Wednesday, February 29, 2012
TV: I don't usually start off the blog with a bit about TV or movies, but I think in this case I'm going to make an exception...
Earlier this week, my wife and I were in-between some of our other series, and we were looking to start something new. I had remembered reading something about a UK show called Misfits and while ago, but it was nothing specific -- essentially, that it was good, and that it was about juvenile delinquents or kids in rehab (or something like that) who gain special powers and then proceed to get into all sorts of trouble. We popped for the entire first season on iTunes for $12 or so, and sat down for the first couple of episodes.
People, this show is absolutely fantastic.
Now, apparently people in the UK and some super-cool folks on this side of the water have known about the show for a while, but it was new to me and after having conversations with some people on Twitter and otherwise, I'm guessing that it will be new to many of you, as well. Here's the scoop:
Five ne’er-do-wells are sent to do community service at a local neighborhood center, and while they are on their first day of trash pickup duty, a mysterious storm strikes and gives them all powers that (from our perspective, anyway) directly relate to their personalities in some way.
There have been many TV shows and movies that take the same basic "suddenly gained powers" premise, but the thing that makes Misfits stand out to me is that the characters are so flawed, human, and relatable. I've known people exactly like those on the show, and the things that happened to them and the way they use (and fumble with) their powers is totally believable… I could easily imagine a group of troubled teenagers getting into the kinds of sticky situations that happen on the show, and the fact that no one in the fact that no one turns out to be an intrinsic superman makes it even better.
The actors do a fantastic job in their roles, the writing is character-driven and feels genuine, and the plot and scripting overall is tight and engaging. We've been watching two or three episodes a night, and the show just keeps getting better.
Misfits is the goods. Highest possible recommendation.
Games: Most probably due to her upcoming role as a playable fighter in Street Fighter X Tekken, pink-haired, handcuff-sporting Poison has been popping up all over articles, online and on Twitter lately. If you don't know who she is, Poison (to my knowledge, anyway) is one of the only transgender characters in gaming who's gained a solid level of visibility and a decent fanbase considering that her exposure over the years has been far less frequent than some of the other well-known faces that one would usually associate with Capcom, or fighting games.
I mentioned in another blog recently that Official PlayStation Magazine had published an article recurring to Poisoned with some transphobic language, and afterwards, had committed to correcting the mistake and doing the right thing. In case you missed that the first time around, you can check it out right here.
The next thing that caught my attention was a link to a well-done YouTube video that essentially takes every single piece of information relating to Poison and her background and pretty clearly settles the dispute about her status once and for all. Despite plenty of evidence suggesting that Poison has always been transgender, a certain segment of gaming has been trying to argue that she wasn't originally intended to be that sort of character, or that her identity varies depending on what region the game is being played in. You can see the video right here, and my hat is off to MegatonStammer for doing such a classy job with making his case and clearing the air.
Finally, my good friend @ApricotSushi posted a link to her blog, where she had posted a picture taken of a very special, one-of-a-kind custom arcade stick made for @Pikoeri. Fair warning, the pictures of this arcade stick might be considered NSFW in some circumstances, and since the hardware in question features Poison, you can probably guess what it looks like if you think about it for a little bit... Anyway, I thought it was rather clever and cool, so you can click right here to the source and check it out.
Games: I'm in a bit of a holding pattern right now… Mass Effect 3 is coming up soon and I want to have a clear slate for when it arrives, so I'm trying not to start anything substantial at the moment. As a result, I've been putting some time into Mutant Blobs Attack, Army Corps of Hell and Hot Shots on the Vita, but it's been mostly at night before going to bed, or when I catch a few minutes turning some downtime at work. No hefty progress on any of them, and certainly not enough to bang out a review quite yet.
Otherwise, I went through Alan Wake’s American Nightmare on XBLA recently, and the review is in the can. It hasn't gone up at GameCritics yet, but it should be soon. If you are the patient type, then in a nutshell, I thought it was pretty decent from a run-and-gun perspective, but the series is still not living up to its full potential, conceptually.
After American Nightmare, I finally got around to the Missing Link DLC for Deus Ex: Human Revolution and finished that off with the ‘no guns/explosives/augmenations’ Achievement. It really wasn't that hard, and the adventure overall wasn't bad. I'm just now wrapping up the review, so look for that soon. If you need to know what I thought of it right now, in a nutshell, I'd say that it would be a good purchase for fans of the main campaign if you can get it on sale (got mine for half off) but the idea that this add-on actually takes place in the story is pretty absurd.
Books: I haven't talked about writing or books for a while, so let's change that now.
My favorite author in the entire world is Joe R. Lansdale, and he’s got a new book available for pre-order over at Amazon. I could spend paragraphs talking about his work, his influence on me, and how much I admire his skill, but rather than doing all that, let me just say again:
He is my favorite author in the world. Full stop.
Google him, go to his website, ask any author who knows their stuff, and after you've done all that, then click on over to Amazon and pre-order his next piece, Edge of Dark Water.
J.U.L.I.A. FREE PUBLIC DEMO NOW AVAILABLE
Developer CBE software and Publisher Lace Mamba Global are releasing a free public demo for the upcoming science fiction adventure J.U.L.I.A. today: The demo is approximately 276 MB big and now available for download and free distribution.
The free demo allows players to dip right into the start of the adventure, experience the introduction to the game, solve the first few puzzles and travel to the first planet in the solar system the game is taking place in.
The upcoming science fiction adventure game J.U.L.I.A is scheduled for a UK and Irish retail release on March 02nd, 2012.
J.U.L.I.A. is a narrative driven adventure game in a science-fiction scenario: In the year 2430, Rachel Manners, a 35 year old astrobiologist and member of an elite group of scientists, which is sent off in a giant space ship to mankind’s most exciting space mission: to explore the first ever discovered extra-terrestrial life-forms.
Players are taking over the control of Rachel, and have to utilize the Mobot as well as J.U.L.I.A. During their adventure, they will visit six different planets.
Lace Mamba Global plans to release J.U.L.I.A. worldwide, starting in the UK and Ireland on March 02nd, 2012. The demo is available here: http://www.gamefront.com/files/21361597/julia_demo_setup_exe
Introducing Break Blocks, a break dancing, action puzzle game. Proceeds from each sale donated to charity.
Greater Good Games is a two-man, independent game studio whose creators’ dream is to use their passion for making games to help others. The studio was co-founded by Dayle Flowers, a former Tripwire Interactive employee, and one of the driving forces behind both Killing Floor and Red Orchestra 2, and Noah Wood, an illustrator and game enthusiast. Greater Good Games was built upon a commitment to charity, and shares a portion of the proceeds from every single sale with the charity "Doctors without Borders". The Greater Good Games financial mission can be found at the finances section of their website (http://www.greatergoodgames.org/), to explain how that works.
Greater Good Games' debut title is Break Blocks, an action puzzle game which fuses the beat-based mechanics of games like Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution with a color-based block puzzle. You play as a young break dancer who must defeat a cast of 13 of the world’s most notorious dancers by building colored blocks and clearing them to perform dance moves. Blocks are built in time with the beat and then placed on the circular dance floor. The object is not only to group primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) together, but also to connect them by using secondary colors (purple, orange and green) as a bridge to clear more blocks, and unleash more intense break dance moves.
Break Blocks will be available through the Greater Good Games website (http://www.greatergoodgames.org/) on February 29th, using a pay-what-you-want model.
Sine Mora, the highly-anticipated shmup from Digital Reality and Grasshopper Manufacture coming exclusively to Xbox LIVE® Arcade for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, will be heading to XBLA gamers everywhere on March 21, 2012 for 1,200 Microsoft Points.
Sine Mora caters for all audiences with its varied levels of challenge, but one thing is for sure: regardless of the difficulty level it is played on, everybody will discover plenty of ways to be obliterated in the game, as shown in the latest trailer titled “From Dust to Dust”: http://www.blogger.com/goog_1763002849
Co-developed by Grasshopper Manufacture and Digital Reality, and published by Microsoft Studios, Sine Mora is a dieselpunk shoot 'em up that provides a unique take on the genre, where time is the ultimate factor. Mixing classic shooter sensibilities with next-gen presentation, Sine Mora is a gorgeous shmup that appeals to both hardcore and casual gamers alike. Coming exclusively to Xbox LIVE Arcade, Sine Mora features over 60 combinations of planes, characters and time manipulation devices to complete every beautifully-crafted stage with scaling difficulty. All of this is set to an epic score of soaring heights, composed by Akira Yamaoka, acclaimed for his works onShadows of the Damned and the Silent Hill series.
For more information about Sine Mora, please visit the official website: http://sinemoragame.com/, or follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/SINE_MORA.
Cute and cuddly dancing bears are headed to your mobile device! StormCellar, a publisher of entertaining children’s Apps for mobile devices and tablets, along with CrazyBird Studios, today announced plans to release 3D Bears, a children’s App that lets you dress up loveable bears and take them out on the dance floor for some silly fun. 3D Bears features simple and approachable gameplay specifically designed to maximize entertainment for young App users (even toddlers). Dress-up and dance when3D Bears comes to the App®Store, Android Market and Amazon AppStore this March.
3D Bears, which provides unmatched App animation and production quality, is the brainchild of some of the most creative and award-winning producers and artists in the children’s entertainment industry. Collectively, the Stormcellar team brings more than 50 years of experience to the table with the team having a hand in major projects such as Disney films Hercules and Mulan, feature films Stuart Little and Titanic, children’s TV seriesSpecial Agent Oso, Fatherhood, Hey Arnold, Little Mermaid and video games Star Wars: Demolition, Ready 2 Rumble 2 and NBA ’08.
3D Bears will be available on the App Store for iOS devices and on the Android Market and Amazon AppStore for Android devices, optimized for the Samsung Galaxy, the Motorola Xoom, and the Kindle Fire.
For more information about 3D Bears, please visit www.3DBears.net. Like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/3dbears. Or visit our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/3dbears
After wrapping up the beat-em-up gore-fest that is Shank 2 (available now on PC, PSN, and XBLA!), indie studio Klei Entertainment is going in a stealthier new direction with their next project. Without further ado, we're pleased to reveal Klei's next endeavor, Mark of the Ninja ... a text adventure!
(...or is it?)
Check out http://www.markoftheninja.com/ to find out for yourself.
RED 5 STUDIOS ANNOUNCES FIREFALL BATTLEFRAME TRAILER CHALLENGE
Chance to Win a Trip to PAX East 2012, an Alienware™ Laptop, or ASTRO A40 Audio System
Red 5 Studios™ announced today the launch of its Battleframe Trailer Challenge, a contest for creative gamers to show off their video-making ability, explore brand new Firefall footage, and compete for awesome prizes – including a trip to PAX East 2012. Red 5 is accepting entries now until March 16th, when the winners are announced. Contestants can submit their completed trailers via Youtube at the official contest page: http://bit.ly/firefallchallenge
Participants will be given previously-unreleased raw gameplay footage along with a handful of music tracks. They’ll have until March 16th to craft a flashy trailer/commercial that highlights their favorite battleframe and submit the Youtube link for entry. Red 5 encourages contestants to enter and promote their trailers as early as possible, as the winners will be decided using a special Red 5 algorithm that incorporates the “likes” and “views” of each Youtube submission.
• First Place: An all-expenses-paid* trip for two to PAX East 2012 in Boston, along with $500 spending money.
*Red 5 will cover up to $1,500 per round-trip ticket ($3,000 maximum).
• Second Place: An Alienware M14x laptop containing an Intel Core™ i7 processor, 4GB DDR3 Memory, and GeForce 555M 3GB Graphics Card.
• Third Place: An ASTRO Gaming A40 Audio System featuring a Firefallbranded A40 Headset and MixAmp™ Pro.
Participants can visit http://bit.ly/firefallchallenge to download the official “asset package” and find additional contest details and rules.