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Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Avengers Trailer 2: Avengers Assemble

Holy man just when I thought my excitement for The Avengers film couldn’t get any higher, they release the second full trailer and good gravy… IT. IS. FRIGGIN’. AWESOME! I swear to god everything about this trailer screams awesomeness. I thought we got a good look at the film with the first trailer and the Super Bowl teaser too, but this trailer just showcases so much more on a much deeper level that it overshadows the last two trailers in every way, shape or form. I mean unlike most films where you see one trailer and you get an idea of what’s going on and then another one comes along and things look just about the same as it did before, The Avengers has found a way to release trailers of the film that exceed the awesomeness of the previous one. Each trailer that has come out for this film has gotten better and better, giving us a better insight into the characters, the situations, the struggle and the impending doom that Earth now faces. This trailer looks like it has the action sequences spot on with some super sweet actions scenes involving everyone. We also see some more of that friction within the team and also see that there is going to be some heart behind this film and it’s not going to be just another mindless superhero film, but a film with logic and some degree of complexity. All I can say is Iron Man is still awesome, Thor is still looking badass, Hulk, holy man, just wow, the action is great and Loki, damn that guy is the coolest bad guy ever! Anyway enough of my rambling check out the trailer below right now!

I seriously think that this could be the best film of the year or at least of the summer, even if the film sucks it’ll still be worth it just so see all this awesome stuff go down on the big screen in the cinema. When I watched this trailer with my friend I swear I just died, so many moments of awesomeness showcased in a two and a half-minute trailer, I was so giddy like a school it was unreal. I’m sure I’ll probably watch this trailer like five more times before the film comes out because I think I’ve become immediately obsessed! All I can say at this point is… AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!!! 😀

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Films, Media, Reviews

 

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First Sonic 4 Episode 2 Hands-on & Walkthrough!

All I can say is finally, finally, FINALLY! After having all of these screenshots and the first gameplay trailer, we finally get to see an actual demo of the game in action to see how it moves and more importantly if the physics have been fixed or not. Thanks again to the power of Sonic Stadium we have 2 videos on show today. So here is the first video:

Holy man, whoever the person was who was playing this game sucked ass!  I hate when that happens, sure one could argue it’s their first time playing the game, but come on! Sonic games are hardly complicated and this person really did suck, fact. But other than that the game looks pretty in motion and that’s always nice. There is also come other information that comes with this video from Sonic Studium stating: “Last night, Sonic 4 Episode 2 made its surprise first public appearance at Mobile World Congress 2012, courtesy of SEGA and NVIDIA. The above demo is being played on a Tegra 3 Android device, streaming to an HD television. Today, SEGA also confirmed a mid-April release date for the Android version of the game. Though, keep in mind, only Android devices with the Tegra 3 chip will be compatible with this version.”

So while technically this isn’t a demo on the PS3 or Xbox 360 version, it does give us a fairly rough idea of how things will look on the HD consoles when it does eventually show up. And now it looks like there’s an actual month as to when the game is going to be released, mid-April. Interesting.

Alrighty then if that video didn’t get your blood pumping then this next one should. This video is at a much higher quality then the last and it is longer to, win-win situation here people! Also see if you can notice next to the demo of Sonic 4: Episode 2 that there is someone playing Sonic 1 on the left side there, I just find that very funny. So here’s the video:

Okay so what did we learn from this is a few new things:

  1. That the game will apparently feature 17 levels overall (which is a good thing considering how short Sonic 4: Episode 1 was)
  2. Sonic & Tails have to jump in the air to initialize the flying mechanic in 1 Player Mode
  3. The game is still set to be coming out May, not April as previously mentioned
  4. And lastly that even the Sega representative sucks at the game.

I mean while he could do a fair amount of the level, when it came to basic things like jumping on a platform holy man was he lame! And when it came to the water section the dude didn’t even know the basic principles of Sonic gameplay. He forgets to get a bubble for air and then doesn’t make it out of the water fast enough because he can’t play the game properly. Fool. Sorry to go into a bit of a rant people but it really pisses me off when people can’t grasp the basic aspects of gameplay especially when it comes to Sonic.

Anyway these demos have been for mobile-based devices and if this amount of quality can be squeezed out of the Tegra Android then I can’t wait to see it when it comes out on HD consoles. When it comes to gameplay Sonic 4: Episode 2 looks pretty decent, Sonic’s top speed looks better than before especially downhill, but the level was still fully loaded with springs all over the place and there’s still no sign of proper spin dash rectifications, but I guess that will all come in time.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2012 in Media, Video Games

 

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Even More Sonic 4: Episode 2 Pics And Info

It seems like the news on Sonic 4: Episode 2 just keeps coming, just recently some additional information has come up via Sonic Stadium and just had to post about it 😀

Firstly it has been reported that unlockable Avatar Awards will be available for Xbox Live owners and they’ll have the chance to dress their Avatar’s as Sonic’s nemesis Dr Robotnik/Eggman. Here’s the pics below:

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And secondly SEGA Japan have launched their official website for Sonic 4: Episode 2 which features character profiles, a Zones section and a co-op play section among other things. And even better is the fact that the website has released 24 new screenshots for the game showcasing some co-op gameplay, platforming and puzzle-solving elements too. Here’s some of those new pictures:

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It’s great to see a return to the snowboarding sections in a Sonic game, it’s very reminiscent of Sonic 3, Sonic Adventure & Sonic Rush Adventure.

From these new screenshots it has also been confirmed that they cover all three Acts of Sylvania Castle Zone (Aquatic/Marble Arch Zones from Sonic 2 & 3) and White Park Zone (Ice Cap/Carnival Night Zones from Sonic 3). So if you take a look at all of the screenshots it is interesting the way in which they have gotten all of the locations to connect to each other. To see all 24 screenshots click here!

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2012 in Media, Video Games

 

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Films I’m Looking Forward to in 2012: Brave

Good day to you ladies and gentlemen and welcome to another blog post 😀 As you may have seen I have a done a series of blog posts on video games I am looking forward to in 2012 and as much as love video games I believe that there is a great deal of films coming out this year that deserve to be highlighted. So with that in mind this blog post will be the start of a new set of blog posts talking about the films I’m looking forward to in 2012. And today we’ll be starting with a really interesting one, it’s the upcoming Pixar film Brave.

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Now in a way I’ve been following the progress of Brave for a while now, but at the same time unlike previous Pixar films where I do my research beforehand, this time around I know next to nothing. So in a way I find having no prior knowledge about a film really exciting and it makes me even more curious as to what the end result is. Now as far as I know this film has been in development for a few years now, since around 2008. The reason I say that year is due to the fact that around the time WALL-E was coming out I was looking into the future films that Pixar were going to work on and this film was listed under the name “The Bear and the Bow” but there wasn’t that much information back then because the film was in very early pre-production, but as time when on I always checked back on what would be next big projects that Pixar and Disney would be working on.

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Just looking at this screenshot from the first trailer, you wouldn’t think that this was from Pixar would you?

Now one of the main interesting things about this film is the setting and overall tone when compared to Pixar’s previous films. I mean the Brave takes place during the 10th century in the highlands of Scotland. Also something to take into consideration is the overall look and art style which is quite different from Pixar’s work, the level of detail and realism that Pixar have put into the human characters, locations and animation is quite incredible. Everything has a real earthy feel to it and while in the trailers the film retains some of those quirky/ funny moments that Pixar are known for, the film also seems to have an overall darker and realistic tone which is quite apparent from watching the latest trailer. It’s a big contrast to a lot of Pixar’s previous films which really demonstrates that they are an animation studio capable of variation, change and evolution. One of the things that stand out to me is the location of Scotland, the environment is very different from the city locations that have been in films like The Incredibles, Up and the Toy Story trilogy. And it shows Pixar continuing to advance and try out new locations and settings like the nature-based world of A Bug’s Life or the space-based setting of WALL-E. As for the story, just have a read of this official synopsis:

“Since ancient times, stories of epic battles and mystical legends have been passed through the generations across the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland. In Brave, a new tale joins the lore when the courageous Merida (Kelly Macdonald) confronts tradition, destiny and the fiercest of beasts. Merida is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd), surly Lord MacIntosh (Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane). Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Wise Woman (Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late.”

From reading that story synopsis the film sounds pretty intriguing and with Brave being Pixar’s first fairy tale it’ll be interesting to see where they take it and whether it’ll be on par with any of Disney’s previous work of the past and let’s not forget all of the fairy tale films that’s come from other animation studios like Dreamworks and other animation studios.

Still from Pixar's Brave

Here you can see a much more detailed yet ‘Pixar’ styled set of characters for the film Brave.

At first I wasn’t sure what to make of the film when the first trailer came out, I mean all we got from the film was that it was going to be set in Scotland, the hero of the film was going to be a female and that she was an archer. Though the trailer did showcase some impressive visuals and had a tone that really set itself apart from other Pixar films. But the problem was that the trailer was too much of a teaser and told us nothing and that’s why the film fell off my radar of interest. However with the latest trailer really grabbed my attention, take a look below:

I believe it gives us as a better look into the film and what to expect. And I found this scene to be pretty tense and really awesome too. Before seeing this trailer I was wondering what kind of heroin Merida (the lead character) would be, however after seeing this I can see now that she isn’t just a generic wannabe hero, she has a personality and she comes across as pretty badass. Defying the law, defying her parents and standing up for herself, that is totally awesome. And it’s no surprise considering that Merida is voiced by actress Kelly Macdonald and I’ve seen her work in Boardwalk Empire and she was awesome in that so I’m super excited for what she’ll bring to this film. Overall I have a lot of hope for this film, it is the first original Pixar film in 3 years, it is also the first Pixar film with a female lead character, it is set it a real location and again has a completely different tone when compared to other Pixar films and it seems to show Pixar’s evolution as an animation studio, willing to try new things and not be afraid to be more than it can be. Only time will tell if Brave will be a good film or not, guess we’ll have to wait until June to find out.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2012 in Films, Media

 

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More Sonic 4: Episode 2 Pics & Info

Okay so hot off the heels of the first video for Sonic 4: Episode 2, we now have 7 new screenshots with some additional information to come with them. Firstly in terms of information it has been confirmed by Sega that Tails will not be a playable character for 1 player mode and will only be playable as the second player in Co-op and while that is little disappointing at the same time I don’t think there’d be that much of a demand to play as Tails than if it was someone like Knuckles. Also coming in is a list of achievements for Sonic 4: Episode 2 thanks to Xbox360Achievements. It has also been reported via Sonic Stadium that the names of some of the zones in the game have been confirmed/translated. and here is what they stated on the website: “We also know the name of three more stages, castle stage we’ve been seeing in a lot of screenshots: Sylvania Castle Zone, Sky Fortress Zone and the snow stage, according to translations from Sonic Retro and SEGAbits, is called White Park Zone.” Okay so now onto the last bit of news that comes in the shape of the new screenshots.

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While a lot of these screenshots don’t necessarily show off anything we haven’t seen before, it does however continue to illustrate how pretty the game looks and show off some more additional enemies and certain gameplay scenarios. Also if you look at the first screenshot you can see an unmistakable red ring just chilling ahead of Sonic & Tails. And if you’ve been playing Sonic games recently then you would know that those red rings were first made apparent in Sonic Colours and then continued in Sonic Generations, so one can assume that their appearance in this new game will be to increase the game’s replay value and possibly unlock some new content for the game. Only time will tell.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2012 in Media, Video Games

 

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Rediscovering my love for Blur

It’s strange, I’m really funny when it comes to music. I seem to pass through so much music and sometimes it sticks or drifts away. And whether it’s part of my childhood/nostalgia or if it’s just a sound that I like to listen to, I find my music interests in a constant state of flux in the sense that at different points of my life I may hate a certain song and then a few years down the line I’ll fall in love with it or there may be music I’ve listened to for years but sort of lost track of. And that for me is where Blur come into play.

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Even though I don’t always show it, I’ve always loved these guys. They’re music has always been part of my life.

Back in the 1990s Blur were part of the music I grew up with, I always heard their sound on the radio and saw it on TV. They had a lovely sound and a great array of songs that I remember, from the lovely sounds of “There’s No Other Way” to very the nostalgic “Girls & Boys”; a particular Blur song I always knew but never was overly kind on but after I became a teenager I feel in love with it. But of all of Blur’s songs these are the ones I remember the most: “Parklife”, “Country House”, “Song 2”, “Tender” and “Coffee & TV”. Those songs are all very nostalgic for me because not only were they all over the radio and TV, but they were part of life in the 90s. Everyone knew their songs and I loved it. I used to love singing along to “Parklife”, it was such a jolly little song and even on more harder-hitting songs like “Song 2″ it was great to sing/shout along to again because everyone knew the lyrics and it was just a great song to go all-out to. But of all of those songs “Country House” was probably my favourite song, it had a very beautiful and melancholy sound to it, I used to watch the music video a lot too. It was just a great song. But then there was other songs I remember but never really was into back in the day like “Tender” and “Charmless Man”, again they had a sound I knew but never really got into until my late teens. And speaking of my teens, it was in those years I eventually got around to listening to singles like “The Universal” and “Beetlebum” and I added them to my musical catalogue. But the one special song that Blur did which is my favourite song they’ve ever done was “Coffee & TV”, a song I remembered from my school days but never knew it was even a Blur song. It was until my mid-teens when I found the song again and fell in love with it, it really does have a sound that is timeless. It’s songs like these that make me love this band so much.

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This was the film to reinvigorate my love for Blur, it was so beautiful.

But as much as I love Blur’s sound, I really haven’t shown it as much as I did for another famous Britpop band that go by the name of Oasis. I don’t think it was until I saw the Blur documentary, No Distance Left to Run in college when my perspective on Blur changed completely. My god, I was so moved! I discovered so much about the band, from their genesis to how they ascended into stardom. There was so much to learn about the battle of Britpop that took place between Blur and Oasis. I gained so much from the documentary, I was not only living in nostalgia but I also really connected with all of the band members and like all good documentaries it was informative and connects with you on an emotional level (well it did at least for me). This documentary made me shed tears the first time I watched it and it instantly became one of my favourite films in the genre. No Distance Left to Run is my second favourite documentary film just behind the brilliance that is Senna. This film got me back into Blur again and was listening to all of their material again along with some of their singles I hadn’t heard yet. My love for the band only increased after I listened to “Fool’s Day”… After that I became obsessed. I listened to the song all of the time especially over the course of 2011. But after a while I started to listen Blur less and less and only listened to the occasional song. Unfortunately my loved for Blur was fading just like  other bands I loved like U2 and Vampire Weekend. I think it’s due to the fact that I had found so many new bands to listen which meant that my older material had to take a backseat.

However after scanning around Wikipedia I saw that Graham Coxon said that Blur will be recording a new album and I swear to god my mind just blew up! I’ve been hoping that the band would get back together to record some new material for years! And when I also found out about a new track called “Under the Westway” that Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon performed together live I had to check it out. Even though it was just the two of them, it still sounded beautiful and was a good feeling to hear Blur getting back in their element.

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And if that wasn’t awesome enough, they even performed at the 2012 Brit Awards and won an award for Outstanding Contribution to Music which made me so happy. I heard about it after I saw several people on Facebook talking about how their performance interrupted Adele’s thankyou speech and so the day after I watched their performances of the songs “Girls & Boys”, “Song 2”, “Parklife”, “Tender” and “This is a Low”. And they was great especially on the song “Tender”, man I love that song and that live version was incredible. Again it was invigorating to hear the band back in their element and my love for them is literally rising up again. Maybe this time around I will listen to all of their albums before the new one hits and become a full-fledged fan! Only time will tell, all I know is that Blur are one of the forgotten gems of the music industry and in this world of new music that normally sounds pretty pants in my opinion I’m glad to see some quality bands like Blur entering the scene again to show people what music really is.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2012 in Life, Media, Music

 

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Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2 Gameplay Trailer

So here it is, after waiting 7 days after the “official” release of  the screenshots (click here to see my blog post on it) for Sonic 4: Episode 2 by Sega and their massive announcement to release a gameplay trailer  a week afterwards, we now have the first proper trailer for the game and I am here just to give you my immediate thoughts on it.

Now straight from the outset when the gameplay in the trailer begins you can see that this game is a totally different beast from the first episode of Sonic 4, but at the same time there are many notable similarities that don’t make it seem all that different from the original and in a way that isn’t a bad thing because this new Sonic series will need some consistency from game to game or things would look incredibly out-of-place.

So let’s start with what’s new, well for one let’s talk about the visuals, this game looks incredible and so different from the last game in terms of art direction, character animation, the environments, everything just seems to have a different tone and feel than it did before in Episode 1. The Sonic character model seems to be fairly similar to the last game, but he seems to have a new coat of paint, a sharper level of detail and his animation seems to be increased from what it was before with more movement when he flies around when being bounced around on springs which is interesting to see. When it comes to Tails I think he has been rendered pretty well, this version of him in 3D on a 2D playing field looks pretty well and has a lot of similarities to Sonic 2 & 3 in terms of movement and animation. Both Sonic & Tails seem to have adopted their more “modern” looks from more recent Sonic games like Sonic Generations because it is clear from the art style their colour tones too. Even small things like the look of Sonic & Tails’ curled up spin dash form look very pretty good with a great deal of detail, motion blur and vivid-looking colours too. When it comes to the environments every location looks at least 5x better than Sonic 4: Episode 1. Fact. All of these places are rammed full of life and detail in the foreground and backgrounds with loads of animation and detail. Beyond that the game happens to have some similarities to Sonic 4: Episode 1 in terms of the weight and physics of the Sonic’s movements, which isn’t a bad thing since again consistency is good, let’s just hope the physics are up to the challenge this time around.

From a gameplay standpoint there seems to be a much more greater emphasis on co-op gameplay as Sonic & Tails happen to be together a lot in this trailer, straight from the beginning we see Tails carrying Sonic while flying (like in Sonic 3), but we also see that same sort of helping aspect can be applied underwater with Tails lending Sonic an extra hand in the water (probably due to Sonic’s inability to swim) and like most other Sonic games Tails is trailing behind sonic as he blazes off ahead, though there are surprising moments where Tails is ahead of Sonic! Wow the times are a changing! Sonic & Tails even seem to have some power-up where they team up into what looks like a massive spin ball of death and smash through anything in their path which looks pretty neat too. Aside from that the game looks pretty similar to Sonic 4: Episode 1 and other previous entries in the series on the Sega Megadrive/Genesis; you still collect rings, smash enemies, bounce off of springs and spin dashing all over the place, you know all the good stuff.

But funnily there seems to be references to other Sonic titles of the past, some more obvious than others. When it comes to environments two of the levels happen to have a clear resemblance to two levels from Sonic 3 and those levels are Marble Arch Zone and Carnival Night Zone. And while they are clearly referenced from Sonic 3, they seem to have more of their own look and feel and don’t feel like carbon copies from previous Sonic games like other zones did in Sonic 4: Episode 1 in some cases. One other level that could be inspired from Sonic 3 is a snowy level that may be a reference to the Ice Cap Zone, though I believe it may be more of a reference to Dimps work on other Sonic games like Ice Paradise from Sonic Advance 2 (because of the Christmas theme) or Blizzard Peaks from Sonic Rush Adventure (running away from an avalanche). Either way these levels do have similarities to games of the past, but it doesn’t seem to overdo it here. Also in this trailer there seems to be a greater emphasis on perspective as Sonic & Tails look like they move from the foreground to the background when being bounced around on springs and I find that really interesting as that was one of the same techniques implemented in the Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Generations, so again it looks like more modern aspects of Sonic gameplay seems to be finding its way into this new game.

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Okay so to summarize, overall as a first look into what to expect for Sonic 4: Episode 2 I am generally intrigued. I am curious to see where Sonic Team and Dimps take this game and so far everything looks like it’s on a much better level than Episode 1. If the developers can brink us a good co-op experience and get the handling and physics system down then we may be witnessing a great Sonic game in the making yo. Luckily we won’t have to wait too long as the game will be coming out in Spring 2012 so that is definitely close by. I’m excited now 😀

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Media, Video Games

 

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Games I’m Looking Forward to in 2012: Kid Icarus: Uprising

Even though this game will be coming out in around a month’s time, Kid Icarus: Uprising is still a game I want to talk about. In the year 2012 I think it is clear that this game is one of the most highly anticipated titles of all games coming out due to the legacy of the games that have come before and the bold new direction that Uprising is heading in too.

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Since the game’s announcement back at E3 2010 I have been very interested in this game. From the first trailer I was hooked, I happened to see the trailer during Nintendo’s live stream but didn’t see that it was a 3DS title and mistook it for a Wii game that looked a little rough-around-the-edges. Even back then the game looked very impressive, colourful and vivid and when I found out it was coming to Nintendo’s current portable console I was so surprised at the amount of detail that was squeezed into the 3DS. But even beyond the graphics, I was interested in the gameplay that happened to be a far cry from the original game on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Rather than being an action platformer, the game had opted for an on-rails shooter type of game while flying through the air while on the ground it has an action adventure sort of side to it.

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One cool thing about Kid Icarus: Uprising is the fact that it that appeals to two types of gamers; the gamers new the world of Kid Icarus and the veteran fans who’ve been waiting for another entry in the series since the second game back in 1991. Most people picking up Kid Icarus: Uprising will probably be new to the series and won’t know of the history behind it, unless they did their research or got what little information that they could from Super Smash Bros. Brawl. For those not in the know here’s a small history lesson; the first Kid Icarus game came out in 1986, it was a 2D action platforming game with you taking control of Pit as he goes on a quest to collect 3 sacred treasures to save his world and rescue the goddess Palutena. While it had a mixed reception at release it gained a cult following and still has pretty big fan base. The second game in the series showed up on the Game Boy in 1991 in the form of Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters and it was well-received at the time and many fans since had been waiting for another game for ages. So when Super Smash Bros. Brawl came out on the Wii in 2008 and gave us a new look at Pitt, the fans saw it as hope for a new game to be made… Luckily Nintendo decided to pull this franchise out from the old gaming library.

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For me my knowledge of the Kid Icarus series is mainly research-based. I first encountered something relating to Kid Icarus in Super Smash Bros. Melee in the trophy section seeing a trophy of Pit and reading the information that came with it. So then a few years down the line Super Smash Bros. Brawl was announced at E3 2006 and in the trailer we had a completely new version of Pit to play as in the game. His new look was completely different from his past incarnations on the NES and Game Boy. Only after that trailer was I truly interested in Pit’s past and I checked it out on Wikipedia, and it was after my research that I learned about the significance of the franchise. So fast forward to E3 2010 to when the first trailer for Uprising came out and I saw that he had the same as he did in SSBB. I thought this couldn’t be a coincidence. So then I did some more research and found out the main man behind the Kirby and Super Smash Bros. series’, Masahiro Sakurai had created another company, Project Sora to craft this game. And since that point my interest in Kid Icarus: Uprising has always stuck.

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Above you can see the art style that Pit adopted in Super Smash Bros. Brawl which was carried over into the new Kid Icarus game.

I must have watched the first trailer for Uprising at least 10 times. I thought the music, gameplay and visuals were incredible. From the first trailer we saw that the game would have two main styles of gameplay: on-rails shooter taking out enemies while flying through the air and action adventure way of things when you are on the ground in full control of your movements. We also saw that he’d take on enemies from a distance by shooting them or engage in close range combat with melee attacks using weapons, but one of the highlights was seeing he massive boss battles.

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Since 2010 the information for Kid Icarus: Uprising has been coming continuously in the form of videos, screenshots and interviews. We learned that Pit could charge his attacks while shooting in the air or how in ground combat he has a variety of moves to dodge and avoid enemy attacks. We also discovered that Pit was able to have different types of weaponry to attack enemies with including bows, claws, blades and others with different advantages and disadvantages, there’s also been the confirmation that the level’s difficulty can be increased collecting hearts from defeated enemies. And one key aspect that surprised me about the game wast he inclusion of multiplayer via Wi-fi for 6 players to fight in Team Deathmatches or Free-For-Alls using standard fighters, with losing players given the chance to plays as Pit or Dark Pit. With all of the stuff going on with the main story mode I didn’t think that the developers could add a multiplayer mode to this already full-looking game and then there’s also the AR cards that have mini games you can play using the 3DS’s augmented reality features.

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This game has been delayed from its original release point of 2011 to the first quarter 2012 and while a lot of fans were initially gutted about that, if anything the delay has only increased the hype for the game. And from what most games journalists and gamers who have tried th game say that the controls are a tad questionable, most people either have said that the game overall works or after adjusting to the game’s control scheme that everything falls into places with all of the beautiful visuals. Even if controls are an issue for some gamers the game will have the Circle Pad Pro to use instead if the extra circle pad is necessary for your needs. Masahiro Sakurai has put a lot of work into this game and it is very apparent and since this man the legend behind the Kirby series as well as the Super Smash Bros. series too, so he does have epic powers and I trust him.

Whether fans will be able to accept these massive changes to the series’ formula will remain to be seen but there is no reason why this game shouldn’t be successful. Kid Icarus: Uprising is one of the first games to come from Nintendo that wasn’t just another Mario or Zelda title, it is a part of games series that was long forgotten until Smash Bros. brought Pit back to the world of gaming and then Nintendo gave the series a new coat of paint and a new game for a new game system. Hopefully Kid Icarus: Uprising is the start of something and will open doors for other forgotten Nintendo franchises like Pikmin, F-Zero, Star Fox and so on. March 2012 couldn’t come sooner.

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2012 in Media, Video Games

 

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Sonic Rush Review

Howdy ladies and gentlemen, today I come to you with another review of a video game nature. This time we are heading back to 2005 for a review of one of my favourite Sonic games, Sonic Rush. Now I think you guys might have established that I am a Sonic the Hedgehog fan by all of the posts I have put up about him since November, but it really is one of my favourite things in the world. Sonic’s games are fun, they’re part of my life and I love to talk about it, and so with that in mind let’s move onto the review of the game.

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Ah Sonic Rush… What a bloody good game, I’ll never forget that happy feeling I had when I played the game for the first time back in 2006. I never owned the game myself until the year 2008 when I got my DS Lite and when I got it, bled that game to death, I played it all the time and while it was hella fun, it was really difficult and very frustrating. When Sonic Rush came out it was the kind of game that fans and most game reviewers wanted and it was noted as a return to form for Sonic games as it was very similar to the old 2D platforming titles on the Sega Megadrive/Genesis. However, while Sonic Rush was a good game there were problems that seemed to completely invisible to some game reviewers… Now before an army of Sonic fans start dishing out the hate on me let me say that I am a Sonic fan, I’ve played many games in the series and I’ve been a fan of the series since the 90s playing on my old Megadrive. I love Sonic games, however there are games in the series that are truly bad and have caused damage to Sonic’s reputation in the world of gaming. Luckily this game wasn’t one of them and it gave Sonic’s life a boost of energy at that point in 2005 after Shadow the Hedgehog had come out.

So let’s talk about the game. Sonic Rush is a 2D platforming game made in 3D, so with the 3D graphics in place there are elements of a 2.5D look at certain points with the perspective will change to add a different look or an extra dimension to the gameplay. This game also features only 2 characters; Sonic the Hedgehog & Blaze the Cat. Both have different abilities and play styles that change the way you move through the levels. While Sonic’s move set is similar to traditional formula, Blaze on the other had is actually quite different. Sonic is made for speed while Blaze is more about technique. The overall Sonic game formula hasn’t changed much, you still have to run from one side of the level to another collecting rings, destroying enemies and advancing through the levels without being taken out by the environments different hazards. However there was one new game mechanic introduced that separated itself from other Sonic games and probably changed/influenced the way all Sonic games were made from that point onward… Boosting. In Sonic Rush you had a boost meter (known as the Tension Gauge) and you could fill it up by either smashing through enemies, collecting boost monitors or performing tricks in the air. Then all you had to do was press the boost button and then BAM you’re blasting off at the speed of sound crashing through everything. It’s like an explosion of power whenever you set it off. But it could only be sustained if you had enough energy in the boost meter, when you ran out you were back to normal speed. Oh and another important aspect of Sonic Rush that I think added a new innovate aspect to the gameplay is that when going through levels Sonic & Blaze could move through both screens of the DS while running through levels and with that fancy new element put into play it did require some quick thinking and reflexes for some of the levels and boss encounters.

So in terms of content, you have 7 worlds which Sonic & Blaze would advance through, though depending on which character you were you would advance through the levels in a different order from the other. There was also 7 special stages inspired by Sonic 2 which you could tackle as Sonic only to collect Chaos Emeralds (Blaze just collected her Emeralds as the game advanced). At the end of each level there would be a boss fight each different from the last and requiring different strategies to beat each enemy. And as with most Sonic games after Sonic & Knuckles if you collected all 7 Chaos Emeralds you would take on one more additional level in your Super form to complete the game fully. In addition to the main game you also had time attack mode and a two-player mode via wireless where two players could race from one end of a level to another.

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So is the game good? Heck yeah, but it isn’t without its problems. For all the good that Sonic Rush did the sonic game series, it also introduced some problems that would follow the series into present day.

Well let’s start with all the good points, firstly from a visual standpoint the game is very pretty as the first 2D Sonic game to be rendered in 3D. The graphics are sharp, colourful, vivid and full of detail and character from the foreground to the backgrounds. The soundtrack composed by Hideki Naganuma was also pretty damn awesome too with such a crazy sound when compared to other songs in the Sonic series, it was zany and very memorable for a portable title. But it’s really the gameplay that makes Sonic Rush just a good joyride of a game, its fast and furious and just old school Sonic fun. Sonic himself is dead fast in this game, once you get to grips with the boosting mechanic it becomes second nature and its extremely fun and addictive, once you learn to navigate levels effectively blazing through at breakneck speeds is essential. It makes speed runs so much more fun. It is also nice to use Blaze with her different style of gameplay from Sonic, her fire-based attacks when she jumps and her different air tricks compared to Sonic’s create some interesting level navigation. The new gameplay elements like being able to do tricks to build your boost bar is wicked and the different environments that provide new forms of interactivity. Also seeing Sonic & Blaze zoom through the two screens is on the DS bloody fun. Couple that with the diverse levels and cool level designs and you have endless levels of entertainment in one handheld console.

Okay so now onto the bad points, so as I said before the boost meter is one of the best aspects of Sonic Rush because it allows you to move stupidly fast, however that can be your undoing. Sometimes you’ll be blazing along so fast to the point where you’ll accidentally set yourself up for death or put yourself in danger’s way. Since the game is designed around speed and moving fairly quickly you simply just forget about the platforming elements and just hold the boost button wherever there is a clear strip of land to blast through. And to be honest that is hardly fair on the player, it encourages fast gameplay but sets you up for unexpected danger. But it’s not only down to the boosting mechanic that makes this game a bit unfair, but it’s also thanks to the level design too. As good as Sonic Rush is, it features some of the most awkward, hard and questionable level design choices in all of the Sonic games. A good number of times you’ll find yourself continuously dying due to the unforgiving level designs, especially if its you’re a first time. Some times you’ll be moving along at top speed and run into an environmental hazard like spikes or an enemy placed in a horrible spot or most commonly you’ll fall and die via the various pitfalls placed all over the levels. Sonic Rush seems to be obsessed with pitfalls as they are the most common form of death whether you’re running at top speed and then fall into one or if you’re covering a small bit of land in the air only to miss the platform and then plummet to your death. It is incredibly hard on an unforgiving level when it comes to the final few levels. The level design in Sonic Rush is designed as more of a memory game than something you can try out and survive the first time around, it does require a lot of prior knowledge beforehand but if you don’t have that then prepare to die many times until you figure it out. One last thing I want to add is the fact that trying to obtain Chaos Emeralds is so damn hard! Trying to get to them is hard enough once the later levels come into play but then trying to complete them is proper difficult, now I know that its meant to be challenging and all that, but there is a difference between challenge and cruelty and that’s what those special stages felt like especially after the 5th Chaos Emerald comes into play, pain and suffering.

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It’s interesting to note that Sonic Rush was crafted by Sonic Team and Dimps, these two games developers collaborated on not the Sonic Rush games, but also the Sonic Advance trilogy and they also went on to develop parts of Sonic Unleashed (Wii version), Sonic 4: Episode 1 & Sonic Generations. And while the two developers haven’t always created solid titles all the time, I think after Sonic Rush came out, that started the continuation and future style of Sonic gaming for the good and bad times of Sonic’s future titles. Though this game is noted as one of the first proper 2D Sonic games for a while in that timeframe between 1994 to 2005 there was clearly a series of 2D Sonic games on the Gameboy Advance that people tend to forget about and that is the Sonic Advance series. The Sonic Advance series on the GBA was pretty darn good and with each entry in the series came new gameplay mechanics, new characters and interesting environments. And the impact of those games can be seen in Sonic Rush as the air trick system in this game was originally started in Sonic Advance 2 and then carried over and upgraded in Sonic Rush.

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Sonic Rush at the time was the 2D adventure that Sonic fans have been waiting for, it had been years series there was a Sonic game on such a big scale that wasn’t such disappointment in the eyes of the fan base. This game managed to capture the magic of the Sonic games on the Megadrive/Genesis, but it also was a game of its own and Rush seemed to have the right balance between nostalgia and inventive new gameplay. The game was well received, sold pretty well on the DS and was featured on many lists of good Nintendo DS games too. Most critics found this game to be a return to form, though some were not too keen on the quickness of the game and also found the inconsistencies in the level design in some cases noting on the high level of death due to the pitfalls. Despite these problems Sonic Rush was a success and spawned a sequel in the shape of Sonic Rush Adventure and has created a small legacy too, because of the introduction boosting mechanic that has found its way into nearly every new Sonic game including Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic Unleashed, Sonic Colours and more recently Sonic Generations.

Overall Sonic Rush though hard as heck and questionable in terms of later level design is still a damn good game. I’ve had many days wasted playing this game and it was hella fun as well as being hella difficult. If you haven’t had a chance to play this game please do yourself a favour and break it in and enjoy the speed and beauty that is Sonic Rush.

Rating: 8/10

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Game Reviews, Media, Reviews, Video Games

 

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Sonic 4: Episode 2 Official Screenshots

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Okay so after getting the first set of screenshots of Sonic 4 Episode 2 on February 14th Sega have just recently released another 9 screenshots as the first proper “official” screenshots after first set were leaked online by Microsoft (but when is Sonic game info not leaked online? Its been happening for years lol). These screenshots still look pretty cool and showcase some fancy-looking graphics for the game and I’m loving it so far. But again this isn’t the game in motion so all us Sonic fans are still waiting for an animated visual confirmation that the game is better than the last in every way shape and form and we hope that the developers have committed to their promises to improve the gameplay, animation and physics. Luckily apparently its been mentioned via the Sega Blog that the first gameplay trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2 will be out on Thursday February 23rd at 9am US Pacific Time. So that’ll be a date to keep open in your books if you’re a Sonic fan.

Anyway here’s those new pictures:

Sonic 4 Episode 2 Official Screenshots 1

Sonic 4 Episode 2 Official Screenshots 2

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Well as I said in the last Sonic 4: Episode 2 blog post these screenshots look very promising and have a very realistic and detailed style when compared to the more cartoony and cel-shaded look of the previous game. Now don’t get me wrong, Sonic 4 Episode 1 looked great, but this game is on another level and both episodes couldn’t be more different in a lot of ways.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2012 in Media, Video Games

 

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