Road Trip (Of Sorts)!

MODUSHey. Now, I’d normally be posting something as we speak, well, something more game-y or film-y, but I’m getting ready to go out (“Fresh air! Times Square!”) and take a look at some upcoming titles from the fine folks at Modus Games, who certainly have some nifty-looking titles to show off. There’s an embargo in place, so you won’t be able to read my impressions until the 10th, but I fully expect to have some rather nice things to say about what I’m going to be seeing. Wait, that’s quite game-related, so I did my good deed for the day, huh? See what happens when you let a realization sink in?

Speaking of seeing, I’ll be seeing you all later this evening, as I’ve a few reviews to get to posting and some potential whining about a movie trailer I didn’t much like. Back in a bit.

-GW

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Time To Switch. But Not Tonight, I’m Pooped

switchy 

I just got back from the Nintendo Switch event here in NYC, but I’m wiped out from being awake since 4am. My hands-on will go up tomorrow, but I did like much of what I saw and played. Back in a bit, Zzzzzzzz…

– GW

Carrie Fisher: Our Princess Is In Another Castle*

cf
 

“Hey Mark, It’s Carrie. Where are you? We’re waiting for you… hurry up!”

So, back in 1983 (I believe it was during midsummer), Carrie Fisher mis-dialed a phone number and called the place I was staying at on West 95th Street to leave that message. Everyone I played it back to recognized the voice and through a bit of deductive reasoning it was figured out she may have been ringing up Mark Hamill. At the time it was believed he also lived somewhere on the West Side (I recall he was a frequent West Side Comics customer), so it was entirely possible his phone number started with that popular 864 exchange and Carrie got one or more of the last four numbers scrambled. There were no cellphones back then and I don’t think you could have an operator redial from an answering machine, so this was just another NYC thing to us. Celebrity sightings were commonplace back then with a walk up or down the West Side in any weather often yielding some pleasant surprises (yes, I have stories. No, not now, please).

Anyway, that tape was a hot thing for a while among friends until interest faded and we moved on to whatever life slipped our ways. But every so often I’d want to pop up at one of her book signings and ask my one question or I thought about just writing a quick note (or much later, email) to find out if she recalled mistakenly calling me. Of course I never got around to it, supremely trivial matter that it was in the grand scheme of things. Today’s yet another not good one, particularly as I’d been very much avoiding the internet for its rolling out of crappy real news, really fake news and a Pandora’s Box of all-too predictable downhill results of a rather unbalanced political season.

Here’s a funny – I’m also in the middle of replacing or updating important to lesser bits of my movie collection, so I only have Star Wars episodes 4-6 on VCD. As in Fox’s official overseas box set from VideoVan circa 2000. Ha and ha-ha. Well, I think I can run them on the laptop. Either that or go through a few bins looking for my Magnavox CD-i system. Or, hell… maybe I’ll just watch The Blues Brothers for the what, 30th or so time? Yeah, sure… that’ll do.

(thanks, rumblingthunder!)
 

*Or, that damn Empire. It loses all the time… but always wins over the long run, doesn’t it? Boo.
-GW

Zelda: Breath of the Wild Site Is A Breath of Fresh Air Today

link-w-wolf-link

Yep. While the disappointment of the release slipping possibly into next summer is a bit annoying, the fact that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild now has an official site chock full of too much info is a really good thing. Go poke around, please. Especially if you’re a big, cranky skeptic who didn’t get the chance to play the demo this past June and think an open world Zelda is somehow a bad idea despite the series being chock full of open world goodness from the very first entry.

-GW

PAC-MAN Championship Edition 2 Hands-On: PAC-ing Plenty of Heat, And Soon


 

Pac-Man CE2_game-boxBandai Namco has kept Pac-Man relevant for decades in all sorts of games, but that speedy yellow dot-gobbler is always best when things are simplest. PAC-MAN Championship Edition 2 does an excellent job at blending old and new gameplay elements that allow classic fans to dive in and play while giving newbies an actual fighting chance to keep up on the scoring front.

Some hands-on time at the company’s recent NYC event revealed a game that’s faster and more frantic than the first installment, adding new modes, fixing up a few things and overall, making for a guaranteed thrill ride experience that’s going to be hard to put down.

boss_01 

Releasing digitally on Sept. 13th for $12.99 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC (via Steam), the game will “PAC”-in several modes for solo or competitive play, all featuring flashy, energetic visuals that riff on the classic arcade game flawlessly. During my ten minute session and plenty of minutes watching people dive in and play with the same “no way!” grins on their faces on a PS4 build, it was clear as a bell that the game would be a total smash when it drops next month. The non-stop action handles like a dream using the PS4 pad, so you don’t need to fret that the game needs an arcade stick. In fact, the game handles so well that I’d bet a nickel all those moms or dads who were PAC-MAN players that don’t play many modern games, but have a console or PC in the house for the kids just might get a bit scared their kids can now keep up with them in a competitive game.

Eating the ghost train_0 

Time Attack and Adventure Mode offer up their own sets of challenges, and the while the very idea of tutorial stages to play a PAC-MAN game may seem horrifying to some stalwarts, what’s here works exceptionally well in getting everyone up to speed. New maze types and some massive boss battles in Adventure mode plus the crazy train Ghost Train stuff in the main mode will keep this one in play stacks even when the inevitable third installment arrives at some point. All I know is some of us will be taking a sick day or hoping for a rainy weekend after the game launches so we can have an excuse for staying home in our PJ’s grooving on a bit of CE2 action. Er, I’m speaking in CLEARLY hypothetical terms, of course.

The Lost Arcade: Here Comes A New Challenger For Game Film of the Year

The Lost Arcade#thelostarcade

If you thought a documentary about a grimy New York City videogame arcade would be the last thing you’d ever be interested in seeing, take note: Kurt Vincent and Irene Chin’s The Lost Arcade is one of the best films I’ve seen on arcade history. Well, the history of ONE particular arcade known by its fans as a second home where skills were honed and lifelong friendships and friendly rivalries were built. Years in the making, this look at the legendary Chinatown Fair arcade is fascinating and moving because it focuses more on the people who played and worked there than on the games. That said, there’s plenty of game footage as well as gamers playing and talking about what they love here. In fact, it’s the passion on display when these people talk about why they play and how CF became so important in their lives that keeps this flowing from start to finish.

(Thanks, International Film Festival Rotterdam!)
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Planet of the Apes Back on the Big Screen: Not Hard to Fathom At All

Image from impawards.com

Image from impawards.com

 


I think I’ve mentioned this before, but in case you haven’t read that old post, 1968’s Planet of the Apes was the very first movie I saw in a theater. That said, I’m not sure I’ll go to this Fathom Events screening thanks to my backlog keeping my plate full. But to anyone seeing this for the first time or for the first time on a big screen, my glass is raised that your sense of wonder gets the same kick mine did those many years back. If YOU do end up going and are reading this, feel free to drop on by and leave impressions. It’s always fun to hear how modern moviegoers see the classics.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Hands-On: No-Rule Hyrule Is An Amazing Place

Yep. You need a Wii U. NOW. Or when the game comes out, no hurry! Um, the NX version is supposed to launch the same day, so maybe you can get one of those too?

Yep. You need a Wii U. NOW. Or when the game comes out, no hurry! Um, the NX version is supposed to launch the same day, so maybe you can get one of those too?

 

blurry

This blurry photo is a result of my hands shaking because I was about ten seconds away from firing up the first of two demos. Oops.

Other than a trip into the rabbit hole a few years back after an early teaser trailer, I’d deliberately been ignoring any and all news, gossip and other speculative to factual bits of info about Nintendo‘s new Zelda game because for my purposes, going in cold makes for the best gaming experiences. When the opportunity arose to be one of 500 people who weren’t going to E3 to play the demo, I cleared my calendar and made sure I got my butt down to the Nintendo World Store bright and early to score a slot. Once that was done, the breath holding began with the hope the demo wouldn’t disappoint.

It didn’t. Although a mere 40 minutes was spent with it (two timed sections of 15 and 25 minutes each), the demo of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was one of the most memorable times I’ve had with any game I’ve ever played and definitely the most interesting Zelda game I’ve sampled.

The team has recreated the sense of wonder of the original NES game, but with a much larger and absolutely drop dead gorgeous open world Hyrule devastated by time and disaster starring a Link who’s been awakened after a 100-year slumber. How this ties into previous Zelda games is unclear at this point, but there are enough visual, aural and gameplay cues that give the new game a sense of familiarity longtime fans will get right away. The lucky ones chosen to play and plenty of onlookers at the demo event got to experience a game long in the making that’s going to feel fresh and incredible to longtime Zelda fans who may not play PC role-playing games like The Elder Scrolls or The Witcher series that offer massive maps and an amazing amount of quests to tackle. Breath of the Wild’s freshness brings manual jumping and climbing everything from trees to mountains to the franchise for the first time, no in-game companion/follower for Link (other than Amiibo support noted in the video below the jump), and a world where there’s a lot to do, but one in which the freedom to do as one wishes actually makes things MORE thrilling.

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Trailer Leaves a Few Folks Breathless


 

And that is a mighty good thing. Some (well, TOO many) gossipy babble fight web sites were going on for weeks about the decision by Nintendo to focus heavily on ONE game, complete with too many gullible gamers falling for the rumors that it was the ONLY game coming to E3 (it wasn’t). But as you can see, all that time and type in the rumor mill was wasted. Speculation sucks, doesn’t it? This game won’t. Back in a few hours with some hand-on impressions. Go watch the gameplay demo yourself over at Nintendo’s E3 site. It started at 1PM EST and will be going on pretty much all day. Back in a few hours with a few words on how it plays.

Hello, Zelda! The Crack of Dawn Gets That Golden Ticket in Hand

Zelda Ticket

Whee, you! I was initially going to pick a later date (Thursday, because I have another media event in the evening of the 16th), but thought better of that when I saw 6 and 7pm slots still open on Tuesday.  The earlier times had been snapped up (3 to 5 PM), so I’m going to keep my fingers crossed my session runs fine, I don’t drool all over that Gamepad,  and I get the most out of my demo time.

 

It REALLY pays to get out of bed early in the morning. Or not sleep at all and get one’s butt downtown to wait five hours or so for a once in a lifetime opportunity. May was crappy, but June is looking nicer at least on this front. Back in a bit, as I’m still a bit groggy… but also very happy.

 

Link for Prez backwards

Yeah, I wore this shirt today. One of the Nintendo NYC employees handing out the bracelets got a good chuckle from it. Yeah, yeah. I need a selfie stick, but I really hate them.