Not-So Random Film of the Week: Way of the Dragon/Return of the Dragon

Hey, look! it’s that time of the month again – you know, when us guys get together and do the usual, but in public and with way too many people watching (well, hopefully). Yes, it’s time for an all-new (but not very much improved) installment of…

(theme song plays):

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If you did NOT hear a theme song, let me know. I paid some guy on eBay a pretty penny for a theme song. Hmmm… I think I need to stay off eBay for a while…

This month’s other entries can be found at Mike’s Take on the Movies, The Cinema Monolith, and Wolfman’s Cult Film Club, so go get reading (you’ll need your own popcorn and beverage of choice, though).

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A bit of misleading marketing copy here thanks to this getting a US release after Lee’s unfortunate demise and Enter The Dragon popping up in theaters first in the States.

If my fading memory is correct, the first martial arts flick I’d ever seen was Way of the Dragon (or Return of the Dragon) sometime in the mid 70’s on a black and white TV, either on WOR or WPIX, I believe.  It was pretty horribly dubbed from what I recall, but then again, so were way too many foreign films of all genres from what I can remember.  That version was what I saw as “definitive” in my youth until I finally heard from a few friends in the late 80’s that I’d probably want  to see it in its original language. That took a while, as I finally got around to seeing a cut of the Cantonese/Mandarin version with English subtitles about 10 years back and it made for a much better experience.

As a kid, I didn’t pay close attention to dubbing other than cracking up at the way the mouths moved while wondering how those actors onscreen often said the dopiest things. As I grew older and gained more knowledge about films and the dub/sub process, I saw that more often than not, bad dubbing was the result of rewriting dialog and trying to fit those words into the mouths of whichever actor was speaking lines. Granted, Bruce Lee’s first complete work as a writer/director/producer isn’t exactly going for the gold on the scripting front, but it works far better when you see how Lee uses the language barrier as a major part of the film’s plot.

(Thanks, fortunestarmedia!)

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Review: Vaporum (Nintendo Switch)

Vaporum_switchAs a well-aged (I prefer the term “vintage”) fan of old school dungeon crawlers, I knew Vaporum ($24.99, worth every penny) was going to be right up my alley. With its dark thematic elements, Dungeon Master meets BioShock vibe and plenty of play and replay value, the very worst thing that I could think of as I sat down to type out this review was simply only being able to get through the game once for this post and having to move onto something else thanks to my stupidly large backlog.

The team at Cypronia has converted developer Fatbot Games’ stellar PC game into a mostly excellent home console version and yes, when I say home console, I kind of mean it. While you can indeed take this on the go as a Switch owner, you’ll have to deal with somewhat smallish onscreen text and controls that can be a bit complex as they’ve been translated from keyboard and mouse to a controller with a lot less buttons to operate. Everything works as it should, but there are a few fiddly moments that require a trip to the options screen to adjust things to your preferences.

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Shocker! Just about everything wants you dead in this game – expect traps and tricks galore as you get deeper into the thick of things.

Personally, though – this is exactly the sort of game you’ll want to play while socked away on a rainy vacation at home in front of the TV in docked mode. That way, you’re all into the visual and aural experience (the game both looks and sounds fantastic) and not having to be interrupted by outside distractions such as some kid walking up to you and asking “Hey, is that a Switch? Can I play, please because my mom won’t let me take mine outside and… blah de blah, blah, blah..” (true story, that). This is the sort of game where concentration, planning and execution are all urgent forces vying for your attentions.

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Review: Feather (Nintendo Switch)

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Because sometimes you really really need to relax, games such as Feather ($12.59, $9.99 on PC) exist and should thrive because they do what they do well enough to recommend to those with more open minds. Melbourne-based Samurai Punk‘s super-chill experience is as much of an art project as it is a highly playable stylized bird flight simulation and it works on a few levels some won’t immediately grasp. Its open world setting couple with the simple to pick up controls allow free exploration of the map which reveals a few nifty secrets for those willing to take the time to dive in and discover.

This is a game where the intentional low-poly look blends seamlessly with its lovely soundtrack that does a great job of transporting you and your brain into a comfortable place for as long as you need that respite. As there are no big goals other than enjoying the ride and locating all nine music tracks (accessible via circular gateways placed in select locations), it’s a case where if you want to end the game, it doesn’t mind when you quit because any “progression” you’ve made isn’t saved. Yes, that seems strange in this era of auto-saves or games recalling your last position before a huge event. Feather itself is the event, and it’s a low-stress one at that. Jump in at any time and fly until you’ve had your fill.

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Oh, the places you’ll go: Just explore everything, as you’ll fly into some odd spots worth seeking out.

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Review: Zanki Zero: Last Beginning (PS4)

“Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip…

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CHARGE COMBO… er, hey? Does that come with fries, or just a large punch? I got jokes, man. Not good ones, but I got jokes…

ZZPS4“Gleefully Apocalyptic” or “Cheerfully Downbeat” may seem like damnable praise for a game, but Spike Chunsoft has made that a winning strategy in a number of its more popular titles such as the “Deathly Amusing” Danganronpa series or those “Wonderfully Grim” Zero Escape games. Veteran developer Lancarse’s Zanki Zero: Last Beginning ($59.99) is in some ways similar, but not 100% quite like those other games, though. It’s a “Non-stop Survival RPG” with a demanding set of gameplay requirements some new to this sort of thing may find a bit tricky to grasp, but it ends up pretty satisfying once you settle in and grow accustomed to what it requires from you. In English, you’ll dig this for what works well more than those who might not “get” it at all. Go try that lengthy PS4 demo out and make your move, I say.

You play as a team of eight survivors of a world-ending event who initially seem to think they’re in a bizarre reality show, but soon find out they’re clones with a 13-day lifespan forced to repeat the cycle of birth to death as they puzzle out the hows and whys of their existence. Their guides? A pair of cartoon show hosts living in a separate reality who pop up on an unplugged vintage televisions to give them missions that will expand or end their lives (or both) as they’re completed. Yes, you get 10XP if you realize there’s some nefariousness going on behind the scenes (or, under the skin, if you prefer). And yes, I thought David Lynch would make a fine directorial choice if there’s ever a live-action version of this one, but as usual… I digress.

 

 

As you can see from that trailer above, you can expect death to come calling frequently (a lot less so if you play on the new to the English version Easy mode). That said, dying here isn’t all bad, as what can kill you will in most cases will make your party members stronger as new resistances and even a bit of lifespan extending can be acquired based on how and when you buy the farm. Buy early, buy often, but try not to buy it too much as your lives are limited. There’s also that parasitic Clione the clones have to deal with – use their powers wisely, or pay the price with a somewhat spectacular death.

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Zanki Zero, You’re My (New) Hero

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Keep an eyeball peeled for this one, folks.

While it’s not officially out until April 9th, I’ve been playing a review version of Spike Chunsoft’s new first-person “Non-stop Survival RPG” Zanki Zero: Last Beginning for a few days now and it’s pretty amazing on a few fronts. I’ll save most of that “How amazing is it?” stuff for my review, but I’ll gleefully urge you to go download the demo if you’re a PS4-owning JRPG fan who wants something a wee bit… different yet but quite familiar in its mature tone to Spike Chunsoft’s other quirky titles.

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One of the first people you’ll meet in the game. Expect total strangeness from this point onward.

That trailer below doesn’t even begin to convey the sheer wackiness and brilliance on display, but it sure makes for an interesting watch:

Oh, before you get all “Aw, man… I want to play this on my PC!”… the game will indeed, get a PC version on the same day as the PS4 game ships. Excellent.

Alrighty, then. My work here is done for now, but I’ll be back with a review next week. Expect strangeness.

-GW

Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain – 13 Days ‘Til The Worldwide Airdrop

This latest trailer for EDFIR is pretty goofball stuff, but definitely enjoy it for what it is. Of course, you can check out a more “serious” trailer and a nice set of screenshots on the PlayStation Store page (and pre-order the Standard or Ultimate digital edition of game if you like). Everything is shaping up to be the most epic entry in the long-running series to date and yes, that worldwide release insures EDF fans everywhere can play together or alone and not feel left out of the action.

Oh, for the record, I’m finally finishing up my Earth Defense Force 5 review (yeah, it took a while thanks to the ridiculous amount of content in the game, but that’s show biz, folks!) and should have it up over the weekend. Pop back in and see if it’s a total blast of a game more folks need to jump on (spoiler: it most certainly is).

-GW

Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen Pre-Order Trailer Flips the Right Switch

switch-package-usAs noted previously, I’ve played Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen on every platform save Xbox One and can’t wait to see how it translates to the Switch next month. If the frame rate is smooth and performance is solid in either docked or handheld modes, I can see this game becoming even more of a go-to action/RPG than even Capcom is anticipating.

That $29.99 price point is also definitely going to be a huge key to the game’s success, as you’re not only getting the original game’s content, but that lengthy and supremely challenging Dark Arisen expansion that features the deadly as hell Bitterblack Island that will haunt you with its incredible level of challenge (as in don’t make it your first stop once the game proper begins… or else.

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Better hope that spell gets cast before that Cyclops starts swingin’ that club, pal…

The hardest part for a DDDA veteran like me will be finding the time to play this one. I know I’ll go the Mystik Archer route for the first play because its way too much fun to send a volley of homing shots down a twisty corridor and hear the sounds of monsters expiring before they’re seen, but I may totally flip a coin and choose a different class, as all are fun to play and rewarding when all is said and done. I guess it’s time to get in some sort of shape so I can log a ton more hours across the lovely but oh-so deadly island of Gransys and those intricately detailed dungeons packed to the gills with assorted dangers. If you’ve got a Switch, go put this one on your wish list, I say.

-GW

Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen on Switch: The Fifth Time’s (Still) The Charm

Gransys in the spring is a wondrous place to be – just don’t mind the constant monsters trying to snack on your bones.

So, I’ve played a Dragon’s Dogma game on my PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and PC, so seeing this finally coming to Switch is making my poor wallet tingle. No, scratch that, it’s in the corner setting itself on fire. Eh, no worries, though. I’m just going to sell off some stuff in the library to pick this up as a retail purchase and try to carve out some quality time (which sadly, can’t be bought for all the spare loot in the world). Anyway, Thanks very, very much to Capcom for this seemingly timeless gem I’ll be purchasing once again. I kind of knew it was coming (it’s the closest thing to a Monster Hunter game but with more user-friendly controls and a more unusual “online” element), but this trailer was indeed a thing of wonder to behold.

-GW

April PSN Flash Sale: Your Wallet Just Went On A Crash Diet

PSN Flash Sale April…and is now MUCH lighter. Thanks, Sony!  This new PSN Flash Sale will have your head spinning as the values pile up in your digital shopping cart thanks to so many deals on PS4, PS3, and Vita games plus a bunch of Video content to keep you entertained and your friends wondering how you can afford all that content.  Hey, up to 75% off is nothing to sneeze at. Unless you’re allergic to discounts (of course).

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In case you didn’t get the picture – there are some NICE deals here!

Of course, they probably know all about this sale by now if they’ve read this far and they’re busy clicking away adding stuff to their carts in order to entertain themselves and make YOU jealous.  Such is life, right? Anyway, get to it – there’s a lot of tempting stuff there and you don’t have much time to spare.

Lost Reavers Beta Hands-On: Fun, But Needs Some Old West Tweaking

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LOSTREAVERS_keyartWhile it hasn’t sold in the numbers Nintendo has liked to have seen, the Wii U isn’t dead just yet. Bandai Namco’s online-only action shooter/RPG-lite exclusive Lost Reavers popped up last Friday as a public beta until April 26 (the final version goes live a day later) and after some extensive playtime, the jury is in on the gameplay (solid and accessible fun), but out on the lack of certain features that make these online games hugely popular and more enjoyable to western audiences. Let’s start with what works before commencing with the constructive criticism, as some things can and should be ironed out once the final release is out.


 

While the “plot” is thinner than a sheet of rice paper on a recently paved road run over by a dozen brand new steamrollers, it’s not *why* you’ll be playing at all. The game is a throwback to a simpler arcade style of play: Run through maps killing monsters and picking up drops before making to a relic room where that prize is retrieved by a single player and carried to an exit warp while the others protect hm or her. Most maps are relatively short and can be completed in less than five minutes to closer to ten minutes each with a good set of teammates. The Unreal-powered visuals are okay and occasional lag and bug issues (that will hopefully be squashed before launch) aside, the game runs at what looks like 30fps most of the time. While it’s a third-person game, each of the four classes plays differently and the heavy gunner guy has the only optional first-person view. My own preferences are the third person furthest view camera because it allows for seeing more of what’s around you, but there’s also a second third-person view that adds a targeting cursor as well as a lock-on function that should help casual players get used to things quickly.

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