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My private screening (kinda) of Cars 2

I finally got to see Cars 2 in the cinema and if you want a rough idea of how much the public is not interested in "Cars 2". I was the only person in the cinema when I saw it (my own private screening). It is Pixar's lowest rating film critically and its like Disney admitted to its apparent low quality by including a 5 minute Toy Story short with each screening of Cars 2. Although I will admit I loved the whole wink wink nudge nudge poking fun at the real world car industry. Making Ladas and AMCs the evil cars, the oil companies want to put a stop to environment friendly fuel by sabotaging car races. The animation and voice acting is good, although casting Michael Caine as a Volkswagen seems wrong. How about a Jaguar or an Aston Martin? That would be more fitting of his 007 like roll in the film. Interestingly the main character of the first film, Lightening McQueen rarely gets any screen time. It's all about the spy characters (yes this is spy espionage film) and series' goofball Mater. At its core, Cars 2 is a great tribute the motor industry just like the first one. But the average writing and bad story telling can make it tedious at times. I had fun with it, but don't say I didn't warn you. Next up is the last Harry Potter film. - Robert

Revisiting Bubblegum Crisis 2040 after ten years.

Watching anime shows you haven't see since you were ten its an interesting and surreal experience. As a child you appreciated them soley for the flashy explosions and pretty colours. But when you watch them at your present evolved mature age, you can adore every component that makes the final product. I mentioned before in my Evangelion Manga post, that after the success of Evangelion on the free to air Austraian TV channel SBS. local broadcasters began a tradition of airing current anime TV shows in their entirety. One of these was an anime called "Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040", which is an reimagining of an older anime simply titled "Bubblegum Crisis". The year is 2040 and a crew of suit wearing vigilantes called the "Knight Sabers" are taking up the responsiblity of freeing Tokyo of any rogue robots. As a small child I remembered it as a more mature version of Power Rangers, but upon my viewing of the DVD boxset that I got off ebay I discovered it embraced an interesting rarity amongst anime that I was unable to see in my youth. Now let's not kid ourselves, the Japanese have difficulty accepting strong independent females. It's not they're raised to be sexist, its just the result of a culture difference. Wheres in the west there was the women's right movement that elevated the status of women to the same level of men in our society. This never happened in Japan. As a result their entertainment (i.e. anime) is taylored to embody this old "men come first" ideology. But in Bubblegum Crisis we have 4 strong female lead characters. This becomes apparent in the first episode where one character punches her sleazy date the day after he harassed her and ditched her after the rogue robot attacks them. Not only does it manage to break the mould, but it also presents some interesting insights and social commentry on the subject of us humans being served by robots. After seeing the show, I don't think I want to live in a world overflowing with robot servants that look like human beings that will do anything I command it to do. It's just to unnerving to become real for me personally. The anime is set in 2040, oh crud!!! I'll be still alive then at the age of 49!!! God help me!! Of course let's not forget this is an anime, so there's got to be tonnes of action and don't worry Bubblegum Crisis does deliver. We get to see the girls jet around Tokyo leaping off skyscrappers and taking down berserk robots. The animation was produced back in the 90s, so obviously its in SD and is way below the level of detail found in today's anime. But for its time it was well produced in the animation field and there's no moe blobs to speak of. In conclusion Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 is a must watch for you anime fans out there. I wouldn't call it essential viewing, because there were times I found the voice acting to be annoying and sometimes I just wanted the plot to cut to the chase. But given how rarely women are empowered this much in anime these minor annoyances are forgivable. Hopefully one day we get another anime like this one where we have mature strong women kicking ass instead of the ones where women who are 13 year olds (sorry I meant to say 18, how silly of me) dress half naked, full over and giggle. - Robert

Popping the Manga cherry.

I don't read comics or magna for the matter. However last month, I noticed my local Gametraders began to sell Magna. I decided to seize this opportunity to buy and read the Evangelion Magna. Something I've been wanting to do for a long time. Neon Genesis Evangelion (or Evangelion as its generally called) is a 26 episode anime TV series that was produced in 1995. I first encountered the show when I was 8 years old in 1999. It was aired on the Australian commercial TV channel SBS at prime time every Saturday. They would show two episodes every week and my mum would watch it regularly alongside me. Evangelion proved so success in Australia that SBS re-ran the entire series immediately after airing the last episode and regularly broadcasts the movies from time to time. Its success also led to the local airing of other anime shows on SBS and ABC, a tradition that still continues today despite anime no longer being hot or popular as it was in Australia back in the 90s. But even thought I watched the show as a kid and despite the majority of the content is rated PG by the classification board. This is not a show for kids. It has very dark elements that become more apparent in the second half and for most of the characters there is no happy ending for them. However don't let this discourage you watching this masterpiece of animation and writing. As dark as it may be, I found the traumatic emotional drama and philosophy to be engaging and somewhat comforting as a person who has suffered a great deal of depression in the past. I love Evangelion to death. I own all the movies and TV episodes on Blu-Ray and DVD (even the rare End of Evangelion DVD which can fetch a good $100+ on ebay in some instances). I've played many of the games, own a poster and now I've read the Manga adaption. Which to my delight captures everything I love about the source material and you'll learn a lot of new details about the characters that weren't disclosed in the show. Purists naturally will complain about the noticable amount of changes to the story and scenes. Personally I applaude the changes, since its gives me a refreshing, yet familar take on a loved storyline. If I want the original story intact, I'd just watch the TV series. Many fans argue the magna is the "definitive" way to enjoy Evangelion and to tell you the truth. I agree with them 100%. The magna does a better job of fleshing out the characterisation and history surrounding Evangelion than the TV show did. The art and drawing of the pages is superb. Although I did run into a few spelling and grammar mistakes. Still I recommend that every Evangelion fan picks up the Manga. Currently there are 11 volumes and despite the first volume being published first in 1995. It's still ongoing! Mainly because the author and artist Yoshiyuki Sadamoto is taking his time. I say let him, since they've turned out so great. The next Volume, no.12 hits shelves in Australia this July and I'll be first in line to buy it. Until the next blog post and don't worry there will be plenty of fan service. - Robert

Operation Rainfall through the eyes of a PAL gamer.

As a PAL gamer I often have to face the hard cold fact countless times that a game I badly want will never come out in my region. Its still happening to this day (Trauma Team in PAL, still waiting for you baby). Now back in March of this year something interesting happened, Nintendo announced a localised version of Xenoblade (rebranded as Xenoblade Chronicles outside of Asia), but strangely it will only be coming out in PAL and not North America. Nintendo of America has expressed no interest in releasing Xenoblade or The Last Story and Pandora's Tower. So what do American gamers do? Well they launch a champaign dubbed "Operation Rainfull" in an effort to convince Nintendo of America to localise said games. As a PAL gamer I find this hilarous. Because pretty much when a game is denied for the PAL territories. There is no argument, we just sit down and except it has happened. However when Americans are denied a game, they launch a massive champaign and flex there massive sense of entitlement. To be honest I don't want these games to be released in America, because its about bloody time PAL got the better end of the stick. It's time Americans go through the pain we PAL gamers go through time and time again. They should spend the time to import the game and find a console work around just like we PAL gamers have been forced to do so in the past. Also let's not forget Xenogears has never come out in PAL. We also didn't get Xenosaga Episode 1 or 3. Just only Episode 2. Now my American friends if you think you're mad now, you're going become madder after I tell you that Nintendo of Europe has announced The Last Story for a PAL release. Anyway Nintendo of Europe, stay classy. Because we love you.

Why I Hate Marketing.

Yesterday I picked up Ape Escape on the PS3. Basically its Ape Escape on rails played with a Playstation Move. It's nothing ground breaking, but its fun and I agree with its budget title.  What I don't agree with is why there has to be four different titles for this game. Which are as follow for each region. Europe and Oceania - Ape Escape North American - Playstation Move Ape Escape Japan - Ape Escape Fury! Fury! Asia - Ape Escape On The Move Seriously couldn't Sony's big wigs agree on one universal title for this game? Its common that a game has different names in different territories. Mainly because of cultural differences or copyright issues. But this is just a straight forward cheap Move dedicated Ape Escape game which couldn't possibly offend anyone (maybe Bono from U2, but that's a different blog post). Why do we need four individual names? Is this how marketing boards operate? If so count me out. Anyway this has been "The Rant of Robert". Hopefully it won't become regular programming. - Robert

Help bring Valkyria Chronicles III to the West.

One of all my time favourite RPG franchises is Valkyria Chronicles. I've played and loved both the first and second one to death. Naturally I was eagerly anticipating the third iteration on the PSP and the key word is "was".  Unfortunately it's now come to light that Sega, the publisher and developer of Valkyria Chronicles has abandon the PSP in Western markets. Which means Valkyria Chronicles III will never see a Western release. But with your help we could change this. Please show your support by signing the petition linked below. PETITION: Also it would help to show your support towards the possibility of another publisher doing the localisation at the following forums for each respective publisher. (Atlus, NIS and XSEED Games). ATLUS: NIS AMERICA: XSEED GAMES: And the answer to your question is yes Sega has let other publishers localise their IPs. Example, Sakura Wars: Farewell My Love was picked up by NIS. Thanks for reading and until the next post. Take it easy. - Robert

Duke Nukem Forever - Quick Thoughts.

With a development cycle of almost 14 years, the hype and expectations for Duke Nukem Forever are certainly off the chart. Unfortunately it's my sad duty to report that Forever is not the greatest game ever made. In fact I would go as far as to say its an above average one. Allow me to quickly walk you through what I thought of it. Graphically and game play wise this game could have been released in 2006. It's an ugly looking game, but mind you graphics aren't everything. The real problem is the random pauses and load times. You're looking at a 30 second loading screen when you enter the next area and if that weren't enough you have to load the game again everytime you die. Yeap that's right, instead of an instant retry you get 30 seconds of loading. Sometimes I found myself sitting through more loading times than actual game play. Speaking of game play, Forever is mix of old and new. Iron sights are nowhere to be seen and the controls are very loose. However regenerating health is present and Duke is only able to carry two weapons like most modern first person shooters. For many this throw back to yesterday year is quite enjoyable and the design of the campaign does a good job of mixing things up. Well designed driving stages and platforming segments inbetween shooting helps maintain the interest of the player. Unfortunately the terrible enemy A.I. and some weak level designs can spoil the fun. Probably the most talked about feature is the level of interactivity the game has to offer. You can interact with various arcade machines, people and other items within the environment. Fancy fishing out human feces and throwing than around? Be my guess, because the game lets you do that among other things. Of course the staple of the Duke Nukem franchise is the over the top humour and there's no question that Forever delivers. In summary Forever does not live up to long (and somewhat comical) development time. At the end of the day we have a above average shooter that offers a substantial amount of variety. But some technical issues and lazy design choices ruin what could have been a milestone in gaming. I don't believe Forever is worth your money, but it is at least worth a rental since there's a lot of fun to be had that Duke Nukem himself would approve of. Anyway thanks for reading my impressions of Duke Nukem Forever. Stay tune for a full written review from yours truly.

Duke Nukem Forever is ACTUALLY out in stores!

Come get some! After 14 years of development Duke Nukem Forever has gone Gold and is now available in shops all over Australia (as well as Asia, Europe and the remaining of Oceania). Yours truly has his own copy and has already invested a good four hours into. While it not the greatest game of all time, in fact its very rough around the edges. But it's still a fun shooter that's an enjoyable throw back to a time when first person shooters were done differently. Expect a full written review in the near future. Oh as for America? Well its time you ACTUALLY waited for game*. Check your stores on the 14 of June my yanky friends and don't forget we Australians never got Xenogears, Parasite Eve and every Final Fantasy prior to VII. Until next time, take it easy. *Disclaimer, Robert doesn't discourage (do I mean encourage?) any childish teasing of Americans.

Introducing Windy Corner TV

For the last two years I've been producing video reviews of numerous video games. In the past my quality has been questionable, but now that my ability to produce videos has improved I invite you all to check them out. The linked video is a review of Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together for the PSP. I'll be taking a break from producing videos for a significant period because of my current illness (nasty case of the flu and the cold weather in Australia isn't helping). Until next time, take it easy. P.S. If anyone reading knows how embed videos on Gamespot, please give me a buzz.

Returning to Gamespot

Well after a lot of dust cleaning and dealing with an echo. I'm back to help contribute to Gamespot once again. Lets see how much congestion I can create on Gamespot one more time and perhaps I can get this blog rocking.
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