Archive for May, 2014

What a Wonderful Month, and So On

Dat font tho. Thanks, Google.

For the last two years on this blog I have backed up my excitement for the entertainment media offerings of the month of June by writing down some of said offerings in a dedicated post. While this year’s version of the month doesn’t look quite as good in this department as, say, last year’s, when The Last of Us and Animal Crossing: New Leaf dropped on consecutive days, I’m still able to bring together ten releases for which I am suitably keen. I would be jumping out of my skin waiting for June to come around even without any of these – the FIFA World Cup is nearly here, after all – but they just make the idea of the month even sweeter. Here are ten of the things that will be available to us this June (in chronological order): Continue reading

That Completing Feeling

Perhaps fittingly, this article took me a long time to complete.

Some games take a bit longer to finish than others. Occasionally, a lot longer. A game you might enjoy isn’t necessarily compelling all the time, so sometimes you may need to take a long break. When you add the many distractions that life brings onto an already long game completion time, you might just find that several months pass you by before you have the chance to go back and finish what you left hanging long ago. On the other hand, sometimes you’ll try pretty consistently to finish something, but your skill level just isn’t up to the task. Only plenty of practice and determination will see you over the finish line (as in life). And then there are the games that just won’t end. Either way, finishing a game you started a long time ago is nearly always immensely satisfying.

This list is dedicated to those games that have taken me real effort to complete throughout my own personal gaming history.

Three clarifications:
One, this list does not take into account how long it took me to “get to 100% completion” in a particular game, but rather how long it took to reach the end credits of its story mode/campaign/etc.
Two, a game needs to have taken me at least 3 months to complete to be eligible for this list.
Three, this list is ranked by effort rather than length. Though I have included approximations of how long each game took to finish, this time figure does not determine the order of the list. Less quantifiable factors went into deciding how much of an effort each game represented to me.

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10. Sonic Adventure 2: Battle (Gamecube ~6 months)

Any fan of Sonic Adventure 2 Battle will tell you that the game has a ton of content, the most appealing of which comprises what is quite possibly the most in-depth Tamagotchi-style pet simulator systems ever put into a videogame. The Chao Garden was a notoriously addictive time sink for most players of the Dreamcast/Gamecube favourite and it was the primary reason that it took me so long to reach the end of the actual story. Sure, the release of Super Smash Bros Melee a mere two weeks after the Gamecube version launched certainly got in the way, as did my skill level and some confusing late level design (Crazy Gadget, anyone?). But above all, it was those damn adorable Chao that kept me from making a serious push to finish both of the game’s parallel storylines. When the game’s “epilogue campaign” then appeared, it came as a genuine surprise and a formidable challenge, so my satisfaction at the end credits only increased.

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The Hidden Insanity of Watch_Dogs

At the minute I’m playing through Watch_Dogs, Ubisoft’s long-hyped open world game focused on hacking the creepily prescient virtual operating system responsible for running an entire city. I’m having a lot of fun with it, as it has some cool ideas for combat and exploration that leverage the unique idea at the heart of the game. However, none of the extensive preview coverage I watched or read before the game’s release has prepared me for some of the crazy ways that the game’s developers push the idea of a super-digitised world through side missions and activities. Regardless of whether or not I end up reviewing – or even finishing – the game, I wanted to highlight the ridiculousness of some of the stuff I never expected to be doing in Watch_Dogs, but that is keeping me moored in Act I of the game’s story:
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Giant Flower Bouncing

This was actually one of the first things I did in the game, launching me right into completely unexpected territory. Several street vendors offer you the ability to take part in “digital trips”, which are pretty much self-explanatory. They transport protagonist Aiden Pearce into the world of a bad acid trip, changing up the game’s mechanics in the name of the kinds of minigames you’d normally only see in a Japanese-developed title. The trip aptly named “Psychedelic” has you bouncing belly-first from giant blooming flower to giant blooming flower, using the control stick to angle your trajectory and trying to land as close to the middle of each flower as possible. It’s actually quite difficult and there are plenty of levels to play through.

"I'm flyyyyiiiing!" cries our hero, completely un-ironically.

“I’m flyyyyiiiing!” cries our hero, completely un-ironically.

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Movie Review: X-Men Days of Future Past

Ooh boy, been waiting for this one for a while…

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Starring:
Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender
Director:
Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, X-Men)
Rating: M
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What’s this? A good multi-superhero movie that isn’t made by Marvel Studios?

As movie franchises go, the X-Men movies mean a lot to me. Not only do I remember where I was when I first saw X-Men III: The Last Stand in cinemas back in 2006, I also remember what I was wearing and who I was with. I was so damn excited for that movie and to see it play out as such a mess after the first two X-Men films had literally made me interested in comic book mythology was not the greatest feeling. Three years later the release of the underdone and just generally awful X-Men Origins: Wolverine meant the franchise was suddenly “only 50% good”, and while 2011’s X-Men First Class was a triumphant return to form with a fun political twist and last year’s The Wolverine didn’t suck, the franchise was still lagging far behind the efforts of Disney’s Marvel cinematic universe. And there was still that lingering bad taste in my mouth from 2006. Well, not anymore.

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Mega Ultra Blast Cast Ep.21 – The Lost Episode


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The Mega Ultra Blast Cast was hit by every podcaster’s worst nightmare this time around – Shane’s computer turned off halfway through recording and we lost everything. But because we’re professionals (well, not technically), we soldiered on and recorded again from the start to bring you this bumper episode. Listen to witness a battle royale between Shane and Delaney as they debate the pros and cons of the new Godzilla movie, as well as several tangents about Green Lantern, Grimlock and Gambit. We also talk about plenty of topical gaming news, such as the big Xbox One Kinect-less announcement, the big reveal of Far Cry 4 and Nintendo’s new figurine strategy. Plus, I’ve actually finished some games lately!

If you feel so inclined, go for a run, take a scenic drive, jazz up your afternoon commute or just curl up on the couch and play some games while you listen to the opinions of three frustrated but determined Sydneysiders.

You can play the whole episodes right off this page if you like:


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Or you can go to the Soundcloud site/app and listen from there:
https://soundcloud.com/mega-ultra-blast-cast/mubc-21-the-lost-episode

(To download and listen offline, follow the link and then click the download tab)

As always if you enjoy what you hear please share the cast with your friends – Until next time!

Movie Review: Godzilla

GOJIRA!!!

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Starring:
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston
Director:
Gareth Edwards (In the Shadow of the Moon, Monsters)
Rating: M
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I feel it’s worth mentioning for the sake of this review that I don’t really have any sort of connection to Godzilla in any of his various incarnations over the last half century or so – I didn’t even see the 1998 movie despite being a fresh-faced nine year old with plenty of similar interests at the time. My limited knowledge of the king of the monsters and his kaiju buddies comes from other forms of referential media, starting with that Season 2 South Park episode where Barbara Streisand reveals her true form and goes on a rampage. My exposure to this new Gareth Edwards take on the Godzilla mythos is limited to one trailer I saw last month in the cinema.

That being said, the 2014 Godzilla is pretty damn cool, and with some rebalances it could well have been one of my favourite movies of this year. It’s a shame that the film’s human elements aren’t more engaging.

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I Went to B.A.P Live on Earth 2014

I’ve been both busy and ill this last week, which is never the best combo for this blog, but here we go now.

It was the experience I felt I had to have. After almost three years without such an opportunity, last weekend I finally made it to a full-on K-Pop concert (That incredible late 2011 K-Pop extravaganza came a few months before I cared). Though my enthusiasm for the genre probably peaked last year, when I came pretty damn close to attending a similar event before it fell through, I am by no means done with appreciating K-Pop and even if I was, I have bought so many albums and written so many words about it already that to move on without having seen it live in its purest form would have been a real shame.

Enter TS Entertainment and their always busy headline act, six-member male group B.A.P.

Also known as “A K-Pop World Tour That Actually Includes Australia – Wow.”

Sydney’s Big Top in Luna Park was packed for the May 10 performance event and there was a surprisingly decent contingent of older and male fans getting into the swing of things (I had expected an almost completely teenage fangirl demographic in the crowd and was happy to be proved wrong). As I mentioned in a K-Pop countdown two years ago, B.A.P’s musical output does tend to have a more universal appeal than most male K-Pop groups, so perhaps I shouldn’t have been so surprised.
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Mega Ultra Blast Cast Ep.20


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The Mega Ultra Blast Cast hits a milestone with its 20th episode, but things go off the rails pretty quickly. My two colleagues and I try a new seating arrangement that gives Delaney far too much power for his own good. We get excited about the newly announced Pokemon games, the insanity of the new Mario Kart, the brilliance of Child of Light, the fresh Star Wars Episode VII casting details, the Justice League movie and much, much more. There’s also an unexpectedly lengthy discussion about Cher, and I cannot remember for the life of me how that came up. 

If you feel so inclined, go for a run, take a scenic drive, jazz up your afternoon commute or just curl up on the couch and play some games while you listen to the opinions of three shuffled Sydneysiders.

You can play the whole episodes right off this page if you like:


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Or you can go to the Soundcloud site/app and listen from there:
https://soundcloud.com/mega-ultra-blast-cast/mubc-20-wiiutube

(To download and listen offline, follow the link and then click the download tab)

As always if you enjoy what you hear please share the cast with your friends – Until next time!

Why I’m Suddenly Excited For Mario Kart 8

In case you missed it, just over a week ago Nintendo dropped a completely unannounced half-hour Nintendo Direct broadcast focusing entirely on their upcoming Wii U mega-title Mario Kart 8 (You can watch the whole thing below). I thought my fondness for the Mario Kart series had peaked a decade ago with the excellent Mario Kart DS, but this rather incredible recent information rush has really grabbed my attention. I’ve given it some thought over the last week and that all-too-rare feeling that something special is coming has well and truly set in. Here are five reasons why 8 might just be the magic number come the end of this month.

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Wonderfully ambitious online features

Nintendo had some pretty impressive online player numbers in the heyday of Mario Kart Wii, even if they never really called much attention to them, and it’s obvious that they want those players back. I have never seen such an ambitious suite of planned online features for a Nintendo game. According to the Direct, players can customise the item sets, karts, difficulty and more that they want for their own personal online tournaments, which can be set to repeat at a certain time every week so that you and your friends can meet for regular sessions. The same can be done for public tournaments, meaning if you want to race in a matchmaking environment without items at all, you can. Astoundingly, Nintendo has also managed to allow for video replay editing that can be uploaded straight to YouTube, a feature that is still missing from the PS4, although the Xbox One added it earlier this year. Now the only question remains, will it run smoothly? If so, I shall dance a merry jig in my living room, because not only will that make for some intense races, it also means good things for the upcoming Super Smash Bros for Wii U. 

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Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Time to make good use of an extremely rare case where Australia gets a huge movie before the US does.

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Starring:
Andrew Garfield, Jamie Foxx, Emma Stone
Director:
Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer, The Amazing Spider-Man)
Rating: M
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I’m still questioning why the first Amazing Spider-Man had to play out the way it did in 2012. Sure, I get the business reasons behind Sony Pictures wanting to keep the Spider-Man license and thus needing to churn out another film within a certain number of years after the conclusion of the Sam Raimi trilogy of Spidey flicks. But I’m sure I don’t stand alone in the camp of people wondering why said situation had to mean a reboot functioning almost identically to the first 2002 Spider-Man. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 presents an opportunity for the aptly named Marc Webb and his gang to kick on, having established their groundwork, and show what sets this new version of Spider-Man apart from the mostly well-regarded Raimi movies. In this regard, ASM2 succeeds, which is great, but disappointingly it fails to learn from the mistakes that plagued Raimi‘s Spider-Man 3 – the one that had too many villains vying for attention. It’s just a wee bit over-indulgent.

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