Tuesday, July 10, 2018

More Smash Characters - Wishful Thinking

Been on the Smash train a bit lately, playing my 2DS on the train ride to and from work, just getting my skills up before the new one drops, which may have been ages ago by the time you're reading this, but whatever. I'll happily admit that these articles are nothing more that ego-stroking fan-fiction exercises, why pretend they're anything grander than that? Hell, depending on how my other projects go, you may have already seen my Smash-inspired Super Mission Force project in action, as I've made the decision to publish AARs and similar articles as soon as they're done, rather than leave them for over a year. What do you guys want? It's not like I get paid for this.  
The following is a list of characters that I'd really like to see in Smash, not so fussed about what other people think, though I'll admit that these are real long-shots, especially given their lack of popularity in Japan.

Ratchet and Clank
Yes, I'm a big fan and there's probably no way that Sony will be up for "loaning" the characters to Nintendo for any reason but, hear me out on this one. Insomniac games clearly don't care about the Ratchet & Clank series anymore with the crappy reboot being the last thing done, so porting the characters to Smash would be a quick and easy way to keep an income from the IP. A few cents from every Nintendo eStore download and Amiibo sale would add up quickly and maybe enough to give us a satisfying end to the Future series at some stage. Hey, this is a Wish List after all.

Earthworm Jim
Technically a classic SNES-era character in his own right, Earthworm Jim has always been a lot of fun in how he plays and move and I'd feel that it would translate well to Smash. Blasting with his ray gun, swinging on his own earthworm body like a rope and using Snot as a parachute would all fit the ethos of Smash perfectly. A Final Smash were Jim pulls out the Barn Blaster and clears the screen would fit nicely too. He probably doesn't need to bring Peter Puppy, PsyCrow or Professor Monkey for a Head with him as playable characters, but assist trophies would be fun to see.

A Boy and his Blob
I actually really enjoy the original A Boy and his Blob, despite its many flaws, having finished it more than once on emulator. The difficulty and awkwardness of the game is offset for me by the unique ideas and atmosphere provided. I'm yet to play the Wii version because I can't find a copy, but I'm happy to see the characters back for a new generation to discover. For those not in the know, the Blob is able to transform its shape into almost anything when given the right flavour of jellybean by the Boy and now you're probably getting an idea of how cool these two would be in Smash. Have one of the Fighter Stances be a hug and the Final Smash is feeding Blob a grape jellybean to make him into the Giant.

Joanna Dark
Essentially everyone my age has played more than a few hours of Goldeneye on N64, due to the issues around licensed games we never got a true sequel, but I always felt Perfect Dark was underrated. (I also like Rogue Agent, but mainly for the insane setting and Bond fan-baiting) The secret agent protagonist, Joanna Dark is a fun mix of Lara Croft and Solid Snake with a great variety of weapons and equipment, including guns that shoot through walls and temporary invisibility. Although she may not be the most iconic characters in video game history, Joanna Dark is probably the closest my generation will get to connecting with all those hours spent playing Goldeneye in Smash.

I'm a big fan of The Venture Bros and own all the DVDs; there's this one scene towards the end of Season 4 where people are describing what they think a sex move called the "Rusty Venture" is. It's a pretty graphic scene and really funny if you're into that sort of thing, but the version that can be found on YouTube with the "censor bleeps" is, in my opinion, actually funnier. Despite being known best for the most adult game on N64, Conker doesn't 'need' to bring all of his fluids, stimulants and language to Smash to work as a character. With enough sarcasm, bleeped dialogue and not-quite-PC antics, Conker would fit well without breaking the family-friendly tone. Think something along the lines of The Simpsons, where the 'adult' humour is pitched to go over the heads of the kids watching anyway. 

Sorry to say, but I have a few more of these in me yet, stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Superhero Media: Fant4stic

Where do I start with this garbage fire? Almost every element of this film screams "studio mandates", even down to its very existence. Clearly Fox were desperate to hold onto the license in a post-Avengers world, but it *had* to be a hit, so let's include everything from every hit film that didn't involve superheroes from the past decade? See what I mean, none of this makes sense! Hire the director of Chronicle, then cut his dreary film to something even less exciting? I can't even. This is almost Super Buddies bad. And I'm not just saying that because I like Fantastic Four comics, this is just genuinely a bad film. There was one scene, just the one, that I kind of liked, where Victor Doom (he doesn't deserve to be called Doctor Doom) is walking through a hallway, killing people by looking at them and bullets can't even touch him; sure, the character is bad, but that scene finally shows off just how powerful Doom should be. 

What I don't get is how Fantastic Four seems impossible to adapt? The Incredibles is the template, it's a family of superheroes who are also some of the biggest celebrities on the planet, seems like an easy pitch. Somehow though, we always end up with half-measures and odd little designs. Like, is it too much to ask that both Johnny and Sue Storm be the same race? I don't care which race, just make them look like siblings. Also, Doom is the greatest comic supervillain of all time, maybe put a bit or care and attention into how he's done? Doom is the dictator of a small European nation, has an Iron-Man style suit of armour, is a wizard, saved his mother from hell, is thousands of years old and genuinely believes that only he can save the world. Maybe stop killing him off in the first film? God forbid maybe do a Doom film or lay him in over a few films? Yes, I'm a fan, but this still seems like pretty basic narrative layout to me. 

Don't watch this film. Not just because it's a bad Fantastic Four film, or a bad superhero film; it's just straight-up a terrible film and not worth wasting your time. The characters are bland, the plot makes no sense and it looks drab and awful. It was made for selfish reasons by a corporation that only wanted to get something into cinemas and did not care about the quality of what they produced, it's bad for the film industry to encourage that kind of behavior, don't give this shit any more oxygen.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Miniatures Finished: 03/11/17

Still on a Supers painting kick, enjoying it while it lasts. 

 Major Lazer (kitbash), Bat-Bot and a new Storm (both clix). 

 Doombots, one can never have enough (all clix). 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Superhero Media: Batman Arkham Asylum (1989)

To give the full name of this one; Batman Arkham Asylum a Serious House on Serious Earth, what a damn mouthful. Ever read a book that everyone is so deeply convinced is a bona fide classic that to voice a dissenting opinion is to invite a tirade of abuse and then really not understand what all the fuss is about? That's Arkham Asylum for me, a stone classic that I really cannot get into. On April 1, the inmates of Arkham riot and take hostages, demanding that Batman be sent into the Asylum or else. Batman goes in and a bizarre journey into the psychology of of both him and the inmates begins, ending with... Batman walking out mostly unharmed? The intention here is to have the graphic novel be read multiple times, looking for missed connections and subtleties that won't be apparent on the first viewing. That probably works for most fans, as most fans aren't packing an English Literature degree and a lifetime of overthinking mythology, superheroes and narrative structure; but here I am. 

Here's the thing, the story is clearly Batman having a nightmare. None of this is actually happening and that is set out so plainly on the first page of the novel that I wonder why it's considered a big deal. The novel opens and closes with quotes from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (because that's not overdone), a novel about an extended dream narrative (and raping children, but let's not get into that here) and the narrative and art have a nonsense, dream-like quality to them. The reader is immediately made aware that events happen on April 1, Joker even has the line "April Fool!" early on. Arkham Asylum is perhaps most memorable for the artwork, which is all painted by Dave McKean and looks great, but makes the dialogue hard to follow, especially as traditional comic word balloons aren't always used.

I don't get the appeal, sorry. The art is great, but not McKean's best work. The twist of the dream is too obvious to be clever. I like Maxie Zeus as a Batman villain, but why does he have lightning powers all of a sudden? Why are the psychiatrists so corrupt and unethical? Hell, why does Arkham need to be displayed as a corrupt and decaying institution, are all the homicidal maniacs not threatening enough? When did Mad Hatter become a pedophile? Is that just a reference to the horrible things Lewis Caroll did? Why does Batman have nightmares about being fondled by the Joker? God, this is actually really not very good at all now that I think about it. If you absolutely have to read all the classic Batman graphic novels, then give it a go, otherwise just Google Dave McKean and check out an amazingly talented artist.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Five more characters I'd like to see in the next Smash Bros game...

I'm writing this one in the same week as the new Smash Bros teaser has dropped, the one with the Splatoon kids; you better believe I'm hyped. I also just found a full-time counselling job, so I'm keeping an eye out for a Smash Switch bundle so that I can get smashing! I actually had a series of these articles planned, but as most will probably be out after the game, maybe we'll have to start considering them as "Smash Characters I'd like as DLC" or something similar? Either way, there's plenty of great characters that would be fun in the Nintendo and friends free-for-all and I'd still like to talk about them. 
As a side note, yes, I would like to see the Ice Climbers, Pichu, Star Wolf and Solid Snake back in the game, I don't think the franchise should be losing characters, only gaining them. 
Would you believe I wrote that last sentence months ago? Boy was I vindicated by the E3 reveal yesterday!  Anyway, on with the wish-list!

The Prince (of Persia)
Did you know that this character doesn't actually have a canonical name beyond "the Prince"? I could have sworn that he was "Dastan", but maybe that was just the terrible film? For me, Smash Bros is about legacy, and few characters have a legacy like the Prince; having been around since the Golden Age of gaming, enjoyed probably one of the greatest games on the PS2 and still kicking today. In terms of Smash, the Prince is agile, fast and has a fun recovery mechanic in the dagger of time, able to reverse him a few seconds before it has to recharge. 

Alex Kidd
Speaking of legacy, how about some classic Sega up in here? For the youngsters in the audience, Alex Kidd was the star of a few platformers and was, before Sonic, the mascot for the brand. Alex Kidd would essentially be the Sega answer to Mr Game & Watch for Smash, a character that is there to charm a few people more so than being a major draw card. In terms of play style, Alex Kidd would almost be a Mario clone without the fireballs, again, probably no one's favourite character, but one who deserves inclusion. 
Mike Haggar 
I was thrilled to see Haggar turn up in the Marvel Vs Capcom series, having grown up with Final Fight in the local Fish and Chip shop, who doesn't love a professional wrestler-turned-mayor as a protagonist? Haggar is big, tough and focuses on grappling, which is something that doesn't currently exist in Smash Bros, as well as being a popular character in his own right. I'd play the heck out of Haggar if he was reasonably well balanced against other fighters, at least for the fun of suplex-ing Yoshi.

Lara Croft 
Huh, why has Lara not popped up in Smash before? She has the history, brand recognition and variety of moves to fit in, is she just not that popular in Japan? Hell, I'm not sure there's really much I need to say about this choice, it just seems so obvious to me. She shoots, she jumps and she's one of the leading ladies of gaming, she can wear the old blue top or the new dirty rags, but she definitely needs to jump-kick Luigi in the face.

I've never played the God of War games, but I can regonise a popular character when I see one, hence Kratos. He was fun enough in Playstation All Stars Battle Royale, and would perhaps tempt a few of the "hardcore" gamer crowd to pick up a copy of Smash Bros. Kratos is a brawler with a huge variety of weapons, I imagine he'd play a lot like Link, but less controllable and more brutal. Again, probably not someone I'd play a lot, but I love the juxtaposition of the more "realistic" Smash characters with the cartoon ones, like Samus and Pikachu teaming up during "The Shadow Emissary". God, I hope the new Smash has an Adventure Mode like that again, it makes Brawl worth owning alone. 
That's it for now, hopefully more before the game actually drops. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Superhero Media: Batman the Animated Series

Best Batman ever. Sorry Adam West, you shall be greatly missed, but you're a very close second to Kevin Conroy. Naturally I don't need to talk about how good this series is, it should speak for itself, but there are couple of things I wanted to discuss that won't quite fill up several "Thinking Out Loud" articles, so they may as well go here. Firstly, how can Warner Bros. not find a good outline for a Batman film when almost any of the Batman the Animated Series [BTAS] episodes would be a good starting point? Sure, there are a few duds like "Baby-Doll", though the pay-off for that one in a later season kind of makes it worth it. Most of the two-parters, like "Feat of Clay" and "Shadow of the Bat" would make a damn good 90 minute film with a little world-building added. Bruce Timm and Paul Dini are still around, why haven't they been approached to take a swing at the flailing Batman film franchise? 

Second, why are people so down of the 4th season of BTAS? Is it just because the animation style changes? Or even just because the design of the Joker takes a weird turn? Season 4 has some of the best episodes, hands down! Ok, the change in animation is jarring, but it was done to keep a unified style with Superman the Animated Series and Justice League, both of which are awesome in their own rights. Season 4 episodes like "Legends of the Dark Knight", "Mad Love" and "Judgment Day" are astonishingly good, stop shunting the later stuff off just because you don't like the Joker having black eyes. For me, a slightly odd-looking Joker is a decent trade-off for Nightwing, Batgirl and Robin. 

Finally, if we're to buy the idea, that in the DECU Films, Batman uses some kind of voice-modulator to disguise the fact he's Bruce Wayne (which is actually a pretty good idea), why not get Kevin Conroy to dub the dialogue? Fanboy moment? Sure. But you cannot deny that the Bale-grunting and Affleck-bot are tiresome, nor can you deny that Conroy has a hell of a voice for the character. It would differentiate Batman and Bruce Wayne, something the better Batman films do well, give a fun nod for the fans and keep the seed of the good idea that the modulation was to begin with. On a similar note, now that Mark Hamill is back to major film roles, if DC and WB insist on doing "Old Batman", why not get Hamill in as "Old Joker"? Just a thought. Haven't seen BTAS? It's as good as you've heard. The DVDs are finally available in Australia for a reasonable price, so I assume they're elsewhere too; check it out, a great addition to the collection.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Miniatures Finished: Sentinels

A cleaning blitz in the bedroom led to a repacking of my unpainted superhero minis into a couple of boxes to free up space. This left a few "big" miniatures sitting in the open, so I decided to get to work rather than have them collect dust for another couple of years. 

 My original Heroclix Sentinel (centre) and the two new ones. 

 "Blasty", with either blasters smoking from cooking mutants or possibly releasing toxic gas. 

 "Punchy" can go toe-to-toe with even the strongest mutants.