transition between scenes...perfect example big battle in down town LA, segways to a scene where the lead female is tied down on a sacrafical altar in front of the tower of Orthank from LotR: TTT! O.o WTF!? The evil villan looks like he belongs in a Mortal Kombat movie. Lets go back to the battle in LA for a moment, an army of CGI clones obviously inspired by 300 and the LotR trilogies just show up in LA riding veloceraptors and lumbering lizards with rocket launchers strapped to their back and what looked suspiciously similar to Nazgul wyrms.
The military comes to the rescue when the proverbial shit hits the proverbial fan with tanks chopers and fully auto assault rifles....but they loose! O.o
There was absolutely nothing special about the special effects in this action packed part of D-Wars
Apache Helicopters flying top speed thru a metropolitan area doing 90 degree turns to evade the dragons. Gawd Awful!!!
This movie makes Snakes on a Plane look like Shakespeare.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Game Review: Rock Band

For those about to rock, we salute you!
I bought Rock Band the other day as a belated Xmas gift for the wife, it's pricey but alotta fun! We made a band, she plays the guitar and I'm on drums. Rock Band offers some deep customization for your avatar, hair style / color, body physique, clothing, tattoos, onstage movements, and instruments. Band World Tour mode lets bands play in 41 different venues spanning 17 cities, including Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, New York, London, Sydney, Stockholm, and Rome. Playing gigs in differnt cities around the world to build up your fan base and earn $ for all sorts of stuff from new equipment to tats and clothes. If your band is rockin the bells the crowd starts singing along, but if you screw up a gig you loose fans, I lost our band 7,000 fans today because I tanked a song.
Rock Band boasts an impressive list of songs from some incredible bands like Sound Garden, the Ramones, Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica, the Rolling Stones, Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, the Foo Fighters, the Police, Iron Maiden, Weezer, the Beastie Boys, Rush, Aerosmith, Stone Temple Pilots, Bon Jovi, the Killers, and the Who!
Aside from World Tour, Rock Band offers Solo Quickplay which consists of Tug of War and Score Duel for players to compete against each other. Band Quickplay allows two - four players to play any song in the game offline or online. You can also take your custom avatar online and jam with others rock stars around the world, four players can join up and rock out. Each player can play at their own experience level so if you're a new guitar player you could potentially be jammin with a pro.
Rock Band is expensive, aprox $180.00 USD but you get alot for the money a wireless (PS3) Fender Stratocaster style guitar, a drum pad set that has four color coded pads and a kick pedal for the bass drum, and a custom Rock Band mic. The game is great fun for parties and individuals alike and has infinte replay value especially when DLC is factored in.
For those players looking to expand their Rock Band experience even further check out ! The site offers some really cool things for the Rock Band community.
Interstingly my wife absolutely loves Rock Band yet she is an an avid video game hater, and my seven year old neice didn't like it after trying it. I found it an easy game to pick up and play with a huge spectrum of difficulty levels from super easy songs to insanely crazy hard songs (I choose drums), and rumor has it that if players can play the drums on hard then you can play the drums in real life....I have a way to go lol.

Retro Review: Gradius

Lets keep it going old school for awhile, the next review is one of my favorite space shooters of all time, Gradius! Introduced around 1985 by Konami, Gradius became one of their most popular franchises in the eighties. The first game had you piloting the Vic Viper in a battle against the evil Bacterions....yeah yeah it sounds really corny but back then you didn't need a script and Hollywood voice actors to make a great game all you needed was great game play a unique soundtrack.
Gradius offered six power ups via red orbs attained by shooting certain enemy vessels or a squadron of Bacterion fighters.
  1. Speed up: Increase the velocity of the Vic Viper
  2. Missile: Vic Viper drops missiles that fall to the ground and travel until they reach a target
  3. Double: Shoots two shots diagonally forward
  4. Laser: Duh
  5. Option: Gives you up to three orbs that follow you and shoot when you shoot
  6. ? : A powerful blast that would clear the screen of all enemies.
You couldn't have all six power ups at the same time so there was a hint of customization. The levels were very unique and each challenged more than the last as squads of Bacterion ships zipped past in formation and ground troops would spray the air with shots, players needed strong hand eye coordination. Gradius had very well drawn and animated sprites and the bosses for each level were large and formidable, defeating them took time and patience as you needed to shoot thru multiple defense barriers to reach it's core, when the core turned red victory was imminent.
Konami's Gradius was so successful in Japan and the US that the series had many sequels over the years and has spawned a cultish fan base. ^ ^ v v < > < > B A

The following score is based on my memory of the game and is compared to games of that period.