State(s) of Emergency

 Ah, memories…

Since 2002, whenever I read or hear the words ‘State of Emergency’, my brain automatically triggers a little earworm of a title tune from the game of the same name released back then. It can’t be helped either, and goodness knows, I’ve tried hard not to get this song starting up in my head when those words come into eye or ear reach (I guess this video may trigger some out there? Or at least get them a case of earworms):

(Thanks, PAL!)


Timely, I guess?

Back at that time, I worked in a small independent game shop here in NYC and that game was one we ran as a demo for a few weeks on and off.That attract mode is what, two minutes and nine seconds long? Imagine what that does to one if you’re watching that intro a few hours a day. Would anyone like a slice of baked earworm? It’s quite tasty and there’s more than enough to go around.

Rockstar Games (which was about a 10-15 minute walk away from the store) was coming off a rather massive 2001 with the release of DMA Designs’ popular and controversial multi-million selling Grand Theft Auto 3 and many gamers were expecting State of Emergency (and there goes that tune again in my head) to be the next big thing from the studio. It both was and wasn’t, but an explanation is in order here. By the way,  I liked the game overall, warts and all.

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Random Films of the Week: A Little New Year’s Cleaning

Yeah, Happy New Year and all that stuff. I figure I’ll post more than I did last year even though I got sick and was out of action for a month or so which led to a bigger backlog that I’m still wading through. My plans to write up and pre-load posts went south thanks to that, but I think with my health getting better (albeit temporarily) I’ll try and tackle stuff slightly differently on occasion. Or: Eh, I’ve been watching a ton of movies in no particular order, so you get to pore over a few quickie capsule recommends.

Stormy Monday_AV093Stormy Monday – Mike Figgis’ first film was this stylized bit of 1988 brilliance that featured Sean Bean, Melanie Griffith, Tommy Lee Jones and Sting, plus a pretty darn neat jazz score by the director. The neon-soaked Newcastle setting features some of Roger Deakins’ lovely cinematography that makes this a total treat to watch. It’s more or less a noir gangster flick with some solid performances and an overall sense that something bad is going to happen what with all the tense glowering and some romantic notions that make for a bit of conflict as things progress.

I actually hadn’t heard of this film other than seeing a trailer way back before it was initially released in theaters. I didn’t think it was for me back then, but thanks to Arrow Video, I’ve been proven quite incorrect. Expect a fine director’s commentary from Figgis along with a few cool bonus features on this BD/DVD combo that make this a nice surprise to discover if you’ve never seen or heard of it until now. Amusingly enough, this pairs well with Walter Hill’s Streets of Fire thanks to both films mixing reality and fantasy elements (although Figgis gets the edge and the edgier performances overall).

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Loving The Alien: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial


The best film directors are master manipulators who can magically transform an entire theater audience into a group of happy to sappy sapient lemmings or wide-eyed marionettes easily controlled from start to end credits. Their best films have the masses cheering the heroes, hissing at the bad ones, empathizing with the downtrodden and generally feeling whatever emotion a scene calls for. Yes, there are exceptions to this non-rule (too-likeable villains, swapping out all attempts at sympathy for more explosions and eyeball rolling plot twists you can see coming 20 minutes before they occur). But when you get right down to it, you know your cinematic needs are being taken care of when certain directors are at the helm.

Or, as an old friend once said:

(thanks, svofski!) 

In other words, this is a Spielberg film, folks.
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Show & Tell: On Ray Harryhausen’s Fairy Tales

Red StareIn regards to every well-worn fairy tale, “It’s not the tale, but how it’s told” is the order of the day. Parents and other creative adults well-versed in story time voices and acting have this mantra branded on their brain cells and know how to make any yarn they spin keep kids at rapt attention. Still, for many of his longtime fans, Ray Harryhausen’s incredible stop-motion versions of Mother Goose stories and five classic fairy tales are some of the most memorable versions ever created.

Save for The Tortoise and the Hare (which was incomplete until its 2002 premiere), I can recall some of these films along with his earlier Mother Goose shorts being shown during assembly hall sessions or in the occasional class where a regular teacher was out sick and the substitute called in hadn’t time to whip up a proper lesson plan. While most of these 16mm shorts were part of my childhood, I’d imagine plenty of today’s little (and more tech savvy) whippersnappers haven’t a clue who Harryhausen was or what made (and still makes him) him great and such a huge inspiration of countless filmmakers and visual effects artists to this day.

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Resident Evil Makes A Return In 2015 For “Old” & New Consoles, PC


residentevil_consoledownload_small_icon_esrb_jpg_jpgcopyOne of the MOST requested (if not THE most requested) Capcom games fans have wanted to see remade for HD consoles has been the original Resident Evil and it looks as if those rabid folk are getting their wish granted and in a big way. Well, provided you own a PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One or a decent gaming PC. Capcom is set to release a beefed-up HD version of the 2002 GameCube remake of the 1996 original as a digital-only purchase.

That particular version improved the visuals and added many changes to the old game and is considered by some (and me, of course) to be the definitive version of the classic survival horror/action game. Featuring traditional or direct control schemes, 1080p support on next-gen consoles (PS4, Xbox One and of course, PC) and all the content from the 2002 game intact, this could be the definitive remake that also introduces new fans to the long-running series.

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Unfortunately, there’s no word of a Wii U version, which is unusual given the 2002 game was made for a Nintendo console. Of course, the Wii U’s sales and Capcom perhaps realizing that they’d probably spend more money on that version than they’d make back means chances are slim we’ll see this on Nintendo’s latest console. It could also be the download size issue and the cost of getting this onto a disc release (and selling a set amount of physical copies) also mucking things up a bit.

That’s show business, kids – but Wii U and Wii U game sales need a nice jump upwards so publishers see the system is worth getting games like this on automatically. Granted, the console IS indeed getting a bunch of excellent titles this year and next… but this doesn’t look like it will be one of them unless something magical happens and it arrives (with some nice GamePad enhancements in tow).

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As always, we shall see… we shall see. For now however, this one’s going to be played by plenty of people who didn’t buy a Game Cube but have always wanted to get their paws on a controller and experience Evil in a whole new way.

Shantae Virtual Console Trailer: WayForward’s Classic Finally Gets Rereleased

If you’ve never played Shantae previously, that’s because you missed out on buying a copy when it was on the GameBoy Color (or you didn’t pirate it, you scallywag!), thus not having the pleasure of playing one of the best 2D platformers on the handheld. Well, as of this Thursday she’s baaaaaack, and this time it’s on the eShop for the 3DS. I actually like that the dev team didn’t gussy their girl up in a shiny HD coating, as the game was so well animated and colored for the GBC that it still holds up today as a prime example of a platformer at its finest. The best thing is you can now snap this one up for a song and NOT have to pay something like $100 or more for a copy of the game (it got one production run, but was VERY hard to find even back when it was initially released). Or maybe you can buy up $100 worth of codes and give them out to lucky friends who happen to own a 3DS or 3DS XL, you nice person, you…

WayForward Brings Shantae Back (Yeah!) As A Digital Download (Argh!)…

Shantae's BackOK, before some of you think I’m totally nuts, let me explain. Way back in 2001 and 2002, WayForward Technologies made two games for the Game Boy Color that were completely amazing from a technical standpoint: Wendy the Witch: Every Witch Way and Shantae, both of which got one production run and despite some solid reviews from all over, never got the sales they so deserved.

“So, er… what’s so cool about these ancient games?” you ask? Well, it’s funny you should ask, dear reader. Here’s a very nice (and pretty lengthy) long play video of Shantae from YouTube user cubex 55 to check out and see for yourself what’s what:

Nice stuff, huh? Yeah, now YOU want one of your own too, right? Well, these days, complete copies of either game are ridiculously expensive (even cart-only versions command top dollar on eBay and game trading sites) and although the developer did indeed finally make a Nintendo DSi sequel to Shantae (Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, which also ended up on iOS devices), folks who wanted something more physical to own got shut out once again (bleh!). Well, the original Shantae is coming back after eleven years, but this time, it’s also a digital download hitting Nintendo’s eShop on June 20, 2013 for the Virtual Console. Sure, it’ll do well, but cranky old farts like me want a better way to keep the gal around a bit longer than as a download.


Heck, I’d bet a wooden nickel that some sort of crowd funding deal could get both Shantae games (and perhaps a Wendy remake) onto a disc for PC with all sorts of fun extras. The chances of these coming back to a cartridge are slim (it’s probably not very economical for a few reasons), I’ll admit, but at least there would be a bunch of people paying WayForward more for a new game and not getting the old ones of torrent sites (as I know more people have played Shantae and Wendy than own legal copies of either). Eh, we’ll see what’s what down the road, I guess. In a perfect world, both physical and digital versions would be available, but I know that’s a pipe dream these days…