Review: Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite

A MOST AGREEABLE PASTIME

capcom-2-1003801.jpgMarvel vs. Capcom Infinite is finally here and if the internet is to be believed, it’s the latest Mass Effect: Andromeda-type controversy, because OMG TWO CHARACTER’S FACES LOOK WEIRD IN CUTSCENES! I admit, there really are precisely two characters who have weird faces in otherwise incredible looking cutscenes. I was so distraught when I gazed upon these two faces of questionable quality that I cried and vomited simultaneously, then called my mom and told her to take this pile of garbage back to the virtual landfill from which it sprang! Sorry, just kidding, game’s awesome.

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As I said previously, upon playing the demo, the single player campaign’s fan-fiction-ish mashing together of classic Marvel and Capcom characters repeatedly punches me right in the nostalgias. Yes, the story is incredibly cheesy and childish. It often feels much like something you would have seen in a Saturday…

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Now Reading: The Adventures of Gamepro

Anyone else remember these things? This was one of the reasons why Gamepro was favorite video game magazine back in the day. For the first several years they’d each include a short story of The Adventures of Gamepro, a crazy comic that was this weird mash-up of 80’s pop culture things. It was like they took Captain N, The Last Starfighter, Quantum Leap, and a bunch of concepts straight out of superhero comics, and threw them all into a blender with whatever video game rights they could get their hands on each issue.

The “video dimension” is under attack by evil shapeshifting aliens (that are totally not Skrulls), so the high council (the previous good guy rulers) decide to create their own video game on Earth as a test to find the video champion that will save them all. This guy Alex beats the game and so gets sucked into the video dimension to fight all their battles for them, which consists of him being warped into different game worlds completely at random, that he can’t leave until he solves whatever problem the Evil Darklings (that is literally their name) have caused on said world.

Most of the time he gets sucked into big, popular games like Castlevania or Ghouls n’ Ghosts, but other times they seem to just take whatever they can get, as Alex finds himself in weird, obscure places like Psycho Fox or California Games. 

At one point Alex even goes to Moonwalker and meets Michael Jackson. It’s worth noting that Michael Jackson in this was some kind of omniscient transdimensional entity that exists simultaneously in the real world and the video world for some reason. Very strange.

Anyway, it’s some really goofy stuff, but it manages to be a pretty unique little story, despite the general concept being so derivative. I still go back and read it again every few years. I used to own all the collected editions of these, but they were lost along with the rest of my childhood comic and magazine collection. Nowadays you can’t find them to buy anywhere, even on eBay. Gamepro magazine doesn’t even exist anymore. They did apparently start giving out digital copies of this whole series for free before they went under, but the site that hosted them is dead and gone too. The only way anyone is ever going to read these at this point is through homemade scans (not done by me), which I’ve provided links to below. They’re far from HD quality, but they’re readable. Issue 1 has a repeated/missing page, which I’ve tried to find a replacement for, but came up empty-handed. You can read these in CDisplay (best for desktop viewing), Comix (best for Windows touchscreen tablets), or…whatever the Mac equivalent is (I don’t know, but I know they exist), all of which are free. Enjoy.

Download Issue #1

Download Issue #2

Download Issue #3

Watchin’ stuff

Is it not even October yet? Well too bad. I can’t wait any more! Need more horror movie intake, STAT!

Death Spa, apparently also known in some places as Witch Bitch, is an awful movie, but it’s that special kind of awful that’s hilarious to watch. This “futuristic” semi-automated health spa seems to be undergoing acts of sabotage that may or may not be the act of an angry ghost. The future tech of the spa is ridiculous and nonsensical and the story is so all over the place and bizarrely paced, and by all rights, it should not be fun to watch at all, but holy shit it’s just so dumb and insane that I can’t look away.

This was the previous (and only) movie by the director of the recent IT remake. You can see little moments of potential here and there, but it’s not surprising at all that no one seems to have heard of this one. There’s a surprisingly good cast and it’s filmed well enough, but the script and the CGI are pretty lacking. This is one of those movies where they show the audience almost immediately that there is unquestionably something supernatural going on, but it takes the idiot main characters most of the movie to figure it out, no matter how many blatant signs there are. The only real thing of interest here is that the Mama creature is very clearly the same model that they refined and reused as the crooked woman creature in IT, but this isn’t something worth watching this whole movie for.

I probably never would have seen this if Mrs. Fotchenstein hadn’t suddenly insisted on seeing the movie that this popular YouTube meme was taken from:

Wow. This is another special one like Death Spa. It’s so very ridiculous and crazy that it’s thoroughly entertaining, despite being so very bad. There are a lot of memorable scenes and it actually has some pretty good over the top synth music. This is definitely a hidden gem of the 80’s horror craze that I’d recommend to anyone that likes this kind of junk. Luckily you don’t need to see the first one to understand this one either, because that one was just embarrassingly bad.

Saw this a while back on Netflix and had mixed feelings about it, but thought I’d try it again since a new sequel just came out, which I was told (falsely!) was good. It’s one of those found footage/fake documentary movies, which I don’t usually like, but this one was somewhat interesting as it involved touring the country in search of the most extreme haunted house. Seeing all the different haunted houses was interesting and the characters being increasingly followed and harassed by mysterious masked people was compelling when it seemed to *SPOILERS* be something supernatural, but then it turns out that it’s all just something very ordinary going on, which isn’t explained at all, and the motivations of the baddies and plausibility of their actions all kind of fall apart once you realize they were just normal people all along. The ending kind of soured it for me, but since it was decent up until that point I figured I’d give the sequel a chance, hoping that it would make sense of it all.

Spoiler alert: it didn’t. This one actually makes even less sense than the first one and features a lot of confusing and completely unrealistic acts by the mysterious baddies, as well as dropping a lot of the haunted house content of the first one in favor of strange things like zombie runs and zombie eating contests. Most of the time you just feel like you’re watching someone’s travel videos, with little to no story behind any of it, until near the end when of course they do the exact same stupid things they did in the last one and seem to find themselves in trouble again. This one doesn’t even bother to try to pretend that there’s anything supernatural going on. We’re clearly shown that these guys in masks are following them around in a car, and then later, strangely following them in a helicopter, and then even more strangely, physically dangling from the bottom of their vehicle. Why would they be doing that when they’ve got the vehicle bugged and are tracking them with cars and helicopters already? Why is a secret underground haunted house club that is so extreme that they have to change to a different secret location every year spending what would have to be huge amounts of money to be employing dozens of people to travel across the country following small groups of people in helicopters and such all so they can get more mainstream recognition so they can provide this same unfeasible experience for everyone all the time at what must be a huge monetary loss to them? None of it really makes sense. Oh well.

Now I have to turn to an old classic to cleanse my palate. SLUGS! A sadly overlooked classic from the 80’s. This is yet another so-bad-it’s-good one. It kind of feels like a made-for-tv movie, except it has some surprisingly grisly death scenes for being a low budget movie about killer slugs. Pretty good gore effects for a low budget movie of its time. A pleasure that I should probably feel guilty for, but don’t, because I love this shit. Again, check this one out if you’re into ridiculous 80’s horror and more impossibly deadly animals!

Because we don’t have enough video game stuff

Just got this nice box of treasure from Society6Some sweet new shirts for me:

Mrs. Fotchenstein picked this nice Friday the 13th throw blanket and Kung Fu bathmat:

This fucking awesome Gauntlet shower curtain:

And I also just got this great NES hoodie that I pre-ordered from Merchoid many months ago. I’ve never owned a hoodie in my life, but how could I possibly resist this?

Y’know…life is pretty fucking awesome sometimes (Actually, most of the time these days. Weird.)…

You like Castlevania, don’t you? Part IV

A MOST AGREEABLE PASTIME

Castlevania_-_Symphony_of_the_Night_(gamebox)Symphony of the Night is not just hands-down the greatest Castlevania game of all time, but I also consider it one of the top 5 greatest video games of all time. It is not just the original Metroidvania, but it’s the pinnacle of subgenre. Great looking backgrounds and enemies, incredible level design, a large array of interesting locations and a crazy boss for each of them, an amazing soundtrack, and more items than you’ll ever find no matter how many times you play. Seriously, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve beaten this and I’ve still never gotten that damn Crissaegrim (the ultimate weapon in the game, only found through random drop), which angers me to no end, because I let a friend play my copy of this back in high school and he literally found it by accident within minutes. Someday…

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People complain about the voice acting…

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A Quick Byte: Abzu

A MOST AGREEABLE PASTIME

5359645-lWowwwww, where did this game come from? I had heard nice things about it, but it didn’t look or sound particularly amazing. It really just looks like Journey, but underwater, and while Journey also surprised me with it’s endearing simplicity, it’s got nothing on the sheer beauty of the world of Abzu.

I grabbed this when it was one of the free PS Plus games a month or two ago, not really expecting much, but hey free is free. I ended up trying it out recently when I had a few hours to kill between longer games, half-expecting that it would just end up deleted and forgotten like the majority of the free monthly games offered. Oh, how wrong I was.

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I think it’s something that has to be seen in its full glory to really have the same impact. Not only do screenshots do it justice, but even…

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Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite Collector’s Edition arrives

Woooooo! On the plus side, these statuettes are a nice bit bigger than I thought they’d be from the ads. On the minus side, these light up Infinity Gems (I know they’re called Infinity STONES now, but I am, as always, stuck in the past) look like fucking Easter eggs.

They’re noticeably cheaper looking than they were in the ads and for some reason I had assumed that they would be actual removable gems, but instead are just permanently attached lights in a cheap plastic box. Oh well. Luckily I mainly got this for those statuettes, and those turned out to be even better than expected, so I count it as a win so far.

Now to go play the game. Review to come some time next week, naturally.

Now Playing: The Omega Virus

Managed to find a sweet deal on this blast from the past on eBay. Ok, so that was apparently 2 years ago and we just now got around to actually playing it, but nevermind that. It was just one of those things where I was suddenly hit by nostalgic memories of this game out of nowhere and decided that I had to have it again (no idea what happened to the one I used to have as a kid). The box is a little bit beat up, but amazingly it has all the pieces and they’re all in almost new condition. It even has the little notepad full of score sheets, still almost entirely full.

So this is a massive electronic, talking board game where 1-4 players compete in order to find and destroy the deadly sentient Omega Virus. To do so you first need to find each of the 3 colored keycards to be able to open the red, yellow, and blue rooms, then in a random one of each locked colored room you’ll find 1 of 3 devices you need to destroy the virus. Along the way you’ll run into traps, and maybe some other players, which you’ll have to face off against in a kind of rock-paper-scissors-like battle which can result in a device or keycard being destroyed if you lose. On the bright side, you can find a probe that acts as a second character for you to expand your search efforts with.

Anyway, if you manage to survive all of that you still need to find the room that the virus is in and defeat it in what will almost certainly be multiple turns of combat. Oh, and did I mention that this is all happening on a 30 minute timer (or slightly less or more, depending on how many players there are), and that as time starts running out, entire sectors of the board will explode and become inaccessible? Meanwhile, the virus is literally yelling taunts at you at every turn, telling you how bad you are at this and how you’re definitely all going to die.

Yeah. This game was pretty ahead of its time and it’s all surprisingly well-designed too. The system of typing these 3 digit codes in to do everything seems daunting at first, but you pick it up very quickly and there are helpful little quick-guides written on each player’s side that list all the basic commands. You just have to make sure you keep proper track of what rooms you’ve visited and where you can find each item again if you need to, which you can easily mess up when you’re trying to do everything as quickly as possible to beat that clock.

Another factor that makes things interesting is the interactions between players. It’s entirely up to you if you want to try to peacefully co-exist with your fellow players and focus on beating the virus or you want to shoot your friend in the back because if you can’t win NO ONE CAN!

So I’m pretty pleased with having this again, as it turns out. It requires a little effort and a lot of room to set up, but it can be learned and played very quickly, and it holds up very well for being a game made for children in 1992.

P.S. that is not my hand. I just wanted you readers to know, I don’t have girl-hands!

Night of the Emus

A great lesser-known side-scrolling action game from Capcom. It has absolutely nothing to do with Street Fighter other than the main character being a guy named Ken who punches things. Ken is apparently a scientist and former street fighter champion, so I suppose it’s possible that he’s actually supposed to be Ken Masters, but the game never gets into that. No, you’re too busy trying to track down whoever killed your lab partner, stole your science experiment, and spread it around all over the galaxy to turn everyone into weird alien monsters. To do this you have to warp around to different alien worlds looking for infected creatures to beat up so you can warp to the next world, with the idea being that each warp is going to bring you closer to your final objective (somehow).

As was so often the case back then, this game was extremely tough. Not like Battletoads or Ghosts n’ Goblins tough, but still pretty difficult. You have a surprisingly large variety of attacks for having only two buttons to work with. Pressing attack while stationary and doing it while holding a direction or jumping all do different kinds of attacks and of course the game doesn’t explain any of this to you, so you need to figure out how to fight properly on your own and very quickly, as you’re immediately thrown into the action without a second to spare. This is also one of those games where you need to rush to find power-ups to increase your attack strength too, because you’re going to be too weak to beat the deadly creatures otherwise. Unfortunately, you also lose attack power every time you get hit, so you really need to git gud quick if you want to have a chance.

Anyway, there are a lot of interesting levels with a huge roster of crazy bosses to fight, and a great soundtrack. It’s one of my favorite NES classics even though I don’t remember 2010 being anything like this.

Silver Surfer is a shooter that rotates between side-scrolling and vertical scrolling. It’s one of those games that you always seem to see on those “Top 10 hardest NES games” lists, but again, I don’t think it’s THAT bad. Yes it’s tough. You die in one hit and lose all your attack strength power-ups when you do, but if you can just survive long enough to get your attack strength up then you start blasting through all the waves of enemies pretty quickly. There’s also a password system and a bunch of helpful cheats available, so it’s all very do-able.

As a kid, I appreciated that they included a lot of familiar faces from the Silver Surfer series of the 80’s, which made it feel a little like maybe the creators actually read the things, unlike most other early comic-based games. Once you really start playing it though, it was clear that they were just making this all up. I have no idea why I had to fight through some hell-like plane filled with angry flying pumpkins to get to Firelord and etc. The weirdest thing was when you finished all the main areas, Galactus sends you off to fight the final battle in the “Magik realm”, which is apparently ruled by…Mr. Sinister? Weird.

Probably the most noteworthy thing about this game though, is the music. The soundtrack was absolutely insane for an NES game. I like a lot of old-timey 8-bit music, but this one always stood out as being impressively complex and surprisingly metal for its time. Even if you never actually play this game, you should still check out the soundtrack. I dare you to listen to this song and not turn it up and want more.

This was one of those strange arcade classics that everyone loved to play, but no one could actually understand it or beat it. You beam into these alien infested ships and are told to wipe out the infestation, but it just doesn’t seem possible. You can run around blasting aliens like crazy, but you never seem to be able to get anywhere close to clearing them all out before time runs out and the ship self destructs, which teleports you out of the level and tells you you failed. The best outcome seems to be if you can find the self-destruct system and set it to go off early, which you would think would also be a loss, but instead congratulates you and gives you bonus points. I suppose the ideal victory would be to completely wipe the aliens out somehow, but this doesn’t seem to be possible by yourself. My best efforts only ever got them down to about 40%.

I suppose it doesn’t much matter in the long run, as this seems to be one of those good old endless games, like Gauntlet or Rampage, that just goes on and on and on until you run out of quarters and die. It’s still fun in short bursts though. This is one you really need to experience the original arcade version of too, as the NES version had to be one of the absolute worst arcade-to-home ports ever made. I mean I know the NES was very limited compared to arcade tech back then, but just look at how damn ugly it was.

Review: Night Trap 25th Anniversary Edition

A MOST AGREEABLE PASTIME

imageI have a confession to make. I’ve never played Night Trap before! It sure seems like something I’d have played, doesn’t it? I’ve always wanted to try it, but I never had a Sega CD and I just never got around to playing the later ports. On the plus side, this means I went into this completely untainted by any nostalgic bias.

The first thing I noticed about Night Trap was that it was indeed a very dated game. It was originally designed as a VHS game and it definitely shows, for better or worse.

21543815_10154762728881366_5327540073846809914_o Doesn’t seem to be anything suspicious going on here

From the characters, the sets, the plot, the dialogue, the tone, the music, and everything else, this game just bleeds 80’s-ness. It all feels very much like some kind of cheesy made-for-TV horror movie that you would have seen in the early 80’s. The kind that’s…

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