Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Toy Review: G.I. Joe Retaliation Wave 3

However troubled the release of G.I. Joe Retaliation was, it's fair to say that Hasbro have had it even worse trying to make the accompanying toy line work out how they wanted it to.  First, the movie's rapid pre-production cycle left the figure designers with no time to make true movie-accurate figures for the initial wave, instead being forced to settle for a mix of unused concept art looks and some of their own ideas that had been festering for a while.  Then word got around about the reduced articulation among those first figures - a necessity to keep costs down, but realities like that rarely mean anything to a fanbase united by the internet.  (IMHO, when I finally picked up those first figs, I found more to my liking than most did...but I do wish a few could be remade somehow with better joints, Zartan especially)

And then, of course, the movie got delayed almost a full year, despite Hasbro having got their act together and prepared a sensible release pattern for the latter, more appealing figures.  Those figures were promptly recalled and forced to sit in warehouses for long, long months, until finally the movie's promo train got back on the go.  As a result, the old scheduling went out the window, and with Wave 3 Hasbro have just said 'screw it' and combined two waves of releases into one, hence a full 12 new figures all arriving at once.  Me being a completionist dork, I had to buy them all on principle - but honestly, with a few pet peeves here and there notwithstanding, this was absolutely worth it.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013


I swear, these designs for Kazuya and Xiaoyu are ALL WRONG.

Dear reader, I sit down to write this today with a growing case of Tekken withdrawals.

"But how can that be, Craig," you might ask, "when there have been so many new Tekken games recently?"  Well, it's true enough that we are currently experiencing no shortage of Iron Fist branding.  The problem is that not a lot of it is what I want Tekken to be.  

Tekken Card Tournament (which I never got around to reviewing in full) is an interesting idea with some very simple, solid gameplay mechanics that just about anyone can pick up in minutes, a dedicated support team tirelessly working to sort out any issues brought up by the user base, and if nothing else has spawned an actual physical Tekken trading card collection, which will doubtless plague my magpie mind for a good long while yet.  But, it's very worrying that so many balance issues and tech errors are still being found in a game that's been available to the public for so long, and the in-game card marketplace - which lets anyone with sufficient real-world funds simply buy the best possible cards for their character right from the get-go and gain a ludicrous advantage - basically takes what balance there is and snaps it over its knee like a Venom'd-up Bane (I stand by the assertion that limiting premium purchases to the random booster packs, while perhaps frustrating for some, would be a major improvement).  On a personal note, the need for a constant internet connection kinda leaves me in the cold - I can't really play it 'on the go' so having the game on my Kindle is a bit meaningless, and playing the browser version feels odd because it's much too simple a game for a whole laptop...

Then there's Tekken Revolution (which I've already covered) and that hasn't really held my attention either.  In fact, I don't think I've gone back to it even once since posting that write-up in June.  That's partly down to snobbery - Nina's still not in it so I don't care - but mostly, it's because the game feels hollow to me.  Revolution is 95% copied assets from TTT2, which I already own; the stuff that's genuinely new is limited to flashier effects and some inferior music choices.  Yes, I know, as I said in my post, that this is a Tekken game for other people who are a lot less obsessed with the series than I am...but the fact that it's now taken up the lion's share of the developers' attention has resulted in me feeling like I've been left out in the cold.  Also: vampire Lili?  Vampire...Lili?  The prosecution rests, your honour.

So I've been thinking a lot about the future, and that inevitably means the still-gestating Tekken X Street Fighter, which will counterbalance Capcom's effort by forcing those movement-challenged World Warriors into an arena where the 3rd dimension exists on more than just a cosmetic level. (hey Harada-san, free idea - shoot a commercial for the game which solely consists of Ryu fruitlessly firing hadoukens at Heihachi, who dodges every single one by moving one step to the side while Ryu's eyes boggle and he screams, "WHAT KIND OF WITCHCRAFT IS THIS S***?!") After playing a hell of a lot of TTT2 and tentatively dipping my toe into the freezing waters of SFXT again, I've come up with a bunch of points that, IMO, Namco would do well to keep in mind as they plan their next opus.  GET READY FOR THE NEXT BASELESS SPECULATION!!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Film Reaction: THE WOLVERINE

...was, is and forever will be my least favourite X-Man, but what the hell, I guess I'll watch his movies if they have ninjas in them.

(goddamn, did I really remember that joke from 3 years ago?)

So, yeah, another movie about Wolverine.  Sure, only the second one with his name in the title, but we can all agree that every X-Men film save for First Class (my favourite, unsurprisingly) has been about the rapid-healing serial-killing hairy butthole, can't we?  And, yeah, his push to the front has made him the most bankable element of the series produced by Fox, but at this point, what more is there to say about Logan?  How many more trials can we force Hugh Jackman to go through?  Exactly how much more silly can we make his haircut?

That plus some generally uninspiring trailers and posters (like the shouty business above) made this probably the least-exciting genre flick of the summer for me.  I mean, it didn't look offensively bad the way The Lone Ranger did (haven't seen it and don't intend to, before you ask) but at least that trainwreck seemed memorable.  Iron Man 3 had the Mandarin and the 'Iron Legion', Man of Steel had the rebooted scent of newness and promises of crazy bastard action, Pacific Rim had goddamn giant robots and goddamn giant monsters, Fast Six had whatever Fast Five had but also with a tank...what did The Wolverine bring to the table besides the same bloodless claw stabbing we'd been seeing for years?

Let's have a look under the skin, before it heals again.

Friday, 2 August 2013

G.I. JOE 3: Fantasy Casting

With the summer movie season having shot most of its load already, my attention is now heading onwards to the future, and the perilous promises of sequels.  While there's a lot to say about how 'sequel culture' has had a negative effect on blockbusters over the last decade-plus, and I happen to agree with a few of those issues in principle, I'm also the first person to start theorizing about where the characters of any given film will go next, often before I've even left the theater.  (maybe in a future post I'll try to explain my logic for having Matt Smith turn up as the Doctor in the next Fast & Furious movie to take Vin Gasoline and his mates down after one too many violations of the laws of space and time)  And G.I. Joe Retaliation was no exception.

That said, the amount of deck-clearing action going on in Retaliation (both from the much-publicized extermination of 90% of the Joe roster, give or take, plus the revenge-deaths taking their toll on Cobra command) has made me a lot more curious about the players for the next film rather than the actual plot.  Not that I don't think the story will matter - the joint realities of Cobra as a known evil entity in the public mind and the world's nations having been tricked into depleting their nuclear weapon stockpiles can and should open up lots of new and intriguing places for the series to go - but I often find that a Joe story (be it movie, comic or cartoon) is determined by the characters involved.  They're like Lego bricks: interchangable and capable of being constructed into any shape...but, if you wanna make a car, you still need 4 Lego wheels.  Wanna make a house?  Gonna need a door-brick.  Ditto, if your G.I. Joe story has Shipwreck and Cutter in it, there'd better be some sort of naval battle at some point, preferably involving the old W.H.A.L.E. hovercraft, because otherwise you're asking 2 sailors to be land-lubbers for the duration and...why?

That was a load of waffling, yes.  Click through for my dream casting session pick things.  THIS I COMMAND~!