Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game

In the late 80's and early 90's, Beat 'em ups were king. You couldn't walk into a pizza parlor, a 7-11, or traditional video game arcade without seeing such classic titles as Final Fight, Golden Axe, or Double Dragon lined up ready to engorge themselves on the pocket change of 10 year old kids. Complicated combos, ultra realistic graphics and complicated plot lines weren't required. All you needed was one to four protagonists armed with a punch, jump, and kick button against an unending sea of easily dispatched henchmen and incredibly punch resilient bosses. As video games moved beyond the 8 and 16 bit era, the classic beat 'em up became a dinosaur of simple game making, consigned to the occasional appearance at Dave and Busters. So it comes as no surprise that a game based on Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Bryan Lee O'Malley's seminal graphic novel series, would chose this genre.

Scott Pilgrim vs The World isn't just a love letter to nerd culture and video games, it's also a love letter to one of the best classic NES games of it's time, River City Ransom. Like RCR, it incorporates RPG elements, allowing a player to level up and unlock more special moves while earning experience and money from defeating bad guys to buy items. One to four players can play as Scott, Ramona Flowers, Kim Pine, or Stephen Stills as they navigate through legions of Canadian hipster baddies on their quest to battle Ramona's evil exes.

If you never heard of Scott Pilgrim, do yourself a favor and go buy the graphic novels or at minimum, go see the Michael Cera movie. Not only does this game follow the art direction of the graphic novels perfectly as well as incorporate many little video game and geek references, it manages to do so in a very 8-bit style. Fans of the books will notice references to the novels and games such as Super Mario Bros sprinkled throughout the levels while uberdorks will have their minds blown at playing a video game based on a comic series whose plot plays out like a video game.

The game play itself is fairly standard to all Beat'em ups. You punch, you kick, you occasionally jump (and kick). Weapons are sprinkled all over the ground and health can be replenished by visiting shops and purchasing food bought with money gained from defeated enemies. The music is phenomenal, with frenetic upbeat tracks composed by Anamanaguchi pumping out beats you can stomp your enemies to. And at a modest price of 10 dollars, there's no reason to not get this game.


-Follows the plot of the comics

-Great music track

-Beautiful colorful 8 bit animation

-A love letter to 8 bit video games and River City Ransom


-Has all the things you hate about beat 'em ups: very few lives, bosses that can kill you multiple times with no effort, and attacks that can't be blocked if you happen to stand in the wrong place.

-Fairly short game play

-Is less fun in single player.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Kick Ass (2010)

Sickening violence: just the way you like it! Fuck yeah Mark Millar, I concur. From the hot sweaty feverish union of Mark Millar's graphic novel, Matthew Vaughn's direction, and the Internet, comes Kick-Ass; a movie that could only work in a world where geeks are the dominant species. But really this movie should be called Hit Girl and Friends. Because Hit Girl makes this movie.

Super dork Dave Lizewski, who isn't Hit Girl btw, goes through the typical high school hell displaying talent for nothing except being invisible to girls. Why he hasn't tested this ability in say the girl's locker room when he's a nerdy virgin loser is beyond me but I digress. Dave loves comics, Dave wants to make the world a better place. Problem is, Dave is Dave and not a superhero. So one day he gets it in his head that all he needs to be a superhero is a suit and a cool name. So after buying a svelte scuba suit, because all superheros might need to scuba on the streets of New York, Dave goes out to bust crime. Problem is he's less Spider Man and more like one of the Mystery Men from that Ben Stiller movie.

Dave goes out, Dave gets stabbed, Dave doesn't learn from the whole being stabbed ordeal and goes out again, only this time he learns he can take a beating because his nerves are fried. So now Dave goes from being Dave the supernerd to Kick Ass the supernerd who can be a human punching bag. But it works, he saves a dude, starts a myspace account, and gets the attention of the Internet and the attention of two real super heroes.

Which brings us to Hit Girl and Big Daddy. Hit Girl is well bad ass. To get an idea of how bad ass she is, imagine if a dinosaur crapped out lightning which struck a robotic unicorn that exploded in a shower of magic which rained upon a Journey concert attended by the cast of Firefly. Then imagine if a 11 year old girl was more awesome than that image. That's Hit Girl. She's like every gun toting sword swinging bad ass chick cliche crammed into a carry on sized package. She swears, she stabs, she can catch ammo clips with her gun and reload in mid air. She also resembles that chick from Lazy Town, except she doesn't bake pretty cakes. Hit Girl and her father, Big Daddy, played by a less annoying than usual Nic "my kid's named Kal El" Cage go around putting the ante in vigilante justice as they waste an increasingly large number of mobsters around town. Big Daddy is not only a bad ass in his own right, he imparts his bad-assery to his child, to a point where her chores include learning to take a bullet and knowing the origins of assault rifles. It's pretty much the childhood I wish I had.

So does the movie work? Fuck yeah it works. Will fan boys get annoyed that the movie is less about Kick Ass, like the graphic novel was, and more about Hit Girl? Probably, but Hit Girl would probably say they could suck her non existent left testicle because she's such a darling. There's explosions, there's shoot outs, there's dismemberment, Mclovin's in it, and there's swearing, good god there's swearing. This is not a movie to bring kids to, and as a society everyone should throw rotten fruit at anyone who does for fear of child endangerment. But this movie definitely lives up to it's name.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Stupid Tall Hot Girl is really a nerd! An interview with Michele Boyd of The Guild.

My loyal readers will know that I love The Guild, mostly because I was one of those people who was just short of wrist cutter obsessive with World of Warcraft back in the ye old days of 2008 and before. Last season of The Guild introduced several new characters including Riley, also known as The Stupid Tall Hot Girl that was the roommate of the incredibly buff asian guy that Felicia Day's character was into. What made Riley stand out, aside from the fact she was really hot and living with an asian guy (someday I'll be that asian guy!) was that the character was also a female gamer and loved underdogs (someday I'll be that underdog too!). Through some major finagling and cunningly shrewd communication skills aka randomly emailing someone in the middle of the night; I was able to interview the actress who plays Riley, the wonderful Michele Boyd. Michele is what we in the Awesome Forever world consider true awesome. She's an actress, a scientist, a gamer, amongst other talents. Here is her interview in it's entirety:

The lovely Michele Boyd

#1 - On The Guild, which is where a lot of us recognize you from, you play the tall hot girl that's crazy for FPS games and likes underdogs. How much overlap do you have with that character? At a glance it sounds like that character was tailored to you since you are a rather attractive woman and rumor has it that you're a gamer.

While I am definitely a gamer, I'm actually primarily an RPG gamer, specifically WoW. I do also really like 3rd person shooters like Gears of War. But I definitely wouldn't be so dismissive of the MMORPG gamers, they're my people!

#2 - You went to school for Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior. Did you ever imagine that you'd ever be able to use that educational background as an actress, let alone for the Discovery Channel?

No way! I wouldn't change what I majored in, though. I think there's a lot of crossover between Behavioral Sciences and acting. Both are really about figuring out what makes people tick. The Discovery Channel was a lucky fluke; my parents were happy that my degree was getting SOME use, at least. :)

#3 - According to your bio on IMDB, you're a military kid who moved around a lot and you went to school on both coasts. Was there any place growing up where you wished you stayed forever?

Hmm...not really. I loved moving around so often; I got to reinvent myself every few years. I was also just as big a dork when I was a kid, so I didn't have a lot of close friends that I was sad to be leaving all the time. I'd say my favorite place outside of California was Boston. It's the perfect post-college place to live, tons of fun, laid back people. Who are insane drivers. #4 - Having lived in Nor Cal and So Cal and the West Coast and the East Coast, do you buy into that whole rivalry thing they have going on, or do you think it's silly?

I saw a lot of that rivalry when I was in school in Nor Cal, but down here in SoCal, I don't think people are nearly as fired up. Especially in Los Angeles, where everyone is from somewhere else anyway! It's kind of like when I lived in Boston; everyone there despises the Yankees and was fanatical about any game between them, but whenever I was in New York, I got the impression New Yorkers just didn't really care about us crazy Boston people. ;)

#5 - I met your co-star Felicia Day at Wonder Con 09 and she told me that most celebrities are just regular working people like the rest of us. Agree, or disagree? Any crazy celebrity moments you've witnessed or partaken in that you care to share?

I don't think I know any celebrities, so that's hard to say! I'm deliberately leaving Felicia out of this, although I do think of her as a celebrity, because she's attained her status so differently than everyone else in the status quo. However, I think it's just like anything else; you have the fame-whore celebrities who probably were born thinking they were better than everyone else, and then you have the celebrities who worked very hard to get where they are and appreciate good friendships and sincerity in other people.

#6 - What was it like being on The Guild, did the cast welcome you with open arms and are you all friends now?

We braid each others' hair and hang 'Keep Out' signs on our treehouse. ;) Everyone on the cast was amazing and very friendly, as is the entire crew. I wouldn't say we hang out much outside of filming, I've even been a really bad friend and have yet to make it to one of Sandeep (Zaboo)/Felicia/Jeff's (Vorik) improv nights. But everyone appreciates someone who loves what they're working on, and we all love working on The Guild.

#7 - Obviously your character Riley will be in the upcoming season of The Guild. Will we see a lot of her, or only a little? Any chance she or Wade would join the guild as their 7th and 8th members?

I can only say that Riley is going to have a more major role in Season 3. Felicia would kill me if I said more, I'm sorry!

#8 - What are the roles you like to play as an actress. Are there certain roles that you seek out or wont do?

To be honest, most of the roles I really want to play are a little older than me right now, which is good! That means that I have a little time to build up my resume so I can actually be CONSIDERED for those roles! But I would love to do the heist films, action films like Aliens (LOVE Ripley), things like that. I'm usually cast as the seemingly-innocent one; the best friend who's actually the serial killer. Which are fun as well.

#9 - What happened to Machines of Malice, I saw the first episode forever ago on the Discovery Channel but was never able to catch any others.

I'd love to know! Sadly, once we shoot a project the talent is largely left out of the loop as far as air dates or post-production. We did shoot 3 episodes in addition to the 3 that have already aired on Discovery, but I believe those are still stuck in post-production hell. If I find out anything, I'll be sure to tweet about it.

#10 - The Guild has generated quite a large fan base on the web. Any crazy fanboy emails or marriage proposals or the like? (aside from this one!)

Hah! Why, thank you. No real marriage proposals, but I've gotten lots of mail from really lovely fans (interestingly, a lot of them are from overseas, so the language barrier makes the letters all the more..interesting. ;) I got one yesterday which was only the phrase "I love you" repeated six times in sparkly and animated fonts. I have no idea how he did it!

#11 - What are some of your hobbies and talents? Anything you can do that no one knows about until you do it like walking on your hands?

Sadly, I have no skill with hand-walking! I did gymnastics for about 9 months as a kid before realizing the long legs weren't exactly ideal for tight flips. I just started training in parkour, which is beating me up fairly well, but it's ridiculously fun. I also snowboard as much as possible; I taught for about half a season but just couldn't keep that up. I can also imitate a baby murloc sound PERFECTLY.

#12 - Do you ever think you'll stop acting someday and pick up another career?

God I hope not! Truthfully though, I doubt it; working part time in an agency you see that people get that career break at any age. Acting is something you truly can try to do for the rest of your life. The key is finding a secondary job that doesn't drive you crazy that will enable you to pursue acting as much as possible.

#13 - Any advice for any people with Zaboo-like qualities looking to someday make out with a tall hot FPS girl of their own? (yes this is a fluff question)

LOL. Don't show up on their doorstep with blue flowers!

#14 - (Last question!) Any future roles we should look out for with you in them?

I shot an iCarly episode for Nickelodeon a little while ago, but they shoot those episodes so far in advance that apparently it won't be out til 2010!! I'm hoping I'm in something else before then!!

Catch Michele on The Guild. New episodes started yesterday!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Guild

At this very moment, someone somewhere on your street is playing World of Warcraft. They may even be someone you know, or could even be your friend. But this is an elusive acquaintance. You may see them for a minute as they answer the door to quickly accept a delivered pizza. Or you may catch them outside your window dashing home to do whatever it is they do. Their girlfriends or boyfriends complain and form support groups for gaming widows and widowers. Close friends don't see them for days or weeks at a time, and co workers find they call in "sick" right when a new patch has come out. Yes, in this day and age everyone knows an MMO player, someone who throws money, time, and their very soul at an online computer game they pay subscriptions for. That person could be you, and if they are you then shame on you for flakinig on your friends to raid Naxxramas! But I digress, because in this age of MMO playing there is The Guild.

What is The Guild? The Guild is that group of people you or your lost friend, lover, or co worker belongs to while they're snorting the digital crack that is online video games. They are the online equivalent of the different archtypes of the corporate world, or highschool cliques. You'd know them online by their demeanor. Even geeks follow an hierarchy and in the geek/gamer world there are also douches, hotties, ubernerds, etc. But for all intents and purposes, The Guild are these people:

The Guild (from Left to Right): Bladezz, Vorik, Zaboo, Codex, Claira, Tink

The guild is an award winning web series written by and starring the lovely Felicia Day aka hot smoking geek goddessandomgilostmytrainofthoughtstaringatherboobiesandcanttypenormally. If you don't know who Felicia Day is, you are an awful communist work slacker and I hear you smell like goat cheese and pick your own boogers, but if you're reading this article then you either have some geek cred, or I strong armed you into reading it to validate my existence but nonetheless, Felicia Day is a quirky and extraordinary actress who's web series chronicles the lives of a group of MMO players. Day plays Syd Sherman aka Codex, a neurotic, awkward MMO player who plays an online video game with a guild of people who all happen to live in the same town. The show chronicles her life as she deals with Zaboo, an incredibly nerdy, delusional Hinjew (Hindu and Jew) guy who strong armed his way into her life as well as the rest of her guildmates. There's Vorik, the leader, who is also a cheap and slightly creepy middle aged guy in a suit. Claira, the ditzy and fun loving neglectful middle age parent. Tink, the bitchy and hot asian girl. And finally Bladezz, the arrogant and slightly douchie teenager. Bladezz is basically me, if I were better looking and had a spine as a teen, he's the shit starter I wish I was, but I digress.

In short, The Guild is awesome. But only if you play video games or are some form of nerd. Much of the humor is very MMO specific so people who wouldn't enjoy the series would be Amish, old folks, Luddites, and people from states whose fads are 10 years behind the times like Utah. But for those of us who do play games, it's the right brand of tongue in cheek humor, geek references, human drama and misery (the germans call it schadenfraude), and the talented Felicia Day.

To watch The Guild, click here. Season 3 has just started as of this post!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Practical Guide To Racism

First off I am asian, my senior thesis class in college was on celebrated black author James Baldwin, and my best friends are jewish, white, asian, pirate, and robot. Second off, my favorite authors are Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut, which has influenced me to say whatever the hell I want when I want. Third off, if you're sensitive to race or humor in general, I highly suggest you listen to the song Everyone's A Little Bit Racist from the broadway hit Avenue Q here. Fourthly and this is the most important thing, this is my site and if you don't like it, blow me <3.

So when I was a young man, I was traveling through Spain with some friends. In one city, an old gypsy woman tried to grift me by putting sage leaf in my hand and telling my fortune in spanish. I of course had no money, so she in turn spat at me and cursed me with impotence, madness, and whatever the hell gypsies like to curse people with. So since then, I've disliked gypsies as shifty untrustworthy carnie folk. You might even say I'm a little bit...racist.

But racist, in the 21st century? Haven't we moved onto Star Trek-ish ideals where we can all tolerate one another in peace and harmony? Beautiful as that may sound, we're all human, and humans are stupid. It takes human stupidity to look at another human and dislike them for having a darker tan than you. Dave Chappelle had the right idea, race is an absurd perception, and stereotypes are funny because they're exaggerated truths. It's a quaint notion to think that we can move from hating people for what they look like to hating people for just being assholes but I digress.

So here comes A Practical Guide to Racism by C.H. Dalton. It is as the title; a practical guide. But racist? Not really. Sure there's a section on every ethnicity in the world as well as subgenres of every ethnicity, but racist, hardly. Sure it points out stereotypes, but stereotypes while racial in nature are rarely more mean spirited than any other complaints. Is it offensive? Yes, but like I said, it's only offensive to people who can't take a joke or can't see subtext; in other words it's offensive only to stupid people, which should be considered a race and have it's own chapter in this book. But reading this book, I learned so much about how awful Merpeople (people who live under the sea) are, and how the black man's greatest natural foe are ravenous sexually predatorial white women, also known as succubae. I also learned that you can even poke fun at dead races like the Babylonians and the Phoenicians too.

So is the Practical Guide to Racism Practical? Sort of. Does it inspire hate crimes? Hell no. Is there any real racism in it? Well there's a glossary of racial epithats, but you can find the same terms on urbandictionary.com so the final verdict is no. Worth reading? Yes it's worth reading. If anything it'd be great to leave on your coffee table to see people's reactions.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Dead Snow (2009)

In general, zombies are unpleasant neighbors.  Nazi zombies however, are worse.  Not only do they combine the inherent undeadliness of zombies with the inherent evil of nazis, they do it with military precision.  

Enter Dead Snow, a Norwegian love letter to all horror movies that involve a cabin in the woods.  The premise is a bunch of med students who don't need any real names are spending a weekend in a cabin in the middle of Norwegian nowhere during winter.  Like all college kids who do this in movies, their cars are parked far far away at the base of the mountain, there's no cell phone reception, and of course there's that mysterious something that they should've never fucked with, even if told they should never fuck with it.  

Undeterred, the kids do what anyone in their early 20's do during winter time, they drink, they play in the snow, they jostle and tussle like people do in Fox banner ads during their programming, it's a fun old time.  There's film geek guy, slutty girl, dorky guy, heroic nerdy guy, military trained guy, claustrophobia girl, and sisterly girl to the claustrophobia girl.  Suddenly our care free kids meet random old guy.  Random old guy, like all random old guys in horror films tell them a story that should've convinced them all to go wtf, lets get the hell out of here, but of course they ignore him.  Random old guy tells them that nazis use to steal gold from the people of the land and then dissappeared into the mountains and that the land is full of evil.  Naturally the kids find nazi gold shortly after, because apparently Norway is littered with nazi gold hidden in the ground.  What happens next is nothing short of brutal nazi zombie battling fun.  

Make no mistake, this movie is everything fun about zombie films combined with everything fun about movies where nazis are the main villains mixed with a heaping dose of Evil Dead homages.  One on one fisticuffs with zombies, explosions, chainsawing, instestinal rappeling (I'm not shitting you!), etc. etc.  It's a cornacopia of B movie cheesiness and grit.  And at it's heart there's a morality story, a leprechaun er nazichaun and their gold cannot stand to be parted from each other.  

Dead Snow gets five zombie Gomorrahs, one for each scene of instestinal fortitude.  

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


"Come have a drink with us."
"I can't, I'm poor and work tomorrow," I reply.
"You can play Altered Beast on the MAME cabinet."
".........you had me at Altered Beast."

San Francisco drinkers, meet MAME. MAME is reliable, she's dependable, and she brings the fun. MAME is a classy dame. She's also an arcade cabinet with a hundred free emulated arcade games. MAME lives in Fly, Fly is a bar. So we have the Fly bar, and the MAME cabinet, and a happy writer. Because Fly is quite frankly a nice place to be.

If I never actually went in there, I'd discount Fly as another trendy hipster/Marina douchebag hive of scum and villainy, totally not the place yours truly would go to. But then I'd miss out on a pretty good watering hole, and sometimes I need a good watering like a chia pet. For lack of a better description, Fly really is where you'd expect trendy hipster people to go, it's got the ambient lighting, kitschy-ironic-post modern-modern art on the walls, and that clean scandanavian ikea-ish interior decorating. It's fairly big and modern but it's not pretentious like other places. The bartenders are friendly, and pour with a heavy hand; good for that nice buzz, bad for when last call comes along and you find yourself outside in the Transexual Transylvania part of the Tendernob. Yes, Fly is located smack dab in the zerg spawning bed of Tranny hookers. My first few times there I thought it was a trick of the lights against the window, or that someone put a roofie in my drink, but sure enough as it got later in the evening, the groups of young people walking outside started to transform and give way to square jaws, man hands, and fishnet stockings and feathered boas. Of course that has nothing to do with how Fly is as a business. The food itself is pretty damn tasty blend of traditional pub food and californian fusion and the pizzas do a good job of staving off hangover status. But the real gem is MAME in the backroom. Something about being able to drink, eat, and play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for free in a bar makes it sound way cooler than doing it in a dorm room or a house.

Fly is located on the corner of Sutter and Larkin in the Tendernob border of Nob Hill and the Tenderloin. Expect lack of parking, drunk hipsters, and be careful of developing beer goggles, there are trannies everywhere at night.