Wow, been about a month since my last blog, and life done been busy!! The weekends actually haven’t been that bad for the last while though, which is unusual, it’s just been the weekdays really. All of the weekends that have passed since my last blog we’ve pretty much spent at home. The weekend after my last blog we went to nearby St. Thomas with both my dad and mrs. darthcobain17’s dad, as we had a Groupon for a brewery tour at Railway City Brewery. It was my first brewery tour and it was very cool, the girl that gave us the tour was super-hot and friendly! Combine that with a pleasant buzz after some sampling and you’ve got an afternoon filled with fun. Afterwards we went back to my parents’ house for dinner and that was pretty much it.
As for the past three weekends, we’ve literally had nothing to do, spending the time almost entirely at home . . . quite refreshing!! James and I have been playing basement hockey, video games, and watching cartoons to fill the time, amongst other things like building Lego, etc. Just perfect. During the weeks though it’s been a different story. James is now seeing a tutor one night a week, which is going very well, plus he’s been going over to friends’ houses for lots of playdates. And he still has Beavers going too. His latest round of golf lessons began a couple weeks ago and they are taking place at my old public school, which is both very cool and kind of weird all at the same time! I wandered around the school a bit last time and could pretty much locate all of my old classrooms. Shit, that was a long time ago, I is old. As for the weather, in late January we finally got all the snow we had been missing, and it all decided to come at once! Last weekend I spent a good chunk of time outside scraping the snow off the roof, to try and get those god damned skylights to stop leaking! Aye carumba. Oh well, first world problems I suppose. Along the way I played a lot of games and watched a lot of good shit, here it all is . . .
1) To start off with I broke tradition and was able to knock off two more levels on Goldeneye . . . whaaaaatttt!? Level eight was called “Severnaya – Surface”, to set the stage we had tracked the helicopter from our last mission back to Severnaya, the frozen tundra I had already visited earlier in the game! Evidence of a firefight was picked up, so my job was to revisit the area and try to find any proof of Janus activity in the region. I began by trekking through the familiar frozen landscape, only this time there was a ton of resistance on hand, so I couldn’t explore the various cabins located throughout the area at my leisure, I had to haul ass! I found a cabin with a camera mounted above the door though, which looked suspicious, upon exploring the interior I found a comms room key. Spying the large satellite facility in the distance I headed there and used said key to access the upstairs office, destroying the equipment within and disrupting the enemies’ satellite link. I had made quite an impression at this point, so even more attention was directed my way unfortunately! Fighting off heavy resistance I hightailed it out in to the open where I found the Spetznaz helicopter warming up. My last objective was to destroy it, before slipping in to the nearby bunker. I finished the level with a time of 7:04 and had a 72.6% accuracy rating. The ninth game level was called “Severnaya – Bunker”, and after many tries I finally had to dumb down the difficulty level even further, finally making the switch to “Agent” . . . oh the shame! After slipping in to the bunker at the end of my last mission, I was apparently taken captive. So my main focus was, of course, escape, but I was also tasked with obtaining a few things along the way. To begin I engaged in conversation with a cell mate named Natalya, who had been labelled a traitor to her mother country. While conversing with her (about the theft of the Goldeneye weapon and other intriguing things) I used my watch magnet device to obtain a key to my cell, then slipped out and took down the lone guard! I nabbed his gun, a set of throwing knives, as well as the key to Natalya’s cell. Before freeing her though, I began skulking through the facility and used my throwing knives to silently reduce the enemies’ numbers. Along the way I found a safe key, a document that contained the Severnaya staff list, a couple of key cards that allowed me further access to the facility, as well as the video tape of my initial capture. Eventually I cleared out a computer room and found the safe. Upon opening it with my key I obtained my confiscated weapons along with a red dossier which contained the Goldeneye Operations Manual. Moving on I passed through a large, open room full of cargo and after clearing it, came across a clipboard that featured a casualty list. The final area I had yet to explore was the large operations room, and after clearing it of all resistance I went back and fetched Natalya. Back in the operations room afterwards she checked the status of the Goldeneye satellite and found out that it was currently trained on the Severnaya facility . . . so we had to beat a hasty retreat before we were blown to smithereens! I finished this level with a time of 18:14 and had a 69.2% accuracy rating.
2) Yet another series is complete on my season of MLB 2K11. This time around I traveled to San Francisco, to take on the Giants. Events unfolded as such: won @ San Francisco 7-0, won @ San Francisco 8-0 & won @ San Francisco 2-0 . . . I was expecting them to be a little tougher, to be honest!!
3) The mop up operation on Lego: Lord of the Rings is at long last complete . . . a big game over here, baby!! To begin I replayed the last five levels of the game I had yet to get at, which included the one that actually comes first in the game, the prologue level, which I had forgotten about. My progress went as such: “The Paths of the Dead” (found the last 7 Minikit pieces, 3/3 Treasure items, the Tablet, and earned 3 Silver Bricks [for completing the Minikit, as well as finding all Treasure items and the Tablet]), “The Battle of Pelennor Fields” (earned True Adventurer status, found the last 8 Minikit pieces, the last 2 Treasure items, the Tablet, and earned 4 Silver Bricks [for the status achievement, completing the Minikit, and finding all Treasure items plus the Tablet]), “The Black Gate” (earned True Adventurer status, found 10/10 Minikit pieces, 3/3 Treasure items, the Tablet, and earned 4 Silver Bricks [for the status, completing the Minikit, and finding all Treasure items plus the Tablet]), “Mount Doom” (found the last 8 Minikit pieces, 3/3 Treasure items, the Tablet, and earned 3 Silver Bricks [for completing the Minikit, and finding all Treasure items plus the Tablet]) & “Prologue” (found the last 9 Minikit pieces, 3/3 Treasure items, the Tablet, and earned 3 Silver Bricks [for completing the Minikit, and finding all Treasure items plus the Tablet]). While wandering around in the game hub between all of this action, I also managed to obtain 47 Silver Bricks, 1 Tablet, and I also managed to complete 26 Quests. As for purchases, I was able to acquire the Citadel Guard, Gondor Soldier, Boromir (Captain), Gondor Ranger, Haradrim, Gothmog, Mordor Orc, Lurtz & Soldier of the Dead characters. I also purchased 10 Red Bricks, which unlocked for me the Action Assist, Character Studs, Mithril Hearts, Studs X4, Studs X6, Fall Rescue, 8-bit Music, Invincibility, Studs X8 & Studs X10 extras! The last bit of errand running I did saw me visit the Blacksmith in Bree, where I crafted the last of the Mithril items I had access to. Said items included the Mithril Top Hat, Shield, Fire Bow, Bottomless Bucket, Skeleton Bow, Tinderbox, Ice Sword, Camouflage Tome, Climbing Boots & Shockwave Axe! Afterwards I headed back to two levels from earlier in my mop up effort that I couldn’t quite get totally completed, but at this point I now could. Said levels included: “Helm’s Deep” (found the last 2 Minikit pieces and for doing so, earned 1 Silver Brick) & “Taming Gollum” (earned True Adventurer status, and gained a Silver Brick for it). And that is all, game over!! I’m going to give this game a rating of 8, although it’s more like an 8.5 . . . I would have given it a 9.5 or even a 10, but it had some issues with glitching, getting stuck in spots every so often, and also the colouring of the game was very dark, sometimes it was hard to see what you were doing and where you were going. Otherwise it was pretty fantastic though, as Lego games tend to be!
4) I played a little more NHL ’04 than usual this time around, rubbing out the next six games on my season. Said contests unfolded as such: won vs. Buffalo 19-3, won @ Pittsburgh 14-5, won vs. Boston 16-4, won @ Carolina 15-4, won vs. Montreal 16-8 & won vs. Carolina 15-5. A little better than my real life Leafs, who all of a sudden suck balls! They have collapsed once again this year, I just hope they collapse enough to get the first pick in the draft this June so we can snag Connor McDavid. They’ll probably find a way to screw that up too . . .
5) Similarly, I got a lot more done on Jak X: Combat Racing than I thought I would, especially considering to start play off this time around I made the move up to the “Blue Eco Cup”! The game is getting harder, but I just keep getting better! Anyhoo, to start play off on this new circuit, I first visited “Haven City” and participated in a single event there called “Eastern Tour – Circuit Race” (won the race, gold medal). I then went and visited three more destinations in a row, getting in a single event at each one. The locations in question were “Spargus”, “Kras City” & “Icelands”. The events, respectively, went down as such: “Canyon Run – Circuit Race” (won the race, gold medal), “Waterfront Loop – Death Race” (won the race, gold medal) & “Icebound Citadel – Freeze Rally” (won the event, gold medal). I then headed back to “Spargus”, where I knocked down a trio of events that included: “Desert Arena – Artifact Race” (won the event, gold medal), “Beachfront Drive – Rush Hour” (won the event, gold medal) & “Northern Tour – Circuit Race” (won the race, gold medal). Another trio of events was up next, this time at “Kras City”, and they included: “Seaport Strip – Turbo Dash” (won the event, gold medal), “Dirt Stadium – Capture” (won the event, gold medal) & “Loading Docks – Circuit Race” (won the race, gold medal). It was then time to run a qualifier event at “Grand Prix”, the event in question was “Kras City – Freeze Rally” (won the event, gold medal). I finished up by visiting “Haven City”, where I found success in the “Clifftop Battlefield – Deathmatch” event (won the event, gold medal). Rollin’!!
6) Much more was recorded for Transformers: Beast Wars on this occasion too, I’m just now beginning to realize how much I got accomplished over the last month! To begin with I finished the last three levels of the game, as I was pretty close to the end at where I left off last time. Said trio of levels went as follows: “Volcanic 1 – Proximity Alert” (we received an alert that Megatron’s army was set to engage in an attack on the Axalon, my task was to secure the area around the ship in hopes of preventing said attack), “Volcanic 2 – Counter Strike” (with Megatron’s armies depleted the recommended follow up was to march in to Predacon territory and secure their ship, further hindering their efforts, and I did so after navigating a treacherous volcanic landscape) & “Volcanic 3 – Supreme Victory” (with the Predacons destroyed and their ship breached, my final task was to track down the Predacon leader and dispatch him, which I did after navigating the many pitfalls of the Darksyde . . . Megatron dead, game over!). But the game wasn’t really over, for I had simply completed the missions under the Maximals faction . . . it was now time to indulge my evil side and execute the missions for the Predacons!! So far I’ve been able to finish three of them, as such: “Urban 1 – Night Attack” (the Maximal Rhinox had expanded his base within reach of Tarantulas’ lair, my mission was to invade said base and neutralize the threat it presented, and I did so after navigating the maze like territory and fighting through much resistance), “Urban 2 – Energy Source” (scans showed Rhinox was in full retreat, but they also detected a large mobile energy source outside of Rhinox’s fortress, I was tasked with continuing my pursuit of the Maximal and to eliminate all resistance along the way) & “Urban 3 – Heart of the City” (the energy source I chased down and destroyed was a durable mech, within it was a powerful energy cell, in order to get Predacon hands on said cell I was jobbed with engaging Rhinox in a boss fight, ending his threat once and for all). Well over halfway through this sucker now, woot woot!
7) As per the usual, two more levels are complete on X-Men: Destiny. The fifth level of the game came next, and it was called “Alcatraz Sub-Levels”. With both the X-Men and the Mutant Response Division spread thin, Reyes authorized a group of Sentinels to aid me in my further explorations of Alcatraz prison. I began by exploring the corridors of the sub-levels of Alcatraz, not long in to my trek Emma sent a message warning me that the Purifiers were giving the captured mutants to the U-Men. The U-Men in turn were doing experiments on the mutants, in an attempt to bottle their different powers and use them to make weapons . . . ultimately they’d be using our own powers against us! With a newfound drive to shut them down I forged onwards, getting wind of a new magnetic walker prototype somewhere in the vicinity. However, the walker was shielded, so before I could get at it I had to locate two shield generators and destroy them. Afterwards I gave the walker the same destructive treatment, battling turrets, Purifiers and U-Men all the while. Moving on I took out four U-Men security teams while searching for evidence of another entity in the facility that also seemed bent on the U-Men’s downfall. During said search I destroyed some generators that unwittingly began a self-destruct sequence for the facility, so I then hightailed it through a large door and made my way to the experimentation labs. There I was able to free both Archangel and Xorn, before running in to a damaged Sabretooth, who informed me that a rampaging Sentinel was on the loose! I took the bot down and the level ended with Sabretooth and I mulling over who was behind this whole scheme. Level six was called “Alcatraz Tunnels”, it picked up with me in the tunnels that led to the area where the U-Men were creating these mutant powered weapons. I began searching for their leader, taking out many U-Men and Sentinels along the way, including five security teams. Afterwards I disabled some security computers, before running in to a locked door. I soon got it open, after destroying the two generators that powered it’s locking mechanism, but I then had to backtrack to find the door again, as I’d lost track of it! Along the way I learned that the U-Men weren’t creating straight weapons per se, but cybernetics that were infused with these mutant powers. Eventually I found the security door I’d been looking to get back to and entered it, first coming across a database that contained some archives, which I accessed. Evidence within said files suggested that Professor Xavier’s death was indeed no accident dammit! Moving on I next rescued Pixie, who thought we could learn even more from the databases this facility contained. I went and accessed three more machines, which gave us information on Cyclops, Magneto, Luis Reyes, not to mention the threat of a potential mutant elimination procedure! Meeting up with Pixie again soon after, one of the U-Men’s experiments was sicked on us, and it had mutant replicating powers. Taking the form of Wolverine, Emma, Mystique, not to mention some other guy I was unfamiliar with, I had to take this thing down in all it’s various forms! After the boss battle was over a being named Bastion infiltrated the nearby mainframe computer, which I destroyed, before Pixie teleported us out of there!
8) Our adventures on Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed is nearly over, at least on the “World Tour” mode anyways! We’ve collected just about as many as stars as we possibly can, but are still short in our grand total, meaning there are a lot of levels we can’t quite get at yet as well as additional racers we can’t unlock. Beating certain events on A class, sometimes even B class in this game, sure is a tricky proposition! Anyways, here are the final events we completed to finish up our play on World Tour: “Arcade Annihilation – Race” (competed in B class, placed first, earning 2 stars), “Curien Curve – Drift Race” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star) & “Jet Set Jaunt – Boost Challenge” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star). These events all took place within the “Moonlight Park” area. After they were finished off a new event in the “Scorching Skies” area opened up, called “Carrier Crisis – Sprint” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star). At this point we decided to try out another of the game’s main modes, called “Grand Prix”. This is very much like the Grand Prix mode in the Mario Kart series, it consists of a number of circuits that each group four races together, with racers earning points for their respective finishing positions in each race. The racer with the highest point total at the end of all races is the winner! We’ve completed all five circuits available, the first of which was called the “Dragon Cup”. There we took part in the “Oceanview” (placed 3 and 10 respectively), “Samba Studios” (2 and 10), “Carrier Zone” (4 and 10) & “Dragon Canyon” (2 and 10) races. Overall I won the circuit with 33 total points. Next up was the “Rogue Cup”, which consisted of the “Temple Trouble” (1 and 10), “Galactic Parade” (1 and 9), “Seasonal Shrines” (1 and 10) & “Rogue’s Landing” (1 and 9) races. Overall I won the circuit with 40 points. The “Emerald Cup” circuit was next, which saw us knock down the “Dream Valley” (1 and 7), “Chilly Castle” (3 and 10), “Graffiti City” (6 and 10) & “Sanctuary Falls” (1 and 10) races. Overall I nabbed the circuit win with 33 points. “Arcade Cup” was next on the docket, which featured the “Graveyard Gig” (1 and 10), “Adder’s Lair” (1 and 10), “Burning Depths” (5 and 10) & “Race of Ages” (1 and 10) races. I won the circuit with a total of 36 points. And the final circuit was “Classic Cup”, containing the “Sunshine Tour” (1 and 7), “Shibuya Downtown” (3 and 6), “Roulette Road” (4 and 9) & “Egg Hangar” (1 and 7) races. My 35 points were good enough for the circuit victory. For completing these various circuits we unlocked the “Mirror Mode” feature for Grand Prix mode, as well as my Mii as a playable character in the game! Next up . . . why Mirror Mode, of course!
9) Next we come to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Danger of the Ooze, which is now almost complete!! But I’m currently stuck on what I believe may be the final boss fight of the game, against Shredder . . . stuck in a big way! Anyways, picking up from where I left off last time I discovered a new section of underground sewers explored them, running in to many Mousers and Kraang aliens to dispatch, even a few Squirrelnoids. This route eventually led me to an alternate entrance to the TCRI building, inside I battled my way past more Kraang, including a new kind that were all blue in colour. Along the way I found the Shock Shurikens as well as the Tekagi Climbing Claws, which gave me access to more treacherous areas I previously could not enter. At the top of the TCRI building I came upon a machine that produced a portal, capable of transporting one directly to . . . Dimension X!! I entered it and began exploring the alien landscape on the other side, engaging some Kraang along with these bizarre fart aliens!! In the process I acquired the Bomb Shurikens, before coming to a brief portion of the landscape where everything became inverted . . . up was down, left was right, etc. Soon after I ran in to Leatherhead, who informed me that the Newtralizer was up ahead, and he was in possession of some sort of weapon. Leatherhead also gifted us the Ninja Vanish ability. Forging onwards I soon ran in to the aforementioned Newtralizer, who had just finished throwing said weapon through a portal, with Shredder as it’s intended recipient. I engaged the Newtralizer and took him down in a boss fight, before entering the same portal the weapon went through. Back on the other side I found myself in the sewers once again, now in possession of the mystery weapon . . . but also surrounded by hordes of Kraang! Fortunately Splinter showed up and saved our bacon. Shredder then had a Mouser deliver a video message, in it he said he had kidnapped Karai and would trade her for the weapon. So we rushed off to find Shredder, wanting to rescue Splinter’s daughter, but before doing so Splinter gave us the Air Special ability. Heading topside we were eventually able to sniff out the Shredder and engaged him in a boss fight . . . a boss fight I have not been able to win just yet! Wish me luck . . .
10) As for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, we didn’t put a ton of effort in to it this time around, but we did manage a few rounds. Continuing on with our team battles we were able to unlock both the Dark Pit and Dr. Mario characters. Afterwards, playing by myself for a change, I went and tried one of the various different game modes. The one I tried was called “Classic”. In it there is a surface that looks like a chess board, only without the squares on it, and you have to move a statue like representation of your character around it. When you bump in to other characters’ statues you then head off for a battle against the character(s) in question. I won on my first time through, using King Dedede, only running in to trouble during the last round, which I believe is the seventh round. The final boss, Master Hand, gave me some push back but I eventually laid him low. For my win I unlocked some gold pieces, items, statues, etc., but I have no idea what they all mean or do! This game is fun, but it’s a hot mess to be honest. The menus are so full of stuff, I have no idea what any of it means or what I’m supposed to be doing! I’ll just keep on experimenting though and we’ll see if I can figure it out.
11) We also put just a bit of work in on Nintendo Land, trying some of the mini-games that we hadn’t gotten around to yet. Here is the next series of games we played: “Octopus Dance” (high score of 627 points, obtained a silver trophy, and earned 1/5 stamps), “Balloon Trip Breeze” (high score of 667 points, obtained a bronze trophy, and earned 1/5 stamps) & “Pikmin Adventure: Tame the Wilderness” (chose the Challenge option, Play as Olimar, and completed the Bulborb Forest level, earning 1/5 stamps).
12) I tripled my output on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1 this time around, as initially I was only able to complete the first level. This time around I went at it a little bit harder! The levels in this game really aren’t hard and fast “levels” per se, I just consider it a new level once the game shifts to a new location and focuses on a new sequence of tasks. The second level began at The Burrow, on the eve of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour’s wedding. Outside the tent with Ron and Hermione we first had a brief conversation with Mr. Lovegood, then met up with Arthur Weasley, who we were informed was waiting for us over by the shed. Arthur told us that Dumbledore had left our trio some items in his passing. Ron got the Deluminator, Hermione got a book called The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and Harry got the golden snitch along with the sword of Godric Gryffindor, which had actually gone missing. Not much later the wedding was attached by Death Eaters and the tent went up in flames! We fought our way back towards the tent but there were too many enemies in our way, so we apparated to the streets of London. To kick the third level off we got changed out of our wedding attire, in to something a little more streetwise. I then left Ron and Hermione in hiding while I donned the Invisibility Cloak, making a number of reconnaissance runs down the nearby streets. The purpose of them was to eavesdrop on any nearby citizens and try to determine if any of them were Death Eaters. After coming to the decision that the coast was clear we decided to head to a nearby café, but once inside we were ambushed by a couple of Death Eaters and had to fight them off, testing out our new Impedimentus spell in the process! Immediately afterwards we apparated away to safety once again. We decided to apparate to Sirius Black’s old house at Grimmauld Place to kick off the fourth level, and we immediately began searching it for . . . well, anything really! I found some Doxies in the kitchen and used Doxycide to be rid of the pests, then headed upstairs and found more of them in one of the bedrooms. We then found the initials of Regulus Black on one of the walls, which Harry was able to link to one of the horcruxes, based on some info Dumbledore had shared! We decided the nasty little house elf, Kreacher, could probably provide us with some intel on the whereabouts of said horcrux. So we traipsed back to the kitchen and found the beasty there, although he was not all that cooperative! After some convincing though, he let it slip that he had tried to destroy it, as per Regulus’ orders, but couldn’t. The last person he thought had possession of it was Mundungus Fletcher, so we instructed Kreacher to go see if he could find him. While Kreacher was away we continued exploring the house and staved off a Dementor, before both Kreacher and Dobby apparated back with Mundungus in tow! After questioning Mundungus he revealed to us that he had sold the horcrux to Umbridge . . . shit. More to come!
13) Mario Kart 8 got blown wide open, much like Sonic did last time around! We continued on the “Grand Prix” mode, picking up where we left off last time, in the middle of the action under the 100c.c. class. The next circuit on the docket was the “Flower Cup”, James and I used Bowser and Daisy as our racers, respectively. The results were as follows: “Mario Circuit” (1 and 8), “Toad Harbor” (1 and 12), “Twisted Mansion” (1 and 8) & “Shy Guy Falls” (2 and 10). I won the circuit with 57 points, unlocking the Rosalina character. Next up was the “Star Cup” circuit, where we employed Yoshi and Rosalina as our racers. The results were: “Sunshine Airport” (2 and 6), “Dolphin Shoals” (1 and 10), “Electrodome” (1 and 6) & “Mount Wario” (2 and 6). I won the circuit with a total of 54 points, unlocking the Lemmy character! Yarrrrrr!! The “Special Cup” came next, where we utilized Toad . . . and Toad! Events unfolded as such: “Cloudtop Cruise” (1 and 12), “Bone-Dry Dunes” (2 and 12), “Bowser’s Castle” (1 and 8) & “Rainbow Road” (5 and 12). I took the circuit with 50 points, unlocking the Larry character. Up next was the “Shell Cup”, where Wario and Lakitu were our drivers . . . the action went thusly: “Moo Moo Meadows” (1 and 9), “Mario Circuit” (5 and 2), “Cheep Cheep Beach” (1 and 9) & “Toad’s Turnpike” (1 and 9). I won the overall circuit with 53 points, unlocking the Iggy character. Donkey Kong’s favourite, the “Banana Cup” fell next, and we doubled up on Rosalina as our drivers! The races included: “Dry Dry Desert” (1 and 10), “Donut Plains” (1 and 12), “Royal Raceway” (4 and 9) & “DK Jungle” (2 and 7). I took the circuit with 51 points . . . no more unlocks!! The second last circuit was “Leaf Cup”, which saw us pick Lakitu and James’ Mii. Events went as follows: “Wario Stadium” (1 and 9), “Sherbet Land” (1 and 7), “Music Park” (4 and 12) & “Yoshi Valley” (1 and 9). I won the circuit with 54 points. Last came the “Lightning Cup”, where the duo of Toadette and Toad took to the track. The races unfolded as so: “Tick-Tock Clock” (1 and 8), “Piranha Plant Slide” (2 and 12), “Grumble Volcano” (1 and 12) & “Rainbow Road” (2 and 8). I won the circuit with 54 points. It was then time to begin the last class available . . . the feared 150c.c. class! Some circuits took a couple tries, but for the most part we did OK. As usual the action began with the “Mushroom Cup”, which saw us use Iggy and Wendy as our racers. The results came down as follows: “Mario Kart Stadium” (1 and 7), “Water Park” (2 and 5), “Sweet Sweet Canyon” (1 and 10) & “Thwomp Ruins” (4 and 11). Overall I won the circuit with 51 points. The “Flower Cup” was next, which saw us pilot Roy and James’ Mii around the track, the events went as such: “Mario Circuit” (1 and 9), “Toad Harbor” (2 and 12), “Twisted Mansion” (1 and 10) & “Shy Guy Falls” (1 and 9). I won the circuit with 57 points. “Star Cup” followed, Morton and Shy Guy were our drivers of choice, who performed thusly: “Sunshine Airport” (1 and 11), “Dolphin Shoals” (1 and 6), “Electrodome” (4 and 11) & “Mount Wario” (4 and 12). I finished second overall in the circuit with a total of 48 points. In line next was the “Special Cup”, which saw Ludwig and Shy Guy strap in. Their performances netted the following results: “Cloudtop Cruise” (2 and 6), “Bone-Dry Dunes” (4 and 12), “Bowser’s Castle” (1 and 8) & “Rainbow Road” (8 and 12). I placed second overall with 41 points. Our next stop was for the “Shell Cup”, where Wendy and Toad did our driving. The action went as so: “Moo Moo Meadows” (1 and 6), “Mario Circuit” (1 and 12), “Cheep Cheep Beach” (4 and 8) & “Toad’s Turnpike” (2 and 10). I won the overall circuit with 51 points. The “Banana Cup” was on next, and we chose Larry and Morton as our drivers. The action broke down as follows: “Dry Dry Desert” (1 and 10), “Donut Plains” (5 and 11), “Royal Raceway” (3 and 11) & “DK Jungle” (1 and 12). I finished second overall with 48 points. “Leaf Cup” was the penultimate circuit, and it witnessed Lemmy and Toadette doing the racing. Said racing came down as so: “Wario Stadium” (1 and 9), “Sherbet Land” (3 and 11), “Music Park” (3 and 7) & “Yoshi Valley” (3 and 10). I nabbed another second place finish with 45 points. Finally the “Lightning Cup” came around again, for it we selected Metal Mario and Koopa Troopa to do the honours! The results were as follows: “Tick-Tock Clock” (1 and 8), “Piranha Plant Slide” (1 and 7), “Grumble Volcano” (6 and 10) & “Rainbow Road” (2 and 7). I won the circuit in a very close fight, with a spartan 49 points! So that’s it for Grand Prix mode! Now we’re off to explore the other game modes Mario Kart 8 may have to offer . . .
14) Finally, with getting stuck at the end of Danger of the Ooze, I decided to start another game for the 3DS to keep me going. It just so happened to be the game James got me for Christmas . . . BeyBlade: Evolution! In this title you take on the role of an unspecified kid (or is it really you?) and engage other people in actual BeyBlade battles, just like in real life! It’s pretty cool. There’s not much back story to it or anything, you turn the game on and kind of get a rundown on your environment and what you’re supposed to do, from a guy named Blader DJ. After that you are free to wander your environment and interact with and battle other bladers, in the early stages of the game many of them give you tips and tricks that function as a sort of tutorial. My first visit was to the Park, where I met a chap named Gingka . . . against him I won my first battle! Unfortunately I lost my follow up match, against a boy named Kenta. I then visited the Plaza and met Tsubasa, a match I lost, then ran in to Masamune and lost again!! At this point I was able to visit the Bey Coliseum, where I entered my first tournament. Unfortunately I lost the first battle against Benkei and was eliminated because of it. To console myself I went to the B-Pit and bought my first BeyBlade part with some of the credits I’d earned . . . nothing like some shopping to cheer a guy up! As I said earlier, these bladers offer tutorials throughout our battles, I learned about the different types of stadiums and how to approach them, spirit power, and many other helpful items. Next I headed to the Vacant Lot where I got back on the winning track, defeating both Tsubasa and Masamune, but when I headed back to the Plaza I lost to Kenta once more. It was then time to try my hand at another tournament, and it was pitiful! Engaging Toby in a series of 4 battles I managed to lose all of them, hanging my head in much shame. At the Vacant Lot I played my first mini-game, called Balloon Break, and it didn’t go so well. To make matters worse I lost a follow up battle to Masamune. A bit of luck followed me afterwards, as I beat Gingka at the Park, then won the Aim and Shoot mini-game, before going shopping again and buying some more parts! The last thing I did was lose to Tsubasa at the Plaza. I’m on a bit of a learning curve for this one!
“NNGRR” - Late in the week that followed my last blog post, I watched the latest movie in the Thor franchise called Thor: The Dark World! This film began much the way the original did . . . with a bit of back story. Ages ago, almost before the light itself, King Odin’s father, Bor, battled a fierce enemy named Malekith. Malekith was the leader of a race called “Dark Elves”, and they sought to extinguish the light in the universe, wanting to plunge all nine of the realms in to darkness. However, Bor and his Asgardian forces were not about to let that happen, so they battled Malekith’s forces vehemently. Ultimately they won and in doing so seemingly destroyed the source of Malekith’s power, a mysterious substance called the Aether. In truth the Aether was not destroyed but taken to a secret place Bor hoped no one would ever find it again. Fast forward to current times and it’s been about two years since Thor’s banishment to Earth, two years since he fell in love with the human Jane Foster. Thor and his mates have been spreading peace through the nine realms by putting down insurgencies, the most recent one he returns from on Vanaheim. As for Jane Foster, she has been trying to seek out Thor since he left, quite upset that he never came back for her. Jane, Darcy and Erik’s latest adventures have taken them to London, England, where they’ve picked up some funky readings with their specialized scientific equipment. While in the midst of investigating some of these readings Jane slips through a gateway to one of the other nine realms (for the great Convergence is forthcoming) . . . and unwittingly becomes infected with the Aether, releasing it to the world for the first time in millennia! Jane comes to back in London, where she first entered the gateway, and not long afterwards Thor shows up, inciting a pretty exciting reunion! It is quite apparent that Jane is sick though, for the Aether is causing strange reactions to take place within her body. So Thor flies her to Asgard and enlists some Asgardian healers to try and help her. In the meantime the arrival of the Aether back in to the world has awoken Malekith, who has been hibernating within his ship for eons, waiting for his chance to take revenge on the Asgardians . . . and this may very well be his chance. After making his presence violently known to the people of Asgard, Thor approaches Odin with a plan of action to end the threat the Dark Elves present, but Odin denies Thor, thinking it too dangerous. Enlisting the aid of his trusted allies once again, Thor defies his father and frees Loki, who has been imprisoned in Asgard’s dungeons since his transgressions in the first movie. Thor and Loki then take the fight to Malekith, on the neutral grounds of Svartalfheim. But when Thor and Loki’s plan to have Malekith draw the Aether out of Jane so that Thor can destroy it doesn’t quite go as planned, the fighting then moves to London . . . and Thor may finally have met his match. Can the god of thunder pull this one out at the last second, or is humanity in for a heaping spoonful of evil darkness? This film was a great follow up to the first one, consistent in it’s vibe and storylines, only the action was ramped up even further. Very curious to see if they have plans for a third entry at this point . . .
Near the conclusion of the weekend that followed we took James to the movies, to see Paddington! I was a big fan of him as a youngster, and mrs. darthcobain17 remembers him fondly as well, so it was a no brainer. Anyhoo, the film begins back in the 1950’s or so, I’m guessing, when an explorer named Montgomery Clyde heads to the forbidding land of darkest Peru. Once there he makes a startling discovery, a family of bears that are so intelligent he is capable of teaching them to talk! In all the time he spends with these bears he also inspires in them a great love of marmalade. Upon leaving the jungle and heading back to England, Clyde tells the bears they are welcome in London any time, where they would surely receive a warm welcome. Fast forward many years to more current times, and the two bears (named Pastuzo and Lucy) are much older, living happily with their curious nephew Paddington . . . although he hasn’t quite earned the name just yet! One day while harvesting oranges an earthquake hits the jungle, their home is destroyed, and Pastuzo has gone missing. Unable to take care of Paddington by herself, Lucy urges him to head to London and seek out the explorer her and Pastuzo had spent time with all those years ago. Stealing away on a cargo vessel Paddington eventually winds up in London, but the warm welcome Mr. Clyde had promised is nowhere in sight. The people of London barely take notice of him, nobody seems willing to help, so he ends up stranded at Paddington Station (and there’s that new name!) . . . until the Brown family happens by, that is! Mrs. Brown, Mary, takes a shine to Paddington and attempts to convince her grumpy husband Henry to let her take him home for the night. She soon gets her way and they all head for home. Her son Jonathan is excited about having Paddington stay with the family, while her daughter Judy is at best indifferent. It doesn’t take Paddington long to leave his mark at the Brown household, for he trashes the bathroom completely by accident, among other incidents. In doing so he starts to gain the younger Browns’ affection, which helps bring brother and sister closer together. Henry is still adamant that Paddington has to go though, so Mary tries to help him locate the explorer who originally came to darkest Peru, using a clue they find within the hat Paddington wears (which Mr. Clyde had originally left behind in Peru). The search doesn’t pay off right away, and soon Paddington finds himself being pursued by a strange being who is trying to capture him! While defending himself from said being, the Browns’ kitchen suffers a small fire, and when Henry gets home it’s pretty much the last straw as they don’t believe Paddington’s tale of an intruder in the house. That night Paddington decides to voluntarily leave the Brown household while everybody is asleep, spending a miserable night out in the rainy London streets. Working on the clues they had gleaned from his hat though, Paddington comes up with a list of possible addresses for Montgomery Clyde. At the very last address on his list Paddington finally gets lucky . . . although it’s not good luck, it’s very very bad luck!! The person who answers the door is a stunning blonde who seems nice in Paddington’s opinion, but in reality she’s that same person who had been trying to capture the bear! This femme is an evil woman and a taxidermist, named Millicent Clyde, Montgomery Clyde’s own daughter! She is miffed because when Montgomery got back from darkest Peru oh so long ago and was asked why he didn’t bring back a specimen (aka a stuffed bear), he told his brethren at the Geographer’s Guild that they were smart, amazing creatures and he couldn’t possibly do that to them. Clyde was then stripped of his membership and the life of luxury the Clyde family had been living came crashing down . . . hence Millicent’s longstanding bitterness. Her plan is to stuff Paddington and put him on display, and she tells him as much. Knocked out from the drugs she’s injected him with, Paddington’s only hope is the Brown family, who have awoken to a bear-less household and immediately feel the great void it has left. Can this crazy family pull together in their time of greatest need and ferret out what happened to their beloved bear . . . or will they soon be seeing him on display at the Natural History Museum? This was a great flick, a sure fire family hit! I don’t doubt that all those realists out there will have multitudes of issues with a walking, talking bear roaming the streets of London and nobody being concerned about it, but that’s how you think when you’re a stupid, unoriginal asshole. This film had lots of heart, and it was made by the folks who created the Harry Potter movies, I found it had that same sort of magical vibe to it. The cast was amazing, mostly a bunch of folks I was unfamiliar with who did a bang up job. And the work that went in to creating Paddington paid off in spades, he was awesome, and funny too. We’ll own this one eventually, methinks!!
Late during the next work week I finished reading the second book of The Expanse series, called Caliban’s War. It’s been about a year since Detective Miller rode Eros station, along with the protomolecule, in to the surface of Venus. In the meantime Earth and Mars have been divvying up resources throughout the solar system after nearly coming to blows in the first book. They’ve also both been monitoring events on Venus, which has been undergoing dramatic changes ever since Eros station slammed in to it . . . but all they can do is guess at what’s happening down there based on the data their ships’ sensors are sending them. It’s not long before the fragile peace the universe has temporarily settled in to is shattered though. The large moon of Ganymede is an important resource for all in the galaxy. In labs that dot it’s surface food and plant life is grown to help support those populations who cannot grow them on their own, such as Mars. There are both U.N. (Earth) and Martian marines on site, making sure their sides each get their respective share. However, one evening the U.N. forces appear to be launching an attack on the Martian marines, but as said marines watch the apparent attack develop, they realize the U.N. troops are actually running towards the Martians in an attempt to solicit their aid . . . for they are being chased by a terrifying abomination with glowing blue eyes! Said abomination, despite all the rounds the Martian marines pump in to it, cannot be destroyed. This creature tears through the Marines with ease, but as it’s about to finish off the very last one, a femme named Roberta “Bobbie” Draper, it self-destructs. Bobbie is eventually rescued and ultimately escorted to Earth to parlay her tale to the higher ups on both sides. Afterwards, with nothing to lose, Bobbie takes an offer from U.N. Undersecretary Chrisjen Avasarala, to help her find out just what this thing was. Wishing to avenge her fallen comrades, Bobbie accepts Avasarala’s offer and joins her staff. Avasarala believes this creature was created from the protomolecule, engineered to become a controlled weapon, and she is dead set on bringing to justice the filth that would unleash such a terror on the galaxy. Meanwhile, for the last year Jim Holden and his crew have continued to work for Fred Johnson and the OPA (Outer Planets Alliance), chasing down pirates and scoundrels, making space a safer place. However, after hearing about Ganymede and the protomolecule link, they immediately head there to investigate. At first their searches are fruitless . . . until they run in to a bedraggled botanist named Praxidike Meng, whose daughter Mei has gone missing. Prax tells them that his daughter, along with a number of other children who also suffer from immune deficiency disorders, were kidnapped by one of their doctors who apparently wasn’t really who he claimed to be! Holden takes Prax on and offers his help, as he has a gut feeling the arrival of the protomolecule and the disappearance of Mei are directly related. Their investigations on Ganymede eventually turn violent, and more evidence of tampering with the protomolecule becomes evident. Eventually they are forced to flee, but in so doing they find another of the protomolecule creatures stowed away in their cargo hold! After a desperate ploy to rid themselves of the creature proves successful, Prax’s scientific mind files away many important facts and behaviours he observed throughout the process. Back on Earth Avasarala’s digging around has pissed off some of the corrupt higher ups in the government, and so they’ve sent her away on a fool’s errand to get her out of the picture, at least temporarily. But with Bobbie and her Martian suit of armour in tow, the duo soon turn the tides on their “captors” and race to intercept Holden, informing him and his crew that there are a bunch of U.N. ships on their tail, lusting to destroy them after they stirred the pot on Ganymede! Soon the Rocinante is host to the usual cast of Holden, Nomi, Alex and Amos, along with newcomer Prax, followed by Avasarala and Bobbie! After sharing their collective experiences and observations, the group thinks they have a solid grasp on who is behind all of the events and soon come up with a plan of action to deal with it. But will a lone ship holding a crew of just seven be able to stem the tide of an oncoming war, appeasing all factions involved? Or will they all end up as just more cosmic dust floating through space? And more importantly, just what in the hell was that massive protomolecule monster that reared up and launched itself in to space off the surface of Venus!? This story was awesome, it just kept building on the mystery and suspense of the first book. At the same time it resolved some of the little details that came up in the first story, helping to build a more solid picture of just what is going on behind this whole grand story! The ending was especially good, equal parts satisfaction mixed with equal parts what the hell was that, I can’t wait for the third book!! So good . . .
That weekend I watched a couple movies I’ve been itching to get at, the first of which was Cowboys and Aliens! This film takes place in the old times of the wild, wild west and opens with a scene featuring a man coming to in the middle of the desert, and he has no memory of what has happened to him. He is dirty, sports a bloody wound in his side, and has a bizarre, futuristic bracelet firmly attached to his left wrist! Not knowing what to do, the stranger heads to the nearest town, a place called Absolution. In Absolution he is given medical aid by a man of the cloth, afterwards he makes himself useful by diffusing a situation where a skinny punk named Percy is shooting his gun all about willy nilly and terrorizing the locals. Percy swears vengeance on this mysterious stranger, who we soon find out is named Jake Lonergan. Percy’s father is a big shot former solider named Woodrow, more commonly known as “The Colonel”, and he provides Absolution’s supply of cattle. While the local lawmen process Percy for transport to a federal marshal in Santa Fe, they come across some documents that point a guilty finger at Jake . . . for he is guilty of stealing gold, and not just anybody’s gold . . . the Colonel’s gold!! After a skirmish the sheriff is able to arrest Jake, soon enough both he and Percy are locked in a wagon together, ready to be shipped out to Santa Fe! At the last minute Woodrow swoops in and demands they let Percy go. However, before anything can be decided strange flying machines attack Absolution and lay waste to a number of it’s buildings, stealing away many of it’s inhabitants in the process. After the smoke clears and the dust settles, the Colonel organizes a party to go search for whatever manner of demon attacked him and his people. And he wants Jake in on it, despite the bad blood between them. For the bracelet on Jake’s wrist is actually a piece of alien tech that is capable of blasting the flying ships to smithereens! Refusing at first, Jake returns and joins the group after doing some soul searching and regaining a portion of his memory. A strange woman named Ella has taken great interest in him and his plight, and she urges him on as well. While tracking one of the alien creatures through the desert, Jake and Woodrow’s party has tense meetings with a group of bandits Jake used to lead, as well as a tribe of Indians. It is this second meeting where Ella reveals her own true alien nature, explaining that her own people were attacked by these same creatures, so she is set on avenging her kind and making sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else. With the bandits and Indians now on their side, and Jake receiving a special concoction that helps restore his memory, the group is ready to search out the mother ship and take the fight to these strange beasts! As strange as they might be though, they are also fast, powerful, and quite lethal. Does this rag tag group have the cajones to eradicate these alien invaders, or are they only the start in a long line of human casualties? This film was awesome, I’d been wanting to see if for so long because it’s just such a cool and bizarre combination of two very opposite things. And of course with Harrison Ford being involved that only made it even sweeter for me. Daniel Craig was great too, and Olivia Wilde is one exotic beauty! Hubba hubba. I didn’t realize that this film came from the duo of Orci and Kurtzman, who sure do get the respect from me. So good.
The other feature I took in was 47 Ronin . . . it got raked over the coals by critics, so of course I loved it!! Even more so, maybe. Anyhoo, this film takes place in the time of ancient, feudal Japan, and is loosely based on a true story. It picks up in the province of Ako, which is ruled by a lord named Asano Naganori. Many years ago Naganori took in a young boy who was fleeing something in the forest, and this is the flashback the film opens up with. The boy’s name is Kai, and over the years he develops a friendship and unexplored love for Naganori’s daughter, Mika. The samurais of the Ako clan look down on Kai and call him the “half breed”, as the story shifts back to current times and Kai is a grown man, they are still offering him the same treatment. Currently Naganori is out on a hunt, to track down a fearsome beast and exterminate it asap, as the Ako clan is soon going to be hosting an event prompted by a visit from the powerful Shogun Tsunayoshi. Naturally he wants it to go off without a hitch. Deep in the forest his samurais are able to bring the beast down, but in the end it is Kai who delivers the death stroke. Kai does not get any credit for his service though, as there was only one witness, and he does not want to admit Kai got the kill and not him. Later, back in Ako, the Shogun finally arrives and it is obvious they are going to have a problem with his master of ceremonies, Lord Kira. Kira is a bad seed and has been working closely with a shapeshifting witch to help him sabotage Naganori. For Kira wants the province of Ako, and Mika, for himself. After a few magic inspired ruses, Kira and his witch stage a scene that ends with Naganori about to strike Kira down in the middle of the night, after a hallucination provided by the witch convinced Naganori that Mika was being raped by Kira. For this transgression Shogun Tsunayoshi sentences Naganori to death, while all his samurai are labelled ronin (very shameful) and forced to flee the land. Kira is given the Ako territory and is scheduled to wed Mika, after she is given a year to mourn the death of her father. An example is made of Naganori’s prized samurai, Oishi, as he is left trapped in an outdoor pit for almost a year, which Kira thinks will break his spirit. However, when one day close to the wedding Oishi is lifted from the pit and freed, his resolve has never been stronger. He immediately contacts his family and asks after all of the others, including Kai. Oishi then sets out and rounds them all up, informing his former men of his plans for Lord Kira. They can either live the way they have been for the rest of their lives, in great shame . . . or they can go out in a blaze of glory, in the process setting Mika free and destroying the evil Lord Kira! It’s a long, hard journey back to the land of Ako, and along the way the former samurai gain a newfound respect for Kai as they learn about his past. But the final test will pit just 47 ronin against all of Ako, which includes the witch . . . will their resolve be enough to pull them through it, or will their attempts be easily thwarted by a force much more numerous? After seeing this movie and highly enjoying it, I’m not sure exactly what makes a good movie or a bad movie anymore. The films up for Oscars this year mostly make me want to throw up in my mouth, while films like this aren’t even given a chance, really. Oh well. I loved the action sequences in this flick, the strange creatures and magics, and I thought the storyline was just fine. Plus it had Keanu . . . Keanu!!!
As the next week began we borrowed a movie that my parents had taken out of the library, none other than A Million Ways to Die in the West, which I’ve been jonesing to watch ever since it was in theatres! This film is a comedy that takes place in the desert of Arizona, circa 1882. The setting is a town called Old Stump, the main character a cowardly yet loveable sheep farmer named Albert Stark. Albert hates life in the wild west, where seemingly anything and everything is capable of killing a person, hiding around every corner. He’s got a good friend named Edward, but what pulls him through each day the most is the love of his life, the beautiful but bitchy Louise. However, when one day Louise has had enough and dumps Albert, his world is shattered! Albert boozes, sleeps in late, and rarely makes a public appearance, much to the concern of Edward and his girlfriend, Ruth. Meanwhile, just outside of Old Stump trouble is brewing. A bandit named Clinch, who traverses the desert with his wife, Anna, and his band of miscreants, are out for gold . . . and they have no scruples when it comes to how they acquire it! After their latest heist Clinch decides to take a few of his men and lay low, instructing Anna and another of his henchmen, Lewis, to head in to Old Stump under the ruse of looking to start up a farm as brother and sister. One afternoon at the local saloon, a bar brawl breaks out thanks to Lewis’ antics, and Albert manages to save Anna from being clocked during the proceedings. The two have an instant rapport and soon afterwards begin spending a lot of time together. Anna tries to help Albert regain Louise’s love, who has since hooked up with the successful owner of the moustache emporium, Foy. After many interactions between the two couples, Albert finally loses his cool and challenges Foy to a gun fight! With Anna’s secret background she is well versed for teaching Albert how to shoot, and the night before the event she also sabotages Foy by slipping something in to his drink that gives him a pretty wicked case of the shits! The day of the gun fight Foy is in bad shape, but Albert lets him off the hook as he has since realized he is in love with Anna, and he also now sees the truth about how badly Louise used to treat him. But there is no happily ever after just yet, for Clinch and the rest of his posse then reach town . . . and Lewis informs Clinch that he spied one of the town folk kissing Anna! The action culminates in a true battle this time, but will the naïve and inexperienced Albert be able to come even close to matching such a hardened criminal in a contest of violence? This movie was a laugh riot right from the beginning, and that comes as no surprise as it was the brainchild of Seth MacFarlane, who not only wrote the film but stars as Albert. Considering how much I love the humour in both the Family Guy TV show and his previous movie Ted, this was a no brainer. Add in a lot of other wicked talent such as Charlize Theron, Neil Patrick Harris, Liam Neeson, Giovanni Ribisi, and Sarah Silverman, and this thing is just chalk full of awesomeness. Such stupid humour too, this film was so up my alley it’s unbelievable. Bravo, Seth . . . bravo!!
Later that week I finished reading the book I had on the go at the time, another prose novel from the Marvel universe, called The Death of Captain America! This story takes place not long after the events of the Civil War storyline, in which the Superhuman Registration Act is invoked and the heroes are split down the middle about it, with Tony Stark spearheading the compliance side of things, while Cap is on the other side of the coin. At this point Captain American is still “at large” and S.H.I.E.L.D. is desperately trying to bring him in. The main character in the story, whose perspective it is mainly told from is Agent 13, aka Sharon Carter. As Cap’s love interest she has problems going along with director Stark’s orders (for Tony is running S.H.I.E.L.D. in place of the departed Nick Fury). Sharon is undergoing psychiatric evaluations before she can be reinstated, along with a number of other agents, but eventually she is allowed back on duty. Unfortunately for her though, Maria Hill tasks Agent 13 with joining a team responsible for tracking Cap down! Eventually Cap is collared, even though Carter tries to prevent it, and an event is staged to have him perp walked to jail, available for observation by the public at large. However, during the proceedings Cap is shot four times and although he is taken to hospital to try and be saved, there is nothing they can do . . . Captain America is dead! Sharon Carter can barely go on with life, seeing such an icon and her own lover fall right in front of her eyes. But Cap’s good friend Falcon helps her through it, together they set out to find who was behind the assassination and get some justice served! Also on the case is Cap’s former partner, Bucky Barnes, who was long thought to have perished in one of their previous adventures. Bucky was saved by the Russians though and turned in to a tool, an assassin, known as the Winter Soldier. But he has since put that behind him and is also out for vengeance, not only for the killer but also for Tony Stark, who Bucky believes has as much responsibility in Cap’s death as the person who actually pulled the trigger. As the investigations unfold and Black Widow too gets in on the action (for she is familiar with Bucky from their time in Russia together, long ago), a clearer picture of just what is going on develops . . . and it is pretty gruesome. The consciousness of Red Skull has invaded the body of Russian bad boy Aleksander Lukin, and he is in league with Baron Zola and the reviled Dr. Faustus on a dastardly scheme! This team of sociopaths have put a plan in to effect that will not only get Red Skull his own new body he’ll have all to himself, but also give them a U.S. president at their beck and call, along with an impostor Captain American who will also be under their total control. Will Sharon Carter, Falcon, Bucky, Black Widow and the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. be able to counter these fiends, or is America in for a rough stretch, about to be controlled by beings who want nothing more than to see the country burn to the ground? And along the way will Sharon and her mates be able to stomach the revelations of who really killed Cap, and just whose body Red Skull was planning on making his own? This was a good story, action packed with a lot of intrigue and suspense. I liked reading about the characters who were involved because I’ve never really known much about Captain American and Red Skull, and the rivalry between them, so this was a pretty good book to gain a good gist on their history together. I’d planned on picking up the Captain American movies in the near future, so hopefully that will help me build on my knowledge a bit as well.