Unilaterally Sarcastic, Dangerously Cheesy

Archive for March, 2010

Black Canary : Strong Female Icon

Women and their excuses...

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So…I’m On DeviantArt

I’ve started showcasing my photography over on DeviantArt. I’m also hoping to network with other artists and hopefully find a penciller for a comic book pitch I’m trying to put together. Anyway, cycle through my stuff if you get a chance. I don’t completely suck.

DeviantArt Link


Ronin’s MMO Report – Re-Inventing A Super-Heroic MMO

Ronin’s MMO Report

City of Heroes – Re-Inventing A Super-Heroic MMO

PAX

I have no content prepared so here’s an in depth look at some PAX coverage. Wait, that isn’t how this works, no content means random picture illustrating super heroic shenanigans or slightly relevant hot women. Meh. What with Reverend busy at the Comicpalooza and nothing to show for it (Don’t listen to him, he totally has nothing to show for it) I figure I’d make a little post over the things I’ve learned today about my favorite MMORPG, City of Heroes. What’s that you say? Why are you talking about a game with a few hundred thousand subscribers, none of which have probably even heard of this blog? Well, because I have nothing better to do.

So there was this little ol’ convention known as the Penny Arcade Expo, or PAX. For those of you unaware, I was being sarcastic, or facetious, I mix those two up. The development team behind the Super Hero MMORPG “City of Heroes” held a panel called “Re-Inventing A Super-Heroic MMO.” The panelists included Melissa Bianco: Lead Designer, Matt Miller: Lead Systems Designer, David Nakayama: Lead Artist, Eric Johnson: Art Producer, and EM Stock: Studio Community Lead. The whole affair presents plenty of information while keeping the tone lighthearted and adding doses of humor that the community has come to expect from the developers, such as dialogue about a new powerset featuring clowns.

There was plenty of info presented regarding the future of the game, and provided more info on the expansion “Going Rogue” the is set to release in the future.  Things began with a few details regarding the developers “then and now”. They begun with the origins under Cryptic studios, the current team or Paragon Studios, and the future of the franchise. When the team switched names, every single developer was offered a spot on the new team, and everyone accepted. Since then, the producer NC Soft has been completely supporting of the team and the game, providing ample amount of funding. They switched topics to the near future, Issue 17.

Issue 17: Dark Mirror, the next massive free update to the game, is set to release relatively soon. With it it bring not only new contents for both Heroes and Villains, but it goes and revamps old content that the players and developers were not satisfied with. The Positron Task Force, a low-level, long series of missions that locked heroes into a team until they finish was constantly scrutinized by players. With this new issue it is being divided, and updated, much to the joy of players. And there is a new enemy group of Doppelgangers. Yup, an enemy that is your own reflection (with the ability to choose for them to look like you normally, or with an inverted color scheme). And this isn’t including all of the small “quality of life” improvements sprinkled throughout the Issue, or the grand graphics update found in the game’s soon to be released “Ultra-Mode”.

The Going Rogue expansion brings with a cohesive storyline set in an alternate universe comprised of brand new zones, and it provides four new powersets for both Heroes and Villains. Dual Pistols: a simple concept taken to majestic levels for any vigilante who wants a more natural feel for their character. Demon Summoning: giving the mastermind archetype  power over not only the elements, but a horde of demons who embody those elements. Not to mention a hellfire whip. Kinetics Melee: what’s better than swirling your hands about and then knocking around foes with blasts of energy? Just ask anyone who’s ever wanted to Hadoken something… that, or be an Airbender. Electric Control: 1.21 gigawatts? 1.21 gigawatts? Great Scott! Providing a new powerset for every melee, ranged, control, and summoning archetype, the expansion surely won’t disappoint in that regard.

But the developers know that not everyone wants to hear about the totally awesome expansion pack that you have to buy, so they let loose a few details regarding the free updates, otherwise known as “Issues”. The game is currently resting at Issue 16 with 17 getting ready to enter open beta soon. But these folks are confident in their work enough to talk about Issue 19, an issue to be released after Going Rogue. This later issue, dubbed for now as Issue 19: Incarnates, brings something that player have been asking for since they first hit the level cap. While not raising the level cap, it does put in place a system where heroes and villains can gain more “levels” and powers after they have reached level 50, and is set to provide a challenge for anyone seeking one.

From all of the information Paragon studios has been releasing over the past few months (and all the yet unreleased information yet to come) it is clear that there has never been a better time to play City of Heroes. So I ask any reader with an interest in online gaming and superheroes, check it out. There is a free trial to be found on their website. Anyone who has played this game before but has left, take another look, for there is much more enjoyment to be found now. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be hitting the streets with my psycho-kinetic technomancer.


This Was My Weekend

Un-CON-Ventional

This weekend I was working a booth at the 3rd Annual COMICPALOOZA event down here in Houston. Our store was sharing a booth with the guys from ANGEL COMICS and I was on the ground floor wheeling and dealing. Luckily I had some time to sneak away and enjoy the convention a little bit, getting some face time with Humberto Ramos, Ben Templesmith, and J.H. Williams III.

I’m not going to bore you with anecdotes from the con, but I will say that everyone there went out of their way to be friendly and receptive. Templesmith, who I admittedly isn’t one of my favorite artists, as his style doesn’t really grab me, showed off some commission pieces that blew me away and straight up made me a fan. I was almost salivating over J.H. Williams’ original art pages for Detective Comics, and watching Ramos draw Impulse from memory is something to behold.

The long and short of this post is basically just to say that it’s nice to have a successful comic convention in my home town. A place that REALLY needs one with the number of fans we have in the area. I can only imagine what next year will be like.

(And yes, I did have Liefeld sign my Deadpool comics, but I gave him the evil eye. *_* )


Ronin’s Reviews: Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth

Ronin’s Review #5

“HOLD IT!”

Ace Attorney Investigations

Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth

Available on the Nintendo DS

Notable Tropes:

Bunny Ears Lawyer

Continuity Porn

Deadpan Snarker

So begins Part One of a multi-part series called… “Gaming March Madness: When Everyone Decides to Release Their Games At the Same Time”. Sure it’s a long title, but then again so is the game I’m about to review. For those of you who do not know, Ace Attorney Investigations is a spin-off from the core Ace Attorney games, with protagonist prosecutor Miles Edgeworth. After getting swept up into events all concerning a particular smuggling ring, he and a couple of helping hand, leave the courtroom in order to do a little detective work.

A little history lesson is in order. The first game in the core series, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, was released as Gyakuten Saiban on the Game Boy Advance back in 2001.It didn’t get an English release until it was remade for the DS in 2005. The first three Ace Attorney games centered around defense attorney Phoenix Wright, while the fourth centered around his successor of sorts, Apollo Justice. A fifth Ace Attorney game is currently in the works, though the only fact known about it is in fact that it exists. There’s no word on whether it will continue the Phoenix Wright or Apollo Justice saga, or feature some new protagonist. But after the fourth Ace Attorney game was released it was announced that Miles Edgeworth, probably the most popular side-character in the series, was getting his own game.  Edgeworth entered the series as the rival for Wright. Edgeworth starts out as the cold, perfection-driven prosecutor interested only in getting a guilty verdict, but as time goes on and the story progresses, Phoenix ends up making a dramatic influence on his behavior. By the time his own game rolls around, he keeps his regal presence and can still be rather harsh to his subordinates , but he now values the absolute truth over any sort of verdict.

The Ace Attorney games are a series of text-adventure games that emphasis critical thinking and logic while telling stories that are welcomed in both dramatic and humorous circles. The universe that the series takes place in is rather peculiar. The games generally take place somewhere around 10 years in the future, yet everyone still uses VHS tapes. The American justice system has evolved into one without a jury of your peers, instead defendants are guilty until proven innocent, and trials must conclude within three days because of laws passed to expedite trial proceedings. The American populace has suddenly become more influenced by Japanese culture, so I can only assume they have become the leading world power. Though this world may seem strange and confusing, it only stands to help the design of the game. One of the series’ most notable features has been its rather unorthodox cast of characters. The design and dialogue have been a high point of the games since the beginning and still carry through in Ace Attorney Investigations. Which is good since, well, dialogue takes up quite a lot of a game that is advanced primarily through text. It takes a certain kind of skill to make me laugh out loud when playing a game, and the Ace Attorney games deliver, especially Investigations.

While the original Ace Attorney games split up the action between investigation stages and courtroom stages, Miles Edgeworth spends all of his time in the field in his game. But he still takes a bit of the courtroom with him. When information needs extraction from a witness, it is taken in a process practically identical to previous courtroom interrogations. Listen to the person’s testimony, press where more information is needed, and present evidence when a contradiction is seen. The main difference between Investigations and the core series, lies in the ability to actually control a character. In the core series the gameplay amounted to examining crime scenes as static screens. In Investigations Edgeworth moves around within the scene and physically interacts with his surroundings. When a particular area needs closer inspection, it shifts to a static screen similar to that of previous games.

You might be saying, “it seems like you’ve spent more time talking about the older games than actually reviewing this one.” Well, I guess that is true. The gameplay is good. As is the story, sound, and presentation. The problem is that the only way I can describe this game is by comparing it with the ones that preceded it, and I can’t guarantee everyone has played those. There are many parts of this game that can only be fully enjoyed if the player has experienced the Ace Attorney games.  I’d say that this is a game for Ace Attorney fans, except even Ace Attorney games are for Ace Attorney fans.  But everyone I talk to that has experienced the series  enjoys it, so there really isn’t a reason to not be an Ace Attorney fan after playing the series. While I can’t necessarily recommend this game to anyone who hasn’t played the Ace Attorney games, I can recommend anyone who hasn’t played them to give them a try. And then I can recommend this game. With five games in all, the series is certain to supply anyone with a DS with hours upon hours of enjoyment. Even those who do not own a DS can get the first three Ace Attorney games on the Wii thanks to the WiiWare downloads.

Verdict: This isn’t a game that I think everyone should play, it is in fact a series that I think everyone should play. This game improved and expanded upon its predecessor, just as that one did with its predecessor. The only way to enjoy the experience in its entirety is to seek out the original, and follow the lineage. Phoenix Wright : Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth. With than many colons and subtitles, you know a series is on the up and up.


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

Oh my god! I actually managed to get these reviews up on time for once! Is that some sort of startling indicator of the end of times? I would normally think so, but the truth is that I just couldn’t sleep last night so I have a little extra time to spend reading instead of snoring heavily and dreaming about being the new cast member on “Community.” Yeah, it’s a great show and I think I could improve the dynamic. Plus I totally have the hots for Alison Brie. Now I’m just wasting time.

THE PULL LIST: 3-24-2010
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #626 2.99
AVENGERS INITIATIVE #34 SIEGE 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #604 3.99
DEADPOOL #21 2.99
FALL OF HULKS RED HULK #3 (OF 4) FOH 3.99
GREEN LANTERN #52 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
GUILD #1 3.50
JUSTICE LEAGUE THE RISE OF ARSENAL #1 (OF 4) 3.99
MIGHTY AVENGERS #35 SIEGE 2.99
NEMESIS #1 (OF 4) (MR) 2.99
NEW AVENGERS #63 SIEGE 3.99
POWER GIRL #10 2.99
PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS #4 (OF 5) 2.99
QUEEN SONJA #5 2.99
SHUDDERTOWN #1 (MR) 3.5
SUPERGOD #3 (OF 5) (MR) 3.99
SUPERMAN #698 2.99
THOR #608 SIEGE 2.99
UNCANNY X-MEN #522 3.99
X-FACTOR #203 2.99

And here’s your weekly dose of criticism:

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN # 626

Every time I read this book now it feels like I’m going on a date with someone with whom I had an abusive or otherwise temeritous relationship in the past. There’s definately a spark there, a lingering sign that the love that once existed between us is there but it stands obscured by the baggage of our prior relationship. In the case of ASM, it’s two solid issues of ripping complacency from characters who hadn’t had a chance to fully adjust to their new status quo in favor of tepid melodrama.

This issue manages not to incite any anger in me, and in fact I’m happy that the new Scorpion is getting some face time, as I thought she was an interesting character the last time I saw her, which I guess was around the time of World War Hulk, which as fast as comics move nowadays might as well have been a decade ago.

This issue sees Parker deciding he doesn’t like the vibe he gets off his roomate’s boyfriend and follows him to an abandoned construction yard (man, that has to be like the # 2 comic book set piece of all time, along with the sewers or a busy city street/bridge) where it turns out that the Hood is holding a boxing tournament to determine who will be the new Scorpion, or rather, win the old Scorpion’s suit and take up the mantle.

Of course the new Scorpion gal shows up, with a new tail that injects S.P.I.N. tech, which is a nice touch that I can get behind, as if you’re just going to use the tail as a club you might as well call yourself the Beaver. Form follows function, and all that.

Anyway, the issue is your generic fight with the goons and all that jazz, but the part that saved the issue for me is the way Peter finally mans up and deals with the situation left in the wake of the Chameleon putting the moves on his room-mate. That was never resolved to my satisfaction and it diminished Peter’s credibility as a stand-up guy which is not something you want lingering around if you’re supposed to be a hero.

So major points for a half-way decent issue. Sad that half-way decent is a step up after the last few weeks, but I’ll take what I can get.

DEADPOOL # 21

This Hitman Monkey storyline is absolutely ludicrous, but the fact that it gives us some wonderful Spider-man team up moments is enough to justify it’s existence. This issue concludes that little romp with a fun little trick on Deadpool’s part where he steal’s Spider-Man’s costume and tricks New York into thinking that the wall-crawler is dead. The subsequent chaos is quite entertaining and the issue, to me at least, hints at what Marvel wants to do with Deadpool in the near future. If they go down the path that is foreshadowed at the end of this book, maybe having mutliple Deadpool books every month wouldn’t be such an absurd idea, as there would be room for different interpretations in each book.

Who knows, I could be reading it the wrong way. I’ve done that before.

THE GUILD # 1

Ah, Felicia Day. *swoon*

Yes, I admit that I have a soft spot for that cuke like geektress. I admittedly have not watched all of the web-series that spawned this comic book, but luckily you don’t need to have any working knowlege of the series to enjoy the comic. It’s a nice little starter kit and the humor hits all the right marks. The in-game sequences reminded me of that WOW episode of South Park, which is never a bad thing.

Major kudos must be awarded for being able to make me care about the characters involved right off the bat. I think the fact that our lead character’s garage-band boyfriend is the kind of guy that most dude’s hate to see their lovely lady friends attached to is indicative that as a writer, Felicia Day understands her audience to the point where she’ll throw in those kind of empathetic elements without seeming overly pandering.

If you want something that’s all kinds of a fun, well drawn, and new-reader friendly, you could do a hell of a lot worse than this book but you’re not likely to find much better.

JUSTICE LEAGUE : RISE OF ARSENAL # 1

By now I’ve pretty much run my feelings about this whole Green Arrow saga into the ground. I know that what they’re doing with Ollie isn’t going to be a permenent shift and that I can be able to sit back and enjoy the ride for what it is, but with Arsenal I don’t know what will happen in any way shape or form. The fact that this issue surprised me with where it went is indicative of that. I’m going to say right now that I can’t really review this issue without giving out some major SPOILERS so if you don’t want to know some pretty integral plot elements, you might wanna skip along to the next review.

Still here? Okay, in this issue, writer J.T. Krul does something that I hadn’t even considered being an option, that being turning Roy back into a drug addict. This time around it’s not heroin, it appears to be pain killers, but the mindset and the implications of dependency are still there. I don’t really have as much a problem with this as you might think. Let’s be honest, DC has a tendency to regress their characters to points in their timeline that hit home with DC readers. The internet is always in a roar over DiDio’s apparent fetish for reverting things back to the way they were in the Silver Age. In the midst of all this, Roy Harper battling a drug addiciton seems like an obvious move. And given the events that have transpired, it’s not like it’s coming out of the blue.

What really matters is whether or not they find a logical conclusion to the arc. If the ending comes out of left field and makes zero sense to the readers, then they have failed. If they can get even a few people to agree with the reasoning, then they have done their job. Try as I might, I cannot honestly say that character history doesn’t lead me to believe that Ollie Queen wouldn’t murder the man behind destroying his entire city. Logic also tells me that someone with an addictive personality who loses a limb might get addicted to pain killers and regress a little bit. All that matters is how Krul handles the manner in which the stories are told, and I think he’s doing a fair job so far.

NEMESIS # 1

Mark Millar might have shot himself in the foot on this one. In his attempts to elevate the villain as the protagonist, much like he did back in Wanted he may have finally gone too far. With Nemesis, it’s obvious that Millar is trying to build the Batman of all villains. One who always wins and whose plans are elaborate and downright terrifying. We are supposed to be in awe of how well Nemesis’ plans work out, with buildings blown to smithereens, trains de-railed and police chiefs crushed under the aforementioned trains while tied to an office chair. It’s violent spectacle and Millar almost presents the story in a way that we are supposed to cheer for this son of a bitch, who is, let’s not kid ourselves, a fucking terrorist. Mark Millar thinks he’s such a good writer that he can make us applaud the acts of a terrorist. You don’t think that he wanted us to think that Nemesis shooting the pilots of Air Force One while riding the nose-cone isn’t cool? No, he obviously wants to inspire that adrenaline rush. That’s what makes this book feel so dirty. The visuals are astounding and the sheer one-upmanship of Nemesis’ actions beg the reader to be impressed and yet this is the villain. Contrast those actions with that of the “hero,” a DC police chief who swiftly and efficiently kills multiple armed robbers in the span of a few panels and is rewarded and applauded for his cowboy gunslinging.

Millar has created two characters who are obviously both people who garner the same sort of awe in the readership. I think your enjoyment of this title will come out of how far you can distance yourself from reality. I find that in a time where terrorism is such an everyday occurance, it’s hard to take myself out of a book where the title character crashes the president’s plane into the middle of a crowded city.

I haven’t made up my mind yet. So maybe Millar has done his job.

POWER GIRL # 10

Still Awesome, thanks for asking!

SHUDDERTOWN # 1

Seeing how I haven’t seen a new issue of Stumptown hit the shelves in a while and the last good noir book I’ve picked up since then was Last Days of American Crime back in December, Shuddertown should fill the noir-shaped hole in my pull list nicely. The art is dark and muddy, and the narration is full of overwraught metaphors. It’s everything you want in a crime book. Here we get a detective who is battling his own personal demons and trying to figure out if he’s the one mucking up his own investigations or if there’s something deeper.

The story could go in any direction, and I’m on board no matter which way that might be, because damnit I’m a sucker for this kind of stories. It’s my weakness.

******************

Another week, another group of reviews. Nothing really abysmal that I read this week, and for that I thank my lucky stars. Next week sees the end of Blackest Night, so expect a nice handy writeup about that. I’ll probably review the whole damn series as a whole just to get everything out in the open.

Until then, cheers.


I Have No Content Prepared, So Here’s Grace Park In A Bikini

Apparently she’s filming a remake of Hawaii Five-O, which I could care less about. This is the one time I’ve seen Boomer from Battlestar not covered in dirt and grease. [More Images at TheSuperficial]