Bayonetta and Vanquish Come to PS4? Sign Me Up!

I did a double take at first because I hadn’t seen the trailer when I found this out and thought for a second this was a new game with both characters in it. Nope, but it’s still thrilling news here for PS4 fans who didn’t pick these games up when they came to PC or when they debuted earlier on certain consoles. To be frank (Hi, frank!), I know I’m going to prefer the new console versions over playing on PC if the frame rate is stable and I don’t need to sit there and tweak settings to get something acceptable. That said, I may need a PS4Pro at this point just for the performance upgrade alone, *sigh*.

Ah well, we’ll see what happens with that particular wallet fight. In the meantime, PlatinumGames, you keep on what you’re doing – I’ll see you in February.

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Talk about a certified Platinum hit…

-GW

Review: Pokémon Detective Pikachu

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One of these folks has not has his coffee yet. One has had too much.

pokemon_detective_pikachu_ver2_xlgWhile I’ll confess I’m more of a Monster Rancher person (ah, memories of popping in random or specific CD’s to generate monsters!), I did dabble in a tiny bit of Pokémon starting back in the ’90’s, playing bit of the Red version and a few other titles, eventually tapping out because it wasn’t for me. In he 2000’s. I did eventually play a few of the free games from the franchise though. Both Pokémon Rumble and Pokémon Shuffle were decent, simple time killers on the 3DS for a while. But I wouldn’t say I was devoted to catching them all and nope, I couldn’t tell some evolved types apart even if you handed me a cheat sheet.

That said, I do know Pikachu is a species of Pokémon, so only seeing ONE of them in Pokémon Detective Pikachu was having my well-aged eyebrow creak up a little. Granted, it’s very likely that some younger kids would be a bit confused seeing more than one, so there’s that to consider. That said, I’ve had random conversations with super diehard fans over the years where from kid to adult, they can go on about Pokémon for a while as if they’re real creatures and you can learn everything about them, even if you’re afraid to ask. Try getting stuck in an elevator with a few restless Pokémon fans for about an hour, and someone’s practically guaranteed to whip out their Pokédex notes (NOTE: this has happened three times over a few years, so I must be either lucky… or I need to take the stairs more).

Anyway, where was I? Oh, right. Detective Pikachu is quite a decent enough film, hitting all the right technical notes (the assorted Pokémon are all perfectly brought to life courtesy of some spectacular CG) and falling back on the usual formulaic three-act structure you’d expect from a movie like this. It’s also likely the best live action videogame to film translation to date, I’d say, Especially after sitting through a few cash-in films over the years that were lacking in a few areas. For anyone new to this sort of thing, it might be a bit overwhelming what with all the visual information presented onscreen (or: this is one very busy film). But for the most part, director Rob Letterman keeps things interesting and for a film partially based on a game of the same name, it’s pretty solid.

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Random Film of the Week: The Split (1968)

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I’d very safely say that her ‘do outdoes his hair here, huh? (say that five times fast).

The Split

Is everybody happy? Well, not for long…

As crime capers go, Gordon Flemyng’s 1968 action/thriller The Split is flawed, but pretty good, even if the big money haul it showcases would be 100% impossible if attempted today. Granted, 2010’s The Town presented a similar heist that was more modern and also successful (until it wasn’t), but in this earlier film, anyone who tries what’s done here today will be in for a few problems from the get-go. You’ll see, but let’s talk about the plot for a bit.

Jim Brown plays Mac McClain, a recently released thief who takes on the task to rob the Los Angeles Colosseum of $500,000 during a football game after he’s led to the job a partner in crime, Gladys (Julie Harris, in a big bouffant hairdo!). After a bumpy but eventually successful encounter/reunion with his ex-wife Ellie (Diahann Carrol). Mac sets his plans into action. Naturally, color plays a big role here, so this first ever R-rated film plays it big on the use of language and insinuations about Mac from a few characters.

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Lets just say, in the words of one Admiral Ackbar…. (that’s your cue, dear reader)

He recruits four other man to aid him in some rather ridiculous ways, but that gives you the chance to see them react to McClain’s crazy testing. He gets into a big knock down, drag out fight with Bert Clinger (Ernest Borgnine) in Bert’s office, but splits out a sliding door before the man knows what’s what. Then, he leads shady limo driver Harry Kifka (Jack Klugman) into a car chase where he wrecks Harry’s limo and a nice Corvette in the process. McClain also gives suave shooter Dave Negli (Donald Sutherland) a tryout (the crack shot misses his target, but keeps his cool). And then there’s wily safe-cracker Marty Gough (Warren Oates), who gets a hooker, and a vault that needs escaping as his weird tests. Yes, Mac chooses all four to join in on his plans and as expected, they’re initially not happy about this.

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Random Film of the Week Quickie: Falstaff (Chimes at Midnight)

Falstaff (Chimes at Midnight) MPA few years ago, I was sitting in a diner waiting for a few friends to arrive and overheard two guys in the booth behind me debating whether or not Orson Welles was a good filmmaker. Wait, what?  My ears perked up as one of the guys noted that he thought the only film he ever saw from the director was one he felt was overrated (and nope, it wasn’t Citizen Kane). He was talking about Chimes After Midnight.

It turned out both were film students who had a teacher who wasn’t a fan of the director, had shown the film in his class, and yep, both were new to Welles’ work while also in that uncomfortable place in one’s youth where one questions too much without searching for the proper answers. Eh, I think they were entitled to their opinions, but I’d loved to have sat down with them and made a few points on some of the man’s work they were clearly missing thanks to their biased instructor’s babbling and their lack of seeing more of his output.

The discovery a few years back of a fantastic quality print plus a few other things falling into place means we now have a superb high quality home video version of Orson Welles’ 1965 masterpiece Falstaff (Chimes at Midnight) which just so happens to be one of the better (and looser) adaptations of Shakespeare put on film. Even if you’re not into The Bard’s work, seeing a cinematic genius like Welles pull this off on a low budget while also creating one of the most effective and chaotic battle sequences set to film makes this a must-see movie. Welles, Jeanne Moreau, Margaret Rutherford, John Gielgud, Kieth Baxter and the rest of the cast all give perfect performances, the editing manages to make the year plus it took to put this together even more brilliant and overall, it’s a great film that’s influenced quite a few others that ended up becoming modern (and better remembered) classics.

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Review: O. Henry’s Full House (1952)

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“You got any wheelchairs, pal? I wanna take a friend for a little trip.”

o' henry mpNo, it has nothing to do with a misspelling of decades old candy bars still being made today or the old TV series which got a sequel show in 2016 that’s still a thing, but this one does make a fine holiday-themed movie even if it’s not really one save for the the final tale. Even though it was released in 1952, O. Henry’s Full House looks like it was made ten or so years earlier, but that’s a good thing. There’s a distinctly quaint feeling here in this anthology of five classic stories by five different directors and the film is a pretty one to cook up a bit of popcorn for, even if in some areas, its almost too wholesome. Well, save for the Howard Hawks-lensed chapter, which is just pure hilarity in that it seems no one got the humor it its tale and his chapter was excised until it was restored in TV prints years later (and remade as a few films of note).

So, five short films, five directors and about as wholesome as possible save for one chapter that goes for the jugular (in a very funny manner)? I’m in. Although I was in already, as this one’s been a favorite for decades. Toss in John Steinbeck (!) as a narrator (which is kind of like having Stephen King or even better, Neil Gaiman host an Edgar Allan Poe anthology film, I guess), and you get a pretty interesting film that’s an easy view unless you’re overly critical about a few performances.

Anyway,  here’s what’s on the plate – eat hearty!

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The Criterions, Collected (But Not As You’d Think)

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I was walking down the street one day…

So, this happened a few months ago, but I took my time in writing it because well, among other things, I didn’t have any photos for the article and I want to NOT reveal the location of where the shop noted is because they do have some nice pre-owned movies from time to time. Just not these movies as you’ll soon see. ‘Other things’ would be needing to look up photos on the Criterion site and fitting in references and links, something I didn’t want to do initially because I do need to get some of these films and that reminder pokes at my poor wallet each time I look at the site.

Note: I initially chopped down the story significantly because it’s the holidays and you really don’t need to read a lot here because you’ll be putting a bike together, or setting a digital clock on something, and you won’t have time to do more than throw your hands up and throw a badly written instruction manual in the trash, only to retrieve it when you realize the layout was backwards or a page was printed out of order and upside down. I restored the text because when I thought about it, you may as well have a hearty laugh today at my expense because someone will likely roll over your foot with that new bike or attempt to shoot your eye out like Moe Green in The Godfather (or was it in A Christmas Tale?*) if you got them that BB gun they wanted so badly.

Anyway, take a leap below the jump, and prepare for a fall in which we stick the landing, just not the landing we expected.

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The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics: That’s The Way To Get Me To Play

I don’t have Netflix these days (boo, but streaming is awful and spotty around here), so I haven’t seen the new show at all. But I was around when the original film was released, saw it a few times since and have a fondness for the material, so Enmasse’s and Bonus XP are cooking up a game I really want to play. There’s a neat PlayStation Blog post on the upcoming game to check out, and those screenshots are looking mighty nice. To he honest, I’d rather play this game than some sort of action/platform game or open-world experience, but I wouldn’t be averse to those if they were well made and did proper justice to the source material.

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February 4, 2020 isn’t so far away, that’s for sure. As a big and longtime turn-based tactics fan, I’m looking forward to this one. It’ll also be on other consoles as well as PC, so you’re covered on that front.

 

-GW

Review: Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard (PC)

 

Got five bucks and about an hour to spare? Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard (also available here) will have you letting out a few much needed laughs as you solve the aforementioned case but good. It’s the first game I’ve played from Worm Club (@gracebruxner and @thomasbowker) and it won’t be the last, as I see Grace has an itch.io page and this is a good thing. Anyway, the game is short and simple, charming and droll, two tastes that taste great together, as it were. Oh, and it has LOBSTER COP in it, but don’t tell the Detective this, as he’s the real star. Don’t tell him that either (he’ll figure it out, as he’s a detective).

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Review: Hellboy (2019)

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London’s burning with boredom, now: Well, not yet on the burning part, but plot-wise, that’s all she rote. This is a busy flick that can be hell to watch.

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Somewhere around the 10th level of Hell, it’s good.

So, I finally saw Hellboy a few days ago and waited to write this review to see if I still remembered what happened a few days later as it’s quite a busy flick (there’s a LOT going on, let me tell you).  I did remember (mostly), but I also realized for the second time after a second viewing that it would have been better as a short mini-series on cable spread over a few days that the two-hour film that’s here. I mean, go big or go home, right? This film just goes big all the time, but all that effort manages to feel flat and canned.

The main issue here is despite the copious amounts of swearing, R-rated mostly CGI gore and a few decent performances, the film crams so much in its 120 minutes that it feels like three films worth of material. Between the flashbacks, references to the comic (of which there are plenty) and the fact that it’s quite loud most of the time and has a pretty annoying selection of “headbanging” hard rock tunes (if headbanging means bashing one’s own skull in with a Sisyphus-sized boulder), the end result manages to feel too much like a film made by committee. This one’s a push-button film designed to be some sort of forced “cult classic” and both looks and feels like it. At least some of the practical costume monsters look as if they’re perfect for prime time.

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Review: WRC 8: FIA World Rally Championship (PS4)

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Out for a Sunday drive, blinking is very optional.

WRC 8In the options menu of WRC 8, ($59.99) there’s a race card screen that tracks your driving in the game, noting everything you do without any judgement. So far, on my time with the game I’ve ran my cars into stuff 3,302 3,477 times (and counting) between small dings to major collisions that had me completely wrecking out of a few races, but this is a good thing (not for my poor garage, though).

The game is quite a massive effort from KT Racing and it’s their best racer to date as well as the sole officially licensed WRC game on the market. The assorted cars, courses and sounds are pretty lifelike and the rides all handle differently under a range of conditions once you get a grip on the controls. But practicing makes the game even better and finding the perfect settings for each car and course is key to getting the most out of the overall experience.

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If you’re going too fast, that simple turn up ahead is a bear, but there’s no bear at the end of that turn, fortunately.

Codemasters’ DiRT franchise might be better looking (the terrain deformation adds to the realism) and better known to some, but the outside a PC mod, the more authentic to the WRC season licenses, courses, drivers, and cars here will be the way to go for fans who enjoy the sport and want the deepest dive into it. Thankfully, those options also include a number of tweaks to make the experience a good deal more flexible to new players. Granted, like the two DiRT Rally games, this is the sort of simulation that’s going to be daunting to novices no matter how many assists they turn on. But that sticking to the real deal thing is for me, what makes a good rally game and WRC 8 makes for the most the best WRC experience since the five great WRC titles by the late Evolution Studios way back on the PlayStation 2. That said, one has to give the still mighty Richard Burns Rally it’s own pedestal for what it brought to the virtual rally game.

Even when set to the easiest mode and with every assist on, the game still requires near flawless or even perfect mastering of its courses and weather conditions. New players to this on Easy can indeed make it around the special stage or a few rallies with some effort. but it’s a literal learning curve taking in the pace notes and reading the track ahead while not hitting something because you’re trying to do it while driving a car at high speed with a co-driver notes near-constant directions at you. Still, the game’s Season and Practice modes will be your friend for a while as you settle in. There are the much harder Weekly challenges to do, but you’ll want some mileage under your belt, as these are pretty difficult events.

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