Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Punch Quest review

This is one of the reviews I usually do for Bunch Of Gamers that wasn't required, so I post it here, since I can't think of anything new to write for now.


                Punch Quest is pure manliness. I don’t know how it’s even possible, but I think that I just grew a whole other set of testicles because of it. It’s so manly that my iPod grew a beard in a day. Oh, you can totally play as a woman – but if that woman existed, she probably would contain 10 times as much man as Sean Connery.  I don’t think there’s another game like it, fueled by pure rage and awesomeness. It does not fuck around and try to insert some useless mechanics like “characters” and “logic” – it only has one thing and one thing is enough. Punching. Lots of punching. This game is 50% manliness, 40% action and 85% punching. If this game is an accurate depiction of what is like being a Hulk, I think that I’m going to see into this whole gamma-radiation exposure thing.
                It’s always a sign of a great game, when I gather enough information for the article about it in about ten minutes into the game, and continue to play it on for two straight hours without stopping. If you didn’t get it, the whole game consists of you, punching everything in front of you, before it has the chance to kick back. The controls are more than simple: there are only two buttons: punch and uppercut. The first one also makes you go faster, while other also makes you jump. Almost immediately, you unlock blocking ability that lets you block all incoming attacks at the cost of momentum and combo multiplier by pressing both attack buttons at the right time or swiping the screen. After the level, you get awarded with “punchos”, this game’s currency that you can spend on upgrading your character’s abilities, power-ups that you can find around the level, or even your looks. There are plenty of abilities and super-moves, each having different cause and effect. The enemies are crazy different from each other, with ones requiring a single strike to go down, to even bosses that require you to think of an actual technique in order to beat them. There are also many fun issues to the punching, like the enemies that you send flying, hitting the others and creating an awesome domino effect, or that make the game not just fun – but absolutely awesome. All of such fast-paced and aggressive games often lack the needed depth to hold you after the first ten minutes – when you begin to realize that the whole game is going to be the same thing over and over. This game, however, manages to have so much to learn about that I doubt you can ever get tired of it. Every time I thought that I’m hitting the top of the learning curve, I found myself learning some new trick or combo against certain enemies that made me better at this game.
                The whole game is infinite, so of course, everything in it is bound to repeat itself, sooner or later – but somehow – I really don’t know how – there was never a moment when I thought to myself “damn, I’ve already been in this situation/level/place before” – the game manages to be so much randomly generated that no situation is repeated and you feel like you are really playing on a single damn long level, every time. The game also has a great soundtrack and 8-bit graphics that make you question if this game would be any good in any other visual style. To put simply, Punch Quest is one of the best, craziest and most fun actions I’ve ever played. It’s free-to-play but you would never notice that from the game itself. It’s soaking with awesome.

                Bottom Line: A game about punching, angry dudes, chicks and super-gnomes. It’s as awesome as it is crazy. I don’t know of any other mobile game that makes your blood pump like this one does.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Iron Man 3 Detailed Review



Iron Man movies suffered quite an unfortunate fate of being the first in the Marvel's bunch of superheroes movies, ultimately being compiled into Avengers. In other words, Iron Man was an experiment of an experiment. The problem here lies in the fact that, although the movies turned out better than anyone could've hoped, they are binded by their respective popularity and audience. What I want to say is that some people who enjoyed Thor's magical superhero adventures in his movie, would probably find Captain America's World War II setting overly realistic and brutal, while the audience who were enjoying Tony Stark's larger than life personality and lifestyle could easily think of Hulk, as a nerd with personal issues. Again, it doesn't mean that the movies aren't exciting and perfectly executed, but each one of them was betting on a formula, which was working for their first instalments just great, but is uncertain to work as well for their continuations. Well, sequels for Captain America and Thor are not far from their releases, so we're going to see how their directors pull themselves out of repetition, but what I'm almost certain about is that Iron Man is already lost inside of his own clich├ęs and formulas. Then again, it could all easily be explainable through the bad direction, which is the main disadvantage of this movie.
Don’t get me wrong, the movie is enjoyable. It’s not exactly as exciting as the first movies were, but it definitely works as a spectacle, and really, that’s what the Iron Man movies always were about. A little silly, a little extreme, and quite unbelievable – and yes, I am aware that I’m talking about a man in a power armour, shooting lasers. But that's when the problems are starting to show up. Let me list all of the issues that I found in the movie, in a handy list that people who don’t have time to read the whole thing, can easily enjoy.


SPOILERS

Movie is okay. It’s not grand, but not bad. Here’s your review right now. The list and paragraphs below contain major spoilers. If you don’t like everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) about the movie spoiled for you, go watch it, first. Consider yourself warned. Okay? So, here's the list:


1.       No avengers
2.       No antagonist
3.       No fantasy
4.       No surprises
5.       No focus


I think it’s fair to start with the general story. America is under the terrorist attacks from a mysterious terrorist, who calls himself Mandarin, who wants to “teach America a lesson”, by blowing up everything. In the meantime, Tony Stark is battling some problems of his own, secluding himself from the world and his wife, locking himself up in the basement and playing with his toys, i.e. constructing Iron Man armours, one after another. When one of the terrorist attacks leaves his ex-bodyguard on the brink of death, he quite literally tells Mandarin his address, and what do you know, his house gets destroyed at the most inconvenient time. While everyone is left relatively fine, Tony finds himself in the middle of Tennessee (or Illinois. I don’t remember and it isn’t important, really. It’s cold out there), almost hitting a car on his way down, and losing all the power in his suit, in the process. By the way, if it was an ideal world, the car would’ve belonged to one Logan, who would travel from Canadian border to New York, and probably tell Tony some inspirational words about personal strength and technology being nothing, but a tool in the right man’s hands, or something like that. Anyway, since it’s not an ideal world, he simply goes to some small town, befriends a boy mechanic, and finds out that terrorist bombs aren’t bombs at all, but actual people, who were tricked and used as explosives by some guys with super strength and regenerative abilities (you see how perfect Logan would be in this context?), all of them, as it later turns out, were made by a maniacal businessman, who was trying to create a world war, for some vague reason. In any case, long story short, they all return to New York, president gets captured and Tony, with the help of his friends, and his suits that he activated at once and controls through Jarvis, beat all the regenerating, exploding, super-strong bad guys. Oh, did I mention that the regenerative process was called “Extremo”? Yeah, it leads to absolutely nothing. Anyway, Pepper actually gets injected with this super serum and transforms into She-Hulk (just kidding. But wouldn’t it be awesome?), and smashes the main bad guy, almost with her bare hands. After that, Tony explodes all of his suits to show her he’s over his anxiety, and they all celebrate the New Year. Did I mention all of this happens on New Year’s Eve? It’s strange, since, you know, it’s May right now, so there’s absolutely no reason to tie everything to the New Year. Oh, and at the very end, Tony gets the shrapnel finally removed from his chest, immediately raising an old question, why the hell wouldn’t he do that in the first movie. Anyway, that’s about it. I’ve missed many small details, but really, most of them are character development and don’t play any role in the end. So, if you understood the general story, let’s find the Devil.


1.       No Avengers

The first problem is somewhat surprising, but not entirely so. People who only enjoy Iron Man movies probably wouldn’t want seeing some other dude in tights showing up, stealing the show – or, at least, that’s what my take on it. On the other hand, it’s somewhat baffling, why we don’t even see anyone from the avengers, at any point. And I mean it literally: doctor Banner never shows up to help Tony when some mutant-looking people start showing up. When Iron Patriot enters the scene (by the way, quite anti-climactically), there’s not a single joke about Cap, commenting about someone, using his style, or anything. The only thing that reminds us of the grand events that happened in Avengers is the fact that Tony Stark now suffers from anxiety attacks, after those moments when he travelled to outer space – but obviously, the reason for this could easily be anything that happened in Iron Man 2, and nothing would’ve changed. There are absolutely no continuations of any subplots from Avengers, no Easter eggs – or at least, no obvious ones – and no characters from them. For Christ’s sake, there is no S.H.I.E.L.D., which played a major role in Iron Man 2, if you don’t remember. It was completely surprising for me, and minute after minute, I expected Nick Fury showing up, or Captain America helping Stark in some difficult situation – after all, one of the main stories of Iron Man 2 was Tony, coming in terms with his father, who loved Cap probably even more than him. It would only be obvious if the second part was actually coming in terms with Cap, who Tony quite obviously blamed for his problematic relationships with his father. My god, by the end of the damn movie, most of the problems would’ve been rendered non-existent, by a single call to Colonel Fury, yet no one even tries to justify, why the matters of national safety suddenly don’t bother the most powerful of all of nation’s agencies. Anyway, there are no Avengers, so if you bothered yourself with the question “how are they going to mix Tony Stark’s personal movie with all the other superheroes?” then the answer is “they are not”.

2.       No antagonist
Did you think I forgot about the Mandarin, when I wrote about the story? No, I did not. Because there is NO MANDARIN. I can’t stress this enough. This was the main twist in the whole movie, but instead of going all “Woah! That’s brave and original!” I went “What? You've got to be kidding me”.  So, the dude you’ve seen in the trailers and who the movie was building up to become the most dangerous enemy Tony Stark had to face? He’s a junkie actor, who was hired by the main bad guy, in order to drive everyone’s attention from the fact that the actual bad guy is a white businessman in a suit, in his thirties. So, basically, just like every other Iron Man’s enemy. And no matter how hard the movie tries to pose him as a personal threat (he kidnaps, tortures and almost kills Pepper, all in front of Tony’s eyes, and he became evil when Tony made him wait for an hour on the roof of a hotel, in 1999. No, seriously), he simply isn’t threatening or charismatic to serve as an antagonist. Thus, I simply call him a bad guy, since I can’t even remember the dude’s name. Of course, antagonists never were a strong point of the Iron Man movie universe, but seriously. Again with the evil white businessman? It’s just tired. In any case, after Mandarin turned out to be nothing but a terrorist organization in the first Iron Man, here, Mandarin is simply nothing. And no, there is no one to count as an evil character. There’s a businessman, several of his superpowered goons, their small terrorist army, and that’s it.

3.       No fantasy.

One of the main revelations of Avengers’ success was that you can, in fact, make a serious action movie with magic in real world. Not only magic, but mythical beings, ancient legends and powerful artefacts suddenly were fair play, and S.H.I.E.L.D. storage could be a great solution to the most difficult of problems, as well as a great McGuffin, if the writer would want it. But, as I said, nothing from the Avengers showed up in this movie, just as any technology or magic that was used, dropped or created in Avengers and all the other Marvel movies. Red Skull’s laser weapons? Not a mention. Alien army’s giant bugs? What giant bugs? Oh, so you want some vibranium for your suits? Stupid Iron Man, there’s no such thing. Unless you’re talking about that thing in your chest, which was told by Marvel themselves to be vibranium, which was kind of stupid, but whatever. So, there is no magic. The regenerating bad guys were entirely created out of a McGuffin technology, never mentioned in any Marvel movies before and Tony’s technological advancements never used anything, resembling the powers that we saw in Avengers. Of course, since I said that there’s no Mandarin, this means there are no rings of Mandarin, as well. The movie is purely technological, to the point where you sometimes wonder, if it’s set before any other Marvel movies.

4.       No surprises.

Whatever fan theories were thrown around about Iron Man 3, are not true. Not a single person, important to the story, dies. Not a single great revelation is done. The bad guy isn’t controlled by Loki, Pepper doesn’t die to make a new spin on Tony Stark’s playful character. Suits don’t become intelligent and attack Tony Stark (You remember that night bedroom scene from the trailer? Forget it), and no, Tony Stark doesn’t get regeneration and his suit isn’t implanted into his skin, by a long shot. Although it may be reserved for Iron Man 4, or even Avengers 2, there’s simply nothing surprising about the story, whatsoever.


5.       No focus.

You might argue that it’s the problem with all of Iron Man movies, but this doesn’t mean you should let it slip. The movie lacks focus, both in story, and in pacing. Action scenes suddenly turn into heart-warmers, philosophical scenes are suddenly funny scenes, and New York suddenly turns into some shit-hole, Illinois. The movie seriously lacks focus, and if there’s anything to blame the director for, it’s this. You never get enough time to fully appreciate whatever part of story that you are presented with, before it suddenly breaks into some other episode. Oh, and don’t let me get started on plot holes. I don’t even want to list the ones I’ve noticed on my first time, watching the movie, since there are so many of them, even if you only count Iron Man movies. Hell, even if you only count this movie. Besides, I’m pretty sure that if you see it, you’re going to notice everything yourself. Anyway, “consistency” is not a word I could apply to any part of the movie.


So, these are my issues with Iron Man 3 – or, at least, the ones I can think of right now, anyway. As I said, I don’t count it as a bad movie. It’s a weak one, sure, but not a flop, by any way. Although the director isn’t quite fit for anything that doesn’t count as action, he’s really good at action, at least. The action scenes are quite impressive, and really imaginative. The fact that most of the movie, Tony runs without his suit, creates surprisingly unusual action sequences and the choreography of it all is quite impressive and stunning. Other than action, well, the story itself is quite unusual. I think that the writers did their job alright, and I bet that the deleted scenes and commentaries will explain several quite baffling story turns (for example - there’s literally no explanation as to why Tony turned up in Illinois. It looks like the writers really wanted to change the location, and couldn’t think of any valid reasons for it).
Wrapping up, it’s a good action movie, but it’s far from a step up, from the previous Iron Man movies, and is definitely a step down from the Avengers. I really hope that Marvel won’t take it as a standard for their next movies, simply because the people will come anyway, but while it fades in comparison with the other Marvel movies (I’ll even go on a limb and say that it’s the weakest movie in the bunch), it’s still a great spectacle, in the midst of movie spring break. The next Marvel movie will show, if Iron Man 3 will end as an outcast, or being a start of a downfall, but I wouldn’t say that it’s a waste of money. Not until the DC Movie Universe starts forming, at least.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Ocarina Of Time: A Great Game, or a Zombifying Machine From Hell?


It took me too long to realise it. How blind could the humanity be, for all this time, to never notice the obvious truth? Notice the simple fact that all of our actions, all of our hopes and dreams, are artificial. Your words aren’t yours and your thoughts do not belong to you. We are, and have always been, under the direct influence of the device so primitive, so deceptively simple that we could never understand the true magnitude of its abilities. Of course, I am talking about the videogame Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
                The realisation didn’t come to me at a moment’s notice, of course. Only by blind luck, had I happened to pass the primary zombifying phase and thus, managed to save what shreds of free will I possessed, a mockery of a free Man, who once proudly stood amidst the chaos of this world. However, although I was one of the few to never play the “game”, as it came to be known, I was too blind, too oblivious and stupid to notice the changes that it brought upon this world. For all the curses I have laid upon me, once I realised what an atrocity had happened, I can never be able to wash away our sin of ignorance. We willingly walked after the shepherd, when he asked us to follow, and never once stopped to question, whether we followed willingly, or were led by the unseen strings, wrapped around his arms. My understanding was as long, as it was bitter. The proof was everywhere, but there was no one to point at it.
                Of course, this all must start from the very beginning, on the cold winter of ’98. Ocarina of Time was released upon this world, for Nintendo 64 game console, and immediately beat in sales almost every single game of that year, despite only being released 39 DAYS before the end of the blasted year. It wasn’t well received. Oh, no, by God it wasn’t. It was praised, louder than the sun. People stood in lines, waiting for the chance to bask in its glory, their worthless lives suddenly gaining before unseen meaning and purpose. The critics were blinded and deafened, and screamed at the top of their lungs the praises for their new God. If you want to see the direct proof of this game’s hypnotic power, know that when the game was released, ocarinas, a primitive musical instrument, only known to the few fans of tribal music, suddenly became one of the most selling musical instruments. Let me rephrase that. This game kick-started a whole musical trend, without any help from any other media. Imagine if Super Mario Brothers brought thick moustaches into fashion. At least, we can bless the kind masters over at Nintendo for making Link, the protagonist, play on ocarinas, and not wield dual machineguns, clearing village after village of civilian population. In any case, the devil was out of the box. The game received all possible awards, it got almost complete, nine point nine out of ten points on Metacritic, a web-site that collects reviews from the best videogame reviewing sites, and grew to be the most popular videogame, ever created. Its popularity, though, wasn’t the problem. In the industry that creates blockbusters every Sunday and forgets about them by Tuesday, another great game is not a surprise, no matter how popular it becomes. What is different about Ocarina of Time, what really should have made us realize its true purpose, was its persistence.
                As I have already noted, Ocarina of Time was released back in 1998. That’s 15 years ago. That was a year that Bill Clinton didn’t quite manage to close his zipper in time. It was a year, when European countries thought that it’s going to be easier for the global economy to introduce another damn currency, called, quite egotistically, Euro. Finally, it was a year Microsoft company released Windows ’98, which was the best thing to ever happen to computers, since Alan Turing. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time came out 15 years ago, and is still the most memorable piece of entertainment from that time. Just think about it. There is no famous story, linked to it. There is no quote or meme or anything to make someone quote it, for you to recall it. There’s nothing – and yet, the game persists. It’s thriving in popularity, getting remakes and overflowing with fans, fifteen years after it was released. You can seek through every pixel and you won’t understand it. You can ask people the reason for this, and they won’t answer. The secret for this is hidden deep in the long corridors of Nintendo Corporation’s headquarters, in the darkest corners of the single locked door by the end of a long underground corridor, where the grey suits are gathering to control the obedient population, and advance this world to a future, only known to them alone. I am not afraid of what fate awaits me, after I publish these words. Certainly, this blog will vanish from existence at the second the person, who looks over this part of Internet, sees this article, and my body will never be seen again, but I can only hope against hope that perhaps, this warning of our mistake will reach to the right eyes and maybe, just maybe, the world will remember a true freedom it once had. Heed the call, my friends, and steer clear of the sound of Ocarina.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Beginning Of The Beginning

As though there aren't enough things in this world, a lone blog was born today, destined to be the voice of a generation, a solution to many world problems, and a cultural revolution in one. By absolute coincidence, this blog was created the same day, bearing no resemblance to the first one, whatsoever. This blog is going to be full of irrelevant thoughts, ramblings and ideas that the author should probably keep to himself, but can't, because he wouldn't be an author otherwise. Most of them will revolve around videogames, the hobby that excercies all the skills that are so important when playing videogames. Some of them will feature other passions of the author, such as music, movies, and sitting in front of the monitor with one's legs arms around his legs, thinking about what would happen if he would get teleported into the ancient times and ancients would treat him like a messiah. In other words, it's going to be  one of those blogs.