Friday, November 22, 2013

Pokemon Origins

Pokemon Origins may be my favorite Pokemon show/movie. The Pokemon mini series, which has been out in Japan for a while, has been given an English dub and was released in the US via the Pokemon Channel app. The series follows the story of Red, the hero and player character of the original Pokemon games. The story is effectively a summation of the events of the Red/Blue games, with some added drama and a couple of new story points at the end.  The series is only four 20 minute episodes, so it is a quick watch overall.

While the story should be nothing new to those who played the original games, excluding the end of series, Pokemon Origins did something rather incredible. I have been playing Pokemon since I received my first gameboy in in 1998. The simple story that takes place in Red and Blue has played through my head enough times that it has lost some of its luster. However, when I watched Origins I didn't feel like I was watching the retelling of something old, it felt like I was playing Pokemon for the first time again. The character red faces the same things any player of the games did and he holds the same excitement for Pokemon as I did when I first played it. It was wonderful to relive some of those moments. It is a great little series and I hope Pokemon takes the hint that this is something that would be appreciated by many longtime Pokemon fans.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Thor: The Dark World

Instead of diligently studying last night I decided to hit up the early showing of Thor: The Dark World. Here are some of my thoughts, they should be spoiler free, excluding info that can be ascertained from trailers.

While I understand those who may dislike the film, after watching it and thinking a little, I must say that I really enjoyed Thor: TDW. Yeah, the story was weird and there wasn't that much to tie into the Avengers film universe, but there was plenty of really nifty things to counteract that. Thor certainly felt more human this time around which added made the "I like to hit things with my hammer" guy much more approachable. Additionally, I really enjoyed the role of the non-Asgardian characters as they deal with the impending threat on the ground level, while adding some comic relief. The scenes with Loki range from marginally touching to snarky and hilarious. Loki is back on a more down low level after the whole taking of the world thing he did in The Avengers and it plays well with his unknown alignment. Of all segments of the movie, the enemy was probably the least interesting. If this were a comic book, all of their issues could be dealt with in a single issue. Yes, they are a serious threat, but they lacked good motive past the "they just want to do this evil thing" barrier.

Overall the plot eked out an average feeling from me of some great high points and several lows, but what turned this film into something I plan on seeing again was the final action sequence. Superhero movies can have a habit of making fights kind of dull. Yes it will always be fun to see well choreographed fighting, but with the overabundance of hero movies I always hope for something more creative. I won't give it away, but I really enjoyed the direction they went in with the final action sequence in Thor:TDW. It was able to bridge the valley of action with a good amount of humor and clever mechanics.

I won't give this an objective rating, but I will predict that many will find this to be an interesting chapter in the Marvel universe.

p.s. Wait until the end of both credit rolls. The final stinger isn't especially important, but I liked it.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Happy Thor's Day!

In celebration of my getting to see Thor: The Dark World tonight I will now only refer to the 4th work day of the week as Thorsday. Luckily the Cinemark here in Conway is doing a 9 PM showing so I won't have to be up super late to watch some Asgardian demigods.
In preparation for tonight I plan on drinking several glasses of mead, sacrificing a goat, and pillaging a small fishing hamlet. Man, Viking stereotypes are the best.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ms. Marvel

News broke yesterday that Marvel will be launching a new "Ms. Marvel" series in February (It probably had something to do with my new holiday, NAAMD). The twist that makes this mainstream news worthy is that Ms. Marvel will be a Pakistani-American Muslim girl named Kamala Khan. My first thought was some kind of shrug, but then I thought about the rarity of a female person of color having their own mainstream comic series and grew a bit more excited at the prospect. Kamala Khan doesn't fit in to the decades old standards of comics. Sure there are female and POC superheroes, but a lot of them don't get their own book right off the bat. Miles Morales had to inherit the mantle of Ultimate Spider-Man from Peter Parker after his death, and diversity seems to go more into team books, but Marvel is diving right in with Kamala Khan. She has new powers and is taking up a B-list mantle with no introduction in another series. So often are the title characters of DC and Marvel white men that when something like this happens it makes the normal people news. Go Marvel!

Ideal amounts of diversity in comics aside, the thing that excites me most about this series is automatic originality that can come from it. Creating a character with a completely different background than the average should lead to some interesting stories. The shift in perspective alone should be enough to make some really solid arcs and characterization. I plan on picking up at least the first issue to see what happens (I promise it isn't just to figure out what the hedgehog thing is).

Original story from the New York Times


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Happy Alan Moore Day!

While November 5th holds many meanings, none of them being the celebration of a comic book writer, I reject all of them in favor of declaring it National Appreciate Alan Moore Day. Yes is he is rather kooky and more than a little angry at times, but he is also one of the most prolific writers in the comics world. V for Vendetta, Watchmen, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen are just a few names to throw out there. So instead of donning the Guy Fawkes and pretending to be part of Anonymous, take today to appreciate some of the great works of the comics medium. Time to celebrate NAAMD!


Adam WarRock's "Middle of Nowhere"

Adam WarRock's new album came out today and I am pretty excited about it. I've given it a couple of listens and here are a few of my thoughts. No full review as I am pretty bad at reviewing music.

  • While there are several tracks I liked, I am not sure how I feel about the album on the whole.
  • The combination of personal songs and more traditional nerdcore seems somewhat haphazard.
  • WarRock seems to be relying less on having featured rappers on tracks. I consider this a bummer as my favorite tracks of his are generally collaborations.
  • Overall, I like most of the tracks and look forward to playing some of these on the next Holo Charizard.
  • My favorite tracks are "That Kid, Icarus", "Sinestrocore", and "How You Die (On the Internet)"
"Middle of Nowhere" is available on Spotify, BandCamp, and iTunes/Amazon.


Friday, November 1, 2013, The Goodreads For Video Games

Useful opinions about game can be hard to come by. Game reviewers, while being well versed in gaming, can overlook certain points important to the potential buyer. Conversely, user reviews on traditional game sites have a tendency to stick to "this is the greatest game ever" or "this game sucks so hard, people who like this must be nazis" duality. However, Clayton Correia may b changing that with Dpadd is a site designed to function similar to, but instead of books people will be logging and reviewing video games they have played. I set up an account and quickly started adding some of my recent titles with short reviews and star ratings. Dpadd also allows users to follow others activities. Dpadd is young, launched earlier this year, and is still in development, but as it stands Dpadd is an easy and helpful way to share opinions about games while seeing what other players think. Correia is still looking for ways to improve the site and is inviting users to send him comments on what to change. I was able to have a brief correspondence with Correia which you can check out below.

How would you best describe what is?
-Dpadd is a social, online journal for gamers. It includes features to let users share what they play, record what they want to play, review titles and much more. It is built from the ground up, as a social tool that aims to connect gamers in meaningful ways around their gaming activity.

Have you been collaborating with anyone or is Dpadd a one man show for now?
-For now Dpadd is a one man show. I handle all the day to day design, development, support and marketing.
During the development process, a friend of mine (who is a much better programmer than me) did some work on the site in exchange for me doing some design work on his indie game. My girlfriend, who is a former UI designer at Microsoft has also helped out with designing a few of the features/screens. I'd say I did about 95% of the design and development of the site.

What made you want to create Dpadd?
-Before Dpadd I had been recording the games I played and wanted to play in a spreadsheet for over 5 years. I would even rate and review games once I finished them. Eventually, I wanted a way to share this activity with friends and other gamers, which is how Dpadd came about.

How long have you been developing Dpadd?
-I started building Dpadd at the very end of 2012 and launched an invite-only beta in March 2013. So it took just under a year to get Dpadd ready for the public launch (which was just a few weeks ago).

Where would you like to go with Dpadd/ what do you think the next step is?
-I definitely have a vision for how I'd like to see Dpadd grow and develop. Right now, however, the next step is for me to learn from the people using the site. I want to build the site so that others can record and share their gaming updates the way they want to. So right now I'm 100% focused on gathering feedback and understanding the needs of gamers.

What do you think Dpadd will add to the gaming community?
-I hope Dpadd will add value to the gaming community much as Goodreads has with the reading community. I want Dpadd to be more than just a tool to record your gaming, I want to foster mature, quality discussion between gamers. I also think that with enough scale Dpadd will allow gamers to connect with industry professionals and high profile gamers in new and interesting ways.

Do you think there are benefits that come with fan reviews?
-I do. I think that there are benefits to democratizing the game review process. You get a more balanced set on opinions than you do when you just follow the standard gaming authorities. I've also found gamers on Dpadd that have similar taste to me so their opinions are more valuable when it comes to making purchasing decisions. 
Eventually I'll also be able to build out recommendations centered around how you reviewed other titles. For me, recommendations from sites like Goodreads have been incredibly valuable for determining what content to consume.

Do you foresee this going to a mobile app?
-Yes. I've begun work on a mobile version of the site (when viewed in a mobile browser). Native apps will come later down the road.

I am very in to my 3DS would there be a way to add friend code to the profile since you have PSN and Xbox on there?
-Absolutely, I'll add it to the queue!