Thursday, April 30, 2015

Pokemon Rumble World

So, recently Nintendo announced that it was going to start developing games for mobile devices. This is a very good thing, since most mobile games as of late like to follow the candy crush formula; being a hard game that is meant to eat at your wallet with micro-transactions to make the game easier- or in some cases, to make the game playable. Hell, Pokemon copied the Candy Crush formula to a T with their match 3 game Pokemon Shuffle (which uses the same engine as Pokemon Trozei, another match three game that is instead a pay to play).
So, Pokemon Rumble World is a new addition to their 3DS line-up, and it is a free version of Pokemon Rumble. Basically the idea is that you play as toy pokemon in a hack and slash, and capture other pokemon, with your goal being to collect all 700 pokemon.
The game mechanics are simple: you move around, and attack with the A and B buttons. The elemental attack dynamics are the same as in pokemon; fire does more damage to grass, steel and bugs, grass does more damage to water and rocks, et cetera. Each attack has a different effect as well; some with an increased area of effect not tied to its damage.

Keep in mind, all further mechanics discussed are based on a first impressions look of the game. Some mechanics aren't entirely explained, so these are from my understanding of them.

     When you defeat a pokemon, they will be lying on the ground. Walk over to them to capture them. You'll be told their attack value, which is likely randomized. The chance for whether or not they are capturable appears to be entirely random. You could end up capturing all the pokemon you meet in a zone, or none at all.
     Once you finish with the tutorial, you'll be given the choice of three balloons: water, fire, and grass. These balloons will take you to different zones attatched to the types of pokemon mentioned. Though it is not exclusively grass or fire types in these zones; there are some assorted ones in there too. Even the ones specifically marked Hoenn can contain pokemon from Kanto. When they say you can capture pokemon from a specific region in the zone, they mean from the specific game.
     But anyway, after completing a zone, the balloon that was used goes on a timer. As soon as you reach rank 5, the timer increases. The Hoenn balloon appears to take an hour to recharge, while the element balloons take half an hour. This may not be set in stone, it is possible the times are longer as you continue on; after all, they want you to spend your gems on everything.
     Gems are the premium currency, the ones you don't get through normal play in the zones. You can get gems through streetpasses, and daily challenges. You can get more from completing special conditions in the challenges as well (such as break 10 objects, which is a relatively easy feat as you'll tend to do that anyway). But otherwise, you'll have to buy them to get more. And you will need more, as there are a number of items in the game to use gems on. Such as extra lives and more balloons (which means more playtime before putting it down). However, given the nature of the game, playing the game totally free is not that bad an option, beyond requiring a bit of patience. The game isn't hard by any stretch, you can easily cheese the stages and never die. The only hard thing seems to be capturing rare pokemon, or a specific pokemon. I'm hunting for a Ralts and its evolution line, and am looking forward to finding it, but not so much trying to capture its line.
     Here's one downside to capturing the pokemon: everywhere you go (at least in the beginning) each new pokemon is likely higher level than your current highest. Meaning, once I finally get that Ralts, it will more than likely be outstripped with power incredibly fast. Of course, I can go back to the zone where the Ralts are, and get a new one that is more powerful. but then I'd just be doing that over and over and over again. If the Pokemon max out in power, then there isn't a lot to worry about. But, if they don't, then that means you'll likely replace your favorite with someone who is not your favorite, simply because they are way more powerful, which isn't very fun. You have no connection to something so easily replaceable. But again, this point may be moot if the powers plateau instead of continue to climb linearly.
     Also, you can pick up multiple copies of a pokemon in a zone. However, once you leave the zone, they are all automatically added to your bank of pokemon. I have to micromanage it after every trip to get rid of the weaker copies to keep the number semi-reasonable. It'd be better if they gave you a list afterward and asked "Which of these would you like to keep?" and save some trouble.

So, what do I think of it? I think it is fun; but then again I love pokemon, So I am biased to give it a good shot. Someone who is not a pokemon fan may feel lost in the large number of pokemon availible, the various attacks and effects as well as the element wheel... The game doesn't explain all of this, just the very basic fire beats grass deal. Unless you're a pokemon fan, you wouldn't likely guess that steel beats fairy, or that dragon beats dragon... or that Charizard is not a dragon.
It's a fun game for pokemon fans, and free to try and play. There is no harm in giving it a shot.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Five Nights at Freddy's

     The Hollywood Reporter had an article on April 7th, 2015, declaring that Warner Brothers has plans to create a movie called "Five Nights at Freddy's." The high-concept of the story is that it is a haunted and dark version of Chuck-e-Cheese. Now, that may sound like any other Warner Brothers horror film like Ouija (Stiles White, 2014), but this news is kind of a big deal. But some context for those who are not into horror, or watch Lets Players on Youtube:

     Five Nights at Freddy's is an indie horror game, created by one man, Scott Cawthon. Before Five Nights, Scott had made mostly Christian or Family Friendly games, mostly sidescrollers with pre-rendered 3D models. His last game before Five Nights was criticized for having characters that look like creepy animatronics, and Scott had a small epiphany: he thought he could make something a lot scarier.
     Thus he created Five Nights at Freddy's, a horror game where you play a night guard at Freddy Fazbear's Pizza, trapped in the building with 4 deadly animatronics (5 if you count a kind of unexplained mystical one). You play through 5 nights at Freddy's like the title suggests, each one getting harder than the last.
     Your entire goal is keeping the animatronics out of your security room. To do this, you have cameras to check on where the animatronics are, and buttons to close two blast doors. But, using the cameras or closing the doors costs power, which you have a limited supply of. If you run out of power, you can no longer close the doors, and it is game over. If one of the animatronics manages to get in, it is game over. Each game over is accompanied with a jump scare of the animatronic in question getting right in your face and screaming.

     It doesn't sound like much, and it really isn't. It is an incredibly low budget indie game. Yet, the game was successful enough to warrant two sequels: Five Nights at Freddy's 2, which is technically a prequel, and Five Nights at Freddy's 3, set thirty years after the first game. Five Nights has had an entire trilogy, in the span of a year and a half, and the creator has raked in a TON of money for it.
      You might wonder why this game became so popular as to warrant two sequels within months of each other. The answer is simple: people on youtube playing the game. There wasn't much marketing for Freddy's beyond putting the game up on Steam (think of it as a version of amazon focused on delivering games digitally), but some Lets Players (people who, as the name suggests, play games for an audience) played the game enough for it to reach memetic status, and it spiraled into a devoted fandom.

     That's pretty much the brief history of Freddy's, minus the backstory about a serial child murderer who keeps returning to Freddy's, and the stuffing of the children into the animatronics, and someone's frontal lobe being bitten off by one of the animatronics (surprisingly that guy is still alive). Yeah the series is pretty messed up, but pretty tame compared to some of the other horror films and TV shows out there (Criminal Minds comes to mind for people worse than the Purple Man, the serial murderer so named because he appears in game as a pixelated purple man). It sounds like something bog standard for a horror film right?
     That is exactly why this is so interesting and important. Five Nights at Freddy's was created by one man for very little, and now it is a franchise. Even if they also make the movie for very little money, it is a guaranteed success for two reasons:
1. Horror films always make money. Ouija some how made several times its budget.
2. There is a large, devoted fanbase for the series, that will almost certainly go see the film, regardless of its actual quality.
     Five Nights is what is known as a "presold idea," a film property already in the public's consciousness that does marketing by generating hype rather than selling the idea to the audience.

     As for the budget of the film... The budget would be quite minimal from my (fairly knowledgeable) calculations. There is one primary set, Freddy Fazbear's Pizza. There are only 3-4 necessary characters (the security guard, the purple man, and both phone guys (they give the game's tutorial and some backstory)). The animatronics could be done with costumes and not CGI. Altogether, if they were aiming to spend as little as possible, the film could be done with less than a million dollars.
     And of course because the film is quite likely to be successful for so little, there is bound to be a sequel the year after. They very well could make the game franchise into a film franchise.

    To recap: Five Nights at Freddy's is guaranteed to make money, they don't need to spend a lot to make it, AND it is a franchise. All this was made possible by one guy making extremely simple PC games. This is what is interesting: this is the power of the internet, horror, and presold ideas.

     The funny thing is, I predicted this like a month ago, right down to saying Warner Brothers would do it. It's not future sight, it is just knowing the market. It wasn't a question of if, but when.

And that's the story all about how an indie game maker earned a metric ton of money. It simultaneously gives one hope that they too could one day do that as well, and saddens that it takes horror to do it that easily.
(Note, I'm not discounting Scott Cawthon's difficulties in making the game, I'm sure the programming and animation were difficult in some fashion. But it really doesn't seem that hard when his release schedule was August 2014, November 2014, and March 2015. Film makers would squeal for that kind of release schedule)

To sign off, I'll say this: Five Nights may be the only horror film I'm actually interested in seeing. and I have not played the games, nor do I like horror films. At all. Let that speak for how powerful a marketing force this indie game has become.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Life is Strange: episode 1

     A new occurrence in video games is the episodic puzzle/story games. Popularized by Sierra with their take on the Walking Dead series, and expanded to Borderlands, Game of Thrones, and their original series Wolf Among Us, these games are characterized by allowing the player to make choices that alter the narrative in different ways, and by a third person view of a character that walks very slowly while completing puzzles of varying intensity.
     Today's subject matter, Life is Strange, follows this episodic puzzle game nature, with an interesting twist... Also, it is made by DONTNOD and produced by Square Enix.

    Life is Strange follows Max, an 18 year old photography student at an elite high school, who wakes up one day to discover she can rewind time. Now she has all the time in the world to make her decisions, and can try different paths when talking with someone... However, there are some unintended consequences.
     The limit of Max's power is this: she can only rewind to very recent actions (within a minute or two). So, while she could make thing better in the short term, the long term carries effects unknown.
      She discovers this power when she goes into the bathroom after class, and is witness to a boy, Nathan, fatally shooting a girl, Max's old friend Chloe (they recognize each other closer to the third act of the episode). She sticks out her right hand, and suddenly time flies backwards until she is back in class. From then on, she can always choose the right path...

      Then again, maybe there is no right path.
      After every significant choice, or meet a significant event, you are told "this action will have consequences." this ranges from telling the principle the local monopoly's son brought a gun to school, to watering your house plant. Yes, seriously. And the game makes it where you, like the character, instantly feel guilty for EVERYTHING bad that happens because you can prevent it. You can prevent a girl from being hit on the back of the head with a football, you can save a bird from dying... But if you do help them, you get the message "this action will have consequences."
      Depending on how your time travel logic works, this could range from "the consequence is someone has to repair the broken window" to "mass hysteria." and given the ending of the episode, we are headed for the "mass hysteria" section of time logic.
      There is a butterfly motif running through the game, a reference to the butterfly effect and The Sound of Thunder. saving the bird's life might seem nice in the short term, but in the long term, it may cause a hurricane in Egypt...
       ...but then we get to my one problem with the story thus far: are any of our choices worthwhile?

     I'm going into speculation mode, so bare with me, but the ending to this could potentially be infuriating.
     You see, like saving the bird or stomping on a butterfly, actions can have massive consequences when it comes to time. And the entire story may have been screwed before we've even left the tutorial. You see, Chloe died in the original timeline... And Max when back in time to save her. Time is likely going to try and correct this error, if the previews and ending sequence are to be believed.
     Thus, I shall call the worst case, and most likely case scenario: you have to go back in time and stop yourself from saving Chloe. Now, this is most likely, as that was the event that triggered the storm (most likely right now at any rate). This is the worst case because it will mean that everything in between didn't happen. All the actions logged, that we are told will have consequences... all of them undone to undo the butterfly effect. If this is indeed the case, then by hell the only way to play is to do all the good actions, make yourself feel good. Screw the long term, you won't ever get there because you have to undo everything!
     Best case scenario however, is that you don't go back in time to defeat the butterfly effect. Your actions have actual long term consequences, and they have an effect on how the 5 episodes end.

I actually really enjoyed this game quite a bit. I want to do multiple runs to see the effects... but I also don't want to if the worst case scenario up there is true. Part of the reason I just stopped playing the Walking Dead game by Sierra is that no matter what, the end is the same; all the different entangled paths converge onto one point that is made no different by your choices other than small details. I hope that isn't what happens in this game. If a player is given choices in a game, those choices need to mean something in the end... otherwise it is all just metagaming for the theoretical "best run." If anyone cares enough anymore to run it.

Though to sum up, I really like the game and I am looking forward to the next episode (got the season pass, the next episode is in March), but I will be very sad if this takes the path I think it is... Life is Strange is a very melancholic game, and I can only hope that it ends happy. Even just an ending that is, "everyone runs away from the snowstorm in Egypt" is better than "basically the ending to The Butterfly Effect (movie)"
Plox no equivalent to aborting oneself...

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sonic Boom- Episode reviews 1 & 2

     Sonic Boom, the latest television series based around video game icon, Sonic the Hedgehog, premiered on Cartoon Network Saturday, November eighth 2014.
     Sonic Boom is one of several different attempts to bring Sonic to the cable box.

     Two of the more popular iterations, Sonic SatAm and Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, both released in September of 1993.
     Sonic SatAm is the fan nickname for the show, since it was just called "Sonic the Hedgehog" and such a title was too nondescript for discussion, so they called it SatAm because it was shown Saturday mornings. It featured Sonic and a large cast of characters fighting against Doctor Robotnik, an evil genius that has taken over the world, and turned the majority of living things into robots. This series introduced a lot of the characters and the story of the Sonic Archie series (which is a long running series of comic books created by Archie Comics. Sonic fans are not known for extravagant names to refer to the different media outlets Sonic appears in).
     The second series, Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, (Or AoStH in the fandom. Again, call it like it is) was actually more Saturday morning cartoon based than the one that ran on Saturday mornings. It had the same premise of Sonic the Hedgehog fighting Robotnik, but through wacky hijinks, and Robotnik is trying to take over the world, as opposed to his darker counterpart that succeeded. AoStH lasted longer than SatAm, being run through 1996 as opposed to SatAm's cancellation in 1994.

     Following the end of both series, Sonic got another attempt at a TV series through Sonic Underground. It was very, very ninties, featuring Sonic playing guitar and two new team members who had punk styling. Sonic Underground is the least known series. It's plot was like SatAm's, except Sonic and his two siblings who never appeared again outside the Archie comics had medallions that turned into weapons and instruments. Or just flat out weapons, depending on your musical tastes.

     Following that attempt that lasted all of 2 months, Sonic got another series, this time made in Japan and dubbed by ear cancer. I mean 4Kids Entertainment. Easily confused with ear cancer.
     Sonic X premiered in 2003, and featured the full cast of the games, and the most controversial addition, humans. Specifically, a young boy named Chris, who added nothing of real value to the stories.
     Sonic X basically retold the stories of the Sonic Adventure series of games, then went off in its own direction when it exhausted those.

     In short, Sonic hasn't had a large amount of success on TV, despite trying several times with different methodologies.
     Sonic Boom is the latest series attempt. It takes place in an alternate universe to the primary Sonic, with pretty much the same premise... except with a lot more sports tape, longer legs, and more steroids for Knuckles.

Just all the steroids for Knuckles.

    Despite some initial distaste for the series by the current Sonic fans, the new designs for the Sonic crew had grown on many. Sonic and Knuckles will never be accepted in this state in the fandom at large, but no one complains about Amy and or Tails.
    Speaking of Amy however, the series had an interesting idea to present: Amy is in love with Sonic, and Sonic doesn't know that. Everywhere else she plays the stalker with a crush that he finds annoying. Just the fact that her love for Sonic isn't at the forefront, meaning she has a chance ot showcase more of her personality, gives me high hopes for the series...

But, then again, the series is being written in the style of AoStH, being very cartoonish, 15 minute episodes. So, no real hope for a grand, epic plot...
Infact, the plots are actually incredibly shallow.

The first episode synopsis is this:
Tails gets injured in a fight with Eggman (used to be Robotnik, was later changed to Eggman), and Sonic holds auditions for a new sidekick.

... I have problems with that premise for quite a few reasons:
1. It is a weak premise.
2. It makes Sonic seem incredibly shallow, selfish, and self-centered.
3. Point 2 goes against EVERY SINGLE ITERATION OF SONIC.
So, that is about all the original fans alienated, and the episode hasn't even started...

Once the episode starts proper, the reason is clearer. Sonic is looking for a new sidekick so Tails doesn't go into the line of fire again. Which is better. But the synopsis problem still stands: if someone reads that before heading in, they might not be inclined to give it a chance. Not the right foot forward.

The episode itself... It is... Ehh...
The jokes aren't that great right now. They still need to establish characters before they can get rolling. It's just throwing random stuff right now.
Though by the antlers of the deer god, they managed to do the impossible: they made Amy Rose EVEN MORE ANNOYING. And this is coming from a guy who LIKES her character!
She comes in for the audition to be Sonic's side kick, and quite honestly she could've gotten the job if they didn't decide to have her be freaking stupid, and start juggling, singing, and doing a horrible Italian impression that makes Mario look authentic.
The first episode really felt like a pilot episode. Which isn't too bad, but there is a problem in TV: producers don't want set-up episodes. They don't want everything explained in the first couple episodes. They want to start right in the middle. Problem is, only Sonic fans know who these people are, and Sonic fans aren't fans of a lot of the changes. So, jumping in, newcomers have no idea who anyone is, and longtime fans are alienated. Great show pitch!

The second episode is also ehh, and is forming an unfortunate pattern. The second episode is about Eggman becoming Sonic's roommate while his home is being rebuilt.
Another fairly dumb idea, but for reasons not completely apparent. The idea is fairly shallow, but the other problem it creates is far worse:
Eggman is not a credible threat.
In the main Sonic universe (Sonic Boom is an American spin-off), Eggman regularly pulled eldritch abominations out of the earth and tried to bend them to his will. He plans to conquer the earth and actually succeeded once. He managed to grab a hold of several planets, and turned them into an intergalactic amusement park. MU Eggman is a credible threat.
But Sonic Boom Eggman? When he reveals that his entire plan was to just tire Sonic and Tails out (There are a lot better ways to do that... Just have a bunch of small attacks at all times all around... wherever they are), and unveils his obliterater bot, the bot immediately goes to destroy Eggman's base, and Eggman has to ask Sonic to help him stop the robot.
Just... just why. If Eggman isn't a credible threat, then he is just the crazy guy with some robots that malices Sonic and co. with a shoehorn every now and then.

As a side note, Sticks, a Sonic Boom original character, is so far a lot more interesting than the rest. She's paranoid to the point of yelling at her own shadow. That works. It also helps that she was actually right about Eggman's plan, making her far more competent than pretty much everyone else.

There are a couple synopsis available for the upcoming episodes:
Episode 3: Sticks is invited to a gala but doesn't know how to act lady-like. It's called "My fair Sticksy"
Putting aside that they are already using ideas completely unrelated to Sonic, I am glad to see it isn't just Sonic and Tails in the spotlight. Hell, Sticks came out the best, so maybe it could be good.
Or there will be about 3 jokes based on heels. One of them will be that a heel is used like a boomerang (Sticks' primary weapons are boomerangs).

Episode 4: A traveling circus captures Sonic and his friends.
... Really, we are going there already? Is this like an arrested development thing where we are watching the entire season backwards or something? We are dropping all possible stories to tell with Sonic fighting Eggman, because the story about a traveling circus capturing the heroes must be told first.
This is an idea that comes late into a second or third season, when they start being strapped for ideas. Are they desperate already?
The perfect solution to that problem is simple: have an over arching story. Then you got something to build off of, and interesting situations can come off that. But when you just bounce things off the wall, you get this.

This isn't even fun stupidity like AoStH, it's just... dumb right now.

Maybe time will improve the show, but if this current pattern holds, I don't expect Sonic Boom to get another season...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Freedom Planet

     What happens when you give a bunch of Sonic the Hedgehog fans the money, talent, and skill necessary to make a game? Well they live up to their kickstarter and make a fast-paced 2D platformer of course!
     This is Freedom Planet.

      I should mention ahead of time, this review is first impressions based. I am not a big time reviewer capable of asking for review copies before their release date so I can play them to completion. In order to get this review out in a timely manner, I must base my initial assessment on the first 30 minutes of gameplay. I may in the future return to do a complete review of the property, but if the rest of the game is like the first two parts, I have a fairly good idea of how it is.

     The controls are quite tight; that is to say, they are well responsive with very little input lag.
     Initially I had some trouble configuring the controls, as I was trying to get my controller to work (The game has controller support by the way, for you Sonic fans who cannot play any game remotely similar without a controller!) but the game wasn't accepting inputs from it, only my keyboard. I got it to work, but basically I had to program it through my keyboard instead of my controller directly. This could be just a bug, and may be patched out later on, so this does not factor in at all with my feelings on the game.

    For Sonic fans, I can break down the game in a very simple manner: It has the art style of the early sonic games, with the gameplay of Sonic Advance.
    For non-sonic fans, here is a complete breakdown:
    You move fast. very, very fast. However, while part of the objective to complete the level as fast as possible, you will actually want to explore the levels; a lot. There are collectibles hidden in each level, requiring some neat tricks in-order to get to them. This is quite counter productive to the whole "beat the level fast" thing, and the very fast movement speed lends itself more to that objective than to exploration, but I suppose the collection sidequest is more just added longevity, and unlocking of various goodies should all the collectibles in a level be found. I don't know the full answer (first impressions) but it's a decent guess.
    You also have three methods of attack. One: You have a double jump, and at least with Lilac, it is a move that adds height to the jump, and damages enemies. Two: a basic attack move, which seems to, under certain circumstances, home in on enemies. Three: A special ability. For Lilac, it is a wall bouncing ability, capable of either speeding her up, or allowing her to ascend to places normally unreachable.
    Of note, there is no tutorial for the game, at all. Not even a pop-up saying "these are your moves!" Old school gamers won't find this to be a problem, but even then not stating things outright in this fashion cna lead to some confusion. I got stuck on one part of a level because I didn't actually understand how Lilac's special worked, or that I was supposed to use it to advance. I did eventually figure it out, (and also found a card at the top of where I was supposed to go) but lost like 3 minutes of time on it. Though an argument could be made that the spot I was stuck in was designed to teach that; that I could get up there with my ability (and that there were cards hidden everywhere). And while that works, I just have the unfortunate feeling that some may get stuck there as well, and think the level was just poorly designed and give up. Giving a direct explanation of the ability might alleviate that. But, this game has only three buttons; it isn't really all that hard to figure out.
     The notable deviation from the Sonic series the game is an homage to, there is a health bar, similar to that of the Zelda series. Basically it is a bunch of leaves that represent how many times you can be hit before you die. There is also a mana bar, which is used by double jumping or using the special. The special can only be used at a full bar, meaning it can't be used after a double jump, but can be used after a single jump.

    Next, the story... I can't tell exactly what is going down, as there is a lot of backstory we haven't been told yet, but from what was shown: an evil lizard decapitates a king (onscreen!), and instills the king's son as a puppet king. Now he has lackies going after these special gems that supply power. The main characters are heroes, possibly mercenaries or something... I'm not sure of the details, but so far the plot is decent, if a bit textbook. It may get more intricate as time goes on.

    Now for the negatives...
    The bosses are kinda difficult. They are fast, and are kinda hard to avoid at times. Certainly there is a strategy to beating them, and they become easier after it is found; but they are still quite long. It becomes a battle of attrition more than anything else.
    But other than the bosses, there isn't much else negative to say. Well, I can point out that the game may be a bit too "furry" for its own good. The moment I heard Lilac was a dragon, I immediately thought: "Wow, is she also a kittyfox?" The game is already gonna turn people away because it looks like something out of a Sonic fanart gallery, calling her a dragon won't do the game many favors. I have no problem with her being a dragon or her design, just the fact she was called a dragon is what gave me pause. If they left her species ambiguous, I probably would not have even mentioned this. Then again, I am a furry, so I already notice trends like dragon original characters popping up everywhere; a normal person probably won't think anything of her being a dragon.

     And those are my initial impressions. It is certainly a fun game, and I look forward to playing more, and probably going for 100% in it. I may update with a complete review of the game, but if not, here's my score for the game:


+ Excellent gameplay, decent apparent longevity, and good writing and intriguing story. 

- Attrition bosses, possibly too "furry" for main stream audiences (does not factor into rating). 

Rating may be lowered in the future if future levels turn out to be a pain. Otherwise the rating will likely stand.

Monday, July 14, 2014


Willow was one of the very first fantasy films to reach the big screen; so it is little surprise that it wasn't very good, and didn't do well.
To say all the problems in one go: The plot is thin, the main actor isn't very good, there are a lot of contrivances, some just flat out stupid or silly moments that were wholly unnecessary, and generally poor writing.

As an example of the poor writing, one of the minor characters, who was supposed to be a friendly rival to the supporting male swordsman, is killed during the final battle. Now, the important thing is he gets some last words; any semi-important main character gets some last words, especially if they are a hero. Here is the expected final words:
"You always did say you'd live long past me..."
And here is what we got in the film:
"Win this war for me?"
... The problem with that is that the last words are very impersonal; he could say that to a kitten and it'd have just as much personal impact as saying it to a human being. Be only slightly sillier too.

And that's the film; if everything given was a two choice road, they chose every single wrong turn. They eventually got where they were going, after circling around the earth and trudging through mud.

First, there is Warrick Davis as the lead actor. He is passable, but is probably the weakest part of the film, despite being the titular main character. Storywise, he's as much of "the load" as the baby (I'll get to that in a minute). He doesn't really participate in the fights, and is pretty useless when he does. He is given magic acorns in the beginning which are supposed to turn people he throws them at to stone, and they turn out o be a complete waste of time, as, while they do work, it turns out to be utterly ineffective. He ultimately does nothing important for the story; every single act that could be attributed to him, could easily be contributed ot another. Good witch needing to be human? she finally finds the right counter spell. Villain spilling her magic juices and dying? Honestly tripping on her robes would cause that. The story is called "Willow" It should be about Willow, the audience should care more about him than the supporting characters. This is a problem with the writing and casting. Warrick Davis plays it fairly bland, and the role is fairly bland. So it is technically a perfect fit, but that shouldn't have been the end goal.

Though I should jump onto the issue of the macguffin of the film, a baby. A baby is a very, very bad idea for a macguffin, if for no other reason than it begging the question "WHEN DID THEY LAST FEED THE BABY?!"
In the end, the fact it was a baby turned out to be entirely pointless. The macguffin could've been a goblet and it would've had as much impact on the plot as the baby; and the goblet might make more sense.
We are told there is a prophecy that a baby will bring about the doom of an evil queen. We are never told how though; it's not like they say "the baby will touch the queen and she will then die", it's more vague. In the end, it's less that the baby caused her destruction, more that her attempts to avoid the prophecy caused it. That or the fact she bothered with a ritual, instead of the obvious option, which would be: Once you find the baby, kill it.
With something solid and magical in nature, like a goblet or a tome, a ritual makes sense; and the macguffin would not require upkeep. and it'd be an actual prophecy, instead of a self fulfilling one.

The entire film is just made up of poor decisions; from casting, to writing, directing, acting...
Honestly the only thing that works is the brownies, and they are purely comic relief. I liked them mostly because they seemed like the Frenchmen from Monty Python's Holy Grail. They were silly, but were honest with their silliness, they were not at all attempting to be serious with them, and that is perfectly fine.

I realize I'm picking on a film 26 years old, but I do it for one reason: Hollywood loves presold ideas, and is on a remake kick. Willow is a property that can be made very well today with the right changes. We have better special effects, better costume and set design, better fight choreography, better dramatic and comedic writing... It is very possible to take a not well known fantasy film, and make it appeal to the current Lord of the Rings fan-crowd. It doesn't need a Lord of the Rings budget, it just needs to pick the right choices.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Phoenix Comicon Log: Day 1

      I've been going to Phoenix Comicon for about 4 years now. Each year, my dad and I go to meet indie writers and comic book makers,  and watch the various panels. I figured I might as well chronicle the events.

      First off, Thursday is usually the least populated day; it's only a couple of hours (Technically. It closes at 2 in the morning, but opens at 4 PM instead of 10 AM.), and usually means the place is a lot easier to move around in. That still holds true this year, but there were a LOT more people there than usual.
Though the market floor is SIGNIFICANTLY bigger than previous years. There is quite a bit more space to move in, and it seems there are a lot more booths.
      We picked up some various movie posters (which we do every year, but this time I brought a tube to safely transport them in!) and just generally looked around the floor.
      I got myself a Pop! Figure of Garrus Vakarian of Mass Effect.

Look at his adorable awesomeness!

      I collect statues, toys, and figurines of shows and games I am a fan of. They are all tastefully displayed about my room; in perfect striking position should they ever come to life, ironically enough.

      Following our mini adventure on the con floor, we went to a couple panels. I personally went to a panel on how to create My Little Pony Ears. I've been wanting to go to that panel for 3 years, and only now did I finally go. The panel itself was mainly teaching how to hand sew. I think I might have learned something from the panel, but I'm still stuck in the phase where if I can get the thread ready it is a minor celebration.
     I would very much like to learn though; I want to be able to make a cosplay costume for next year... I'm thinking probably AquaGround Style Megaman.Exe

Like this but Blue.
     I just need to figure out how on earth I'm going to do... All of this. I am gesturing to all of it.

     Meanwhile, my dad went to a panel on Game of Thrones and the historical connections within it. It apparently sucked. The panelists were under prepared, with only a small amount of knowledge on the subject each apart from knowing the books/show. There was no slideshow to accompany it either, meaning that school projects on how yeast grows when cooking are better prepared than a group of panelists.

     My dad and I have actually discussed that we should do a panel at some point. He's a teacher, so he does know how to lead a class, and make it interesting. I would think we'd do it on how to create believable characters, or characters with a lot of depth. It'd be a subject people would be interested in, and one we could talk a lot about.

But, following these panels, we met up at another panel featuring quite a few of the authors (book authors, not comic book authors) at the con. It was the best freaking panel we've ever been to. They had us laughing the entire time, with good stories, and good chemistry between all of the various authors. It was a freaking delight. (By the way, if you ever enter Canada illegally, apparently the best way to sneak back over is by a hot air balloon wedding.)

Following that, we adjourned home for the night... Leave on a high note so they say.~

That concludes Day 1, we'll see if I remember to write a day 2.