(Not So) Random Film of the Week: Night Tide (1961)

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Sirens go off: A figure of speech, as it were.

night tide mpSpoiler Theater: In Curtis Hanson’s beautiful, haunting and unsettling romantic thriller, it’s a case of Boy meets Girl, Boy gets Girl and Boy, Oh Boy, does Boy lose Girl, But That’s Sort Of A Good Thing?  Night Tide is a dark and moody film set by the Pacific, with an old pier carnival and its seaside surroundings as the main setting and what could be seen by some today as a few problematic elements in some of its troubled characters. I still think it’s an excellent film, mind you. But after watching it with a few friends recently, I see it’s also a film where some viewers applying more modern thoughts to its story may find an issue with their overall enjoyment. You’ll see.

A young sailor on leave named Johnny Drake (Dennis Hopper) goes to a seaside amusement park at night. He pops into a jazz club where he sees a lovely woman (Linda Lawson) sitting alone enjoying the music. He crosses the room, asks her if he can sit at her table because he can’t see the musicians from where he is, then proceeds to sit facing the woman, not the musicians. He tries to strike up more conversation, but she asks him to let her listen to the tunes instead. He then tries to buy her a drink twice, but she refuses both times. Suddenly, a strange, middle-aged black-clad woman (Marjorie Cameron) comes into the club, approaches the other woman and starts speaking an untranslated foreign language (Greek?) to her. The young woman is upset by this and quickly hands Johnny some cash to pay for whatever she was drinking and rushes out of the club.

 

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(Not So) Random Film of the Week: Fast Company (1979)

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I’m still waiting for the Slow Company movie,  but I’m patient…

fastco mpI think it was around 1983 or so and I’d seen four or five films by David Cronenberg when I found out he’d made the 1979 drag racing centered “B” movie Fast Company. At the time I had to search around for a video store that carried it because in the US, it wasn’t readily available as far as I was seeing. A friend of a friend got a copy of the film from one of his sources not too long afterward because he was just as curious as I was and its funny how that sort of thing works out, isn’t it? I recall liking the car stuff, but not liking the plot much, but overall it was a decent popcorn flick provided you didn’t take the story at all seriously.

Watching it again more recently reveals it’s still a pretty pedestrian (ha-ha) movie with a some great car action, a touch of sex and nudity not uncommon to the era and if you didn’t know it was directed by Cronenberg, you’d think you’ve gotten a pretty good made for cable flick from a time capsule. It’s not a badly made film at all, though. In fact, some of the drag race scenes and a later car reconstruction scene benefit from Cronenberg’s attention to detail and his real-life obsession with the sport. Hey, everyone needs a hobby, right? You could say “All body horror and no play make Jack a dull boy”, but that’s not true if you stop and think about it. Still, variety is indeed, the spice of life, so this one’s special like that.

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Sakura Wars Story Trailer: The More You Know, The Better It Gets (As Long As You Don’t Know So Much)

 

It’s quite the year for nostalgia in games, am I right? Final Fantasy VII, Langrisser I & II, the Yakuza Remastered games, a new King’s Bounty, and more are on the way, but there are a few firsts for the US and Sega’s Sakura Wars is at the top of the hit parade for many, I think, as it’ll be the first officially licensed game to make it westward on console. This trailer in only a hint of that’s to come, but I’m going to stay away from bigger reveals because I love going in as blind as possible on some games because it keeps them more interesting and yes, I’m happier with no or as few spoilers as possible.

-GW

Review: Bayonetta and Vanquish 10th Anniversary (PS4)

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Just make sure you stick the landing, Miss B.

BVYou’re not buying that excellent Bayonetta/Vanquish 10th Anniversary Bundle ($39.99) from Sega strictly for the plots of both games, that’s for sure. Both titles hold up mostly excellently in terms of visuals and controls, but the writing is more of an excuse for some lengthy and visually lovely in-game cinemas that pad out both run times. Granted, both games are made to be highly replayed, especially Vanquish, which seems short at about six hours, but there’s a lot more to it once you mess with the difficulty and as with Bayonetta, play through like the bad-asses both characters are. If you’re into both games, they’re far from “one and done” experiences.

 

 

The two stories here actually enhance how wonderfully crazy and brilliant the gameplay is for both titles, especially when you go from hanging onto every word in cut scenes and free yourself from simple button-mashing to pulling of perfectly timed strikes of all sorts in the flagrantly sexy Bayonetta to taking down enemies and bosses with the fast slide and shoot moves from Vanquish. That said, the latter’s plot about Russian-led forces commandeering a huge US-built microwave-powered space cannon to decimate California and threaten to do the same to New York might be something a few players might find blows their minds a bit. Bayonetta’s still phenomenal opening just throws you into battle as it plays out, then teaches you the ropes before the real challenge begins. Trying to explain the plot here? Good luck – just enjoy the cut scenes instead and kill a lot of enemies and bosses when they’re done.

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“I thought you just used microwaves for Hot Pockets and cold coffee!”

Both games allow for unskilled players to get in their kills although the latter game is more punishing if you try and flail through it and refuse to pick up on all it’s trying to teach you. Then again, it may take a bit of getting used to the controls in both titles for some who’ve not yet played both games – your mileage will vary based on how adept you are at picking things up and dealing with the forced camera angles in Bayonetta. Vanquish has a bit more freedom in its camera, but on the harder modes (there are four difficulty settings), speedy, precise play becomes a must. Continue reading

Survey Says (Ding!): Gothic Remake Is a Go, Won’t Be Ready in 2020

Gothic PT

The people’s choice, indeed.

Well, 43,111 people participated in a little extensive survey THQ was taking and the verdict is in: We’re getting a Gothic remake at some point, just not this year. PC and next-gen consoles are the targets here, so it seems at least the game will have a very similar visual fidelity across anything it’s eventually released on.

If you have Google Drive, you can see and download the results of the survey here in PDF form (it’s a whopping 21 pages):

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1uNuvngHrTZ3AVpNEdoXS-E8rKlwVdhlX/view

Here’s the press release as well, below the jump.

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Sakura Wars: It’s About Time, Sega

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Boom time for Sega continues!

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I think it was about 1998 when a friend visiting from Japan gave me his used copy of Sakura Wars as a gift after he found out I really liked strategy games and had made my way through a few Japanese games with a bit of effort and persistence. Well, I ended up picking up Sakura Wars 2 a few years later, but never played either game thanks to thinking Saturn games would all be successfully emulated and/or localized at some point and I wouldn’t need to learn any more Japanese other that what little I picked up from a few dictionaries and games over the years. Well, that and yes, I was a bit lazy to my great disadvantage (Or not that lazy, as I finished four Front Mission games, two FEDA games and a few other imports with not too much hassle). Anyway. with 2000+ games in the library here, I never got around to to playing either title.

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Let’s Go Gothic For A Bit, Shall We?

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Hmmmm. But I give it a thumbs up, with reservations…

 

 

I still have my boxed copies of Gothic and Gothic II here and got the non-Piranha Bytes developed Gothic 3 on a disc with two other games, so this news of a playable teaser got me thrilled the series is in a comeback mode of sorts. THQ released a demo of what their team in Barcelona is working on a few months ago and is very wisely asking for user feedback and whether they should continue with the project. In a nutshell, it’s a big YES from me despite some huge problems from the start, and yes, I have some notes to offer as a fan. Constructive criticism time:

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Preview: Aluna: Sentinel of the Shards

Aluna Sentinel of the Shards Key art

Well, I just discovered two things buried in my ever-packed email inbox: Ember (reviewed here in its PC incarnation) is on Switch and I need to get this at some point because it’s a good game worth a few replays. That and developer N-Fusion has teamed up with another indie developer, NY and LA-based Digiart Interactive to bring the comic-based game Aluna Sentinel of the Shards to PC and console players. It’s set for release this year on PC and consoles, but I’m just getting to seeing the news and yes, I’m sharing.

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Soon to be everywhere you get your games (and thankfully in a physical release as well as digital)

Here’s the trailer in case you haven’t seen it yet:

 

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Zombie Army 4 Launch Trailer: You Bought A Bigger Boat, Right?

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Hmmm… this could be trouble…

Rebellion is maybe going to cause a rebellion at retail and on digital stores and their up to 4-player Zombie Army 4: Dead War will be the cause. I do need to play it at some point, as back on PS3, the series has always been a sort of reliable insanity for me where you know what you’re getting into from the title and can’t expect anything more than a developer having a bit of gory fun with the subject manner in whatever ways they can. I like that sort of thing because reinventing the wheel isn’t what’s intended, but a new set of spinning rims sure will do you good. Well, that and the zombie sharks in Dead War, which I have some (not so) important questions about, have me quite curious.

To wit:

Are they German-speaking sharks? If so, can players use “Hallo! Bitte beiß mich nicht!” as a command? If they’re undead, does this mean they’ll follow you even more tirelessly because a tired shark who stops swimming will die (allegedly) while a zombie shark will pretty much come at you forever? Am I overthinking this a wee too much? Stuff like that. I’ll wait kindly for the developer to come up with a few answers, but here’s the trailer below the jump to keep you warm while hell freezes over before I get my answers.

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Here Be Dragons: Insanely Good (So Far)

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Too good to be true, so it must be false!

 

How does one properly describe a game where you play as a few somewhat (okay, VERY) off-kilter pirates in a turn-based strategy game that features a dice-spitting cherub, sea monsters of a few types, gameplay on a “living map” and a reworking of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the New World? Yeah, you can’t, but you sort of just have to watch this trailer first to see why:

 

 

Red Zero Games? Congratulations are in order as you win the prize. What prize it is will be determined at a later date, but you win something for this pure madness in my book (Memo: give Red Zero Games a prize but not the stale popcorn from last week, that’s not a prize unless they’re dead parrots). I’m actually still playing Here Be Dragons (my laptop has been in haywire mode this week), but so far, this game has had me laughing with it constantly because it’s got easy to pick up, tricky to master gameplay, other than a few glaring typos is extremely well written, and its humor is right up my alley.

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