Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Avengers, Kid's TV, Splatoon, Darksiders, Race The Sun and Demons' Souls  


Welcome back to Coffeecola!

For a little change of pace tonight, I’m gonna start with non-game stuff.

 First up, The Avengers: Age Of Ultron!

We wanted to avoid the crowds of opening day, so we waited a good little while and caught it on an early matinee. Not gonna say much about it other than that we had a great time – plenty of spectacle, awesome special effects, and another super-solid Marvel movie in the can. Totally worth the price of admission.

Oh, and about the controversy regarding female characters? I gotta say, I felt like the backlash against Joss Whedon was really, really overblown. Black Widow was kidnapped for, like, 5 minutes (maybe?) and the mutual discussion of fertility with the Hulk felt natural and not-a-big-deal to me.

And as far as Hawkeye’s wife "being in the kitchen" and all that, she's… a housewife. They do exist. She's also the smarter of the pair, and she's clearly the emotional center that keeps Hawk’s head on straight.

Some people obviously disagree, but I felt like nothing in the film was particularly offensive in that regard, and certainly not enough to drive Joss off of Twitter. And, as I mentioned on the day that we saw the film, the very first thing my son said as we left the theater, unprompted, was that "Black Widow rocks". So, I guess to my six-year-old she still seems like a strong, capable woman worth looking up to, and I would agree.

Speaking of things to watch, I asked Twitter for TV recommendations that were fun for both parents and kids. We got a number of really good animated shows name-checked (which was awesome) but I was surprised to see that there were barely any suggestions for live action.

For example, we really like watching The Flash, Face Off, America's Funniest Home Videos, any sort of animal documentary, pretty much anything on Food Network, Dirty JobsDr. Who, Star Trek and so forth… But we’re out of stuff to watch!

Anyway, if you have a favorite show to watch with your kids, drop me a line and let me know… I'm looking for more ideas, and I'm sure there are a million things out there that would fit the bill.

Okay, enough of TV and movies. Let's talk about games.

The release of Splatoon is nearly upon us. My son and I took part in the demo that ran last weekend, and it seemed promising. There wasn't anything to see outside of the team vs team multiplayer, though. It was fun enough for the two hours that we played, but I can't say that I was dying to play more of it. I would be interested in checking out the solo campaign, though. The characters are cute and who doesn't like squids?

That said, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, and one of the hosts suggested that if Splatoon had been on any system other than Nintendo, people wouldn't have given it a second glance. I gotta say, I think I agree. If it had come out for $10 on PSN, or as a steam early access release, I doubt anyone would've cared about it, but it's about to become the subject of a lot of attention thanks its visibility and ‘new IP’ status with the Big N.

In case you haven't checked out the free releases for PS Plus members lately, one of special note this month is Race The Sun. I heard about it when it hit PC a while ago, but after having played it on the Vita, it feels like it was made for Sony's handheld.

Basically, the player controls a solar-powered ship which must zoom across the landscape as quickly as possible before the sun sets. It's very minimal, has a very austere visuals (in a good way!) and lends itself to short play sessions. I wasn't sure how I felt about it at first, but after repeated plays I think it's pretty awesome. And, since it's free right now, there's no excuse not to pick it up.

Finally, the wife was looking for some new stuff to play and she decided on a couple of recent classics. The first? Darksiders from the now-defunct Vigil Games.

I liked it a lot when it first came out in 2010, and I have to say it's still pretty incredible. The graphics look great, the gameplay is still engaging, and everything about it really pops. It feels like it hasn’t aged a bit in the last 5 years, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants a slightly more adult-skewing Zelda-flavored game.

As I watched the wife roll credits on it, I was (again) struck by how cool the ending cliffhanger was. It sucks that the developers didn't follow up directly and instead went with their Death-themed sequel. I felt that one went off the rails with a bad case of the bloats, but the first one is still dynamite.

After Darksiders, the wife moved onto Demon’s Souls. She's already been through Bloodborne and Dark Souls II (vanilla) so she’s pretty experienced with Fromsoft games these days, and knowing how much of a fan she is, I told her that Demon’s was a must –play. Which it is.

As expected, she took to it right away and blew through the first area, no problem. In fact, it was quite a long time before she even died, so I think she'll be just fine for the course of the adventure.

I haven't played it myself since the game came out in 2009, so getting the chance to revisit was pretty amazing. Although the graphics are a step down from the more recent releases and some of the systems are still crappy (those godawful menu symbols!!) the game gets a hell of a lot right, and it's fascinating to see how the series has deviated from some of the initial designs.

For example, the opening cinematic and beginning of Demon’s spell out exactly what's going on in the land, and the player’s situation is crystal clear. There are also a ton of speaking NPCs, both in in the main hub and out in the world… I had forgotten how much of a role these faces played, honestly! I'm also still a massive fan of the Nexus… I think it's probably one of my favorite locations in any game, ever.  

I can’t wait to see what the wife makes of the story, as I think it's probably the best-told and most satisfying of the series so far.

The last time I checked, Demon’s Souls was on PSN for something like $5, which is an absolute steal for something that I consider to be a true masterpiece. If you’re a fan of the Souls games and haven’t checked it out, you’re missing what I consider to be the finest one.

Thanks for reading! 


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