Movie Review – Indie Game

Watch Indie Game: The Movie Online | Netflix.

Image

I just recently watched Indie Game: The Movie (which is streaming now on Netflix). The movie follows the creators of 3 of the most amazing indie games through their final phases of development. The games they focus on are Fez (Phil Fish) , Super Meat Boy (designer Edmund McMillen and programmer Tommy Refenes) and Braid (Jonathan Blow).

The movie was one of the first films to be born on Kickstarter – which is also an achievement as well.

If you are interested in learning more about what it takes to make an independent game, the type of crazy and insanity that can come from it, or just a window into the minds of creators and developers, this is worth checking out. It is raw and emotional. Tears are shed and death threats are liberally handed out. It is also a worthwhile viewing for anyone who wants to create, who is creating, who wants to understand the mind of creators. Films and Big Budget Games are made by huge teams but independent games (and books) are created by very few people. It can be a very isolating and insular activity that is libel to have impacts – which this movie clearly demonstrates.

Once you are done watching this, if you haven’t, make sure to listen to the soundtrack for free on Bandcamp: http://jimguthrie.bandcamp.com/album/indie-game-the-movie-soundtrack

Lastly, if you haven’t played these games, they are available on Xbox and PC/Steam for very reasonable prices.

Advertisements

Movie Review – Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

Are you interested in watching a boring, played-out, derivative horror movie? I wasn’t either … but that was exactly what I got when I recently watched Guillermo del Toro’s remake of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. It seems that I have reached the bottom of my horror movie well and run out of worthwhile options. Check out my spoiler-filled thoughts below…

Continue reading

Movie Review – Resident Evil: Retribution

Let’s start this off with an admission – I enjoy the Resident Evil movies.

Run, Milla, RUN!

I have rarely been able to watch a movie for simply popcorn value. There are few that I have enjoyed for simply the rollercoaster value of the story. Stories that get me excited usually have well-developed worlds, complex and intelligent characters, and unique stories. Some action movies can have these elements but they can get pushed aside or buried in all the eye-splosions.

I am also a huge fan of horror movies. Almost everything gets a chance except for torture porn. Never really found a purpose in it. The ones that are the most interesting are the ones with malevolent spirits, zombies, or horrific situations. Monster movies rarely pay off. Perhaps I’ll share my top list at some point.

With that out there – I fully acknowledge that the Resident Evil movies barely contains what I usually look for in good movies. It isn’t horror (anymore), the world is complex (through its convolutedness), and the characters are all one-dimensional (except for Alice who might actually have had an interesting character journey).

And yet – there are very few movies that blend all the elements that Resident Evil movies seem capable of doing. Since it exists so far outside of normal rules it seems capable of stretching believe-ability much further than other action movies.

I have been a fan of the Resident Evil movies since the first one came out in 2002. My exposure to the video games was fairly limited so I was able to enjoy the movies without a lot of passion for the series. I knew of various plotlines and some of the characters but as most movies deviate I wasn’t concerned. In college I was able to play about an hour of the original Resident Evil game on PlayStation and later played and won the remake on Nintendo GameCube. The games were complex and interesting with suspense, horror, action, mystery and surprise all rolled into one unique package. The only other one that I played was Resident Evil 4, which introduced the zombie strain of Las Plagas, which plays a dominant role in Resident Evil: Retribution.

Spoiler free comments to follow…

Resident Evil: Retribution is the 5th and most painful addition to the movie franchise. In the grand scheme of things this segment contributes almost nothing to the series. Characters long since dead are re-introduced, new characters are added with minimal background, and continuing characters feel included as fan service for this chaotic menagerie. There are entire sequences, using 3D holographic displays, that fly through the complex as if it were an actual video game. The characters literally have to go through zones, complete objectives, and then move on to the next zone. It felt like an odd reboot of “Running Man” more than a Resident Evil movie. It was also like the old-school game “Smash TV” – a game about a contestant who goes from room to room in an attempt to survive and win the game show. Once I put that layer onto the movie, it became much more enjoyable to watch the senseless and plot-less actions on the screen.

The action sequences were over the top with the odds being 1:50+ in many scenarios – and the bad guys unable to hit anything. And who are the good guys fighting against this time? The well-known zombies of past installments are gone and replaced with predominately big “boss” style monsters that continue to plague the characters. Let’s not forget that there are zombies that now wield guns and drive cars and tanks. Not really sure how to explain that one away in any reasonable way.

And typical of the end of each Resident Evil movie, this one ends with yet another cliffhanger. The entire movie ends up feeling like a setup for the next one. Paul Anderson says that if this one does well that the next one will be the final installment. I hope that this one does just well enough so that we can finally wrap this story up – but it saddens me that in order to get the completion of the story that I have enjoyed – I have to give them money for this. Bummer.

If you do end up liking the broader Resident Evil universe, there are a few cool anime movies that are worth checking out:
Resident Evil: Degeneration (2008)
Resident Evil: Damnation (2012)

I wonder what will fill the void once these are gone. Have you heard about anything coming our way that sounds just as exciting? The World War Z movie has been having some issues but looks promising!

Book Review – Paladins of Shannara

Terry Brooks, long-time author of the Shannara series, is venturing into the eBooks market with a new short story in the Shannara Universe exclusively for the Kindle.

He will be releasing 3 total stories over the course of the year in partnership with Amazon to see how the new digital distribution opportunities empower authors to write and publish their content.

Paladins of Shannara
Author: Terry Brooks
Pages: 40

The Shannara books are quick reads and demand little of the reader as the stories are straightforward hero-journeys that stay away from complex character relationships, political mechanizations or mysterious motivations/initiatives for the main characters; a trend which has become exceedingly popular over the past 15 years. They’re pure popcorn fantasy that feel like a nostalgic throwback to our youth (when many of us originally read these books).

Many I know who once read these books have left the series behind in their youth – so this new short story will have less relevance for those who have spent little time lately with the series. Or it might serve as a quick reminder what fun the books are and pull them back in. Fingers crossed!

— Spoiler Free Review —

The first of three short stories in this series is entitled “Paladins of Shannara”. It is a brief glimpse into the world of Shannara and is set shortly before the events of the original “Sword of Shannara” (published in 1977). The main character of the story is Allanon, the mysterious wizard-like Druid from the original trilogy, and a fan favorite of many. The story also serves as a bridge between “The First King of Shannara” (published in 1997, 20 years after the original book) and “The Sword of Shannara”.

The story is quick, light, and relatively free of any deep character insights or major reveals that would normally appeal to fans. Based upon the description and the premise I had hoped for more and was somewhat disappointed. There was great potential for the story to show more than it did but in the end it felt too short and more of a light skimming into the world of Shannara. The story is for fans-only and would be of little use to persuade a non-fan to pick up the series. While the subject of the story would be irrelevant to a non-fan, the subject matter lacks depth and an intriguing hook. I would most likely use one of my favorite chapters from “The Druid of Shannara” to convert a non-fan than “Paladins”.

In the end, the price tag and time investment is low and the story reminds us how far we have come as Shannara readers by bringing us back to the beginning of the whole series. The title “Paladins” seems to indicate that the other 2 stories might involve other characters (since the title is plural) or continue on with this same story arc. Either way, I’ll be fan-excited to read the other 2!

You can read more about Paladins of Shannara from Terry Brooks’ website:
http://www.terrybrooks.net/2012/07/new-eshort-story-allanons-quest/

Or purchase the Kindle Version:
http://www.amazon.com/Paladins-Shannara-Allanons-Quest-ebook/dp/B008C82N6G/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1345129954&sr=1-1&keywords=paladins+of+shannara

In other Terry Brooks news…

The new novel, Dark Legacy of Shannara: Wards of Faerie, hits shelves on 8/21/12. It is geared towards those who have been involved with the series for a long time as it follows a continuing set of characters. For more info go here:
http://www.terrybrooks.net/novels/shannara-2/the-dark-legacy-of-shannara/wards-of-faerie/

Lastly, a fan recently compared Sword of Shannara (and others in the series) against The Lord of the Rings books. The excellent summary is very open and direct in its comparisons. It is intended for those who have read the books and not meant to be reviewed prior to reading many of the novels:
http://grandcentralarena.com/on-my-shelves-terry-brooks-_shannara_/

Game Review – 10000000 – A Twitch-Play Tile Matching Dungeon Crawler

iPhone Game Review for 10000000

Game: 10000000
Developer: EightyEight Games LTD
Platform: iPhone
Launched: July 25, 2012
Price: $1.99
Link: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/10000000/id544385071?mt=8

I just escaped from the dungeon in my latest iPhone time waster – 10000000 (that is seven zero’s!)

The game has very simple mechanics similar to Bejeweled or Puzzle Quest with a very, very light RPG element to the game. As you match 3, 4, or 5 tiles on the playing field, your adventurer moves deeper and deeper into the dungeon. Along the way your character encounters treasure chests, locked doors, and multiple different types of monsters that impede your progress. Match tiles before the timer runs down or your adventurer will be squashed! Depending on the tiles that you match on the playing field, your adventurer does different things in the dungeon animation along the top of the screen (open chests, unlock doors, battle monsters).


Between levels you are able to use earned gold, wood, stone, and magic points to increase the effectiveness of your adventurer as he pushes deeper and deeper into the dungeon. Once your character reaches 10000000 you are able to escape, free of the shackles of the addictive nature of this simple game. But what happens once you are free?


I just won the game tonight and it took me a little over seven hours! I have no idea how I got so sucked into this game but I found myself addicted and playing it constantly and at any opportunity. I found that within a few minutes of gameplay I was capable of getting just enough stuff to level up an item or two, which allowed me to venture just a little further into the dungeon, and earn more stuff, and then go buy more and venture further…you get the point.

At $1.99 it is one of the more expensive apps that I have bought for gaming but I clearly got plenty of play time out of it!

It is fun, addictive, if not somewhat repetitive and unclear as to how your leveling is truly affecting your progress, but an easy time waster with little need to think too hard.

Venture forth and see if you can free yourself from the dungeon!


Download the 1,000,000 from iTunes:
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/10000000/id544385071?mt=8