Monday, September 25, 2006

Legion of Superheroes

When Cartoon Network cancelled Justice League Unlimited and Teen Titans, it left a big void in my life where awesome cartoons based on comic books should be. When I heard that they were making an animated series based on Legion of Superheroes, another one of DC's classic superteams (debuting back in the 50s), I hoped to Odin himself that it would be able to comfort my grieving. It debuted the morning of Saturday, September 23rd on the new hybrid network CW, and I did something I haven't done in years: Made sure I didn't miss a Saturday morning cartoon. I can say from that return to childhood tradition that the latest superhero confection has a lot of promise.
For the unititated, the Legion of Superheroes is a teenage superteam from the 31st century, which is known for having almost 100 members over it's history(I've counted). Each member of the Legion is usually a one-trick pony in the powers department (and in the case of many of them, a pony who's one-trick is downrigh bizarre, as in the case of cartoon core cast member Bouncing Boy). Now, the 31st century is a futuristic society where humans and aliens from all sorts of planets live peacefully. However, it wouldn't be a very exciting superhero show if the people actually lived peacefully, would it? So they're threatened by supervillains on a regular basis.
In the first episode, a particular group of villains(the Fatal Five, a regular in the comics that will likely be their most frequent adversaries on the show) causes 3 Legionnaires to go back in time and recruit the hero all people in the future idolize...Superman. They end up in Supes' teen years, when he still lives in Smallville with Ma & Pa Kent and is just getting used to his alien powers(I still haven't figured out whether travelling to this time period was intentional or not). After they meet and talk to him for a spell, he is convinced to come to the future with them. He gets there, meets the rest of the crew and has a semi-rivalry with field leader Lightning Lad, leading him to temporarily 'quit' the group. After finding a museum dedicated to his adult self, he becomes inspired, dons the blue-and-red and comes to the rescue of the team. He decides to stay in the future (because his buddies can drop him off at the exact moment he left, so no worried parents), everyone is happy, hurray.
The first episode does the origin thing pretty well. We get a good idea of how the stories and character interactions will work out in the future (Superman/Superboy will struggle to learn his powers and will have a continuing friendly rivalry with Lightning Lad), and an introduction to most of the recurring cast (including Brainiac 5, Saturn Girl, the aformentioned Bouncing Boy, Triplicate Girl and Phantom Girl, who's wide, unblinking eyes scare the crap out of me.) The first episode probably won't be very indicative of the overall quality of the show, as more time might be needed to truly develop the characters and writing to it's peak (this is expected, as both Justice League and Teen Titans improved as time passed.) Even so, I already see some endearing and entertaining qualities in it that I am sure will not be squandered (unless the show suffers a premature death by not garnering the viewship of those damn kids).
Hardcore Legion fans might be dissapointed that certain important characters are not featured as prominantly as they should (namely Cosmic Boy, who will be appearing later on, voiced by Wil 'Wesley Crusher/Gordie from Stand By Me/cool blog guy' Wheaton), but I think it has the spirit of the comic well embedded in it. Because it's a Saturday morning cartoon, I'm not really expecting it to reach JLU levels of amazing (although expecting JLU levels of amazing from most things in life might be asking for too much), I will keep watching to see what kind of awesome the show eventually becomes (hopefully). I'm very optimistic about the future of this show set in the future (I'm so lame).

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Monkey Ballz

I need something to write about tonight, so I decided to write about two games from the recent Tokyo Game Show that interest me. I'll have my thoughts on the new Legion of Superheroes cartoon that debuted on Saturday by tomorrow night(I'm also submitting it to the paper), double-pinky heart-crossing swear. Jesus, what have I got myself into.

The first of the games is Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, which will be a Wii launch title. Now, I joined the Monkey Ball phenom early, it was the first Gamecube game I played, actually(not the first I owned, though, that was Super Smash Bros. Melee). It provided bountiful hours of multiplayer fun for all. The sequel came, but I still haven't purchased it(blame it on the low number of copies available now that I have the cash to waste.) It's basically a Nintendo console staple, so it surprised no one when a Wii MB was announced.

What DID take me by surprise, thugh, was when they announced that the game would include around 50 mini-games this time around. Considering there was like, 12 before, that's a major leap. And having been paying attention to IGN's daily Banana Blitz updates, I've grown increasingly excited about this new one, even moreso than someone at my age should anticipate a game about Monkeys in Balls.

There's plenty of variety in there, with some basic stuff like baseball, bowling, and racing joined by crazier stuff like boxing, fencing, snowboarding, first-person shooting(!), and meteor blasting, and even downright insane games like bug balancing, spearing fish, and sumo wrestling with paper cutouts. All of which use the Wiimote in a variety of ways. Some people call this a glorified tech demo, but I call it simple fun. As long as past favorites(among my peers, atleast) like Monkey Fight and Monkey Billiards make their way back, all should be good in the land of Monkeys and Balls.

The second game I will talk about is SNK vs. Capcom: Cardfighter's Clash DS. I have interest in both crossover battles and card games, so this one's just a double-whammy. I heard of the goodness of the first Cardfighter's Clash, which appeared on the obscure Neo Geo Pocket Color back in 1999, and played it via emulator. So, having played the predecessor as well as enjoying the predecessor, that's a triple whammy.

For fans of the original, there are a few major overhauls to the game system. One, they are adding a resource system called 'Force', using a number of colored beads to pay for costs of cards(Before, character cards were free and special support cards used SP which was generated by your characters). Speaking of the cards, they now have a HP and a BP number(in the original, BP represented both). The arena now holds up to 8 characters, a jump from the original's 3. Everything else seems to be the same(Newbie note: the basic combat is like Magic: The Gathering, although there are a few tweaks. If you desire to learn more about the rules of the game, go look it up at GameFAQS), I noticed the square/circle/triangle abilities are returning, if that's any consolation.

Of course, while the game mechanics are important, so are which classic Capcom and SNK characters will show up. The company promised over 400 cards(which is what the Japan-only NGPC sequel had, so maybe over over 400 cards), and the screens I saw showed off a couple of characters that haven't been in CC before, namely Mega Man villain Dr. Wily and King of the Monsters 2's(one of my favorite SNES guilty pleasures) Atomic Guy. I've also seen art for Dante from Devil May Cry and had an article mention that Phoenix Wright characters show up too(which is just TOO awesome).

CC, which was said to come out in early November this year by all the EB release books, will apparently now be coming out in Februrary 2007. Fine by me, November has enough gaming-related goodness for me to buy anyway. This one will likely still pass everyone's radar, but I'm looking forward to it.

Edit: I've alo been playing Okami lately. I just want to say that this game is awesome so far. More later.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

What will we do 2nite?

I recently purchased a new laptop, so I can now update my blog from away from my desktop. It's not that impressive, but screw ya', jerk. To make up for my lack of ability to think of new content, I will post my new reviews for the new 'versity paper.

Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories (PS2) review

I really hate it when I find something really cool, and it’s already disappeared from the face of the Earth, preventing me from ever enjoying it to the fullest. After a few bad situations where I procrastinated, and so a number of games and DVDs became out of my reach, I decided from then on that I would make sure to get what I want before it’s too late. Among the major things whose bandwagon I missed was a PS2 title called Disgaea and its fellow Nippon Ichi-developed brethren (including La Pucelle, Phantom Brave, and Makai Kingdom), and so when I heard it’s sequel was coming, I made sure I was there to get it the day it was released (which was also in limited numbers, much like it’s predecessor).
For the uninitiated, Disgaea 2 is a strategy-RPG, basically chess with 100% more exploding penguins. Fans of Final Fantasy Tactics will likely feel at home, but there are number of small elements thrown into the mix (including panels with different effects, combo attacks, and strategic use of throwing friends and foes) that give a tad more complexity to the game. If you’ve never touched a Strategy-RPG before, Disgaea might not be the best place to learn the ropes of the genre, but once you got some experience, by all means track this sucker (and you will have to look hard, what with the limited quantities and all.)
These things have stories now, don’t they? Well, Disgaea 2 is no different, and all those worried that they need to play the first one to understand what’s going in the sequel will be happy to know that this is more of it’s own thing (although reading about Disgaea on the Wikipedia might be a good idea, as Disgaea 2 still likes to throw in references to it, and a few major characters reappear, but as of yet I haven’t seen anything that distracts from the main game.) The plot has the main character Adel’s village cursed and transformed into monsters. In a last ditch effort to reverse the curse, Adel’s mother attempts to summon the demon overlord who hexed them, but instead conjures up his bratty daughter. Adel is then charged with using the Overlord’s daughter to find and kill him, thus removing the curse from his village. Along the way, they meet many bizarre characters who assist, deter, or just report parts of your quest on the news. The story is punctuated with full voice acted dialogue that can be quite humorous.
The main game has around 13 chapters to its story, each separated into a few battles. When you aren’t journeying ahead, there are a few side quests to keep you busy. Entering the Dark Assembly allows you manipulate demonic politics(by bribing senators, getting them drunk, getting them un-drunk, waking them up when they fall asleep, or if those don’t work, kicking the crap out of them) so extra things become available to you. Every item you obtain can be upgraded by entering the little universe within it (there’s a first) and traversing the seemingly never ending levels fighting increasingly tough enemies. There’s also a few alternate endings and other little goodies you can unlock by being persistent and trying out different things in the main game.
Graphically, Disgaea 2 is still 2D characters on 3D backgrounds, neither of which really push the PS2 to its limits. Even so, there are some cool looking attack effects thrown in for your amusement. It’s just so satisfying watching your characters perform a 1000000+ damage team attack (which is entirely possible in this game.)
It’s a real shame Disgaea 2 can’t be enjoyed by everyone because of its low distribution. If you see a copy of this game on the shelves of your local game merchant and you have an interest in turn-based strategy or demon penguins, don’t be afraid to pick it up. This is the kind of game that can steal many, many hours of your life. Or, if it doesn’t, you could probably make a pretty penny from selling it on eBay.

Babyshambles: “Down in Albion"

I really didn’t know what to expect when I made the foolish decision to review a CD from the pile that sits in a cubby hole in the Quill office. I made sure to choose the one that looked the least metal or rap (metal and rap fans should thank me for this), and so I ended up with Babyshambles. I’ve never once encountered this band before, but trying out new things is something reviewers should do, I guess.
According to the press release that comes with the CD, Down in Albion is the band’s debut album, contains their UK Top Five ‘Fuck Forever’(UK Top Fives are far more interesting than those in North America, it seems), and was produced by Mick Jones of The Clash. Did these instill any additional expectations in me? Not really, I was only hoping this CD, and this band, were not soul-crushingly awful (although finding a band like that would inspire an entertaining review for you guys). I am happy to report that Babyshambles has made a relatively pleasant musical excursion.
Down in Albion starts off with a fairly catchy tune, and the rest of the songs follow suit with the same variety of ambient alternative-rock, with the exception of the tenth song, Pentonville, which sounds like an African folk song. I have absolutely no idea why they would put a song that sounds like African folk on their CD, but I liked Pentonville, so it’s really more of a curious inquiry than any sort of criticism. I really can’t think of a particularly painful song on the album, it’s consistently enjoyable, breezy listening.
I guess that is my biggest problem with Babyshambles: while their CD is completely fine, it never really connected to me in any way. Listening to the album a few times, I could never find anything that stuck out and said “Aren’t I revolutionary and excellent!” There really wasn’t anything that made me want to download all their stuff, go out and buy everything with their name on it, or even to anticipate what they are planning on doing next. If I ever encountered one of their songs on the radio (which I never expect to, what with songs called Fuck Forever and the like), I wouldn’t turn the dial, but, as I said, I wouldn’t go out of my way to listen to it, either. It’s probably a personal taste thing, and I can definitely see this band having a fan base (which it probably already does, I just don’t feel like checking), just don’t count me among them. Do I recommend this album? I think it might be worth a look if British alternative is your thing, but you might want to seek out their singles first.
On a related note, I read in the newspaper a couple days ago that Babyshambles frontman Pete Doherty (formerly of The Libertines, a band I haven’t listened to, but that may change soon) recently got off a charge of possessing heroin, cocaine, AND crack cocaine. Afterwards, the judge complimented Doherty for one of the band’s songs (The Blinding, not found on this album). Now, his music is all well and good, but is it really worth a “Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free” card?

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Visuals: Marvel VS Heralds of Galactus set

Welcome again to the place where I post my favorite images(for one reason or another) from something and make smartass comments! Today, I look at the newest Marvel VS set, Heralds of Galactus, featuring a good mix of the Cosmic, the Inhuman, and DR.-FRIGGIN-DOOM. So, awaaaaaaaaaaaay we go:

Do I really need to explain why this is here?

Yes everybody, this is human Galactus.

*Sigh* This only makes me want Beta Ray Bill even more.

Who wouldn't want to live on the mechanical pretzel planet?

Great flavor text, but what a drab-looking costume. Of course, it may come in handy when he's hiding in the desert...Or a dung heap.

His name is CLUMSY FOULUP. His parents must've hated him, but considering that they're last names would've also been FOULUP...maybe they wanted their son to atleast completely suck rather than half-suck.

Indeed, sounds like a good prospect.

Mmmmm...sour candy balls. (Gotta love simplicity.)

Pierre Bernard should be pleased.

Of course you're not with the other children, YOU HAVE NO EYES, freak.

VS is always encouraging you to drink...Responsibly, or like a wild bastard. Your choice.

Wow, that's a big gun, Richard. I thought you said you were stretchy, what do you need to compensate for?

And I thought Live Kree...Or Die was a great name. Also, does this not say something of the Kree when they are blasted by the bark of a large bulldog?

Connected pictures are so awesome. Especially when they involve Dr.Doom. Then they become infinitely awesome.

Klaw seems to have trouble keeping his head on. Or he's just having a bad ice cream headache.

That's not very subtle at all.

Truer words have never been spoken. Except maybe "Connected pictures are so awesome. Especially when they involve Dr.Doom. Then they become infinitely awesome.", those might be truer words.

And with his super geniusness, he has created...THIS THING! It's use will be decided on a undetermined later date.

I love series images:

As long as they're happy in Soul World, and far away from me, I'm happy.

Why does he look like a Panda/raccoon?

I am suddenly reminded of Gremlins for some reason.

"C'mon, Chuck. You always make a big fuss when you need to get your head polished."

Planet-Sized beard = Planet-sized beard comb?

I love how trippy Mephisto looks in the picture...straight out of the 70s. And an acid trip.


Friday, September 15, 2006

Lazy Post: Alan Moore is Saying Stuff

As part of a Stewart Lee documentary.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

My success in Journalism #1

Here's a fairly mundane article that I wrote and was printed in the local university paper. I hope future articles have more of my personality iterjected into them, but whatever gets my name out there.

The Simpsons: Season 8- I voted Kodos!
By Matt B!

Recently, Fox has released yet another season of the show that all people love and live by, The Simpsons. Season 8 continues the tradition of wacky plots, great characters, and hilarious quotes that you and you friends pull out on a regular basis, maybe without even noticing it (it’s like a normal part of your speech patterns at this point.) There’s lots of good stuff in this DVD, but here’s what I consider the highlights of the collection:

*Hank Scorpio: World’s nicest boss, world’s greatest supervillain? In You Only Move Twice, Homer finally finds a job he enjoys in Cypress Creek and meets his new boss, voiced by Albert Brooks. Whether telling Homer the best place to find hammocks or fighting off a horde of anti-Terrorist forces, he always has the time to throw out a line or two. “Have you ever seen a man yell at a shoe before?”

*In Hurricane Neddy, you finally get to see perpetually cheery neighbor Ned Flanders snap and get sent to the asylum. Plus, we get an appearance from Ned’s beatnik parents.

*Everyone wants their spirit guide to be a coyote that sounds like Johnny Cash, but the closest most of us will ever get is El Viaje Misterioso du Nuestro Jomer(The Mysterious Voyage of Homer), which contains one of the best animation sequences in the series.

*The X-Files’ Fox Mulder and Dana Scully visit Springfield to help Homer track down an alien, and declare it the most irritating case they’ve ever had(especially after a turtle steals Grandpa’s teeth.) The same episode also contains Leonard Nimoy, and that makes you want to watch it even more.

*It’s a battle between Mr. Burns’ army of imaginary snowmen and Homer’s ‘Political Powers’ when both are trapped in a mountain cabin after an avalanche in the episode Mountain of Madness.

*An entire musical episode, featuring Shary Bobbins (an original creation, like Ricky Rouse and Monald Muck.)

*The introduction of Poochie, who has since become the mascot of the ‘extreme’-ifying of popular media.

*Mr. Sparkle, the Japanese detergent mascot that looks like Homer, makes his first appearance in this season, where he banishes dirt to the land of wind and ghosts.

*Finally, Season 8 contains Homer’s Enemy, the first and last appearance of Frank Grimes, who could be the only truly logical character in the show’s history.

Expect the DVD to contain the same amount of extras as past sets, including deleted scenes and commentaries on every episode by the writers, producers, and cast members. The set comes into two different boxes (like the Season 7 set), either a normal DVD box or one in the shape of Maggie Simpson’s head. Now, I must be off to look for my lost shaker of salt…oh, here it is!

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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Lazy Post Again

Lassie meets...Nessie?

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