Posts tagged “Nintendo”

Thursday, 1 February 2018

“Of the Month” February 2018

Show of the Month:

Jean-Claude Van Johnson

Good lord, I was unprepared for how frikkin’ hilarious this show would be. The general premise is that Jean-Claude Van Damme is not only an actor, but is also a secret agent codenamed “Johnson” (hence the series’ name). The fact that the show frequently flies off the rails into surrealism and supernatural absurdity while still maintaining its veneer of “realistic and gritty” just adds to the hilarity. JCVD has comedic timing that is absolutely flawless. Who knew? Case in point: in the first episode he plays a secondary role as a minor, bumbling henchman (Filip) who resembles JCVD. Later in the series Filip returns, and is conscripted by the villains to impersonate JCVD. JCVD captures Filip and impersonates him in order to infiltrate the villain lair. So to watch JCVD act as “Johnson” doing an impression of a character that he plays is just an absolute delight. The frequent and blatant shout-outs to various JCVD movies are wonderful and bizarre. And then the climax of the final episode hinges on something from the first episode that I assumed was an hilarious throw-away joke. The whole series is brilliant. Part of me wishes it went on forever, and part of me is glad that there won’t be another season, because these six episodes form a wonderful whole that doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Video Game of the Month:

Celeste

On the surface Celeste is one of those twitchy platformers in the vein of Super Meat Boy, where you die over and over again until you’re able to utilize the physics of the game to make just the exact right moves at the exact right timing to clear a room and progress. But in its heart Celeste is a very different beast. Rather than reveling in its cruelty and delighting in how frenetic and difficult its levels are, this game does two very important things. For one, it is very encouraging. On-screen messages when you startup praise you for dying so many times, because failure is the best way to learn. Also, its music is (usually) gentle and melodic, almost like music out of Breath of the Wild instead of screeching, heart-pounding music meant to drive up the tension. And two, Celeste slowly builds a wonderful story with compelling and funny characters. This results in an experience that seems more contemplative, almost meditative at times. While you die a couple dozen times in the span of a minute. I am encouraged to continue not only for the satisfaction of solving a physical puzzle, but also so that I am rewarded by getting to experience more of the gorgeous graphics and music and learn more of the story of Madeleine and her journey up a mountain and into her own psyche. This game is getting rave reviews, and I agree.

Album of the Month:

They Might Be Giants: I Like Fun

The 20th Studio album from TMBG! The first half of the album plays it kinda safe, with songs that are mostly in the TMBG-style of power-pop goodness. This is fine, because even at their worst, TMBG songs are better than about 90% of music out there. And these are far from TMBG’s worst songs. But once the 7th track hits (the title track, “I Like Fun”), TMBG busts out of their own weird comfort zone and back into their bizarre, experimental, and out-there offerings that are, again, better than about 90% of music out there. Here’s their latest video, for “The Greatest,” a minimalist almost-dirge sung in Flansburgh’s almost-falsetto. Also, it stars Nick Offerman!!!!

The album ends on a song (“Last Wave”) that has horrifying, depressing lyrics:

We die alone
We die afraid
We live in terror
We’re naked and alone
And the grave is the loneliest place

We die alone
We die afraid
We live in terror
We’re naked and alone
And the grave is the loneliest place

We die alone
We die afraid
Afraid to die
We’re naked and alone
Naked and alone

We die alone
We die afraid
We live in terror
We’re naked and alone
Naked and alone

…until you learn more about it and realize that it started as a bad lip-sync reading of Aerosmyth/Run DMC’s “Walk this Way” music video:

Now it seems more hilarious than ever, a massive in-joke for TMBG’s fans. I Like Fun isn’t their best album, but it is still great to have.

Categories: Of the Month.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

“Of the Month” August 2017

Video Game of the Month:

Mighty Gunvolt Burst

A while back, two of the people who were the driving forces behind the Mega Man and Mega Man X franchises created their own video games: Mighty No. 9 and Azure Striker Gunvolt respectively. The first one had… problems. The second one was pretty good. Well, now they’ve been combined in an 8/16-bit game that truly does feel like you’re playing a brand new Mega Man game. The main difference is that you don’t gain specific weapons by defeating bosses; instead you gain weapon configuration options by finding hidden modules throughout the stages. These let you craft your own weapons: trajectory, speed, # of on-screen bullets, etc., etc., etc. ad infinitum. Seriously, the sheer number of configurations you can do is insane. The only problem is that the menu system UI is not user-friendly, and since there is no instruction manual it is pretty difficult to figure out how to navigate it. But the game itself is a lot of fun, especially to me since I do so heart the original Mega Man series of games.

Show of the Month:

Castlevania

Lemme ask you a quesion: Do you like the writing of Warren Ellis? If you do, then this show is for you, because it was written by him and is full of the kinds of touches that he loves to include in his works. This “series” is really just a feature-length pilot episode inexplicably broken up into four parts. I don’t know why they bothered to do that. It serves to introduce us to (most of) the main characters based on the video game Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (my favorite of all the Castlevania games). It is surprisingly well-done for a video game adaptation, and the inclusion of a corrupted church as the real villain of the piece is an inspired (and very Ellis) choice. The characterization of Trevor Belmont as a disgruntled former hero who is now basically an alcoholic is great. There are a couple of great, well-choreographed action scenes that let you see just how much of a badass Trevor actually is, and towards the end of the series when he rallies townfolks and shows them just how you defeat demons is a great moment where you really see, holy shit, this guy is something. I do wish the show took place in more than one location; the Castlevania III game has sprawling, varied settings, from swamps to forests to caverns and clock towers. You get some hints of that in this pilot, but I do hope the actual series coming later expands the setting to include all of the crazy, wacky things that you can find in a Castlevania game.

Comic Book of the Month:

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur

A comic book about an absurdly intelligent little girl, Lunella Lafayette (in recent issues it was discovered that she is actually the single smartest human being currently in existence), who gets bonded to an enormous, pea-brained dinosaur. Most of the fun of the book comes from playing off Lunella’s immense frustrations with the fact that because she’s just a kid she doesn’t have any of the resources or freedoms to take advantage of her huge intellect. She’s often railing at the sheer stupidity and lack of understanding that surrounds her, from her well-meaning-but-clueless parents to the idiocy of the superhero community that she gradually becomes a part of (she develops crime-fighting gadgets and eventually the superpower of being able to swap minds with Devil Dinosaur). It’s a great read, Lunella is a fascinating character, and the art does a great job of expressing the emotions going on in this preternaturally gifted girl.

Categories: Of the Month.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Great Ideas on the Internet: Turn Your Switch Into an NES!

Is it correctly "A" NES or "AN" NES???

Is it correctly “A” NES or “AN” NES???

There have been reports of Nintendo Switch docks scratching the screens of the Switches themselves. I haven’t had this problem personally (though I did buy a screen protector because common sense). But one ingenious Etsy craftsperson has come up with a solution: a microfiber-backed “Switch Sock” that slips over the front of the dock to keep it from scratching the screen!

My favorite is the one that makes the Switch look like a (an?) NES, but there are many designs from various Nintendo games (as well as solid colors if you’re boring (or just want to coordinate with your home décor)).

Say "Switch Socks" 10 times quickly. Go on.

Say “Switch Socks” 10 times quickly. Go on.

They’re only $14.99 and free shipping! Pretty cheap if you’re worried about ruining your $299 piece of technology.

Seriously, is it a NES or an NES?? Now that’s really buggin’ me.

Categories: Great Ideas on the Internet, Shopping, Video Games.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Original NES Box Art as Wall Art!?

Gasp! 'Tis true!

Gasp! ‘Tis true!

ThinkGeek is right now offering fine-art canvas prints of four classic Nintendo Entertainment System video game boxes:

  • Super Mario Bros.
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Metroid
  • Duck Hunt

You can get a closer look at them in this li’l 30-second ad that ThinkGeek threw together in like two seconds:

Good gods, these would be amazing to have hanging up in an entertainment/gaming room of some sort. <sarcasm>Y’know, one of those extra rooms that you just have lying around your house.</sarcasm>

And though I absolutely adore the Legend of Zelda box art, I kinda wished they’d gone with a different game that fit the same aesthetic as the other three. It looks outta place. Maybe something like Excitebike? Or Kung Fu?

Product Specifications:

  • Classic NES Box Art – Exclusive Canvas Art
  • Officially-licensed Nintendo merchandise
  • A ThinkGeek exclusive
  • Original NES box art printed on canvas
  • Materials: Canvas and pressboard
  • Dimensions: 19″ x 13″ x 3/4″

[Via ThinkGeek]

Categories: Links, Shopping, Video Games.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Daaaaaaaaaaaaang

Daaaaaaaaaaaang.

Daaaaaaaaaaaang.

Yeah, that’s me, I’m the guy who got a Nintendo Switch on launch day (I pre-ordered it).

Let's SWITCH things up in here. GET IT? SWITCH!?

Let’s SWITCH things up in here. GET IT? SWITCH!?

So. Yeah. I may not be very productive for a while. Or I might be (even) more sleepy that usual. Bonus: I can bring this thang to bed and play there!

Categories: Life, Video Games.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

“Of the Month” April 2016

Album of the Month:
hella_personal_film_festival
Open Mike Eagle & Paul White: Hella Personal Film Festival

This album is ungodly catchy. Paul white’s production is astonishingly eclectic, bouncing from full-on, straight-up jazz to darker, juicy electronic beats. Mike’s vocals are as on-point as ever, full of dark comedy and wry, biting humor, liberally sprinkled with nerdy references and self-deprecation. All at once familiar and comforting (it is Mike being Mike after all) and delightfully surprising. This is BY FAR the best album of 2016, and lemme tell you: it’s gonna be a jaw-dropping shocker if anything tops it.

Here, watch this video for “Check 2 Check”

Video Game of the Month:
miitomo
Miitomo

Nintendo’s first foray into mobile gaming is almost a parody of social media. You play as your Mii (a self-designed cartoony avatar), and you answer questions it asks of you and then you get to listen to the answers your friends gave. You can comment on answers. But also by doing so you get virtual moneys that you can use to buy outfits for your Mii, and there are some minigames you can play (of the drop-your-Mii-in-a-pachinko-machine variety) for various prizes. It’s all rather charming and silly, though you can learn a surprising amount of insight into your friends based on how they answer questions!

And if you have the app, you can look at this QR code and be my frieeeeeeend!

It's me Mii!

It’s me Mii!

Movie of the Month:
Pee-wees-Big-Holiday_poster_goldposter_com_2
Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday

A new Pee-Wee movie after (almost) 30 years? Don’t go into this movie expecting a rip-roaring, laugh-a-minute redefinition of comedy. That ain’t this movie’s bag. Big Holiday is a surprisingly gentle and pleasant ride, with gentle touches of comedy that make you smile more than laugh. Everything is restrained and, well, just so darned pleasant. It just breezes by. There are some great gags, like a balloon gag towards the back third that is funny not for what is happening but for just how long it keeps happening. The greatest bits, though, are about the incredibly intense bromance that Pee-Wee strikes up with actor Joe Manganiello (playing himself), and several slow-motion dream sequences that sometimes are inexplicably in Spanish. Big Holiday is a very childlike—but not childish—movie. I enjoyed it.

Categories: Of the Month.

Friday, 1 January 2016

“Of the Month” January 2016

Tabletop Game of the Month:
machi_koro
Machi Koro

Machi Koro is a fun card game from Japan in which each player is the mayor of a town. You win by being the first to build four major “Attractions” in your town. But those cost money! You generate money by building industries, restaurants, etc. in your town. When its your turn you roll the dice, and if the number matches a number on a card in your town then you gain (or sometimes lose) the amount of money that the card tells you to. There are different varieties of cards, like ones that get you money whenever anybody rolls their number and cards that let you directly steal money from other players. The dice are a very nice bit of randomization injected into a resource-building game. Once you get the hang of it (very easy) games go pretty quickly, usually in under 20-30 minutes, so you can play it over and over.

Video Game of the Month:
splatoon
Splatoon

Yes, this came out quite a while ago, but I was distracted by Super Mario Maker for so long that I finally just got it for Christmas. And you know what? it’s EXCELLENT. A third-person shooter where the goal is to cover more territory with your color of ink than your opponent’s team is a frikkin’ brilliant play mechanic. Splatting your opponents is just a secondary goal that gets them out of the way so you can keep spraying your ink on everything. The online play (you play in teams of 4) is seamless, and I love the fact that you can’t actually communicate with your teammates or opponents; you have to be able to quickly judge the situations and figure out how best to help your team. A variety of weapons and ability-enhancing outfits makes every team completely different every time you play. I’m partial to the sloshing buckets right now myself. If you’ve got Splatoon let me know and we can exchange friend codes and maybe meet up online somewhen!

Artist of the Month:
justin_hillgrove
Justin Hillgrove

My favorite artist that I saw at Urban Craft Uprising in Seattle in 2015. He has a detailed and lush-yet-whimsical style inspired by the likes of Maurice Sendak and Hayao Miyazaki, whose characters are often mashed-up in amusing ways in his paintings:

"We'll Eat You Up" by Justin Hillgrove

“We’ll Eat You Up” by Justin Hillgrove

He does other fun, pop-culture-inspired works like the Video Game Heroes & Villains seen above, as well as some Doctor Who and Walking Dead and Peanuts. He also has a YouTube channel where he uploads timelapse videos of him creating his paintings. It’s very cool to see an artist at work like this:

He has prints and original art for sale, and has also done a couple of comic books. Go check ’em out.

Categories: Of the Month.