Archive for April, 2016

Movie Review: Captain America – Civil War

Oh look, another movie pitting superheroes against one another. I wonder how this one will go…

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Starring:
Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Sebastian Stan
Director:
Anthony & Joe Russo (Welcome to Collinwood, Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
Rating: M
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The only “complete” Marvel comic book story (if such a thing exists) that I have read to this day is Civil War, a seven-part 2006/07 series that was given to me as a gift a couple of years ago. A positively gigantic event, the series divided literally hundreds of Marvel characters down an explosive ideological line – one side led by Tony Stark/Iron Man, in favour of regulating superhero activity to safeguard against massive collateral damage – the other by Steve Rogers/Captain America, unable to reconcile his desire to do good with the politics he feels would impede true justice. When Kevin Feige announced that Marvel Studios would be doing an adaptation of sorts a couple of years ago, I was skeptical of the project, and I wasn’t alone. How could they possibly do justice to the expansive, universe-shattering story with so few established characters in their stable?

As it turns out, the film version of Civil War, appropriately prefixed as Captain America: Civil War, is such a loose adaptation of that comic that the argument is moot. Sure, there are nods to the structure of the original, but what the movie actually turns out to be is primarily a story about Captain America (the still-amazing Chris Evans) and the closest relationships in his life, and on that front, it succeeds spectacularly. It also has some pretty cool supporting characters, and almost all of them add to the sheer fun of the spectacle. Though Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a more focused film, returning directors Joe and Anthony Russo have now proved that they can handle much bigger casts with aplomb, resulting in a sequel that is almost as good as its predecessor, and noticeably fresher than Avengers: Age of Ultron.

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To My Fellow Wii U Owners – This Is Probably The End

This will be a busy weekend for this blog.

Found on a Facebook fan group. Nailed it.

Looking at things that interest me in a positive light is well beyond a defining feature of my personality at this point. My default stance on just about anything videogame-related is optimism, for better or worse. But sometimes there isn’t all that much room for such a stance, and you just have to be real. If you’re a Nintendo fan of any kind, this is one of those times.

The most recent Nintendo-related announcement to cause waves online – an understatement in some corners – is the triple-bladed revelation from the company’s recent investor briefing that:

  1. Nintendo’s newest console, code-named “NX”, will be released worldwide in March 2017.

  2. The Wii U’s most widely anticipated game, a still-unnamed Legend of Zelda title, will release simultaneously on NX and Wii U, and thus will not see release until at least March 2017.

  3. Not only will the NX be absent from E3 in June this year, but this new Zelda (the Wii U version) will be the only game playable on the E3 show floor.

Still so mysterious.

There’s a lot to digest from this news, but the overwhelming, frigid-breeze-in-your-face implication here is that Nintendo is now ostensibly finished with the Wii U. Yes, Zelda will still come out for the ailing console, and I’m sure the game’s E3 presence will go above and beyond to showcase the benefits of the Wii U’s unique gamepad controller to the experience. But if the NX offers the better version of the game – and there aren’t very many great arguments around to suggest it won’t – then what Nintendo fan won’t just go for the NX version? What’s more, March next year is 10 months away, and the landscape of first-party game releases (and thus just about any game releases at all) for the Wii U in the next 10 months is looking awfully dry – I’m excited for Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, but it’s one of only three retail-facing first party games we know about, the other two being Paper Mario: Color Splash and Mario & Sonic at the Rio Olympic Games. It’s hard to see this whole situation as anything other than an admittance that the Wii U is over, and that sucks.

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The 2016 JRPG Report: Quarter 1

Another post that became far longer than I intended.

I couldn’t write a 3000-word post on JRPGs to open the year without following it up, could I?

So far, there can be little doubt that 2016 has lived up to its promise to inundate players with Japanese role-playing games of all kinds. While quite a few gamers have looked at this February and March as unusually barren in the “Triple A” blockbuster market – correctly, I might add – JRPG fans have been struggling to get through the deluge of quality content relevant to their interests. And boy, have I been struggling. I knew what I was getting into this year, but I’ve had to cut and run on some absorbing games and flat-out ignore others in order to even scratch the surface of the ones I most wanted to play. Such is adult life.

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WHAT I’VE PLAYED

It’s no real surprise that the Japanese handheld consoles have been the most fruitful homes for JRPGs early in 2016. The 3DS kicked things off with Final Fantasy Explorers, a Monster Hunter-esque game that focuses more on grinding for parts to make stronger armour/weapons than it does traditional Final Fantasy mechanics (though they also make an appearance). It was notorious for being in very short supply at retail when it launched at the end of January, but I got my hands on it and played a dozen or so hours alongside different co-op partners. The game is fun, and the ability to incrementally level up your skills and magic within the framework of a traditional FF job system offers some welcome differences from the MH formula. But it isn’t the kind of game I would play alone, so it was only a matter of time before I moved on.

Launching in Australia very quickly after Explorers, the PS Vita/PS3 received The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel in the early moments of February. Blending your standard turn-based battle style with light spatial awareness mechanics, the game presents a story in a Hogwarts-esque fantastical boarding academy with a cold military slant. It packs a schedule management system similar to the recent Persona games and its atmosphere is on point. I picked it up on Vita and really enjoyed the five hours or so that I played while up the coast on holiday, but life and other games have prevented me from going back.

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