Shhh. Quiet… we’re thinking today. Back tomorrow with some neat stuff I’ll see in the morning (provided it’s not under embargo).
As a slice of Japanese cinema of the early 1970’s, the five films that make up Arrow Video’s Stray Cat Rock Collection make for quite a quintuplet of quickly made flicks influenced by American biker films of the previous decade. Directed by Yasuharu Hasebe and Toshiya Fujita, the films feature the same cast members but are actually mostly unrelated other than in their thematic elements.
“Youth gone wild!” and “Crime Doesn’t Pay!” seem to be the orders of the day here as the series was created by Nikkatsu to compete with rival Toei’s popular Delinquent Boss films. So there’s male and female gangs, exploitative violence, not as much sex or nudity as you’d think (but it’s certainly there), a bit of slapstick, a random concert and more. While there’s plenty of seedy and salacious content, some of the trailers included advertise the films partially as comedies, which is amusing in and of itself. In other words, some viewers will need to approach this set with a wide open mind because what constitutes “comedy” here might seem a bit humorless or just plain strange outside of its home country. This is a good thing at the end of the day as expanding one’s cinematic horizons is a core reason to watch films you’ve never seen previously.
The overall tone of the films will probably seem scattershot to some viewers used to movies that stick to a certain predictable style from start to finish. For all the raging delinquency, drug use, wild dancing, sex and violence on display there’s also a lot of karmic retribution and negative actions leading to more and worse reactions for some characters. This makes the collection a really intriguing set of films that, warts and all make for some pretty cool “B” movie bliss. As usual, some excellent transfers and nice bonus material round out this Arrow Video release and make it a must for collectors. Continue reading
Six indie games for $1.89 and this time all of them look worth diving into. No backlog hoarding in this week’s set thanks to the brevity of the paradoxically languidly paced Home is Where One Starts clocking in at under an hour. It’s a sweetly sentimental short game about making memories, something some see as just posting pictures of food, babies and whatever animal of the day video hits their inbox. This short interactive tale might make a few of those folks dwell longer in their own memory well if they give it a go.
The other interesting game here on a more cerebral level would be The Logomancer, a game made in RPG Maker with a “combat” system that’s a lot more interesting than your garden variety JRPG-inspired (yet completely original) indie. Conflict negotiation and talking one’s way out of trouble is the order of the day for your party members, and those stylized visuals only add to the game’s uniqueness. A nicely done original soundtrack rounds out the fun here.
The other games are a formerly mobile gone PC puzzle game called One More Line, the two Braveland turn-based strategy RPGs, and finally, the hyper-violent but ridiculously funny Mayhem Triple (which may have you seeing angry alien cartoon rabbits falling from the sky when you’re in dreamland later tonight). Ah, variety… I guess. Anyway, under two bucks gets you some cool indies you’ll enjoy. All you need after that is time to play them.
In case you were wondering what Lab Zero (the team behind Skullgirls) has been up to, well click on over to the Indivisible game site and check out their incredible looking and still in early development stages Action/RPG that just so happens to also be an Indiegogo campaign you can participate in. The currently PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One only game set to be published by 505 Games once it’s all completed sure looks like a winner in the early video below. If you want a bit more incentive to whip out that wallet, there’s a free downloadable prototype demo you should try out as soon as possible.
In addition to the gorgeous artwork, animation and fun gameplay reminiscent of titles such as Prince of Persia, Valkyire Profile, Metroid and other influences, gamers who love great music can expect a solid soundtrack from renowned composer/producer Hiroki Kikuta (Secret of Mana, Koudelka, and Sōkaigi among other works). That prototype certainly brightened up my Monday considerably and it looks as if the game’s seemingly somewhat hefty (but reasonable considering it’s coming to PC, consoles, Mac and Linux) funding goal of $1.5 million won’t be a pipe dream for the dev team or publisher.
Anyway, go give that demo a try and if you find your boat floated, let your fingers do the walking and drop a pledge into that fun(d) bucket.
Publisher: Atlus USA
# of Players: 1
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
MSRP: $39.99 (Standard Edition), $79.99 (Disco Fever Edition)
Sure, the premise is supremely goofy and practically guaranteed to make some of the more obstinate old-school fans of the long running Shin Megami Tensei and Persona franchises get a bit cringe-y. But Persona 4: Dancing All Night manages to shake off most any negative vibes thanks to it not only being a pretty decent rhythm game, but a really well-made spin-off to the Persona 4: Golden (that’s also gotten a pretty darn good 2D fighter with an even better follow up). Keeping the surviving characters and situations from P4 intact and working them into the game’s plot was an inspired touch that’s hopefully going to sell those gamers who are only buying this for music and gameplay into picking up P4:G at some point if they’ve yet to.
On the other hand, if you go into P4: DAN with skeptical intent, don’t expect to be knocked off your feet by the game’s premise, how some characters act and the overall gameplay that may not be your cup of tea. Fully enjoying this one means throwing caution to the wind, diving in feet or face first and letting the music and atmosphere wash over you like a sudden summer rain shower. Continue reading
Ape Law’s oddball psychological horror game Albino Lullaby has no blood and gore splattering anything and not a single jump scare to rattle your cage as you explore its bizarre, stylized maps. What it does deliver is a downright creepy vibe, some room-twisting shenanigans and those weird creatures called “Grandchildren” that may or may not freak you out whenever you encounter them. Okay, they will freak you out if the sight of what looks like a man-sized finger with the face of what looks like a zombie version of one of Team 17’s Worms games is something you find scary. And yep, you can even buy stuff with those faces on it that include throw pillows and a travel coffee mug.
Currently available on Steam, this episodic first person adventure released back in September is timed perfectly for the season, what with the weather getting chillier and Halloween haunting just around the corner. Playing as an accident victim who wakes up in a very weird town, part of the game is discovering where you are and how the hell you’re going to get out. The game’s bold use of Unreal 4 in such a stylized manner has the surreal, gaudy Victorian meets scratchy modernist environment look like a bad dream come to life. Continue reading
(thanks, Kévin Aze!)
Ha. Welcome to October where nothing is working as it should, whee! I do need to change that banner and background and update the site with a few posts and such. But it seems that the internet here is chuggy and slower than a dead coyote trying to catch that pesky Road Runner that’s sent him off a cliff for the last time. Thanks to the awful connection speed today it actually took me longer to make this post than it did to write up one of the reviews I’m about done with. Anyway, this test post aside (which BETTER go through when I hit “Publish”, grrr!), I’ll see what else I can get done and up later this evening. Or at worst, tomorrow. Yeah,even if there’s a hurricane or whatever zooming through here, there’s still work to be done.
Yeah, blow, wind… blow. You can’t stop me. Nor you, sideways rain. You’re nothing but an overly damp punk.
Because its Banned Books Week (eek!) and you need to expand your horizons a bit more, the folks over at Humble Bundle have put together a nice selection of challenged and banned comics to purchase with the proceeds benefiting The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF). It’s a great selection of digital books more that worth the minimum asking price and your money is going to a great cause.
While I’d prefer a ban on stupid people banning stuff they won’t even read, I guess this is the best revenge you can have on some of those know-little to nothings and their fear of the printed and drawn word. I’d suggest getting your bundle and reading as much as you can in or near a place that’s challenged or outright banned some of the titles just to see if anyone actually notices. I’d bet a dime that no one will care a whit unless they’re curious enough to ask. And even then, they just might find out that there’s nothing to run screaming from the room about at all.
In other words, wouldn’t it be cooler to live in a world where we’re NOT celebrating books being banned and instead celebrate the smartening up of those who ban stuff automatically because they’ve finally gotten those sticks out of their behinds? Yeah, I thought so.
If you thought the PSP was deader than well, the Vita (ha and ha-ha, but *sob!* for Sony not knowing how to promote its otherwise fine handheld), consider yourself about to be surprised. Gaijinworks continues to kick out the quality and somewhat obscure games with Summon Night 5, a tactical RPG headed to PSN as a digital release for both the PSP and Vita and to a lucky handful of gamers who pre-ordered the limited release physical version.
As with Class of Heroes 2, those lucky folks with the physical version coming also get the digital version of the game as a bonus because Gaijinworks knows some of them won’t ever even crack the shrink wrap on their coveted LE and a few will even go right to eBay and resell their “prize” for boo-koo bucks to the highest bidder. Damn dirty capitalism has its upsides to those who know how to take advantage of it, I suppose. As Gaijinworks doesn’t do review codes (as far as I know), I’ll be ponying up some actual hard-earned loot to play this just like everyone else interested in it.
Me, I just want to finally play an actual Summon Night game in English. I missed the two Game Boy Advance spin-offs from a while back because they got a limited release and now fetch a pretty penny for complete copies. Nope, knowledge of the other four previous Summon Knight games (nor the upcoming sixth one headed to PS4 and Vita in Japan) is necessary in order to fully enjoy what’s here. But one would hope that gamers who don’t know a lick of Japanese can some day get their paws on some sort of collection. Of course that won’t happen unless Gaijinworks has a metric ton of money lying around and time to do all that porting and localizing.
Indie developer Kraken Empire‘s formerly PC-only open space shooter, Kromaia, is getting a makeover for the PS4 this fall in the form of Kromaia Ω (Omega). The visually stunning sleeper from last year was one of those games that was well worth tracking down just to get one’s mind blown by the visual style and surprising depth for an arcade-style game.
The game will get both a retail and digital release, which is a bit surprising on the surface. But it seems that the big push to digital-only that’s been going on for a while isn’t the best thing for some niche titles like this that deserve a wider audience, some of whom prefer the choice of how they get their games. Rising Star Games deserves huge thanks for thinking of consumers this way,although it would be even more awesome to see all of their PC games get this console retail/digital treatment a some point. Continue reading