Random Film of the Week: Hard to be a God

(Thanks, kinolorber!)

Imagine an episode of Game of Thrones as performed by the cast of Peter Weiss’ Marat/Sade minus the fantasy elements and with an even more staggering attention to medieval detail and you’ll maybe grasp a small potion of the late Aleksei German’s outstanding, brutal (yet beautiful) Hard to be a a God. This 2013 film (the director’s last) isn’t for the easily disturbed but if you’re willing to sit through the almost three hour running time, you’ll likely find yourself glued to the screen from beginning to end.

While it may not look like a sci-fi film, right from the start you’ll see subtitles that note the story takes place on an earth-like planet going through its medieval phase about 800 years after ours. A group of scientists have been send there to observe the planet and gently nudge it forward without using technology or politics as it goes through what should be a renaissance phase. Unfortunately, things kind of get a bit out if hand when intellectuals of all types become targets for murder by a tyrant’s roaming militia intent on keeping the people uneducated and (mostly) harmless. Actually, about 28 minutes in, you get a reminder that you’re on another world thanks to a quick shot of something mechanical making itself known. But even then, the illusion of an incessantly nasty age isn’t at all broken.

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Odin Sphere Leifthrasir Hands-On: Vallhalla Yeah, Vanillaware is BOSS

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Back in 2007, Odin Sphere came to the PlayStation 2 as a gorgeous yet flawed masterpiece. Developed by Vanillaware, the game’s sumptuous visuals and challenging gameplay were only hampered by rather pesky slowdown and a few clumsy design choices. When Vanillaware announced it was bringing the game out on PS4, PS3 and Vita, one of the concerns expressed by fans was whether or not the game would be a straightforward HD update that didn’t fix some of the issues. Well, let’s just say after about two weeks with the Vita version of Odin Sphere Leifthrasir, any concerns about those problems can be erased completely.

The game (set for a retail and digital release June 7 for PS4, PS3 and PS Vita) has been redone using the same art assets, but with enhanced backdrops and *many* new major to minor gameplay tweaks that make this the best version of the game you’ll ever play. Combat has been made more fluid and accessible, blocking actually works, item, magic, and potion use is simpler and the game is running at a beautiful 60 frames per second. If that wasn’t enough, Vanillaware has updated the leveling and skills system, polished up the cooking stuff, and overall has made what’s going to be forever known as THE definitive version of an instant classic. Oh, and for those who want to compare, the original version is also included as part of the package, making this an even better must-buy deal.

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Fans of the original who own PS4s can, should and NEED to get the demo from PSN. Like NOW. There’s a Vita demo coming soon and yes, it’s going to be a must download and play experience. I’d say more, but that’s dipping a toe into review territory. Just mark the date, get your wallet ready or if you’re into pre-ordering, go do that stuff you do best and hope all your omake gets shipped in a BOX as it shouldhttps://fanboydestroy.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=31367&action=trash&_wpnonce=a79f89fd60. Yeah, I’m talking to YOU, Amazon, GameStop, Best Buy, EB Games and anywhere else stuff just gets tossed in a flimsy bubble mailer and kicked onto the back of a truck. A game this stellar deserves the kid gloves.

Back in a bit with more on this gem. Now, about a proper Princess Crown remake… hey Vanillaware and Atlus, can we talk?

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir PS4 Demo Out Now: A Dish of VanillaWare For Dessert Sounds Grand

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If you own a PlayStation 4, you can do yourself a HUGE favor today and download the demo for Odin Sphere Leifthrasir NOW on PSN. The game isn’t arriving until June 7, but you’ll see that this revived and remastered PS2 game looks absolutely gorgeous and runs at a wonderful 60fps. There’s also a VERY nice surprise for those who remember the original release, but I shall let you see for yourself what that is. I’d say more, but the embargo isn’t over until tomorrow and I don’t want to get smited by my favorite PR guy. This pairing of Atlus and Sega is a match made in gaming heaven.

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir: Plain Vanillaware Is Awesome, Omake Makes It Even Tastier

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I don’t believe in magic at all, but whatever George Kamitani and Vanillaware are using for creative energy, it needs to be packaged and sold at cost just so more game developers can reap the rewards. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir, the upcoming HD reworking of the PlayStation 2 classic looks as if it will introduce a new and larger legion of fans to the game when it ships out for PS4, PS3 and Vita on June 7, 2016. While North Amrican PS4 owners looking to collect the most omake luck out big time with the limited Storybook Edition at $79.99, PS4, PS3, and Vita-only owners in NA who pre-order can score a softcover version of that hardcover 64-page art book in the Storybook Edition. Continue reading

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir: This Remake’s Not Plain Vanillaware At All


 

Atlus and Vanillaware are teaming up to bring a very beefed-up HD version of 2007’s PlayStation 2 classic action game/RPG hybrid Odin Sphere out for the PS4, PS3 and Vita sometime in 2016. Take a gander at this gorgeous key art and set those calendars for whenever the game ships out next year:

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Atlus has even made this upcoming release an educational experience in at least one way. Leifthrasir is pronounced “LAYV-thra-sheer,” and that weird-looking “d” in the poster above isn’t a “d” at all, but a thorn þ, meaning you’ve learned something useful and Nordic today! Hmmm. hopefully that weird letter turns out alright in the actual post.

Change the Fate of the World When the End of Days Draws Near in Odin Sphere Leifthrasir

The Perfected HD Project from ATLUS and Vanillaware Remakes the 2007 Original

IRVINE, Calif. – July 23, 2015 – Vanillaware, the team behind the hit side-scrolling title Dragon’s Crown is working on a new authentic HD project with ATLUS to recreate and perfect Odin Sphere – the 2D action RPG with Norse Mythology roots. Told in five tales from the perspectives of five unique protagonists, Odin Sphere Leifthrasir expresses the original game with glorious HD graphics in Vanillaware’s renowned style, expanded worlds with new monsters, fully voiced story scenes, and a fine-tuned refreshing combat and RPG system to perfect the gameplay. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir will be available as a physical and digital release for the PlayStation®4, PlayStation®3, PlayStation®Vita in 2016 in North America.

You probably want some screenshots to ogle that feature some of that new HD art, correct? Well then, here you go:

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Lovely. I now have at least ONE game I can look forward to at some point in 2016 and thankfully it’s supporting old and newer Sony consoles.

Kitchen Nightmares III: Holding Patterns (and Who Can I Sue If I Drop Dead of Starvation?)…


 

So, the kitchen here still hasn’t been returned to its normal state, but the work is set to begin on December 5th. The stove can still be used, but once the sun goes down, you’re taking your life in your hands if you try to chop anything in the kitchen. Sure, I can sit in the living room and get all rustic with a cutting board in my lap or on the coffee table, but there’s something so odd about doing this (and yeah, one slip means I’ll be adding a body part to whatever I’m cooking). I’ll have to bug the management here about some sort of cooking/meal solution once the repair/rebuilding work gets underway. Once it starts, the kitchen will be off limits for at least four days straight and then a few days more after a weekend break. Bleh. I hope to hell they don’t think I’ll be ordering out or eating fast food for all that time, as that’s not a good idea for me for a few reasons.

(Thanks, SeriouslyDead!)
 

Feh, at this point I just want this long national nightmare to be over so I can go back to living like a normal person. Maybe I’ll slap on some zombie makeup and start groaning at the workmen when they show up to spur them to get the job done faster. Then again, the lack of craftsmanship and care here is pretty shocking. The team that removed the asbestos from the kitchen had a fat guy who busted the burners on the stove AND chipped the paint on the stove because he stood on them when he was doing the ceiling. Gyahhh. I despise that sort of idiocy. Okay, let me go lie down before I bust something.

Cavia Lives! Sort Of. Xseed Returns Bullet Witch To The Xbox 360 Via Games On Demand

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BW_AliciaAh, my dear, dear Alicia… I missed you and your “witchy” ways, but it’s too bad this brief and non-physical reunion we’re having is just courtesy of a reissue and not an all NEW adventure.

Some people hated the now shuttered Japanese developer Cavia’s Bullet Witch when Atari brought it to the US for the Xbox 360, but I liked it (warts and all) thanks to the difficulty that required players PAY ATTENTION to enemies in the environments (snipers in that game were paid very well, let’s just say), learn patterns and take advantage of assorted strategies while trying to find that perfect pace to move at so poor Alicia didn’t get swarmed.

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While PlatinumGames’ Bayonetta became a much more popular (and faster moving) heroine three years after this game came and went, I’ll always remember Alicia being there first with her big gun and wild spells. One day, she needs a proper comeback in a  better (and multi-platform) game, I say. Continue reading

“Get Me Rewrite!” (Again!): Not So Retro Game Reviews To Make A Comeback!

Raze's Hell Cover (Custom)Okay, this one’s a doozy, folks. From early 2004 to around 2007 I was writing for a now defunct gaming site called Bonusstage.com and when the site died its untimely death after a series of DNS attacks and a double server crash or something did it in. At the SAME time, the computer I’d been using to work and game on had its hard drive burn up, putting me out of action for a time until I could get it replaced. As I wasn’t able to salvage the drive and thought foolishly that “What’s on the internet stays there FOREVER!”, I thought that whatever I wrote would be around no matter what happened. Welllll… I was wrong.

Long story short, a huge chunk of work I did wasn’t fully archived when the wheels of fate all locked up at the wrong time, I wasn’t backing up stuff properly at the home office and when you add those together, it’s a big fat mess. Or NON-mess, as there’s nothing to clean up but some crocodile tears… Continue reading

Random Film of the Week(end): Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead

(Thanks, THINKFilmNY!) 
BTDKYD_MPThe late, great director Sidney Lumet’s final motion picture, Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead is a brilliantly made film that hits harder today thanks to the death (allegedly by heroin overdose) of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. While the film got a somewhat limited theatrical release in North America and was completely ignored at the Academy Awards, it’s a mesmerizing, must-see crime drama that shouldn’t be missed. Its non-linear structure and use of flashback scenes presented from different characters’ perspectives adds a layer of tension to an already compelling story and every single actor here more than earns their keep, perfectly playing their roles.

If you’ve never seen this before, I’ll not reveal very much of the story, as the film rolls it out for you from a few angles and watching these characters roll fate’s dice and lose to varying degrees makes the movie. Hoffman and Ethan Hawke play brothers desperate for money for assorted reasons. An armed theft planned by one brother goes wrong in the worst possible manner and the consequences spiral out of the control of just about everyone affected by it. Just when you think things are bad enough, they manage to get worse and those awful ripples reach pretty far before heading back to their source…

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Valhalla Knights, Free Ahead of Vallhalla Knights 3? THANKS, Xseed Games!

VK_FREEWell, now… this is really cool news on an otherwise crappy shutdown filled day. TO celebrate the October 15 launch of Valhalla Knights 3, Xseed Games is giving fans a REAL treat in the form of a 100% FREE download of the first game in the series. Valhalla Knights is now available on PSN for nothing at all until October 21, 2013. In other words, if you’ve a PSP or Vita handy (it’ll work on either handheld) and a PlayStation Network account you can get downloading NOW and check out where it all began.And nope, you DON’T need a PlayStation Plus account to take advantage of this awesome freebie!

I’ve already played this one a few years ago, but it was the UK version and those saves aren’t compatible with the North American version. That comes into play here as I recently scored a bunch of used Memory Stick Duo cards and one card had a VK save file I couldn’t access. Now I can hop into those old saves and see if the former owner had a decent party setup (before overwriting them with my own saves, of course)…

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