Review: Daymare 1998 (PS4)

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This is not the “Shall We Dance?” number from The King and I, by the way. Halp!!

DaymereWhile it’s not trying to completely reinvent the wheel (I mean, come on, look at the title!), a few very cool modern elements seep into Invader Studios’ and publisher Destructive Creations’ homage to Capcom’s much beloved Resident Evil series as well as genre films of the 90’s, Daymare 1998 ($39.99) that make it work despite the game sometimes working against the player. Assorted undead-like creeps, puzzles galore, and plenty of tense thrills are all here for those who like the survival horror genre, and while boss fights against too bullet-spongy enemies can be a pain, overall, I found the game quite nostalgic and appealing, warts and all.

First and foremost, some of the controls are needlessly complicated. There’s a basic walk (Left Analog) and light jog (L1) for its heroes, but running flat out requires stamina and pressing/holding two buttons and you can only sprint for a brief time before that stamina depletes. Reloading has what, three modes? Granted, there’s a neat touch of realism in the optional the need to load ammo into clips, then clips into guns. But it also adds a bit too much tension in areas with multiple monsters lurking and the need to switch weapons out in a fast way (there’s a human-like delay here and not a game-like rapid switch). Oddly, boss fights just cough up spare ammo clips for you because trying to search for empty clips and spare ammo during them would be too brutal.

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“Knock-Knock…” Uh, there’s no door, pal – just some room to RUN LIKE HELL.

The Dick Tracy-style system device worn on one wrist is nice looking and all, but can get a little too complicated if you don’t take time to check out all the things you can do with item combinations and get with the crafting. Being very methodical helps here, as well as realizing the game’s throwback nature means it’s going to feel a bit intentionally dated in some aspects, like the arcane save system (there’s no save anywhere feature). Well, if you hoard too much, there are also item boxes located in the darndest places that can force a bit of paranoid backtracking if you suddenly realize you might need space for something extra along your route or need to drop items but want to store them. Okay, perhaps that’s more my hoarding nature in games, but you know what I mean.

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Life is Sweet (Trick or Treat 2)

Okay, things are back to normal… well, the internet works much better today, I mean. I need to catch up on a few too many reviews, but first, some brain draining to take care of. It helps me in these crazy times. This will be another TO BE CONTINUED entry, thanks to a bit of stream of consciousness working itself into this post, but I think we’ll be done by the third one.

Maybe.

(Thanks. Cuerva!)

I don’t swim at all not because I’m lazy or never had the opportunity to learn. When I was about 7 or 8, the parents sent us to summer camp and maybe ten minutes into the very first day there, one of the counselors decided to grab some frightened kid from the back of a group of kids who’d never seen a lake up close before and toss him into it. There’s nothing like taking in the sights while airborne and screaming, then the shock of cold water hitting your body (or your body hitting the water at speed) and seeing fish swim away along with a few water snakes. And man, those assorted pebbles and rocks on the bottom of the lake? I was getting a geology lesson and learning about a small selection of sea life while sinking like a proverbial stone. Ah, memories!

To be fair, I didn’t even know snakes could live in water until that point and I would have been surprised at that if I wasn’t busy drowning. At some point, I was fished out by a bunch of councilors after they saw I didn’t surface (my bad! I didn’t read the instructions on swimming before I got on the non-air conditioned hot as hell yellow school bus, and by the way, there were NO instructions). But it also seemed that no one was stepping up to get me to a hospital or medically treated for swallowing all that lake water. I know I was out for a bit, as I woke up with a crowd of worried camp counselors staring down at me and all that water I guess was coughed up and I can recall a bunch of kids with big wide eyes gathered nearby. We hadn’t even been assigned cabins when this happened, so they all had nowhere to go.

I was a pre-Jason Vorehees victim of kid-neglecting teens, I guess. I think I need revenge, or an appropriate trailer:

(Thanks, YouTube Movies!)

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Frogs (Trick or Treat 1)

(Thanks, Burbanked!)

I rather liked science class as lot as a kid despite running into a few bumps in the road, literal warts and all. I recall almost no one wanting to dissect those pickled frogs that the teacher placed on each lab table one fine day, save for two guys in the back (why are the shady ones always in the back and equipped with sharp knives now?) who I guess either turned out later to be really good doctors or even better serial killers later on in life. That and there were a couple of too gleeful girls who obviously didn’t believe that kissing a very dead frog would generate a very dead prince or a live one, for that matter. They just wanted to gross out those that spied them doing it, Ewww.

The more amusing thing here was those girls otherwise hated the class except for this one time and a few other incidents where mayhem was a potential outcome. There was the one time they (about a year later), along with one of the two boys from the back ‘accidentally’ created ammonia gas in the lab that cleared the whole floor, eventually leading to school being dismissed for the day, whee. Uh, don’t try that trick at home, by the way. It’ll the be the perfect cure for everything that ails you with the very obnoxious little side effect of a bit of invisible but acrid smelling poisonous death (and neither a fine nor noble death at that).

(Thanks. Henridellik!)

Eventually, during the two days, I caved into the learning process and with a fellow equally skittish student (we were all paired up in the class – less dead frogs means a sharing moment for all), we took the plunge. Yes, I thought of all those company-farmed frogs taking a plunge one fine day for a final swim they didn’t know would have them a few hundred miles away dead, well-preserved and soon to be splayed out like ghastly centerfolds courtesy of class-provided scissors and scalpels. My partner in (non) crime was a girl who mentioned before we cut into the preserved formerly ribbiting animal that she had frog once for dinner and yes, it tasted like chicken.

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The Missing, The Mail, And The .19 Pork Chop

Well, Hi There.

If asked how I’m doing, I’d say I’m more very much more annoyed these days than usual, but I’m still breathing, which is a hard realization to work around with all this dice throwing going on by the political machine in spots. “Roll your dice, move your mice!” Yes, it’s hard to dance around the elephant in the room, but after seeing EMS pop by the building a few too many times over the months, plus a growing amount of undelivered mail sitting downstairs, it’s been a bit too joyless around here. Well, until I found out that the mail carrier who regularly did the job perfectly was off taking care of his parents for a spell and the person now doing his job was pretty much rushing it by what it seems was sticking the mail in whatever mailbox was laid eyes on and getting the hell out of the building as fast as possible.

Boo, Sir, Ma’am, or otherwise. At least I got to play mailman for an hour or so by dropping off some bills and letters to their correct apartments later, as did a few others who got someone else’s correspondence. Now, I’m a fan of the post office normally, but not when an employee does this to everyone’s mail on the route. Whatever miserable death count I was grimly thinking of was chopped down considerably by some mislaid mail, but that was a merely a small decline in the joylessness. One bit of a laugh came when I deposited some bills at one apartment and the guy who lived there opened the door, saw he had bills and let out a deadpan “Wow. Gee, Thanks.” he really didn’t mean.

Hey, don’t shoot (a mean glare at) me – I’m only the messenger.

(Thanks, MyMotownTunes0815007!)

Still, a few neighbors have gone and left the building (is that literally or figuratively? I forget!*), so that’s a painful fact to work with. Even though we weren’t close, a chat in the elevator, a wave and smile at the right time, or some weird conversation about ice cream are all memory banked and filed for future use now. Processing is different for all of us, but I’d say similar in how we hold onto that past. Presently I’m back and forth on a few things relevant and not so, but I try not to go under the waves more than necessary, as madness stalks that dark, dank alley and that’s a total drowning pool.

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Review: SEGA AGES: Puyo Puyo 2 (Switch)

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Oh, sure, it looks super-cute… but this game is a MONSTER.

Switch_PuyoPuyo2_desc_char“Did you get the game yet? She asked. I told her yes, I’d gotten it. “Oh, good! This one you can play better!” the voice on the other end of the phone cheerily said, then let out an evil-sounding cackle. My eyes rolled in my skull like marbles on a freshly waxed floor and I laughed. Well, my dear friend was right to some extent, as I got further faster in SEGA AGES: Puyo Puyo 2 ($7.99) that I did in the first game thanks to a new ‘offset rule’ that makes for  slightly less stressful play, ‘Garbage Puyo’ drops be damned. The game also tosses in a few other new rules as well as a very handy and new rewind feature, and overall, feels more fun than the original.

A voice in the background on the other end warned “She just wants to play against you online and win!” and yes, I knew that as soon as I saw their phone number pop up on my home line. Man, if that husband of hers just learned to play and lose gracefully, I’d at least be able to not have to take these awful beatings every so often.

Er, I think that came out wrong, but let’s move on.

The last time we played a Puyo Puyo game, it was in person, she was sick (some allergies acting up) and still beat me like a rug (yes, people used to beat rugs and still do). This time out, now she was tanned, rested and ready and yours truly had no chance against Mrs. Skills Deluxe. Yes, I was beaten like a barrel of pickles, if one beat a barrel of pickles for some reason instead of shooting fish in a barrel (which has always been a bad idea as you’d get fishy water and/or pickle brine on your good shoes).  Oh well, but I’m still pretty good at Bejeweled 3, so I take solace in that. Continue reading

Random Film of the Week: The Sailor Who Fell With Grace From The Sea (1976)

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Just another day at the beach…

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This isn’t Altman’s Popeye, to say the least.

I first saw this film on network TV some decades ago and don’t remember much except that I later realized it was edited within an inch of its life, as when I saw it the next time in my teens on cable, the film had a load of stuff I missed plus stuff I understood better, but still missed because of the TV version’s heavy censoring. That said, I’m gathering that over that first network airing, the nudity was chopped out as much as possible and anything overtly sexual didn’t make the cut except for brief flashes. As for violence, I remember the infamous scene with the cat (more on that below) was also chopped down, but you still got the idea of how horrifying it was.

Anyway, flash forward to seeing the film again recently, and while The Sailor Who Fell With Grace From The Sea is both beautiful to look and quite haunting, it’s also going to be for some viewers (as I found out when I recommended it to some friends), a “pretty repellent film” when all is said and done. Two tastes that don’t taste great together for some, but at least the tagline on the poster is quite applicable. It’s got memorable performances, lovely cinematography, direction, and so forth and so on, so I can’t and won’t complain about any of that. I think the issue with some viewers is with the original Yukio Mishima story it was based on and the film not changing its tone into a more kinder one, although it shifts what some say are morally questionable characters and plot to a breezy, stunning English seaside setting instead of its original Yokohama location. But this wasn’t meant to be a film that bent itself to a particular set of generic movie rules.

(Thanks, MADWORLD1247!)

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Review: SEGA AGES: Sonic The Hedgehog 2

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They’re NOT social distancing, but the game is from 1992, soooo…

Switch_SegaAgesSonic2_STI knew I’d like M2’s revisiting this Sega Genesis classic a lot, but the extra mile (or Miles Prower, heh) the developer went here makes the experience even more enjoyable. SEGA AGES: Sonic The Hegdehog 2 ($7.99) is a solid enhanced port overall even with a touch of occasional glitchiness. Not only do you get the original game, but you get the inclusion of Knuckles the Echidna from Sonic and Knuckles as a playable character (as if you inserted a Sonic 2 cart into Sonic and Knuckles’ unique cartridge add-on slot back in 1992), a single stage Challenge Mode (I wish it had more stages, though), the Drop Dash move from the stellar Sonic Mania added, excellent HD rumble, online leaderboards and a few other nice touches like the ability to save anywhere.

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Video Store Action Heroes: Streets of Fire (1984)

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Ellen Aim (Diane Lane) and two of The Attackers, about to get attacked (and lose, badly).

Video Store Action Heroes - Banner 9 finalIt’s that time again, folks. You’re likely trapped inside like me for a spell, so I have your attention (at least for a few minutes before you try and sneak out). Say, look what the cat dragged in after a bit of a hiatus. This post is hopefully, virus-free and entertaining (or at the very least, one of those).

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When I first saw Walter Hill’s “Rock & Roll Fable” Streets of Fire way back in 1984, I can honestly say that I really didn’t like it much. Yet, there was a certain “je ne sais pas quoi” about it that made it quite magnetic. I went back at least four or five times to see it afterward probably in the hope it would get better with each viewing and even saw it a few more times on cable over the decades. Despite the ridiculously simple comic book style plot and one-note characters, the film’s super stylish looks combined with the genre and 1950’s/1980’s era blending made for a unique visual experience. Storytelling? Eh, there’s not so much to be thrilled over. Personally, I feel the film hasn’t aged well, original to modern cult following aside. But at least it gets straight to the action stuff if you just want that and well, you get your money’s worth if you go in totally blind expecting exactly what’s onscreen.

Plot-wise, it’s all this and no more, but I’m going to over-explain a tad here: During a concert in her hometown, singer Ellen Aim (Diane Lane) is kidnapped by a biker gang and held hostage in another part of a fictional city.  A fan (Deborah Van Valkenburgh) calls in her tough guy ex-soldier brother Tom Cody (Michael Paré), who was previously romantically involved with Ellen, to go rescue her. He initially turns down the request, but (duh!), why else would he make the long trip back home? He ends up teaming up with Ellen’s new and wealthy jerk boyfriend/manager (Rick Moranis) and another ex-soldier he meets in a dive bar (Amy Madigan), and for a $10,000 fee, rescues Ellen, who thinks Tom only saved her for the money.

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Duck Tales! Ooo woo ooooo!!!

That mostly turns out to be false, and Tom later takes on the gang leader Raven Shaddock (Willem Dafoe, in too small of a role for a film’s main villain) in a fight with custom made sledgehammers where the outcome is more predictable than you’d think. While the end result is beautifully stylish and super easy to follow, for my tastes it’s too basic of a plot with no surprises or big twists. While the film packs in a lot of flash and neon-soaked noir-ishness, it ends up being up far too predictable despite that flashiness that it’s a bit disappointing.

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Arrow April: Showers of Stuff (and a Few UK Sales of Note)

Five new titles from Arrow Video and Arrow Academy arrive this month for US viewers and yes indeed, the UK arm of the company is also running a fine sales on some older releases. Read on:

BEYOND THE DOOR [Blu-ray] (4/7)
SIXTEEN CANDLES [Blu-ray] (4/14)
WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE! [Blu-ray] (4/21)
THE WIND [Blu-ray] (4/28)

If you have a multi-region Blu-ray player, Arrow UK has some 531 items on sale through April 22, but that total also includes film soundtracks, books and other goodies. Hey, you’re going to be stuck indoors for a bit, right? You can’t just read packages of toilet paper and cans of beans and watch the news all day, so… go get some of this while you can.

-GW

Review: Lydia (Switch)

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Lydia_SwitchA short, haunting and intense game about an unhappy childhood leading to destructive teen years and an adult redemption of sorts, indie developer Platonic Partnership’s striking Lydia ($4.00) isn’t either a happy-filled “fun” experience or a game that’s easily forgotten once played. It’s a slice of life story where a little girl goes through a troubles with her alcoholic and otherwise less than perfect parents and as she grows into her teens, things go from bad to worse as a key event takes place that changes a few lives forever.

There’s a use of time as a storytelling element along with the stylized visuals that may go over some heads, bit it’s a simple thing, really. As the game covers snippets of Lydia’s troubled life through adulthood and the ending is a conclusion that’s somewhat of a direct one, it’s a case of seeing her world through her eyes. Her visions go from childlike in her younger years to to more or less her view of reality as seen by someone who’s not an artist, but more a realist in how she deals with a particular and sad issue many go through. The level of humanity here is somewhat intense, as the game’s not shy at using raw language throughout as we see Lydia’s plight unfold in dreams and the real world. Adults can be more monstrous that an imagined creature in a closet.

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