Making Sweden 5% nerdier than it has to be.

Monday, November 29, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1

As one might guess from the previous post I am a fan of the Harry Potter book series. So one might think that I'm an equally big fan of the movie series based on said book series. Long answer is that I think that the first two movies were good but not great. The third and fourth movies sucked. They sucked hard. At that point I had all but given up on the movies pleasing my, probably too high, expectations. Then along came David Yates to direct the last four installments in the franchise.

The way I saw the fifth and sixth movies were much less of a spectacle compared to the previous four that I had seen with large groups of friends. I saw them alone some time after they had opened up at the cinema and found that, to my surprise, not only were they really good movies they were good adaptations of the novels as well.

Which, after a long story, brings us to the subject of this review. Yates' third movie in the franchise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Harry Potter Retrospective Part 1

He rached out and pulled the book out from the back of the shelf. It hadn't been used in quite some time but the marks it wore showed that this had not been the case in the past. The cover had scratches and the corner edges had become dull. Inside the book a number of pages had spots of unknown origin on them and an entire chapter consisted of loose pages. Otherwise the book was in readable condition.

As cynism had marked his once naive soul it was with caution that he opened the book.

And then he smiled.

The magic was still there.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The gaming experience (Naruto): The finale and Killer Bee

One last update in this little gaming experience. It was pretty epic.

While I think that the way the game sets-up Pain's invasion of Konoha was a little lack-luster it did provide with some fun match-ups before the last big boss battle.

And that's where the epicness comes in. I only screwed up a single quick-time event so the whole thing flowed nigh-perfectly smoothly. And kicking Pain's ass in normal battle mode felt as satisfying as it looked in the manga. The only part that annoyed me was that Hinata was allowed to completely get her crowning moment of awesome, it was replaced with a heroic sacrifice that looked sort of lame. So that was bad.

The pay-off however was cool. Taking on a shinra tensei spamming Pain as the uber-powerful six-tailed Naruto was explosive and the battle looked truly awesome.

The end part to the fight was great as well. With both Naruto and Pain being limited to only basic combos and their standard ninjutsu move. No throws, no items, no ultimate jutsu and no support. But Pain was constantly awakened so he dealt out much more damage than the player did as Naruto. It's a simple idea but worked out well. It was a challenge and very satisfying to beat.

I'm also impressed by how the story parts and themes where all fitted into the epic finale. It was rather gripping and felt a bit more enjoyable than in the original series. Maybe because I've realised how it all works out a little better by now. Either way it was fun to see.

So now the game's main story is done for my part and all that's left is to be a completist. But I just want to get all the playable characters for free battle mode. So my friends and I can kick each others' asses. I also want to beat the shit out of the evil puppet guy. He annoyed me. So I get to have fun in travelling the game world with a the four-man team of Naruto, Hinata, Gaara and Rock Lee!

Today I got to a fragment where you got to fight the ever awesome Killer Bee as Sasuke, now in his Akatsuki uniform and with new abilities. The guy was suprisingly, yet saddly, easy to beat up. At least in his first form. Then he got to be permanently awakened and kicked my ass at first. But that was a fun challenge as well. Beating his superior power with tactics and skill was rewarding as all hell.

And... that's about that. A fun game overall with lots of fun things to accomplish and good retelling of the Naruto Shippuden storyline. Though, I wonder what a sequel would be like since Naruto doesn't get to be in all that much action after the Pain fight. He'll get his share eventually but right now he's taking a training back-seat. Oh well, if there is a sequel I'll probably get it just for all the new characters that are certain to be added to the roster.

Until next time, when I'll start something I've been looking forward to.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The gaming experience (Naruto): The awesomeness of Jiraiya the toad sage

Been playing quite a lot since the last post. So here's a quick summary of the things I went through in the game up until the really awesome part.

Fought and defeated Hidan and Kakuzu. The Kakuzu boss battle was the most difficult one yet and pretty freaking epic.

Played through the Sasuke storyline of the game. Got some good laughs from the game implying that team Taka are actually good at what they do. Was disappointed that the Sasuke/Deidara battle didn't get boss battle treatment. But that was fixed with the Sasuke/Itachi battle which was just great fun.

And now I've played through one of my favourite parts of the Naruto series. Jiraiya's infiltration of the Hidden Rain village.

The atmosphere in the village was great. With dark and gloomy colours that contrasted Jiraiya's own bright outfit, making everything feel foreign. This feeling was further enforced when talking to the NPCs in the village. All of them seemed perfectly fine and sort of happy despite the gloomy appearance of the village and the constant rain falling down on them. A somber musical tone kept me on edge, though the fact that I knew what was going to happen helped as well. I was seriously itching for the battles to come.

First of was lovely Konan and her paper style jutsus. I won but she surprised me with her speed and range. Then came the battle I've been itching for almost the entire game. The war between Jiraiya and Pain. It was always one of my top two favourite fights in the series. Not only would we finally get to see Jiraiya going all out while at the peak of his healt but he would fight alone against the leader of the Akatsuki. It was a battle destined for great things.

As a boss battle it shared the same quality as the Gaara/Deidara boss battle in that you never really did the same thing twice. The straight up fight sequences never had you fighting against a normal playable character, instead giving you some unique enemies to battle against. The quick time events were used to showcase the abilities Pain had that couldn't really be fitted into a normal fight sequence and the final moment were just a hopeless struggle for survival before it all ended with one crowning moment of awesome. There was so much creativity put into this battle and I applaud the game designers for making the whole thing so very awesome.

Then came the story elements with Jiraiya's death and Naruto dealing with it. All of it was handled beautifully and I actually shed a few tears. Excellent stuff really.

Now then, it's the final chapter and all that remains is Naruto's training, the Taka/Killer Bee boss battle (at least I hope that it's in there) and Pain's assault on the Hidden Leaf village. I'm very interested in seeing how they'll do that one.

Until next time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The gaming experience (Naruto): Simple as it is I AM having fun

It's been a few days and in my spare time I've really been enjoying Ultimate Storm 2. A big part of that is probably that I've gotten good at the fighting mechanic now. It's wonders how a little training can work wonders for you, poor Sakura though, she had dubious pleasure of acting punching bag for me.
But yeah, I'm really having fun with this game. So much so that I don't really care that's it's a glorified fighting game with a pretty weak free-roaming section. It's fun and it's a good retelling of one of my favourite manga series.

Now, I was a bit disappointed in the 4-tailed Naruto/Orochimaru boss battle. There's was no standard battle with Naruto in this form and the shooting gallery style battle which was just not really working for me. Also the quick-time event part took me an embarrassing number of tries to get through.

However, the Naruto/Sasuke boss battle totally made up for it. Finally a battle that match the epicness of the Gaara/deidara battle. It wasn't the same scale but in made up for it in inventiveness. The small flashes of Naruto and Sasuke's previous battle interspersed in during the fight was a neat touch and the quick-time event sequence was fittingly awesome.

And I thought that it was a nice touch to let you play as Asuma for a while. It made his inevitable doom a bit more heart breaking, it also helped that he's now one of my favourite playable characters. Oh well, I got to beat the shit out of Hidan with him. That was fun.

Speaking of Hidan, his english voice actor is freaking rocking the role. It is one of the funniest voices I've heard in quite some time and he can still be creepy when the story needs that.

As the story has reached Naruto's wind training I've now experienced a funny trait from a game with... shall we say limited gameplay option. With only a fighting game mechanic and a free roaming mechanic there's not really a lot of ways to show that Naruto has actually learned anything new. So it's been resorted to just having him getting his ass kicked by his teachers or kicking their asses.

Great way to learn there. By beating people up. It sort of reminds me of the Harry Potter games where the teachers send Harry on freakishly perilous quests to learn new spells. I just find stuff like that really funny. At least in Ultimate Storm 2 Naruto gets some off-screen training, which is really doing its jobb in building up to the grand reveal of the results.

So yeah. I'm having fun.

Until next time.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The gaming experience (Naruto): Were's the freaking training area!

So far the game is still fun and good. But I am beginning to question a few things. Like the lack of a training mode. I'm sort of sorely in the need for it. Though I guess that I can't simulate one in a fashion. Just so I don't look too embarrassing if I ever show this game to people.

Back to the fun stuff now. The story is so far a really well-abridged, not the parody thing, version of Kishimoto's original story as it keep all the elements and important scenes without slowing down the pace of the game.

The boss battle against Sasori was not as epic as the one against Deidara, nor as difficult, but still plenty fun and awesome with some great quick-time events thrown into it, I just need to get better at them. It does get me thinking about which other boss fights I'm looking forward to the most right now. For once I might actually get to enjoy the Sasuke/Itachi battle entirely instead of just parts of it. And man o man am I looking forward to the Jiraiya/Pain battle.

Right now I'm meandering around the various world maps to see if I can't get some other fun hidden items and stuff. Also looking for these evil little dolls that appear around the world. Will get back to the main story tomorrow.

Short notes.

Gai and Rock Lee are freaking beasts in this game. Possibly the best characters as far as I can see.

Tenten on the other hand kind of sucks. As always.

I cannot express how great this game truly looks.

Maybe I should get a second controller.

Oh well, time to get right into the least fun story arc in the series.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A nerd at ninja night

Whelp... if it wasn't official before it sure as heck is now.

I. Am. A. Nerd.

Here's the thing. Me and my friend Anton usually visit a place in Stockholm that sort of acts as a library for comics books of all sorts. On occasions this place will show a movie for anybody that wants come in and just watch a cool and/or nerdy movie.

This evening they showcased the movie Ninja Assassain starring South Korean entertainer Rain. It was a pretty fun, over the top, just a tad bit too gorey action movie about ninjas. Good action scenes and plenty of neat little details. Overall enjoyable, if you're into that sort of thing.

But before the movie there was a 'ninja quiz' where all the questions were about ninja related stuff from comics, manga & anime and crappy 80s action movies with ninjas in them. 30 questions in total with one elimination question (a picture of the ninja turtles with the question "Which doesn't fit in with the rest?").

As far as my cynical self is concerned I never win anything like this. It's just fun to play along when the arrangers have gone through the effort. So I answered all the questions that I could answer and wrote down that Donatello doesn't fit in since he relies too much on modern science over his actual ninja skills (it was the best thing I could come up with so I won't disagree if anybody says that I'm wrong, besides it's better than the one that answered "Leo because he's lame and boring", but I digress).

After the movie the answers were read up to the audience, around 8 guys, and I just nodded as I noticed how many wrong answers I'd gotten. The questions about the 80s movies sort of set me back. Luckily I could copy a few answers from Anton who did the same with me, he copied a lot more from me than I did from him. And when all was said and done it became apparent that I'd actually won the whole thing with 16 correct answers.

I realised that before it was properly announced and my first thought was "Oh dear, I AM a nerd."

...and I was ok with that. It didn't bother me or anything like that. It just struck me as funny.

Then I got my grand prize. A 7 disc box set of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja (Hero) Turtles. One of the most nostalgic shows from my childhood. Fucking awesome!

All in all. A fun night that I just wanted to share.

The gaming experience (Naruto): Button mashing and epic battles

From what I've gathered the opinion regarding anime games seems to be that their quality ranges from mediocre to crappy, so I haven't really bothered trying to find one to play. But recently I've seen lots of impressive looking in-game videos, positive reviews and good forum buzz regarding an anime game so I decided to try it out with my casual gamer skills. Luckily it also happens to be one of my favourite animes series that's represented in the game. And so far I'm having fun with Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2, henceforth just refered to as Naruto.

The game follows the second part of the manga/anime series starting after a two-three year time-skip where the titular character has undergone some training. Training which most fans seem to agree yeilded some fairly unspectacular results. But that isn't a problem here. In fact it seems to be the opposite.

As with the other titles this game franchise, which previously consisted of only fighting games, every character seems to have had their abilities and special moves amped up by a degree of 5-10, resulting in some almost hilariously over the top moments of awesomeness. But hey it's a good way to give the player some epic boss battles so I'm not complaining.

So far I've played two of these boss battles that seriously rival the God of War franchise in terms of cinematic scale. The first one was against Naruto's instructor Kakashi, who claims that he was just testing the kid while throwing fire balls, water dragons and assassination moves at him. It was a fun fight and I didn't really have any problems with it.

Then came one of my favourite battles from the original series. The air duel between the sand village leader Gaara, my favourite character in the series, and the artistic and explosive terrorist Deidara. This fight was quite a bit more difficult as I got my ass kicked a few times and a groan-inducig number of misstakes during the quick-time events. It certainly showed that I'm still a beginner at this game and would've revealed my button mashing tendencies to anybody watching. Nevertheless I had loads of fun playing this boss fight as well. The developers managed to make an already epic battle even more epic while still keeping the events in order.

So the boss battles are great fun but I'm wondering about the other gameplay elements. So far it just seems to be running around a lot and buying stuff and talking to people on the streets. Less exciting but that's ok. I'm here for the story anyway and so far the game is doing a good job of faithfully retelling it. I've decided to stick with the english voice cast just out of interest and they're pretty damn good. And the graphics are breath-takingly beautiful.

I think that I'll have much fun with this game and once I'm done with the story mode I can hopefully try out the Vs. mode with some of my friends.

Until next time.