Super Comics: Sonic Bad Guys – #4

Sonic Bad Guys as well as Sonic the Hedgehog (the comic book series) and all the images you see in this recap are owned by IDW and SEGA of America

You know, I spent a good month catching up on the Sonic Comics which I felt very accomplished for doing, and then the holiday season hit which threw everything out of whack.  Now here I am a month later once again trying to polish off this backlog I’ve built for myself; not to mention trying to keep up with the new stuff and my VERY EXTENSIVE Halo Retrospective that I’d be VERY appreciative of if you gave that a look!  In any case, it’s time for me to finish what I started and bring this mini-series to a close!  Does Sonic Bad Guys finish things off with a brilliantly realized final issue or does it fail harder than Eggman fails to take over the world every other week?  Let’s find out!!

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When we last left our favorite rapscallions, they were about to swarm on Dr. Starline for his obvious betrayal.  Sadly for them, the not so good doctor has a bit of Walter White in him, and prepared a foolproof plan for this very likely scenario.  No, he doesn’t have a machine gun car ready to go.  Instead, he activates the Tri-core and bolts out of there with Sonic Super Speed, but not before giving them a taste of his awesome power!

“Lay off, bro!  He bopped me in the sok!!”
Continue reading “Super Comics: Sonic Bad Guys – #4”

Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (01-13-2021) – New Year’s Smash Night 2

AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT

We’re back with night two of AEW’s New Year’s Spectacular; a good two weeks after the New Year came and went!  Yeah, look at me of all people pointing out that someone is late on something; glass houses and all that.  In any case, last week’s show didn’t really land for me, but I still found a lot of it to be quite entertaining.  Do things come together more smoothly this week, or will it somehow be an even bigger mess!?  Let’s find out!!

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Pac Vs. Eddie Kingston

Pac is accompanied to the ring by The Lucha Bros while Kingston is accompanied by The Butcher, The Blade, & The Bunny

I think the problem with Kingston lately is that he needs a real ace in the hole; not mid carders like Butcher & Blade but a big unstoppable beast that will do anything he says, or better yet maybe a tag team that is truly unstoppable and respected!  TOO BAD HE LOST THE LUCHA BROS, but I guess with Pac returning, AEW thought they were better off with him.  As for the match itself, Pac takes a deceive lead off the bat and it’s not until interference from The Bunny that Kingston starts getting the heat.  Pac definitely looks stronger here than he has in a while; even during the heat where he’s practically egging Kingston on and it’s ultimately a short lived advantage as he soon regains control of the match.  However, Pac’s fatal flaw seems to be that he takes his time; not in a sportsmanlike baby face way where he makes sure his opponent is okay to continue, but to admire his own work and these are the spots where Kingston can get a few shots.  He’s quickly put back down by Pac, particularly one spot where Eddie eats a VERY crisp kip up while sitting on the top turnbuckle and looks directly in the camera with a face like a cartoon character (only missing the tweeting birds circling his head), but Pac could have finished this a lot sooner if he just went for it at full force and didn’t give Kingston a chance to breath.  Pac ends up getting a Superplex off of the cartoon spot and Kingston sells his arm and neck which means he’s on borrowed time.  He goes for a DDIT spot but fails to land it due to his injury,  and he eats a Black Arrow from Pac which leads to the pin.   Pac, living up to his bad guy bona-fides, immediately puts Kingston in the Brutalizer after the bell rings.  Before it can turn into an all-out brawl, Lance Archer and Jake Roberts hit the ring to break it up… for some reason.  There’s something about Pac needing to be on the same page, but I don’t know what he’s talking about.  After all is said and done, not a bad opener!  The Bucks didn’t start things off this this week as Nick is healing from a pretty bad bruise, but it was still fun and definitely showed the strength of these two men better than their other recent matches have.  Kingston’s got the mouth, and there are few with a better mouth than him, but he doesn’t have the muscle to back it up and I hope someone else notices this if they plan on continuing this feud.

Continue reading “Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (01-13-2021) – New Year’s Smash Night 2”

Twenty Years of Halo: The Cortana Letters & The Fall of Reach

Artwork by Usbaia

The Halo franchise is owned by Xbox Game Studios

Our long journey to explore the Halo series begins well before the first game even came out as Bungie was building its universe and teasing their fans long before they even knew what the game was going to be!  The seemingly haphazard nature of the production of Halo: Combat Evolved which went through name changes and story changes all the way down to switching the genre at something approaching the last minute can certainly be reflected in these two early works which are interesting time capsules of that period of the development, but beyond their places as being the earlies entries on the timeline, do they hold up as genuinely interesting pieces of media in their own right?  Let’s find out!!

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The Cortana Letters – 1999

Having read these letters, I’m starting to remember why I didn’t bother diving deep into this stuff back when I was playing it!  As far as I can tell, the Cortana letters are the first things Halo related that was released to the public; in this case being eight cryptic e-mails sent from someone at Bungie claiming to be Cortana that were sent to a Marathon fan page; Marathon, in case you were wondering, being a game series that Bungie had worked on in the nineties that may or may not connect to Halo in some tangential way.  I guess I’ll learn more about any implicit or explicit connections the further I get into the lore of this, but needless to say that these letters are not the ideal way to START your Halo journey if you wish to experience the series from the beginning.  They are intentionally vague and full of cryptic language, and their status as canonical is dubious at best; especially since Halo was still in the conceptual stages in 1999 and was MASSIVELY overhauled when Bungie was acquired by Microsoft in 2000.

Follow the white rabbit!  Save the cheerleader, save the world!  WHO ARE THE PATRIOTS!?
Continue reading “Twenty Years of Halo: The Cortana Letters & The Fall of Reach”

Jumping the Soapbox: Games of 2020 (Part 3) – The Budget Friendly VR Guide!

When you buy an Oculus Quest and you DON’T have the kind of beast computer to take advantage of Oculus Link, one of the things you have to accept is that everything’s going to be pricier than you’d hope it would be.  There are almost no games below the fifteen dollar mark, and the sales are usually like five percent per game or a whopping ELEVEN percent if you buy five games bundled together.  That MIGHT be changing as I’ve seen a few deeper cuts in the last few months, but being on the cutting edge usually comes with a premium; even if the cutting edge is what, three years old now?  Fortunately for all of you, my thrifty and curmudgeonly attitude kept me from indulging in the more expensive fair which means I can pass the savings onto you!  Are there some fun and worthwhile experiences on the Quest without breaking the bank?  Let’s find out!!

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Drop Dead

Developed by Pixel Toys Ltd

Last year I highlighted Crisis VRigade as a fun throwback to old school arcade shooter that was marred by some unfriendly design choices here and there.  This feels like the more polished version of that very same idea, but unfortunately it also sands off some of the more interesting edges in favor of what I can only assume is maximum appeal.  Thankfully you don’t need to physically crouch down to avoid gun fire and I will give this game a HUGE thumbs up for that alone, but it’s also a very easy and barebones experience that feels like it’s doing the bare minimum to hit the necessary marks for a game like this.  The zombies move really slowly, the weapons don’t take long to master, and there’s always more than enough health, power ups, and whatever to keep you nice and safe.  The lack of required movement is definitely a plus here but it is yet another area where the game feels very limited in scope and imagination where games like say Superhot VR make the most of the space around you.  Now granted there were A LOT of light gun arcade shooters just like this so I guess I can’t fault them too much for being at about the same level, a bit more speed or more surprises would have done wonders for this game that otherwise is a bit of a snooze.   Out of all the games I bought on the cheap for the Quest this is the one that felt the most like its price point.  Not too expensive for a not too exciting game, but still fun enough to enjoy once in a while; especially with friends who may not be used to the platform.  Oh wait… we couldn’t have friends over in 2020, could we?

Continue reading “Jumping the Soapbox: Games of 2020 (Part 3) – The Budget Friendly VR Guide!”

Jumping the Soapbox: Games of 2020 (Part 2)

2020 is almost done, I promise!  Just a FEW more games to cover here and then a few more games in one last piece!  You can look at the games I’ve already covered right here, so let’s continue where we left off!

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Motherload & Super Motherload (PC)

Developed by XGen Studios

Back in the old days when I could still call myself a youngster, Steam was still in its infancy, online gaming as far as I knew was just on Xbox Live, and Flash was the primary way we played games on the internet!  There were plenty of standouts at the time (Cartoon Network had a pretty solid list of games under its belt) but one that still sticks with me to this day is Motherload; more or less the fore bearer of explorative digging games like SteamWorld Dig and Terraria.  I only learned a month or two ago that the developers had gone on to develop a feature rich new version of the game called Super Motherload on Steam, and it even came with the full edition of the original Motherload to really hammer home the changes XGen made in the intervening years.  Perhaps this is nostalgia talking, but the mechanics of the original game hold up AMAZINGLY well with a clear set of incentives and goals to work towards that are spiced up with well don RNG elements.  Sure, you could spend an hour only finding Iron and Silver ore, but the random chance of finding an artifact that will get you that new upgrade you’ve been grinding for is what keeps the game compelling and prevents the gameplay loop from feeling overly repetitive.  However, it’s also a game that could do with a few enhancements and that’s what makes Super Motherload such a great successor.  Smoother animations, streamlined mechanics, and more bells and whistles manage to retain the brilliance of the original design without getting bogged down in the limitations of the time.  Sadly I haven’t been able to delve THAT far into the new version to get a sense of its endgame (and if they retain the bizarre ending of the original) but it was kind of heartwarming to see something I enjoyed as a kid made for a new generation by the very same people who made that first game so much fun to begin with.

Continue reading “Jumping the Soapbox: Games of 2020 (Part 2)”

Twenty Years of Halo: Where To Even Start?

Artwork by Usbaia

The Halo franchise is owned by Xbox Game Studios

It’s finally 2021 which means it’s time for trying new things and making new goals for ourselves, and coincidentally this is ALSO the 20th anniversary of one of gaming’s most iconic franchises; Halo!  The series has always been something of interest to me as it was one of the big NEW franchises to come up during my generation, though my relationship with it has been off and on to say the least.  I am aware of certain things in the Halo universe and the first and third games are two of my favorite shooters of all time, but honestly that was about it.  I never played the second game, I didn’t get far in ODST, and I remember buying Halo 4 for about five bucks yet never got around to playing it so the whole series just kind of faded to the background despite how much I enjoyed the parts of it I played.  I was mostly content to leave it at that but a little over a year ago I managed to pick up a few of the novels on a whim without even any real plans to read them anytime soon, and it dawned on me at that moment just how much Halo stuff there is out there, and looking into it further revealed an astonishing amount of books, comics, lore guides, and even a few movies that slipped under my radar!  So with all that and the 20th anniversary being right around the corner, I figure it’d be fun and interesting to try and unravel this franchise that has always been at arms-length, and perhaps it will give me a renewed appreciation for the games that I already enjoyed!

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Halo Is About Rings, Right?

The biggest hurdle for me has always been the narrative which never stuck for me.  I always found the story to be confusing and I completely ignored it whenever I played the games, which is weird because I’m usually the last person to do something like that as I tend to follow things in order and dread the idea of getting lost in an ongoing story, but with Halo that just never was a problem.  To this day, I’ve never played the second Halo game, and yet it didn’t stop me from playing Halo 3 because the gameplay and moment to moment action was so perfect that I could just roll with it; ignoring the story beats and just assume that I was kicking butt and winning the war!  To that point though, this is definitely going to be a “Newcomer” perspective to the series as I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who’ve followed this franchise from the beginning and can give you a more comprehensive and detailed examination; and will probably be doing so for the twentieth anniversary as well.  It’s also going to be a bit new for me to be reviewing straight up books as my closest experience has been reviewing comics, but I relish the challenge and frankly I could do with a bit more reading on books without pictures in them; even if they are sci-fi pulp novels. 

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The Mission Objective!

For this series I’ll be covering as much official (and a few unofficial) pieces of media in the franchise, from the games and books all the way to some of its more esoteric entries like the podcasts and augmented reality games.  The list, frankly, is daunting as I will pretty much have to cover two to three entries every week if I want this to be a twentieth anniversary retrospective and not bleed into a twenty-first anniversary as well, but hopefully it will all be worth it and I can at least make this strange little journey a little bit entertaining!  The first post will be out next Saturday and I hope you all will follow me on this journey!

Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (01-06-2021) – New Year’s Smash Night 1

AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT

After things were so tragically derailed at the end of the year, it’s time for AEW to get things back on track and to hopefully start the New Year off with a bang!  With a solid card, celebrity cameos, and a main event with Kenny Omega and Rey Fénix, do they bring enough bang for your buck, or is this a fireworks show that consisting of three sparklers and half a cherry bomb?  Let’s find out!!

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Young Bucks & SCU Vs. The Acclaimed & TH2 – Eight Man Tag Match

This definitely feels like a filler match which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but despite there being a baked in storyline here with all four teams in some sort of feud it’s mostly just to show off some cool moves and for Kazarian to cut a promo at the end.  There are some fun spots here (mostly from The Bucks who clear the ring at least TWICE in this match) and I like that they’re foreshadowing SCU’s promo by having Daniels be the one on the receiving end of the heat segments, but it also means that none of it particularly stuck with me.  Jack Evans has a really cool looking spin kick from the apron, There’s a BTE trigger with Nick Jackson and Kazarian, and Angélico is definitely someone who should get more of the spotlight (much like Kazarian), and eventually Matt Jackson and Christopher Daniels finish off Jack Evans with a Meltzer Driver.  Short, sweet, and to the point; certainly a solid enough way to start off a show.  It’s then time for Kazarian to grab the mic and confirms what was announced on Being The Elite.  The next time he and Daniels lose a tag team match, SCU will dissolve and they will be a team any longer.   I’m pretty sure Kurt Angle had a similar deal going on in 2010 that eventually went sideways, but it was at TNA and I’m pretty sure AEW can do a better job than them with this kind of story.  If nothing else, it’s a chance for Daniels to get the spotlight again before he puts his career to an end.

Continue reading “Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (01-06-2021) – New Year’s Smash Night 1”

Jumping the Soapbox: Games of 2020 (Part 1)

A year on this website wouldn’t be complete with a rundown of some of the games I managed to play in the preceding twelve months; almost none of which came out that year!  Frankly unless it’s a big Nintendo release or something REALLY up my alley like a Hideo Kojima game, I rarely buy games when they come out and 2020 proved to be pretty anemic for big releases that caught my attention.  Still, my backlog is enormous and it’s worth pointing out what games were really good (or really bad) even if they aren’t the freshest things out there.  I mean heck, with Steam and online storefronts being what they are, who can even say what’s relevant anymore and what games can or cannot capture a bit of the spotlight?  Probably not most of these games though as I tend to not have much in terms of “taste” but let’s see take a glimpse at what kept me entertained in the bad year to end all bad years!

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Batman: Arkham Knight (PC)

Developed by Rocksteady Studios

My big purchase of the year was a brand spanking new graphics card for my very old and out of date system, and one of the games I got to kind of benchmark it was this.  The Batman games to me are kind of like Dynasty Warriors in that I ignore pretty much everything going on around them when they’re released and will just pick and choose the ones I want to play years after everyone stopped caring.  To its credit, whatever bugs plagued this game on release don’t SEEM to be there anymore as I had a very smooth experience, and while the narrative is eye rolling tripe the gameplay was interesting enough for me to stick with it for a while.  What kind of sticks out about the Batman games is that they do go the extra mile to make things feel like a “Game” and not just an open world sandbox of repetitive action.  Sure, you can while away the hours picking off random things if you really want to, but the story missions aren’t just concentrated arenas for the same open world gameplay.  The last mission I played before I put it down for a while (I’ll try to get back to it at some point) was the blimp level, and the fact that they bothered to introduce this shifting angle mechanic  to give it something distinctive was very much appreciated.  If you liked the Batman games and aren’t burnt out by them just yet then this is more of the same with a next gen sheen to it (though I guess at this point it’s decided CURRENT if not LAST gen) and one of these a console generation seems to be the right amount.

Continue reading “Jumping the Soapbox: Games of 2020 (Part 1)”

Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (12-30-2020)

AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT

This is going to be a rough one, so forgive me if I’m not as “in depth” as I usually am with these things.  With the untimely passing of Brodie Lee, AEW decided to put everything on hold; no angles, no storylines, no nonsense as we’re here to pay respect to a man who was taken from us all too soon.  It’s still a pretty raw nerve and I’m sure the people who are out there tonight to have matches are fighting against a lot of sadness, but in confronting it and facing it head on with this show… well I can only hope it brings some measure of peace to everyone who now has to move forward without him.  So let’s see what they did.

The show begins and the ENTIRE locker room is out on that stage with Tony Khan and Brodie’s family in the front.  Justin Roberts calls for the audience to rise as they ring the bell ten time for Brodie as his picture is on the titantron.  It’s simply haunting as the bell rings in utter silence and the grief stricken faces of everyone are on full display.  At one point some people in the crowd start to try a BRODIE chant, but they swiftly realized it was utterly inappropriate and the bell continues to ring.  Once the ten count is done, we cut to a video of Jon Moxley who is the first to speak on Brodie Lee, and while I’m not here to start rating things, his sad promos are just as believable as his fired up ones as the guy’s sheer authenticity (however much of it, if any, is just good acting) comes across whenever he speaks.  And with that, we head back to the ring to prepare for our first match of the night.  Jericho is on commentary and he is definitely on hand to make sure the air never gets too heavy because anytime there’s a moment of silence he starts saying the quiet part out loud which is that we’re here because Brodie is gone and we need to let it all out here in the ring; that people will be crying this night and that it’s okay to grieve.  It’s an interesting form of levity that, along with the crowd, do a lot to keep this show moving despite how morose everyone is.

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Young Bucks & Colt Cabana Vs. Hardy Party – Six Man Tag Match

Cabana comes out with The Dark Order who all stand on the ramp and give the Dark Order sign as Cabana enters the ring.  The state of The Dark Order in the wake of this is a discussion for another time, but one of the questions that will hopefully be answered soon is where Colt Cabana fits into them as he seems to still be a “potential recruit” rather than a full-fledged member.  I guess the concern has always been that Cabana is such a sunshine-happy looking dude that “officially” joining a heel faction wouldn’t fit right, but we’ll see where everything stands in a few weeks.  The match itself is good with a lot of high spots for The Bucks and Cabana while Private Party and Matt are bumping all over the place.  They eventually start getting the heat on Matt Jackson by isolating him in the corner and taking turns bashing him with strikes, but he manages to get the boot up to kick Matt Hardy in the face and follows up with a cross body for a two count.  Jackson starts crawling to the corner but Hardy keeps cutting him off until he takes a swing at Cabana which misses and eats a knuckle sandwich in return.  Matt Jackson hits Hardy with a Twist of Fate and finally gets to the corner to tag in Colt BOOM-BOOM Cabana who lives up to his name with an amazing comeback that is probably his most impressive flurry of offense since he first showed up at AEW; ironically to help SCU fight AGAINST The Dark Order!  Hardy Party manages to rally and Cabana ends up eating some offense from all three of them before Nick Jackson gets the hot tag and runs wild for a bit as well.  He then eats a Gin and Juice from Private Party, a Twist of Fate from Matt Hardy, and TWO Shooting Star Presses, but thankfully Matt Jackson and Colt Cabana break up the pin in time.  Matt Hardy is not satisfied with the way things are going and tries to bring a chair in, but Private Party refuses to play along and this gives Bucks and Cabana the opening they need to win the match with an Indie Taker on Quen followed by a Superman pin from Cabana to get the three count! 

While The Bucks and Cabana are celebrating in the ring, The Acclaimed come out and it looks like they’re there to rain on everyone’s parade, but SCU run from the back and toss them into the ring to eat a few Superkicks from The Bucks and some BIG elbows from Cabana.

Continue reading “Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (12-30-2020)”