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Archive for June 2012

Friday at the Movies: Street Fighter

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Video games and movies, you would think the two would go hand-in-hand, but unfortunately given that the film medium is a passive experience and the gaming medium is an active experience, the hybrid of the two usually goes horribly (and laughably) wrong.  This segment will be our weekly realm to appreciate the more “classic” medium of film.  Of course, whenever possible I will review a “video game” movie.

It’s almost ironic to me that Jean-Claude Van Damme plays lead character Guile in this film because Mortal Kombat, direct competitor for the Street Fighter franchise, was originally supposed to be a Bloodsport video game.  Despite that, and the fact that Mortal Kombat was also made into a film, Street Fighter released to American theaters on Christmas Eve in 1994 up against Dumb & Dumber and The Santa Clause.  Director Steven E. de Souza was best known for penning action blockbusters like Die Hard and The Running Man as well as horribly written flops like Hudson HawkStreet Fighter marked his most known directorial title (he also wrote the screenplay), which probably explains why he isn’t known as a director.  In interviews de Souza explains that he did not want this movie to be a simple tournament full of fight scenes – side note: he stated that decision was due to the flop of Super Mario Bros. a year before and its apparent faithfulness to the game, which proves that Hollywood did not pay attention to video game details – and instead created an interesting international terrorist film.  To its credit, the overarching plot isn’t bad, albeit quite overcomplicated and tries way too hard to integrate as many people fromSuper Street Fighter II as it can, not to mention Guile’s horrible lines.  Despite being a worldwide commercial success (it made just under $100 million in combined worldwide theatrical release against its $35 million budget), the film was destroyed by critics and gamers alike for having slight nuances in both worlds but failing to implement either in a decent way.  In fact, if it weren’t for all the praise to Raul Julia’s performance as M. Bison the film would have nothing positive for critics at the time to talk about.

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Written by Fred Rojas

June 29, 2012 at 11:55 am

Podcast: Emulation – Breaking the Law

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law

This episode we have Derek from the Playground Podcast on to discuss the oh so controversial topic of video game emulation.  Instead of describing what it is, which can be found here, we instead discuss our memories, stories, and wonderful benefits of a topic that has been shadowed by piracy.


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Written by Fred Rojas

June 28, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Posted in podcast

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Now & Then: American McGee’s Alice

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Now & Then is a series where we dissect the culture of a specific series or genre or compare an influential game from the past and how it holds up today.

Then

It’s a bit wierd that American McGee (yes, that’s his real name as far as I know) was given an opportunity to be a Creative Director on this ambitious project, even moreso as an early project with EA.  He began his career at idworking mostly in level design for many of the first person shooter series that I grew up playing: Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake.  He was fired from id for reasons not known and eventually ended up at Electronic Arts, where after a few sound design and writing projects he was given a large budget and the role of Creative Director for Alice.  Why EA back then agreed to put his name as part of the title or allowed him to create such a vivid project (in the Quake III engine, for irony’s sake) is beyond me, but it was a solid and pivotal decision.  American McGee’s Alice is one of the darkest, most twisted games I’ve ever played and takes the story begun by Lewis Carroll more than a century prior and turns it on its head.  To be fair, Wonderland has never been a “normal” place, begot mostly of fantasy concepts and mind-altered states, but I never felt that violence, murder, and insanity were heavy themes.  While the gameplay wasn’t spectacular even at the time, the imagery and graphics impressed gamers enough to sell more than 1.5 million copies.

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Written by Fred Rojas

June 26, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Posted in Now & Then, PC/Mac, Reviews

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Friday at the Movies: The Wizard

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Video games and movies, you would think the two would go hand-in-hand, but unfortunately given that the film medium is a passive experience and the gaming medium is an active experience, the hybrid of the two usually goes horribly (and laughably) wrong.  This segment will be our weekly realm to appreciate the more “classic” medium of film (thanks to the large number of hits my Prometheus review received).  Of course, whenever possible I will review a “video game” movie.

This movie poster is exactly like the gaming magazines fo the time, busy as hell.

Oh, The Wizard, how I love you so despite what anyone tells me.  Sure, it’s nothing more than a big commercial for Super Mario Bros. 3 and a blatant ripoff of Rain Man, but that doesn’t change the fact that I love this movie to death.  Before the Internet, we gamers would soak up any and all forms of information on video games and due to the lack of content available to us (magazines cost money, you had to be registered for newsletters, and we couldn’t linger in the gaming area of Sears forever).  I had a subscription to Nintendo Power and I knew that SMB3 would eventually grace our shores, but Japan got the game a whopping year and a half before us!  As soon as they revealed that the game was going to be featured in the movie, it was an instant must see for my friends and I.  It’s pretty hilarious too, because in the movie the big reveal is that the finals for the Nintendo World Championship would feature this game and everyone goes crazy given that it’s a never before played game.  As an audience, we all knew the game would be in there and shredded through the first 90 minutes of exposition to get to that point.  When Jimmy played those legendary first few levels of SMB3, though, the entire pathetic journey was well worth it.  For fans of the film, how the hell does Haley know everything about this “unseen” game as Jimmy plays along, including what the flute does?

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Written by Fred Rojas

June 22, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Feature: Remembering the Virtual Boy

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If you’ve been reading this site for a while you may remember my lesson sets on home consoles known as the “Generation Gap Series” or my portable series known as “Gaming To-Go“.  In these two sets, only two consoles were unable to be categorized in either location: the 32x (which got its own feature as well) and the Virtual Boy.  Why?  Read on to find out.

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Written by Fred Rojas

June 21, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Posted in Features

Now & Then: Mortal Kombat II (Midway)

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Midway must have known it had a hit on its hands with the original Mortal Kombat because no time was wasted creating the sequel.  While most of us anticipated the home release of the first title, Mortal Kombat II (MKII) snuck into arcades and blew our minds.  This game literally had it all – more characters, more fatalities/finishing moves, and more violence.  For most MK series fans, myself included, this is considered to be the best and it’s one of the highest grossing video games of all time.

MK Meets its Match

The original Mortal Kombat was an impressive fighter, especially for one that was developed with digitized actors in only 10 months, but creator Ed Boon wanted to do more.  “[MKII] had everything we wanted to put in the original MK but didn’t have time for,” he said in an interview with EGM2 (issue 5, Nov. 1994).  It does seem like there’s some truth to his claim, especially with the introduction of more stage fatalities, a second fatality for each character, and even joke finishers “friendships” and “babalities”.  I’m not so sure the roster was an initial idea, nor was the background concepts of Outworld, but I can definitely see the Midway team wanting to break away from the perceived reality of the original.  Not only was MKII the definitive version of the original concept, but it continues to be the template for which all other titles in the series are based on.

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Written by Fred Rojas

June 19, 2012 at 11:16 am

Podcast: The Final Countdown Pt. 1

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Fred Rojas from Gaming History 101 and the B-Team podcast is joined by Josh “Colm” from the T4 show and Rob “Trees” from EZ Mode Unlocked to discuss the games in G4’s recent top 100 games of all times.  We start by discussing some of our issues with the games in the list and then hit the ground running talking about our personal experiences with many of the great games on the countdown.  Due to time constraints this first part covers games 100-60 with more to come in future weeks.  Check it out!


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Written by Fred Rojas

June 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Blog, podcast

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Friday at the Movies: Prometheus Review

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So technically this has nothing to do with video games, and in the past I tried to avoid off topic articles, but then I realized I own and maintain this site and can therefore do whatever I want.  As a result, here’s a movie review!

Not another prequel.  That’s all I could think when I first heard of Prometheus, which started life as a prequel to the movie/series Alien.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Alien and the series that followed, but prequels always exploit countless plot holes, look so much better than the originals that supposedly happened after said prequel, and origin stories such as this are doomed to disappoint.  Fortunately, this isn’t as much a prequel as it is a separate story that crosses paths with the Alien series and holds its own when considered a standalone film.  I need to be very clear when I say this because it seems few who went to the movie this weekend seem to understand it: this is not intended to be a prequel to Alien nor is it part of the Alien series despite having many obvious connections.  In fact, this was a great sci-fi romp that is recommended for most film fans other than those seeking an Alien film.

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Written by Fred Rojas

June 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm

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