Thursday, January 31, 2008

Game Preview: The Club

Imagine an organization so hidden and secretive, that only a few people around the globe know of its existence. Powerful leaders in The Club "recruit" outsiders to fight in their violent underground blood spot, like ancient gladiators. The combatants have only one option: kill or be killed.

At first glance, Sega’s The Club looks like every other shooting game out there. Big guys carrying even bigger guns running around killing everybody. Been there, done that. But on closer inspection you realize there’s more to it than that. Developed by Bizarre Creations, the guys behind Project Gotham Racing, The Club feels more like an arcade game than your typical shooting game.

The objectives of the game are simple: kill everybody as fast as you can. The camera is behind your character’s shoulder, similar to Gears of War, but unlike that game you won’t be finding cover behind walls and obstacles or you will lose. On the contrary, the game encourages you to sprint as fast as possible, killing off your enemies in as little time as possible to score massive points and combos. You get more points the closer you get to shooting an enemy’s head, with head shots giving you the most points, and satisfaction. This is why it feels like an arcade game. No time to waste staring at the pretty graphics.

I must admit my adrenaline was pumped while blazing through the levels, especially in Time Attack mode. The timer is constantly depleting, like, super fast, and only killing your opponents fills it up a bit. You also have to find and shoot clock signs hidden throughout the levels, which improve your chances of success. Did I mention there’s also a set target score for each difficulty level? Yes, you’ll have to beat a time limit and a target score.

With four levels of difficulty, 20 different kinds of weapons, 8 massive stages, a time attack mode, tournaments, and intense multiplayer it seems like The Club will be a sadistic fun ride, at least until the next big shooter comes along.

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Wii Virtual Console Review: Virtua Fighter 2

Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
Console: Genesis
Release Date: 1996

The second Virtua Fighter tournament sees every original fighter returning, plus two newcomers: the young and agile Lion Rafale and the old drunken master Shun Di. Oh wait, my bad, this is the Genesis port and Lion and Shun Di are inexplicably absent. That’s right, take one of the best parts of the arcade game, the new characters, and completely remove them for the port. Way to go, Sega! Dammit, if the Genesis can’t handle that many characters or moves, then maybe the Genesis is not the best console to port a complex 3D fighting game to.

The game’s graphics are not awful, but by 1996 the Saturn, PlayStation and Nintendo 64 were already out and could deliver true 3D graphics, so this Genesis port ends up looking pretty bad. The game uses 2D graphics for the characters and weird, horribly pixelated parallax backgrounds that resemble buildings and trees. The characters are stiffer than boards and the animation is profoundly lame. There are only a handful of stages and they are recycled with different colors. Super lame. I hope someone can someday tell me why they nixed Lion and Shun Di but could add Dural, the final boss, as a hidden playable character. Even weirder than that, she appears all blocky like she did in the arcade. The game has 2D sprites so why the hell was she drawn blocky? Her stage is an underwater ruin and makes the battle take forever with intentional slowdown. Underwater, slow movements… oh I get it, it’s supposed to be realistic. If it’s realistic why are people fighting a metallic woman under the sea? I’ll just never understand why Sega released this turd.

The controls are also terrible. After playing for over an hour I had performed a total of zero throws on my opponents, but had been thrown more times than I could count. What’s up with that? Jumping is as useless as in the arcade, so at least that’s accurate. The game is somewhat playable, but I rather wrestle with my opponents instead of the controller.

Now for the worst part; the sound. Everyone knows the Genesis’ sound chip was ass when it came to voice samples, but some games managed to pull this off. Sadly, Virtua Fighter 2 has some of the worst if not the worst voice samples ever. Even the NES did a better job. Besides the regular grunts and screams each character has an unintentionally funny winning quote or laugh that will make you either run for the nearest bible out of sheer terror or end up in a hospital’s emergency room from laughing so hard. The worst sounds, by far, are Wolf’s howl and Pai Chan’s laugh. Every single music track is bad enough to cause brain tumors.

The arcade and Saturn versions of Virtua Fighter 2 were awesome, hell, even the PC version was good. The Sega Genesis was a cool console with many memorable games, but this was not one of them. Greed can be a powerful ally, but it can also ruin the fun of a great fighting game by porting it to the wrong system. Spend your Wii points elsewere.


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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Movie Review: Balls of Fury

Dan Fogler, Christopher Walken, George Lopez, Maggie Q, James Hong, Robert Patrick, Thomas Lennon, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

Robert Ben Garant (Reno 911! Miami)

MPAA Rating:
PG-13 for crude and sex-related humor, and for language.

Release Date:
August 2007

Former ping pong pro Randy Daytona is down on his luck and down on his game when FBI agent Ernie Rodriguez recruits him for a mission he can't refuse -- to smoke out the evil Feng, his father's killer. With the help of a blind ping pong sage and an expert trainer, Daytona travels to Feng's jungle compound where he'll face a raft of formidable players en route to the prize.

My Two Cents:
Nobody gives a shit about ping pong, and having a life or death ping pong tournament with Christopher Walken as the ringleader is perhaps the biggest joke of all. The best ping pong players from around the world are invited to participate in this sudden death tournament that takes place in a secret location. Sounds familiar? Well, besides the ping pong part it sounds a lot like Mortal Kombat. On top of that, the guy that personally sends out the invites is Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, the guy that played Shang Tsung in the Mortal Kombat movie. Isn’t that cool?

You’ll notice there are a few actors you’ve previously seen on Comedy Central’s Reno 911! and that’s because the film is directed by Robert Ben Garant, who plays Deputy Travis Junior, and also directed the movie version of that show. I happen to like Reno 911! and have enjoyed his work since he was in MTV’s The State back in 1993.

The main character, Randy Daytona, is played by Dan Fogler. He’s not as recognized as Jack Black (Shallow Hal) or Seth Rogen (Knocked Up), but that could change. This guy is pretty funny. Maybe it’s because he looks like a fat piece of shit, but he also has nice comedic timing critical to any leading funnyman. I’m looking forward to this guy in upcoming movies.

The rest of the cast does a good job of being stupid asses as well. Christopher Walken seems incapable of saying “no” to a job, so he’ll appear in every roll he is offered. That’s alright, because he really seems to have fun in this movie playing Feng, the creepy, freaky and a little gay main bad guy. James Hong plays a blind ping pong master that falls down a lot. We all saw that coming, but his lines are among the funniest. My favorite quote: “Ping Pong is not the Macarena. It takes patience. She is like a fine, well-aged prostitute. It takes years to learn her tricks. She is cruel, laughs at you when you are naked, but you keep coming back for more, and more! Why? Because she is the only prostitute I can afford...”

With a title like “Balls of Fury” you can not expect Shakespeare-like dialog or a love story like Titanic. You do get absolute stupidity, ridiculous characters and an absurd plot. Sounds like shit, I know, but it works to some degree. Some people don’t “get” comedies like this one so they bash them. I say “fuck you” to everyone that watches a comedy with “balls” in the title and expects Oscar-worthy screenplays and performances. Exchange your brain for a bowl of popcorn and you’ll find yourself laughing at the stupidity that is Balls of Fury.


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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Game Music Test

You might have collected all 120 stars in Super Mario 64, found all 13 skulls in Halo 3, acquired every piece of heart in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and unlocked every multiplayer character skin in Resistance: Fall of Man. But can you guess these five songs from five different old-school games? Bonus points if you also know the video's intro and outro songs.

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Babes of Gaming: I-No

Little is known about this time-traveling, guitar-playing diva from the Guilty Gear fighting game series. She is a loyal follower and servant of “That Man”, the mysterious entity responsible for the Holy Wars. I-No is kind of a jerk, constantly insulting everyone around her and making naughty sexual comments. Her desire to please That Man often drives her to act recklessly, beating the shit out of people that may have been potential obstacles for him without his permission. This occasionally results in I-No being punished by her master. She probably enjoys it anyway.

I-No’s character design is based on Japanese singer and guitarist Ringo Shiina, right down to her sexy mole, her Duesenberg Starplayer guitar, and even her November 25 birthday. As with every other Guilty Gear character, I-No’s special moves are named after popular songs and albums. These include “Chemical Love” (Stevie Wonder), “Last Will and Testament” (The Lurkers), and “Megalomania” (Aria). Her stage in Guilty Gear XX has the word “Innuendo” in the background, a reference to an album by Queen, and one of her winning poses has I-No playing part of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Mr. Crowley” on her guitar.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Movie Review: Crank

Jason Statham, Amy Smart, José Pablo Cantillo, Dwight Yoakam, Efren Ramirez, Carlos Sanz, Reno Wilson

Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor

MPAA Rating:
R for strong violence, pervasive language, sexuality, nudity and drug use.

Release Date:
September 2006

Hit man Chev Chelios tears through the streets of Los Angeles in a race to save his own life and his girlfriend Eve in this ticking time bomb of a thriller. The freelance killer is poisoned when a mob job goes wrong, and the clock starts ticking when Chelios learns he can elude death if he keeps his adrenaline pumping. With no time to waste, Chelios rampages through the city hoping to save Eve and find an antidote.

My Two Cents:
Playing out more as a dark comedy than a thriller, Crank delivers all that the trailer promised; intense nonstop action. It’s great that the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously because, like both Transporter movies, it’s filled with unrealistic stuns and impossible situations. But unlike The Transporter, I didn’t mind and even wanted more crazy stuff.

When Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) wakes up feeling like shit after being injected with a poison called the Beijing Cocktail that will kill him in about an hour, he slowly realizes the only way to delay the Grim Reaper's visit is to pump his adrenaline level through the roof, keeping his heart beating as fast as he can. Being a hit man he won’t just try to find an a cure for his condition, he also wants revenge on the assholes who did this to him.

Jason Statham (War, The Italian Job) is the perfect actor for this role because he only needs to kick ass and look cool while doing it, and that’s pretty much what he does in all his movies. Amy Smart (Road Trip) plays Eve, his girlfriend, and country music singer Dwight Yoakam (Panic Room) plays Miles, his doctor. The bad guys are played by unknowns, but they do their job well enough not to suck or overact.

The movie is over in less than 90 minutes and the action is fast and furious from start to finish thanks to some nifty editing and a nice pacing. There are video game references, plenty of naked chicks, a high body count, a sex scene in public, and an interesting “what the fuck?” ending. Oh right, there are also a few shots of Statham’s bare ass for the ladies. If adrenaline-pumping action with little plot is what you crave, Crank is what you should watch.


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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Weekend Box Office Report: Jan 25-27

What the hell happened this weekend? Rambo debuted at #2, losing the top spot to Meet the Spartans. How did that happen? I guess people were not that interested in a 61-year-old Vietnam War veteran slaughtering Thais. Another interesting thing is that Cloverfield dropped from 1st spot to the 4th, losing serious steam as people no longer give a fuck about the lame-looking monster.

1. Meet the Spartans
This week: $18,725,000

Total: $18,725,000

2. Rambo
This week: $18,150,000

Total: $18,150,000

3. 27 Dresses
This week: $13,600,000

Total: $45,347,000

4. Cloverfield
This week: $12,700,000 - Total: $64,294,000

5. Untraceable
This week: $11,200,000 - Total: $11,200,000

6. Juno
This week: $10,300,000 - Total: $100,152,000

7. The Bucket List
This week: $10,210,000 - Total: $57,684,000

8. There Will Be Blood
This week: $4,887,000 - Total: $14,764,000

9. National Treasure: Book of Secrets
This week: $4,664,000 - Total: $205,421,000

10. Mad Money
This week: $4,610,000 - Total: $15,284,000

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It doesn't get any worst than this. You're trying to take some pictures of your favorite celebrity when suddenly he grabs you and tears you in half. It’s time for Raiden to look for a better pastime.

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Cool Collectibles: Boba Fett Kotobukiya Statue

Kotobukiya is one of my favorite manufacturers of kick ass collectible statues and their new Bounty Hunter series from Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back looks to be among their finest works yet. All six bounty hunters (Bossk, 4-LOM, Dengar, Zuckuss, IG-88 and Boba Fett) will be released separately, starting with Boba Fett. Each statue will come with a bonus piece that when combined form a full size statue of Darth Vader. How cool is that? The bases they come in can be linked together from any side to form the Galactic Empire logo, or whatever formation you want to use to display them.

Here’s Boba Fett, the most famous bounty hunter in that galaxy far, far away. He stands about 11 3/4 inches high and comes with Darth Vader’s left arm. The level of detail is sick, as usual. He seems to be flying and shooting his flamethrower at the same time. Look for him in specialty shops in April 2008.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Game Preview: Devil May Cry 4

With the exception of part 2, the Devil May Cry series has been great fun. Capcom has just released a demo of Devil May Cry 4 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and here are my impressions.

The demo is divided into two parts. On the first you can play through a bunch of the game’s environments for 10 minutes. What you do in those 10 minutes is up to you. The other part pits you against a few Frost enemies (remember them from the first DMC?) and then a boss fight with Berial, a big ass fire demon. There’s no time limit here but it’s all over way too quickly. As a demo it works because in the first part you’d like to just stare at the gorgeous graphics and jump all over the place breaking boxes, benches, crates and stuff to collect red orbs but you can’t because of the annoying time limit, and on the second part the stage ends when you beat Berial and with practice you can own him pretty quickly and easily. You end up with an itchy trigger finger and a thirst for demon blood. Capcom’s Dead Rising demo was similar and I ended up buying the game just because the demo was so damn fun.

In the demo you only play as Nero, the newcomer who looks way too much like Dante and controls almost identical. The only difference is that he only has one handgun instead of two and has glowing hand that does more than look cool. That hand (glove?) is called the Devil Bringer, and can make Nero perform powerful throws, travel to hard-to-reach places, like Link’s hookshot. Nero pulls of devastating combos with his sword, handgun and Devil Bringer, killing off enemies with just a few hits. I’m guessing the demo is set to easy.

The music is rocking, as expected, and all the familiar sound effects from previous games are back and sounding better than ever thanks to in-game Dolby Digital surround sound.

I’m really looking forward to the full game, that should be released on February 5 on both consoles. Fans of the series will not be disappointed.

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Game Preview: Turok

It’s been 6 years since the last Turok game was released on the PlayStation 2, Turok: Evolution. That game sucked so bad it almost completely killed the franchise. Now, Propaganda Games and Touchstone Studios (I’ve never heard of them before either) are resurrecting Turok on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC this February. The game will simply be called Turok.

Even thought I wasn’t expecting much from a game studio I’ve never heard about I was still disappointed by the demo. It’s better than Turok: Evolution, but Popeye on the NES was better that Evolution, so that’s not saying much. It’s all so average and ugly. It runs on the Unreal Engine 3, the same one used for Gears of War, but doesn’t look even half as good as Gears. The character models are ugly and the background textures are boring and very last generation. The weapons are not impressive and the dinosaurs are lame. The most fun I had was using the combat knife, pulling off one hit kills when an enemy or reptile gets too close.

I’ve heard good things about the multiplayer modes but I don’t know if that’s reason enough to buy it. Maybe I’ll rent it and write a proper review. The again, maybe not.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Movie Review: Shoot 'Em Up

Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Monica Bellucci, Stephen McHattie, Daniel Pilon, Ramona Pringle

Michael Davis (Beanstalk, Monster Man)

MPAA Rating:
R for pervasive strong bloody violence, sexuality and some language.

Release Date:
September 2007

When a mysterious loner named Mr. Smith delivers a woman's baby during an intense shoot-out, he inadvertently lands himself at odds with the ruthless Mr. Hertz. Aided by the enigmatic Donna Quintano, Mr. Smith is tasked with protecting the newborn from Hertz and his henchmen.

My Two Cents:
If I had to describe this movie in two words they would be “gun porn”. There is so much shooting that I actually got tired of it in the first 10 minutes. I often like one man armies, but this Smith (Clive Owen) guy is just ridiculous. He shoots while jumping, sliding, running, sleeping, having sex and even skydiving. All his bullets seem to have a homing device because the fucker doesn’t miss. The movie doesn’t take itself too seriously but even then all these stunts ruined it for me. Some of the quotes were pretty cool, like “Fuck you, you fucking fuckers” and “The leader who stays in the rear, takes it in the rear”.

If this was a full blown comedy like The Naked Gun or maybe even Rush Hour I wouldn’t have minded, but even those movies have better plots. Mr. Smith doesn’t give a shit about anything and hates everything, all except Donna Quintano (Monica Bellucci), a prostitute that produces breast milk without being pregnant. That’s… sick. She’s fully hot, especially for her age and you get to see her exposed boobs twice, but the thought is still sickening.

Smith’s archrival is Mr. Hertz (Paul Giamatti), an actor I really enjoy and certainly the most entertaining character in Shoot ‘Em Up. He has the best quotes or maybe the worst, depending on how you see it. He hides his job as a professional criminal from his wife, taking her calls in the middle of his dirty deeds. This could have been funny the first time, but it happens too frequently and it also showed during the movie’s trailer, so the joke was already ruined for me.

The two Transporter films were full of impossible stunts, but Shoot ‘Em Up is the new king of the unbelievable. At least Jason Statham is cool. Clive Owen is a stiff, emotionless killing robot. He was great in Children of Men and was nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award for his performance in Closer. So what the hell happened here? At least the movie is only a little over one hour, and it’ll take even less for you to forget you ever watched it.


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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Docking Bay 94 Update

Six new designs have been added to my Docking Bay 94 T-shirt shop. Click on the links to view different T-shirt styles.

1. Brilliant, but lazy. – Dr. Connors (Spider-Man 2)
2. I Am Error – Villager (Zelda II: The Adventure of Link)
3. I happen to like nice men. – Princess Leia (Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back)
4. It’s useless to resist me! – Ivy Valentine (Soul Calibur II)
5. Everything in the human culture takes place below the waist. – General Thade (Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes)
6. I don’t like to waste bullets. – Solid Snake (Metal Gear Solid)

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Cosplay: The Legend of Zelda

Link is all grown up in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, but this guy still looks odd. I guess his face is too serious-looking, I don’t know. The costume is fine, but maybe only Orlando Bloom can look cool in an elf costume.

You might recognize this chick from my Soul Calibur cosplay post where she was dressed as Sophitia. This girl seems to look good in any costume. The dress and accessories look amazing, and yes, so does everything else.

Out of all the cool characters from the Zelda games, why would you want to dress as Tingle, the fruitiest, most sexually ambiguous fairy in all of Hyrule? It takes either a lot of courage or you’re just sending a very clear message to everyone.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Heath Ledger Dead at 28

28 year old Australian actor Heath Ledger was found dead today at his apartment in SoHo, New York City. His naked body was found by a massage therapist on the foot of his bed, surrounded by sleeping pills. There were other prescription medication in the apartment, but no illegal drugs were found. Police has discarded a suicide or any foul play involved in his death. The cause of his death is still to be determined by an autopsy.

Ledger, who received an Oscar nomination for his performance in Brokeback Mountain, had recently completed shooting The Dark Knight, where he plays The Joker opposite Christian Bale. He was in his prime, and slowly rising among Hollywood young actors. My thoughts go out to his 2 year old daughter and the rest of his family.

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Movie Review: Transformers

Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Jon Voight, Anthony Anderson, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, Rachael Taylor, Amaury Nolasco

Michael Bay (Bad Boys, Pearl Harbor)

MPAA Rating:
PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, brief sexual humor, and language.

Release Date:
July 2007

For centuries, two races of robotic aliens -- the Autobots and the Decepticons -- have waged a war, with the fate of the universe at stake. When the battle comes to Earth, all that stands between the evil Decepticons and ultimate power is a clue held by young Sam Witwicky. Sam and his friend Mikaela find themselves in a tug of war between the Autobots and Decepticons. With the world hanging in the balance, Sam comes to realize the true meaning behind the Witwicky family motto - "No sacrifice, no victory!"

My Two Cents:
It seems that every TV show that was cool during the 80’s has been remade, or is being remade in the near future. One of these shows is Transformers, the animated series from 1984 about giant alien robots that could transform into everyday things like radios, cars, and planes. I was raised with the Autobots and Decepticons so if Hollywood messed this movie for me there would be hell to pay. Luckily for me, I’m a Michael Bay fan so I wasn’t really worried about the outcome.

Yes, I’m a Bay fan, deal with it. I held my breath as Nicolas Cage tried to disarm the chemical weapon in The Rock, I cried when Bruce Willis was left behind in Armageddon and had an adrenaline rush as Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson fled from The Island. Steven Spielberg executive produced Transformers, Michael Bay directed it and Industrial Light and Magic created the robot effects. How could you go wrong? On top of that you have the current almost teenage sensations Shia LaBeouf and the super foxy Megan Fox, as well as established actors like Jon Voight and John Turturro.

The first impression of the robots is one of shock and a bit of anger because they radically changed every robot design from the beloved animated series, and that was a very risky move for Bay and crew. Optimus Prime went from a “flat-face” cab over truck to a Peterbuilt cab. He also has blue flames painted on his body, not present in his original design. Bumblebee went from an old Volkswagen Bettle to a Chevrolet Camaro. Megatron no longer transforms into a gun, he now transforms into an alien jet. Soundwave was turned into a new very small robot called Frenzy that transforms into a boombox. Barricade went from a Formula One race car to a Saleen Mustang police car, which was apparently inspired by Autobot Prowl from the animated series. Blackout is no longer a bomber jet, and is now a big-ass MH-53M Pave Low IV helicopter. There was a Decepticon helicopter called Vortex but I don’t why they didn’t use him instead of Blackout. Jazz went from a Porsche 935 to a tiny Pontiac Solstice. Not a big deal but still worth mentioning. Ironhide was a red Nissan Onebox Cherry Vanette and is now a monstrous black GMC Topkick C4500 pickup truck. Starscream went from an F-15 Eagle jet to a much upgraded F-22 Raptor. Ratchet went from a white ambulance to a greenish customized Search and Rescue Hummer H2. Bonecrusher went from a bulldozer to a Buffalo H Mine-protected vehicle with a customized fork. Finally, Brawl went from being a Leopard 1 tank to a custom M1 Abrams tank. The shitty thing about Brawl is the he’s called Devastator in the film because someone typed his name wrong and even though the writers complained about this twice, the Devastator typo made it into the final theatrical release. Devastator is actually a gigantic robot created by the merging of the six Constructicons (Bonecrusher, Long Haul, Mixmaster, Hook, Scrapper and Scavenger).

Now that I've gotten that out of my chest I can start talking about the film on its own. Don’t forget the movie is based on an 80’s animated series and toy line about fighting robots targeted to young males, so don’t expect any Oscar-worthy acting or thought provoking plot twists. You’ll basically get your eyes and ears bombarded by dazzling special effects and explosions for over 2 hours. The robots look amazing, with insane reflections, lighting and shadows. They interact with humans and with their surroundings in a very realistic way. The sound effects will rape your ears with metallic clanks, laser blasts, machinegun fire, engines revving and Megatron’s scary voice, provided by Hugo Weaving. Having Peter Cullen reprising his role as the voice of Optimus Prime is a real treat.

The humans also shine thanks to pretty funny dialog and awkward situations. Bernie Mac and Anthony Anderson’s small roles provide much of the laughs, but Shia and his nutty parents are also amusing. John Turturro plays a guy you love to hate and Jon Voight plays a military man for the 100th time in his career.

Watching the Autobots fall to Earth from space, hiding out as vehicles, befriending humans and then fighting the Decepticons transported me back to my childhood and made me feel like a 7-year-old again. I watched the movie with my wife (24), sister (38) and niece (7), people who didn’t care about the animated series or weren’t even born by then and they all liked it, so there’s something here for everybody. No wonder it grossed over $706 million dollars worldwide, not including DVD sales. I would have liked more robot on robot action, but perhaps they saved the best for the inevitable sequel. There’s definitely more to this movie than meets the eye. (Ha! No one saw that one coming…)


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Monday, January 21, 2008

Achievement Unlocked

It's never a good idea to fall asleep in the tub, especially when Freddy Krueger is around. Some people have to learn this the hard way.

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Character Profile: The King of All Cosmos

The King of all Cosmos is the absolute ruler of the universe. He stands around 9,840 feet tall, but that size can decrease or increase depending on his mood. He is married to the Queen of All Cosmos and is the father of The Prince, who’s only about 5 centimeters in height. The King refers to himself in plural, and his voice sounds like DJ record scratches.

He is a usually happy and carefree king, but demands a lot from his son. He seems to have inherited this trait from his father, the Emperor of All Cosmos, who was constantly disappointed by the King’s actions. There was just no pleasing that old fart.

One night, after consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, the King accidentally destroys all the stars in the sky. He then sends The Prince down to Earth to replace the stars with whatever he can find. To do this he gives The Prince a katamari, a small sphere similar to a bumble ball, that sticks to any object it touches as long as it’s not larger than the katamari. The Prince pushes the katamari around, gathering coins, cookies, shoes, small dogs, trash cans, and eventually people, houses, buildings and even entire islands. When the katamari is big enough the King of All Cosmos measures it and turns it into a star. If it’s not as big as the King thinks it should be, he shows The Prince his disappointment by through insults. The King is cool, but can be a real jerk at times.

Although only The Prince and his 23 cousins are playable in the Katamari Damacy games, the King of All Cosmos has always been everyone’s favorite character. There’s just something cool about a gigantic spaced out guy in tights with a mantastic mustache that seems to find new ways to destroy the universe every day and expects others to fix it.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Weekend Box Office Report: Jan 18-20

The much hyped monster movie Cloverfield set a new record for a January release with $41 millions, a record previously held by the Star Wars: Special Edition re-release in 1997 which opened with $35.9 millions. Cloverfield has received pretty good reviews from both critics and the general public.

1. Cloverfield
This week: $41,000,000
Total: $41,000,000

2. 27 Dresses
This week: $22,427,000
Total: $22,427,000

3. The Bucket List
This week: $15,150,000
Total: $42,709,000

4. Juno
This week: $10,250,000 - Total: $85,377,000

5. National Treasure: Book of Secrets
This week: $8,148,000 - Total: $198,030,000

6. First Sunday
This week: $7,800,000 - Total: $28,466,000

7. Mad Money
This week: $7,700,000 - Total: $7,700,000

8. Alvin and the Chipmunks
This week: $7,000,000 - Total: $196,380,000

9. I Am Legend
This week: $5,105,000 - Total: $247,682,000

10. Atonement
This week: $4,759,000 - Total: $31,884,000

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Wii Virtual Console Review: Samurai Ghost

Developer: Namco
Publisher: Namco
Console: TurboGrafx 16
Release Date: April 1992

As the title implies, you play as a dead samurai named Taiga no Kagekiyo who has been resurrected and must now battle demons and monsters until there are no more demons or monsters to kill. That plot is worst than Pong’s, and Pong had no plot.

For a brief moment you might think this game could be good because Kagekiyo’s sprite is big and detailed, and the background graphics are full of vibrant colors, but as soon as you take a single step forward reality kicks in. This is one ugly piece of shit. Kagekiyo walks like if he had shit in his pants. He’s always leaning forward for no reason and has the crappiest sword movements. His legs and arms seem to be disconnected from his torso, which never moves, ever. The enemies also look like ass and they animate even worse. Some have up to two frames of animations. I believe Namco didn’t give a shit about the quality of Samurai Ghost or didn’t know how to work the TurboGrafx 16.

Your only weapon is a sword. You can do a forward slash, a ducking slash, a jumping slash, a downward slash when in the air, and you can also hold the sword in front of your face for as long as you hold the action button. Sounds cool, but every single enemy will hit you regardless of how you approach them. If there’s a cat in front of you and you duck to slash it, it will hit you. If a bird comes flying at you and you jump to slash it, it will hit you. No matter what you do, you will get hit. This game is not hard, it’s fucking frustrating and impossible.

Sometimes when you kill a graphical error that’s supposed to be an enemy you’ll get an orb. There are like 10 kinds of them, with different colors and kanji symbols inside. I honestly couldn’t tell them apart and had no idea what they were for. One makes you do a spin jump attack, another makes you throw an energy wave, and the other 8 don’t do shit.

Apparently the guy that was supposed to add sound effects and music to the game was sick that week, and they used effects from Galaga. Every time Kagekiyo jumps you hear an annoying bleep that makes no sense at all. I’m no expert on samurai, but I doubt they produced such sounds. The music is horrible and the few speech samples sound worst than those on the Sega Genesis. Absolutely no effort was put into the game’s audio.

Once in a while you’ll get transported to a pink cloud field where a giant statue throws a crapload of orbs and other shit at you. These are the bonus stages. The music here is less horrible but makes no sense since it’s lively, unlike the rest of the game. It’s one of the most ridiculous bonus stages ever.

The bosses are even lamer than the regular baddies. One of them is a skeleton with a sword, another one is a floating alien playing a string instrument throwing neon bunnies at you that turn into poisonous mushrooms when hit. The last boss is a lightning bolt-throwing dude that then turns into floating feces and then finally into a blue fart cloud. Seriously, I’m not making this up.

Samurai Ghost is actually a sequel to a beat ’em up arcade game called Genpei Tōma Den only released in Japan, and Namco should have never released this crap anywhere else. I can’t even begin to imagine the first part of this mess. The team responsible for this disaster should be put behind bars for cruelty against video gamers and disrespect to samurai.

Fun Fact: Did you know Kagekiyo and a few of the bosses made cameos in the Japan-exclusive Namco X Capcom? Me neither.


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Friday, January 18, 2008

Movie Review: The NeverEnding Story

Barret Oliver, Noah Hathaway, Deep Roy, Sydney Bromley, Patricia Hayes, Thomas Hill, Moses Gunn

Wolfgang Petersen (Outbreak, The Perfect Storm)

MPAA Rating:

Release Date:
July 1984

My Two Cents:
A young boy named Bastian has recently lost his mother and lives alone with his dad. He has lost interest in school and is constantly daydreaming. One day he gets harassed by bullies on his way to school and hides from them inside an old book store. There he meets the owner who’s reading a book called The NeverEnding Story. This is a special book unlike any other ever written, but the old man tells Bastian it is not for him to read. As the man goes to answer the phone Bastian takes the book and runs off.

When he arrives late at school and find out there’s a math test in progress he decides to enter the school’s attic and start reading the book. It’s about a fantasy world called Fantasia, where a terrible darkness known as The Nothing is destroying everything in its path. The citizens of Fantasia, including a goblin on a flying bat, a snail-riding dwarf and a gigantic Rock man on a bicycle turn to the Childlike Empress for help, but she has fallen ill and is dying. A hero is chosen to find a cure for the Empress, a young warrior named Atreyu. Along with his trusted horse Artax he sets out into every corner of Fantasia in search of a way to stop The Nothing and save the Empress.

Atreyu travels through swamps, deserts, mountains and pretty much everywhere in Fantasia but doesn’t find a cure. Meanwhile, a wolf-like creature known as Gmork has set his eyes on Atreyu and will attempt to kill him so The Nothing can consume everything. Atreyu finally learns that the only way to save the Empress is for him to find a human child, and that child must give her a new name. Sounds easy, except for the fact that Atreyu doesn’t even know what a human is.

Bastian gets so immersed in the story that it sometimes seems as the characters are aware of his presence, and that’s exactly what’s happening. He doesn’t believe it at first, but he has the power to alter the book’s ending. He is the one who must name the Empress.

I was about 6 years old when I first saw The NeverEnding Story and was completely blown away by it. The awesomeness still remains today, but the visual effects are a bit hard to swallow as movie special effects have improved beyond belief through the years. But the charm is still intact. This movie puts me under a spell every time I watch it. It takes me back to my childhood and sends my mind and imagination flying. There’s no other movie quite like it. Every kid wished they could ride Falkor, the luck dragon, after watching the film.

There’s a cool scene with Atreyu and the Childlike Empress where he asks her forgiveness because he failed to find a human child. She explains that he didn’t fail, that Bastian has been with him throughout his adventure since the beginning, and likewise, others (the people watching the movie) have been with Bastian before he even got the book. I always thought that was cool and it even freaked me out a little when I first heard her say that.

When I was a kid I thought The Nothing and Gmork were the same thing, but now that I’m older I finally understand that they’re not. What Gmork tells Atreyu right before he realizes the kid he’s talking to is the one he’s been trying to kill all along is one of the strongest messages I’ve heard in a children’s movie. He explains that The Nothing is what’s left when humans stop having dreams and hopes for the future, and he has been helping it spread because demoralized people without hope are easier to control. Ain’t that the goddamn truth.

If you somehow missed it when you were little or you haven’t watched it in a while, The NeverEnding Story will take you to a simpler time full of magic and infinite possibilities. Be a kid again and let Falkor take you to the boundaries of Fantasia, and beyond.


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Game Commercials: Eternal Champions

Sega's Eternal Champions for the Genesis was supposed to kick the asses of both Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat, but it only kicked its own ass by being so shitty and unplayable. This TV commercial is not awful, but the idea of Eternal Champions being so great that it will eat your other fighting games is a real joke.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Babes of Gaming: Lady

Lady is one of the few human characters from the Devil May Cry saga. She was introduced in Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening, which chronologically is the first game of the series. Her real name is Mary, given to her by her father, Arkham, but when he murdered her mother she changed it to Lady. I guess it’s understandable.

She is a weapons expert, as well as being skilled in acrobatics. Her weapon of choice is the Kalina Ann, a customized missile launcher. She has differently-colored eyes, just like her father, but this was never a big issue in the story. Lady is a devil hunter, like Dante, but she didn’t trust him when they first met and even attacked him. They eventually teamed up during the game’s ending.

The shitty Devil May Cry anime series featured Lady as a friend of Dante who’s constantly asking him to pay past debts. Fans of her will be happy to know she’ll be back in Devil May Cry 4, and looks hotter than ever.

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King Dedede is about to suck the big one by landing inside the mouth of a giant Bulborb. Penguins do seem tastier than Pikmin.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Movie Review: 28 Weeks Later

Robert Carlyle, Catherine McCormack, Imogen Poots, Mackintosh Muggleton, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Harold Perrineau

Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

MPAA Rating:
R for strong violence and gore, language and some sexuality/nudity.

Release Date:
May 2007

The inhabitants of the British Isles appear to have lost their battle against the onslaught of disease, as the deadly rage virus has killed every citizen there. Six months later, a group of Americans dare to set foot on the isles, convinced the danger has come and gone. But it soon becomes clear that the fight is far from over.

My Two Cents:
28 Days Later was a frightening and very disturbing horror movie were people infected with a rage virus turned into mindless zombies craving only fresh blood. These zombies were scary as hell because they ran as fast or even faster than normal people, and could instantly infect you just by biting or simply drooling on you. Even if it had a sort of happy ending, along comes a sequel, 28 Weeks Later, and it’s just as hellish as the first.

The second time around you already know how these raging zombies behave, so the director had to turn up the gore and violence in order to make an impact on the viewers. If ultra violence is your thing you’ll love a certain scene involving around 50 zombies and a helicopter.

For two hours you’ll be biting your nails, suffering what the few survivors go through trying to stay alive. The visual and DTS sound effects, along with the music, will suck you in and never let go. The Blu-ray versions suffers from horrible grain, so you might want to consider watching the standard definition DVD. Yeah, it’s that distracting.

The first movie was great, but the pacing was suddenly slowed down when the survivors enter a military complex and the movie started sucking after that. The sequel maintains the same level of excitement and horror throughout, and even though parts of the plot make little to no sense, like a woman who doesn’t get infected because she has eyes of two different colors and a “boss” zombie that only seems interested in eating his own children, it’s a better movie overall. Remember that there are a lot of gruesome and disturbing images, so try not to eat pizza or lasagna before watching 28 Weeks Later.


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Cool Collectibles: MGS4 Solid Snake and Raiden

Konami's Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is not even out yet and Medicom Toy Corporation already made 12 inch tall, fully articulated collectible figures of two of the main characters, Solid Snake and Raiden. They should be released in the second quarter of 2008 for about $175.

This Solid Snake figure can kick all your other figures’ asses with both hands tied behind his back and they won’t even know he was there. He comes with a rifle and a handgun, but no word yet on stealth camouflage.

The Raiden from MGS4 looks 50% less gay than the one from MGS2, and 100% creepier. His face shield protector can be pulled up or down and he comes with a bunch of swords.

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Docking Bay 94 Update

Six new designs have been added to my Docking Bay 94 T-shirt shop. Click on the links to view different T-shirt styles.

1. It is your destiny. – Darth Vader (Star Wars: Episode V)
2. Dear humanity: We regret being alien bastards. - Sergeant Johnson (Halo 2)
3. Gimme some sugar, baby! – Ash (Army of Darkness)
4. Seeing you in action is a joke. – Blanka (Street Fighter II)
5. I’m not even supposed to be here today! – Dante Hicks (Clerks)
6. The black wind howls. – Janus (Chrono Trigger)

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Movie Review: The Guardian

Kevin Costner, Ashton Kutcher, Sela Ward, Clancy Brown, Melissa Sagemiller, Neal McDonough

Andrew Davis (Above the Law, The Fugitive)

MPAA Rating:
PG-13 for intense sequences of action/peril, brief strong language and some sensuality.

Release Date:
September 2006

Appointed to teach at an elite Coast Guard school, legendary rescue swimmer Ben Randall is compelled to skillfully train and inspire cocky upstart Jake Fischer. Applying unorthodox coaching methods, Ben helps the young hotshot build his strength and character.

My Two Cents:
Becoming a Coast Guard rescue swimmer is tough as hell, but it grants the rescuer the satisfaction of saving someone’s life. The movie portrays the whole process it takes to become a hero.

Ben Randall (Kevin Costner) has become a legend among rescuers with a record for saving over 300 lives, and only agrees to become a teacher for new volunteers because of a terrible incident where three of his teammates died. He blames himself for what happened even when it was completely out of his control. This has turned him into a bit of an ogre as an instructor, because he believes only the very best should graduate from the academy.

One of the students is Jake Fischer (Ashton Kutcher), a swimming champion with as much talent as Randall, but nothing of his wisdom or experience. Randall pushes him to the limit, making Fischer as good as he can be.

The movie is among the most predictable ones I’ve seen, but it has powerful visuals and very human characters. Both Costner and Kutcher to a fine job of a sort of father and son, master and apprentice relationship that makes you care and cheer for them. The rescues they’re involved in are both amazing and frightening. You certainly come out appreciating the Coast Guard rescue swimmers’ job a whole lot more.

The film runs a little long even with all the fun training scenes and rescues. They could have edited about 15 to 20 minutes. Still, it’s a captivating and powerful drama that will make you admire the brave men and women that put their lives on the line to save yours.


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