Head to Head (Sort Of): Fast Striker vs. FullBlast (PS4/Vita)

I can recall a few years back reading in more than one place that the arcade shooter was dead as last week’s formerly fresh fish, but this was really never true. Between numerous indie developers and fans keeping the genre alive through making and publishing and distributing games via digital and retail formats, the good ol’ shmup lives on pretty much anything that can play them. Two of the more recent ones go for the gold and succeed when by being well-made games with excellent price points destined to hang out in your game library for a spell. Let’s take a peek at both, shall we?

Fast Striker 01

Pretty, isn’t it? well, it’s also PRETTY FREAKIN’ HARD to an old gleep like me, but I keep playing these shmups because I used to be better at them back in the day.

fast striker PS4First up is Fast Striker ($6.99), a 2010 NEO·GEO MVS/AES vertical shooter getting a new life on current gen systems thanks to German developer NGDEV and publisher Eastasiasoft. Six levels of frantic, gorgeous bullet hell bliss await with four difficulty settings to challenge. Yes, six levels may seem short to some of you out there, but this game makes you earn those high scores and like a solid shmup, you’re going to keep coming back to beat your previous runs or die trying.

There are some basic screen resizing and wallpaper options, but I personally prefer sticking to the more arcade accurate default window than going full screen. Er, not that it helps much given my awful reflexes when the going gets too tough (or okay, a little tough. Hey, I’m getting old!). For example (yipes):

 

 

Yes, I’m THAT bad at this game, but I managed to get through the Novice difficulty and messed with the others (Omake mode is SUPER nuts). I’ll be a saint here and link you to the official trailer just so you can see how a far better player does:

 

 

In addition to the digital release, Online retailer Play-Asia has a very limited edition physical version ($34.99) for both the PS4 and Vita set for a November release. Each is limited to 2200 copies worldwide and will include the region free game, a manual, collector’s box, soundtrack CD and a numbered certificate you can show off if you please. The price difference is yes, because of all that stuff inside the box, but if you’re into packaged games and have the shelf space, it’s a fair enough price point.

fast striiker LE

You’ll want to be a Fast Striker if you need this nifty Limited Edition exclusive from Play-Asia. Better pre-order this now before the scalpers snap them up to resell at ebay prices (ugh).

 

Overall, a pretty solid shmup that’s a trip down memory lane to my former glory days and perhaps yours as well (but I hope you can play better than I can).

Score: B (80%)

-Review code provided by the publisher

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The Angry Birds Movie Update: Blake Shelton Is A Big Fat Pig

Hey now! Step away from the keyboard and put down that baseball bat, folks. Shelton IS a big fat (and green!) pig. Or more precisely, he’s voicing a big fat (and green!) CG pig named Earl in the upcoming The Angry Birds Movie:

Blake Shelton voices "Earl" in in Columbia Pictures and Rovio Animation's ANGRY BIRDS.

Blake Shelton voices “Earl” in in Columbia Pictures and Rovio Animation’s ANGRY BIRDS.

Of course, the filmmakers aren’t letting the man’s musical talents go to waste at all. The award-winning singer (and co-host of The Voice) is also lending his voice to the film’s soundtrack. No news as t what he’ll be singing or when it will be sung has been revealed, but there’s nothing wrong with a little (or big) surprise, I always say. Um, that does depend on the surprise, though. This counts as a good one.

Adding to an already talented cast that includes Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, Peter Dinklage, Kate McKinnon, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Hannibal Buress, Ike Barinholtz, Jillian Bell, Cristela Alonzo, Danielle Brooks, Romeo Santos, and the YouTube team known as Smosh (Anthony Padilla, Ian Hecox), it looks as if the film will be getting a few (well, a lot) more fans hoofing it to a theater new them when it opens this summer.

Blake Shelton Angry Birds i2_mini

Listening Room: I’ve Got PIXELS In My Ears

PixelsSo, I’m sitting here typing this post as the soundtrack to Chris Columbus‘ upcoming PIXELS is playing through a nice set of headphones and the score is doing a decent job of transporting me back to the 80’s on a few fronts. Composer Henry Jackman (Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6, X-Men: First Class) has whipped up a really fine original score that I think intentionally tips its cap a bit to the works of John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith from around that time period when both were doing some of their best work. There’s also a really nice trip down memory lane in one track that has some arcade-y sound effects and synth keyboard work that fit the era quite well.

Pixels
 

As for the film itself, I’ve been peeking at trailers and clips and it certainly looks like fun in a Ghostbusters meets Wreck-It Ralph manner:


 

Granted, it’s also going to be one of those movies some parents who grew up playing all those classics may need to drag their more jaded kids to as they try and explain how awesome those ancient games were back in the day. But if the box office tallies from Wreck-It Ralph are any indication ($471 million worldwide), this one might be a bigger hit than expected. As usual, we shall see. At least the soundtrack holds up quite well in delivering the aural goods. PIXELS rolls into theaters on July 24, 2015. Varèse Sarabande will release the PIXELS – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack digitally and on CD simultaneously with the film.

SPECTRE Teaser: Gold Bond Works Hard For You


 

Well, that was kind of anti-climactic, but quite intriguing. No explosions, sexy ladies or snappy quips to be found here at all. just a looming sense of a dead-serious Bond film looking to be the most memorable on of the Daniel Craig era. The continuity in the last few Bond films has been at least more or less coherent and consistent, so SPECTRE has that going for it. Of course,the gadget-loving Bondies who want the less serious JB on screen will probably wait a bit, see what the reviews say this November and still complain if they’re mostly positive. You can’t please everyone, I suppose. Anyway, let me shut up before someone SMERSHes me in the face with a Thunderball.

Funko Hikari Friday! Gold Spidey Up For Grabs!

HIkari Premium logo 

This week’s giveaway from Funko is a biggie. If you love Spider-Man, HUGE vinyl figures and the prospect of owning one that looks as if it’s made of gold, well… this one’s for you. Er, only if you’re the lucky winner, that is. Take a gander at all 10 inches of 24k Gold Spider-Man Hikari Premium Sofubi Figure:

24k Gold Spider-Man Premium Sofubi Figure 

Again, he’s not REALLY made of 24k gold, but he is kind of rare. WIN and you get #1 of 750 off the line. Enter by going to one of Funko’s social sites:

Facebook!
Twitter
Instagram

Follow the rules and BOOM, you’re in. If you win, you get a note and later a big ol’ box. If you lose and still want this, it’s now available at your favorite Funko retailer. As always, GOOD LUCK, and check back in next week for another giveaway!

Hikari Friday: Mystic Powers Spidey Could Be Yours!

HIkari Premium logo 

This weeks Funko Hikari Friday giveaway? It’s a simply too colorful for his own good Spider-Man up for grabs. ONE lucky winner will get #1 of 1000 of this limited edition Hikari Premium Japanese Vinyl Mystic Powers Spider-Man in all his shiny rainbow-colored glory. Check him out below:

Funko Hikari Vinyl Mystic Powers Spider-Man 

As usual, entering is a cinch, but winning takes a LOT of luck. Still, take a chance and you never know. Spidey just may be slinging some of those mystic powers of his on your tchotchke shelf as a nice surprise! Anyway, hit up Funko on one of their social channels:

Facebook!
Twitter
Instagram

Follow the dirt-simple rules and you’re in it to won it. Hopefully! The lucky winner of this week’s figure will be notified in about a week. Good luck and check back next week for a new giveaway!

Memo to Sony: make.believe You’ve Got Some Backbone.

The Interview (Sony Pictures 2014) (Custom) Hmmm. As stupid as this whole Sony hacking thing has been to try and avoid, now we’re at the stage where things get even weirder because it now has to be followed. Sony Pictures has decided to kill The Interview, pulling not only the film’s premiere this week, but the actual Christmas launch entirely. Of course, the company is being called out and called all sorts of names by other media companies. “Holy irony of ironies and if it were them, what would THEY do, Batman?” Answer: “Probably the same damn thing, old chum.” More on that in a second.

Anyway, things have gotten so wretched that even George R.R. Martin has chimed in with a LiveJournal post (wait, people STILL use LiveJournal?) chiding “Regal, AMC, and every other major theatre chain in the United States” along with Sony for caving hard over threats of potential violence and other protests had the film been screened anywhere in the U.S. of A. Good on you, George! Please don’t kill me off in a response, sir.

As for Sony, All I have to say is “Yikes!”... Continue reading

Hikari Friday: Funko Gives You A Ghost of a Chance This Week!

HIkari Premium logo
 

Only ONE Funko Hikari Sofubi Vinyl figure up for this week’s giveaway, but there’s also the announcement of a limited edition figure you can run out and buy from Hot Topic, of all places. The freebie chance first: It’s #1 of 1500 this time and it’s a ghost you’d not want to bust at all because you’d be covered head to toe in icky marshmallow goop that’s probably a wee bit too hot to be sitting on your tender skin. Say hello to Ice Stay Puft Premium Hikari Sofubi Figure:

Funko Ice Stay Puft Premium Hikari Sofubi Figure 

Yes, you should be nice to him or he’ll get mad and grow on you! Well, that would be a good thing under non-ghostly un-possessed marshmallow man conditions. But you know the drill if you’ve seen Ghostbusters, right? Anyway, if you want a chance to win this one, hit up one of Funko’s social media sites:

http://www.facebook.com/OriginalFunko
http://www.twitter.com/OriginalFunko
Instagram @OriginalFunko

Follow the rules there and hold you breath for a week. Well, don’t REALLY hold your breath for that long, now. Otherwise, you’ll be dead and with some real ghosts only to find out there’s NO Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, only lonely moans and dirges playing every damned day and night. BOOooooooOOOOooooo! ALso, if you don’t win this time, you ca always buy that big guy at your favorite Funko retailer.

As for that other Hikari Vinyl? Attention Hot Topic shoppers! Be on the lookout for Retro Pastels Stay Puft Hikari Premium Sofubi Figure coming soon to a HT near you and online at HotTopic.com. Check him out and feel the rainbow love:

Funko Retro Pastels Stay Puft Hikari Premium Sofubi Figure 

Obvious jokes about marshmallows on mushrooms aside, I can see this one becoming a hot topic of conversation as only 500 will be made before the mold is melted. Keep and eyeball peeled and get yours soon!

Hikari Black Friday! Free Spidey and Frankie For Two Lucky Winners!

Hikari logo HIkari Premium logo 

While some of you are out there shopping away and getting sore all over, smarty-smarts out there are doing it all online and hoping the also score big in the process. Funko wants to help you today by giving away two more awesome Hikari Sofubi figures, one standard and the other premium.

Metal Mix Spider-Man 

Metal Mix Spider-Man Premium Hikari Sofubi Figure is the first figure up for grabs. This one’s Premium and over eight inches tall (!) and #1 of 500. Remember, if you don’t win, still want one and don’t mind paying for it, you can hit up your favorite Funko retailer and bug them until they sell it to you. Trust me, it won’t take long for money to exchange hands.

Gemini Collectibles Exclusive Metallic Frankenstein Hikari Sofubi Figure 

The second figure is Gemini Collectibles Exclusive Metallic Frankenstein Hikari Sofubi Figure. Yeah, he’s a cutie, isn’t he? Okay, the gold eyes are creepy, but that metallic finish on his clothes make it look as if he’s wearing a sharkskin suit! Well, if you like Frankenstein’s Monster as depicted in the Universal Movies, that is. This one’s limited to 750 pieces (you’ll get #1 off the line) and if you miss out, you can grab your own over at the Gemini Collectibles website.

Those in the know know how to go about entering and potentially being the big winners. But once more with feeling for those new to all this stuff: Boogie on over to one of these social sites using your clicky-clicky hand skills:

Facebook!

Twitter!

Instagram @OriginalFunko

Enter and hope luck is on your side! You look as if you could use a little more luck today, I think.

Hikari Friday (On a Saturday, Oops!): Spidey 2 The Rescue!

HIkari Premium logo 

Okay, my email inbox was SO packed this week that I’d not even seen the note from Funko about this week’s Hikari Friday giveaway. OOPS. That said, this week’s potential freebie is a HUGE one you’ll always see if it lands on your doorstep. Say hello to the…

New Dimension Spider-Man Hikari Premium Sofubi Figure:

New Dimension Spider-Man Hikari Premium Sofubi Figure

You KNOW how to get a chance to win this one, right? Yup, boogie on over to one of Funko’s social media channels, enter and start making room on a shelf or in a cabinet somewhere.

http://www.facebook.com/OriginalFunko
http://www.twitter.com/OriginalFunko
Instagram @OriginalFunko

 

If you don’t win, you can buy one of these limited to 1500 pieces collectibles this month at a Funko retailer near you.