Happy New Year (Take 2)

(Thanks, TroniCPol!)

Hey, my mood lightened! Ha. Anyway, I was trying to think of an appropriate New Year’s thing to post when it hit me that I hadn’t played the late Kenji Eno’s very offbeat D2 in about four years. It works as a perfectly bleak yet eventually hopeful holiday horror game experience for the period between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Thanks to just being too busy to unearth one of my Dreamcasts, make sure the battery is working so that I could start playing about nine hours before midnight so the end credit sequence ends with the onscreen game clock counting down to the New Year and getting a cheery message for all that effort, I haven’t gone near this gem. But that’s going to change.

Anyway, backlog or not I’ll finally replay this classic at some point this year just to see if I can speed through it a bit faster. Much of the game’s length is due to extended stretches of cinematic sequences that can’t be skipped, so it’s a pay attention game almost all the way through, lousy US dubbing and all.

Ah well. Anyway, Happy New Year, people – 2017 is going to be innnnnnteresting.

-GW

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Random Film of the Week(end): Camel Spiders

Camel Spiders DVD CoverOkay, I was bored, annoyed and in the mood for something stupid to waste about an hour and a half or so. That sort of opening line is usually reserved for someone confessing to a crime of some sort. But it was my excuse for sitting down last night to watch Camel Spiders, a 2011 direct to video “B” flick so laughable and intentionally awful that it made me forget about most of the stuff bugging me.

Initially, just seeing the title made me laugh enough to want to check it out and see if it was as cheesy as it sounded. But it wasn’t until about 2/3 of the way in that I remembered that “Camel Spiders” are real, really large and have a somewhat larger following. Well, I’m sure those so-called fans would run the other way (and right into a wall) if they came across one or more of these eight-legged freaks in real life. Unlike too many of the victims in this dopey film who just stand there and get attacked or approach those puppy-sized pests with curiosity that just gets them killed off quickly… Continue reading

Gallery: Lumino City – State of Play’s Handmade Game Is Really Pretty Stuff…

 
Okay, I’d not heard of indie developer State of Play Games or their games until someone sent me a link to their site a while back and I was charmed by the look of Lume, a puzzle/adventure game (currently on sale on the Steam store) with sets made out of paper and cardboard with hand animated characters filmed against and around those lovely locations. While the game was short and some reviewers knocked it for this, the outstanding visual style and fact that everything was handmade made this one quite special. That and the game’s ending seemed to point to a potential follow up at some point.

Well, that follow up is coming and it’s called Lumino City. As you can see above and below, it’s a work in progress and looks gorgeous. The developers promise “a wondrous sprawling puzzle adventure game” and it looks as if they’re going to exceed expectations on a few fronts. Hopefully, those critics and players that beat up on Lume for its brevity will see the craft here and really appreciate all the work that is going into this new adventure. I know I’m eager to give it a go when it’s ready for some play time. It would also be cool to see this on consoles at some point, but I guess that’s up to the developer’s time and if someone gets them a few dev kits…

Lumino City – Teaser from State of Play on Vimeo.

 

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TORCHWOOD: Miracle Day (Finally!) Makes it To BBC America

For those of you who don’t have Starz! as part of your cable package and didn’t get around to buying the Blu-Ray/DVD yet, if you happen to have BBC America on your tube of choice and are planning to be alive say, around September, you’re going to get to gorge on TORCHWOOD until you keel over. On Friday, September 13 at 11pm/10c, BBC is presenting is presenting an all-day marathon of TORCHWOOD Season Two and TORCHWOOD: CHILDREN OF EARTH, then on the 14th, TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY gets a 9pm/8c premiere as part of the channel’s Supernatural Saturdays programming.

Sure, some cranky fans thought this series had a few too many episodes and tended to drag on a bit, but I say don’t invite them over to hang out on your couch and eat your food. It’s definitely worth a look if you’re new to the series and sure, you’ll probably like the older shows better (COTE is especially remarkable). On the other hand, you might find MD hits the right notes and like what you see as the series progresses. It’s got plenty of twists and turns in its wild plot and a few new characters you might get attached to. Which, by the way is a REALLY bad idea in this particular universe…

Random Film of the Week(end), Too*: Juan of the Dead

 

*Hey! You get an extra RFotW  column because I usually do two or so a week and I’ve been a bit too busy to watch as many movies as I’d like. Lucky you!

JotDAs we’re near completely brainwashed here in America that anything related to Cuba is bad or will turn you into a flag-waving, manifesto carrying Commie if you so much breathe in its general direction (save for stuff that can really kill us if over-consumed like Cuban cigars, Cuban sandwiches, or a fatal clot in the ass or legs from that 48-hour I Love Lucy marathon because you wanted to catch that ONE episode you missed), seeing a great indie zombie flick pop up out of that country is a nicely reaffirming sign that people are indeed alike all over. Juan of the Dead, despite the knockoff title and low budget, is a really fine addition to the crowded zombie flick genre thanks to plenty of gore and decent FX work, a load of humor targeted at current and past political policies and a solid cast that’s just fantastic throughout.

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(Not So) Random Film of the Week: Melancholia

melancholiaQuite possibly the best end of the world movie to date (provided you aren’t expecting something along the lines of an Irwin Allen-style Hollywood blockbuster packed to the gills with overpaid celebrities), Lars von Trier’s Melancholia is also a surprisingly beautiful film despite the fact that everyone dies at the end. Er… Surprise!

Actually, the film spells its not so big secret out in the stunning opening montage and its two acts play out in operatic fashion as things unwind in the lives of two sisters and how they deal with the impending disaster. Even though you know what’s going to happen, von Trier’s focus on the pair and the more intimate events in their small part of the world makes for compelling viewing that keeps you watching until the very end. Even if you don’t like some of the director’s previous films, this is one of those essentials that’s not as depressing as you’d think thanks to some excellent performances all around and some truly gorgeous cinematography.

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Incoming Retro Bliss: Sega Genesis Classics Collection Gold Edition (PC)

As I always have way too much going on (being a one-man operation can be a bit of a pain every so often), sometimes I can be a tad forgetful. That. or I end up not getting to everything on my rather long list of games I’d like to dive into for a spell. To wit: I’d forgotten this amazing set of over 40 Sega Genesis games had shipped out to retail a while back (OK, something like March 2011!) until one of my eBay alerts reminded me that I was looking for this. A few clicks later and for a mere $9.90 shipped (brand new/sealed), I’m a happy camper set to re-relive some games I’ve played to death on a few platforms already. Hey, the classics NEVER get old, that’s for sure.

I’ll drop in a review once this arrives and I get in some quality time with the games in this great package. Hmmmm… now, where did I put that PC game pad I haven’t used in ages?

Film Review: A Ghost of A Chance (Once Upon A Blue Moon)

One of the best films I saw in 2011 wasn’t the usual big-budget Hollywood ego piece cooked up to win award after award, but a great and often laugh out loud funny comedy from Japan that’s worth tracking down even if it’s never released in English. That said, I’ll bet writer/director Koki Mitani wants a time machine for his next birthday. I know one of the first things he’d probably do is go back and meet Billy Wilder, Michael Powell and Frank Capra for dinner somewhere expensive where they’d smoke cigars, drink good whiskey and talk movies until the sun popped up like a fresh piece of perfect toast.

I say this because Mitani’s latest film, A Ghost Of A Chance (or Once Upon a Blue Moon if you happen to live in Japan) manages to get in nods to Wilder, Powell, Capra and a few other famous directors while also being as fresh and funny as Mitani’s other inspired comedy work. While a bit overlong, the film is funny (often hilariously so), touching (you’ll probably shed a few tears at some point) and despite a few flaws, is well worth watching a few times. With a plot that’s part crime story, ghost story, courtroom intrigue and romance (for starters), there’s a lot here to keep cinema buffs happy.

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Dissecting THE THING: Missing Minutiae, Merrily Making Modern Mistakes…

While last year’s prequel to John Carpenter’s classic 1982 film was well-made and an effectively creepy good time, as a big fan of the original 1951 flick and of course, JC’s fine retelling… I was a tiny bit disappointed. For me, part of great suspense is all in the build up and despite some nice scares, the prequel loses a bit of suspense because it doesn’t build much empathy for its doomed cast (and loses some chances to once the monsters start appearing). Still, I found most the film fine until the entire alien saucer sequence complete with that all-too common “formerly flexible monster who can’t quite reach the heroine!” and “run like hell to escape the big explosion” set pieces we’ve all seen in too many other films. I’ll get to the “leave ’em hanging!” part of the pre-credit ending later, as there’s a great (and I think intentional) workaround there that could actually set up an actual sequel (should someone be crazy enough to make one)…

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Sonic 4: Episode 2 Set To Roll In 2012

Sega is set to send Sonic soaring into the stratosphere after two great games in a row on consoles (the super Sonic Colors and the even superior Sonic Generations). Here’s a quick peek at the Hedgehog’s latest speed-fest, set to hit XBLA and PSN in the New Year – enjoy!