Category Archives: Jumping the Soapbox

Jumping the Soapbox: Games of 2018 (Part 2)

We’re back with Part 2 of this list!  Let’s not waste any time and jump right into the games!!

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Spider-Man (PS4)

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Developed by Insomniac Games

Am I getting too old for this?  I might be getting too old for this.  As I’m sure is a common consensus among those of us over twenty-five playing this game, I still feel a stronger connection to Spider-Man 2 from all the way back in the stone age than this one despite it still managing to be one of the best games I’ve played this year even if it can’t quite surpass my nostalgia for the one with Bruce Campbell in it.  I don’t know, I just feel that the new game is guiding me too much in my web swings; pulling visual tricks or redirecting my momentum to minimize mistakes, and while I will never claim that harder games are inherently better (or that players just need to “git gud”), I found the hectic and less controlled web slinging in Spider-Man 2 to be more rewarding and much more engaging on long trips to far off objective markers.  Other than that, the game is an improvement in every way.  The combat is fluid and allows for lots of varied combos, I LOVE it whenever a level has multiple levels so you can swoop in, kick butt, swing away, and come back to smash some faces one floor below, and even though the stealth sections are pretty unengaging, they at least function well enough.  That said, it can get a bit monotonous with some of the combat sections and I would have gladly traded all the battle challenges on the map for just one more fine-tuned and well-crafted story stages like the skyscraper one that was shown in the trailer.  Also, it felt a bit… anachronistic I guess to have the bad guys be SO defined by their Asian culture especially since the game doesn’t have much to counterbalance that.  When a minority group of people is almost exclusively shown to be terrorist (Yuri Watanabe is the only other Asian character of note), well at that point you’re basically recreating that one episode of Sherlock that’s always gonna be a bit uncomfortable to watch.  Still, this is a Spider-Man game that, at least for the modern era, will define what it means to be a Super-Hero game, and while I’ll always carry a torch for the PS2 game I won’t begrudge the new generation for having a version made for them to enjoy.

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Jumping the Soapbox: Games of 2018 (Part 1)

Now that we’ve got the movies of 2018 out of the way, it’s time to tackle a subject I very much enjoy but have much less experience in.  Very rarely will I talk about video games on this site as my focus is almost exclusively on movies and television, but I do play a lot of games throughout the year and as a critic I can’t help but have opinions on them, so what I do is I save up ALL those thoughts and put them right here for you to enjoy!  Well, either enjoy or utterly detest me for.  I’ll take either one!  Let’s get started!!

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Call of Juarez: Gunslinger (PC)

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Developed by Techland

Man, was THIS a fun little surprise!  The only thing I know about the Call of Juarez series is that it was as series of ho-hum cowboy shooters that eventually jumped the shark when they went to modern day and made it SUPER racist.  This game on the other hand, while admitting that there is a level where you track down a Native American, seems to have been a total course correction or at least something of a soft reboot; a la when they did that 2D Blood Rayne Side Scroller or when Sonic the Hedgehog took a brief respite from being awful in Sonic Mania.  From what I saw of the other Juarez games, they were mostly drag and went for an authentic aesthetic where this game is all about charm, wit, and stylistic excess.  The character designs are bright and colorful which is not only more appealing but a practical improve since it makes them stand out more prominently against the landscapes, and the overall feel is that of an over the top spaghetti western; encouraging you to make the big moves and go in guns-a-blazing just to see if it’ll work.  That’s actually something I think game developers should explore a bit more; how aesthetics and style can change the way that players make decisions in the game which may be a more powerful incentive than more straightforward gameplay design incentives.  In something less fantastical and more serious I probably wouldn’t have even bothered dual wielding pistols and unloading them into a group of enemies when my trusty rifle can do the job with fewer bullets and at a safer distance.  With the visual design, the UI interface, and ESPECIALLY the story which is a series of flashbacks conveying a story that your player character is narrating as you play through it made me feel more inclined to try and be the BIG HEROTM than play practically.  It can be a bit buggy at times as I’m pretty sure I ran into one enemy who was shooting me through a wall, but despite its modest scale it’s still one of the most enjoyable First Person shooters I’ve played in a while!

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Jumping the Soapbox: The Lost Adventures of Michael Myers

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With the release of a new Halloween movie that’s getting everyone reinvested in the franchise, it seems like the right time for me to really dive into something I’ve always been curious about but never found much information on; namely the Halloween Novels!  Yes, there were three books written about Michael Meyers that weren’t adaptations of the movies, and what’s probably the most interesting thing about them is that, outside of co-creator Debra Hill, they are the only official Halloween media I can find that was created by a woman.  Now I don’t this to come off as diminishing Debra Hill’s SIGNIFICANT contributions to the franchise (not to mention Jamie Lee Curtis as well as Danielle Harris who played Jamie Lloyd) but the director’s chair as well as writing duties outside of the first two films have ALL been held by men, so it feels at least SOMEWHAT significant that between 1997 and 1998 Kelly O’Rourke was tapped to write The Scream Factory, The Old Myers Place, and The Mad House; all three starring the one and only original slasher villain and all three are EXTREMELY hard to find!  No seriously, if you want to read these you’re gonna have to drop some serious cash as listings go in the hundreds and none of them are available in any digital format.

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Sadly this means that actually READING them is pretty much a no go, but we at can gleam a few details from a few sources out there with the best I’ve managed to find being Lair of Horror which has a really good amount of information about each of the books, so let’s look at them one by one!

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Jumping the Soapbox: Let’s Look At the Trailers from Comic Con 2018!

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The images in this editorial are the property of their respective owners

For ninety-nine percent of people out there who don’t get to go to Comic Con in person, our experience is basically a giant pile of news being dumped about upcoming movies and television shows, and while the coverage this year was overshadowed by the senseless firing of James Gunn (#RehireJamesGunn), there was still quite a bit of news worth paying attention to; especially some of the trailers that got released, and I’m not just talking about that crappy Titans one!  So let’s go ahead and take a look at some (certainly not all) of the trailers that we saw for the first time this weekend!

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SHAZAM!

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Directed by David F Sandberg; Owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is your typical moody teenager who’s been placed in yet another foster home, but everything changes when the mystical space wizard SHAZAM (Djimon Hounsou) chooses him to inherit his spectacular powers.

I like what I see here, but what I’m seeing isn’t much.  Granted this is the first trailer and we’ll surely see more as we get closer to the release date, but the UNIQUE SELLING POINT of this movie needs to be more than it NOT being like the last few DCCU movies.  It’s brighter, it has genuine humor, and it focuses on the HERO part of being a Superhero.  That’s all great, but it still feels REALLY lacking.  The film looks VERY small in scale which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but a lack of spectacle needs to be compensated in other areas and I’m not really seeing much beyond DECENT in this trailer.  I like Zachary Levi in the role and he seems very natural playing a boy in a super hero’s form, but his dialogue is far from sterling, and the cinematography seems kind of flat for the most part.  I’m sure I’ll like this more than the overly ambitious Batman v Superman or the bloated but safe Justice League, but being light and family friendly doesn’t mean it has to be trivial and yet that’s a lot of what I’m getting out of this trailer.  If nothing else though, they’ve got a GREAT director behind it as the guy made two of the better horror films of the last few years (Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation), so hopefully he’ll bring some of that creativity to this film even if this first trailer doesn’t quite get it across.

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“I know we’re taking this, but we stopped the bad guys in the process so let’s just call it a wash, alright?”

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Jumping the Soapbox: Teen Titans NO! – The Titans Trailer and Toxic Fandom

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Titans and Teen Titans Go are owned by Warner Bros Television Distribution and DC Entertainment

All other copyrights are the property of their respective owners.

It’s that time of year again where Hollywood sprinkles a dash of hype here and a pinch of news there right in the middle of San Diego for the yearly celebration of fandom known as Comic Con!  What does this mean for everyone who CAN’T book a ticket for California and drop ridiculous amounts of money on hotel rooms and cab rides?  Why trailers of course!  And this year we start the event off with something BIG!  DC and Warner Bros have been teasing us with a new Teen Titans live action show for some time now, and they’ve finally released the first trailer for it!  Let’s see how far we can get into this before I find something to criticize!

*ONE SECOND IN*

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Explicit language, adult themes, and violence.  Well those are certainly the first three things I associate with these characters!!

NOPE!  Sorry, DC and Warner Bros!  You couldn’t have missed the point harder if you actually FOUND the point and then threw it into the Mariana Trench so that no one could ever find for all eternity!  Now look, I don’t want this to be a rant about COMIC BOOK ACCURACY (mostly because I’ve never read a Teen Titans book) or about how it doesn’t match my nostalgia for that original Teen Titans cartoon (something we’ll talk about soon enough).  No, my problem is that this trailer is cynical garbage.  It’s a list of bad ideas that you could only make if you were TRYING to be this awful, and maybe in a cynical way that’s what they’re going for here.  It’s no accident that the trailer takes great pains to show you Robin straight up murdering dudes (he stomps that dudes’ neck, shoots a gun, and gushes someone like a sprinkler; I don’t care if they explain in the show that they were “just injured”) and to also have him shout FUCK BATMAN while covered in blood.  This is what a very immature person sees as COOL and MATURE (never mind that maturity is not the ability to withstand and consume dark material but to learn to empathize with your fellow people and take responsibility for yourself and those you care about) and it hews far too closely to the toxic nightmare that comic fandom has become in recent years (or at least has revealed itself to be now that its victims have platforms available to them).  Who would want to see Robin snap someone’s neck or Starfire set criminals on fire?  Probably the same “upstanding folks” who wanted Batman to kill people and are yelling at everyone about a Snyder Cut.

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Damn you, Frank Miller!  Will your awful influence on the Super Hero genre ever come to an end!?

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Jumping the Soapbox: Gotta Hide Fast! – Where Did All the Sonic Comics Go!?

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Sonic the Hedgehog (the comic book series and all its spin-offs) are owned by Archie Comics and Sega of America

All other copyrights are the property of their respective owners.

If you’ve followed this site for any period of time you’ll know that I sporadically review the Sonic the Hedgehog comics from Archie Comics Publications, and while I haven’t gotten NEARLY as many of covered as I’d like to, it’s been fun to go back and see a whole new side to this franchise and to watch it grow over time; exploring new ideas and taking more and more chances with each passing issue. Seriously, if you’re disappointed that the Sonic SAT AM series was cancelled after 2 seasons, then you couldn’t ask for a better continuation than what they did with the comics, and it is FASCINATING to watch the continuity established in the show slowly start to fold in elements from the game series that went in an entirely different direction while also expanding its own world and lore. It can get a bit messy at times to be sure, but they’re still really fun to read and a refreshing reminder of what CAN be done with this character from a storytelling perspective. Sadly the series came to an end back in December of 2016 with issue 290 (making it the longest running comic book series based on a video game character) and the license has been moved to IDW to start a whole new series. Sure, I’m a bit sad that such a long running series eventually came to an end, but I’ve always liked IDW as a publisher and am excited to see what they can do with the series. And it’s not like the original comics from Archie are just going to up and disappear on us! Right!?

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WHAT HAPPENED!?

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Within the last few months, ComiXology (the largest marketplace for digital comic books) has removed every single Sonic the Hedgehog comic book series from their service. If you haven’t purchased them already, you can’t purchase them now and as far as I can tell they were the ONLY digital comic distributor who was selling them meaning that there is currently no way to purchase these books (over TWENTY years of issues) in a digital format, and if you look now all you will see is listings for the upcoming IDW Sonic the Hedgehog series. The exact details of these licensing deals with SEGA are not privy to the general public so it isn’t clear who has access to what now in terms of reprinting and selling digital copies of the original Archie comics. PRESUMABLY they’re still in Archie Comic’s hands considering they published the darn things, but with their SEGA deal having ended it’s unclear if these comics will ever see the light of day again; either digitally or physically. That’s a real shame considering that once again, Sonic the Hedgehog is the longest running comic book series based on a video game and ran for an astonishing twenty-four years, and all of it could be gone for all anyone knows at this point.

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Jumping the Soapbox: Games of 2017 (Part 2)

Are you ready to close the book on 2017 once and for all?  I certainly am, and with this last look back at the games I played for the first time that year, I can not only close that book but toss into a fire and then kick it a few times for good measure!  But hey, I guess not EVERYTHING was bad that year; even if half the games I’m referencing in this list are from different years altogether!  Heck, even the bad ones managed to distract me from the nonsense going on in the world every freaking agonizing day, so why not take one last look at them to see what we can learn from them?  Let’s get started!!

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Sonic 06

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Developed by Sonic Team

Here’s the thing about this game which I played for the very first time in 2017.  As much as it has the reputation of being THE WORST GAME EVER, it honestly isn’t THAT bad of a time.  It’s not GOOD by any stretch, but I never found it to be flawed enough to be more than just boring which is STILL better than offensive garbage like Hatred or Call of Juarez: The Cartel.  Heck, on a fundamental functional level, I actually found it to be sounder than something like The Evil Within which ALWAYS felt extremely uncomfortable to play; like it was some sort of facsimile of a video game made by people who had only ever heard of such a thing.  Sonic 06 is absolutely terrible, but in the pantheon of bad games I find it to be more amusing than painful which I GUESS is an achievement of sorts; just ask Tommy Wiseau!  Sonic is always a fascinating character to think about as there’s something… engrossing about him and the myriad of stuff that has built up around him, and maybe it’s this weirdly unique identity that has allowed it to preserver despite numerous setbacks like this game, Sonic Boom, and even the rather poorly received Sonic Forces.  The fact that ANY character survived the monstrosity that this game ended up being (even if I don’t think it’s THE WORST thing ever) is a testament to the longevity of Sonic’s success and the way he managed to connect with fans.  It’d be impressive if it weren’t for the fact that it basically let Sega get away with releasing such terrible games with impunity.

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