Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Nerdversity Discussion: Are Modern Geeks too spoiled and entitled?

The recent hate towards Marvel Comics and James Rolfe (AVGN) has really got me wondering something. Are we, as modern geeks becoming too entitled? This one won't be about sexism or anything like that, more what we Geeks are demanding from companies. 

Last week, James Rolfe put up a video on his Cinemassacre channel stating that he wasn't going to review Paul Feig's Ghostbusters movie, much less go and see it. In the following 6 minutes, his reasoning is that it isn't the Ghostbusters movie that HE wanted. He also states that children today will be more familiar with Feig's Ghostbusters than the 1984 original. But this is the key factor which caused the problem. We don't really seem to care if people want to see the movie or not, that's their choice, but the entitlement was there, it's not the Ghostbusters movie he wanted, as if Sony are making personalised movies, just for him. He wants to see the Original Cast come back and hand over to the new team. 

Rolfe was considered a misogynist and a social justice warrior for his comments, but I don't believe that's true. That's just the internet hate machine calling anyone who bad mouths this movie a misogynist. He hasn't even seen it yet, but has already written off the movie as crap and so bad he won't see it. His opinions are based solely on seeing the two trailers. 

Now on to Marvel. In Captain America: Steve Rogers issue 1, penned by Nick Spencer and drawn by Jesus Saiz, Steve is returned to his former youth and powers by Hydra. It's revealed through flashbacks that a Hydra agent had given Steve's mother Sarah a pamphlet with the Hydra logo on it. We also see Cap throw a colleague out of a plane, then reciting the infamous HAIL HYDRA chant.

This story exploded all over the internet and was being reported by many outlets and had caused outrage. Many people who were expressing outrage hadn't read the comic, but were sending Nick Spenser hate mail and death threats regardless. This isn't the same Captain America comic as we've seen before and it seems many Cap fans are screaming that this isn't the comic they wanted. Well, Marvel ISN'T creating comics for one person's single tastes, they're writing for a giant audience and believe me, the show is getting started with Cap, so rather than keep feeding the hate machine, perhaps it would be wiser to see where the show goes from here.

So that's just two recent examples of Geek Entitlement. There are many more examples over the years of Geeks complaining on the internet that the media they love isn't to their tastes and in fact, they should make it to their tastes. One other example was from 2005, when Paramount showed the designs for the first Bayformers movie and the Transformers G1 fanatics took to the internet to rage that Optimus Prime was a blue long nosed Peterbilt from 2007, NOT a box cab 1980s Freightliner. 

Final thought: we as geeks need to realise that this pointless arguing on the internet and bashing of companies' hard work on bringing us movies, TV shows, video games, board games, toys etc doesn't help anyone. Yes, we can offer constructive criticism towards things, but being all "IT'S NOT MADE HOW I WANT IT TO BE, THEY SHOULD MAKE IT TO MY TASTE" really smacks of being immature. 

Nerdversity Reviews: Crossy Road Arcade

Adrenaline Amusement Games was founded in 2010 in Quebec. They were instrumental in bringing several big name mobile gaming apps into the arcade as part of either high score or redemption games. One of which is:

Crossy Road is a highly popular infinite runner game on mobile devices, in which players must tap to get a chicken as far as they can, whilst avoiding obstacles like trains, cars, open water, crocodiles and more besides.

The arcade version brings that experience into the arcade coin-op environment. It boasts a 65 inch monitor and large buttons. The game can be configured to be either competitive high score play or as many arcades are going now, ticket redemption. So, the further you go on a single credit, the more tickets you win that can be cashed in for prizes.

The gameplay is rather simple. Just tap to move your chicken forward a space. It's endless, so the only challenge here is memorising obstacles and timing your jumps. It's a single button play, but it requires timing to avoid hitting or being hit by obstacles. This is where in the 2 player arcade game, players can either compete for higher scores or work together to obtain more tickets between themselves.

This is one of those niche games that people either love or hate. If you have played it on your smart device, then you could easily pick up and play this game in the arcade to win prizes. If not, then it could be easily skippable and consigned to the scrapheap of free tablet games that are making their way into arcades like Jetpack Joyride, Candy Crush, Bejeweled and Fruit Ninja just to name a few.

Nerdversity Reviews: Terminator Salvation Arcade (2010)

Terminator Salvation was released in Cinemas in 2009. In 2010, Play Mechanix developed a game for the arcade, published by Raw Thrills.

Terminator Salvation is an on rails First Person shooter game, in which you play as John Connor (Christian Bale). The game is spread over two missions. The first of which has players going on a Seek and Destroy mission against a secret Skynet lab, which is performing experiments on humans. The second mission has players guiding survivors to a hidden Resistance Safehouse and then dealing the final blow against Skynet itself.

Gameplay is simple and fun. Shoot Terminators with a variety of weapons. Red glowing Terminators are ones that are about to attack and hit the player, so deal with them first. Your standard weapon is a modified M4A1 carbine. The magazine has a button on the bottom to reload and two buttons on the side of the barrel for launching grenades. Players can find different weapons and armour pick ups along the way and can be collected simply by shooting them. Many of the assets for the game were taken from the console version.

Aside from the standard release, there was also a "budget" cabinet version released that featured a slimmer cabinet and fixed Pulse Rifle style guns that swiveled and tilted. Then there was the larger scale SDX version, which featured a 65 inch screen, speakers on both sides and the assault rifle light gun controllers. 

As movie licensed games go, this provides a decent challenge and expands on the movie universe a little more. It's definitely better than the movie or the console game. If you can find an arcade that has this, which should be a fair few, as it's only a recent game, give it a whirl,

Nerdversity Reviews: Uncanny X-Men Arcade (1992)

With X-Men: Apocalypse doing well at the cinema, I thought we'd check out the 1992 Konami Arcade game Uncanny X-Men or just X-Men to fans and collectors.

The game was released in 1992, alongside other Konami brawlers that were popular for the time like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Simpsons and Bucky O'Hare just to name a few of the more popular ones based on pop culture. Rather than be based on the comics, this one was based on the 1989 pilot Pryde of the X-Men. 

The game gives you 6 X-Men to choose from. Storm, Wolverine, Colossus, Dazzler, Cyclops and Nightcrawler. Each of them has their own strengths and weaknesses. Plus they all have their own mutant power which does actually drain their life bar, so best to use it only when needed. Storm unleashes tornadoes. Wolverine fires energy from his claws. Colossus hulks out with energy around him. Dazzler fires a sonic blast. Cyclops unleashes an optic blast and Nightcrawler teleports around the screen. 

The game follows the plot of the cartoon very closely, having the X-Men save the city from Magneto and his sentinels, to the kidnapping of Xavier and Kitty Pryde, to them trailing Magneto and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants to Island M and finally onto Asteroid M. The game is a challenge, even with both friends and solo. Players can attack enemies while they're down for extra damage with special attacks. Nightcrawler jumps up and down on the downed enemy for example. 

In the arcade, there were 2 versions available to players. A four player version and a double wide 6 player version. Both versions are now considered collectors items and fetch a pretty penny on the secondary market. It was also ported to the Playstation Network and XBox Live Arcade a few years ago. Then to the App Store and Play Store, for iOS and Android devices. The game allows you to play both the US and Japanese roms, which the only difference being, the Japanese ROM allows you to have health items and power ups. The voices were re-recorded as well, but kept in the classic lines of "I am Magneto, Master of Magnet" and "Welcome to Die". 

If you have an arcade that still has a copy of this game, or if you have it on your PS3 or 360, definitely dust it off and have a blast with it. It still holds up even now as one of the best brawlers in the arcade. The graphics and gameplay are superb. It looks, feels and plays like both a cartoon and a comic book, the animation on the characters is smooth. 

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Nerdversity Reviews: Spider-Man The Video Game (Arcade)

As the web-head has made his debut in the MCU, I thought we'd take a look at the Spider-Man the Video Game by Sega, released in 1991.

Spider-Man was released in 1991 by SEGA and was on their System 32 hardware, It has never been ported to a home version yet,but there are hopes that one day it might. The title screen shows the SPIDER-MAN logo with the webhead next to it. The background features comic book style art of a New York city street.

Leaving the title screen in attract mode for a little while longer gives this, a splash screen of all the villains you'll face in the game. Most of these are Spider-Man villains, except for the Hellfire Club like grunts and street thugs.

The arcade game is 4 player, allowing players to pick between Hawkeye, Spider-Man himself, Sub-Mariner and Black Cat, each with their own distinct play styles, similar to TMNT or Simpsons. Each player has the same basic attacks and jump attacks, but each player has their own distinct power attack which drains health. Hawkeye shoots arrows, Spidey fires a web, Sub-Mariner fires electricity and Black Cat swings her whip.

Storywise, there;s not much to say. Kingpin has stolen an artifact called the Sorcerer Stone, which could grant untold power. Then Doctor Doom steals it. It's up to the four heroes to save the day. Gameplay consists of 2 different styles. The first is a zoomed in brawler style in which the heroes plough their way through enemies and bosses. 

The second is a more zoomed out shooter style. Rather than using punches, kicks and throws, your character will fire their projectiles at enemies. It's a more athletic stage, requiring players to climb and jump their way through the level. It also gives a sense of scale when the players are scaling up buildings and across zeppelins. 

As brawlers in the 90s go, this one is more obscure than the ones it went up against. It has some great gameplay elements and a very comic book feel to the story, speech and graphics. Gameplay, this game will eat your quarters and provides a decent challenge. If you can find this one, definitely give it a play.

Nerdversity Reviews: Captain America and the Avengers

With the release of Captain America: Civil War, I thought we'd take a look at the Captain America and The Avengers arcade game that was ported to the Mega Drive/Genesis and Super Nintendo. 

Not sure who the artist was on this awesome cover art, but we have our 4 main Avengers from the game in battle with Crossbones, Mandarin and Ultron, with the floating head of Red Skull watching over the battle. The plot is fairly simple and generic. The Red Skull has built a laser on the moon and aimed it at earth, it's now up to the Avengers to stop him and is army of villains.

Even at the title screen for the game, we're treated to a bright and colourful image of the Avengers and the Red Skull in the background. From there we can play a single player game, a 2 player game. Training Mode, which allows 2 players to face off and allow you to get a feel for the characters and their attacks and an options menu allowing players to alter sound, difficulty, continues etc.

The roster is a good choice, but the more popular characters and members of the Avengers at the time, We have Vision, Iron Man, Cap himself and Hawkeye. Each of the characters plays largely the same, so its all down to personal choice. Each character has a standard punch, jump attack, projectile and dash attack. The only difference is what projectile each character throws.

The game plays like a standard beat em up game of that era, fighting your way through hordes of robotic grunts, a boss fight at the end with many big name villains, which are Klaw and Living Laser, Whirlwind, Grim Reaper, Mandarin, Juggernaut, Ultron, Crossbones, Controller and finally Red Skull himself. The game is far easier with two people playing.

The game was ported to the Genesis by Data East and by Mindscape on the SNES, Now, Data East gave players a much closer arcade experience for Genesis players, yet Mindscape made the game look good, but make it practically unplayable. In the SNES version, the players skate around and bosses have much longer invulnerability periods, meaning the deck is always stacked in their favour. 

All in all, this is a fun arcade experience. Sure, it falls into a sea of already existing fighters and brawlers and doesn't bring much new to the table, but it stands on it;s own merits as a Marvel fighter. It's got some good action, decent challenge for the Arcade and Genesis versions, the Mindscape ports are ones to avoid completely as they are painful to play and are nigh on impossible to beat.If you can find either the Arcade version or Genesis version anywhere, definitely give them a try and be sure to bring another fellow Avenger.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Nerdversity Reviews: Thunderbirds 1965

The origins of Thunderbirds 1965 can be traced back to 1965, when Gerry Anderson, through his Century 21 Productions released a series of seven mini LPs, 3 of these were all new adventures, the rest were abridged versions of existing TV episodes. The LPs ran at 33 RPM and were 7 inches in size, making them about the same as a single. They were fully voiced by the cast and had sound effects. For years, they were thought lost until they were found again in the Anderson vaults.

Enter: Pod 4 Films and their ambitious project that was funded through Kickstarter to bring these stories to life, using the same filming techniques that had been used in the 1960s. Pod 4 were even able to use the same warehouse in Slough where the original series had been filmed. They bought back some of the veterans of the original series like Christine Glanville and David Elliot. Also to note, the film used to make these has been perfectly matched to the original Eastman filmstock that would have been used by Century 21 back in the 1960s

Featuring all new puppets that are almost identical to the 1960s, Introducing: Thunderbirds serves as a semi pilot and prequel to the series. It runs down the characters of the series and the machines they use with the traditional pomp and glory. It was written by Justin T Lee and directed by Alan Fennell

The second episode is The Abominable Snowman, directed by Stephen La Riviere and written by Desmond Saunders and David Graham. In this episode, Lady Penelope and Parker are sent to investigate strange goings on in the Himalayas. However, she becomes embroiled in a plot by the sinister villain The Hood which requires International Rescue to save the day. It features some very complex camera work and effects shots, plus a guest star from British comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar as a puppet. 

The final episode is called The Stately Home Robberies, directed by David Elliot. This would have served as the final episode of Thunderbirds. It sees Lady Penelope and Parker tracking down a pair of thieves who are robbing stately homes across the country. They trick the thieves into going to the Tower of London. With a ticking time bomb as their other enemy, can Lady Penelope save the day?

This project was certain big and ambitious for what they wanted and they pulled it off. Even though it's brand new, these could have been made in 1965 and noone would have been any the wiser. Big congratulations to Pod 4 films. The stock footage blends perfectly well with the new footage and the boys at Pod 4 did a great job editing the new footage to match. They did a fantastic job bringing back an extinct art form back.

Nerdversity Reviews: Em-Con 2016

Now that the spring  convention season is back in full force. we had boots on the ground at Em-Con 2016 to give us their report.

Em-Con is perhaps one of the biggest geek conventions for fans of all kinds in the East Midlands. People had travelled all over to Nottingham to meet their icons and be geeky. Despite a wet start, there was plenty to see outside the Motorpoint arena. Cars from Supernatural, Transformers, Mad Max, Gotham and even Agents of SHIELD were parked outside for fans to take photos of.

I know it looks small, but remember, this is a full sized venue that holds concerts, sporting events and loads more. But it was well organised with the autograph guests on the left side, vendors on the right hand side. There was plenty of space between each side and noone felt like they were really stepping on each other's toes. There were guests from all kinds of shows, ranging from Walking Dead, Red Dwarf, Power Rangers, Doctor Who, Blakes 7 and even Star Trek there,

Out of sight of the main hall was a backstage area where all the photo shoots happened throughout the day. Also backstage, they had an area with zombies, simulating The Walking Dead and even an Iron Man Armoury, which people could get photos with.

Overall, a fantastic event with some great planning and organisation. I'm not saying every convention has to go off without a hitch and yes, stuff does happen, but really, I didn't see anything major bad happen at all. Everyone had fun, even the guests, plenty to see and do for people of all ages and fandoms.