Category Archives: movies

It’s a Fish Eat Fish World

I am always leery of movies, especially sequels, with long names and longer subtitles. I guess I should have the same aversion to that type of thing in video games as well. Here, we have another free download from the PlayStation Store called Feeding Frenzy 2: Shipwreck Showdown.

Now I had never heard of Feeding Frenzy before, but apparently the game from Pop Cap and Sprout Games has been around for a while and is even available to play free online. The set up is pretty simple, you’re Boris the Butterfly Fish, you eat the fish smaller than you and avoid those bigger than you. When you eat enough little fish, you become a bigger fish. Simple as that, survival of the fittest basically.

I really kinda dig this very simple game and wish I’d tried it sooner. Regular readers of this blog know I have a lot of trouble with the PS3 controllers. Feeding Frenzy actually offers an easy and efficient way to get used to using the controllers. The more I play, the more practice I get in for future games of other types.

Besides being a great gaming practice games, it’s also kind of relaxing with a fun score. I dug this game a lot.

Wreck-It Ralph

This review, in a slightly altered form, has already appeared on my pop culture blog, Welcome to Hell. Since it’s videogame topical, I figured I’d share it here too. Enjoy.

First things first, Wreck-It Ralph being a Disney/Pixar flick, we get a Pixar cartoon before the main feature. “Paperman” was a sweet short utilizing different animation than usual for Pixar, and it also had a bit of a Japanese anime vibe to it. I liked it a lot, a big reason to see this movie is to see “Paperman” first.

Wreck-It Ralph, the newest from Disney/Pixar, is loosely at first glance a cross between Toy Story and Tron. Like the first movie we discover that the entities in our videogames actually live, especially when we’re not looking, and like the second flick we discover that they live in their own little universe with its own physical and moral laws, all within the confines of one arcade.

Wreck-It Ralph is the bad guy in a game called Fix-It Felix, Jr., essentially close to Donkey Kong in many ways. Ralph, shunned by the other denizens of his game, determines to leave his game and make good. He goes off to Hero’s Duty, a hybrid of Halo and Starship Troopers, to win a medal, and recognition. When things go awry, he becomes stranded in Sugar Rush, a mix of Mario Kart and Candyland. There, Ralph must decide if truly is the bad guy, or a hero.

It’s a complex plot that is quite dark in places, but for the most part, it’s an enjoyable journey through 1980s videogame nostalgia. It has a sharp sense of humor, great characters, and the voice work of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, and especially Jane Lynch is first class. There are also many cameos of classic videogame characters that make the flick a real treat.

An added trivia bonus for old school videogamers is the song that plays over the closing credits, “Wreck It, Wreck-It Ralph” by Jerry Buckner, formerly of Buckner & Garcia of “Pac-Man Fever” fame.

I liked Wreck-It Ralph quite a bit, and while I wonder if this might be over or under the heads of some folks who weren’t into, or alive for, 1980s arcade games, I highly recommend it. Great flick.

The New PlayStation Store

Since getting my PS3, and writing this blog, I have been quite dependent on the PlayStation Store. It’s where I get all the wonderful free trials and demos I play and write about.

As with all things that we rely on on a daily basis, whether we realize it or not, they are just old and lousy. No matter how good we think they are, and how much we live them – trust me, it’s all old and lousy. You know how I know? Because invariably, something ‘new and improved’ will come along. Like today.

Welcome to the new PlayStation Store. I am, of course, hesitant. Both because I am old, and because I liked the old interface. Just because something can be improved, doesn’t mean it should, ya know?

All that said, it does seem like a happier, shinier, and most importantly, easier to navigate interface. It gives a good view of everything the store has to offer – movies, television, applications, and (whodathunkit?) games. Use the left side menu if you want to find specific games, or types of games, however.

Nice, for once, it’s a new and improved that is new and improved.

The Demo, Not the Movie

Now I’ve been seeing previews for Real Steel the movie since January, I think it’s on DVD and Blu-Ray by now, after only lasting a few weeks in theaters. It’s one of those previews that pretty much tells you the whole story of the movie in a two-minute trailer. Hugh Jackman is a former boxer in a world where boxing has moved on. It’s now done with robots. His estranged son wants to have a boxing robot, so Hugh gets one from a junkyard but teaches it his old moves. Robot wins championship, father wins son’s respect. You can see it a mile away.

I’m probably not going to see the movie, as I said, the trailer already gave everything away. But when I saw the demo was available on the PlayStation Store, I downloaded it, as it just might be fun. In the trial version, there are few options available to those who refuse to purchase the full game. Bummer. Much like Marvel vs. Capcom 2, a second player is needed. So I grabbed Ray and made him play with me.

Maybe I still don’t understand this stuff, but in this case Ray doesn’t either, ’cause once we had two controllers connected the game worked, but only for one player, so who knows what was what. The suckiest part of the whole thing is that even once we started playing, we still had our butts handed to us. Ray had heard this was a terrible game to begin with because of the controller placement, whatever that means. I’m deleting this game for sure.

Happy Feet Two is another game demo based on a movie, and in this case, the game is much more fun than the movie. I disliked the movie a lot. I did like the original Happy Feet film, and I dig the demo quite a bit as well. You’re a penguin who likes to dance, and you groove across a icy terrain picking up musical notes like Mario going after coins and also pick up dance partners along the way. The effects, the music, and the gameplay are easy, fun, and a blast. One hundred percent better than the movie it’s named after.

Who Plays the Watchmen?

Who Watches the Watchmen? was the question spray-painted on walls in defiance throughout perhaps the greatest superhero story ever told. The answer is that everyone does now. Especially with DC Comics’ recent announcement that this summer would be highlighted by an extensive series of prequels to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ classic twelve-issue maxi-series.

In 1986, Moore and Gibbons revolutionized the comics industry, and how we think about superheroes with Watchmen. It brought four color comics storytelling to a whole new level and told a tale of intrigue, betrayal, romance, politics, adventure, and even pirates and nuclear suspense. Utilizing a nine-panel grid layout and nonlinear narrative, it jumped through time and space and even plot to create a masterful and complex story of superheroes deconstructed in a real world setting. It was, and is, epic.

Now I’m not going to pass any judgment on “Before Watchmen,” or at least not here on this blog, but it should be noted that a year or two back a movie was made of the comic series, one that I really did like, and from that, a videogame came into being, one that I’ve downloaded not just one part, but two. Yeah, this time, we’re talking about Who Plays the Watchmen? That’d be me.

Watchmen: The End Is Nigh comes in two parts as a downloadable demo for the PS3. I’ve talked a little bit about the first part here. Part one happens during a prison break, and part two you get to go to a strip club. As the two playable protagonists, Rorshach and Nite Owl, in a time before costumed vigilantes were outlawed, the 1970s, you are promised to encounter villains from the comics who are only mentioned, like the Underboss, the Twilight Lady, as well as more famous (or infamous) folks like the Comedian, and even Woodward and Bernstein.

Now that might al sound like a blast to those of us who love the comics, and dig story in our videogames, but for folks like me, who have trouble with the controllers and aren’t seasoned gamer professionals – we’ll barely get through the prison and/or the strip club to any actual plot. Also, knowing there’s a programmed-in ending, no matter what, is also a bit of a disappointment even before you play. The fight moves are repetitive, and it’s always raining, so there’s really not much to see, but it is always a treat to see characters you know as opposed to unfamiliar gaming characters.

And as an added bonus, this is technically a pseudo-prequel to the great comic series. Like the DC Heroes RPG module “Taking Out the Trash,” a panel or two in Countdown, and of course The Question #17, this is one of the real addenda to the Watchmen saga before the announcement of Before Watchmen. Watch out, the universe is about to get bigger…