Review: O. Henry’s Full House (1952)

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“You got any wheelchairs, pal? I wanna take a friend for a little trip.”

o' henry mpNo, it has nothing to do with a misspelling of decades old candy bars still being made today or the old TV series which got a sequel show in 2016 that’s still a thing, but this one does make a fine holiday-themed movie even if it’s not really one save for the the final tale. Even though it was released in 1952, O. Henry’s Full House looks like it was made ten or so years earlier, but that’s a good thing. There’s a distinctly quaint feeling here in this anthology of five classic stories by five different directors and the film is a pretty one to cook up a bit of popcorn for, even if in some areas, its almost too wholesome. Well, save for the Howard Hawks-lensed chapter, which is just pure hilarity in that it seems no one got the humor it its tale and his chapter was excised until it was restored in TV prints years later (and remade as a few films of note).

So, five short films, five directors and about as wholesome as possible save for one chapter that goes for the jugular (in a very funny manner)? I’m in. Although I was in already, as this one’s been a favorite for decades. Toss in John Steinbeck (!) as a narrator (which is kind of like having Stephen King or even better, Neil Gaiman host an Edgar Allan Poe anthology film, I guess), and you get a pretty interesting film that’s an easy view unless you’re overly critical about a few performances.

Anyway,  here’s what’s on the plate – eat hearty!

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Review: WRC 8: FIA World Rally Championship (PS4)

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Out for a Sunday drive, blinking is very optional.

WRC 8In the options menu of WRC 8, ($59.99) there’s a race card screen that tracks your driving in the game, noting everything you do without any judgement. So far, on my time with the game I’ve ran my cars into stuff 3,302 3,477 times (and counting) between small dings to major collisions that had me completely wrecking out of a few races, but this is a good thing (not for my poor garage, though).

The game is quite a massive effort from KT Racing and it’s their best racer to date as well as the sole officially licensed WRC game on the market. The assorted cars, courses and sounds are pretty lifelike and the rides all handle differently under a range of conditions once you get a grip on the controls. But practicing makes the game even better and finding the perfect settings for each car and course is key to getting the most out of the overall experience.

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If you’re going too fast, that simple turn up ahead is a bear, but there’s no bear at the end of that turn, fortunately.

Codemasters’ DiRT franchise might be better looking (the terrain deformation adds to the realism) and better known to some, but the outside a PC mod, the more authentic to the WRC season licenses, courses, drivers, and cars here will be the way to go for fans who enjoy the sport and want the deepest dive into it. Thankfully, those options also include a number of tweaks to make the experience a good deal more flexible to new players. Granted, like the two DiRT Rally games, this is the sort of simulation that’s going to be daunting to novices no matter how many assists they turn on. But that sticking to the real deal thing is for me, what makes a good rally game and WRC 8 makes for the most the best WRC experience since the five great WRC titles by the late Evolution Studios way back on the PlayStation 2. That said, one has to give the still mighty Richard Burns Rally it’s own pedestal for what it brought to the virtual rally game.

Even when set to the easiest mode and with every assist on, the game still requires near flawless or even perfect mastering of its courses and weather conditions. New players to this on Easy can indeed make it around the special stage or a few rallies with some effort. but it’s a literal learning curve taking in the pace notes and reading the track ahead while not hitting something because you’re trying to do it while driving a car at high speed with a co-driver notes near-constant directions at you. Still, the game’s Season and Practice modes will be your friend for a while as you settle in. There are the much harder Weekly challenges to do, but you’ll want some mileage under your belt, as these are pretty difficult events.

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Gear.Club Unlimited 2 Launch Trailer: Wheel Impressive

 

Skidding into retail and the eShop today is publisher Microïds and developer Eden Games’ Switch exclusive sequel, which is the sole licensed racing game on the console following the success of the original Gear.Club Unlimited (which has gone on sale on the eShop for a limited time). The sequel offers more than 1800 miles of tracks, over 50 cars, 250 races, including championships, missions and challenges, enhanced upgrade and customization features and more.  A review copy is on the way, so keep an eye peeled for an upcoming post. I did really like the hands-on time I spent with the game, so feel free to check out those impressions here.

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“Key in the ignition, pedal to the floor, open road around the bend, headed down Highway 10…”

-GW

Gear.Club Unlimited 2 Hands-On: Eden’s Zippy Switch Racer’s a Winner

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GCU2_boxFor whatever reasons, games with licensed cars have been a bit (okay, REALLY) underrepresented on Nintendo’s home consoles for far too many years. The sole good game with licensed cars during the last generation was 2013’s Need For Speed Most Wanted U, a stellar conversion/update that got overall excellent reviews but didn’t sell as well as it should have. I won’t even mention that Fast & Furious game from the same year because it was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

With the Switch doing so exceptionally well since its launch as a home/away hybrid system, you’d think that at over 1230 or so games in we’d see more and better licensed racers filling up retail and the eShop, but nope. Other than the still delayed rally-focused V-Rally 4, and the upcoming truck sim Spintires: MudRunner – American Wilds, pickings are slim for those who want a more authentic racing experience with branded foreign and domestic cars.

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Only a tiny portion of the map is revealed here. All those other courses unlock as you go.

 

Thankfully, last year, veteran developer Eden Games stepped to the plate with Gear.Club Unlimited, an enhanced upgrade of their popular mobile game that removed the mobile-friendly microtransactions and added more cars and game modes. While well received by racing fans and some critics, there was some negativity about shorter than expected race sessions and some elements that seemed too close to the mobile game’s roots. Still, the game did well enough (and is still moving units at full price) that Eden set out to make a sequel that addressed the issues in the first game while adding improvements guaranteed to make the sequel even more impressive.

Let’s just say they have (and how):

 

 

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Iris.Fall Takes A Slight Release Date Spill

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December 7, 2018 is the new release date for indie developer NEXT Studio and publisher Zodiac Interactive’s Iris.Fall. While you’re waiting for this gorgeous and atmospheric puzzler, here’s a new trailer that’s still more of a tease but still manages to be too tantalizing:

While the delay is slightly disappointing, any time spent adding more polish to a game that already looks spectacular is more than welcome. Keep an eye peeled for this one next month.

-GW

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Trailer – Rey of Hope? Maybe Nope?

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Yep, as Yoda would say, pretty good, it looks… but I won’t do any big speculation at all on this nifty trailer because it’s useless (at least as far as I see it). Trailers are made to missile guide viewers into overthinking stuff and too many fall into that trap and end up theorizing themselves into corners up until a movie lands in theaters. PROTIP: for a big, honkin’ tent pole film such as this, the less you flop around on the floor like Shemp about stuff you see (that very likely won’t be in the same order in the final cut or hell, not in the film at all) the more you’ll actually enjoy it.

Well, that’s MY personal train of thought about these trailers and it’s yet to fail me.

I guess I’ll confess (once again) that I’m not a “superfan” to the point that I’ll gargle out copious pages of notes based upon watching every second of a trailer every day for a week and end up being disappointed that my 1600 theories have all been proven wrong. On the other hand, I’m a “superfan” who wants to go in totally cold and get my fill based on NOT knowing or wanting to know any more than what I was teased with in that possibly not quite all true trailer. That poster is nice as well, but it’s kind of hard to mess up a Star Wars poster (much).

-GW

A Little More Of The Last Guardian Is A Lot Of Awesome


 

Spoiler Alert: This is absolutely gorgeous. Oh, and yeah – you get too many hints on what to do early on. Ah well. December 6th is getting closer and I’m rethinking my non pre-order plans for a hot minute. Yeah, I may just go the digital route and not deal with a disc version. On the other hand, I like having something to hold onto, specifically in this case of The Last Guardian being Team ICO’s swan song. It’s one of the few games where I’m actually going in with expectations of a greatness and don’t intend to be disappointed unless everything collapses at whatever ending wraps this one up. We shall see, my friends… we shall see.

-GW

The Last Guardian: Almost Here, With A Tear

 

At the very least, The Last Guardian will be remembered as Team ICO’s swan song, long in the making and very likely well worth that long wait. Interestingly enough, there’s an official soundtrack LP (yes, on vinyl!) by Takeshi Furukawa being put out by the fine folks at I Am 8-Bit that looks really lovely.

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As I no longer have a record player here, I’ll just settle for a copy of the game I expect to be readily available on its launch date. Hype on the game seems to have quieted down considerably over the years, but I’m expecting a post-review surge of purchases followed by the usual suspects returning the game because they don’t “get” it. Ah well… we shall see soon enough, right?

-GW

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Star Wars Episode VII Seems Even Cooler in Japan

Let’s see now… This:

Versus this:

Both are great trailers, but I give the edge to the Japanese edit for its slightly more spoiler-iffic moments. Um, that is all (for now) as I prefer to wait until the movie is actually out before judging anything else.

The Force Awakens My Slightly Cranky, Eternally Poor Side

star_wars_episode_vii__the_force_awakens_ver3_xlgHere are your heroes and villains on a crowded poster. Whee. I’m going to go see this, but more as a curious former super-fan who just wants to see how well director J.J. Abrams is going to try and nail the same feeling the first film had and to check out what the writing is like. The original Star Wars came at a crucial time where Hollywood movies were getting great, glum and gloomy (Taxi Driver, anyone?) to the point where something like George Lucas’ inspired sci-fantasy pastiche with its groundbreaking visual effects (for the time) made suddenly happier audiences rush back to theaters multiple times, buy up every bit of merchandise as it was announced and add more fuel to Hollywood’s now common sequel frenzy.

I’m not much of a big merch guy these days, but I do feel a tiny bit sorry for some Star Wars fans who want every freebie out there these theaters are going to hand out. Good Luck, pal. Seeing the list of different items on the official Star Wars site made me a bit annoyed because it’s going to be nearly physically impossible for ONE person to grab each of these items unless they’re willing to do a LOT of traveling, have family or friends in the movie theater business who don’t mind setting aside goodies, other friends and family who will be getting trampled by Grabby the Hutt during the handout phase or maybe they’ll just luck out on eBay after the fact. Of course, watch me proven VERY wrong by some fans who not only manage to get one or more of all those freebies legitimately, but post all about it for the world to see.

Eh, whatever happened to just enjoying a movie and maybe going to see it again with a friend. These days, it’s all a cash grab roundup that shuts less than enthused moviegoers out of the loop. Well,no complaints about the movie here – just a mild trip down the ventilation shaft with s side track into the compactor room. Heh, maybe I’ll just hold out for the inevitable Blu-Ray release in what… February or March? I don’t want to get Greedo-ed on the way to the theater because some irate SW fan-person in full regalia decides to bump me off because they didn’t like what I said.